From news.Arizona.EDU!math.arizona.edu!CS.Arizona.EDU!uunet!gail.ripco.com!glr Tue Sep 6 09:56:29 1994 Newsgroups: alt.2600,alt.2600hz,alt.privacy,alt.censorship Path: news.Arizona.EDU!math.arizona.edu!CS.Arizona.EDU!uunet!gail.ripco.com!glr From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Glen Roberts) Subject: Excerpts from the FBI & Your BBS Message-ID: Cvo755.7G3@rci.ripco.com Sender: email@example.com (Net News Admin) Organization: Ripco Internet BBS, Chicago (312) 665-0065 X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] Date: Mon, 5 Sep 1994 18:53:28 GMT Lines: 460 Xref: news.Arizona.EDU alt.2600:20574 alt.2600hz:85 alt.privacy:17021 alt.censorship:32029
Computer BBS systems offer an excellent opportunity for people to exercise their their First Amendment rights (expression of thoughts, ideas, information, etc). Unlike other communications media, any user can express their views to a large audience without prior restraint, at an affordable cost. Other media, such as radio, require lots of money (and the content of the expression must meet with government licensing regulations). Newspapers do a good job at expressing the information the publishers want expressed. They don't help you, unless your ideas match the newspapers publishers, exactly.
The FBI (and others that want to control the free flow of information) feel
threatened by communications media, like BBS's. Unlike other communication
media, information on a BBS does not get read by anyone before its
instantaneous publication. Therefore, the FBI has much less of a possibility
of intimidating the owner of a BBS into NOT publishing certain information.
The FBI also acts as if BBS's have a monopoly on the distribution of
so-called ``illegal information.
The FBI often uses this ``danger for
justification to monitor the activities on these systems. In reality,
however, BBS's transfer much less ``illegal information
than the phone
Many people are well aware of the FBI's political activities in the 1960s
and 70s. However, the FBI has been obsessed with keeping track of people
with unpopular policial beliefs since the Bureau's inception in 1908. The
following history of the FBI from the Final Report of the Select (Senate)
Committee to Study Governmental Operations with repect to Intelligence
Activies, Book IV, Supplementary Reports on Intelligence Activites shows
this well (emphasis added):
Created on his own administrative authority in 1908 by Attorney General
Charles J. Bonaparte in the face of congressional opposition for reasons of
statutory obligations and practical need, the Bureau of Investigation had
virtually no intelligence missions until European hostilities in the summer
of 1941 precipitated a necessity for Federal detection and pursuance of
alleged violations of the neutrality laws, enemy activities, disloyalty
cases, the naturalization of enemy aliens, the enforcement of the
conscription, espionage, and sedition laws, and surveillance of radicals.
These duties evolved as the United States moved from a neutrality to a state
of declared war and then, in the aftermath of peace, found its domestic
tranquility and security threatened by new ideologies and their
The Bureau's principal function during the war years was that of
investigation. During this period, agents had no direct statutory
authorization to carry weapons or to make general arrests. In the field,
they worked with and gathered information for the United States Attorneys.
Direction came from the Attorney General or the Bureau chief. In the frenzy
of the wartime spy mania, Washington often lost its control over field
operations so that agents and U.S. Attorneys, assisted by cadres of
volunteers from the American Protective League and other similar patriotic
auxiliaries, pursued suspects of disloyalty on their own initiative and in
their own manner. To the extent that their investigative findings underwent
analysis with a view toward policy development, an intelligence function was
served, but for the most part this type of contribution appears to have been
lost in the emotionalism and zealotry of the moment.
Bureau of Investigation Leadership 1908-25
Charles J Bonaparte (1906-1909)
George W Wickersham (1909-13)
James C McReynolds (1913-14)
Thomas W Gregory (1914-19)
A Mitchell Palmer (1919-21)
Harry M Daugherty (1921-24)
Harland F Stone (1924-25)
Stanley W Finch (1908-12)
A Bruce Beilaski (1912-19)
William E Allen (1919)
William J Flynn (1919-21)
William J Burns (1921-24)
J Edgar Hoover (1924-
In 1915, the first full year of the war, the Bureau, in the words of one
sympathetic chronicler of its development and activities, constituted of a
``small and inept force of 219 agents which ``was totally unequipped to
deal with the clever espionage and sabotage ring of World War I which was
organized by German Ambassador Johann von Bernstorff.
[Don Whitehead. The
FBI Story. New York, Pocket Books, 1958; first published 1956, p. 14.] Two
years later, when America entered the hostilities, the Bureau's agent force
was increased from 300 to 400, ``a puny squad for policing more than
1,000,000 enemy aliens, protecting harbors and war-industry zones barred to
enemy aliens, aiding draft boards and the Army in locating draft dodgers and
deserters, and carrying on the regular duties of investigating federal law
violators. [Ibid., p. 38.] This state of affairs was one of the reasons
the Justice Department welcomed the assistance of the American Protective
League. In many of its initial wartime activities, the Bureau was still
searching for a mission.
Early in 1917, the Bureau proclaimed that it was in charge of spy-catching
and the Department's representative called it ``the eyes and ears
However, the Army and Navy were the armed forces endangered or advanced on
the European battlefields by espionage operations, and their own detectives
necessarily had primary control of stopping the movements of enemy spies and
of war materials, everywhere in the world, including the homefront. The
military authorities associated with their own agents the operatives of the
State Department, traditionally charged with responsibility for foreign
The military departments seemed primarily to want the help of the
specialized forces of the Treasury, the War Trade Board, and the Labor
Department for cutting off the flow of enemy spies, goods, and information;
and the local police departments throughout America, as well as the Treasury
detectives, for protecting American war plants, waterfront installations,
and essential war shipping against sabotage and carelessness.
This attitude brought the Treasury police to the forefront. The Treasury's
agents possessed not only vast equipment immediately convertible to wartime
espionage in behalf of the United States, but also the necessary experience.
They possessed the specific techniques that enabled them to find enemy
agents in ship's crews, among passengers, or stowed away; to pick them up at
any port in the world where they might embark or drop off the sides of
ships; to foil their mid-ocean signals to German submarines.
Moreover, the Treasury's men knew how to discover, in the immense quantities
of shipments to our allies and to our neturals, the minute but vital goods
addressed to neutral lands, but actually destined to reach the enemy.
Treasury operatives had the right training for uncovering the secret
information transmitted to the enemy in every medium – in ships' manifests
and mail, in passengers' and crews' papers, in phonograph records, in
photographic negatives, and in motion picture film. They had the experience
for the job of protecting the loaded vessels in the harbors, the warehouses,
and the entire waterfront.
The Justice Department police were invited to participate in various
advisory boards. But when invited by the Post Office detectives, old hands
at inspection of enemy mail, to sit on an advisory board, the Justice police
spoke with self deprecation; perhaps after all, there was ``no use in
littering up the board with one of their men. [Max Lowenthal. The Federal
Bureau of Investigation. New York, William Sloane Associates, 1950, pp.
22-23; this highly critical account of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
contains the only detailed discussion of early operations of the agency.]
What did evolve as a major wartime Bureau function, and one having intelligence implications in light of espionage (40 Stat. 217) and sedition (40 Stat. 553) law, was the investigation and cataloging of the political opinions, beliefs, and affiliations of the citizenry. This Bureau activity also had a menacing aspect to it in terms of guaranteed rights of speech and association; also, it did not come to public notice until after Armistice.
The disclosure came as an indirect consequence of a political quarrel
between ex-Congressman A Mitchel Palmer (a Pennsylvania lawyer and
corporation director who became Alien Property Custodian, and was soon to
become Attorney General of the United States) and United States Senator
Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania. Mr. Palmer had accused the Senator of
receiving political support from the brewers and of being a tool for their
anti-prohibition propaganda. The attack was made while the war was still
going on, and Mr. Palmer added to the charge that the American brewers were
pro-German and unpatriotic. The ``dry
element in the United States Senate
promptly seized on the publicity thus provided and pushed through a
resolution to investigate both charges, political propaganda and
pro-Germanism. In the course of the hearings dealing with pro-Germanism, the
investigating committee turned to A. Bruce Bielaski, wartime chief of the
Bureau, and others connected with the Bureau. They revealed the fact that
the Bureau had already been cataloging all kinds of persons they suspected
of being pro-German. They had found suspects in all walks of American life.
Among those of whose ``pro-Germanism the public thus learned, were members
of the United States Senate, other important officials (e.g., William
Jennings Bryan, President Wilson's first Secretary of State, and Judge John
F. Hylan, soon to become mayor of New York City), and many persons and
organizations not connected with the Government (e.g., William Randolph
Hearst, his International News Service and various newspapers, his New York
American, and the Chicago Tribune); Americans agitating for Irish
independence (including editors of the American Catholic Weekly and the
Freeman's Journal); some of the foremost men in academic life; political
leaders such as Roger Sullivan of Chicago; and men of prominence in the
financial and business world. [Ibid., pp. 36-37]
During the course of the congressional investigation, the Bureau's offerings were found to abound with factual inaccuracies and to have resulted in wrong conclusions even when the facts were correct. [Ibid., pp. 37-43] The occasion did not install mush public confidence in the Bureau's intelligence activities or product.
When confronted with a series of bombings directed against public officials during late 1918 and 1919, the Bureau's analytical skills again appeared to be deficient.
As in the case of the 1918 bombing, the Justice Department detectives made a prompt announcement of who the criminals in the 1919 case were. The bombing jobs, they said, were the work of radicals, whose purpose was the assassination of Federal officials and the overthrow of the Government. To support this deduction, they pointed our that some of the bombs arrived at their destinations shortly before the first of May, 1919, and others shortly after that time, and that May Day is the date traditionally chosen by some radicals to celebrate their doctrines by parading. However, another series of bombs was sent in June, posing the question how the detectives could attribute these new bomb attempts to May Day Radicalism.
The theory that the bombs were sent by radicals was beset with further embarrassments. The Government officials to whom the bombs were addressed included some men who were hostile to radicalism, but prominent public men whom the Bureau of Investigation suspected of being themselves radicals, and unsympathetic with the program against the radicals were included among the addressees. Indeed, some of the men were targets of denunciation from Capitol Hill as dangerous radicals. Critics who disagreed with the detectives' conclusions asked why radicals with bombs should select as victims the very men who might be their friends. Why, in particular, should they seek to bomb ex-Senator Hardwick of Georgia, who had asked the Senate to vote against the very wartime sedition law under which the IWW [International Workers of the World] leaders and other radicals had been convicted?
A further difficulty arose out of the fact that some of the bombs were sent to minor businessmen and to relatively minor office holders, while most of the top Government officials whose deaths would have been of particular importance to the revolutionaries were not included among the potential victims selected by the bombers. [Ibid. pp. 68-69.]
Radicalism captured the attention of the Bureau in the aftermath of the world war. Preoccupation with the ideology, its leadership and organizations became so great that, on August 1, 1919, a General Intelligence Division was established within the Bureau to devote concentrated scrutiny to the subject.
There was, however, a difficulty with respect to the expenditure of the
money appropriated for the Bureau's use by Congress. It specified that the
appropriations were for the ``detection and prosecution of crimes.
provision for the detection of seditious speech and writings, however, might
some day be passed, and the detectives concluded that preparation would be
useful, in the form of an advance job to ascertain which individuals and
organization held beliefs that were objectionable. With this information in
hand, it could go into action without delay, after Congress passed a
peacetime sedition law, similar to the wartime sedition laws enacted in 1917
and 1918. The Bureau notified its agents on August 12, 1919, eleven days
after the creation of the anti-radical Division, to engage in the broadest
detection of sedition and to secure ``evidence which may be of use in
prosecutions . . . under legislation . . . which may hereafter be enacted.
[Ibid., p 84]
The new intelligence unit thus appears to have been created and financed in anticipation of a valid statutory purpose and seems, as well, to have engaged in investigations wherein the derivative information was not gathered in pursuit of Federal prosecution(s).
Coincident with the creation of the new Division, the Bureau selected J.
Edgar Hoover as Division chief. He had joined the Department of Justice two
years earlier, shortly after America entered the war, and shortly before
Congress enacted the wartime sedition law. He had been on duty at the
Justice Department during the entire war period, and obviously he was in a
position to obtain a view of the detective activities against persons
prosecuted or under surveillance for their statements. He had also been in a
position to note the pre-eminence of the military detective services during
the war and the connotations of success attached to their names – Military
and Naval Intelligence Services. Besides, the new unit at the Department of
Justice was in the business of detecting ideas. He called it an intelligence
force, in substitution for the names with which it started – ``Radical
and ``Anti-Radical Division. Mr. Hoover avoided one action of
the War and Navy Intelligence agencies; their scope had been narrowed by the
qualifying prefixes in their titles. He named his force the General
Intelligence Division – GID. [Ibid., pp. 84-85]
In 1920, when ``one-third of the detective staff at the Bureau headquarters
in Washington had been assigned to anti-radical matters, and over one-half
of the Bureau's field work had been diverted to the subject of radicalism,
GID reported that ``the work of the General Intelligence Division . . . had
now expanded to cover more general intelligence work, including not only
ultra-radical activities but also to [sic] the study of matters of an
international nature, as well as economic and industrial disturbances
[Ibid., p 85.] And as its mission developed, so did the
GID's manner of operations and techniques of inquiry.
The Bureau of Investigation faced and solved one problem in the first ten
days of the existence of Mr. Hoover's division, the problem of the kind of
data the detectives should send to headquarters. They were going to receive
material from undercover informants, from neighbors, from personal enemies
of the persons under investigation. The detectives were going to hear gossip
about what people were said to have said or were suspected of having done –
information derived, in some instances, from some unknown person who had
told the Bureau's agents or informers or the latter's informants. Some of
the information received might relate to people's personal habits and life.
The Bureau's decision was that everything received by the special agents and
informers should be reported to headquarters; the agents were specifically
directed to send whatever reached them, ``of every nature. But they were
warned that not everything that they gathered could be used in trials where
men were accused of radicalism. Some items about personal lives, however
interesting to the detectives, might not be regarded as relevant in court
proceedings against alleged radicals. Furthermore, despite the fact that the
Bureau instructed its agents to transmit to headquarters everything that
they picked up, ``whether hearsay or otherwise,
it warned them that there
was a difference between the sources from which GID was willing to receive
accusations and statements for its permanent dossiers and the evidence which
trial judges and tribunals would accept as reliable proof. In judicial
proceedings, the Bureau of Investigation informed all its agents, there was
an insistence of what it called ``technical proof, and judges would rule
that the rumors and gossip which the detectives were instructed to supply to
GID had ``no value.
[Ibid. pp. 86-87.]
In order to assess the program and thinking of the radicals, it was
necessary to study the literature and writings of the ideologues. Gathering
such printed material became a major GID project and acquisitions were made
on a mass basis.
Detectives were sent to local radical publishing houses and to take their
books. In addition, they were to find every private collection or library in
the possession of any radical, and to make the arrangements for obtaining
them in their entirety. Thus, when the GID discovered an obscure Italian
born philosopher who had a unique collection of books on the theory of
anarchism, his lodgings were raided by the Bureau and his valuable
collection became one more involuntary contribution to the huge and
ever-growing library of the GID.
Similar contributions came from others, among them the anarchist
philosophers who had retired to farms or elsewhere. A number of them had,
over the years, built up private libraries in pursuit of their studies;
these are discovered by the General Intelligence Division, and it was soon
able to report that ``three of the most complete libraries on anarchy were
seized. The Bureau took over the contents of a school library which it
discovered in a rural community of radicals. It also obtained the library of
a boys' club, and assured Congress that the library was ``in the possession
of this department . . .
Catalogs of these acquisitions were prepared,
including a ``catalog of the greatest library in the country which contains
In the search for literature, the Bureau sent many of its men to join
radical organizations, to attend radical meetings, and to bring back
whatever they could lay their hands on. The book-seekers, and the raiding
detectives tipped off by them, were directed to find the places where
specially valuable books, pamphlets, and documents might be guarded against
possible burglary; they were to ransack desks, to tap ceilings and walls;
carpets and mattresses had to be ripped up, and safes opened; everything
``hanging on the walls should be gathered up
– so the instructions to the
detectives read. [Ibid., pp 87-88]
In an attempt to improve upon the wartime surveillance records of the
Bureau, and to enhance the GID information store, Hoover created a card file
system containing ``a census of every person and group believed by his
detectives to hold dangerous ideas.
The index also had separate cards for ``publications,
and for ``special
conditions - a phrase the meaning of which has never been made clear. In
addition, Mr. Hoover's index separately assembled all radical matters
pertaining to each city in which there were radicals. Each card recorded
full details about its subject – material regarded by the detectives as
revealing each man's seditious ideas, and data needed to enable the
Government's espionage service to find him quickly when he was wanted for
shadowing or for arrest. The Intelligence Division reported that its task
was complicated by reason of ``the fact that one of the main characteristics
of the radicals in the United States is found in their migratory nature.
The GID assured Congress that Mr. Hoover had a group of experts ``especially
trained for the purpose. This training program was directed to making them
``well informed upon the general movements in the territory over which they
they were also trained to manage the intricate index;
and they had to keep up with its fabulous growth. The first disclosure by
the GID showed 100,000 radicals on the index; the next, a few months later,
200,000; the third, a year later, 450,000. Within the first two and one half
years of indexing, the General Intelligence Division had approximately half
a million persons cataloged, inventoried and secretly recorded in Government
records as dangerous men and women.
A considerably older unit of the Department of Justice, its Bureau of
Criminal Identification, had long maintained an index of actual criminals.
In 1923, after several years of trying, the Bureau of Investigation took
over the older bureau and the 750,000 name index it had developed in the
course of a quarter century. Whether the two indices were merged or kept
separate has not been announced. Hence, when Mr. Hoover stated in 1926 that
his Bureau's index contained 1,500,000 names, it is not clear whether this
was the total for both indices or for one only. [Ibid., pp. 90-91]
Also, in addition to indexing radicals, GID prepared biographical profiles
of certain of them deemed to be of special importance.
The writing up of lives and careers proceeded rapidly, so that within three
and one-half months of the GID's existence its biographical writers had
written ``a more or less complete history of over 60,000 radically inclined
individuals, according to the official information supplied the Senate.
Included were biographies of persons ``showing any connection with an
ultra-radical body or movement,
in particular ``authors, publishers,
Rigorous secrecy has been imposed on the list of names of newspapermen, authors, printers, editors, and publishers who were made the subjects of GID's biographical section. How many additional biographies have been written since the middle of November 1919, who were the GID's first or later biographers, how they were trained so promptly, and how they managed to write 60,000 biographies in 100 days – these questions have never been answered. [Ibid., p 91.]
The Constitution has three specific prohibitions against this type of abuse. These Constitutional protections often don't help, because of a willingness by the FBI to violate them, and a lack of understanding of them by the public. The following United States Government Memorandum demostrates the capricousness by which the FBI ignores the law:
TO: Mr. C. D. Deloach DATE: July 19, 1966
FM: W.C. Sullivan DO NOT FILE
SUBJECT: ``BLACK BAG
The following is set forth in regard to your request concerning what
authority we have for ``black bag jobs and for the background of our
policy and procedures in such matters.
We do not obtain authorization for ``black bag`` jobs from outside the
Bureau. Such a technique involves trespass and is clearly illegal;
therefore, it would be impossible to obtain any legal sanction for it.
Despite this, ``black bag
jobs have been used because they represent an
invaluable technique in combating subversive activities of a clandestine
nature aimed directly at undermining and destroying our nation.
The present procedure followed in the use of this technique calls for the
Special Agent in Charge of a field office to make his request for the use of
the technique to the appropriate Assistant Director. The Special Agent in
Charge must completely justify the need for the use of the technique and at
the same time assure that it can be safely used without danger or
embarrassment to the Bureau. The facts are incorporated in a memorandum
which, in accordance with the Director's instructions, is sent to Mr. Tolson
or to the Director for approval. Subsequently this memorandum is filed in
the Assistant Director's office under a ``Do Not File procedure.
In the field the Special Agent in Charge prepares an informal memorandum showing that he obtained Bureau authority and this memorandum is filed in his safe until the next inspection by Bureau Inspectors, at which time it is destroyed.
[Material apparently censored]
We have used this technique on a highly selective basis, but with wide-range effectiveness, in our operations. We have several cases in the espionage field [material censored]
Also through use of this technique we have on numerous occasions been able to obtain material held highly secret and closely guarded by subversive groups and organizations which consisted of membership lists of these organizations.
This applies even to our investigation of the [censored]. You may recall that recently through a ``black bag'' job we obtained records in the possession of three high-ranking officials of a [censored] organization in [censored]. These records have given us the complete membership and financial information concerning the [censored] operation which we have been using most effectively to disrupt the organization and, in fact, to bring about its near disintegration [censored]
In short, it is a very valuable weapon which we have used to combat the highly clandestine efforts of subversive elements seeking to undermine our Nation.
For your information.
Glen L. Roberts, Editor, Full Disclosure Magazine Host Full Disclosure Live (WWCR 5,810 khz - Sundays 7pm central) email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on The Best of Full Disclosure, four volumes to blow your mind. Voice/Fax on demand: (708) 356-9646 email for uuencoded .TIF of T-Shirt Honoring the FBI