FBI Domestic Intelligence Activities
COINTELPRO Revisited - Spying & Disruption

Following are transcripts of official FBI COINTELPRO documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The March 4, 1968 communique was sent out by J. Edgar Hoover himself just one month before the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It specifically identified Elijah Muhammed and the Nation of Islam as primary targets of COINTELPRO, as well as Rev. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Other released FBI documents show the Bureau had infiltrators within Macolm X's Muslim Mosque, Inc. Still others prove the FBI had undercover in the very room when he was assassinated; one such agent actually administered mouth-to-mouth to the dying man.

Note: in the originally released documents, most of the names of COINTELPRO targets are censored. However, the names which are included here exactly fit the spaces marked out by the FBI. It is also now known that all of these individuals were in fact targetted for "neutralization" by the FBI.

[Some emphases added by the editor.]

SAC, Albany August 25, 1967


[From] Director, FBI


[...] The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or OTHERWISE NEUTRALIZE [emphasis added] the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder. The activities of all such groups of intelligence interest to the Bureau must be followed on a continuous basis so we will be in a position to promptly take advantage of all opportunities for counterintelligence and inspire action in instances where circumstances warrant. The pernicious background of such groups, their duplicity, and devious maneuvers must be exposed to public scrutiny where such publicity will have a neautralizing effect. Efforts of the various groups to consolidate their forces or to recruit new or youthful adherents must be frustrated. NO OPPORTUNITY SHOULD BE MISSED TO EXPLOIT THROUGH COUNTERINTELLIGENCE TECHNIQUES THE ORGANIZATIONAL AND PERSONAL CONFLICTS OF THE LEADERSHIPS OF THE GROUPS AND WHERE POSSIBLE AN EFFORT SHOULD BE MADE TO CAPITALIZE UPON EXISTING CONFLICTS BETWEEN COMPETING BLACK NATIONALIST ORGANIZATIONS. [emphasis added] When an opportunity is apparent to disrupt or NEUTRALIZE [emphasis added] black nationalist, hate-
type organizations through the cooperation of established local news media contacts or through such contact with sources available to the Seat of Government [Hoover's office]*, in every instance careful attention must be given to the proposal to insure the targetted group is disrupted, ridiculed, or discredited through the publicity and not merely publicized...

You are also cautioned that the nature of this new endeavor is such that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE EXISTENCE OF THE PROGRAM BE MADE KNOWN OUTSIDE THE BUREAU [emphasis added] and appropriate within-office security should be afforded to sensitive operations and techniques considered
under the program.r />
No counterintelligence action under this program may be initiated by the field without specific prior Bureau authorization. [Emphasis in orig.]
* [EDITOR'S NOTE: "Seat of Government" (SOG) is an official designationcreated by J. Edgar Hoover to refer to his own office. Hoover was director of the FBI for some 40 years, even receiving a special exemption from compulsory retirement by President Ford. The "SOG" appellation is indicative of his egotistical view of his power, which saw presidents come and go.]



For maximum effectiveness of the Counterintelligence Program, and to prevent wasted effort, long-range goals are being set.

  1. Prevent the COALITION of militant black nationalist groups. In unity there is strength; a truism that is no less valid for all its triteness. An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the first step toward a real "Mau Mau" [Black revolutionary army] in America, the beginning of a true black revolution.

  2. Prevent the RISE OF A "MESSIAH" who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a "messiah;" he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position. Elijah Muhammed is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed "obedience" to "white, liberal doctrines" (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.

  3. Prevent VIOLENCE on the part of black nationalist groups. This is of primary importance, and is, of course, a goal of our investigative activity; it should also be a goal of the Counterintelligence Program to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they exercise their potential for violence.

  4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community. The goal of discrediting black nationalists must be handled tactically in three ways. You must discredit those groups and individuals to, first, the responsible Negro community. Second, they must be discredited to the white community, both the responsible community and to "liberals" who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist [sic] simply because they are Negroes. Third, these groups must be discredited in the eyes of Negro radicals, the followers of the movement. This last area requires entirely different tactics from the first two.
    Publicity about violent tendencies and radical statements merely enhances black nationalists to the last group; it adds "respectability" in a different way.

  5. A final goal should be to prevent the long-range GROWTH of militant black organizations, especially among youth. Specific tactics to prevent these groups from converting young people must be developed. [...]
Primary targets of the Counterintelligence Program, Black Nationalist-Hate Groups, should be the most violent and radical groups and their leaders. We should emphasize those leaders and organizations that are nationwide in scope and are most capable of disrupting this country. These targets, members, and followers of the:

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM)
NATION OF ISLAM (NOI) [emphasis added]

Offices handling these cases and those of Stokely Carmichael of SNCC, H. Rap Brown of SNCC, Martin Luther King of SCLC, Maxwell Stanford of RAM, and Elijah Muhammed of NOI, should be alert for counterintelligence suggestions. [...]
[SOURCE: Brian Glick, _The_War_At_Home: _Covert_Action_Against_U.S._
Activists_And_What_We_Can_Do_About_It_ (Boston: South End Press, 1989)
ISBN: 0-89608-349-7.]