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01/08/14 01/08/14 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! i had a short crowbar. i put it in there and yanked that sucker. at one point, i heard a noise inside the office. i'm like, are they in there waiting for me? basically said to myself, there's only one way to find out. i'm going in. >> one of the great mysteries of the vietnam war europe has been solved.
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in march 8, 1971, a group of activists come including a cab driver, a daycare director, into professors, broke into an fbi office in media, pennsylvania. they stole every document they found an elite the press shocking details about fbi abuse and the then secret cointelpro program. , the firstr letter file i read was about a group of fbi agents who were told to enhance the paranoia and the antiwar movement and create an atmosphere that there is an fbi agent behind every mailbox. >> no one was ever caught for the fbi break-in. the identities of the media burglars made a secret until this week. today, three of them join us on the show as well as the former washington post reporter, betty medsger, who first broke the
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story of the still of fbi documents in 1971. this week she revealed the identities of the burglars in her new book, "the burglary: the discovery of j. edgar hoover's secret fbi." all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the death toll from arctic temperatures across the united states has reached nine. the polar vortex at record lows in number of cities on tuesday as freezing temperatures overwhelmed homeless shelters and continue to disrupt travel by land and air. the cold will begin easing for large parts of the country today. cities like new york will soon extreme jump by the weekend, from a record low of four degrees fahrenheit on tuesday to reject it high of 55 degrees on saturday. the senate has advanced a measure that would extend the jobless benefits of 1.3 million
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americans for three months. the emergency unemployment compensation program expired late last month after congress failed to renew it. on tuesday, the senate agreed to begin debate on the temporary extension, setting up a likely vote later this week. at the white house, president obama blasted claims from some republicans that jobless benefits discourage recipients from seeking employment. >> i can't name a time where i met an american who would rather have an intimate check -- unemployment check and the pride of having a job. [applause] long-term unemployed are not lazy. they are not lacking in motivation. they are coping with the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in generations. >> the measure would face a hostile reception in the house, where republicans have insisted on an equal amount in cuts to
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avoid increasing the federal debt. john boehner has also floated a proposal to tie the jobless benefits to approval of energy projects including the keystone xl oil pipeline. the financial giant jpmorgan billion topay $2.6 settle allegations it failed to disclose suspicions of fraud in what turned out to be a massive ponzi scheme by bernie made off. senior executives at jpmorgan chase said -- had serious doubts about the investment business at least 18 months before it collapsed. repeated suspicions, that i never alerted authorities an allowed madoff to billions of dollars of investors cash in and out of his chase bank accounts right up until the day of his arrest in december 2008. >> the law requires financial institutions as institutions to establish and maintain defective
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anti-money-laundering complaint programs and to know their customers. it is not a tip from it is not a suggestion, it is a legal requirement enforceable or criminal sanctions. today's charges have been filed because in this regard, jpmorgan as an institution failed and failed miserably. one reason, among others, that madoff was able to get away with the scrap for so long was that jpmorgan had an ineffective anti-money laundering program. billion, $1.7. will go to his victims, who lost an estimated $18 billion. jpmorgan is now paid some $20 billion to resolve government probes for the past 12 months. it is the latest settlement to come out of a series of deferred prosecution agreements that have allowed ager corporations to
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escape from all charges. in a statement, the watchdog group outlook citizen criticized the justice department saying -- nearly 100 people were killed in iraq on tuesday amidst clashes between government forces and al qaeda-linked militants for control of two major cities. at least 25 fighters were killed when iraq you were claims bombed ramadi. iraq you forces have also surrounded falluja in preparation for potential assault to retake the city. have fledof fallujans to avoid being trapped in the crossfire. the united nations has begun moving syria's chemical weapons stockpile out of the country.
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the human spokesperson announced the latest step. >> it was moved from two sides to the port in syria for verification and was then loaded onto a danish cargo ship today. the vessel has been accompanied by deval escorts provided by denmark and norway as well as the syrian arab republic. this initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from syria to locations outside its territory for distraction. >> the weapons will eventually be transferred to a u.s. ship and destroyed in international waters. in other news from syria, the head of the nusra front is calling for a cease-fire in clashes with the islamic state of iraq and the levant. more than 270 people have been killed in a nearly week of fighting between the two al qaeda-linked groups in northern syria. in an audio recording, the nusra front leader propose the formation of an islamic legal counsel to resolve disputes and
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return to a united stance against president bashar al- assad. but in response hours later, the head of the isil vowed to crush nusra fighters as well as members of the syrian national coalition. the internationally act opposition group in syria. the clashes marked the worst infighting between opponents of assad senses are in began nearly three years ago. the trial of former egyptian president mohammed morsi has been delayed today in cairo. he was due to appear on incitement charges surrounding the deaths -- the deaths of protesters killed in a rally against his government in december 2012. but the military regime says it is postponing or see us appearance until next month due to bad weather. the muslim brotherhood had called for pro morsi rally today to mark his return to court. stay forces have killed hundreds of supporters since his overthrow in july. the u.s. is boosting its military presence in south korea. the pentagon will deploy an
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additional 800 soldiers and around 40 tanks and armored vehicles beginning next month. the move comes as part of the obama administration's pledge to rebalance u.s. foreign policy toward the pacific. at a meeting with south korea's foreign minister in washington, secretary of state john kerry renewed a vow to confront nuclear proliferation in north korea. korea to de- north nuclearize. we will not accept north korea is a nuclear state nor as a nuclear armed state, nor will the international community abide by that. i assure you that we remain fully committed to the defense of the republic of korea, including through extended deterrence and putting the full range of u.s. military capabilities in place. >> a teenage victim of an alleged rape in merry hill,
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missouri has tried to take her own life. in 2012, daisy coleman, then 14 years old, claimed she was given alcohol and raped during a gathering of high school athletes while another team filmed the incident on his phone. despite reported evidence and interviews supporting the case, prosecutors dropped tardis against her accused rapist. her family says she tried to commit suicide this week and by overdosing on pills after being bullied online. daisy coleman was rushed to a hospital where she remains in recovery. it was her third suicide attempt since the alleged rape. los angeles county sheriff lee baca has announced his retirement one month after the arrest of 18 current and former deputies for the alleged abuse of prisoners and other offenses and local jails. yearsad served nearly 50 and had planned to seek reelection in june, but now says he will step down at the end of the month. the charges follow a multi--- followed a multiyear investigation.
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a forthcoming memoir from former defense secretary robert gates says president obama did not believe in his own strategy for the war in afghanistan. of troopsred a surge in 2009, but gates said the president have major doubts. describing his thoughts at a 2011 meeting, gates writes -- gates was appointed under president george w. bush, but stayed on during president obama's first term. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. today we will spend the rest of the hour unraveling one of the greatest -- great mysteries of the vietnam war era. on march 8, 1970 one, group of
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eight activists including a cab driver, a daycare director, and two professors, broke into an fbi office in media, pennsylvania, installed every document they found. the activist, calling themselves the citizens commission to investigate the fbi, soon began leaking shocking details about fbi abuses to the media. among the documents was one that bore the mysterious word cointelpro. >> no one involved in the break- in was ever caught and their identities remained a secret until this week. today, three of the fbi burglars will join us on the show. but first, i want to turn to a new short film produced by the nonprofit news organization retro reports for "the new york times." it is titled, "stealing j. edgar hoover's secrets." greatest heist you have never heard of and one of the most important. >> last march someone broke into the fbi offices and still
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records and mailed copies of them around the several newspapers. >> those records would help bring an end to the secret activities within the federal bureau of investigation. >> he ordered his agents not only to expose new left groups, but take action against them to neutralize them. >> many americans were tapped and bugged, heather mail open by the cia and fbi. >> the burglars were never caught and details have remained a mystery until now. a new book reveals for the first time who did it and how they used a crowbar to pry open one of the best kept in darkest secrets in american history. >> we were early whistleblowers before whistleblowers were known as such. >> many people are asking, how much is too much when personal privacy is at stake?
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>> in the spring of 1970, the war in vietnam was raging. >> cats now number 40,142. and lawar protesters enforcement officers were violently clashing at home. >> it felt like a nightmare unfolding. i took what was outrage and horror about what was going on and i realized that i had to take it somewhere. >> bonnie raines worked at a daycare center in philadelphia. her husband, john, taught religion at temple university. a were the very picture of the golden couple. >> we had three children. we were family folks who also wanted to keep another track active in our lives, which was political activism. >> it attracted the attention of
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the fbi, its director, the powerful and feared j edgar hoover, perceive the antiwar movement which ranged from radical revolutionaries to peaceful protesters as a threat to national security. >> at one rally, i had one of my children on my back and not only did they take my picture, but they took her to her. >> protesters became increasingly convinced the fbi was conducting a covert campaign against them, tapping their phones and infiltrating antiwar groups. >> we knew the fbi was systematically trying to squash dissent stop dissent is the lifeblood of democracy. >> determined to get proof the fbi was crossing the line, fellow activist william davitton hatched a plan. he reached out to the raines and six others. >> we agreed to meet someplace where we could talk and he says,
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what would you think about the idea of breaking into an fbi office? i look at him and i'm like, you're serious, are you? i was pretty vehement in my opposition to the war and i felt like marching up and down the street with a sign was not cutting it anymore. it was like, ok, time to kick it up a notch. >> the crew decided to break into a small fbi field office in media, pennsylvania. >> once i got over the shock of thinking that this was the nuttiest thing i had ever heard of my life, i'm like, this is a great idea because we are not going to make any allegations, we're going to take their own paperwork -- signed by their own people including j edgar hoover -- and give it to the newspapers. so let's see them argue with that. floor the raines'third- attic, they divvied up responsibilities and assigned tasks. they hung maps to learn about the neighborhood, planned escape
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routes, and took extensive notes on the comings and goings of the building. >> i signed up for a correspondence course in locksmith. after a month, you get pretty good. >> bonnie was assigned the job of going inside and casing the office. >> i was to call the office and make an appointment as a sophomore student doing research on opportunities for women in the fbi. so they gave me an appointment. i tried to disguise myself as best i could. i would to say goodbye and acted confused like, where is the door? take a be a chance to check out both rooms and know where the file cabinets were. >> bonnie discovered there was no alarm system and no security guards. she also found a second door leading inside. >> when she came back with that yes, we became convinced, i think we can get this done. we had more to lose than anyone in the group because we have these kids. >> we faced the reality of if we
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were arrested and on trial, we would be in prison for many years. he had to make some plans for that. >> with a solid understanding of how they would conduct the break-in, they now needed to figure out when. march 8, 1971, fraser and ali were fighting for the championship of the world. we had the feeling that maybe the cops might be a little distracted. >> while the crew waited at a nearby hotel, forsyth arrived alone. >> i walked up to the door and one of the locks is a cylinder lock. i just about had a heart attack. the bottom line is, i cannot pick that lock. >> the second door that bonnie noticed gave them another chance. >> at that point you know you're going to have to wing it.
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i picked the lock and like 20 seconds. there was a deadbolt on the other side. i had a crowbar. i put it in there and yanked that sucker. at one point, i heard a noise inside the office. and i'm like, are they in there waiting for me? basically said to myself, there's only one way to find out. i'm going in. >> next, the inside crew walked into an empty office wearing business suits and carrying several suitcases. they cleaned out file cabinets and they made their way downstairs to the getaway car and drove off unnoticed. farmhousereconvened a in hours drive away and started unpacking. >> we were like, man, i can't believe this work. we knew there was gold in there somewhere. >> we were sorting files and all of a sudden you hear, "oh, look at this one! >> after several long nights of
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digging for documents, the burglars sent copies to journalists, including "washington post" reporter betty medsger. >> the cover letter was from the citizens commission to investigate the fbi and the first file i read was about a group of fbi agents who were told to enhance the paranoia in the antiwar movement and create an atmosphere that there is an fbi agent kind of renown box. >> attorney general john mitchell asked "the post, to not write about the stolen document, saying it could endanger lives. >> the attorney general called to key editors and tried to convince them not to publish . >> it was the first of several reports and told how agents told local police or letter carriers, and switchboard operators into informants. >> a very strong editorial calling for an investigation of the fbi. >> another stolen document was
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even more explosive, around and slip marked with the mysterious word, cointelpro. the fbi was desperate to find the burglars. the bureau put nearly 200 agents on the investigation. hoover's best lead was the college girl who had visited your office. is to man was, "find me that woman." >> there are many antiwar activists who fit her description. >> we could hide within thousands of people because there were so many of us who were active. later, nbc reporter carl stern figured out the meaning of the word cointelpro. >> secret fbi memos made public today show the late j edgar hoover ordered a nationwide campaign to disrupt activities of the new left without telling any of his superiors about it. many of the techniques were clearly illegal.
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her bearers, forged blackmail letters, threats of violence were used. >> the fbi initially defended its actions. >> the government would have been derelict in its duty had it not taken measures to protect the fabric of our society. >> but the bureau's techniques were worse and the targets more far-reaching than the burglars ever imagined. figures,ats, sports socially prominent persons, senators and congressmen. the fbi at one time sought to blackmail the late martin luther king into committing suicide. >> marriages were destroyed, violets was encouraged, many americans were tapped and but and had their mail open by the cia and the fbi and their tax returns used illegally. what an extended absurd from, "stealing j. edgar hoover's secrets." video, you canll go online. when we come back, three of the activists join us in studio.
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keith forsyth, bonnie and john raines as well as the former "washington post" reporter betty medsger who first broke the story of the stolen fbi documents in 1971. this week she revealed the identities of the burglars and her new book, "the burglary: the discovery of j. edgar hoover's secret fbi." we will go back in time and talk about today as well. back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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"i spy."66 classic this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. our studious now in are three of the activists who broke into the fbi office in media, pennsylvania on march 8, 1971. the break-in led to revelations about the fbi's secret program.o graham -- on tuesday, their identities were revealed for the very first time. keith forsyth, bonnie and john raines all lived in philadelphia in 1971. keith forsyth was chosen to pick the lock at the office. on the and john posted many of the planning meetings at their home where they were raising three children. daycarewho worked as a
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director, helped case the fbi office by posing as a college student interested in becoming an agent. john raines was a veteran of the freedom rights movement and a professor. he used a xerox machine a photograph any of the stolen documents. >> were also joined by betty medsger, author of the new book, "the burglary: the discovery of j. edgar hoover's secret fbi." she first reported on the stolen documents all working at "the washington post." she uncover the identities of most of the burglars in her new book. we welcome you to democracy now! keith, i want to begin with you. talk about the time and how you ended up going into the fbi office. what spurred you on? , within a fewtime years, we had gone through sort of the peak of the civil rights movement.
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many of the laws like the voting rights act had been passed, but the reality of racial justice was still far from complete. the war in vietnam was raging at that point in time. there were many, many people who are working for change in those areas in particular. my main focus at that time was the antiwar movement. i was, you know, spending as withtime as i could organizing against the war, but i have become very frustrated with legal protests. they did not seem to be getting us anywhere. the government wasn't listening. the war was escalating. i think what really pushed me over the edge was shortly after
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the invasion of cambodia, there were four students killed at kent state and two more killed at jackson state. i'm sorry. have thisink i would down after all these years. that really pushed me over the edge, that it was time to do more than just protest and march with a sign. called catholic- left which is where i met john and bonnie and bill devitt -- davidon. the next up was the media action. >> keith, could you also talk about how you are invited to join this plan to break in by william davidon? >> if memory serves, he called
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me -- >> explained who he was. >> bill davidon was a professor of physics at the time. i knew him mainly as a fellow activist in the peace movement. he was very prominent in philadelphia. in both the legal and illegal peace movements. he called me on the phone one day and asked me if i wanted to come to a party, which was code for an action. i believe i said, sure, i'm always up for the party. phone at tapping his the time, so you could check the fbi transcript. we met at an outdoor location where we could not be bugged. you presented the idea to me -- he presented the idea to me. >> bonnie raines, what motivated you? you were a young mother of three. trucks my children were 8, 6,
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and 2. we have since had a fourth child. i became involved, as keith said, beginning with the civil rights movement. we lived in new york and were students. .nd we moved to philadelphia very much opposed to the war in vietnam. we found a whole community of activists in philadelphia. we became acquainted with what was called the catholic left at that time. we participated with that group called the east coast conspiracy to save lives. we went into a draft board in the middle of the night as part of the draft resistance movement. >> where was that? >> north philadelphia. we targeted that draft board because it was in one of the poorest sections of the city
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where they were bringing many, many young, poor young man into the armed forces to be sent as cannon fodder to vietnam. our government was lying to us about the casualties, both civilian and military casualties. so i participated along with john and going into a draft board and destroying files so those young man could not be drafted. priests,ntioned the the berrigan brothers. 1969 was thist in for you, catonsville? i want to go to a clip of the action that was keynes fell, maryland, where a group of activists led by the berrigan brothers burned draft cards with napalm. they still hundreds of the draft records and torched them.
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they were sentenced to three years in prison. >> we do not believe that gun violence is dead. believe an action like this will still speak to our fellow americans. we want them to believe that a decent society is still possible. it is impossible if these files and what they represent are preserved and honored. >> that was father dan berrigan as they stood around in a circle draft records with napalm, which was used in vietnam. >> that was a very dramatic moment for all of us, i believe. it took civil disobedience to another level and really brought level ofly, to another
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protest against the war in vietnam. lead inwed their targeting the draft as one of the real evil systems of that war. and that is how we became involved in covert actions with draft boards in philadelphia. >> john raines, can you talk about your sense of the antiwar movement itself had been in full traded by fbi informants -- infiltrated by fbi informants? >> it was obvious for any of us that were involved in the civil rights movement. j edgar hoover's fbi was all over the civil rights movement with infiltrators and surveillance. and people that would report back meetings and so on. we all knew that j edgar hoover and his fbi when after martin luther king, tried to discredit
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him -- indeed, even sent him a note suggesting that because of his activities with other women recites his wife, he now has no option but to commit suicide. that note was sent to dr. king suggesting -- from the fbi, suggesting that dr. king commit suicide. we knew from the civil rights actions that j edgar hoover and his fbi were very much against anything that promised significant social change. we brought that information north with us when we came to the antiwar movement. it became clear the tactics he used to disrupt and destroy or try to destroy the protest movement in the south, he was using once again against the protesters against the war in vietnam. edgar hooveras, j was untouchable. he was a national icon.
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i mean, he had presidents who were afraid of him. the people we elected to oversee j edgar hoover's fbi were either enamored of him or terrified of him. nobody was holding him accountable. that meant that somebody had to get objective evidence of what his fbi was doing, and that led us to the idea that bill davidon suggested, break into an fbi office and get their files and get what they're doing in their own handwriting. >> you and bill davidon were professors. >> yes. >> what did you feel about the risk that you were taking? were you concerned about getting caught? >> bonnie and i were parents and we had three kids under 10.
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that was a very serious consideration. that weo be persuaded could get away with this. skillsned nice burglar -- [laughter] office in media very carefully. >> you thought about philadelphia but felt it was to secure. >> yes. you couldn't touch that. but media you could. we felt quite confident if we could get in there and get out without leaving any physical evidence behind, that we could then disappear into the very, very large antiwar movement with thousands of people in the philadelphia area. >> you prepared in case you're caught to have your children taking care of. >> we had to. we knew the risks. we weren't going to be reckless.
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we weren't going to move ahead with our involvement except with the leadership of bill davidon. we all had so much admiration and respect for him. but we did feel it was necessary to speak to john's older brother and his wife and to my mother and father about caring for our children should the worst happen and we would be convicted and sent to federal prison. >> keith forsyth, you chose the night of the mohammed ali and joe frazier fight to break in. why was this so significant, march 8, 1971? >> there were many steps that we took to try to avoid getting caught. this was one of them. because whoever suggested it -- and i have no idea who it was -- thought it would add to the distraction of not only the police, but just people in general. the building in which the office was located had a live-in
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supervisor. his apartment was directly below the fbi office. he was going to be on the next floor down while we were inside walking around opening cabinets. so anything that could keep his mind off of the ambient sounds, sounded like a good idea. >> how did you know you would find what documents you would find -- or did you know? >> we didn't know. we were pretty sure. euroseas are the same everywhere. they like to keep records. shot. were taking a in that sense, we got lucky they did keep records. >> this brings betty medsger into the story in his book this ofk reveals the identities the activists involved in this burglary -- burglary. j edgar hoover
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found his match in this group of people. talk about receiving in the mail the documents. you are a reporter for "the washington post" at the time. >> i would just like to say something about bill davidon if i might, first, that the idea was bill's. bill participated in preparations for the book and the documentary that was made in 1971. we should note that we are all very sorry that bill is not with us. november.in but he was sort of a genius in coming up with this idea because although many people in the various movements at that time there were fbi informers and organizations, there was no evidence of that. and the public did not know. commitment toeep
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the public could be presented with evidence, they would be very upset -- even though hoover was an iconic figure -- that if they knew there was massive surveillance or political surveillance, they would care and do something, and that is what happened. i was a reporter. one day this envelope appeared in my mailbox. libertyit was from publications. that was the return address. media, pennsylvania. that did not mean anything to me. but when i opened it, there was a cover letter that said it was from citizens commission to investigate the fbi. it was a new organization to me. a grouper explains that of 8 people have burglarized and that guy office the night of march 8, and that enclosed were some of the files they had removed from the office. some of those files were very shocking.
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i think the first shock, and is also resonated very much with the public, was the one that instructed agents to enhance the paranoia and then also make people think there is an fbi agent behind every mailbox. that was a pretty stunning statement and said so much. the burglars themselves were shocked, i understand, when they first saw the document the first night after the burglary. so that stunned me. i guess the other files -- there were many about individuals and they were all serious, but one of the things i remember most from those files was the truly blanket surveillance of african- american people that was described. it was in philadelphia, but it
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nationalcribed programs. it was quite stunning. first, he described -- it took lace and every place where people would gather. churches, classrooms, stores down the street, just everything. specifically prescribe that every fbi agent was supposed to have an informer just for the purpose of coming back every two weeks and talking to them about what they observed about black americans. in washington, d.c., at the time, that was six informers for every fbi agent informing on black americans. the surveillance was so enormous that it led various people, rather sedate people and editorial offices and congress, to compare it to the dreaded secret police of east germany. >> could you talk about how the editors of "the washington post"
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responded when you show them these documents? >> they responded very positively. i should point out two things. first, this was the first time a journalist had ever received secret government documents from a source -- from an outside source who had stolen the documents. so that tended to pose a different kind of consideration as to what you would do, and their minds, as to what you would do with the documents. but it was a particularly tough decision -- >> the publisher. >> the publisher of "the washington post." it was the first time she had been faced with a demand from the nixon administration that she suppress a story. she did not want to publish. the in-house counsel, the lawyers, also did not want to publish.
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but two editors from the beginning realized it was very important story and pushed it. -- backst back the air there innocently writing my story and talking to sources from the past, confirming information. i did not know until 6:00 -- there's a question as to whether or not they would publish by 10:00 that night she decided to publish. >> talk about the reaction and the reporters who did not get to publish the story. you weren't the only person these activists sent the documents to. >> they sent them to five people . these are the first files they released. they sent them to senator george mcgovern and were presented at mitchell from baltimore. mitchellpresentative
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from baltimore. they immediately return the files to the fbi did not make them public. they sent them to three journalist in addition to sending them to me. they sent them to jack nelson at "the l.a. times." and tom wicker, columnist ben at "the new york times." it is important to keep in mind in addition to the fact we did not really know -- the public did not know what was happening in the fbi that very few wrote asts ever critical comment about the fbi. jack nelson and tom wicker were two of about three or four who point.until that at "the l.a. times," jack never received the envelope, even though it was addressed to him. the fbielivered to immediately. i did not know this until years later when i read the
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on thegative report fbi's investigation. it is a little less clear what happened as to whether tom wicker received. what they did do was they merely gave the files to the fbi -- they immediately gave the files to the fbi, but a poorly kept them and copy them, unlike the "l.a. times." a week after we wrote the story, they wrote the story. break,h, before we go to can you talk about parallels to today? it is hard to look -- and for moment i want to turn to the church committee hearings that took place a few years later. senator frank church of idaho lead this investigation investigating the cia plus misuse of power. it was the first of people
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attend the word cointelpro. examining the fbi and cia's effort to infiltrate and disrupt leftist organizations, the cia's attempt to assassinate foreign leaders. this is senator frank church speaking during one of the committee's hearings. >> we have seen the dollar side of those activities -- dark side of those activities, when many americans who are not even suspected of crimes were not werespied upon, but they , and at, discredited times, endangered. >> that was senator frank church. the church committee hearings changes in what the fbi could do and also dealing with the press as well.
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you listened to frank church. you could be hearing possible hearings today to mother they haven't started, to do with edward snowden. what are your thoughts on edward snowden today? >> i think there are some parallels. to me, one of the most significant ones is not long before edward snowden release these documents, james clapper when in front of congress and the american public and was asked a direct question whether the nsa was engaged in this kind of surveillance and he said no. which was obviously a lie. said, oh, we had can't talk about that because that is national security, i might have had some respect for that answer. the two come out and lie to the public about it, and of course, not suffering any punishment as a result, so to me, edward snowden -- i've seen no evidence personally that edward snowden has released anything that was harmful to national security. certainly has been embarrassing,
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but, to me, the young man is definitely a whistleblower and has performed a great service by enabling us to have the conversation. we could not have the conversation about whether this was right or wrong before because we were not told about it. so he is made that conversation possible. i think we owe him a debt for that. >> we will take a break and come back to this conversation. our guests are you forsyth and bonnie and john raines, part of the what they called the citizens commission to investigate the fbi. activists during the vietnam war era who broke into a net guy an fbiin media, -- into office in media, pennsylvania, took the documents and sent them to "the washington post" and other publications to let people know what the fbi was doing. we're also joined by the woman who has revealed the names of these activists, and we will talk about why they decided to come forward will stop betty washingtonormer "
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post" reporter and author of, "the burglary: the discovery of j. edgar hoover's secret fbi." stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,
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democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. we continued our discussion looking at how activists broke into an fbi office in media, pennsylvania in 1971 and disclosed secrets about the going tell rope program -- cointelpro program. first came to public attention with the release of these documents. we are joined with lonny and john raines who are among those who broke into the fbi office that day in march 1971, we're joined by the reporter who broke the story then and now, released the names of those involved with this break-in, betty medsger. she wrote, "the burglary: the discovery of j. edgar hoover's secret fbi." we're also joined by david kairys who has represented this group until this day for more than 40 years. >> 43. >> john raines, why have you
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decided to come forward 42 years later? >> the simple answer is, a book came out. [laughter] of course, that is not accidental. we decided years ago that we would trust betty with the story and she is done a wonderful job spending years of research writing a very substantial book that tells a very interesting story. to onceed it was time again come forward with the question of government surveillance, government intimidation, and the right of citizens to vocally dissent. i think the gasoline of democracy is the right to dissent. wherever there is power, wherever there is privileged, power and privilege are going to from publice
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discourse anything they want to do. that leaves the citizens right to dissent as the last line of defense for freedom. that is what we were faced with back in 1970's will stop i think that is what we are faced with once again today. it should not surprise us. it should not surprise us that those in washington in power want to make the decisions that count off stage, out of sight from the rest of us. tomorrow is he depends upon the rights of citizens to have the information they need in order for them, the citizens, to decide what the government should be doing and should not be doing. they must have that information so they can make up their minds. >> explain that moment that night when betty medsger came over and you revealed who you were. what year was it? >> i think it was 1988. we knew betty when she was a reporter -- >> more than 20 years ago.
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>> more than 20 was ago. betty was living in san francisco. she was on a trip to the east coast. we invited her for supper. she was nice enough to say, sure, i will come. our youngest daughter mary came down. i think she was 12 or 13. without thinking about it, i just said, mary come in. we want you to meet betty medsger because she is the one we sent those fbi files to. [laughter] betty's chin dropped to her chest. it was out of the bag. that's how it started. >> david kairys, as the attorney who has worked on this case for so long, could you talk about the significance of the statute of limitation on the case as well as what you saw as the illegality of what these documents exposed about what the fbi was doing? >> the statute of limitations by
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any fair reading is 5 years. the fbi themselves close the file in 1976 because five years had elapsed and there was no charges. there are arguments one can make, but there's really no legitimate or good faith basis to bring any legal charges at this point. as for the illegality of the fbi, they're supposed to enforce the law. here they are imposing themselves as almost a political counterforce to stop certain movements. it had a direction to it. they were stopping left liberal movements. thatwere using techniques we usually associate with state police in countries and systems that we usually think of as alien. >> how did you come to become involved in the case? >> i was vaguely doing civil rights work.
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i would represent demonstrators of all kinds. two of them checked with me before. keep kids me that he still has my phone number from back then on his arm. that was the beginning. i did not know what they were going to do, but then two of them got arrested in the camden 28 case where i was lead counsel. >> and remarkably five days before this break-in, bill davidon met with in re kissinger at the white house, the national security advisor for richard nixon. >> yeah. >> we will talk about the story in our post-show interview and post on democracynow.org. how was the secret cap for so many decades? it is not just the two of you, there were nine of you. one person dropped out. there were eight of you. this is decades later. how did you keep a secret?
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100 fbi agents looking for you. bonnie, you had gone into the audie -- office and pretended you were looking for an fbi job and sat with the official there. >> and did not know following that there was a sketch that had circulated of me by the fbi. we knew we had to pull the curtain down and not meet after we did our work, and not talk about it with anybody at all because our work was done at that point. we were not looking for anything more than for the general public and congress to follow suit. in a way that we hoped they would. >> do you feel it economist what you wanted? >> in certain ways it did. we were encouraged when there was a church committee that was taking the task seriously and
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there were reforms that did take place. >> tank you for being with us -- thank you for being with us.
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