How the FBI's Ugly Past Undermines Obama's War on Terror


I've got a new column up at The Daily Beast. It takes off from the publication of an important new history of the FBI called The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI, by Betty Medsger. A former Washington Post reporter, Medsger explores how the 1971 break-in by peace activists of the FBI's offices in Media, Pennsylania lead to the discovery of COINTELPRO, a secret and illegal program designed to disrupt even peaceful activist groups.

No one should be dreading the release ofBetty Medsger's The Burglary more than Barack Obama. It underscores what the paranoids and cranks among us have always known to be true: The national-security state is never operated for the benefit of citizens, but instead proceeds directly from the weird obsessions and pathologies of the people who run it….

The Burglary makes its appearance at a time when trust in government is near a record low, with just 19 percent of Americans surveyed telling Gallup that they trust government "to do what's right" just about always or most of time.

Who can blame us? Barack Obama pledged to create the most transparent administration ever but has broken his own vows about appointing lobbyists and mega-donors and lied about the basics of his health-care reform law. His "secret kill list,", a highly controversial if not plainly unconstitutional measure by which he claimed the right to unilaterally dispatch individuals he concluded were threats to the U.S., shook the faith of even his most gah-gah supporters.

Read the whole article, which includes a discussion of how the FBI may have indirectly helped create Kwanzaa through its support of the US Organization, a black power organization which was headed by the man who created the holiday in 1966.