Barack Obama

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

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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.

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  1. easton 2 hours ago
    what is the point of this post, while pretty much everyone agrees our representatives whom we elect should do a better job of monitoring intelligence agencies this idea that in previous decades that there have been flawed people in the agencies is indicative of anything else but the flaws in those peoples is nuts.

    I am pretty tired of this naivete of the libertarians on this issue, we are not going to get rid of our intelligence agencies or reform their mission in any signficant way, the most that will happen is more strict oversight so abuses are not as common.

    Poor little Gillespie doesn’t seem to understand that NO politician (apart from Paul) is willing to risk a massive attack on the homeland after they dismantle national security intelligence programs. Freedom without security won’t last.

    1. this idea that in previous decades that there have been flawed people in the agencies is indicative of anything else but the flaws in those peoples is nuts.

      Appeal to authority, or appeal to tradition? Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out where the TOP. MEN. fallacy falls.

      1. this idea that in previous decades that there have been flawed people in the agencies is indicative of anything else but the flaws in those peoples is nuts.

        That sentence is so poorly written it’s actually an appeal to retard.

        Poor phrasing aside, it seems that guy is actually saying that, yes, well, flawed people have served in the intelligence and law enforcement communities. But the institutions themselves are fine.

        So…he’s making the argument that enormous, powerful government entities with virtually unlimited authority to fuck with anyone, anywhere, at any time, are fundamentally sound. Even if the people at the executive level are unhinged, paranoid, drunk on power, voyeuristic, etc?

        Really?

        1. I dunno. If an organization chronically hires “flawed people” who go on to do bad/illegal things in the organization’s name, I would say that organization has a problem.

    2. Freedom without security won’t last.

      We obviously have different definitions of freedom.

      1. and delusions that there is no relationship between the two.

      2. I think we also have different definitions of security.

        For certain values of freedom and security, they do indeed conflict in places.

    3. Poor little Gillespie doesn’t seem to understand that NO politician (apart from Paul) is willing to risk a massive attack on the homeland after they dismantle national security intelligence programs.

      Except those programs haven’t prevented any attacks, so…

      1. That’s the problem with security theater. No attack is indisputable evidence that the national security apparatus is sound. An attack, however, means more funding, laws, and regulations are needed to prevent more attacks.

        It’s a particularly insidious variation of circular reasoning. Kind of like a Mobius strip or something.

    4. I am pretty tired of this naivete of the libertarians on this issue, we are not going to get rid of our intelligence agencies or reform their mission in any signficant way, the most that will happen is more strict oversight so abuses are not as common.

      IT WILL BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME. PINKY SWEAR.

    5. Freedom without security won’t last.

      There is no bridging that divide with these people. Fuck them.

    6. We can always count on Daily Beast commenters to bring the derp. They’re almost as dependable in that sense as Huff-Po commenters.

    7. the most that will happen is more strict oversight so abuses are not as common.

      Is it wrong that I hope that easton is one day on the receiving end of the “abuses” he so flippantly waves off as being “common” and simply needing more “oversight”?

  2. periscope 3 hours ago
    FRight wingers are pathetic in their relentless and stupid attempts to smear Obama with the crimes of an FBI that was out of control under J. Edgar Hoover, who was one of the worst villains in US history.

    I remember COINTELPRO and the Frank Church committee, and being young, we thought that would be the end to government snooping. Of course, we were wrong.

    But the problem is with the American people, who somehow keep electing REpublicans and other proto-fascists to government.

    Because as we’ve seen with the GOP/TP thugs that run the House of Reps. since 2011. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the rights or the health and welfare of the American people.

    1. other proto-fascists to government.

      The first time I’ve ever seen TEAM Blue referred as something close to what their political sensibilities are.

    2. But the problem is with the American people, who somehow keep electing REpublicans and other proto-fascists to government.

      I’m sure he means the American people who hold different political views than him. Or those ones who live a different aesthetic.

      Certainly there is no way anybody he likes would expand the state and embiggen its guns.

  3. And one that sort of gets it, but with some nice WTF. Um…yes he is doing the things that Hoover did.

    pipet- 2 minutes ago
    @jibberjabber I disagree (and let me also say that I am no right-winger). The arguments here aren’t that Obama did the things that Hoover did, but that if we don’t put a stop to it, those types of abuses can take place again. The justifications being used now to say current programs need to remain (with some tweaks, most of which probably won’t do much to limit things) are that they are necessary and AREN’T being abused, even though we know there indeed has been abuse (like spying on love interests rather than real threats!!!). Maybe you personally trust Obama to keep things relatively in check, but what about the next President?

    Books like this should remind us that if you leave a means for something to be abused, it will. Just look at the abuse to medicaid, cooperate loopholes, etc, or even that congressional family members can use inside knowledge to buy/sell stocks. Without oversight in place, things go awry, and sadly we can count on some bad apples. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have programs but we have to work on reducing the impact of bad apples. in the case of the spying, it can be argued that much of it is completely unnecessary in the first place since other, less-objectionable means of detecting threats exist.

    1. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have programs but we have to work on reducing the impact of bad apples.

      This seems to be a common refrain in TEAMers. Yes, this program is rife with abuse and fraud and violates the Constitution. However, we should still keep it and include more oversight. Because terrorists.

      At some point you’d think they would realize that it’s the program itself, not just the “bad apples”, that causes abuse. However then they’d be “extremists.”

  4. 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.

    I’d say about 1/4 of the voters are TEAM BLUE partisans who are OK with anyone with a D doing stuff that would infuriate them if done by someone with an R.

    1. They were outraged about MPs putting panties on an Arab’s head.

      Obama murders civilians (including an American citizen and his son) and they shrug their fucking shoulders.

      And I think to myself, “what a wonderful world.”

  5. “I pledge allegiance to Obama, and vow to faithfully defend him from any enemy, domestic or foreign, even unto death. Amen”

  6. I am pretty tired of this naivete of the libertarians on this issue

    We’re naive, not the people who think we’re just one Top Man away from getting it right.

    1. It’s more of the projection Episiarch is always calling them out on. We’re regularly labeled as utopian, impractical, and/or not living in the real world, yet our philosophy is more based on known human behavior, like in the marketplace, than on the bizarro delusions they seem to regularly have.

      1. but the market is so unfair and some people are paid more for their labor.

        /emot

        1. but totalitarianism is so unfair and some people are paid more for their labor.

          1. but life is so unfair and some people are paid more for their labor.

            /wrists

  7. I try to remember historical context regarding this sort of thing. It’s too easy to use hindsight and decide Hoover was just some power-mad paranoid abuser of rights. The 20th century had the huge and real threats of communism and fascism. Statism was the hot new thing, even in the US. Every nation had secret police, and Hoover was in charge of ours. Compared to the people we were fighting against, he was total pussycat. I’ll bet even the MI5 did some “secret and illegal” things that were just as bad, if not worse.

    A lot changed in the ’60s, but Hoover wasn’t nuts to think that a lot of hippies and protesters really wanted to overthrow the country. It’s not surprising that the FBI remembered the ’40s, just 20 years previously, when dealing with all that. And yes, the USSR was doing what it could to subvert us, including direct and indirect aid to protestors. No doubt the FBI went too far at times, but it was the Cold War, and in any war, both sides will go too far, at least sometimes.

    BTW, there’s a theory, with some evidence, that Hoover was part black, but “passed” as white.

    1. Dunno about part black, but I’m sure he was part Divine.

  8. OT: probably wont be around for PM links so here’s all 178 episodes of the ST:TNG at the same time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FKvQDZ3IWw

    And all 80 episodes of original ST at the same time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1IIdzCHgcM

    1. Does it have that one episode where Wesley Crusher was annoying?

      1. Shhh, that’s ProL’s favorite.

        1. I’m of the school of thought that believes that children have no place in TV or movie science fiction. I mean, other than as phaser fodder.

          One of my favorite moments in the new Battlestar Galactica was when they introduced the character of Boxey, then never mentioned him again. Excellent.

          1. One of my favorite moments in the new Battlestar Galactica was when they introduced the character of Boxey, then never mentioned him again.

            I might have to give the new BSG a second chance then. I watched the mini-series that introduced the story, and didn’t particularly care for some of the changes to some characters. Starbuck as woman, Col. Tigh as a drunk?

            But if they minimized the annoyance of frickin’ Boxey, then perhaps I judged it too harshly.

            1. First season is really good, second season less so, and so on.

              1. But the last episode is super good, though. ANGELS!

                1. It’s really too bad the series was cancelled before the last episode. I thought the fan fiction version of a last episode that was released was technically excellent but super silly.

                  1. I’m just disappointed that they didn’t have any hot sex scenes of them interbreeding with Homo Erectus.

          2. Alia was pretty cool in the OG film version of Dune.

            1. Not really a kid, though,

        2. What about the episode where the psychic chick couldn’t use her psychic powers to easily solve the problem because of some reason or something?

          1. Her feelings were hurt.

          2. I remember that one episode that only happened that one time. It’s the same one where they didn’t solve the insoluble with some bullshit in the last five minutes.

          3. For the same reasons you would allow the safeties to be overridden on the holodeck… Erotic asphyxiation plateaus if you don’t take it to new levels.

            1. I could see that happening once. Once.

          4. Or the episode where the transporter was broke and Capt Kirk had to walk all the way to Mordor. What about the frickin’ space shuttle?!?!

          5. What about the episode where the shields fail?

            1. Shaka, when the shields fail?

      2. That raises a really great question: Was there a moment on ST:TNG where Wesley was not annoying? Note that I said moment, not episode or even entire scene. Surely there’s one.

          1. It would’ve been better if he’d slapped him repeatedly.

            Say, Peter Dinklage, the next starship captain on the next Star Trek series?

            1. As long as his Chief of Security doesn’t fight with honor.

              1. No. In fact, I think it would be interesting for his security chief to be horribly corrupt under Captain Dinklage’s otherwise hyper-competent nose.

                1. Especially if it turned out he couldn’t be fired thanks to union regs. And if he “accidentaly” shot lots of alien dogs.

                  1. Oooh, I like that–space unions. And the president of the union is, of course, Harcourt Fenton Mudd.

                    1. Of course. There can be only one.

                    2. And he’s married to one of the Alices.

                2. If not corrupt, at least the kind of ruthlessly efficient that sees nothing wrong with the old nostrum “no people, no problem.”

          2. Fucking Star Trek captains have clue what an air lock is for.

            1. Grrrr. NO clue, no clue what an air lock is for.

                1. This was a much better place for the erotic asphyxiation joke.

    2. How did they do this? Did they reverse the polarity of the Youtube matrix in a tachyon field?

      1. No. It’s some sort of subspace anomaly.

  9. …shook the faith of even his most gah-gah supporters.

    Not among the democrats I know. From what I’ve seen, the it’s-ok-if-our-guy-does-it mentality has risen to the level of a of psychosis among the members of both parties. I’m exaggerating, of course. Anytime a particular behavior, no matter how irrational, is practiced by that many people, it is not called a psychosis. It’s called normal human behavior.

    1. I’m exaggerating, of course.

      Actually….I don’t think you are. It’s gotten creepy, and to the point I will not engage the True Believers, all too many of whom are my friends.

      I haz a sad…

  10. just 19 percent of Americans surveyed telling Gallup that they trust government “to do what’s right” just about always or most of time are complete infantile morons.

    FTFY.

  11. Does it have that one episode where Wesley Crusher was annoying?

    What about the time when his shoes and purse did not match, but he insouciantly draped himself all over Riker anyway?

    1. So this was Wesley in drag?

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