Synopses & Reviews
"Cunningham's landmark study of the FBI's response to Sixties protest couldn't be more timely. We gain fresh and disturbing insight into the culture and dynamics of the agency at a time when once again it has been empowered to monitor political dissidence. We need this history so as to avoid repeating it."and#151;Richard Flacks, author Making History: The American Left and the American Mind
"Cunningham reveals the programs and priorities of the FBI's domestic surveillance in the 1960s with an eye for the telling detail, and with extensive new research. He shows how the extreme bureaucratic centralization of the agency often handicapped, rather than helped, field agents who had creative ideas about how to pursue the FBI's goals. This is the most important book on how the FBI shapes its agenda and its actions, in relation to targeted groups, in some time. At a time when the FBI is being called on to deal with new public threats, we need the insights of this work."and#151;Jack A. Goldstone, Hazel Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University
"For years political scientists and social movement scholars have theorized and sought, in various ways, to measure 'political repression.' Despite these efforts, the actual social and organizational dynamics that shape repression have largely remained a black box. By fashioning a rich, systematic account of the origins and operation of the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO program, Cunningham has gone a long way toward redressing this problem."and#151;Doug McAdam, co-author of Dynamics of Contention
"This is a timely book. Cunningham's thoughtful, thoroughly researched history of the FBI's purposeful repression of dissident movements under the COINTELPRO's New Left and White Hate programs raises disturbing questions about the FBI's conduct of 'terrorist' investigations dating from the 1970s and intensified in the aftermath of September 11."and#151;Athan Theoharis, author of Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in counterintelligence but Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years
"A devastating portrait of a bureaucracy unleashing widespread surveillance and repression while swatting away the restraints of logic, ethics, and the Bill of Rights. Demonstrates through a convincing statistical analysis that the FBI's COINTELPRO operations were not primarily devoted to investigating criminal activity, but rather to crushing unpopular dissent."and#151;Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America
"David Cunningham's calm, dispassionate, and authoritative study of the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO activities of the 1960s gives us much to think about. Putting these programs into historical context and an original theoretical framework, he reminds us that the violation of American constitutional principles cannot be a useful tool in any alleged effort to preserve the American way of life. This is equally true in today's turbulent times as during previous crises."and#151;Sanford J. Ungar, president of Goucher College and author of FBI: An Uncensored Look Behind the Walls
Using over twelve thousand previously classified documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act, David Cunningham uncovers the riveting inside story of the FBI's attempts to neutralize political targets on both the Right and the Left during the 1960s. Examining the FBI's infamous counterintelligence programs (COINTELPROs) against suspected communists, civil rights and black power advocates, Klan adherents, and antiwar activists, he questions whether such actions were aberrations or are evidence of the bureau's ongoing mission to restrict citizens' right to engage in legal forms of political dissent. At a time of heightened concerns about domestic security, with the FBI's license to spy on U.S. citizens expanded to a historic degree, the question becomes an urgent one. This book supplies readers with insights and information vital to a meaningful assessment of the current situation.
There's Something Happening Here looks inside the FBI's COINTELPROs against white hate groups and the New Left to explore how agents dealt with the hundreds of individuals and organizations labeled as subversive threats. Rather than reducing these activities to a product of the idiosyncratic concerns of longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, Cunningham focuses on the complex organizational dynamics that generated literally thousands of COINTELPRO actions. His account shows how--and why--the inner workings of the programs led to outcomes that often seemed to lack any overriding logic; it also examines the impact the bureau's massive campaign of repression had on its targets. The lessons of this era have considerable relevance today, and Cunningham extends his analysis to the FBI's often controversial recent actions to map the influence of the COINTELPRO legacy on contemporary debates over national security and civil liberties.
About the Author
David Cunningham is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University.
Table of Contents
List of Tables and Figures
Preface and Acknowledgments
1. Counterintelligence Activities and the FBI
2. The Movements
3. The Organization of the FBI: Constructing White Hate and New Leftist Threats
4. Acting against the White Hate and New Left Threats
5. Wing Tips in Their Midst: The Impact of COINTELPRO
6. Beyond COINTELPRO
7. The Future Is Now: Counterintelligence Activities in the Age of Global Terrorism
Appendix A. A Typology of COINTELPRO Actions
Appendix B. Organizational Processes and COINTELPRO Outcomes
Appendix C. COINTELPRO Targets