During the last three months, we have been learning a great deal about massive and continuing wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of hundreds of millions of Americans by “our” Government.
For me, this has had a strong personal “kick” to it. To explain why, I have to share with you a story that began 45 years ago.
Beginning in 1968, the FBI undertook an effort called “COINTELPRO” – short for “counter-intelligence program” –- that used such illegal means as warrantless wiretapping, theft, forgery, agents provocateurs, and worse –- to disrupt the lawful civil rights, Black-liberation, and antiwar movements.
It was directly supervised by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, with orders to keep it totally secret within the FBI.
But in 1975, post-Watergate investigations by a Senate committee chaired by Sen. Frank Church made COINTELPRO widely known
So in 1976, nine Washingtonians – including me – sued the FBI for violating our First Amendment right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Our suit won.
Years later, it became the subject of one chapter of a book by ELLEN ALDERMAN and CAROLINE KENNEDY. — Yes, the Caroline Kennedy who as I write has just been appointed Ambassador-designate to Japan.
You can read the whole chapter at https://theshalomcenter.org/node/2086
The book is about the real-life importance of various provisions of the Bill of Rights in protecting the rights of grass-roots American citizens. Its title is In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action (Morrow, 1991).