In the Wake of the Comey Firing, Don't Forget the Violence of the FBI Itself

FBI Director James Comey testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC, May 3, 2017. (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times)

Yesterday, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, no doubt because the Bureau may be getting too close to Trump’s badly kept secrets about his campaign’s collaboration with Russia to sabotage the 2016 election. For leftists and progressives, it felt a bit like being between a rock and a hard place — a choice between the FBI (and various other security agencies) and the Trump neo-fascist, overtly racist death machine. Former FBI and CIA agents and former George W. Bush operatives have become spokespeople for the anti-Trump media. Meanwhile, the Watergate scandal has become the template for the drama that is gaining momentum, as the buffoon-like “you’re fired!” antics of Trump and his cracker-in-chief, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, fuel the fire. For those of us who care about the future of this country and the world, it can be hard not to root with a full throat for a complete dismantling of the Trump administration, however it may occur.

But while hoping for a political transformation of unparalleled proportions, we should also be aware of the history of the intelligence organizations and leaders who are now the savants telling us how to think about our latest political scandal. It should be remembered that the Watergate scandal led to the investigation of the FBI, CIA and NSA by Sen. Frank Church’s Senate Committee, and the exposure of unparalleled official illegality. The FBI was front and center with its COINTELPRO program that had operated since the FBI’s inception in the 1920s, and had employed a wide range of aggressively unconstitutional tactics, first against Marcus Garvey, the Socialist Workers and Communist Parties, and later against the labor, antiwar and civil rights movements.

The FBI’s COINTELPRO tactics started out with an emphasis on public disinformation and outright lies that were designed…

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