Thousands Of FBI Documents About Civil Rights Era Destroyed By Flooding

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This September 2nd marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) only major counterintelligence program (or COINTELPRO) to “to expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” right-wing organizations.

The FBI is often known for its opposition to the left rather than its opposition to the right. Ten of the its eleven COINTELPRO operations between 1956 and 1971 illegally sought to destroy the personal and professional lives of those who participated in left wing and anti-racist organizations— from the Communist Party to the Black Panther Party, from American supporters of Fidel Castro to proponents of Puerto Rican independence, from the Nation of Islam to Martin Luther King.

But the FBI’s COINTELPRO against “various Klans and hate organizations” marked an exception. Following years of criticism by civil rights activists who claimed that the FBI was not doing enough to prevent racial terrorism in the South, amidst the revival of the Third Ku Klux Klan, and at the height of the FBI’s investigation of the murder of three civil rights activists in Mississippi in June of 1964, the FBI initiated a campaign to destroy 19 different offshoots of the Third Ku Klux Klan, as well as nine other white nationalist organizations, including the American Nazi Party....

But unfortunately, valuable documents through which these and other questions could be investigated were destroyed last year during Hurricane Sandy. In a huge loss from a one-of-a-kind archive that had never been released to the public, somewhere between one fifth and one third of the FBI’s 62,000 page Birmingham, Alabama field office file on the United Klans of America (UKA) was destroyed by flooding of FBI archives in Alexandria, Virginia, according to documents that the FBI released last month to the web site Muckrock.org.

Read entire article at National Security Archive

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