In 1971 Keith Forsyth and seven other activists known as the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an FBI office in Media, Penn. and stole a ton of documents that revealed the agency’s far-reaching abuses of power.
The FBI’s COINTELPRO program spied on and tried to smear individuals and organisations ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. to anti-Vietnam student protestors. In a recent Reddit AMA, Forsyth revealed the most shocking revelation from those files: the fact that the FBI had informants in virtually every local institution.
The COINTELPRO revelations led to the first government hearing on the intelligence community, and a scaling back of the FBI’s powers. Recently, the burglars involved in the operation have revealed themselves ahead of the release of the documentary “1971.“
We’ve highlighted some of the key responses from Forsyth’s AMA below:
Forsyth shares his reason for identifying himself, believing it could advance the cause of having a dialogue about privacy and government power.
One of the most shocking findings to come from the operation was the discovery of just how many informants the FBI had spying on ordinary citizens.
On parallels to the current Snowden saga, Forsyth believes a key difference is the lack of a mass movement today attempting to hold the government responsible for its actions.
However, Forsyth believes Snowden, and all forms of civil disobedience, are justified.
But Forsyth admits he’s not sure he would have carried out the burglary today.
A key point throughout Forsyth’s AMA was his warning against complacency.
Below is a trailer for the documentary, “1971,” about the burglary that revealed COINTELPRO.
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