movement might peaceful social protest groups; STOP INDEX, which tracked and monitored the activities of anti- war activists; CONUS, which collected more than 100,000 files on political activists during the Cold War; and “Operation Chaos,” which spied on peace activists during the 1960s. The FBI also spied on and harassed members of CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, an organization that opposed then-President Reagan’s Latin American policy. (And subsequent hearings and press reports exposed continuing lapses such as “Filegate,” in which the Clinton White House improp- erly received confidential documents about the first Bush White House.) From the late 1950s, the FBI used one flim- sy pretext after another to investigate and harass the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — contend- ing that his nonviolent civil rights that communists had infiltrated it, and that Dr. King was a “traitor” by violent, BLACKLISTED: Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo wrote an Academy Award-winning screenplay under a pseudonym, after being blacklisted as a suspected communist. dint of his opposition to the Vietnam War. According to a January 2002 ACLU analysis there was no basis for any of these charges; Dr. King’s only “crimes” were to speak out against segregation, the war and the persistence of poverty. But the effort continued even after Dr. King’s death, with an FBI memo to members of a House committee who the bureau believed would block the designation of a national holiday in his honor “if they realize King was In the 1970s, with Congress and the public reeling from the shock of these disclo- sures, the ACLU pro- posed eliminating the bureau’s domestic intelligence role altogether. It also proposed: drastic curtailment of the government’s power to classify information as secret, a ban on retaliation against whistleblowers, a ban on lying by intelligence a scoundrel.”
A HERO AND A TARGET: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with his wife Coretta and two of their four children, was an FBI target even after his death.
officers about prohibited activities, and remedies for those whose rights had been violated. Under intense pressure from lawmakers, the public and groups such as the ACLU, the FBI finally agreed in 1976 to rein itself in.
The bureau refused to get out of the spy business altogether, but it did voluntarily limit its spying to situations in which criminal conduct was suspected — until 2002, when Ashcroft rewrote the guidelines.