“It Was Time to Do More Than Protest”: Activists Admit to 1971 FBI Burglary That Exposed COINTELPRO

Interview by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! 1/8/14

One of the great mysteries of the Vietnam War era has been solved. On March 8, 1971, a group of activists — including a cabdriver, a day care director and two professors — broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counter-intelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social and political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. They called themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI. No one was ever caught for the break-in. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until this week when they finally came forward to take credit for the caper that changed history. Today we are joined by three of them — John Raines, Bonnie Raines and Keith Forsyth; their attorney, David Kairys; and Betty Medsger, the former Washington Post reporter who first broke the story of the stolen FBI documents in 1971 and has now revealed the burglars’ identities in her new book, “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.”

Click here to watch the one-hour Part 2 of this interview.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Today, we will spend the rest of the hour unraveling one of the great mysteries of the Vietnam War era. On March 8th, 1971, a group of eight activists, including a cab driver, a daycare director and two professors, broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and stole every document they found. The activists, calling themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, soon began leaking shocking details about FBI abuses to the media. Among the documents was one that bore the mysterious word “COINTELPRO.”

AMY GOODMAN: No one involved in the break-in was ever caught. Their identities remained a secret until this week. Today, three of the FBI burglars will join us on the show, but first I want to turn to a new short film produced by the nonprofit news organization Retro Report for The New York Times. It’s titled Stealing J. Edgar Hoover’s Secrets….

continue reading at Democracy Now!

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