Pulling The Rug Out From Under Big Brother– The Burglary, The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger

The New York Times

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“There are certain points in history where a society goes so wrong, and there are certain people who will say, ‘I won’t stand for that . . . I will risk career, life, limb, family  freedom . . . And I will take this risk, and I will go and do it.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          David Kairys

Betty Medsger’s book about the 1971 burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania isn’t about a cheap thrill ride of robbery for adrenaline kicks and profit, though it was a crime with a huge payout–the truth.  The burglary committed by a crew of non-violent peace activists assembled by a physics professor, William Davidon, confirmed the suspicions of anti-war activists that they were being unlawfully spied upon by their own government because they were exercising their right to dissent — and that thousands of other people were being illegally spied upon because they were considered subversives according to one man, J. Edgar Hoover.  People didn’t have to commit any crime or even speak about committing treason to get their names put on a list of folks to be rounded up and jailed in the event of some national emergency. If they were liberal, if they were black, if they espoused anti-war sentiments, if they were writers, artists, then they were candidates for warrantless, indefinite detention without due process under the law–as far as Hoover was concerned. The Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI’s theft of FBI records brought into the light of day the term COINTELPRO–and a lot of very very illegal activity by the FBI as it committed crimes against the American people with impunity. Such crimes included destroying the lives of innocent people by deliberately framing them for crimes they didn’t commit, celebrating such wrongdoing and refusing to turn over evidence that proved their innocence in any wrongdoing. Hoover’s secret FBI didn’t give a damn about truth, integrity, civil liberties, or the law. It existed to create paranoia and fear in the population at large in order  to control everyone. It refused to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the law. It was a criminal entity from the top on down with a few exceptions.

If this is striking a contemporary current events cord with you, that’s not an accident.

If you’re expecting an anti-war tale rife with hippies, drugs, sex and rock and roll music, look elsewhere. The people who broke into the FBI office in Media were not a bunch of hooligans. They weren’t looking for money. They were searching for evidence.  These were people who raided draft offices in order to destroy the effort to conscript young men for the war machine then stayed to be arrested by the police in order to take responsibility for their actions. These were people deeply invested in ethical behavior and education who wanted the death and destruction in Vietnam to stop. They were people committed to the civil rights movement.  Betty Medsger’s book provides varied personal portraits of the burglars, each dependent upon how much personal information they were willing to share, of the Media burglars.  There’s a range of backgrounds and experience among them which provides some sense of the breadth of the range of people involved in the anti-war movement and what inspired them to become activists.

If you have no clue about the short and long-term importance of this burglary and the context in which it occurred, don’t fret, Medsger will fill you in. She provides notes and a very useful bibliography for further reading. While this is a very serious book about very serious issues which are very relevant to the here and now, it’s also very very accessible and readable. It gives life and breath to events by creating connections with real humans thinking hard about the world we live in–and how we live in it. What are the responsibilities of those who are free? What does it mean to have the right to dissent without fear of retaliation in a society that claims to be free? What are you willing to do to protect your civil liberties? Who wants to live their lives in fear of being arrested because of their ideas?

Betty Medsger’s book raises all sorts of interesting issues for serious conversation while stressing the important role ‘ordinary’ people play in creating the world in which we live our daily lives. If you think one person doesn’t have a lot of influence in the power plays then consider J. Edgar Hoover the Head of the FBI versus William Davidon, a physics professor with an idea.

Who is reading everyone’s mail? Who is collecting phone conversations? Who is creating files on everyone? Why?

Who has the Hoover virus? What is to be done about it?

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The Burglary site –>> http://www.theburglary.com/

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Betty Medsger ~ The Burglary (note, her part does not run the full hour of the video)

Published on Mar 21, 2014

http://www.politics-prose.com/book/97… Betty Medsger talks about her book about the previously unsolved burglary of an FBI building in Media, Pennsylvania. Recorded on March 16, 2014.
Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics & Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics & Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online. Visit them on the web at http://www.politics-prose.com/

BookTV

 

What’s in Betty Medsger’s ‘ The Burglary’? Crow-bars, COINTERLPRO and Naughty FBI Spy Games.

what lives in a book

inked leaves unfurling words

secrets detecting

&

 Hmm, how’s that poem working for you? May not make the publishing book grade, but it does the introduction rites job today. Sort of. Books are strange things. Never know just what you’ll find between their covers–hard copy or electronic, it makes no difference when the words are what make the mental meat of the matter. I have no clue how good or bad Medsger’s brand spanking new book reads. Yet. It’s literally a NEW release by Random House-as in publication dated yesterday.  Ironically the historical story it features is decades old. New book for an old untold story about American citizens taking things into their own hands in order to get to the truth of what matters.  According to the interview on Democracy Now! this morning, the newspaper media nearly failed them. The truth was very HOT to handle. Some political folks so feared the FBI that they turned their backs on the right to information regarding illegal activities by the FBI. One mailing of copied documents never reached its destination. Can we say “intercepted”? Or maybe just an honest mistake on the part of the postal service. I wouldn’t bet a penny on that.

Clearly history is repeating itself in current events. The stakes are just as high regarding freedom and civil liberties. A portion of the public is very paranoid. J. Edgar Hoover would be proud of the media spin on all things of politics regarding the military industrial complex and corporate personhood for inducing much paranoia–according the old documents stolen and “released.” Some times it’s just no fun having a theory proven. My next observation might seem like a side issue, but it’s not. How many ‘cop’ shows are on television? How many feature all sorts of fancy surveillance techno toys? How many feature terrorist threats week after week? How many evoke sympathy for the hardworking agents no matter what their flaws? Have you gotten used to the sound of gunfire from watching crime shows on television? Ever notice the lack of emotion from the people doing the shooting and the characters giving and recieving the news that someone has been killed?

Side note: At the opposite end are the medical heroes who do everything they can to save lives and then seem to suffer a sense of loss when their patients die. Hmm. I’ve yet to encounter any such doctor in my life experience. I’ve managed to send a couple running in a panic. I guess that proved those well educated individuals were human after all.

“Excuse me, doctor, but that’s not his sense of humor.  At the moment, he really thinks you’re all aliens out to kill him. He’s a lot stronger than he looks. I advise exercising caution when handling.” Watch doctor run back to ER room.

Back to the regular word flow:

I wonder if there’s a television program in the works about TSA folks in order to show us just how good all their intentions are as they intimidate, strip search, x-ray, hassle and belittle people everywhere with impunity in order to keep people safe.  The irony of TSA is a steak so thick an axe is needed to cut the meat.

What’s your paranoia meter reading? I know people who freak out every time there’s a plane crash and others who fear the sight of police people wearing gun holsters. I also know a fair number of folks who don’t give a flying f&*^ about anything except their daily routine and money-making. As long at those boats are not rocked, all is well in their universe.

Is there a safety lock somewhere?

Is this piece fully loaded?

Careful with the drones~

Make sure they fly right~

Status quo depends on the system flowing, flowing, flowing…..

*

The Context:

Stealing J. Edgar Hoover’s Secrets

The New York Times

The Book:

The Burglary by Betty Medsger

click cover for Random House

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The Motive:

“It Was Time To Do More Than Protest”

democracynow·

Published on Jan  8, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – 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, political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. Calling themselves, the Citizen’s 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.”
Watch part 1 of this interview: http://youtu.be/GMWuJipChs0

For more of the interview and links to related items –> http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/8/it_was_time_to_do_more

&

Radio:

NPR  coverage –> http://www.npr.org/2014/01/07/260302289/the-secret-burglary-that-exposed-j-edgar-hoovers-fbi

How’s your day? What’s in your mailbox? Have you fumigated lately?

Yes, I am looking forward to reading Medsger’s book.

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