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The FBI addressed the threats from the militant "New Left" as it had those from Communists in the 1950s and the KKK in the 1960s. It used both traditional investigative techniques and counterintelligence programs ("Cointelpro") to counteract domestic terrorism and conduct investigations of individuals and organizations who threatened terroristic violence. Wiretapping and other intrusive techniques were discouraged by J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Director in the mid-1960s and eventually were forbidden completely unless they conformed to the Omnibus Crime Control Act. Hoover formally terminated all "Cointelpro" operations on April 28, 1971.

"And for the FBI, as recently as the 1960s and the '70s, we were found to have run a counterintelligence program, infamously known as COINTELPRO, that targeted persons involved in civil disobedience with investigative measures that crossed the line."

--Remarks by

  Robert S. Mueller, III
  Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
   at the
  Stanford Law School
  Stanford, CA
  October 18, 2002

COINTELPRO is an acronym for the FBI's domestic "counterintelligence[?] programs" to neutralize political dissidents. Although covert operations have been employed throughout FBI history, the formal COINTELPRO's of 1956-1971 were broadly targeted against radical political organizations.

The origins of COINTELPRO were rooted in the Bureau's operations against hostile foreign intelligence services. Counterintelligence, of course, goes beyond investigation; it refers to actions taken to neutralize enemy agents.

"Counterintelligence" was a misnomer for the FBI programs, since the targets were American political dissidents, not foreign spies. In the atmosphere of the Cold War, the American Communist Party was seen as a serious threat to national security. Over the years, anti- Communist paranoia extended to civil rights, anti-war, and many other groups.

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