A new book by Betty Medsger titled, The Burglary is getting a lot of attention.
In March of 1971, a Pennsylvania FBI field office was broken into and hundreds of documents were stolen. The Burglary is an admission of guilt and a detailed look into how eight Vietnam War protestors pulled the heist off.
The previously unsolved crime received much national attention when the documents surfaced in the media. The contents were a chilling look into the corruption of the US government and for the first time, it was proof that the FBI, under President J. Edgar Hoover, was targeting “New Left” groups – with orders to expose them and neutralize them by taking action against them.
Over 200 investigators were under order to find the thieves but to no avail. The search finally ended five years later when the statute of limitations ran out on the crime.
Inside The Burglary, you’ll find a detailed examination of how the theft was conceived and carried out. The participants involved included college teachers, graduate students and a cab driver, Keith Forsyth, who was also an experienced lock picker.
“I was pretty vehement in my opposition to the war,” says Forsyth. “I felt like marching up and down the street with a sign wasn’t cutting it anymore.”
The group planned the heist for many months and covered every detail but in the end, they had some unexpected surprises they didn’t plan for. Risking time in prison, they made the decision to move forward and were rewarded with everything they had hoped to find – and a clean escape.
One item in particular had the word COINTELPRO stamped on it and it wasn’t until years later that NBC’s Carl Stern reported that this was short for Counter Intelligence Program – Hoover’s direct operative to “deal” with any groups and citizens that might be considered a threat to national security.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was created as a direct response to COINTELPRO – limiting the amount of power the government could impose in spying on citizens.
COINTELPRO was criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights.
Surveillance has become a hot topic yet again, since the 9/11 topics and the recent news concerning former Central Intelligence Agency employee, Edward Snowden. Perhaps there’s a very good reason to be asking, “Who’s watching me now?”.