Bush gave the green light to the FBI in 2002 to again wage a free-wheeling campaign against those eyed as subversives, this time the new watchword was "terrorist." The new guidelines again gave the FBI carte blanche to surveil and plant agents in, churches, mosques and, of course, political groups. They also permitted FBI agents to ransack the Internet to hunt for potential subversives. They could do all this without having to show probable cause of criminal wronging. Just as in the days of J. Edgar Hoover, the rules gave the FBI unbridled power to determine who and what groups and individuals it can target.
Withers was a pathetic, and now justly reviled figure who abused the trust of civil right leaders such as King to lie, distort, sow dissent, sully the civil rights cause. He didn't succeed. But he and the thousands like him with the quiet blessing of the White House made spying, legal and illegal, on its citizens a shameful part of American life.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on ktym.com and wfax.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
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