Headline is from Bob Fertig at Democrats.com. He writes:
In order to trash Cindy, [FOX's John] Gibson called on Ira Stoll, editor of the rightwing New York Sun and author of "Cindy Sheehan's Crowd." Stoll attacked Cindy for working with "extreme groups and individuals":
Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out all have representatives on the steering committee of United for Peace and Justice, an anti-war umbrella group. They share that distinction with the Communist Party USA.
Though red-baiting her is no worse than any of the other vile attempts to smear Cindy Sheehan, this particular tactic enrages me in a special way. I've been working on another post that relates to red baiting, not in connection to Cindy Sheehan, but I'm going to talk a little about it now.
In the late 50s the FBI's New York Field Office decided that my father should be investigated for possible inclusion on the Security Index. What was the Security Index? That was the 1950s and 60s version of the Custodial Detention Program (CDP), whose purpose was
to enable the government to make individual decisions as to the dangerousness of enemy aliens and citizens who might be arrested in the event of war.
( Book III of the Final Report of the US Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect To Intelligence Activities, 1976)
The Security Index was the new name given the CDP after Attorney General Francis Biddle issued a directive to abolish the program in 1943 because
The evidence used for the purpose of making the classifications was inadequate; the standards applied to the evidence for the purpose of making the classifications were defective; and finally, the notion that it is possible to make a valid determination as to how dangerous a person is in the abstract and without reference to time, environment, and other relevant circumstances, is impractical, unwise, and dangerous. (Ibid.)
The primary basis of the investigation of my father for inclusion in the Security Index was his membership on the executive committee of the Socialist Unity Forum and his attendance at meetings of the Young Socialist Alliance. He had committed no crimes, but he associated with socialists.
What did the investigation entail? Here's a partial list, gleaned from my father's FBI file, released to my family under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts:
- Trips by FBI agents to the NYC Marriage License Bureau and to the NYC Board of Elections to gather data on residences, employment and family
- Reports from a neighbor in my parents' apartment building who was spying for the FBI
- Bogus phone call to my mother from an FBI agent claiming to be a NY County Clerk's Office Representative. In the guise of being interested in empanelling my father for a jury, the agent grilled my mother about my father's place of employment.
- Bogus phone call from an FBI agent to my father's place of employment. Pretending to be an insurance company representative, the agent verified my mother's information about my father's employment.
- Agents who attended political meetings and made leading statements to provoke others in attendance to go on record with views that could make them eligible for further investigation or otherwise "incriminate" them.
- A surprise visit from two Special Agents who started asking questions first and identified themselves second: "After the SAS identified themselves GREENBERG remarked 'No, I have nothing to say to you!' He refused any further approaches to conversation including possibilities for a later appointment."
A significant basis for conducting these invasive and harassing procedures was information about my father's affiliations and activities provided by civilian informants whose information was not necessarily reliable and whose intent was discernibly vindictive.
When we talk about invasions of privacy associated with the Patriot Act it is important to remember what the stated purpose of such practices were in the past: to create "a suspect list of individuals whose arrest might be considered necessary in the event the United States becomes involved in war" ( Book III of the Final Report of the US Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect To Intelligence Activities, 1976).
If one qualified for the Security Index, one's name was placed on a special Security Index card. If the FBI found that a subject did not qualify for the Security Index and his or her card should be canceled,
[t]he cancelled Security Index cards on individuals taken off the Index after 1955 were retained in the field offices. This was done because they remained "potential threats and in case of an all-out emergency, their identities should be readily accessible to permit restudy of their cases." These cards would he destroyed only if the subject agreed to become an FBI source or informant or "otherwise indicates complete defection from subversive groups."(Ibid., emphasis added)
The practice of red baiting has had terrible ramifications in the lives of thousands of innocent Americans whose only crime was holding views or having political associations that challenged the status quo. In many cases the only evidence of their crime was unsubstantiated allegations that they held views or had political associations that challenged the status quo.
Please read the rest of Bob Fertig's post and join him in telling Fox to stop smearing Cindy Sheehan and her allies.