What We Can Learn From the Files Themselves

Many people in the United States have a hard time understanding why so many political dissidents, labor organizers, immigrants, and activists in communities of color warn about government repression and the erosion of civil liberties. These are people who have good reason to worry--they are in groups that have been targeted repeatedly by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies for who they are, or what `they believe, rather than anything they have done.

On these pages we are in the process of collecting stories of FBI abuses during the period of the illegal COINTELPRO operations (1956-1971). We do this to illustrate actual incidents targeting real people. Each story will be backed up with selected images of actual COINTELPRO documents.  


Visit our collection of articles and resources

We hope that this archival collection of COINTELPRO documents will assist in educating the public about the need to defend dissent and protect civil liberties for all. Of special interest is the documentation of a network of federal, state, and local police and intelligence agencies that shread information with corporate, commercial, and right-wing security and intelligence-gathering organizations and individuals. This network, which was illegal during the period of the FBI COINTELPRO operations, is now being legalized piece-by-piece.

This collection of documents is being unveiled to remind us that protests of government policies, such as those at the political conventions Denver and Minneapolis/St. Paul , are protected by the Bill of Rights, unless there are specific criminal acts for which specific individuals can be charged. Caging demonstrators, clearing streets with preventitive detention sweeps, and indiscriminate arrests violate the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of the United States.

Browse FBI COINTELPRO operations by state and city

See list of COINTELPRO documents in the archive of Political Research Associates - listed by program and then city or other location

Other COINTELPRO Document Collections

Paul Wolf's pages: Documents and Reports
This is an extensive collection by a serious researcher and is highly recommended. Includes:
Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Book II
Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports, Book III

Other COINTELPRO Research Resources


Selected resources from PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service.
Includes resource pages developed for various programs on civil liberties.

A New Video Documentary

COINTELPRO 101 is a 56-minute educational film that will open the door to understanding this history. This documentary will introduce viewers new to this history to the basics and direct them to other resources where they can learn more. The intended audiences are the generations that did not experience the social justice movements of the sixties and seventies.

Contemporary Spy Files Online

ACLU National Collection

ACLU of Colorado Collection, including:
Denver Police and Joint Terrorism Task Force.

More About Political Repression

For recent reports, visit

Security for Activists
Common Sense Advice

The Hunt for Red Menace by Chip Berlet

This set of pages is Under Construction

A Joint Project with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (CLUM)

Civil Liberties Home Page
Security for Activists

Manufacturing the Muslim Menace:
Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security

Platform for Prejudice
How the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative Invites Racial Profiling, Erodes Civil Liberties, and Undermines Security
Current Political Repression
The New Witch Hunt
Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and Repression
History and Theory of Political Repression

Program Priorities
Civil Liberties
Economic Justice
LGBT Equity
Racial Justice
Reproductive Justice
The Christian Right

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Center for Constitutional Rights
First Amendment Foundation
National Committee Against Repressive Legislation
National Lawyers Guild
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