As the antiwar movement grew across the country, President Johnson (LBJ) became obsessed with the idea that the Russians or Cubans were behind it – a familiar Washington scenario of Communist subversion at work. He tasked J Edgar Hoover to get the goods. The ‘Bureau’, as the FBI was called by insiders, created a program to monitor all anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and directed its 59 field offices and numerous satellite branches across the country to keep an eye on colleges and universities within their jurisdictions.
The Bureau had at its disposal well-tested tools for surveilling and disrupting the antiwar movement, techniques honed in its no-holds barred postwar campaign against the American Communist Party (CPUSA) and rival Marxist groups. By the mid-‘60s, the CPUSA had been thoroughly penetrated by FBI informants and was a shadow of its prewar self, although its smaller Trotskyist and Maoist rivals were going strong.
Responding to a rattled LBJ who in ’67 loudly declared to his cabinet, “I’m not going to let the Communists take this government,”* Hoover deployed the vast resources of his secret agency against the antiwar movement. Shocked during spring ‘68 by SDS’s temporary takeover of Columbia University, the Director escalated, intensifying his campaign under a code word he’d coined in 1956 for work against the Old Left, COINTELPRO, or Counter Intelligence Program, this time directed at the New Left. The Indianapolis (Indy) Field Office took note, stepping up its surveillance of colleges and universities in the State of Indiana experiencing student unrest, most notably IU at Bloomington.
*** SAC-Indianapolis to Director, FBI (6/25/68)
****SAC-Indianapolis to Director, FBI (7/15/68)
***** SAC-Indianapolis to Director, FBI (6/3/68)
-Surveillance at IU: http://jeffsharletandvietnamgi.blogspot.com/2011/03/surveillance-at-indiana-university.html
-Police brutality: http://jeffsharletandvietnamgi.blogspot.com/2011/12/unsung-hero-of-gi-resistance.html
-Dow protest: http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/omeka/archives/studentlife/exhibits/show/studentdemonstrationsatiu/1967dowchemicalsitin