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What does COINTELPRO mean?
- COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations. The FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception; however, covert operations under the official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971. COINTELPRO tactics have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination. The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order." FBI records show that 85% of COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed "subversive", including communist and socialist organizations; organizations and individuals associated with the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress of Racial Equality and other civil rights organizations; black nationalist groups; the American Indian Movement; a broad range of organizations labeled "New Left", including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen; almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; the National Lawyers Guild; organizations and individuals associated with the women's rights movement; nationalist groups such as those seeking independence for Puerto Rico, United Ireland, and Cuban exile movements including Orlando Bosch's Cuban Power and the Cuban Nationalist Movement; and additional notable Americans —even Albert Einstein, who was a member of several civil rights groups, came under FBI surveillance during the years just before COINTELPRO's official inauguration. The remaining 15% of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert white hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan and the National States' Rights Party.