by M. Wesley Swearingen, 1994
Reviewed by Jon Roland
Wes Swearingen served as an FBI agent from 1951 until he retired in 1977.
During that period he perpetrated or witnessed numerous violations of law by FBI
agents and their operatives, heard revealing statements by other agents about
their illegal activities, and read files which documented violations of the
rights of American citizens.
The activities of FBI agents and their "informers" include
warrantless break-ins, theft, fraud, kidnapping, perjury, fabrication of
evidence, suborning of witness perjury, and murder. The targets were political
dissidents: anyone FBI agents didn't like.
Swearingen details how members of the Black Panthers were murdered by FBI
operatives, another was framed for a murder he didn't commit, and still others
were prosecuted on trumped up charges.
He does not mention anything about the deaths of John or Robert Kennedy or
Martin Luther King, but he describes an agency so deeply involved in criminal
activity of every kind as to be capable of causing the deaths of those men and
others who have died under mysterious circumstances.
He describes various files on political dissidents, called the "Security
Index" and the "Reserve Index", which eventually included about
500,000 names, and which were the persons to be arrested without warrant and
taken to detention areas in the event of a national security emergency. For
those who are inclined to dismiss such concerns as paranoid, here is supporting
evidence, notwithstanding the repeal of authorizing legislation in 1971, which
would not stop people like these.
Swearingen provides an insider's view of the COINTELPRO program of
suppression of political dissidents, but also tells us that the program
continues to this day under another name, apparently without a paper trail.
He paints a picture of an agency riddled with corruption, incompetence, and
inefficiency, composed of men who may have once been patriots, but who have been
reduced to common criminals, whose crime fighting activities are limited at best
and largely for show, with political repression being the primary mission.
Some may suggest that the FBI may have been reformed since Swearingen left
the agency in 1977, and no longer does the things he describes. Certainly there
have been some reform efforts, particularly during the period Edward Levi was
Attorney-General, and we would expect another generation of agents to have taken
the place of those Swearingen worked with, but available evidence, including
continuing harassment of Wes by his former agency, indicate it has not been
reformed at all.
There have been other books by former FBI agents that have told similar
tales, such as William Turner, author of _Hoover's FBI: The Men and the Myth_,
and books by former agents of the CIA, such as those by Philip Agee, John
Stockwell, Victor Marchetti, Frank Snepp, and Ralph McGehee. It seems likely
that similar books remain to be written by agents of almost every agency of the
U.S. government, revealing them as criminal enterprises and implicating almost
every employee as criminal conspirators. Such agents should read this book and
begin gathering the evidence they will need to take out with them.
Even Swearingen still speaks with pride of his crimefighting activities,
seemingly oblivious to the fact that there is no constitutional authority or
federal jurisdiction for statutes against the offenses he was investigating,
making enforcement in federal courts itself a criminal violation of the civil
rights of the targets, even when they really are bad guys who deserve to be
prosecuted under applicable state laws.
The most important thing this book reveals is the mindset of government
agents, and the way otherwise good men get corrupted by the system of which they
become a part. They are totally ignorant of the principles of constitutional
republic government, and willing to do whatever works, regardless of legality.
Their arrogance was revealed in a statement by Special Agent Joseph G. Deegan in
1977: "We are the only ones who know what is good for the country, and we
are the only ones who can do anything about it." After reading this book
and others, it is clear that this statement reflects a dangerous delusion of
Anyone who is involved in any kind of politically significant activity, or
who is concerned about the future of this country, needs to read this book to
learn how government agents operate and how citizens can defend themselves
against them, both in court and in the field. These agents are not very
effective, and people should not be awed by them. Standing up to them works if
one exercises a few simple precautions, such as taping all encounters and having
witnesses around at all times. Going armed at all times may not be a bad idea,
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