Re: FBI and the counterculture

CSLA, Inc., Dr. Jeff A. Hale (
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 13:09:33 -0500

Ted just wrote:

I haven't seen much
>on the FBI's interest in the counterculture (narrow); in fact, I would rather
>doubt that, bizarre as their fantasies were about the New Left), the FBI was
>greatly interested in the counterculture per se; could be wrong, of course
>--there's no limit to the surprises with the FBI.

In fact, Hoover did turn his sights on the counterculture by 1969, but only
in selected cases. One of these concerned the Michigan White Panthers (the
subject of my August, 1995 dissertation). What brought John Sinclair
(hippie poet guru) and the WPP to the attention of the FBI was their "house
band," the MC-5. A _Time_ magazine article of December, 1968 entitled "The
Revolutionary Hype" discussed the band's message of revolution and youth
revolt (MC-5 is credited by music historians as the REAL originators of punk
music). An FBI field office (I think NY) notified Hoover of this article,
as well as the group's winter, 1969 tour. Hoover went ballistic, calling
the band's music "obscene filth" -- and other things.

Within a few months the Detroit field office (closest to the WPP's commune
in Ann Arbor) had Sinclair and the band under full surveillance. Within a
year the following happened:

* Sinclair was sentenced to nine and a half to ten years in jail for
possession of two marijuana "joints," making him the "Jesus Christ of
Marijuana" (see Ed Sanders' well-known poem). It was his third offense, and
Michigan's draconian pot laws listed the wonder herb as a felony.

* Sinclair and two other Panthers were accused of "conspiracy: to blow
up a clandestine CIA recruiting office in Ann Arbor (a 1968 bombing which
had already been admitted to by "mad bomber" David Valler). This charge
(against Sinclair anyway) was manufactured -- 100 percent -- and I have the
FBI documents to prove it.

Within two years the Nixon Administration decided to use the White Panthers
in a test case to acquire warrantless wiretapping power against ANY DOMESTIC
RADICALS IT DEEM THREATS TO THE STATE. This was the _U.S. v. U.S. District
Court_ (or "Keith") case, decided by the Supreme Court in June of 1972
(unanimously against the Nixon administration).

So to sum this up, the FBI did take an increasingly serious look at the
counterculture after 1967.

Jeff Hale
Louisiana State University