return to cointel.org
COINTELPRO -- Communist Party, USA 1956-1968
Socialist Workers Party Split
Anonymous letter Technique
Tidal Wave Telephone Technique
Intelligence Cover Organization
During its investigation of the Communist Party, USA, the Bureau has sought to capitalize on incidents involving the Party and its leaders in order to fester factionalism, bring the Communist Party (CP) and its leaders into disrepute before the American public and cause confusion and dissatisfaction among rank-and-file members of the CP. Generally, the above action has constituted harrassment rather than disruption, since, for the most part, the Bureau has set up particular incidents, and the attack has been from the outside. At the present time, however, there is existing within the CP a situation resulting from the developments at the 20th Congress of the CP of the Soviet Union and the Government's attack on the party principally through prosecutions under the Smith Act of 1940 and the Internal Security Act of 1950 which is made to order for an all-out disruptive attack against the CP from within. In other words, the Bureau is in a position to initiate, on a broader scale than heretofore attempted, a counterintelligence program against the CP, not by harrassment from the outside, which might only serve to bring the various factions together, but by feeding and fostering from within the internal fight currently raging. A. H. Belmont to L.V. Boardman, August 28, 1956
During the first sixty days of our counterintelligence program we have launched four basic programs and have laid the groundwork for others. These programs are aimed primarily at capitalizing on the current internal dissension and factionalism in the Communist Party (CP) by means of careful maneuvering of informants inside the Party and utilizing individuals outside the Party with the object of increasing the unrest within the Party. In addition to weakening the CP, it is hoped that our programs will bring about other by-products such as laying the groundwork for development of additional high-level informants; enhancing the prestige of our current informants; preventing the CP from obtaining certain of its goals and developing new sources of valuable intelligence information concerning the operations of the CP. A. H. Belmont to L. V. Boardman, Nov. 9, 1956
Socialist Workers Party Split
The SWP has been outspokenly critical of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA) and has referred to members of the CPUSA as Stalinists. The recent downgrading of Stalin by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev has given the SWP a psychological propaganda weapon to use against members of the CPUSA. The SWP, an organization of approximately 500 members, has instituted an ambitious program of trying to recruit leaders and active members of the CPUSA into the SWP by capitalizing on the confusion existing inside the CPUSA brought about to no small degree by the downgrading of Stalin. The current SWP program includes sending of the SWP publication "The Militant" and other SWP literature to members of the CPUSA, inviting them to SWP social gatherings and finally attempt to sell them on the SWP program. It is believed the following suggestions are feasible in most of the 15 offices and they are being furnished these offices for consideration in an attached letter.
(1) Furnish names and addresses of CP leaders through selected SWP informants to SWP branch leaders where possible without jeopardy.
(2) Through SWP informants, call attention to articles in the press or congressional committees which identify local communist leadsers and members.
(3) Furnish names and addresses of CP leaders and member to SWP branch leaders by anonymous letters, pretext telephone calls or by slipping the names under the door of SWP headquarters.
(4) Furnish the locations of future CP meetings to SWP leaders so that SWP members can pass out SWP literature to CP members attending.
(5) Discreetly subscribe to "The Militant" for three-month period for special rate at fifty cents in name of several top CP leaders.
(6) Suggest through SWP informants that SWP capitalize on anti-Semitic crimes in the Soviet Union.
The current SWP program aimed at winning recruits from the CPUSA is made to order for the Bureau in increasing disruption inside the CPUSA. It is felt that with careful planning we can capitalize on this situation without jeopardy to any SWP informant or without embarrassment to the Bureau.A.H. Belmont to L.V. Boardman, Oct. 10, 1956
You should make certain that [ ] not obtain the impression that the Bureau has any over-all program in this connection. The informant should feel that [ ] participation is a local situation developed between [ ] and the Agent supervising [ ] operations. Director, FBI to SAC, New York, Nov. 6, 1956
On 8-29-56 a letter was directed to the Department listing those underground subjects who had Smith Act ramifications such as: unindicted Smith Act subjects; indicted Smith Act subjects awaiting trial; subjects convicted of Smith Act - at liberty on bond awaiting appeal; subjects serving sentences for violation of Smith Act and contempt of court. There is attached herewith for your approval a letter to the IRS to be delivered through liason which sets forth the identities of 336 individuals who reportedly operated in the CP underground during a portion of the underground period 1951 to 1955. It is suggested that in checking on these cases IRS may desire to maintain suitable controls to examine the possibility that failures in compliance with the tax laws are in furtherance of a conspiracy by these individuals and their CP superiors to evade tax regulations. A.H. Belmont to L.V. Boardman, Oct. 19, 1956
When the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA), launched its widespread underground operations, it was reported that it made extensive study of the problem of filing income tax returns by the underground leaders and members who were assigned underground activities. It was reportedly concluded that such members should either file their returns under false names or disregard their tax obligations. In checking on these cases, you may desire to maintain suitable controls to examine the possibility that failures in compliance with the tax laws are in furtherance of a conspiracy by these individuals and their Communist Party superiors to evade tax regulations. Director, FBI to Commisioner, IRS, Oct. 23, 1956
Anonymous Letter Technique
The resignation of Howard Fast, the well-known communist author, from the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) has provided an excellent psychological weapon to utilize in connection with wavering CP members especially those who come from families of Jewish faith or who have spouses of Jewish faith. SAC, New York to Director, April 2, 1957
Reurlet 3-7-57 requesting Bureau authorization to send a letter signed "A Group of Disillusioned Comrades" to approximately 100 professional people in SF who are now or have been former members of the Professional Section of the CP or who have contributed in the past to Party causes. While the Bureau feels that your proposed letter was drawn up with considerable care, it is not felt that we will gain maximum benefits by such a widespread mailing. As the Bureau pointed out in its letter dated 2-15-57 such type anonymous letters sent to a large number of CP members are quickly suspected of being prepared by "the enemy" and, therefore, loses its effectiveness. The CP membership or affiliation of individuals especially in the Professional Section is a closely guarded secret and it is extremely unlikely that a "group of disillusioned comrades" would know the identities and addresses of so many comrades. As suggested in Bulet 2-15-57 it would be more effective if the SF Office could develop basic charges of dereliction of communist duties or other failures on the part of communist leaders in the professional field. This data should be furnished to the Bureau in a proposed letter for approval. After approval it could be mailed to a select group of key communists operating in the professional field. We do not desire to overwork the anonymous letter technique. It should be saved for specific instances when tangible results can be expected. Director to SAC, San Francisco, Mar. 19, 1957 Director to SAC, Los Angeles, May 16, 1957
On 5-27-57 an anonymous source close to [ ] copies of a four-page document captioned "Excerpts From Report to State Committee, Ohio C.P., May, 1957. On page 2 of this document were the following three paragraphs which were contained under a subheading captioned "Latest Forms of Party Harrassments and Attacks".SAC, Cleveland to Director, May 27, 1957
There is still another aspect of the struggle to maintain the Party, and that is the fight against the efforts of its enemies to destroy it. In particular, the FBI has launched a determined drive to harass, disrupt, and undermine the Party in every way possible. It has stepped up its program of harassment and intimidation for the purpose of frightening or coercing people into becoming stoolpigeons. Some individuals have been singled out for a campaign of special persecution, and have been fired from one job after another as a result of FBI hounding.
The FBI has evidently launched a campaign of idealogical harassment, mailing reproductions of the Howard Fast article in Mainstream and other anti-Party material to large numbers of Party members and other progressives throughout the country. In characteristic fashion, this material is mailed anonymously in plain envelopes, but it is obvious that considerable sums of money are being spent upon it and such methods have been typical of the FBI in the past.
For some time we have come to take these activities of the FBI largely for granted and to regard them almost as a necessary evil. But this is wrong. If the average American knew about such actions, he would be revolted by them. It is the silence of its victims, and their inability to prove anything, that theese Gestapo agents count on to get away with their contemptible activities. It is high time we began to find methods of exposing them.
Reference is made to the request of the Internal Security Section for an article attacking William Z. Foster which could be distributed anonymously within the Party. A rough draft of one is attached for the consideration of the Internal Security Section. ... At the very end, reference is made indirectly to the possibility of Foster being an Agent Provocateur. It is believed more effective to make this reference indirectly rather than directly. All we need to do is to sow the idea and create the impression that there are already whisperings in the Party about Foster as an Agent Provocateur. W.C. Sullivan to A.H. Belmont, June 4, 1957
There is attached wherewith a copy of a memorandum directed to the New York Office with copies to 16 other offices engaged in our Counterintelligence Program. This letter instructs these offices to discontinue, for a period of 30 days, all anonymous mailings under this program so that the Bureau will have time to re-evaluate this operation. This re-evaluation is believed desirable since information has been received from the Cleveland and Los Angeles Offices indicating that the Communist Party (CP) is aware of our previous anonymous mailings, suspects the FBI of being responsible and has indicated that it hopes to find some way to counteract our activities in this field. It is apparent that our anonymous mailings have been effective and the CP is extremely disturbed over this operation. However, it is felt that we should carefully consider the current situation and determine if we should make any changes in our operation, such as, not utilizing Photostats or other professional types of printed material and restricting dissemination to a particular field office area. These changes would further help to disguise the operation. A. H. Belmont to L. V. Boardman, June 20, 1957
It is apparent that a CP member, on receiving an anonymous mailing, will first attempt to form some
conclusion as to the source of the material. If the material itself does not offer a suitable clue to the
identity of the sender, the CP member will most likely conclude that it came from the FBI. Therefore,
it is suggested that each individual mailing in each office be somehow identified with a particular
splinter group or other Socialist-type organization so as to leave little doubt as to the source of the
SAC, Los Angeles to Director, July 2, 1957
The "People's World" subscription list as obtained by the San Francisco office in November, 1956 indicates
that approximately 600 Security Index Subjects are receiving the paper at their residences while the rest of
the membership probably receives it through drops, bundle orders and so forth. It is the 600 CP members
who receive the paper at their residences to whom this proposal is directed.
To carry out this proposal the 12 most capable "pretext" men among the agents on the combined security
squads could be selected and assigned 50 CP members whom they would endeavor to contact telephonically
within 2 days. By limiting the time required for the contacts the possibility of the CP becoming cognizant of
the move would be reduced. It is estimated that 60 to 75 percent of the original 600 could be contacted telephonically
and it is felt that this number would be sufficient to create a tidal wave of suspicion within the CP which would then
be spread by word of mouth among the members themselves.
SAC, Los Angeles to Director, May 6, 1957
(this technique was apparently unsuccessful and was not used in the future)
Los Angeles suggests that in an effort to lure members from the CP a new organization be established by a former
informant or a current informant who has little potential for advancement. The new organization would be a coalition of
Socialist forces and would be controlled by the Bureau through the informant at its head. To set such an organization
in motion would require the rental of office space, printing of stationary, obtaining telephone service and printing
literature. ... After sufficient damage has been done to the CP, the informant would attempt to kill the organization by
closing the office and destroying all literature.
Los Angeles suggests that in an effort to lure members from the CP a new organization be established by a former informant or a current informant who has little potential for advancement. The new organization would be a coalition of Socialist forces and would be controlled by the Bureau through the informant at its head. To set such an organization in motion would require the rental of office space, printing of stationary, obtaining telephone service and printing literature. ... After sufficient damage has been done to the CP, the informant would attempt to kill the organization by closing the office and destroying all literature.
The purpose of this memorandum is to recommend a long-range counterintelligence program designed to provoke a dispute between the Communist Party, USA, and La Cosa Nostra under the code name of Hoodwink. La Cosa Nostra has no sympathy for the communists. The Communist Party, USA, and La Cosa Nostra come in contact with each other in the labor field where hoodlums operate businesses under "sweatshop" conditions. By making it appear that the Party is attacking hoodlum labor practices, over a period of time we could provoke a bitter dispute between the two organizations. F.J. Baumgardner to W.C. Sullivan, Oct. 4, 1966
The Party has been the subject of recent bombings, a typical hoodlum technique. Consider a spurious
Party statement blaming the LCN for the bombings because of Party efforts on behalf of the workers.
This statement could be aimed at specific LCN members if appropriate.
In developing this program, thought should also be given to initiating spurious LCN attacks on the CPUSA,
so that each group would think the other was mounting a campaign against it.
Director to SAC, NY, Oct. 5, 1966
The NYO requests Bureau permission to prepare the following anonymous letter, Xerox copies of which
would be mailed to the same Teamster Union locals in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area which were sent
the first anonymous letter.
SAC, New York to Director, Mar. 22, 1968