An explosive new series of reports in the San Francisco Chronicle has revealed the FBI conducted a series of covert operations in Berkeley in the 1950s and 60s. The FBI campaigned to fire the University of California President Clark Kerr, conspired with the head of the CIA to pressure the Board of Regents to “eliminate” liberal professors, secretly gave Governor Ronald Reagan’s administration intelligence reports it could use against groups engaged in dissent, and planted news articles that falsely cast the Free Speech Movement as a communist plot. The Free Speech Movement staged the nation’s first major college sit-ins of the 1960s. It was a nonviolent protest movement against a university rule banning political activity on campus.
The Chronicle report was the work of a reporter who waged a 17-year legal campaign to obtain FBI records from the period.
The FBI’s activities changed the course of history not only for California, but for the nation and the world.
The current President of the University of California, Richard Atkinson, says the FBI operation helped propel Ronald Reagan’s 1966 campaign for governor, which focused largely on protests at UC Berkeley. That was the first political office Reagan held. After he became the US president, he expanded the FBI’s domestic intelligence powers. The FBI was caught spying on more than a hundred domestic groups that opposed Reagan’s foreign policy.
Now, California senior Senator Dianne Feinstein is outraged by the revelations and has written a letter to FBI Chief Robert Mueller demanding to know whether the bureau is currently involved in unlawful activities at the University of California. She also wants to know what he is doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
- Seth Rosenfeld, reporter, San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenfeld is the reporter who filed the original FOIA request 17 years ago.
- Reagan, Hover and the UC Red Scare–SFGate.com
- Wind Rochelle Garniez & the Fortunate Few, Serenade City (Real Cool Records (PO Box 606 Prince Street Station, NY 10012).