Pacifica and the FBI
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jun 23 06:18:51 MDT 2001
>From Pacifica historian Matthew Lasar...
To: Ken Ford, Pacifica Foundation
Re: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
June 23, 2001
A message has come to my attention, purporting to come from you, in which
you ask members of the Pacifica Governing Board to send what they
experience as distressing listener e-mails to your offices. You, if I
understand this message correctly, may then forward these documents to the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They may then form the basis of a
Racketeering in Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit against various Pacifica
reform groups or individuals that you do not like.
Mr. Ford, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to learn that this
e-mail (enclosed below) is a fake and that I am the gullible victim of a
clever Internet hoax. But if the message is real, I am very alarmed and
implore you to reconsider acting on it. I understand that you do not enjoy
being called upon to resign by thousands of people across the United
States. Since I am familiar with Pacifica, I know that some of these
messages may be rude. But inviting the FBI into this situation puts the
organization that you represent in great danger.
If the Pacifica radio network has a natural predator, it is the FBI. In the
early 1980s Pacifica obtained the network's Freedom of Information Act FBI
files. I urge you to read these documents, which about six years ago I
filed and sorted as volunteer archivist for the Pacifica National Office
Papers. Since the 1950s, the Bureau has been poking, prodding, invading,
infiltrating and harassing this organization in the most irresponsible and
aggressive ways. It has planted informers within the network, sent agents
pretending to be private citizens to inquire about the organization, and
In 1962, two staff members at WBAI in New York City interviewed a former
FBI trainee about his experiences at the Bureau, and prepared to put his
comments on the air in late October. After reading internal Bureau files
during this period, I concluded that the FBI got wind of this program
through a highly placed informer at KPFA in Berkeley (I do not know the
identity of this person). Although Pacifica governing board members offered
the FBI equal time to respond to the trainee's charges, the Bureau opted
instead to begin a reckless campaign of harassment, including visits to
staff members' homes, hostile anonymous phone calls, and threats of a raid
at WBAI if the program was aired.
When WBAI broadcast the program anyway, the Bureau dossiered everyone of
consequence within the Pacifica network, and forwarded its encyclopedia to
the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) and Federal Communications
Commission (FCC). The SISS used the materials to subpoena and grill about 8
members of the National Board in hearings in Washington, D.C., then
released transcripts of the hearings to a hostile press. The FCC, under the
guidance of a former FBI agent who now served as a Commissioner, withheld
Pacifica's licenses and demanded loyalty oaths. Even after the network
survived this ordeal, which it did barely, the FBI continued to worm its
way into and around the organization.
Do you imagine that Pacifica no longer broadcasts programming that
displeases the FBI? Quite the contrary; in fact, some of Pacifica's most
prominent programmers have, very recently, published books exposing the
FBI's unethical activities. Through the 1970s, 1980s and to varying degrees
still, the organization functions as a clearing house for the conclusions
of every radical investigative journalist in the country. In the 1980s,
during the Iran-Contra scandal, no network publicized the machinations of
former FBI director William Casey more thoroughly than Pacifica.
Surely the FBI hates Pacifica radio. Do you really believe that if you
invite the Bureau into the internal life of Pacifica, its operatives will
narrowly adhere to the tasks you set before them, and meekly depart from
the scene upon your command? This is the FBI, I remind you, that recently
withheld information about the Timothy McVeigh case and put Wen Ho Lee in
solitary confinement for a year. This week the newspapers report on an FBI
operative who allegedly sold information to organized crime for tens of
thousands of dollars.
"Unmanageable, unaccountable and unreliable," a United States Senator
called the FBI on Thursday during a Congressional hearing about the Bureau.
If you actually plan to bring the FBI to this situation, do you think that
it will remain under your control? Up until this month you were toying with
a small but precious radio network; at that point you will be playing with
The question is, do you care? Mr. Ford, I don't know you. I do know that if
you do not publicly repudiate this extremely ill-advised recourse, it is
only further evidence of your lack of qualifications to have anything to do
with the governance of this network.
In any event, if the FBI calls me for any reason regarding this matter, I
will heed the advice that Lewis Hill gave to KPFA's listeners regarding the
Bureau's activities in 1949, a year when it was extremely dangerous to give
such counsel: "The FBI is a contemptible institution and the whole country
knows it," the founder of Pacifica radio declared. " . . . Refuse to
cooperate. Say, No. Say, I for my part will not."
Very truly yours,
Subject: Ken Ford Address Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 16:34:22 EDT From:
JSPacifica at aol.com To: ACDARIUS at aol.com, Cpadga at aol.com, KvPPhD at aol.com,
KenFordPacifica at aol.com, mpalmer at cbrichardellis.com, PRBRAM at aol.com,
HARAV1 at aol.com, robrobin at erols.com, Alfigo at aol.com, TomasMoran at aol.com,
ValrieChambers at aol.com, wendell_L_johns at fanniemae.com, jmurdock at ebglaw.com,
Bethlyons at aol.com, lesliecagan at igc.org
Dear Board Members:
Below is a dictated email from the Vice-Chair, Ken Ford:
I want to thank and acknowledge all of the hard work that David has done
over the years. He will be missed and we wish him well and success.
As most of you know, the majority of us have been the targets of a
harassing email campaign, threatening letters, and even extortion phone
calls regarding our affiliation with Pacifica.
If you receive any of these notices going forward or have any of the
voicemails, emails or letters, please forward them to me so that we may
hand them over to the FBI. We do have federal protection under the
RICCO/Computer Fraud statutes. Thank you all for being so dedicated to the
mission of Pacifica in the face of adversity.
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