cover image FBI Secrets: An Agents Expose

FBI Secrets: An Agents Expose

M. Swearingen. South End Press, $40 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-89608-502-2

Government law enforcement agency attempts to stifle and crush radical political opinion and activity during the '50s and '60s (and its exposure in congressional hearings of the '70s) have left lasting marks on U.S. political life. Ex-FBI agent and first-time author Swearingen remembers a time during the mid-1950s when half a million Americans were Justice Department targets for arrest in case of ``national emergency.'' Who were they? Swearingen lists ``professors, lawyers and educators; labor union organizers and leaders; writers, lecturers, newsmen, entertainers and others in the media field; lawyers, doctors and scientists,'' among others. Some of them were Communists. Others had left-wing sympathies. Many had achieved some measure of popular support (labor leaders, for example, who were elected to office by union members). During his 25-year FBI career, Swearingen was assigned to tail these citizens, in some cases illegally breaking into their homes. But Swearingen's most damning charges come when he describes the actions of colleagues: Los Angeles FBI informants' murder of Black Panther Party leaders and an FBI ``disinformation'' job that led Chicago police to kill Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in their beds, are two examples. Though it's disconcerting to read these alleged FBI crimes juxtaposed against Swearingen's yacht-sailing lifestyle, the author has given us a gripping, bone-chilling narrative about the real dangers of big, repressive, out-of-control government. Illustrated. (Mar.)