Not Your Daddy’s COINTELPRO: Obama Brands Assata Shakur “Most Wanted Terrorist”


by Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Assata Shakur could not have been named “most wanted terrorist” without the explicit approval of the first black president and his attorney general. In doing so, they have declared open war on the black liberation movement, something that J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO were only able to do in secret.

Whoever imagines our first black president and his first black attorney general had little or nothing to do with naming Assata Shakur its “most wanted terrorist” list is deep in denial and delusion. “Terrorist,” as my colleague Glen Ford points out, has never been anything but a political label, applied by the authorities for their own political purposes. The international legal angle as well, with Assata Shakur receiving political asylum from the Cuban government the last 30 years, also makes her placement on that list something that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama absolutely had to carefully consider and approve.

A lot has changed in the forty years since Assata Shakur was wounded and captured in New Jersey. The press conference announcing her capture was doubtless headed up by white police and district attorneys. Back then, black faces were pretty scarce in the top ranks of cops and prosecutors anywhere, and J. Edgar Hoover had only recently left the FBI. Last week’s announcement of the $2 million bounty on Assata’s head was anchored by a high ranking black cop, and of course, there are black faces in the offices of president and US Attorney General. People who call themselves progressives, do call that “progress,” don’t they?

The premiere federal initiative for political policing was something called COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was a secret “counterintelligence,” as in “counter-intelligent” and/or evil multiplied by stupid federal program which for 25 years labeled thousands of civic organizations, churches, labor unions, and grassroots movements as threats to “national security.” Federal agents secretly coordinated local police and media assets in hundreds of campaigns to discredit and destroy those organizations, utilizing illegal surveillance, agents provocateur and media slander. Individual leaders and participants were harassed, falsely prosecuted and imprisoned, and sometimes murdered. COINTELPRO’s existence only came to light as a result of US Senate select committee chaired by Senator Frank Church hearings in 1975.

The good news about COINTELPRO was first, that the government of those days wasn’t bold enough, that it felt too hemmed in and prevented by the American people from openly targeting political dissidents for assassination and murder, and second, that it eventually did come to light. Government officials even had to pay token damages in a handful of cases, such as the murder of Illinois Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, and publicly claim their official misconduct had ended.

Forty years later though, we live in the era of secret kidnappings, regular torture, ghost prisons and executive branch murder by drones or special ops teams. Today the federal Department of Homeland Security funds counter-terrorism fusion centers which openly disseminate the kind of inflammatory and fanciful disinformation to local police and security contractors about those the government wants targeted that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents had to come around and whisper in their ears. Now that is progress.

Forty years and change ago, the whole constellation of African American leadership wrapped its arms around the segments of the black movement that came under vicious police assault. I was a member of the Black Panther Party in Chicago in 1969 and 70, and we never had as many friends as we did when our offices were riddled with gunfire or our members murdered by police. Back then when, everyone from the Urban League and NAACP to Operation Breadbasket and the Afro-American Patrolman’s League stood up for us. Those who’ve viewed the recently released documentary Free Angela Davis & All Political Prisoners can see the same phenomenon of four decades ago, with Rev. Ralph David Abernathy wrapping his arms around “our sister Angela Davis” when she was accused of murder in the deaths of a judge and others in California.

It’s been a week now since the $2 million dollar bounty and “most wanted terrorist” announcement. In that time, not a single nationally noted African American “leader” has raised his or her voice. Not Ben Jealous. Not a single black mayor or member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Not Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, and certainly not the presidential lap dog Al Sharpton. Sharpton has worn wires for the FBI more than once, and is credibly accused of trying to get close to people who were rumored to be close to Assata Shakur in the 1980s. Those people wisely avoided Rev. Al.

Such is the pressure of subservient conformity among the black political class that not a single African American politician, religious leader, or personage of national note has opened his or her mouth in Assata Shakur’s defense, with the solitary exception of Angela Davis, once a political prisoner and fugitive in the days before the word “terrorist” had been coined. Lockstep conformity like this is hard to shake. In their 45 minutes in an otherwise excellent Democracy Now show mostly devoted to Assata Shakur’s case, neither Shakur’s attorney Lennox Hinds nor Angela Davis could bring themselves even to hint that the president and attorney general were responsible for branding her as the nation’s “most wanted terrorist.”

Four decades have seen the flowering of elite affirmative action in the military, corporate America and in American political life. Our black political class never tires of holding their own illustrious careers up as “the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream.” But the fact is that US corporations couldn’t do business in Africa without black faces. The US couldn’t give military aid and training for a quarter century to 52 out of 54 African governments, arming all sides of every civil and international conflict in the most war torn regions of the planet, without black diplomats, black admirals and black generals. It couldn’t deploy the world’s most massive prison and police state without hundreds of thousands of black prison guards and police, some in the most senior positions and many more in line behind them.

All these are the fruits of what passes for social and racial “progress” in these United States.

This then, is the real function of corporate and elite affirmative action, and of the black political class itself. Whether it’s moving the corporate agenda of gentrification through the destruction of public housing, carrying out social security and Medicare cuts, or waging open war upon the unapproved segments of the African American movement for justice and liberation, black faces in high places have repeatedly proven themselves the more effective evil, able to blunt leftish opposition and carry out policies that white elites can only dream of without their help.

Assata Shakur is not a terrorist. She was shot with her hands in the air, and no residue from gunfire was detected on her hands or clothes or that would have been introduced as evidence at her trial. Her all white jury was instructed to convict her for simply being there, and they did just that. She was a political prisoner, and the only “crime” she can reasonably be accused of is escaping and living out her life the last three decades in Cuba. Government officials do admit that her “terrorist” activity consists of occasional writings and speeches which advocate radical change, and the example of her peaceful life and political asylum 90 miles from Florida.

If that’s all it takes to be a “terrorist,” many thousands of today’s yesterday’s and tomorrow’s black and non-black political activists inside the U.S. are “terrorists” as well. There’s a global war on terror, and now it openly includes the black liberation movement, basically everybody to the left of the established black political class. In the wake of this announcement, can there be any doubt that many more names are or will soon come up at the president’s “terror Tuesday” meetings, at which the White House boasts it considers who next to kidnap or murder? We’re all fair game now.

President Obama obviously hopes the label “terrorist” will scare present and future activists from learning what there is to know from the proud traditions of African American and other resistance to empire. He hopes to intimidate and frighten ordinary people, especially young people, into the same kind of conformity as their supposed “leaders.”

Back in 2007 and 2008, candidate Barack Obama confided to editorial boards and others a number of times that Ronald Reagan was his favorite president. We should have listened to him a lot more closely. It’s a safe guess now, that J. Edgar Hoover is his favorite cop.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via this site’s contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

SOTU 2012…Disney Meets Washington

Disney Meets Washington

SOTU 2012 WW Style!

As I tucked my kids in for bed last night I was not the only one telling fairytales and painting dreams of a most vivid and vibrant future and a “happily ever after.” I was joined by President Obama in fantasy and fiction telling. As we lay our “kids” to bed in the hopes they are nourished in the dreams and alternate realities we lay out for them, what did we really say? NOT MUCH!! Although I was preaching from the gospel of Disney. Mr. Obama’s  fairytale should have come from the Brothers Grimm!


We all knew what he would say; we just wanted to see the delivery. Something akin to watching the Olympics. We knew the routine but will it be presented in the manner in which it had been so well scripted and crafted? Yes he stuck his landing pretty good last night. He got 9’s and 10’s from the masses of those holding out for hope and change 3 years in, but for those of us living in reality we walked away questioning “where IS the beef?”

For those of us in Wisconsin who seem to have short term memory loss regarding this president, I was baffled that his message was not met with a little more pessimism. He had promised so much yet delivered nothing to those who waited in vain for the man who would supposedly lace up his sneakers and join the picket line. I watched as these same people who are so disgusted with the progress in Wisconsin and Milwaukee, give a clear pass to this man simply based on his vocal stylings. What else could it be? He has created no substantial hope or change, just more of the same. He is an average politician with above average rhetoric but we dare not call him out or lest we be cast out of this sheep society for free thought.

If you had put his record out there of job loss, dismal education progress, and his relationship with Wall Street/rich cronies, just to name a few, you could easily compare him to Scott Walker, but you would love him instead of hate him. And I make this comparison using the left’s logic. If I took left pundit talking points and used their definition (or rhetoric) of failed leadership, I could easily insert and invoke the name of Obama and be meaning Scott Walker (or vice versa). “Doesn’t care about blacks, loss of economic empowerment for blacks, hanging with the rich instead of the poor, doesn’t give his millions to charity,” etc. al.

The man who met with Hispanics and the LBGT communities but told us to stop our whining, this is your hero? The same man who left you at the altar in Wisconsin and never backed you up when you absolutely needed him, you want to give him another 4 years to do the same ignoring of you? I just do not get it. I really don’t.

He spoke about teachers and supporting good ones, while letting bad ones go. That is just what we did here in Wisconsin! You are welcome Mr. President courtesy of Governor Walker and the Republican Party. We gave back to the school districts and tax payers what the union fat cats took away. We gave communities tools like Act 10 and the right to not have to enter into affluent contracts with the likes of WEA Trust who were really only union tax stealing money pits. Instead we put in accountability and mandates to teach our 4 year olds how to read or answer to” we the people.” We chose CHOICE over forced; we opted out of unhealthy relationships and into thriving partnerships of true transparency and government of the people, by the people. We created a manageable budget and began to pay back those we owed.

The President thrust out General Motors as if it is the company we once knew it to be. It is not! The jobs are mostly gone. The company is pretty much fluent in Spanish or Asian. Sure on the books some of it is here but it is not the General Motors your parents once owned or worked for! Those jobs are gone and only administration and lobbying positions remain. We as a country do not own much at all as most of our jobs are all overseas and creation has been in stagnation. We are owned by China and have a downgraded credit rating. Mr. President close the tax loop holes already. You keep saying it but you never do it. Stand for something before you use Martin’s name. We bailed out everyone but the middle class yet you stood their last night and spun yarns of the brightest of prosperities which is neither our reality nor will it be anytime soon.

He said the unemployment cycle was “a maze.” You betcha it’s a maze and under whose watch did it become this ongoing forest of trees for which we cannot see the sun anymore?

He talked about the American Dream, the precious American Dream as if it was the governments to give and take away. What happened to capitalism and free enterprise? What’s mine is mine dammit! It is not the government’s to do with as it sees fit. You can have your taxed share, but you are not entitled to sustain life on the backs of the middle class and do away with the things that make people self-sufficient. Government is not supposed to be growing and all powerful. Its job is to monitor and assist, not become the provider and head of household. It is already enough that welfare, the great failed social experiment, has grown and continues to fester yet we wonder why jobs are going away, education sucks, and the onus of personal responsibility has been replaced with apathetic sheep who know nothing of economic empowerment and SAVING!!!

Mr. President you warned about shady dealings in the Congress but yet you have no answer for Solyndra or the “Fast and Furious “ programs. Did you think we would forget? How about the fact that the CBC Head, Emanuel Clever said if it where Clinton and he had done what you have done to your own, he would have been marched upon. Africa is seeing the worst of times yet you do far less than the last president.  Not to mention you an African killed leader we had no impending threat from. You are one of their own sons, their own. If you could do this to them why should we African Americans expect more?

However we extended our card and gave this “brother” a great big pass and turned a sorry blind eye to our treatment. We keep worrying about the known racists yet we refuse to call out the ones WE OURSELVES keep in the dark. And if we don’t bring him and those like him to light, who are we to demand anything more from anyone else when the most powerful person on the planet is given a pass to ignore and destroy us? Sheep! Stand and defend yourselves.

We in Wisconsin have our own flock of sheep and we sheep follow loyally those with family name and privilege to the grave in hopes they may rise to the standards of their ancestors. Most of them have not and yet we say nothing or elect more of them or give them new titles and benefits without questioning one word about their lack of assistance and support to this community. We also follow those who have been our “brother” or “sister” because we are too wimpy to ask them what they have done for us, US!!!! So it is no surprise to me that the Wisconsin black will not stand now.

As an aside the potential candidates for many of our races here back home in “Wisconsinland” (which seems to be the last bastion for real hope and change) have criminal backgrounds or of misappropriation of funds that should send us screaming away if we really wanted to make a difference. Instead we line up and get their white “masas” to line up for us too! Sandy Paasch has no business in county politics! Barrett has no business in state politics! They are not our allies. Barrett has reigned over a Milwaukee that had gone from #3 in segregation to #1, staying strong in first place, and yet we clap and cheer him on. No one vets these new black potential candidates anymore in the community. We depend on Bice, Ingram, or Kane to possibly do that. One little visit to CCAP should put the fear of God into your hearts and wallets, but we only use that on potential soul mates.

Sorry went off on a little tangent, but it needed to be pointed out…


Just a little friendly warning before you regret giving even more pathetic, benefit seeking, lying, cheating, living off us, smile in your face, dagger behind the back, desperate for incomes, lacking leadership, low life scum, these new jobs and then wonder why we cannot get rid of them and why our communities look tore up!!! HALLEJUAH AMEN! I hope I emphasized enough that there are some real threats to our own community from within trying to take advantage while we are putting all our resources and attention into getting rid of Scott Walker. WATCH OUT LITTLE SHEEP! Danger, danger!!!! Scott Walker is NOT our biggest threat.

As with any relationship do a little searching and ask them the questions. CCAP and Google are our best tools in deciding local elections.

I will elaborate more on this as we get closer to these elections.

Anway back to POTUS. His speech was great. I respect the man, I really do, but at the same time like any jilted lover, I cannot forget! “Let’s stay together.” Indeed Mr. President. I will meet you on Main Street but I will not be messed over twice, not if I can help it. You made promises of hope and change, gave us visions of grandeur and have delivered very little especially to US!

So as with any fairytale, I have come to the conclusion that American reality was not found in the great oratorical spectacle given last night. It is pending lore from the fairytales found in the Brothers Grimm tales. Three years of ignoring US and ignoring the platform you ran upon shan’t be rewarded but must be accounted for and we are owed an apology at the very least for invoking in America, especially Black America, visions of a real future of growth and opportunity. Very little progress was made in the great race debate and that was because it was used, used to create feelings of true change and real hope when in reality there really never was an US in your heart. Just opportunity for you and yours alone.

Whites cannot say it, nor will they address it openly or honestly. They are scared and have their own agenda which is not ours at all. Instead they created Occupy movements that mask their criticisms and racism. They do not intend to give you more rope, nor do they intend to ever” Occupy” us with money or time. They simply do not have need for us and use us as a means to an end. This, this was another failed experiment in social justice gone horribly wrong. I hope we at least can see that this man is not MLK or Malcolm. He does not intend to change the path of the African American or make a significant dent in Black history, other than being the first biracial president with a hype swag and flare. This man is a smooth-talking object of affection sent from the left, designed to tide us over until they get their power and move on sans us.

Peace Family,