Still Spying | Presented by Defending Rights & Dissent

By Defending Rights & Dissent

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A limited series podcast that does a deep dive into the history of FBI spying on protest movements and activists. Hosted by Defending Rights & Dissent policy director Chip Gibbons.

Episode Date
The Bureaucratic Heart of McCarthyism feat. Ellen Shrecker

The Second Red Scare may have been named after the demagogic Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, but no one was more central to it than J. Edgar Hoover and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Host Chip Gibbons is joined by renowned historian Ellen Schrecker to discuss what McCarthyism was, how the FBI was central to it, and why if “observers known in the 1950s what they learned since the 1970s when Freedom of Information Act opened the Bureau's files, 'McCarthyism' would probably have been called 'Hooverism.'”

Jan 20, 2021
Spying on Muslim & Arab Americans feat. Abdeen Jabara

Since 9/11, the FBI has subjected the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities to surveillance. Sending infiltrators and confidential informants into mosques and other community spaces absent any evidence of criminal wronging, it’s clear that for the FBI race, religion, and national origin are inherently suspicious in the War on Terror. However, the FBI’s history of targeting Muslim and Arab Americans goes back long before 9/11. As early as 1972, Richard Nixon had ordered mass surveillance of Arab Americans as part of “Operation Boulder.” To discuss this history, host Chip Gibbons is joined by Abdeen Jabara, a longtime civil rights attorney, past president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination,and former board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Jabara not only fought against surveillance and discrimination on behalf of others, he himself was spied on by the FBI and the NSA. 

Dec 23, 2020
The FBI v. The Young Lords feat. Prof. Johanna Fernández

The Young Lords were a political organization led predominantly by poor and working-class Puerto Rican youth. They emerged as part of the larger New Left, but as advocates of Puerto Rican independence they were part of a much older lineage of resistance.

In the first segment, host Chip Gibbons discusses the history of FBI repression against both the New Left and the Puerto Rican independence movement. He is then joined by Prof. Johanna Fernández of Baruch College of the City University of New York who authored the book The Young Lords: A Radical History. While working on the book, she successfully fought to have the NYPD’s “Red Squad” files released.

Dec 03, 2020
The FBI's Man Inside the Klan feat. Mary Stanton

The FBI was ruthless in its pursuit of civil rights activists. At the same time, the Ku Klux Klan was engaged in a reign of terror. How did the FBI's attitude towards those fighting nonviolently for racial justice compare to its attitude towards those who wished to violently stop them? In this episode, we explore the career of the FBI's controversial Klan informant Gary Rowe. Rowe's identity was revealed after he was present when Klan members murdered civil rights activists Viola Liuzzo. How involved was really in her death and what other acts of violence may Rowe have been involved? To explore this, we talk to Mary Stanton a historian of social justice movements in the South and biographer of Liuzzo.

Oct 20, 2020
Exposing FBI Surveillance Today featuring Alice Speri

The FBI is still spying on dissent. But how do we know what they’re up to? On this episode, Alice Speri of The Intercept talks about the importance of the Freedom of Information Act and whistleblowers to journalists reporting on FBI surveillance. She also discusses the case of Terry Albury, an FBI whistleblower who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

Sep 15, 2020
The War on Black Dissent Part III: The FBI vs. The Movement for Black Lives feat. Malkia Devich Cyril

In our conclusion of Still Spying’s three-part exploration of the FBI’s war on Black dissent we bring the story up to the present. In response to police violence and white supremacy, the US has witnessed renewed movements for racial justice. Unsurprisingly, the FBI is yet again on the case. In this episode we talk about the FBI and other federal agencies’s monitoring of the Movement for Black Lives, including the FBI’s assessment about the threat posed by “Black Identity Extremists.” This episode features an interview with Malkia Devich-Cyril, a Senior Fellow at Media Justice.

Aug 27, 2020
The War on Black Dissent Part II: COINTELPRO & The Assassination of Fred Hampton

In what Noam Chomksy called the “gravest domestic crime of the Nixon Administration,” the FBI orchestrated a Chicago police raid that killed Black Panther Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. In part two of a three part exploration of the FBI’s War on Black Dissent, host Chip Gibbons is joined by Jeffrey Haas, a lawyer with the People’s Law Office and the author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Haas represented survivors of the raid and was instrumental in exposing the FBI’s role in it. He also knew Hampton personally. In a powerful and moving interview, he makes the case that Hampton’s death was a political assassination. 

Aug 10, 2020
The War on Black Dissent, Part I: Black Lives, Red Scares featuring Gerald Horne
Jul 28, 2020
Is All Policing Political? Featuring Alex S. Vitale

What does the neutral application of the law mean if the law itself is not neutral?

Still Spying podcast host Chip Gibbons & noted abolitionist Alex S. Vitale. explore the political nature of federal and local law enforcement and ask the question: is political policing a feature of law enforcement, not a bug? What does this mean for our society, especially during this national conversation about justice and equality? What is police abolitionism?

Jul 10, 2020
What Powers Does the FBI Have & How Do We Rein Them In? Featuring Emily Berman
Jun 29, 2020
Legacy of Abuse: From The Palmer Raids to Black Identity Extremism Feat. Mike German

An exploration into the history of the FBI looking into certain political activities and political actors that conspicuously all seemed to have a common denominator.

Also, a one-on-one conversation with Mike German, a retired FBI agent and a fellow in the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security program. He's also the author of "Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy."

Jun 09, 2020