Kirkus Reviews QR Code
FBI SECRETS by M. Wesley Swearingen

FBI SECRETS

An Agent's ExposÇ

By M. Wesley Swearingen

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89608-502-3

 A 25-year FBI veteran makes convincing claims that the agency has been waging a secret war on the citizens of the United States for more than half a century. Left-wing historians and journalists have posited that secret war for decades and been shouted down as paranoiacs by the powers that be. Swearingen confirms the police agency's overweening disregard for the Bill of Rights. ``I became,'' he writes, ``a Special Agent...in 1951. I did not know, when I joined, that I would learn the expertise of burglary, or that former Director J. Edgar Hoover would instruct agents to violate extortion and kidnapping laws. I did not know then that FBI agents would plot assassination of American citizens and put innocent individuals in jail just because their skin is black or because they are Native Americans.'' Sweeping charges, those. Swearingen goes on to document each one with specific examples from his career: ``black bag jobs,'' or burglaries to inventory suspects' possessions, often with an eye to finding subversive documents; COINTELPRO (the FBI's counterintelligence program) escapades, wherein agents would conduct campaigns of blackmail and slander against antiwar demonstrators--and, on occasion, against celebrities like actresses Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg, the latter effectively blacklisted in Hollywood thanks to agency efforts; and more sinister operations, such as the recruitment of informants to ``neutralize'' (i.e., murder) American Indian Movement and Black Panther Party leaders. To back up his allegations, Swearingen provides abundant agency documents that give one much pause. All in all, he turns in a ringing and entirely convincing indictment. Swearingen is not much of a writer. His prose is mechanical and sometimes coarse (``asshead'' and ``queer'' are favorite epithets), and there's scarcely an anecdote that doen't fall with a thud. Still, what Swearingen has to say is important, if only because it matters to have a former agent say, ``Yes, we did these things.''