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The first lunch counter sit-in happened on February 1, 1960, against the advice and instruction of civil rights movement leaders who told the students, “Don’t rock the boat. Don’t court too harsh a backlash. We are older, more experienced – let us guide you.” The students trusted themselves and each other, and acted against ‘parental’ advice. And they contributed to a movement that changed and improved the world.

fbi attacks

In honor of the Greensboro 4, who brought the sit-in tactic to the Civil Rights Movement, let us start Black History Month by remembering some history, and with it, putting some context around the current Republican Party assault on the FBI and the Department of Justice.

This is not a Trump attack on the FBI and Department of Justice. Clearly the Donald has good reason to fear the FBI. For decades the FBI has built a big part of its brand around “anti-communist” witch hunts and delving into the behavior of Russian ‘assets’ in the U.S. The Donald has good reason to fear that the FBI has, and is developing more, real, credible, persuasive proof of his misconduct and his obeisance to Czar Vlad. Monday’s announcement that he has obeyed Czar Vlad’s direct ORDER to stop any new sanctions from being imposed on the Czar’s business buddies is just icing on a cake that has already been baked.

The Donald, in attacking the FBI, is just grabbing opportunistically at a Republican Party dream that goes back as far as the Nixon administration.

But the Donald, in attacking the FBI, is just grabbing opportunistically at a Republican Party dream that goes back as far as the Nixon administration. When Nixon implemented the Republican Party’s new “southern strategy” as part of his 1968 campaign, Jeff Sessions hadn’t yet enrolled in the University of Alabama’s all white law school. Inherent in the new Republican Party strategy was a concerted attack on federal authority to dismantle official state segregation rules.

The FBI has a terrible history on race, according to everyone. J. Edgar Hoover was a notorious racist, who did everything he could to discredit civil rights leaders, so long as his efforts didn’t discredit the Bureau that he had spent his life building. But he did build the Bureau, with one of his earliest triumphs being the investigation into the murder of Native Americans in Oklahoma, in the 1920s, by white businessmen trying to gain control of Native American oil.

Then the FBI investigated and was instrumental in cracking open several Klan affiliated murder cases, from Mississippi to Florida, in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Almost immediately after the September, 1963 bombing, FBI investigators identified the four Klansmen who murdered four young girls at the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. But the work of field agents was shelved by political leadership, stored in archive files, and not used.

Until 15 years later. In 1977, a local prosecutor decided to prosecute one of the four bombers, and asked the FBI for the information. The FBI still had it, and conservative FBI political leadership still wanted to keep it suppressed. But some of it got out, and the bomber was convicted, sentenced and died in prison.

Then, in 2001 and 2002, a new prosecutor, Doug Jones, got ALL of the bombing files. The FBI investigation in 1963 had been good enough that forty years later it was still solid enough to lead to the convictions of the two bombers who remained alive. In 2017, the same Doug Jones was elected U.S. Senator from Alabama, helped by the activism of mothers, sisters, nieces and cousins of men who had been murdered in years before white men could be convicted for killing black people.

Similarly, the 1963 murder of three voting rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner only resulted in convictions, decades after the crimes, because FBI investigators, right after the crimes, had developed the evidence to support the convictions. While searching for the three voting rights activists, the FBI investigators also found the bodies of 8 other victims of racial violence, that the state had refused to search for. And, as happened with the 16th St. Church murders, the work of the FBI investigators was tabled by politicians. But in 1967, seven of the murderers were convicted, using the FBI evidence at a trial in front of an ardently racist judge. Then the FBI evidence was used again in 2005 to convict a Baptist minister, who had helped organize the murders. (That murderer, Edgar Roy Killen, died in prison, this year, on January 12.)

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These and other murderers were convicted because conservative, white FBI agents did the job they were sworn to do. While the Republican Party joins with Czar Vlad’s Russian effort to discredit the FBI, people should understand that it is not the Donald’s present troubles that are the driving motivation for today’s attacks.

The FBI has led the world in the development of criminal investigation technologies from DNA to software analysis. The FBI has developed expertise in investigating corporate and financial crimes. With the recent corporate give-away tax bill, it is probably only a matter of time before FBI investigators discover, and perhaps disclose, which Republicans were paid how much for their votes.

The attacks on the FBI are a matter of payback, and perhaps an effort to protect against future prosecutions. FBI agents investigated Larry Craig after he used political funds for his personal legal defense. The FBI was involved in bringing down the drunken bigot Texas House Speaker, Tom DeLay. The FBI was instrumental in the downfall of Republican Party money man Jack Abramoff.

In this century, evidence developed by FBI agents have led to the conviction of farm corporations in Florida for holding migrant laborers in slavery. Corporations in the 21st century doing exactly what they did before the Civil War. And paying Republican Party pols to slash away at labor protection laws, while doing it. This all predates the Donald’s election.

Before the Donald was elected, Republican politicians Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, as Alabama Attorney General, was prosecuting black people for the “crime” of trying to register citizens to vote. Republican Alabama attorney Roy Moore, as recently as 2011, was preaching on the radio that both the 13th Amendment (ending slavery) and 15th Amendment (barring race-based voting restrictions) were wrong and should be repealed. These Republican positions were merely adopted and endorsed by the Donald as he wholeheartedly embraced Moore as a Senate candidate in 2017.

But that’s the important point – the Donald was only embracing rock solid Republican Party positions that go back at least to Nixon’s “southern strategy.” Ronald Reagan went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were murdered, to announce his 1980 presidential campaign. He asked southern whites to embrace Republican racism. During his two terms, he funded the Latin American drug cartels, by allowing them to flood U.S. cities with “cheap crack cocaine”.

Reagan, perhaps less racist than most Republicans, because of is many years working with blacks in Hollywood, was still delusional enough about American society, that he believed his cheap crack cocaine could be confined in “colored” inner city ghettos. Today’s voters will be just as delusional if they imagine that the attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department are confined to issues about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The FBI and the Justice Department are under attack because they pose a threat to the corporate interests that increasingly control Congress, our courts and our federal administration. For the past eight years, Republican corporate sycophants have been calling for an end to regulations on pollution, on unsafe workplaces, on discriminatory pay structures, and on monopolization and increasing corruption. Work by the FBI has let the Justice Department achieve convictions against all of these corporate activities and more.

Tom Hall

The Republican Party is committed to protecting corporate interests from such convictions. That commitment is the real source of the current attacks on the FBI and Justice Department. And the ego-driven orange bumbler is simply their latest, compliant tool to get that job done.

Tom Hall