The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Investigative reporter Seth Rosenfeld traces the FBI’s secret involvement with three iconic figures who clashed at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr. Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power looks at the campus counterculture and reveals how the FBI’s covert operations—led by Reagan’s friend J. Edgar Hoover—helped ignite an era of protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically.


Seth Rosenfeld

Comments [6]

There is so much more, perhaps we will never know, or connect the proper "dots". COINTELPRO's "proactive" role with J. Edgar Hoover having dirt on every president since he came on the scene, and many others (RFK, etc.) - and not being reluctant to use it - makes a cautionary tale in any era. The mob link should come as no surprise. Sullivan (FBI #3) died under suspicious circumstances after his break with Hoover; told friends not to believe any "accident" [Google him]. Not that there weren't dangerous groups, but the abuse of power only galvanized those opposed. The erosion of trust metastasized, not just in body-politic but to so many public areas, crippling really, with a reflexive caustic cynicism we see today. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution cited re: Syria.

Sep. 03 2013 03:44 PM

Re: Berkeley & NYU, I've read (and sensed from subsequent scrutiny) that the FBI had tables with petitions against the Vietnam War, that they used to compile lists of "enemies" during the Nixon Admin.

Sep. 03 2013 01:54 PM

"Fast cars" lead to early graves.

Sep. 03 2013 01:53 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The FBI spent $1 million to fight Mr. Rosenfeld's FOIA request? Great, our tax dollars at work. Wonder how much more they spent on how many other cases?

Sep. 03 2013 01:41 PM

A dissenting view on Reagan as a Conservative icon:

'How Right Was Reagan?' by Richard Gamble, May 2009

"Doubting the depths of Reagan’s conservatism sounds akin to doubting FDR’s liberalism. We are so accustomed to thinking of Reagan as the pre-eminent conservative statesman of our time that any shadow on that reputation seems nonsensical. But some conservative dissidents have recently blamed Reagan for giving his benediction to the most culturally corrosive tendencies in the American character."

Sep. 03 2013 01:40 PM
jcandullo from NYC

After the HUAC debacle in 1959, a film was made called Operation Abolition, which became mandatory viewing for boot-camp recruits for a time. At Berkeley (I was a freshman in1959) it was shown as a fundraiser (fifty cents!) on campus, because it was so absurd to see students being washed downs the steps, and hear the voiceover "Now he students are rushing the police."

Sep. 03 2013 01:38 PM

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