The Still Spying Podcast

The Still Spying Podcast

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.


June 30, 2021 26 mins

When The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers it sparked one of the greatest battles for press freedom in US history. In an unprecedented move, the Nixon administration sought to bar The New York Times from publishing further. The Times's outside counsel had told them they would not defend them if they chose to publish the top-secret history of the Vietnam War.

But their General Counsel, James Goodale, argued ...

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Daniel Ellsberg is the most iconic whistleblower in US history. 

On our inaugural episode, he joins host Chip Gibbons for an in-depth conversation. On the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers release, Ellsberg explains how the top secret history of the Vietnam War led him to believe the war was not merely a mistake, but a crime. Ellsberg explains what was in the Pentagon Papers, why he chose to release them, and what he...

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The FBI has long devoted its resources to stamping out dissent. As part of its ruthless war on the Communist Party, the Bureau set its sites on America’s folk singers. In his new book The Folk Singers and the Bureau: The FBI, the Folk Artists and the Suppression of the Communist Party, USA-1939-1956, historian and writer Aaron J. Leonard draws on an unprecedented array of declassified documents and never before released files to ch...

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In our final episode, we explore the Defending Rights & Dissent’s own origins. Frank Wilkinson was a public housing advocate who was working on an integrated public housing project in Chavez Ravine, The FBI and HUAC working together, hounded him out of a job and Chavez Ravine became Dodgers Stadium as opposed to public housing. Frank went on to found an anti-HUAC, pro-civil liberties organization that would eventually become De...

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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...

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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. A...

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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. Joha...

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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...

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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.

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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 a...

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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 Murde...

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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? ...

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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 Democr...

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