Copies of stolen FBI documents, released to the press last Tuesday, reveal that the agency has been engaged in extensive surveillance of black, student, and leftist political groups.
The documents are copies of files stolen by an anonymous organization in a burglary of the FBI's Media, Pa. office on March 6. The FBI confirmed yesterday that the reports were authentic.
One document dated Sept. 16, 1970 concerning an FBI conference on the New Left urged more interviews with dissenting students:
"There was a general consensus that more interviews with those subjects and hangers-on are in order for plenty of reasons, chief of which are it will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox."
J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, was the author of another document dated November 4, 1970 which urged the "immediate" and "discreet" investigation of black student groups on college campuses:
"Increased campus disorders involving black students pose a definite threat to the nation's stability and security and indicate need for an increase in both quality and quantity of intelligence information on Black Student Union (BSU) and similar groups which are targets for influence and control by violence-prone Black Panther Party (BPP) and other extremists."
The 12 documents were anonymously mailed on March 18 to "Resist" - a national peace organization in Cambridge including among its members Noam Chomsky of M. I. T. - which subsequently gave the papers to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the CRIMSON and to Senator George S. McGovern (D-S.D.) and Rep. Parren J. Mitchell (D-Md.).
Attorney General John N. Mitchell asked late Tuesday night that the documents not be published on grounds that "disclosure of this information could endanger the lives or cause serious harm to persons engaged in investigative activities on behalf of the United States."
Mitchell had originally considered seeking a court order to restrain the media from publishing the documents but decided instead to make a personal request for "those who have received copies of the material not to further circulate it or publish it."
The Justice Department is presently engaged in sorting out the documents to see what information is dangerous in the files since the records include the identification numbers of agents as well as the names of people involved in the cases.
Other documents include investigations on the activities of the Philadelphia Black Panthers, the National Black Economic Development Conference, two peace conferences, and dossiers on people marginally involved in the activities under surveillance.
One of the individuals being investigated - with the aid of a college switchboard operator - was a professor at a Philadelphia area college who was generally considered to be a "radical."
One FBI report demanded the investigation of all professors, students, and teachers who were in the USSR for at least one month to "identify them and determine whether any of them have been approached for recruitment by the Soviet Intelligence Services."
Another document provided a copy of the checking account of the National Black Economic Development Conference - information which is normally kept confidential.
On the basis of what is now revealed," Leonard B. Boudin, visiting professor of Law, said. "it is possible that professors or students or black groups could go to Law Court and secure an injunction against the FBI for invasion of their constitutional rights of privacy, association and political expression."
"This material indicates." he added, "that one of the purposes of the FBI is not just information but discouraging political activity."