As Rolling Stone reports, the FBI surveilled singer Aretha Franklin from 1967 all the way to 2007. The 40-year campaign prompted Robert Spencer to wonder, “why was the FBI wasting valuable resources tracking someone who was quite obviously not a criminal?”
The FBI tried to link Franklin with the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and searched her Atlantic Records contract in an attempt to link her with the Black Panther Party. In light of the revelations, people have a right to wonder how the FBI performed against actual criminals and “black extremist” groups. As the record shows, these are often the same people.
The FBI failed to stop Joanne Chesimard of the Black Liberation Army from robbing banks, murdering police officers, and escaping to Cuba. Chesimard is now known as Assata Shakur, the icon of Black Lives Matter (BLM). As David Horowitz (Radical Son) learned, the Black Panthers were also engaged in the murder business.
“I agreed to work with the Panthers,” Horowitz explains. “I raised over $100,000 and created the Oakland Community Learning Center.” The school provided free meals for children, and served as “the party’s showpiece and base of operations throughout the seventies.” As Horowitz later discovered, the school was “a front for a criminal gang attempting to control the illegal traffic of the East Oakland ghetto.”
On January 17, 1975, Van Patter was found in San Francisco Bay, dead from a blow to the head. At that time Huey Newton had fled to Cuba and the party leader was Elaine Brown, who denied knowing anything about Van Patter’s disappearance and death. Amara Baltar, Van Patter’s daughter, believes her mother was murdered to be silenced.
“I believe my mother was killed by the Black Panther Party,” Baltar told the East Bay Times. The truth is, I believe they killed her. I know they killed her. The truth is the most important thing. That is what heals you. There’s that old saying, ‘The truth will set you free’ — that’s the truth for sure.”
In her 1993 book, A Taste of Power, Brown (above left, next to Huey Newton) wrote that Van Patter was becoming too nosy about Panther business and wasn’t a benefit to the party. “While it was true that I had come to dislike Betty Van Patter,” Brown explained, “I had fired her, not killed her.” Local police, fearful of Panther reprisals, kept their distance. So did the FBI, which once regarded the Panthers as a major threat to national security.
Elaine Brown continued a career as a “prison activist, writer, and singer,” and in 2008 the former Black Panther sought the Green Party nomination for president. That was one year after the FBI stopped spying on Aretha Franklin. Maybe the bureau was more taken up with innocent singers than murder cases with evidence pointing to the Black Panthers.
During the 1960s, the Panthers were admired by a number of celebrities. For example, actress Jean Seberg (Breathless, Lilith) hosted fundraisers for the group. That caught the attention of FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, who regarded Seberg as a potential danger.
According to the Washington Post, the bureau tapped Seberg’s telephone, monitored her bank account, and traced her movements. The FBI funneled information on Seberg to the CIA, U.S. embassies, and the Secret Service. The bureau also targeted the actress with a vicious smear campaign.
The FBI charged that Seberg was a “promiscuous” and “sex-perverted white actress” and circulated rumors that she was pregnant by a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party.
The New York Times cited a letter requesting permission from Hoover to publicize the pregnancy to “cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the general public.”
FBI headquarters granted approval, but said “it would be better to wait approximately two additional months until Seberg’s pregnancy would be obvious to everyone.” Seberg “should be neutralized. Her current pregnancy by [name deleted] while still married affords an opportunity for such effort.”
The father of the baby was Romain Gary, Seberg’s second husband. The baby girl, Nina Hart Gary, died three days after birth. In 1970 Newsweek ran an article about Seberg and her baby “by a black activist she met in California.” Seberg and Gary filed a libel suit and won $10,000. According to Gary, Seberg attempted suicide every year on the anniversary of her child’s death.
In September of 1979, the New York Times reported, “Miss Seberg was found last week in Paris wrapped in a blanket and lying in the back seat of her automobile. She died of an overdose of barbiturates and left a suicide note. She was 40 years old.” Romain Gary blamed her downward spiral on the FBI, and he was in the best position to know.
It was said of bank robber John Dillinger, slain by the FBI in 1934, that he was crooked but not twisted. It would be hard to find a government official more twisted than J. Edgar Hoover, advancing a fake story against an actress who had committed no crime. Had Aretha Franklin been aware of the FBI campaign against her, she too might have entered a downward spiral.
After taking over from Hoover, William Webster proclaimed that FBI use of derogatory information was over and criminal conduct would be the basis for all investigations. Then and now, the people have cause to wonder.
The FBI used fake derogatory information against candidate and President Donald Trump, who committed no crime and did not collaborate with Russia. None of the FBI bosses faced a criminal prosecution. The same bureau that failed to stop 9/11, Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon bombing and deadly terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, now finds a domestic terrorist in anyone less than worshipful of Joe Biden.
As arson, murder and looting spread across the country in 2020, the FBI looked the other way. The FBI now stages heavily armed arrests of pro-life activists and others who pose no threat to the public. This should not be surprising. FBI headquarters still bears the name of J. Edgar Hoover, and the bureau serves as Joe Biden’s private Gestapo and KGB.