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1971 FBI burglars reveal themselves in new book

1971 FBI Burglars Reveal Themselves In New Book

They were Snowden before Snowden, except no one ever knew who they were until now. Five of the eight burglars who ultimately helped take down J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI domestic surveillance machine have revealed themselves.

The burglars revealed themselves ahead of a new book released Tuesday detailing the daring raid in the midst of the Vietnam War era - 'The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI.'

​ The group was formed by a Philadelphia professor who grew increasingly frustrated years of Vietnam War protests had little actual impact. After months of casing an FBI satellite office in Media, Pennsylvania, the eight broke in, stuffed thousands of pages of documents into suitcases and drove getaway cars to a farmhouse.

According to WSWP, the documents revealed widespread domestic surveillance on anyone Hoover considered a threat or dissenter - from an anonymous letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. threatening to reveal his extramarital affairs to interviews of college student war protesters.

Archived articles from 1971 show one document that read: ​'It will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an F.B.I. agent behind every mailbox.'

The burglars sent those documents to several journalists, including former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger - the book's author.

Despite the Nixon administration's attempts to get the documents returned, Medsger wrote the first article detailing the FBI's surveillance two weeks after the break-in.

During the mid-1970s, a Senate investigation revealed more FBI abuses and led to greater congressional oversight, though Hoover was dead by that point.

Knowing they could go to prison for years, two of the burglars - John and Bonnie Raines - even arranged for family members to take care of their three children if they were caught.

But they weren't, though the eight never met again as a group. When the statute of limitations for filing charges expired and the FBI closed the cased, Medsger writes only one of the burglars was on the FBI's final list of possible suspects.

John Raines told The New York Times that 'It looks like we're terribly reckless people. But there was absolutely no one in Washington - senators, congressmen, even the president - who dared hold J. Edgar Hoover to accountability.'

Three burglars chose to remain anonymous, despite the book's release and no risk of prosecution. The Raines say they feel a kinship toward NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

They were Snowden before Snowden, except no one ever knew who they were until now. Five of the eight burglars who ultimately helped take down J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI domestic surveillance machine have revealed themselves.


"Burglars broke into this office outside Philadelphia in 1971 and stole 1,000 secret documents - the culprits never found. 'We did it. Somebody had to do it.'" (Via NBC)


The burglars revealed themselves ahead of a new book released Tuesday detailing the daring raid in the midst of the Vietnam War era - "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI."

​ The group was formed by a Philadelphia professor who grew increasingly frustrated years of Vietnam War protests had little actual impact. After months of casing an FBI satellite office in Media, Pennsylvania, the eight broke in, stuffed thousands of pages of documents into suitcases and drove getaway cars to a farmhouse.


"We were like, 'Oh, man! I can't believe this worked!' We knew there was going to be some gold in there somewhere." "Each of the eight of us were sorting files, and all of a sudden, you'd hear one of us. 'Oh! Oh, look! Look at this one!" (Via The New York Times)

The documents revealed widespread domestic surveillance on anyone Hoover considered a threat or dissenter - from an anonymous letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. threatening to reveal his extramarital affairs to interviews of college student war protesters. (Via WSWP)

Archived articles from 1971 show one document read, ​"It will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an F.B.I. agent behind every mailbox." (Via The Harvard Crimson)

The burglars sent those documents to several journalists, including former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger - the book's author. (Via The Burglary)

Despite the Nixon administration's attempts to get the documents returned, Medsger wrote the first article detailing the FBI's surveillance two weeks after the break-in.


During the mid-1970s, a Senate investigation revealed more FBI abuses and led to greater congressional oversight, though Hoover was dead by that point. (Via NPR)

Knowing they could go to prison for years, two of the burglars - John and Bonnie Raines - even arranged for family members to take care of their three children if they were caught. (Via NBC)

But they weren't, though the eight never met again as a group. When the statute of limitations for filing charges expired and the FBI closed the cased, Medsger writes only one of the burglars was on the FBI's final list of possible suspects.


John Raines told The New York Times, ​ "It looks like we're terribly reckless people. But there was absolutely no one in Washington - senators, congressmen, even the president - who dared hold J. Edgar Hoover to accountability."

Three burglars chose to remain anonymous, despite the book's release and no risk of prosecution. The Raines say they feel a kinship toward NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

- See more at: http://www.newsy.com/videos/1971-fbi-burglars-reveal-themselves-in-new-book/#sthash.egT0DpnS.dpuf

They were Snowden before Snowden, except no one ever knew who they were until now. Five of the eight burglars who ultimately helped take down J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI domestic surveillance machine have revealed themselves.


"Burglars broke into this office outside Philadelphia in 1971 and stole 1,000 secret documents - the culprits never found. 'We did it. Somebody had to do it.'" (Via NBC)


The burglars revealed themselves ahead of a new book released Tuesday detailing the daring raid in the midst of the Vietnam War era - "The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI."


​ The group was formed by a Philadelphia professor who grew increasingly frustrated years of Vietnam War protests had little actual impact. After months of casing an FBI satellite office in Media, Pennsylvania, the eight broke in, stuffed thousands of pages of documents into suitcases and drove getaway cars to a farmhouse.


"We were like, 'Oh, man! I can't believe this worked!' We knew there was going to be some gold in there somewhere." "Each of the eight of us were sorting files, and all of a sudden, you'd hear one of us. 'Oh! Oh, look! Look at this one!" (Via The New York Times)


The documents revealed widespread domestic surveillance on anyone Hoover considered a threat or dissenter - from an anonymous letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. threatening to reveal his extramarital affairs to interviews of college student war protesters. (Via WSWP)


Archived articles from 1971 show one document read, ​"It will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an F.B.I. agent behind every mailbox." (Via The Harvard Crimson)


The burglars sent those documents to several journalists, including former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger - the book's author. (Via The Burglary)


Despite the Nixon administration's attempts to get the documents returned, Medsger wrote the first article detailing the FBI's surveillance two weeks after the break-in.


During the mid-1970s, a Senate investigation revealed more FBI abuses and led to greater congressional oversight, though Hoover was dead by that point. (Via NPR)


Knowing they could go to prison for years, two of the burglars - John and Bonnie Raines - even arranged for family members to take care of their three children if they were caught. (Via NBC)


But they weren't, though the eight never met again as a group. When the statute of limitations for filing charges expired and the FBI closed the cased, Medsger writes only one of the burglars was on the FBI's final list of possible suspects.


John Raines told The New York Times, ​ "It looks like we're terribly reckless people. But there was absolutely no one in Washington - senators, congressmen, even the president - who dared hold J. Edgar Hoover to accountability."


Three burglars chose to remain anonymous, despite the book's release and no risk of prosecution. The Raines say they feel a kinship toward NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

- See more at: http://www.newsy.com/videos/1971-fbi-burglars-reveal-themselves-in-new-book/#sthash.egT0DpnS.dpuf

Join the discussion

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jdaniel41 January 07 2014 at 12:35 PM

Freedom is never free. Someone always pays the price. 1971 or 2013...whether the end result makes it ok to go outside the law will be debated until there are no more injustices that need to be fixed.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
lhebelka jdaniel41 January 07 2014 at 2:44 PM

"freedom is never free"... and I am sure that to you" war is peace" you better read George orwells 1984

Flag Reply 0 rate up
indianapolisjs January 07 2014 at 6:23 PM

How in the hell do you break in to the FBI office ? Even 40 years ago thats ineptness at its worst

Flag Reply +2 rate up
nelsronit January 07 2014 at 5:20 PM

They were a bit reckless to say the least in achieving their goal. The FBI must have been preoccupied with other duties not to have followed up on this investigation. It sort of shows if you want to be invisible in the US it's possible.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
dollibug January 07 2014 at 2:03 PM

******* But there was absolutely no one in Washington - senators, congressmen, even the president - who dared hold J. Edgar Hoover to accountability.'


WHAT A TRUE STATEMENT ABOVE....and it is STILL LIKE THIS TODAY....NO ONE IN WASHINGTON will hold any one who works for the *government accountable or responsible* for anything.....CORRUPTION AND COVER UP HAS BEEN ALIVE AND KICKING FOR A VERY LONG TIME*********

Flag Reply +16 rate up
3 replies
BRYANT January 07 2014 at 10:05 PM

If what you reveal is the truth - even though some people don't like it - is that wrong? If you find that your government is doing something appalingly evil and expose it is that wrong? I was always taught that the truth could set you free, is that incorrect? Are we more free with our calls being monitored? Does anyone REALLY believe that calls are not being monitored/recorded - no matter what the official line? Do you believe that the "secret court" is being told everything? If you believe all of these things then you probably believe Snowden is a traitor.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
wilkesgm BRYANT January 07 2014 at 10:47 PM

It depends in what you reveal and how you got it. Currently the federal courts are rolling over for Obama and the NSA, so in their world you are not a good person if you tell the truth - you will be a target for the administration.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
globalmkts January 07 2014 at 3:49 PM

"Journalism" is a fine line. It protects democracies from the plagues which endanger them. The real question is, is the information equally important whether it is discovered by a B&E? In a briefcase left on an airplane? On a hard drive broken into 10,000 miles away? Of course it is. The Pentagon papers are a prime example. When is the "thief" guilty of a heinous crime? Or should it be never if the greater good is served? To coin perhaps the most important phrase in an American democracy or Republic, if you like: "If we only knew what we don't know".

Flag Reply +5 rate up
plforsyth January 07 2014 at 12:59 PM

No one dared hold J Edgar Hoover accountable because he knew all about their abuses of the law and others.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
Mik's $ Toy plforsyth January 07 2014 at 1:14 PM

any I think he did this to draw attention away from his own private indignities

Flag Reply +2 rate up
lunasea713 January 07 2014 at 1:01 PM

More should have the courage to act against corrupt political figures as this group did. There might be hope for us after all.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
Tom lunasea713 January 07 2014 at 1:37 PM

Who among us would?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Merlin January 07 2014 at 1:28 PM

There is way more surveillance now and no one seems to care.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
John Merlin January 07 2014 at 2:03 PM

No one cares because Bush made us so much safer with his Homeland Security. NOT!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Larry Raymey January 07 2014 at 3:39 PM

I seem to remember that just after 911, Congress and many others were complaning that we were not doing enough snooping & spying. I guess the old saying, damed if you do and damed if you don't must still apply

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
franksroom Larry Raymey January 07 2014 at 4:30 PM

911 happened not because the United States wasn't doing enough spying; it happened because the new Presidential Administration ignored the intelligence given them by the old Administration. "Anyone who would trade freedom for security, soon will have neither."

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
gordonrobroy franksroom January 07 2014 at 7:00 PM

required viewing---PBS--"the man who kinew"

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