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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.

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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
Mikie & Patty January 07 2014 at 2:23 PM

There have been a lot of reports about things that have been going on in the government that the average citizen doesn't know about. Most of them are underhanded and under the table. I realize that there are a lot of things that shouldn't come to light but I feel that the hoarding of information about certain people in this country shouldn't be done. Eventually all of that stuff will come out in the open. Blackmailing individuals is against the law but people like Hoover used it for anything he deemed necessary. To me, that sounds like a personal gain thing. That also is against the law. It is going on now. Our congress, who are paid well, should be able to do things without the under the table dealings, blackmail, and bribery. The you scratch my back and I will scratch yours is not the way to run a country. If they present a bill, and not everyone excepts it, then there is something wrong with the bill. I don't believe that trading votes is what is supposed to be done for the people of this country. A senator or a congressman/woman gets paid well enough, the benefits are good enough, that they should understand what is good and what is not. They shouldn't be allowed to barter to get it to pass so that they will look good. My opinion of the congress is very low along with the white house crew. I don't feel that they are working for the average citizen. There is personal gains involved. it is very sad, to me, to see what the government has come to. I feel that there is a lot of abuse in the government and a lot of waste. I am sure there are many stories of what a congress person has fought for that is nothing more than waste land right now. I do not agree with what these people did by robbing Hoover, but I do feel that they should never have to do this. People have bribed to get positions in our government and it shows. The average citizen has grown to a point that they feel the government is not what they thought it was in the past. It was always this. we sent them to Washington to handle things and were not going to get involved. That has changed. People are getting involved and aren't as stupid as our government wants us to be. There are a lot more that have not changed their mind about the government. They feel that it is still working for the people. I have no qualms about who runs the government, all I want if for them to run it for the people, not twist it around for their personal gains. All I am asking is be open, be honest, be transparent, as was promised. Let the average citizen know what is going on. On major decisions, let the people know and let them have their say as to how they feel about it. Don't cram stuff down their throats. To me that shows very little respect for the average person. Congress doesn't need to place themselves on a higher platform that the rest of us. They are just citizens also who were given the trust of their countrymen to do what is right. That's all I ask.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
JoJo Mikie & Patty January 07 2014 at 2:46 PM

bravo mikie and patti..well said!

Flag Reply +1 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
dollibug January 07 2014 at 7:16 PM

CORRUPTION AND COVER UP has been alive and kicking for a very long time.....probably much longer than anyone even knows about. Snowden shared what he had *discovered*....SUPPOSELY IT HAS BEEN RULED THAT NSA did nothing unconstitutional......so WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY TRYING TO SAY SNOWDEN DID?????????

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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.

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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
snsenica January 07 2014 at 7:33 PM

Behind these charges against Hoover is always the suspicion that his real offence was his implacable resistance to international socialism with it's multiculturalism, "new morality", open-borders and wars of "liberation".
The cross-dressing accusation has been repeated enough that it has become believable with no evidence. If it were true, he would have kept any reputed perversion out of the public eye where he might even be photographed. Yet his accusers say he went out in public!
No doubt a man with his powers probably did some unlawful things rather like most presidents and other politicians.

Flag Reply +2 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.

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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?

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jbm489 January 07 2014 at 8:00 PM

They were not cowards like Snowden and they did not sell their information to our enemies.Do not compare them to Snowden who is seeking popularity and even engaged Greenwald and Assage who is hiding out from a criminal investigation in his own country.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Merlin January 07 2014 at 1:28 PM

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

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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!

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