Witnesses testified before the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, commonly known as the Church Committee, on FBI intelligence activities. From November 18, 1975, committee staffers Frederick Schwarz and Curt Smothers detailed FBI abuses including spying, bugging, and attempted intimidation of Martin Luther King, Jr. From November 19, 1975, Deputy Associate Director of the FBI James Adams admitted to some excesses but defended a number of these FBI practices.
Context was provided by interviews with former committee staffers Frederick Schwarz and Elliot Maxwell, as well as an interview with Associate U.S. Senate Historian Katherine Scott.
Watch the 90-minute C-SPAN video: Church Committee Hearings on FBI Intelligence Activities
Commentary by The Secular Jurist: We highly recommend this video. It is living history on U.S. national security apparatuses which unconstitutionally and unethically turned on America’s own people. Two of the most stunning exchanges in the Church Committee hearings involved an anonymous FBI letter sent to Dr. King a month before he received his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize which was nothing less than a death threat, and the memorable “Joe Potatoes” reference by Senator Phil Hart (D-MI) which illuminated the FBI’s egregious persecution of ordinary citizens vis-à-vis what was perpetrated against a high-profile figure like MLK.