The Miami Herald
May 25, 2000

 FBI campaign in Puerto Rico lasted more than 4 decades

 Documents released by agency detail surveillance, disruption

 New York Daily News

 NEW YORK -- For more than 40 years, the FBI pursued a secret campaign of
 surveillance, disruption and repression against Puerto Rico's independence
 movement -- but only now is the full story coming out.

 The revelations began in March, when FBI Director Louis Freeh stunned a
 congressional budget hearing by conceding that his agency had violated the civil
 rights of many Puerto Ricans over the years and had engaged in ``egregious
 illegal action, maybe criminal action.''

 ``Particularly in the 1960s, the FBI did operate a program that did tremendous
 destruction to many people, to the country, and certainly to the FBI,'' Freeh said
 in response to questions from Rep. Jose Serrano, the ranking Democrat on the
 House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FBI budget.

 To redress past injustices, Freeh told Serrano he was ordering virtually all agency
 files on the secret campaign declassified and made public.

 A few weeks later, the director notified Serrano that the FBI's Puerto Rico file --
 about 1.8 million documents -- was being prepared for him, with only the names of
 living informants blacked out.

 Last week, two FBI agents delivered the first installment on that promise to
 Serrano's Washington office -- 8,600 pages in four plain cardboard boxes, and the
 following day Serrano allowed The Daily News an exclusive look at what's inside.

 Most files in the first batch concern the agency's investigation and longtime
 pursuit of the small but extremist Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico and its fiery
 leader, Pedro Albizu Campos, who died in 1965 after many years in prison on
 terrorism and sedition charges.

 The first FBI agent arrived in Puerto Rico in 1936, after the local U.S. attorney, A.
 Cecil Snyder, complained to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that Albizu Campos
 was doing terrible things like publishing ``articles insulting the United States'' and
 giving ``public speeches in favor of independence.''

 Although he had no proof, Snyder said he suspected Albizu Campos was behind
 several unsolved bombings of federal buildings.

 Within months of the first agent's arrival, Albizu and several top party leaders were
 indicted and convicted of sedition and hauled off to a federal prison in Atlanta.

 Even after the arrests, the federal government remained worried throughout the
 1940s about the potential for violence by the Nationalists. In 1943, the documents
 show, Albizu was paroled from federal prison. He moved to New York City and
 refused to report to a parole officer. The Roosevelt administration, against the
 wishes of Hoover and Justice Department officials, would not order him back to
 prison for fear of unrest on the island.

 The bombshells in these first boxes, however, have little to do with Nationalist
 Party extremism.

 Among the most surprising files:

 Nov. 11, 1940: Hoover writes the FBI's San Juan office ordering it to ``obtain all
 information of a pertinent character . . . concerning Luis Muñoz Marin and his

 Muñoz, the most popular Puerto Rican leader of the 20th Century, was at the
 time president of the Puerto Rican Senate. He would become the island's first
 elected governor and the father of its commonwealth constitution. Yet the FBI
 kept him under surveillance for more than 20 years, with agents compiling
 information about his personal debts and his mistresses, and periodically
 updating psychological portraits of him.

  June 12, 1961: Hoover, who had given his San Juan agents the green light for a
 campaign to disrupt the independence movement, writes:

 ``In order to appraise the caliber of leadership in the Puerto Rican independence
 movement, particularly as it pertains to our efforts to disrupt their activities and
 compromise their effectiveness, we should have intimate detailed knowledge of
 the most influential leaders.  . . .

 ``We must have information concerning their weaknesses, morals, criminal
 records, spouses, children, family life and personal activities other than
 independence activities.''

 Dec. 21, 1961: A San Juan agent notifies Hoover that he has met with the editor
 of El Mundo newspaper and gotten him to agree to publish an editorial
 condemning a radical university group, FUPI, without disclosing that the piece
 was authored by the FBI.

 The dozens of memos from Hoover in these boxes show that the legendary FBI
 chief paid very close attention to events in Puerto Rico.

 COINTELPRO, the FBI's infamous 1960s program to disrupt dissident groups,
 had a far more devastating impact in Puerto Rico than in the States. The
 commonwealth government has already admitted that -- helped by the FBI and
 Naval Intelligence -- it illegally kept files on more than 140,000 pro-independence
 dissidents. Many were blacklisted for years.

 ``For such a small population, Puerto Ricans must be the most investigated
 people in history,'' Serrano said Monday.