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One noteworthy victim of Cointelpro activities was the actress Jean Seberg and her subsequent suicide. 13. Because of her support for the Black Panther Party, actress Jean Seberg was targeted for ‘neutralization’ by the FBI’s COINTELPRO effort. SAC Richard W. Held, the author of the request, went on to become SAC San Francisco at the time of the bombing of Earth First activist Judi Bari. He subsequently retired from the Bureau to become Head of Security for Visa International. 19.All of these documents and many, many more can be found in The Cointelpro Papers by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall (South End Press, 1990) ISBN 0-89608-359-4.
See Attachment for the FBI’s redacted memos.
Concerning Jean Seberg, The Guardian states (April 25 2002): “More details are emerging of the FBI’s breathtaking smear campaign against actress Jean Seberg, a campaign which probably drove her to suicide. Duncan Campbell reports. 20.
More than 30 years ago, a small item appeared in a gossip column in the Los Angeles Times which suggested that a prominent American actress, who was married to a well-known European, was expecting the child of a leading Black Panther. The story was taken up by Newsweek, which identified the actress as Jean Seberg and her husband as Romain Gary, the French writer and diplomat. The Black Panther was Ray “Masai” Hewitt, the party’s minister of information.
Seberg was deeply upset by the story, gave birth prematurely and the child died after two days. The actress never fully recovered, say her friends, and she committed suicide. Now, the truth of how a malicious lie was planted by the FBI and its director J. Edgar Hoover is emerging.
Seberg, an actress known for her work in the play “The Mouse That Roared’, married Romain Gary, and became increasingly involved in radical American politics, most notably as a supporter of the Black Panther party, which Hoover was then describing as the greatest threat to internal security in the US. The FBI labelled Seberg as a radical for her involvement.” 21.
The FBI was deeply involved in covert operations against “radicals”, whether they were leading protagonists such as Martin Luther King or minor players such as Seberg, who had given $US10,500 to the Panthers. Seberg’s phone was tapped. When, in 1970, the FBI discovered she was pregnant, it decided to see if it could spread a story through gossip columns that the father was Hewitt.
An FBI memo, later disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act under the heading Counterintelligence Program Black Nationalist Hate Groups, Racial Intelligence – Black Panther Party, was sent to Hoover himself. “Bureau permission is requested to publicize the pregnancy of Jean Seberg, well-known movie actress, by [deleted] Black Panther party [deleted] by advising Hollywood gossip columnists in the Los Angeles area of the situation,” it read. “It is felt that the possible publication of Seberg’s plight could cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the general public.”
The memo suggested that a letter from a fictitious person would plant the rumour with gossip columnists. Hoover approved the tactic, though he advised waiting until Seberg was visibly pregnant so she would not suspect her phone had been tapped. The first paper to bite was the LA Times whose gossip columnist, Joyce Haber, ran the story under the headline of Miss A Rates as Expectant Mother. Although the story did not name Seberg, it gave enough clues for people to identify her: “a handsome European picked her for his wife … the outgoing Miss A was pursuing a number of free-spirited causes, among them the black revolution . . . According [to] all those really ‘in’ international sources, topic A is the babe Miss A is expecting and its father. Papa’s said to be a rather prominent Black Panther.”
Haber’s column was syndicated across the US in more than 100 newspapers. It was not long before Newsweek picked it up and printed Seberg’s name. She was devastated. 22.
Seberg lost the baby. In 1979, she was found dead in a car in Paris having taken an overdose of barbiturates. She was 40, and by then married for a fourth time.
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