The FBI’s COINTEL program, also known as COINTELPRO, was a series of covert and illegal projects to disrupt a wide range of political groups that the FBI considered to be dangerous. The original target of the program was the Communist Party of the US. Later the program was expanded to include, civil rights groups, anti-war groups, the KKK, black nationalist groups, environmentalist groups, and many others. The existence of the program was revealed during the Church committee hearings in the 1970s.
Here is a description of some of the tactics:
1. Create a negative public image for target groups (for example through surveilling activists and then releasing negative personal information to the public)
2. Break down internal organization by creating conflicts (for example, by having agents exacerbate racial tensions, or send anonymous letters to try to create conflicts)
3. Create dissension between groups (for example, by spreading rumors that other groups were stealing money)
4. Restrict access to public resources (for example, by pressuring non-profit organizations to cut off funding or material support)
5. Restrict the ability to organize protest (for example, through agents promoting violence against police during planning and at protests)
6. Restrict the ability of individuals to participate in group activities (for example, by character assassinations, false arrests, surveillance)
COINTELPRO - Wikipedia
A full text of the 1976 report on the program is available here:
Church Committee Book III 1976.pdf - Google Drive
The program certainly existed at the time of the Church committee hearings, but it unclear what has happened since then. Smart phones, the internet, social media, artificial intelligence etc. did not exist in the 1970s so the capability to surveille and disrupt political groups is massively greater now than it was then. Edward Snowden showed that the NSA collects massive amounts of information from the internet and telephone conversations.
Senator Church had this warning about the potential for abuse of the surveillance technologies:
Is the COINTEL program relevant to what is happening today?
Or is it just a footnote of history?