The Destruction of COINTELPRO–"Black Nationalist–Hate Groups" Field Office Files, 1989–2008

Date of Destruction — Field Office — Number of Actions Carried Out
1989 January 30 — Louisville Field Office (157-LS-1128) — 0 Actions
1989 November 30 — Richmond Field Office (105-RH-5096) — 2 Actions
1991 June 11 — Memphis Field Office (100-ME-4542) — 10 Actions
1994 June 7 — Buffalo Field Office (157-BU-503) — 3 Actions
2005 January 24 — Buffalo Field Office (157-BU-746)
2005 March 11 — Detroit Field Office (157-DE-3214) — 20 Actions
2005 March 12 — Denver Field Office (157-DN-199) — 3 Actions
2005 March 22 — Boston Field Office (157-BS-531) — 10 Actions
2005 March 24 — Mobile Field Office (157-MO-2578) — 4 Actions
2005 April 23 — Columbia Field Office (157-CO-4975) — 0 Actions
2005 May 6 — Jacksonville Field Office (157-JK-1523) — 1 Action
2005 August 1 — Miami Field Office (157-MM-2414) — 14 Actions
2005 November 25 — Oklahoma City Field Office (157-OC-518) — 0 Actions
2006 March 1 — Omaha Field Office (157-OM-272) — 3 Actions
2006 June 19 — Los Angeles Field Office (157-LA-4054) — 22 Actions
2006 October 11 — St. Louis Field Office (157-SL-5818) — 6 Actions
2008 May 26 — Cincinnati Field Office (157-CI-3786) — 3 Actions
2008 May 28 — Cincinnati Field Office (100-CI-16921)
2008 October 29 — Portland Field Office (157-PD-347) — 6 Actions
Unknown Date — Minneapolis Field Office (157-MP-438) — 3 Actions

The FBI has destroyed 20 field office files that were part of the documentation of this counterintelligence program. Next to each one, I have listed the number of actions that I was able to document that were carried out by each field office according to the HQ file that is available in the FBI's online Vault. This is a way of measuring the importance of the file that was destroyed. Some field offices split their recording of the counterintelligence program between two files, so I have only listed the number of actions once. Additionally, the following field office files have been reported lost:

Detroit Field Office (100-DE-34655)
El Paso Field Office (157-EP-126) — 0 Actions
Hong Kong Legal Attaché (105-HON-4424) — 0 Actions
New Haven Field Office (157-NH-785) — 15 Actions
Los Angeles Field Office (157-LA-1751)

Paris Legal Attaché (157-PAR-67) — 0 Actions

Overall, 43% of the field office or legal attaché files for this counterintelligence program have been destroyed or are missing. However, no files have been destroyed since 2008. (Also, if you happened to request and receive any of these files before they were lost or destroyed and would like to share them, please contact me at jared dot fbidocs at gmail dot com.) Another bit of good information is that there is still a significant amount of information that remains in the field office files beyond what is in the HQ main file on the FBI's website. According to my calculations, that file numbers 6,429 pages, and having requested every field office file for this counterintelligence program, those field office files provide roughly 55% more information, in terms of page count, beyond what the HQ file contains, though much of it remains unprocessed.

By comparison, for COINTELPRO–New Left, only five files have been destroyed, and two are missing. That means about 11% of field office files are destroyed or missing for the program. They are as follows:

1978 January 1 — Kansas City Field Office (100-KC-12478)
1988 December 1 — Albany Field Office (100-AL-20205)
1990 July 4 — Denver Field Office (100-DN-9553)
2004 April 14 — Portland Field Office (100-PD-11048)
2007 November 27 — New Haven Field Office (100-NH-19687)

The missing field office files are for the Detroit Field Office (100-DE-35108) and the Sacramento Field Office (100-SC-1099). The two counterintelligence programs were often closely linked. And as you can see, there is considerable overlap in the lost or missing files for the two programs. There are no field office files for Denver, Detroit, New Haven, or Portland for either counterintelligence program. (And supposedly, the Denver Field Office file for COINTELPRO–New Left was destroyed on a federal holiday.)

In the end, while these files would likely shed greater light on the investigative work done by the field offices and provide more information about subjects of interest, it is unlikely they would reveal a greater number of actions carried out because all actions—at least officially—needed to be approved by headquarters and would therefore appear in the main file.

Last Updated: 27 February 2017