|Submitted||Dec. 23, 2016|
MuckRock users can file, duplicate, track, and share public records requests like this one. Learn more.
To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
Records relating to or mentioning the Council of Conservative Citizens. The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South. Created in 1985 from the mailing lists of its predecessor organization, the CCC has evolved into a crudely white supremacist group.
Among other things, its Statement of Principles says that it “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” Created in 1985 from the mailing lists of its predecessor organization, the CCC, which initially tried to project a "mainstream" image, has evolved into a crudely white supremacist group whose website has run pictures comparing the late pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape and referred to black people as "a retrograde species of humanity." The group's newspaper, Citizens Informer, regularly publishes articles condemning "race mixing," decrying the evils of illegal immigration, and lamenting the decline of white, European civilization. Gordon Baum, the group’s founder, died in March of 2015.
Founded in 1985 by Gordon Baum, a worker's compensation attorney and longtime racist activist, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) rose from the ashes of the Citizens Councils of America (CCA), commonly called "White Citizens Councils," a coalition of white-supremacist groups and individuals formed throughout the South to defend school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed the policy in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education.
Unlike the KKK, the CCA groups had a veneer of civic respectability, inspiring future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to refer to it as the "uptown Klan." While there were plenty of bare-knuckle racists attracted to the councils' anti-integration slogan, "Never!," the members also included bankers, merchants, judges, newspaper editors and politicians — folks given more to wearing suits and ties than hoods and robes. During the White Citizens Councils' heyday, the groups claimed more than 1 million members. Although they weren't immune to violence — Byron De La Beckwith, who murdered civil-rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963, was a member — the councils generally used their political and financial pull to offset the effects of "forced integration."
Once the segregation battle was lost, the air went out of the White Citizens Councils. The councils steadily lost members throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Sensing the need for a new direction, Baum, formerly the CCA's Midwest field director, called together a group of 30 white men, including former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox and future Louisiana Congressman John Rarick, for a meeting in Atlanta in 1985. Together, they cooked up a successor organization: the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Like the original White Citizens Councils, the CCC is made up of local chapters, some of which are active in civic affairs beyond the national group's racist agenda. And until the 2000s, some of the group's "uptown" attitude remained, as meetings resembled Rotary Club events more than Klan outings and regularly featured politicians as keynote speakers.
Most Americans learned of the CCC in late 1998, when a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians' ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC's 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew nothing about the CCC. However, an Intelligence Report investigation, publicized by national television and newspaper reports, made clear what the CCC really was: a hate group that routinely denigrated blacks as "genetically inferior," complained about "Jewish power brokers," called LGBT people "perverted sodomites," accused immigrants of turning America into a "slimy brown mass of glop," and named Lester Maddox, the now-deceased, ax handle-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, "Patriot of the Century."
As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its racist views. A resolution moved through the U.S. Congress "condemning the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens," although it ultimately failed. (Congress had earlier condemned the black supremacist Nation of Islam in a similar manner, but failed to do the same with the CCC. Republican Party leaders, likely embarrassed by Lott's very public connection to the CCC, managed to defeat the censure effort.)
But six years later, many Southern lawmakers were still pandering to and meeting with the CCC — and still pleading ignorance. According to a 2004 Intelligence Report review of the Citizens Informer, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials had attended CCC events between 2000 and 2004, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group.
Since the 1998/1999 scandal stripped much of the remaining varnish off the CCC's mainstream pretensions, the extremist views expressed on its website and in its newspaper have become increasingly crude. "What do you call ... four blacks, three Hispanics, three Russian Jews, and one white guy?" the CCC home page asked in 2003. "The FBI's Most Wanted List!" Another day, the home page ran photos of accused Beltway snipers John Muhammad and John Malvo, 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui and shoe-bomber Richard Reed. "Notice a Pattern Here?" asked a caption underneath the four photos. "Is the face of death black after all?" In 2002, the Web site featured a photo of Daniel Pearl, the "Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter" who had just been decapitated by Islamic terrorists. In the photo, Pearl was shown with his "mixed-race wife, Marianne." The headline above the couple's picture was stunning even for the CCC: "Death by Multiculturalism?"
The danger of "race-mixing" has been a consistent theme for the group since the days of the White Citizens Councils. "God is the author of racism," said one story on the CCC's website in 2001. "God is the One who divided mankind into different types. ... Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God." After the NAACP declared its boycott of South Carolina in 1999 because the state continued to fly the Confederate battle flag over its Capitol dome, the CCC distributed a mock advertisement proclaiming, "South Carolina Now Has Whiter Beaches!" The Citizens Informer item urged whites to vacation in South Carolina and "enjoy a civil liberty that has been denied to them for many years at hotels, restaurants and beaches: the freedom to associate with just one's own people."
Along with theological arguments, the Citizens Informer has published countless stories detailing "scientific" evidence for white people's inherent superiority. Writing about Brown vs. Board of Education in 2004, contributor Michael Polignano noted that many commentators were using the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling striking down public school segregation to talk about "how far America still falls short of racial equality." According to Polignano, that lack of progress "should surprise no one, because racial inequality is genetic and cannot be changed by social programs. ... Blacks are on average probably less intelligent than Whites and more aggressive, impulsive and prone to psychopathologies." To prove this point, a 2005 article in the Citizens Informer written in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina described "[a]ccounts of little children — girls and boys —being gang raped, rescue vans and copters being repeatedly fired upon by mobs of violent blacks, anarchy, chaos, confusion, looting even by black police officers."
More recently, the CCC has focused very heavily on battling non-white immigration. The group jumped quite early on the "threat" it perceived was posed by immigration, holding a rally against immigration in Cullman, Ala., in 1998 that featured major nativist hate group leaders Barbara Coe and Glenn Spencer, both of whom worked to pass the punishing California anti-immigrant Proposition 187 (the rally was also attended by an unrobed Klan leader and a top official of the Federation for American Immigration Reform). The CCC has held rallies nearly every year since then against immigration and the topic is addressed regularly at the CCC's biannual conferences, which have included as participants CCC leaders and prominent racists including Jared Taylor, editor of the anti-black and anti-Latino race science newsletter American Renaissance, and Don Black, founder of the first hate site on the web, Stormfront.org.
CCC meetings have rarely featured politicians as speakers since the 2004 Intelligence Report exposé that exposed the fact that dozens of GOP politicians (and one Democrat) had been speaking at the group's events despite GOP chief Jim Nicholson's warnings in 1998. But a few have continued to associate with the CCC. In 2005, George Wallace Jr., the son of the late segregationist Alabama governor who was then an Alabama Public Service commissioner, spoke at the group's summer conference. In June 2008, another Alabama politician, state Sen. Charles Bishop (R-Jasper), addressed the group. Bishop's speech appealed to the assembled CCC crowd, particularly when he denounced the idea that Southern states should apologize for having sanctioned slavery. Bishop said that "atonement equals reparations" — meaning that apologies would surely be greeted by demands for financial payback by black Americans. Bishop received a standing ovation from the audience and he and his wife posed for pictures with members afterwards.
And in 2009 Republican Mississippi State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol spoke to the group. She gave a rabble-rousing speech on "Cultural Heritage in Mississippi." In a brief history of the state since 1540, Chassaniol complained that the U.S. was in decline, as evidenced by tributes to Michael Jackson, a "pedophile who's being celebrated." She indicated that the government wants to "take from those who have and give to those who don't want to work for it." And she worried that the 2010 national census might hand over government "to the radical left." Chassaniol confirmed to the Southern Poverty Law Center that she is a member of the CCC, which she described as a "conservative organization."
A June 2011 barbeque held in Tennessee showcased another set of unsavory relationships maintained by the CCC. According to postings on website of the CCC’s Tennessee chapter, members of Volksfront and Blood and Honour, two notorious and violent racist skinhead groups, joined CCC members to network and discuss “ideas and plans to make a positive impact on our regions.” The then-head of the CCC, Gordon Baum, referred to the meeting as a “no-no” after stating that the chapter was not supposed to meet with “costumed Nazis.”
On April 7, 2013, Leonard R. Wilson of Jasper, Alabama, died. He was a charter member of the CCC, as well as the organization’s national secretary and the Alabama state coordinator. He earned the nickname of "Flagpole" Wilson by climbing a flagpole during 1956 anti-integration riots at the University of Alabama to shout, "Keep 'Bama white!"
A few months later, at the organization’s 2013 annual conference in Winston-Salem, N.C., Bill Lord addressed a crowd of around 75 attendees, imploring them to think locally and “get you some bigots together and take some organizations over.” Lord, who was then the chairman of the Carroll County Democratic Party in Mississippi, was referring to positions such as the school board. He then went on to refer to Greenwood, Miss., as “the Congo” because of its large black population. The gathering only went further sideways from there, with Keith Alexander of the “Political Cesspool,” a racist and anti-Semitic far-right radio program, decrying Jewish political power and influence before stating, “The only people who can be trusted to be in charge are white people.” Another attendee, John Shudlick, five-time mayor of Ocean Ridge, Fla., encouraged the crowd to use critical thinking in the struggle for the country’s soul. According to Shudlick, the “six million figure [Jews killed in the holocaust] is a dirty filthy lie.”
In November of the same year, the CCC and the neo-Confederate League of the South held their first joint protest together against the removal of a statue of Tom Watson, an infamous racist and anti-Semite known for playing a key role in instigating the lynching of Leo Frank in 1915, from the steps of the Georgia state Capitol. The two groups’ membership rolls overlap a good deal; however, this event was demonstrative of the CCC’s longstanding strategy, focused on small, local rallies, being adopted by other hate groups.
Gordon Baum, the CCC’s founder and longtime leader, died at the age of 74 in early March 2015, leaving the future of the CCC uncertain. However, Baum’s death did little to slow down the activities of several of the group’s board members. Just weeks later, Jared Taylor and Sam Dickson, both well-known racist activists, appeared as speakers at the Russian Conservative Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, alongside some of Europe’s most extreme, right-wing fringe.
Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, and 214 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.
I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.
The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.
Requests for fee waivers and expedited processing will be addressed once your request has been assigned an FOIPA request number. You will receive written notification of the FBI’s decision.
Information regarding the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy is available at http://www.fbi.gov/ or http://www.fbi.gov/foia/. If you require additional assistance please contact the Public Information Officer.
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997
Questions E-mail: email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia
Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.
An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.
I am appealing the decision to not perform the cross-reference searches and field office searches explicitly requested.
A no responsive documents response.
02/17/2017 05:06 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-002416
I am appealing the decision to not perform the specified cross-reference searches using the information to provided and the decision to not search the files on field offices as explicitly requested.
03/17/2017 04:10 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-002998
DOJ-AP-2017-002416 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.
A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.
DOJ-AP-2017-002998 has been processed with the following final disposition: Closed for other reasons -- Duplicate request or appeal.
A copy of documents responsive to the request.