During the 1960s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation covertly targeted civil-rights leaders, women’s movements and anti-war protestors, all in the name of domestic security. The secret practices led to a Senate investigation — the so-called Church Committee — which revealed that the FBI had infiltrated civilian movements and attempted to damage the groups with smear campaigns and harassment.

In the fallout from the scandal, the FBI issued explicit guidelines in order to steer clear of abuses. These rulebooks have remained out of sight for decades. But recently, Intercept reporter Cora Currier received leaked copies, and along with her colleagues, released the confidential documents to the public.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

This week on The Breakthrough, Currier reveals the story behind the FBI’s secret rules.

Listen to this podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.

Enjoy the podcast and want more? Dive deeper into this week’s episode:

  • Read the Intercept’s full investigation on the FBI’s rulebooks.
  • Dig into the FBI’s unredacted documents online.
  • Watch the Church Committee hearings on the FBI’s covert tactics.
  • Dive into the FBI’s vault and read about their COINTELPRO practices.
  • Watch a PBS documentary on what it’s like to be an FBI informant.

Have an idea for The Breakthrough? Send us your suggestions — including which reporters we should ask to talk with us. Hit us up at podcasts@propublica.org.