The Smear Terror - John T. Flynn

In this short pamphlet Flynn describes the manner in which patriotic Americans who speak out against communist infiltration or criticize government 'insiders' are systematically targeted and maligned by 'private gestapos'. These 'smear' agents spy on citizens and feed outrageous, misleading slander through radio, press, and other media to destroy reputations and silence critics of the elite power-brokers who fund them.

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[Book Cover] from The Smear Terror by John T. Flynn

The Smear Terror by John T. Flynn

This pamphlet tells the story one of the strangest chapters in our history—the story of private gestapos formed to terrorize citizens who differ with the objectives of the operators. State secret police have harried Europe for years. Here private bureaus do the job. They maintain secret agents to spy in men's homes and offices; they maintain files on citizens after the fashion of European political police. They feed out carefully guarded smears through radio, press, bulletins to destroy the reputations of loyal Americans as traitors and fascists. The purpose is to frighten into silence all who dare question their plans at home and abroad. This story is told here for the first time.

Published by JOHN T. FLYNN
15 E. 40th Street
New York City 16


I have written this pamphlet because I believe it touches one of the gravest diseases in our social order—the rise of the private political secret police. It is a thing alien to our institutions which cannot survive its presence amongst us.

I hope it is not necessary for me to say that in obtaining the facts presented here I have employed no snoopers, no investigators of any kind; I have not, in short, used any of those methods which I have exposed and condemned here. My chief object in writing this document is to move our government to take measures to make this importation from the revolutionary turbulence of Europe unlawful in this country.

As for the facts themselves, I can vouch for their accuracy. I have used none which I have not taken from the public writings of the persons referred to, from the public prints and from public documents open to any citizen. I am prepared to prove them with an abundance of evidence—and much more besides. I may add that I have refrained from the use of a mass of irrefutable evidence open to me which would add a fat darker color to the performances described in this pamphlet. That task ought not to be imposed upon me. It is the duty of our government to bring those facts to light; protect every citizen under the Constitution; to make a living guarantee of that article of the Bill of Rights which declares that "the right of every citizen to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated", even by the government itself, too say nothing of private gestapos.

I have two other purposes in what I have written. There is no social virus against which we should guard so zealously as the virus of racial and religious hatred. It is too much to hope that poor, weak human beings will be able to rid themselves wholly of some forms of bias. Our aim should be, as far as possible, to permit these poisonous Infections to lie dormant and not by foolish or vicious procedures to develop them into a raging contagion. When these hatreds become virulent they do as much mischief to those minds and hearts that do the hating as to those who are the objects of that hate.

Our people do not yet understand the forces which are behind so many "movements" and "crusades" for tolerance and security and democracy—three sadly abused words. We are, from long usage, politically wise in the ways of democracy. But we are pathetically naive in that new kind of revolutionary political and social action which has torn European society asunder and which will yet rend ours to pieces if we do not deal with it. A social structure can be weakened and fractured and shaken to pieces by group wars—wars between religious groups, economic groups, racial groups, cultural groups, regional groups. There is in our midst an organism that is interested in producing precisely this situation, which knows its business, is amply financed and directed and which, by its pretensions to democracy and freedom and security, draws much of its financial supports from people who should be foremost in fighting it. This pamphlet touches one phase of this mischievous energy in our midst.

New York City, January 2, 1947 .

Additional Copies of this Pamphlet

The contents of this pamphlet first appeared in the Chicago Tribune, running serially beginning Sunday, January 12,1947. In order to give it circulation in cities where it has not been printed in any newspaper, the author has published it under his own imprint and at his own expense and has arranged to supply copies in any quantity to any persons or organizations which may wish to have or distribute them.

Readers who desire to obtain additional copies, therefore, will find full instructions on the back page.