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James Ford Seale — An FBI Informant?

James Ford Seale, convicted two years ago in the kidnapping and murder of two black youths in Southwest Mississippi in 1964, was known for his intense hatred of law enforcement at all levels, but particularly the FBI. During my research for “The Past Is Never Dead,” I heard that Jack Seale, James’ older brother and generally considered to  be the most violent member of the Seale family, had worked as an informer for the FBI.

New documents show that not only was Jack Seale an informant for the FBI, but that brother James might have supplied some information to the agency as well.  The Concordia Sentinel recently published a piece indicating that Jack had been an active informant for the FBI from 1967 on, and even mentioning the name of the FBI agent who handle him. The information came from the FBI files themselves and discussed a group of Klansmen known at the Silver Dollar Group, which was involved in many bombings during those years. Jack apparently tried to talk his brother James into working with the FBI, and in fact the FBI records indicate that James did meet with an agent and told him names of members of the Silver Dollar Group and gave information about the meetings.

The Seales weren’t the only Klansmen who turned against their comrades. The Neshoba County murders of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney in 1964 were largely solved through the use of Klan informants. By 1970 the FBi had so thoroughly infiltrated the Klan in Mississippi that it was paralyzed by suspicion and paranoia.

The key was money. The FBI handed out cold cash to its informants, many of whom lived in low-income rural areas. Even Klan higher-ups were not imune; a leader of the Franklin County Klan, also on the FBI payroll, ratted out James Ford Seale and others to the FBi for the murder of the two black youths in 1964.

The FBI was well aware of the fact that James and Jack Seale were deeply involved in the murder of the two black youths. That knowledge did not stop the Agency from employing Jack Seale as an informant, despite the blood on his hands. In those days, you needed a Klansman to catch a Klansman.

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