Recording this dark time has not been easy. Shadow boxing the machine as an arm chair warrior has it's fleeting rewards, but is mostly like eating a shit sandwich and grinning about it.
When German movie director Wim Wenders wrote of America, in that, "America" always means two things: a country, geographically, the USA, and an idea of that country which goes with it. [The] "American Dream", then, is a dream of a country in a different country that is located where the dream takes place... "I want to be in America", the Jets sing, in that famous song from West Side Story. They are in America already and yet still wanting to get there. (Wim Wenders 1989, quoted in Morley 96, p. 94). America is dead, and it's dream has evolved into a nightmare. Yes, my ideal of America is dead, but the tapeworm lives. Michael Ventura posits, "America is over. America is like Wile E. Coyote after he's run out a few paces past the edge of the cliff – he'll take a few more steps in midair before he looks down. Then, when he sees that there's nothing under him, he'll fall. Many Americans suspect that they're running on thin air, but they haven't looked down yet." The America I thought I knew has been hollowed out like a pumpkin and the seeds spit in our face. Hollowed out like a termite infested country road bridge ready for collapse. But the machine will go on living,... for a time. As In thermodynamics, the alchemist's search for the eternal Unity has been continued in the many efforts to construct a machine operating at 100% efficiency, the Perpetuum Mobile. A closed system.
Ventura goes on to say,
Half a century ago James Baldwin wrote: "Confronted with the impossibility of remaining faithful to one's beliefs, and the equal impossibility of becoming free of them, one can be driven to the most inhuman excesses." Americans believe they're "No. 1," destined to lead the world. That is the America that's over. If we insist on that illusion, then this world is in for tough times. We will neither hold on to what we have nor create what we might have, but we will wreak untold harm (if we don't destroy the species altogether). Or we can face and embrace reality. And that reality is: There is no such thing as "No. 1" ... there is no such thing as an ideal destined country that is better than any other ... there is only us, doing the best we can, trying to live free and sanely, within limits that are about to become only too clear. Our glory days are done. What's next?Palin 2012? You betcha! But I suspect, either way, it will be the slow rot, the slow motion unraveling. I will leave the following, conceivably, a last peek from me into what I see as the machine:(Can you spot the Aesopian language?)
Hint: LexisNexis Lawyers, choice point, credit, mortgages? They own us. They own every keystroke; the business model de-mockrazy.
Highlight: John Carrol talks of the chilling effect...
Finally, the word, Samizdat . What drew me to Amsam.org is the intrigue of that word. Russian Samizdat from wikipedia:
(Russian:Samizdat ) was the clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature or other media in Soviet-bloc countries. Copies were made a few at a time, and those who received a copy would be expected to make more copies. This was often done by handwriting or typing.This is what I have tried to do here, pass on vital information in the hopes that it gets disseminated.
This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials.
Vladimir Bukovsky defined it as follows: "I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and [may] get imprisoned for it."
And now, for my grand finale:
Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States
The history of the United States is filled with stories of government repression of dissenters. While we know about the violent means of suppressing dissent, the more subtle means are harder to get a grasp on. In “Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States”, author Jules Boykoff lays out his theory on how dissent is suppressed and backs it up with historical and current examples, mostly from 20th century United States history. In many places in the world—and even here in the US—the crushing of dissent by the state is the pure violence we imagine, but overall, in “rich” countries like the US, the suppression of dissent requires a lot more cooperation from the larger population and the media. There are no tanks rolling through neighborhoods enforcing subjugation in most places in the US, but the near universal media complicity and an omni-present police force, coupled with all sorts of extra-legal rules targeting dissidents do the job.
How does suppression work? Boykoff describes the methods and gives examples. He starts with the obvious one: Direct Violence, most often used against people of color in groups like the Black Panthers, AIM, the Young Lords, and others. This involves direct assassinations and attacks, like the killing of Fred Hampton in Chicago by the Chicago police or the attack by FBI agents at Pine Ridge that Leonard Peltier was framed for. The next method he examines is Public Hearings and Prosecutions, like those used against dissidents in the 1950s to frame any radicals as “Communists.” These hearings mainly targeted labor activists who had just initiated a huge strike involving 2 million people in 1946 and Hollywood intellectuals and workers involved in the film industry. Senator Joseph McCarthy led a crusade against anyone who dared speak out against the Cold War or capitalism, framing the hearings so that only friendly witnesses were allowed to speak and dissident witnesses were routinely cut off. These hearings were a way to whip up support for the Cold War and squelch the rising labor movement by blaming it on the tiny Communist Party USA. Part of the same routine is to deny employment, or blacklist dissidents, as occurred when Angela Davis was fired from UCLA in 1970 in response to the demand of Governor Ronald Reagan. Arresting dissidents on trumped up or rarely enforced charges also saps the energy of activists. They are put on the defensive in the courtroom where resolution can take years. For example: the mass arrests of global justice demonstrators outside of the World Bank meetings in September 2002 tied hundreds of people to the courts for years, a tactic that intimidates people from expressing their opinion and puts a black mark on their criminal record.
Surveillance and Break-ins rank high in the bag of dirty tricks to suppress dissent, especially during the FBI-run COINTELPRO program which operated until the mid 1970s to smash the “New Left” . Martin Luther King and the Southern Poverty Leadership Conference were targeted as Communist-groups for neutralization to prevent the rise of “a black messiah”. From there, they turned on any Communists (active or not members) in close company with King, taped evidence of King’s affairs, and sent threatening letters demanding that King commit suicide. The FBI broke into Civil Rights organization offices many times to plant warrentless wiretaps. In general, Civil Rights leaders always knew that the FBI, with its “red” obsessed director Edgar Hoover, was watching them closely.
Actually infiltrating groups with Agent Provocateurs and trying to steer their direction, placing informants in groups, and trying to make people think that leaders of groups are actually FBI agents, a process known as “Badjacketing”, stand out as more direct ways that the FBI used and uses to suppress dissent. Douglas Durham infiltrated the American Indian Movement (AIM), and steered it towards aggressive violence, opening fighting with other left-wing groups. Within two years, Durham’s actions had fragmented AIM as a group. In the case of Anna Mae Aquash, Boycoff shows, the loss of trust by her AIM group because of FBI badjacketing directly led to her suicide. Even further, “Black Propaganda”, or false hostile mail sent by the FBI in the name of one group to another with the intent to raise conflict between the two groups, led the Black Panther Party and the United Slaves (a black nationalist cultural organization) to actually start attacking each other, leading to the deaths of several members in both groups. The FBI also mailed a fake cartoon to a mostly Black political group in DC supposedly from a mostly white group, telling them to “suck my banana, you monkeys.”
The final piece of suppression of dissent is the way the media, closely tied with corporations and the state, marginalizes and minimizes dissident movements. Most recently, protesters in 1999 against the World Trade Organization and subsequent anti-corporate globalization found that their views became news in a way that didn’t focus on the issues (as Boykoff shows in a study of major newspapers and television news). Instead, stories reported that organizers only got a few hundred people (even in cases where the number was much higher), that freaks and weirdos showed up to protests, that the message wasn’t clear, and that protesters practiced uninformed violence and often didn’t know anything about the issues (as portrayed by the media, anyway). Boykoff moves into examples of suppression of dissent in recent years, such as the “Green Scare” in which anti-terrorism laws are used against militant environmental dissidents, even to the point of having an FBI infiltrator (“Anna”) lead a group to almost bombing a cell phone tower and then giving one of the participants, Eric McDavid, a draconian prison sentence of 20 years for a crime that never happened.
A Snitch Emerges
An Austin-based activist named Brandon Darby has revealed he worked as an FBI informant in the eighteen months leading up to the 2008 Republican National Convention. Darby has admitted to wearing recording devices at planning meetings and wearing a transmitter embedded in his belt during the convention. He is expected to testify on behalf of the government later this month in the trial of two Texas activists who were arrested at the RNC on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails. Darby had recruited them and pushed them towards building the fi rebombs. Darby had been wearing a wire for years and had been known as a disruptive element in countless different radical projects including Common Ground relief effort in New Orleans post Katrina.
Darby is just one of many deep surveillance efforts targetting radical social justice organizers lately. Included in the discovery for the RNC 8 cases were photos taken of defendents in Philly during their RNC tour. It includes Philly activists who they met and some of our houses.
Check out: brandondarby.com for the lowdown
Brandon Darby- FBI Informant & Common Ground co-founder
A cofounder of the Katrina relief organization Common Ground is revealed as an FBI informant, leaving members angry — and wary.
Brandon Darby is proud of his work in New Orleans. As one of the cofounders of the organization Common Ground, formed in the days after Katrina and the levee failures, he and the group's volunteers were among the first to distribute water, food and essential supplies. In the months after the storm, Darby, along with hundreds of Common Ground organizers and volunteers, established health clinics in the city, provided legal services and gutted homes.
And, at some point, Brandon Darby — once a self-proclaimed anarchist who advocated for overthrow of the U.S. government — became an informant for the FBI.
That much is public record. But when Darby became an informant — and whether he was keeping tabs on Common Ground for the federal government — is still a mystery.
When Malik Rahim found out Brandon Darby was an FBI informant, "It broke my heart," he says. Rahim, a New Orleans community organizer, former Black Panther and recent Green Party candidate for the U.S. Congress, formed Common Ground with Darby and Scott Crow, activists from Austin, Texas, on Sept. 5, 2005, less than a week after the levee failures. Headquartered in Rahim's house in Algiers, Common Ground became one of the first large-scale, nongovernmental relief efforts and has had more than 22,000 volunteers work for it since.
Darby, who says he was "very radical" when Common Ground started, served as the organization's interim director, but left when he became disillusioned with some of the group's anti-government leanings. According to him, he was approached by the FBI in late 2007 and asked to infiltrate a group of Austin activists planning to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minneapolis, Minn. Based on information Darby provided, FBI agents arrested and charged two men in a plot to firebomb a parking lot. One of the suspects, Bradley Crowder, has pleaded guilty, and the other suspect, David McKay, is scheduled for trial this month. (In an article by David Hanners in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Darby said he contacted the FBI because activists were planning violence; however, in a more recent interview with The Gambit, Darby claimed the FBI approached him and insisted "The investigation wasn't into a threat of violence."
Darby says he didn't start working with the FBI until November 2007, but Rahim and Crow suspect his spying began as early as the founding of Common Ground. Darby denies this, and says Common Ground has never been the focus of an investigation, though he adds, "However, because (Common Ground) is a large organization and there are a lot of people who have sometimes come through — just like any other organization — who may or may not be wrapped up in a separate investigation, then it's not like investigating on [sic] Common Ground people."
Darby had an off-again, on-again history with the group he helped found. When he first arrived in New Orleans from Austin, he was an anarchist and believed in the overthrow of the government. His views changed, he says, as the community began to acccept the organization and he started to feel he could work with the government and not against it. When he left New Orleans for Austin in early 2006, he was at odds with some of those in Common Ground, but says he was asked to return in November 2006 as the group's interim director.
His tenure didn't last long. Lisa Fithian, an Austin activist and early Common Ground organizer who left the group in October 2006, says she began hearing numerous complaints from personnel about Darby in December, only weeks after he took his new position. Fithian says many volunteers described Darby as a divisive force — pitting people against one another, carrying guns, verbally abusing women and purging the volunteer ranks of those who didn't agree with his methods — and the organization started to fall apart.
Fithian returned to New Orleans in January 2007 for an emergency meeting of Common Ground leaders. She says Darby screamed at her and Crow during the meeting and accused them of conspiring against him.
"Man," Fithian recalls telling a friend, "this guy's not only crazy, but this is COINTELPRO."
Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover started the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in 1956. It was intended to undermine dissident political organizations by using covert operations to, as Hoover's directive stated, "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize." Bureau agents used the tactics against groups including the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, women's liberation organizations and Vietnam War protest groups — and used counterintelligence techniques in order to degrade members, spread false rumors, harass and prevent exercise of the First Amendment rights of speech and association.
The program's activities were exposed in 1971, and the U.S. Senate's Church Committee, named for chairman Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), held hearings on COINTELPRO. After studying more than 20,000 pages of FBI documents and testimony from agents and the program's targets, the committee concluded in its report: "Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that. The unexpressed major premise of the programs was that a law enforcement agency has the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order."
Although COINTELPRO was officially terminated in 1971, many activists, including Crow, Rahim and Fithian, believe the FBI still employs similar tactics.
As another states, "Recruiting and pushing activists into criminal acts is not what an 'informant' does."
It's is entrapment! but of course, 'laws' are dynamic in practice, not static in theory. Always has been, but jurisprudence completely died under the Cheney Administration.
Between the State and a Hard Place: Statement on David McKay's Plea
Wednesday, April 01 2009
On March 17, 2009 David McKay plead guilty to possession of unregistered Molotov cocktails, charges stemming from his involvement in the protests against the Republican National Convention last September. Those of us following the case were shocked and saddened to learn of this development.
The State and, in particular, the FBI reached into their bag of dirty tricks to make examples of McKay and his co-defendant Brad Crowder.
Between the State and a Hard Place: Statement on David McKay's Plea
from the Austin Informant Working Group
The entity, the machine, it's Clinical, Methodical, and Goddamn Systemic...
David Harvey, whose interview with n+1 on the structural underpinnings of the financial crisis came out in Issue 7, appears on Democracy Now! today to discuss the G20 summit and the continuing crisis.
"I don't know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it."
— Gregory David Roberts (Shantaram)