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KillgoreTrout On October - 7 - 2011

With a genuine grassroots movement emerging in this country today, I can’t help but think of a time when this nation was exploding with new ideas and new movements that worked to bring about much needed change.

The Free Speech movement that was born on the campus of UC Berkely, and the movements that grew out of the Free Speech movement, the Anti-war Movement to end the atrocious war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement to bring equality and constitutionally granted rights to all people in the United States, the Women’s Movement to allow women the same opportunities as men, the LGBT Movement to bring the same rights to gay people, that straight people enjoyed, the Black Panther movement to bring about better neighborhoods and protections from violent discrimination against Afro-Americans in the inner cities across America, were under attack by our government in a covert war to discredit and put an end to them all.

After 9/11, with a whole new set of investigative laws encompassed within The Patriot Act, the great expansion of intelligence networks that arose from the creation of Homeland Security, and the considerable loss of privacy that resulted from all of this makes me wonder what sort of chance does the Occupy Wall Street movement have of succeeding.

In the early 1960s, the FBI created a covert program entitled COINTELPRO, to disrupt, discredit, and destroy these movements from within and without. Here are tactics they used to accomplish this evil end;

When congressional investigations, political trials, and other traditional legal modes of repression failed to counter the growing movements, and even helped to fuel them, the FBI and police moved outside the law. They resorted to the secret and systematic use of fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally protected political activity. Their methods ranged far beyond surveillance, amounting to a home front version of the covert action for which the CIA has become infamous throughout the world.

FBI Headquarters secretly instructed its field offices to propose schemes to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” specific individuals and groups. Close coordination with local police and prosecutors was strongly encouraged. Other recommended collaborators included friendly news media, business and foundation executives, and university, church, and trade union officials, as well as such “patriotic” organizations as the American Legion.

Final authority rested with FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Top FBI officials pressed local field offices to step up their activity and demanded regular progress reports. Agents were directed to maintain full secrecy “such that under no circumstances should the existence of the program be made known outside the Bureau and appropriate within-office security should be afforded to sensitive operations and techniques.” A total of 2,370 officially approved COINTELPRO actions were admitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and thousands more have since been uncovered. Four main methods have been revealed:

1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.

2. Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used myriad other “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.

3. Harassment through the Legal System The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” inter views, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.

4. Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI and police threatened, instigated, and themselves conducted break-ins, vandalism, assaults, and beatings. The object was to frighten dissidents and disrupt their movements. In the case of radical Black and Puerto Rican activists (and later Native Americans), these attacks-including political assassinations-were so extensive, vicious, and calculated that they can accurately be termed a form of official “terrorism.”

Government harassment of U.S. political activists clearly exists today, violating our fundamental democratic rights and creating a climate of fear and distrust which undermines our efforts to challenge official policy. We MUST remember this past and stay on guard against such covert tactics. The present administration may not choose to use such under-handed tactics, but surely there are those in government and law enforcement that would not hesitate for a minute to use the old COINTELPRO actions against those of us that simply want what is guaranteed by the US Constituion and anti-trust laws.

Written by KillgoreTrout

Once a wander, working vagabond, fellow traveler on this 3rd stone from the sun. Hurtling through space and time. Lover of books (especially the classics), all kinds of books from novels, poetry, essay collections, fiction and nonfiction and a big Kurt Vonnegut fan. I am a secular humanist and technically an atheist.....Taoist.

70 Responses so far.

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  1. Weirdwriter says:

    KT, I applaud what you wrote. To paraphrase an old saying, those who forget the past will have to fight the same battles over and over.

    It should be remembered that the context of the 1960s has some differences from today’s.

    J. Edgar Hoover as the first director of the FBI kept an iron rein on the bureau for 50 years, extending past the 1960s, and several presidents who probably would have gotten rid of him if they could. He was an extremist conservative who had nothing but contempt for anyone who disagreed with him, and didn’t hesitate to blackmail even those in high office.

    I’ll bet a lot of people can’t even name the head of the FBI today. It’s Robert Mueller, and I have no idea what his personal politics are. That’s as it should be. The director now truly serves at the will of the President.

    That’s pretty much true across the board for presidentially appointed security heads. We don’t have a vicious maverick like Hoover in charge of anything that I can tell.

    The threats today as I see it come from people who have a vested interest in publicly pushing back against the current administration, trying to prove this President and the Democrats are weak on internal as well as external security.

    I do think that the term “counterculture” in some way fosters the perception that is represents something that is unAmerican and different, odd and destabilizing. Truth is, it’s not as distinct from current “mainstream culture” as it was in the ’60s. And I think that needs to be emphasized — the “counterculture” IS American culture, as much as any other in the U.S.

    • Good points WW, thanks! You are quite correct about Hoover and his more than shady practices. Hell, he even blackmailed JFK.
      What concerns me isn’t exactly an official program like COINTELPRO but, those who feel threatened the most by the OWS movement using paid trouble makes. The media, doing everything thing they can to discredit and slander the movement. These were a few of the tactics that agents working in COINTELPRO used. I don’t think we will see the beatings, interrogations and intimidation tactics they used because as you say, it’s a different time than the 60s.
      This article was more of a more cautionary nature, than an alarmist one. We NEED to stay vigilant and protect the movement from within.
      Our government today is still using extraordinary rendition, with the FBI’s collaboration. I’m worried about the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland security possibly being used to put down and harass this movement. The movement is still in the infant stage, but as it grows as I hope it does, there is good reason to expect “dirty tricks,” being carried out by the uber rich, maybe not with the government’s direct involvement, but by highly paid “operatives working covertly for them.

      • Weirdwriter says:

        Again,you be right, KT.

        If this were a Republican administration, I have no doubt that the Occupied folks would be treated like violent anarchists. This time, they won’t be, but I’m sure a lot of people still regard ’em as a threat and will do anything to make ’em out as criminals.

        • atdnext says:

          If they had done this while Bush was President… Oh wait, many of them DID (protest the Iraq War, loss of Constitutional rights, Hurricane Katrina response, lack of action on climate change, etc.). And when they were protesting then, they were corraled into “free speech zones”, arrested for no good reason, and declared “unpatriotic” by our corporate media. And while we are seeing some of the same today, at least now we don’t see President Obama trying to silence free speech. After all, look at how often the “tea party” folks were allowed to cause mayhem in DC.

          • Hey atdnext! I don’t think we have to worry about Obama. I actually think Obama approves of OWS movement. We are basically on his side concerning tougher regulation of Wall Street and the big banks. Plus I don’t think Obama would ever willingly subvert the US Constitution.
            What we have to be worried about are RW shenanigans and the continuation of negative coverage by the RW media. Think of a domestic, covert group similar to Blackwater or Zee. Paid provacatuers.

  2. foodchain says:

    KT, where does wikileaks fit in this for you? My son said, when wikileaks was in the headlines, that it was a game changer and needed no leader, that info would just keep coming. Have they been subdued? Their info was indicting of
    The ruling class

    • I think wikileaks was quietly subdued. Especially after they brought up “suspicious,” charges against Assange.

      • choicelady says:

        Kt -- who is “they”? The woman who came forward did so because she was enraged at his bravado and self promotion after walking away from her. It may well be that simply promoting himself caused HER to do what otherwise she would not have done.

        Otherwise, please say who “they” are because Assange has walked on this and every other issue related to his actions. Not very good at it if “they” are that weak.

        • They are the people who charged him and arrested him. Who do you think I meant? I am not commenting one way or another on his guilt or innocence. And I still think the timing of his arrest is suspicious.
          If I understand it correctly, he was arrested because a condom broke, while he was having consensual sex with this woman? That is supposed to translate into rape or molestation? Really?

      • bito says:

        Wikileaks was an irresponsible act endangering lives of many and damaging the diplomacy of many countries. It was a non selective dump of material with little regard to what harm it may bring.

        Many charges may be considered considered “suspicious” and he has an opportunity to clear himself but considers himself above the law.

        • Kalima says:

          It was/is also illegal in most countries, but Assange needed his 15 minutes. Did it change a single thing around the globe, most people have forgotten it already.

          When it comes to facing charges of rape, he thinks that rules and laws are just for other people, and hides behind his mother’s and lawyers skirts, some pioneer.

        • I didn’t say I approved, one way or the other. But I do find the timing of the charges against Assange to be very suspicious.
          And yes, he was irresponsible.

          • foodchain says:

            let’s not forget that information, truths and untruths are spoken by many. What we’re talking about is the suppression of information

            • I agree, but sometimes for the safety of individuals and of the nation, certain information is kept secret for good reasons. It’s a fine line between a citizen’s right to know and the protection of a nation or individual.

  3. SueInCa says:

    Part of the problem in the 50’s and 60’s was the Director of the FBI, I called him Jedger. Hoover was obsessed with the tactics you talk about to distraction. In the years since, the FBI has had to rebuild their reputation because it was so tainted by Jedger’s activities. I am not sure the current head of the FBI is willing to go back down that road. The CIA and NSA may be willing but the FBI takes pride in their service and if there are issues with Mueller, those issues are kept underground. You have far more to worry about with Homeland Security than you do the Justice Department, IMHO. In fact Mueller’s term is up this year and another Director will be nominated by Obama. That Director will have 10 years as well.

    I worry way more about Homeland Sec than I do the Justice Dept. I worked with both the FBI and the Secret Service in my investigating days and spent some considerable time with different agents over the years. I would trust one of them before anyone in Homeland Security. That name alone gives me chills. Just the fact they were created by the last administration is enough to give anyone chills. Besides if this Occupy protest is infiltrated and claims are made about terrorism, people would really start to question the Tea Party even more than now. The injustice would hit many many people across this country and the 60’s might just look like a Tea Party in comparison to the outcry. At least I would hope that would be the case.

    • atdnext says:

      Yet during the Bush II years, we saw a resurgence in “The Top Secret National Security State”… Well, it didn’t really go away, but our Constitutional rights were definitely under siege in an unprecedented way. I definitely think it can happen again if we allow it. I find it funny that the “tea party” folk who claim to cherish our Constitution so much refused to do anything when George W. Bush was trying to destroy it.

    • Sue, I agree, for the most part. But the FBI does work closely with the Department of Homeland Security. I agree that the FBI had a lot of public relations problems and did work to improve their image. Another government agency that I distrust is the DEA. Many times, suspected drug possession is the “reason,” for invading people’s homes.
      But the DHS is the biggest concern. Did you know they can enter your house or apartment while you are not home, without due cause? We definitely lost some valuable rights after 9/11. Constitutional rights that the DHS can side step, legally. Scary shit. But I don’t dwell on these facts too much.

      • SueInCa says:

        KT of course they do now. Because previously the agencies never shared information and it hurt each agency. If you want to know how it is to work a fraud case without help from other agencies, just go back to the late 70’s. When I got into fraud in 83, the idea of sharing info was still new. We had an association that we belonged to in order to share info across agencies and institutions. It was hard to prosecute a case because you could not get cooperation, that is why it changed. Prosecuting a good case was more important than any individual agency or institution’s need for secrecy.

        • OK, I don’t disagree with that. But, Homeland Security did not exist then. And that was way before 9/11 and the hysteria that followed. I’m not saying the FBI still uses covert, illegal actions like in the 60s. All I am saying is that those things happened as little as three years ago, and could definitely happen again.

      • choicelady says:

        KT -- “Many times”? I just read an “expose” of torture by the US -- a flaming, angry screed in MoJo. And if you look at the dates, everything in it save for one very minor case of someone being in another nation’s custody without even our tacit approval was all -- ALL -- pre 2009. And yet this article sought to PROVE that this administration still uses torture.

        We have lost our power of discrimination and judgement.

        I know of several activists -- Judi Bari for one -- who had things planted to make her look like a terrorist. I fear for that returning. THIS administration -- even Homeland Security -- does not scare me, and I doubt it ever will. I am far more worried about NYPD and its over=reactions than I about the feds.

        Now if that changes because we are stupid enough to elect anyone from the GOP as president, I will immediately reverse course. But I am NOT afraid of this administration. And I had good and sufficient reason to BE afraid for the previous 8 years of the former one.

        • WHAT? “And yet this article sought to PROVE that this administration still uses torture.”

          Where in the article do you get that impression? Really, where?

          Did you miss this, that was in BOLD type;

          The present administration may not choose to use such under-handed tactics, but surely there are those in government and law enforcement that would not hesitate for a minute to use the old COINTELPRO actions against those of us that simply want what is guaranteed by the US Constituion and anti-trust laws.
          Also, the word “would,” is relevant here.

  4. ADONAI says:

    Oh KT, we’ve had this discussion before. We don’t have rights. There is nothing to violate. It’s merely a set of suggestions.

    • SueInCa says:

      So you are calling the Bill of Rights a set of suggestions? They are far more than that. For anyone who has been arrested, they are real(of course there are people who will get the shaft -- my word against a cops word) Of course there is corruption going on in law enforcement but ultimately if your rights are violated, you have recourse. Lawsuits all over the country are won on the basis of the Bill of Rights. During the Bush administration alot of people were singled out on violations of the Patriot Act, but those who fought back won on their established rights under The Bill of Rights if their arrest/detainment violated those rights. Guantanamo was a whole different story but there is a reason it was set up in Cuba. For the Bush administration to side step the law, plain and simple.

      • ADONAI says:

        Google Japanese American internment camps in 1942. That was indisputably American soil. Guantanamo is done in our name on our dime. We can’t push ti away. We own it.

        Google Kent State, habeas corpus, Waco, Birmingham Alabama, Chavez Ravine, Patriot Act, wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, etc.

        You’ll see how much your rights are worth. They can be taken away anytime it suits them. That means they are far, FAR from being rights. They are suggestions.

        • SueInCa says:

          Chavez Ravine? I must have missed something with that one. And no Guantanamo was not done in my name. That was Bush and his administration alone, I don’t own it I condemned it. They may be taken away for a TIME but if I survive, they will see me in court. If they were not rights, you would have no recourse in the judicial system.

          Anyone can abuse your rights, but it is specifically those rights that give you recourse.

          • ADONAI says:

            Chavez Ravine. It’s where Dodger Stadium is.

            In the 50’s the government dragged dozens of Mexican American families out of their homes and off their property so they could build a baseball stadium.

            • SueInCa says:

              Norris Poulson was a republican mayor and of course he was going to do whatever it took to get a stadium in LA. He certainly could not let SF beat him. But again he was a republican and a bigot.

              “Poulson, for his part, challenged Bowron’s support for public housing, in particular a project in the area known as “Elysian Park Heights” (a site on which Dodger Stadium would one day be built). With the support of the group Citizens Against Socialist Housing (CASH) and drawing on the anti-communist atmosphere of the time, Poulson promised to end support for such “un-American” housing projects and to fire city employees who were communists or who refused to answer questions about their political activities.”

            • ADONAI says:

              Sue, I get that the developers are the real villains here but the government knew what was up. Sheriffs were sent in.

            • SueInCa says:

              Well I knew Dodger Stadium was there.

              But it is a little different than how you portray it………..Developers are hardly the government in fact they are most likely in the 1%.

              Los Angeles-based author Mike Davis, in his seminal work on the city, City of Quartz, describes the process of gradually convincing Chavez Ravine homeowners to sell. With nearly all of the original Spanish-speaking homeowners initially unwilling to sell, developers resorted to offering immediate cash payments, distributed through their Spanish-speaking agents. Once the first sales had been completed, remaining homeowners were offered increasingly lesser amounts of money, to create a community panic of not receiving fair compensation, or of being left as one of the few holdouts. Many residents continued to hold out despite the pressure being placed upon them by developers, resulting in the Battle of Chavez Ravine, an unsuccessful ten-year struggle by residents of Chavez Ravine, to maintain control of their property. The controversy surrounding the construction of the Dodger Stadium provided the inspiration for singer Ry Cooder’s 2005 concept album, Chávez Ravine.

    • I disagree Adonai. We do have rights. Can they be violated? You’re damn straight. That is my point here. The actions of COINTELPRO where very illegal. But they got away with most of it. Most cases have to be challened in a court of law, and if you have a competent lawyer, you stand a good chance of winning your case, and if you do win, you can file for damages in civil court.
      To say you have no rights is to quit before the fight starts!

      • ADONAI says:

        If it’s a right, it can’t be denied to you. we have all kinds of systems in place to deny your “rights”. So they’re not really rights are they? And how do yo contact your lawyer when you’ve been abducted from an airport and flown to Syria?

        • That’s like saying if there are laws against stealing, then nobody will steal. I and others here are talking about the abuse of rights, not the lack of them.

        • SueInCa says:

          Not true Adonai. Just because someone else goes against the law does not mean you did not have rights. THAT someone abused your rights. Your rights can be abused but they are still yours.

          • ADONAI says:

            Unless you’re gay. Then we have any number of legal reasons to deny you. Or a minority. We just institutionalized those violations.

            • ADONAI says:

              It’s not just “marriage laws”. There is so much attached to it. Benefits, considerations, and taxes that so many other couples benefit from.

              Minorities: Why make laws? Those days are over. Now we just deny and imprison them.

            • SueInCa says:

              What specific legal reasons are there to deny, except for marriage laws. I am not aware of many LAWS that take away the rights of minorities.

        • Maybe, but you do indeed have rights, under the US Constitution and The Bill of RIGHTS. As I said, they can be denied, but not LEGALLY. Also extraoridary renditition is now illegal. Bush didn’t care if it was legal or not. You have many rights. Just because they are sometimes abused does not mean you are not protected by those rights.

          • Adonai, you are correct that extraordinary rendition IS still legal. Only now they call it “Proxy Detention.” Pure semantics. But, it IS monitored more closely, or so it is said. Either way, it is a despicable practice.

            And BTW, the large majority of those arrested in New York were violating a city ordinance about blocking traffic. And some were arrested without due cause. And all those arrested had the right to make bail and get out of jail, which many, many of them did.
            There are also rights in many other areas. A woman’s right to vote. An 18 year old’s right to vote, the right to free association, Miranda rights which include the right to an attorney, the right to a trial by a jury of your peers…..etc. The Patriot Act does give law enforcement a way to bypass certain rights, but those exceptions are limited. You DO have rights.

          • ADONAI says:

            KT, Extraordinary rendition is not illegal. Obama’s executive order merely called for more oversight. You know from the people doing the abducting. It didn’t outlaw the practice.

            Then the courts made it impossible to sue the government for illegal rendition.

            You have no rights.

            • ADONAI says:

              Remember that when they’re cuffing people in New York for exercising their rights.


            • I’m not going to argue any longer with you about this. You DO have rights and no amount of rationalization to the contrary is going to change that fact.

    • SueInCa says:

      Hey I like the new avatar showing up in the side box for comments

  5. KQuark says:

    Absolutely KT all that has been done in the past and some of it is going on now, though I don’t think nearly to that extent.

    NYC authoritarianism is a worse case than most since Giuliani really set up a small version of oppressive regime especially after 911. For example their no megaphones bullshit is a direct result of this.

    No matter who is in charge you are always going to have paranoid factions inside local, state and federal agencies independent of policies.

    On the other hand if it’s concerning a real hate group, especially on the right I want agents doing allot of what you worry about. The problem is who decides who’s a real threat and who’s not.

    • foodchain says:

      HEy KQuark; I think the “who” is very important here. The illegal use of power seems a given but left’s unabridged use of power seems, more generally, to be used in order to move forward. the right’s eels more about revenge and control. I do, hover, seem to see thIngs in left colored glasses.

    • Well, I would follow the letter of the law, according to the US Constitution. That’s the only right way of doing things, from a law enforcement standpoint.
      My post is simply a cautionary one. We have lost some rights since the 60s. There has been a slow but sure encroachment of our civil liberties.
      Those on the other side don’t necessarily need to determine a “real,” threat. For most of them, a simple “perceived,” threat is enough. The people we are up against are very, very powerful and don’t really respect many laws that protect the average American.
      I’m not saying that we still have a program such as COINTELPRO, but like I said, we DO have the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Many times, just a charge of “suspected,” terrorism is enough to get one locked up for a considerable amount of time, with no legal representation.

  6. choicelady says:

    Hi KT-

    Let me be contrarian here.

    I once landed in the LAPD “terrorist file” in the 1970s for giving a talk on the unreported hazards of nuclear energy. (The undercover cop said I was neat and clean leading to friends labeling me the “tidy terrorist”). The group that was infiltrated sued along with others and WON calling for those files to be destroyed. Oh, uh huh. Sure.

    I spent years on the streets helping walk women into and out of reproductive health clinics, going through massive demonstrations with police up your nose at every turn. They all knew who I was -- I became the spokesperson for the movement. When a city council member called for an FBI investigation around police selective enforcement of the law, MY name was on it as the complainant charging the Commissioner with malfeasance. (The investigation worked, by the way. They started upholding the law.) They had been brutal to those who upheld the law but gentle with those barring entry to clinics. That was intolerable. But after the FBI investigation and the Spring of Life mass demonstrations, all that changed. We began to work together toward equitable law enforcement. When my own life became seriously threatened by extremists, the police were front and center on my behalf. That was all the way from the FBI to locals.

    Then came 2000 and the rise of the NSA spying and voila -- I was once again a suspect. I have survivor whiplash from it all. Today an enemy of the state, tomorrow a BFF. Who can keep track?

    What we have today is not COINTELPRO, not the wide use of agents provocateur, not police brutality. What we have is what we should have -- legally neutral enforcement of laws.

    One gripe I had with “my side” is the presumption that because we were on the side of right we should be immune from everything else. Well -- police orders to disperse are neutral -- there IS no “right side”. If you’re obstructing traffic, endangering passersby, trespassing -- your motive is not and should not matter. After years of watching people get a pass on these issues because they were perceived to be “peaceful pro-life protesters”, I WANT legal neutrality -- even if that means my having to comply with orders.

    I cannot speak for the NYPD -- that macing of the women was horrible and illegal on all counts, a crime under color of authority -- but if the police ascertained that public safety on the Brooklyn Bridge was at risk, they WILL arrest people who are causing that. Last night 19 people from our part of the demonstration were arrested in Sacramento for public sleeping in the park -- as homeless people are arrested nightly for the same. I am trying to change that law -- but enforcing the law was not police brutality, and due warning HAD been given this would occur if people did not keep moving. Stupid law, but evenly enforced.

    This is MILES away from COINTELPRO. This is light years away from NSA hacking of my computer and spying on me. This is NOT the use of infiltrators to ‘get’ any of us (good luck finding leaders anyway) -- it is upholding what would be upheld under any circumstances.

    I know the idiocy of “equal enforcement” -- Anatole France opined:

    “La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.

    * The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

    When you (I) stand on legal neutrality, we do and can risk the fact that the law itself may NOT be neutral. Then it MUST be changed.

    But the enforcement of laws that do not inequitably challenge us vs. them, cannot be thwarted simply because our cause is just.

    Those ARE the arguments of the religious right. Committing civil disobedience involves the principled stand against injustice, risking arrest, sentence, penalties. The religious right insists it is above the law, even of just staying out of other people’s space. That there should never BE penalties to them -- they are doing God’s will.

    I don’t want to be on that side. I also don’t want minor arrests to become our form of “martyrdom”.

    Is it fair to be busted for not dispersing when CEOs go free? Yes -- what they did, odious and heinous though it is, was not illegal. Not following police orders IS.

    We need to know who is seriously a threat to civil liberties -- is it NYPD, the feds, who? But what we cannot do is once again decide we really DO see this nation today as a police state, that our cause is just so we should be immune from all legal ramifications. Then we’re just like the Baggers who are waiting, as they did in the 90s, for the black helicopters and white UN buses to round them up. It’s NOT HAPPENING. To them OR to us.

    Some temperate assessments here. It’s important.

    • cyrano1 says:

      Great post!! Your very rational legal mind and your experiences as an activist clearly express a thorough understanding of the form legislation must take to protect the rights of all citizens, regardless of their persuasions.

      When Hoover broke laws in the 60’s during the protest movements, those of us on his lists and wiretaps had no idea we were only minor victims compared to the dirt he collected on all notable public figures -- following up with the necessary blackmail to keep himself in power. To our great joy he was finally “outed” in every sense of the word after his death in 1972 -- though his partner destroyed most of the damning evidence.

      We all know the phrase, “Power Corrupts”, and I believe most who post here have never desired power, much less experienced its corrupting influence. We just want to use our vote to maintain a system that should work for all of us.

      It takes huge numbers and relentless pressure to keep ’em honest, doesn’t it? So when/if Homeland Security or another agency gets to the point where a sizable majority thinks of “us” as their targets instead of “them”, we’ll take to the streets yet again. Until then, complacency. We’re a nation of short-term thinkers who don’t know our own history and don’t fix broken bridges until they collapse.

      In the 60’s we realized success. Our protests worked, great legislation followed, and the rogue FBI was shortly afterwards finally neutered. Those experiences make us probably less fearful today than perhaps we might be otherwise.

    • KQuark says:

      Exactly authorities can’t take sides.

      If I was King I wold make anti-abortion protesters be no closer than a mile away from clinics. But that’s me where the authorities have to show some unbias.

      • Ah KQ, authorities do take sides. Just look at some of the decisions by the US Supreme Court. If the richest people in America perceive a threat to their un-official “empire,” they aren’t going to be too concerned about the legality of their actions if they think they get away with such actions. It happens all the time in America. Wall Street execs are the perfect example.

    • I think maybe you are forgetting many of the injustices that occurred every day during those years. What I posted about COINTEL and their methods is historically accurate and has been revealed throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s. There was tremendous effort on the part of a very paranoid government to put down these movements any way they could, legal or not.
      As far as the last decade is concerned, just look at the Bush/Cheney administration and all of their illegal acts.
      I didn’t mean to imply that COINTELPRO still exists as it did back in the day, but we do have the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. In some ways, the dangers now are even greater than they were in the 60s. All the government has to do is declare you a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer and voila, your gone and most likely held without charges for an indefinite time.
      Right now, in it’s nascent stage, OWS is not seen as any sort of real threat. But mark my words, the bigger it becomes, the more reason to be constantly vigilant against any covert operations that seek to silence this movement.

      “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”--Why would a rich person ever sleep under a bridge or steal bread?
      Those on Wall Street are and have been stealing far more than bread. And the law, so far, has been looking the other way.

      • choicelady says:

        KT --

        I am NOT saying COINTELPRO et al. were not despicable and dangerous. I know it first hand at the LOCAL level of LAPD. What I AM saying is that I see no evidence that sort of thing still exists. To wit -- the testimony of Muslims who have been the targets of FBI investigations do see a VERY different set of standards today since this administration took office.

        If OSW grows, the threat to civil liberties will come far less likely from the feds than from local police -- and that definitely bears watching! That WAS my point.

        Finally -- Anatole France’s comment was meant to point OUT the idiocy of “neutrality” on some legal matters. Not in all instances but in far too many. The concern I’m trying to raise is seeing that the law allowed the CEOs to BE legal in their actions. Dispersing, not trespassing, not blocking the sidewalks pertains to all of us -- but CEOs will come and go in their private cars and are hardly likely to be in positions where they will obstruct the street corners.

        But the enforcement of public safety laws WILL go forward no matter how righteous our cause, and that is NOT oppression. Blocking the Brooklyn Bridge IS a safety issue, so the arrests were GOING to occur. We can take the risk or not, decide it makes a statement that can lead to change or not, but to call it oppression and a police state is just silly. If you would want thousands of anti-choice people arrested for the same thing, then you’re not being judged arbitrarily. THAT is the neutrality that should prevail.

        Unless or until I see some evidence that the police are dealing unfairly -- like the creep who maced the women -- I cannot see how today’s police actions are anything but routine. Calling out the specter of COINTELPRO is overkill -- our own work has ended that for now.

        However -- should Rick Perry get elected -- or any GOP -- then I surely hope you will come to MY defense since they all have signed the “investigate every person who has stood up for GLBT rights” -- and that WOULD be my work, very open, very public, and I don’t fancy being investigated for it, thanks.

        Once again -- you can be furious at Wall Street, but where were you when what they did was made LEGAL? Because it is. Wall Street CEOs broke no laws -- because they captured the law and made sure they would never face a penalty. You have no claim against them. THAT is why policy work is critical. With one stroke of a pen, a law can change EVERYTHING.

        Those of us who have been on the streets AND in the legislature KNOW how critical legal changes are. That is indisputable, and America is reaping he decades of indifference to the legal changes that put these disgusting practices and their practitioners outside our ability to hold them accountable.

        • CL, I didn’t say you were naive. Not at all, I’ve seen too many of your past comments to ever make that assumption.
          I didn’t say the people in the OWS movement were being “oppressed.” My post is simply a cautionary one that may or may not pertain to the not too distant future. But there was brutality by the NYC cops, pepper spraying innocent protesters that had every right to assemble. The one girl that got pepper sprayed was behind a fence set up by the cops to contain some of the protesters.
          I also think that so many arrests brought more coverage by the media.
          You raise some very good points about then and now. I don’t think for a minute that Obama would approve of any tactics that were illegal. But I do think there ARE those in power that wouldn’t think twice. Those that would go through back channels and do things that are NOT legal. Am I paranoid? Maybe, but why not be vigilant and play it safe?

          • choicelady says:

            Because if we do not take care to watch who is doing what -- if we tar everyone with the same brush -- “all cops are pigs” -- then we cannot call out good actions from bad. Too much of our talk on the Left is universal which is why I called you on the “they”. WHO are THEY?

            We need to make clear who is on our side and the side of the Constitution and who is not. Sweeping ALL law enforcement actions into one bushel is just not working. And it feeds the immature reactions of young people, continues to perpetuate the RW idea that the government is ALL the problem, and turns people away from the fight for Constitutional actions to protect our civil liberties.

            We are too lazy minded to let this ride. Call out WHO as well as WHAT. It’s critically important.

            • Where did I even imply that all cops are pigs? I think you presume too much about this article and are reading things into it, that are simply not there. There are many levels of law enforcement and you yourself said you thought that any inappropriate action would be by local police. Are you suggesting that 100% of law enforcement is legal and by the book? I certainly hope not.

  7. Emerald1943 says:

    Thanks KT! I had forgotten about a lot of this. I do, however, remember the anti-Vietnam protests and how many of us kept one eye in the rear-view mirror. The only time that I can think of feeling that kind of paranoia was during the Bush years, wondering if my phone conversations were being listened to.

    We would all do well to remember how powerful our government can be. It seems to me that we have all these “liberties”…but only to a point. Just don’t make too many big waves or else!

    • foodchain says:

      Hi KT; I remember thinking that “dossiers” were being built on anyone who was publicly active. It was a widely held belief. Let’s just say, I felt more comfortable letting the 911/Iraqi War settle before I visited al Jazeera.

    • Thanks for your reply Em. The government really did a job on the counter culture. Most people today think those movement failed completely due to their own excess, but that is only partially true. Yes, many of the expectations of the CC were just too lofty in such a violent and unjust world. But, the CC planted many great seeds that have sprouted beyond the 60s and are still growing today.
      The CC really scared the shit of those in power and those in the older generations then. They were fed lie after lie about those in the CC being un-American, communists, criminals and sex fiends. Part of this was reinforced by all the blatant drug use within the CC. By most of these accusations were pure bullshit. There was so much paranoia, on both sides.
      I think many GOPers of today still use those false or hyperbolic images today, to keep the “establishment and those in it,” afraid and resistant to anybody who doesn’t fit their image of suits and ties, short hair and mass produced goods that all look the same.
      The CC was greatly need by the time the 60s rolled around, but was a little too wild in some areas to be seen as legitimate movement. And the government pounced on every weakness, and even created many of those weaknesses themselves.
      People of today need to know that not everybody in the CC were flakes and druggies. Just look at those in the GOP/TP that still use the word “hippie,” as some sort of derogation. To paint certain people as degenerates and lazy people who just want to sponge off of the government.

      • Emerald1943 says:

        Kt, yes! I wear my “hippie-dom” as a proud badge of courage and honor on my sleeve to this day! I am not a lazy degenerate druggie who sponges off the government. I have worked all my life for what little I have. The use of the word “hippie” makes me both angry and proud! The fact that the GOP/TP still uses it should tell us something!

        I hope that in the years to come, the Teabaggers will be tainted with that same kind of discrimination! It will serve them right!

        • SallyT says:

          Emerald, I was around in those “Hippie Days”. Now I am a hippie but it refers to my butt. But, I would rather be a hippie than a teabag any day.

        • I hear ya Em. There were so many in the CC that were truly patriotic and did what they did in hopes of creating a better society, country and a better world. Often, to their own detriment and personal safety. Some even gave their lives in the attempt.

          • choicelady says:

            And five of them were my friends. I do not come at this from naivete or ignorance, KT. But because of that I can tell the difference between the times of oppression and the times of not. This is one of the nots. If we change administrations in 2012, run for the hills because then it WILL be back, and with a vengeance!

            • Oh, don’t think for a moment we aren’t being oppressed. Just look at all the illegal foreclosures, all the 401Ks that were obliterated by the illegal practices on Wall Street. All the homes that can’t be sold, all of the jobs shipped overseas….etc.
              No, it’s not the same type of oppression, but it is oppression. Make no mistake.

            • Emerald1943 says:

              CL, I would agree with you that right now we do not have that same oppression that we had then. However, as you point out, we are but one election away from the return of it. I have worried, if only a little bit, that many of the Obama policies have continued some of the things we are discussing. The Patriot Act is not one of my favorites. While it is not COINTELPRO, it is certainly a step backwards, IMO.

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