, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The power elite and the Corporate State will use whatever tools at their disposal to protect the status quo and their privileged positions within it. One common and insidious method deployed is the security and surveillance apparatus. Covert methods are used to employ operatives who will infiltrate a threatening opposition group or social movement in order to either help discredit it or to generate a climate of fear so as to stifle and discourage such activities, effectively neutralizing its momentum. Such appears to be the case in Cleveland on May Day and in Chicago during the NATO summit this month:

Gelsomino said “Mo” and “Gloves”[two police informants] began befriending activists in the Chicago area in early May and were present when Church, Chase or Betterly were arrested. She said many activists in Chicago for the NATO protests knew “Mo” and “Gloves” and are now worried they could also be arrested.

Critics say filing terrorism-related charges against protesters is reminiscent of previous police actions ahead of major political events, when authorities moved quickly to prevent suspected plots but sometimes quietly dropped the charges later.

McCarthy on Saturday flatly dismissed the idea the arrests of the initial three suspects were anything more than an effort to stop “an imminent threat.”

Kris Hermes, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, which has represented many of the activists, said the charges against Senakiewicz and Neiweem are also an “effort to frighten people and to diminish the size of the demonstrations.”

“Even if charges are dropped or reduced later, they will have succeeded in spreading fear and intimidation,” Hermes said.

Truth-Out has an excellent article discussing these two cases in more detail:

” … Another lawyer, who has been handling high-profile political cases like the Cleveland 5 for nearly 40 years, mentioned that in addition to the use of undercover agents and informants, the FBI employs “agent provocateurs” to infiltrate and discredit political movements, changing the name of programs to make it appear as if it has reformed its underhanded ways.

In the case of the five Chicago activists who have been swept up on terrorism charges, defense attorneys charge that two police informants nicknamed “Mo” and “Gloves” were the masterminds. In the post-9/11 era the FBI has up to 60,000 informants and spies around the United States, according to an expose by Mother Jones. The FBI cut its teeth as a repressive police force during the Red Scare after World War 1, raiding homes and deporting thousands of legal foreign-born radicals in the labor, anarchist and socialist movements. After World War II, the FBI destroyed thousands of lives and decimated the left during the McCarthy Era. The FBI famously spied on Martin Luther King, Jr., during the 1960s and at one point thousands of agents were devoted to disrupting and sabotaging the anti-Vietnam War, student and black liberation movements.

During the 1980s the FBI spied on Central American solidarity activists. Since Sept. 11 the FBI has snared hundreds of Muslim Americans in cases involving informants who supplied the ideas, motivation and means for a terrorist plot. In recent years the FBI has termed “animal rights and environmental extremists,” as well as anarchists as some of the main domestic terrorist threats. It has used infiltrators, most infamously one code-named Anna, to entrap environmental activists. In 2008, the FBI sent a snitch by the name of Brandon Darby on a fishing expedition, and he managed to cajole and push two Austin, Texas youth into agreeing to make Molotov cocktails at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. These were all political cases as are the two against the Cleveland 5 and the Chicago group.

The fact that the FBI sprang cases during the biggest Occupy events this year – May Day and NATO – indicates it has the Occupy movement in its sights. They are hardly the only ones. Reams of federal government documents secured by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund reveal widespread government surveillance and information gathering on the movement ranging from the Department of Homeland Security to the Pentagon. The public interest legal organization asserts that the documents regarding Occupy Wall Street “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement.”

For now the Cleveland 5 are languishing in jail. Connor Stevens and Doug Wright have been on suicide watch according to those who visited them. Brandon Baxter wrote in a letter dated May 19, “So Skelly was just dragged out of his cell a bit ago, He wrote ‘They all want me to DIE’ all over his walls, They said they’ll bring him back, but he may be a suicide watch for awhile.”

Their trial has been set for September 17, 2012, the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, after the defense objected to Sept. 11, which was originally scheduled as the trial start date….”

Evan Rowe, an acquaintance of one of the accused, gives another astute observation for why these elaborate entrapment schemes have been utilized:

In Rowe’s opinion, the arrests were a “public relations exercise” by law enforcement agencies that need to invent sophisticated terrorist plots to justify their out-sized budgets, he said.

This keen observation is further explained here:

The FBI affidavit — analyzed here by RT — confirms, again, what many have warned about regarding the growing surveillance and security agencies in the United States: To keep themselves employed and justify their budgets, people in agencies like the FBI are orchestrating plots to catch “terrorists” who, otherwise, seem to be quite unable to do anything on their own. Last fall, Mother Jones reported on FBI efforts against Muslim extremists and concluded that many of those were instances of entrapment as well.

In activist circles, there are a series of notorious cases of entrapment by federal authorities. In 2006, for instance, environmental activist Eric McDavid, encouraged by an informant known as “Anna,” was convicted on conspiracy charges. Another more notorious case is that of Brandon Darby — a well-known anarchist and activist-turned-informant — and his entrapment of David McKay and Bradley Cowder. The award winning film, Better This Worldtells the story of how McKay and Cowder were convicted on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism.

“In most cases,” said Stepanian, “this is not one coordinated crackdown with a puppet-master. It’s a bottom-up [phenomenon] where special investigators are creating things for themselves to do. They go to potential targets to justify their position and create work for themselves.”

Perhaps even more troubling than the manipulation of vulnerable individuals — whether they be political activists or members of mosques — is the way in which law enforcement meanwhile manipulates public discourse about terrorism, Islam or, in this case, a growing social movement.

According to Schulte, the operation in Cleveland appears to have been part of a pre-planned narrative meant to paint Occupiers as a group with terrorist thugs in their midst, discouraging others from joining the movement. The FBI had a media statement prepared for immediate release on May Day after the arrests, and it hosted an unusually high-profile press conference the following day. There have been more than 300 pleas involving FBI informants in six years and such kind of overt media blitz from the feds is rare. Rolling Stone reporter Rick Perlstein observes, comparing two different anti-terrorism operations at the end of April, “that the State is singling out ideological enemies.” He reports that authorities are much less likely, for instance, to use tactics of entrapment against violent white supremacist groups.

Harkening back in history during the McCarthy Era and the Red Scare, The Harvard Crimson, the nation’s oldest continuously published daily college newspaper, recently reprinted an article from its archives in 1949 which illustrates the same kind of tactics being used today and their effect on the populace:

Yale University is caught in a mystifying web of “cold war” security. So is Harvard. So is M.I.T. So is the country. What makes Yale different is that Yale is scared–scared right out of its civil liberties. The older faculty men, secure in tenure appointments, are just worried. Certain faculties, notably those of the law and medical schools, are not even worried. But the younger faculty members and the graduate students, especially in the physics department are scared stiff. “We’re afraid to open our mouths on any idea left of Wilsonian liberalism,” one physics instructor says. Other young instructors have admitted that this attitude is wide-spread in the science departments. (Little information is available in other fields in the university; it is well known, however, that although many instructors have Progressive Party sympathies, very few men did any active work for Wallace in the recent election.)

Why is this true at Yale? There are two reasons. The first is the appointment policy followed by the Prudential Committee, the standing committee of the Yale Corporation, in the one case in which the facts are known: no card-carrying or de facto Communists will henceforward be admitted to the Yale faculty. The young graduate students and faculty men put it a different way: “There will be no witch-hunts at Yale (quoted from President Charles Seymour), because there will be no witches.” What worries the young men is how far the Prudential Committee intends to go with this policy….

The second reason is the FBI–not just the eight or so regular New Haven agents, but the many more undercover agents, the liaison men on the faculty, the FBI informants, official, semi-official, and just plain snoopers. Provost Furniss himself says that the known agents are only a minority in the New Haven FBI system. No one agrees on this system’s area of investigation. In the physics department alone, some feel that every faculty member and student is under surveillance…