FBI v. protesters From: mike burke <email@example.com> In an attempt to squash the debate about globalization the U.S. government, according to both police officials and activists, has begun using counterintelligence means in order to closely monitor the moves of anti-globalization by using such forces as the US Army Intelligence and Security Command. To many the covert tactics mirror the government's highly controversial and murderous COINTELPRO efforts in the late 1960s and 1970s which targeted many radical movements including anti-war protesters and black nationalists. Since the massive World Trade Organization protests in Seattle last fall, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has switched its focus away from violent right-wing domestic terrorists to a movement that often cites Gandhi as an inspiration. "Virtually every resource that the FBI has available will be put into play," said Thomas J. Harrington, the assistant special agent-in-charge in the FBI's Philadelphia office told the Philadelphia Inquirer prior to the Republican National Convention which attracted thousands of protests in late July and early August. "After the Atlanta Olympics it was bombings that were the main focus. . . . Now protesters have become more of a focus." Any why are counterintelligence efforts needed? ``There are people who may do more than exercise their First Amendment rights,'' said David Yarnell, a department spokesman for the Philadelphia police explaining why the department took preventive measures during the convention. "We were watching. We were making surveillance efforts. It's just prudent preparations for anything," Yarnell told the Philadelphia Inquirer. What may be most alarming is who the "we" Yarnell is talking about. According to a May report in the French publication Intelligence Newsletter, "the Pentagon sent around 700 men from the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir to assist the Washington police on April 17, including specialists in human and signals intelligence. One unit was even strategically located on the fourth floor balcony in a building at 1919 Pennsylvania Avenue with a birds-eye view of most demonstrators." The Intelligence Newsletter report also noted that "to justify their interest in anti-globalization groups from a legal standpoint, the authorities lump them into a category of terrorist organizations. Among those considered as such at present are Global Justice (the group that organized the April 17 demonstration), Earth First, Greenpeace, American Indian Movement, Zapatista National Liberation Front and Act-Up." Similar surveillance techniques were used in Europe prior to the September 26 protests in Prague. The Prague IndyMedia Center recently reported that the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic made an unexpected visit to an Italian web firm that hosted the Prague IMC site. Foreign protesters have also been prevented from entering the Czech Republic on various legal technicalities, the Prague IMC has reported. In addition to tracking such organizations, police officials have taken draconian measures in raiding buildings used by demonstrators to organize and often condemning the buildings, on what protest leaders often claim to be trumped up violations done not to protect the public safety but to curtail free speech. On April 15, a day before the April 16 Washington D.C. protest against the International Monetary Fund, a them of officials from federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and the Washington Fire Department raided and condemned a warehouse used by demonstrators citing building code violations. Police claimed they had found material used to make molotov cocktails. "They found a plastic bottle that had rags in it that were being used to get paint off of people's hands," one protest organizer said at the time. History repeated itself on Aug. 1 when just hours before a scheduled direct action campaign in Philadelphia, police raided a warehouse dubbed the "house of puppetganda" where demonstrators were making puppets and signs for displays at the afternoon demonstration. Police arrested xx and claimed the warehouse was used for criminal activity although recent reports appear to show the police backing down on their original claims. According to many scholars who study the FBI, which Howard Zinn has called the Federal Bureau of Intimidation, the department's current actions should come as no surprise. In fact one of the most damning reports on the FBI's illegal and immoral tactics, came from a former agent M. Wesley Swearingen who published the book FBI Secrets after leaving disillusioned the agency he joined as part of his patriotic duty. "I did not know, when I joined, that I would learn the expertise of burglary, or that former Director J. Edgar Hoover would instruct agents to violate extortion and kidnapping laws," Swearingen wrote. "I did not know then that FBI agents would plot assassinations of American citizens and put innocent individuals in jail just because their skin is black or because they are Native Americans." Such covert measures taken by the FBI against often law-abiding U.S. citizens challenges the notion of democracy in our country. "Democracy is based on openness, and the existence of a secret policy, secret lists of dissident citizens, violates the spirit of democracy," Zinn has written. "It's a peculiar kind of democracy. Yes, you vote. You have a choice. Clinton, Bush and Perot! It's fantastic. Time and Newsweek. CBS and NBC. It's called a pluralist society. But in so many of the little places of everyday life in which life is lived out, somehow democracy doesn't exist. And one of the creeping hands of totalitarianism running through the democracy is the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Zinn wrote during the 1992 election season. "The FBI has names of millions of people," Zinn said. "The FBI has a security index of tens of thousands of people- they won't tell us the exact numbers. Security index. That's people who in the event of national emergency will be picked up without trial and held. Just like that. The FBI's been preparing for a long time, waiting for an emergency.You get horrified at South Africa, or Israel, or Haiti where they detain people without trial, just pick them up and hold them incommunicado. You never hear from them, don't know where they are. The FBI's been preparing to do this for a long time. Just waiting for an emergency."
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