[sixties-l] FBI testimony provokes fear of new Cointelpro

From: radtimes (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 20:09:18 EDT

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    TO THE EXTREME

    FBI testimony provokes fear of new Cointelpro

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/web2521/hoffman2521.html

    By Hank Hoffman

    Is the FBI back in the business of trying to squelch political dissent? An
    obscure paragraph in congressional testimony this past spring by departing
    FBI Director Louis Freeh has fanned fears that the agency is planning a
    surveillance and disruption effort against anti-globalization groups similar
    to Cointelpro, which focused on the anti-war and Black Power movements in
    the '60s and '70s.

    Freeh delivered his testimony on the "Threat of Terrorism to the United
    States" before the Senate Appropriations committee on May 10. In the section
    on "domestic terrorism," Freeh identified "right-wing extremist groups,"
    such as the World Church of the Creator and Aryan Nation, as "representing a
    continuing terrorism threat." One of the two paragraphs dealing with
    "special-interest extremists" focused on the eco-sabotage of the Animal
    Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. In contrast, extreme
    anti-abortion groups, with their record of murder and clinic bombings,
    merited only a passing mention.

    But it was the final paragraph in Freeh's assessment of "left-wing extremist
    groups" that raised eyebrows among anti-globalization activists: "Anarchist
    and extremist socialist groups--many of which, such as the Workers World
    Party, Reclaim the Streets and Carnival Against Capitalism--have an
    international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in
    the United States," Freeh said. "For example, anarchists, operating
    individually and in groups, caused much of the damage during the 1999 World
    Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle."

    "These are extremely dangerous and inappropriate comments," says Mara
    Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder of the Washington-based Partnership for Civil
    Justice. Verheyden-Hilliard is the lead attorney on a lawsuit against the
    FBI and other police agencies for civil rights violations during the April
    2000 protests at the Washington meeting of the International Monetary Fund
    and World Bank. Noting that Freeh's remarks were made in the context of an
    appropriations hearing, she says that he "may be trying to legitimate
    funding for a government-sponsored war against the social justice movement."

    Freeh's comments do provoke serious concerns. No justification is offered
    for the naming of Workers World Party, a Marxist group, and Reclaim the
    Streets, a network founded in London in 1995 that merges protests and raves,
    as representing potential threats. Freeh seemingly criminalizes all
    anarchists based on vandalism during the Seattle WTO protests. "By
    demonizing this movement and suggesting these folks pose a threat," says
    Verheyden-Hilliard, "they justify declaring some form of martial law [during
    large demonstrations]."

    Verheyden-Hilliard notes that protests in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and
    Washington have been met with excessive police response: illegal arrests,
    intrusive surveillance, pepper spray and the employment of agents
    provocateur. Washington police traveled to Philadelphia, Quebec and Genoa to
    observe protests, while local and state police are cooperating with the FBI
    on "joint anti-terrorism task forces." She adds: "It appears there's been
    substantial funding, sending people all around the country."

    According to Jon Weiss of New York Reclaim the Streets, activists' initial
    response to Freeh's testimony was fear "because the phrase 'domestic
    terrorism' is usually just a packaging tool for the mass suspension of civil
    liberties."

    Weiss suspects the FBI cribbed the terrorist tag from Scotland Yard, based
    on actions that devolved into riots. Reclaim the Streets' actions in Britain
    had been nonviolent since the network's founding in 1995, but that changed
    on June 18, 1999. As part of an international "global street party" to
    protest the G8 meeting in Cologne, Germany, 10,000 gathered in London's
    financial district. What started as a street party ended in the trashing of
    several businesses, including a McDonald's and a bank.

    Chuck Munson, an anarchist and co-editor of Alternative Press Review, says
    the feds are grasping at "broad terms to tar and feather" the movement and
    dismisses as "demonization" the "insinuation that all anarchists are
    violent." The real violence, Munson argues, is perpetrated by the police.
    "They're the ones who bring guns, bullets, gas, dogs and water cannons to
    protests," he says, "and they use them."

    FBI spokesman Steven Berry would not elaborate on Freeh's reasons for
    targeting anarchists, Workers World and Reclaim the Streets beyond drawing
    attention to Seattle. But their inclusion wasn't random. "There are a lot of
    groups in the anti-globalization movement who have exhibited some potential
    to commit a terrorist incident," Berry insists.

    Asked whether these groups or others are under investigation or subject to
    counterintelligence operations, Berry says, "We don't comment on specific
    investigations." Berry denies that Freeh's comments were a politically
    motivated smear. "We recognize that every group has the right to assemble,
    the right to meet, has the right to exist no matter how abhorrent their
    message is," Berry says. "The FBI only gets involved when there is a
    violation of federal law."

    Says Weiss, "If blocking a road or having a party constitutes a terrorist
    act these days, I suppose we're guilty. The FBI is trying to get their mind
    around the concept that there is a global democracy movement, and they don't
    quite understand it yet."



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