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Why the U.S. Government Assassinated Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. October 3, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, History, Race, Racism, Revolution, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: you can purchase Ronald Sheppard’s pamphlet at http://www.remarxpub.com

 

by Roland Sheppard. ReMarx Publishing, 2014.

 

Reviewed by Roger Hollander, Black Agenda Report

The question of who ordered the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. is a vital one, and thousands of pages have been written on the issue. Those who dismiss the notion that the United States Government would engage in assassination (by characterizing those who believe this as ‘conspiracy nuts’) willfully ignore the 1975 Church Committee Report (that exposed covert, illegal government activities) and the many CIA-orchestrated assassinations and coups d’etat from Africa to Latin America.

The CIA’s experience with overseas assassinations has given it more than enough expertise to conduct domestic assassinations, with the added advantage of having control over investigating agencies at the local, state, and national levels.

Deciding criminal guilt is largely based on proving means, motive, and opportunity. When it comes to political assassination, the key question is motive.

Powerful government institutions possess, or can easily obtain, the means and the opportunity to conduct an assassination and divert attention to “a lone gunman,” or a patsy like Lee Harvey Oswald. The mainstream media conveniently forget this fact as they rush to legitimize wacky theories that take the heat off the CIA, FBI, NSA, and police.

“When it comes to political assassination, the key question is motive.”

In Why the U.S. Government Assassinated Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., Roland Sheppard exposes the U.S. Government’s motive for assassinating Malcolm X in New York’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 and Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The fact that Sheppard is one of the few remaining eye witnesses to the assassination of Malcolm X adds a note of immediacy and authenticity to his analysis.

Sheppard describes the unusual absence of security on the day of Malcolm X’s assassination, and he recounts his personal observations of what happened in the crucial moments. He tells of a second suspect apprehended that day by the New York Police, a man whose existence later disappeared from the official version of events. However, when Sheppard was interrogated at the Harlem Police Station, he saw this man walking freely into one of the offices. Sheppard recognized him as the assassin.

In 1999, the King family launched a civil suit in 1999 to expose the facts surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“After considering all the evidence, a Memphis jury ruled that someone other than James Earl Ray had been the shooter … that the City of Memphis, the State of Tennessee, and federal government agencies were all involved in the assassination.”

Motive

The heart of Sheppard’s work is his analysis of the motive for these two government assassinations.

There is nothing more threatening to the U.S. corporate elite, the government, the military, and the mass media than the prospect of revolution. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were developing beyond their original Black liberation philosophies. They were emerging as powerful advocates and organizers for revolutionary change in the American economic and political system.

In his final years, Malcolm X expanded the fight against racism to include the fight against poverty and war. In 1962, he supported striking hospital workers in New York City. And he was the first mass leader in the United States to publicly oppose America’s war against Vietnam.

In his speech at the Oxford Union in 1964, Malcolm X gives Shakespeare a revolutionary twist. He begins with the famous question: “Whether it was nobler in the mind of man to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.” His answer, “And I go for that. If you take up arms you’ll end it, but if you sit around and wait for the one who’s in power to make up his mind that he should end it, you’ll be waiting a long time.”

The U.S. Government also feared Malcolm X’s growing international stature and the political connections he was making in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Sheppard reminds us that Malcolm X met with Che Guevara and the Cuban delegation to the United Nations in New York, in December of 1964. He was invited by Ahmed Ben Bella, the leader of the Algerian revolution, to participate along with Che and other independence movement leaders at a conference in Bandung beginning March 3, 1965. He had also arranged for the issue of human rights violations against Afro-Americans to be considered on March 12, 1965, by the International Court of Justice at the Hague. His assassination put an end to all of this. (Ben Bella was assassinated just four months later.)

Fighting words Martin Luther King, Jr. was also beginning to challenge a political system that profits from racism. Sheppard cites King’s speech at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Convention in August 1967,

“Why are there forty million poor people in America? … when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth … you begin to question the capitalist economy.”

King pointed out that the Northern Liberals, who had given moral and financial support to end Jim Crow laws in the South, would not support the effort to eliminate economic segregation. As Sheppard states, “Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated to subvert the Poor People’s Campaign. King was building a mass movement against poverty, and those who profit from poverty were determined to stop him.”

King’s opposition to the U.S. war against Vietnam sent shivers down the back of the military-industrial complex. In his historic sermon at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, sometimes referred to as the greatest MLK speech you never heard of, King exclaimed:

“Money that should have been spent on Johnson’s War on Poverty was being lost in Vietnam’s killing fields … A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death … We are taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.”

King called for a coalition of labor, anti-racist, anti-poverty, and anti-war activists; and a united movement poses the greatest threat to the status quo.

Marxists?

In his books on Malcolm X, George Breitman states, “Malcolm was not yet a Marxist.” A reviewer of Breitman’s work added, “Not yet! But it was only a matter of time.”

Malcolm X wrote:

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., may not have been as far along the road of rejecting capitalism for socialism. Nevertheless, I believe that this was also a matter of time. In a 1966 speech to his staff, King explained: “… something is wrong … with capitalism … There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

“Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated to subvert the Poor People’s Campaign.”

The U.S. Government was determined that neither of these fighters should be allowed to have that time. However, before moving to assassinate them, it tried to “neutralize” them.

Sheppard describes the activities of COINTELPRO, the FBI’s program to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-Vietnam-War movement, and any other threat to the status quo.

FBI boss, J. Edgar Hoover, called King “the most dangerous Negro” and tried to blackmail him into silence. To discredit Malcolm X, the FBI paid an informer inside the Nation of Islam. When these efforts failed, assassination was the final option.

The U.S. Government assassinated Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. because they rightly came to understand and challenge the capitalist economic system, its social impact (war, poverty, injustice, environmental disaster), and its reliance on racism to divide-and-conquer.

Sheppard concludes with an appeal to action; we must learn the truth about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. so we can carry their vision forward and conclude the struggle they so bravely began.

Roland Sheppard describes himself as a retired Business Representative of Painters Local #4 in San Francisco, a life long social activist and socialist. Prior to being elected as a union official in 1994, he worked for 31 years as a house painter. Roland Sheppard’s Daily News is accessible athttp://rolandsheppard.com/

Is the Lawlessness of Obama’s Drone Policy Coming Home? June 4, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Criminal Justice.
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Roger’s note: one is reminded of Malcolm X’s infamous remark upon the assassination of John Kennedy (for which Malcolm was roundly criticized and disciplined by the Black Muslim organization to which he at that time belonged): “the chickens have come home to roost.”  As the refrain goes from the prophetic song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” … When will they ever learn?

Once a state gets used to abusing the rights of foreigners in distant lands, it’s almost inevitable it will import the habit

 

Did the FBI execute Ibragim Todashev? He appears to have been shot seven times while being interviewed at home in Orlando, Florida, about his connection to one of the Boston bombing suspects. Among the shots was the assassin’s hallmark: a bullet to the back of the head. What kind of an interview was it?

‘Under the Obama doctrine, innocent until proved guilty has mutated to innocent until proved dead.’ (Illustration by Daniel Pudles)

An irregular one. There was no lawyer present. It was not recorded. By the time Todashev was shot, he had apparently been interrogated by three agents for five hours. And then? Who knows? First, we were told, he lunged at them with a knife. How he acquired it, five hours into a police interview, was not explained. How he posed such a threat while recovering from a knee operation also remains perplexing.

At first he drew the knife while being interviewed. Then he acquired it during a break from the interview. Then it ceased to be a knife and became a sword, then a pipe, then a metal pole, then a broomstick, then a table, then a chair. In one account all the agents were in the room at the time of the attack; in another, all but one had mysteriously departed, leaving the remaining officer to face his assailant alone.

If – and it remains a big if – this was an extrajudicial execution, it was one of hundreds commissioned by US agencies since Barack Obama first took office. The difference in this case is that it took place on American soil. Elsewhere, suspects are bumped off without even the right to the lawyerless interview Ibragim Todashev was given.

In his speech two days after Todashev was killed, President Obama maintained that “our commitment to constitutional principles has weathered every war“. But he failed to explain which constitutional principles permit him to authorise the killing of people in nations with which the US is not at war. When his attorney general, Eric Holder, tried to do so last year, he got himself into a terrible mess, ending with the extraordinary claim that “‘due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same … the constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process”. So what is due process if it doesn’t involve the courts? Whatever the president says it is?

Er, yes. In the same speech Obama admitted for the first time that four American citizens have been killed by US drone strikes in other countries. In the next sentence, he said: “I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any US citizen – with a drone, or a shotgun – without due process.” This suggests he believes that the legal rights of those four people had been respected before they were killed.

Given that they might not even have known that they were accused of the alleged crimes for which they were executed, that they had no opportunities to contest the charges, let alone be granted judge or jury, this suggests that the former law professor’s interpretation of constitutional rights is somewhat elastic. If Obama and his nameless advisers say someone is a terrorist, he stands convicted and can be put to death.

Left hanging in his speech is the implication that non-US citizens may be killed without even the pretence of due process. The many hundreds killed by drone strikes (who, civilian or combatant, retrospectively become terrorists by virtue of having been killed in a US anti-terrorism operation) are afforded no rights even in principle.

As the process of decision-making remains secret, as the US government refuses even to acknowledge – let alone to document or investigate – the killing by its drones of people who patently had nothing to do with terrorism or any other known crime, miscarriages of justice are not just a risk emerging from the deployment of the president’s kill list. They are an inevitable outcome. Under the Obama doctrine, innocent until proved guilty has mutated to innocent until proved dead.

The president made his rejection of habeas corpus and his assumption of a godlike capacity for judgment explicit later in the speech, while discussing another matter. How, he wondered, should the US deal with detainees in Guantánamo Bay “who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks, but who cannot be prosecuted – for example because the evidence against them has been compromised or is inadmissible in a court of law”? If the evidence has been compromised or is inadmissible, how can he know that they have participated? He can suspect, he can allege, but he cannot know until his suspicion has been tested in a court of law.

Global powers have an antisocial habit of bringing their work back home. The British government imported some of the methods it used against its colonial subjects to suppress domestic protests and strikes. Once an administrative class becomes accustomed to treating foreigners as if they have no rights, and once the domestic population broadly accepts their justifications, it is almost inevitable that the habit migrates from one arena into another. If hundreds of people living abroad can be executed by American agents on no more than suspicion, should we be surprised if residents of the United States began to be treated the same way?

George Monbiot

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. Visit his website at www.monbiot.com

UN to Review Whether the FBI Killed the Kids at Kent State May 6, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, History, Vietnam, War.
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Gwen Ifell and Oliver Stone were at Kent State this weekend to commemorate the May 4, 1970 shootings at the university that claimed four lives and wounded nine people. The celebrities will share their thoughts on what happened 43 years ago as the university dedicates its new May 4 visitor center. Among the visitors who dropped by to hear them speak and scrutinize the new center was Laurel Krause, sister of Allison Krause, the 19-year-old freshman honor student, who was killed that day by members of the Ohio National Guard. The soldiers shot her where she stood — 343 feet from away from them on the campus lawn.

What was the climate like the day Allison and the others were shot?

Well, aside from the fact that it was the first beautiful day after weeks of rain, the political climate was anything but clearing. Just four days earlier President Richard Nixon announced the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. He struggled to justify his decision to further escalate the conflict in south east Asia even as he worked to conceal the fact that he had authorized the illegal bombing of Cambodia for more than a year.

Domestically the clouds were gathering as well. Two years and one month earlier, Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated after turning his attention on the evils he perceived were associated with the Vietnam War. His voice had added to the growing number of young voices speaking out across the nation calling for an end to the war and an elimination of military conscription, better known as the draft.

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had compiled surveillance tapes and documents on everyone from the Kennedy family to MLK, Jr. and while his top secret files were destroyed upon his death, there is no reason to believe he did not run a series of intelligence programs based at monitoring and curtailing the efforts of young people on campuses all across the nation who he felt “seek to destroy our society.”

For these and other reasons, Laurel Krause and her organization, The Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT), filed a petition on February 9, 2013, with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), asking them to review their claim that Vietnam War protesters were intentionally targeted by Hoover’s FBI and the Department of Defense. On April 5, the UNHRC agreed to hear the case.

Laurel and the other members of the KSTT have a lot to say on what they believe has been a 43 year coverup and spin job. From the time headlines broke that called the shooting victims “bums” and portrayed them as an unwashed violent rabble of questionable morality, until this year when the UN became the first governing body willing to dig a little deeper into the official story, Laurel has keenly remembered the details of the day her sister died.

Time will tell what will come of Laurel’s struggle to get justice for her sister and the other victims. And justice for Laurel means that the government will one day acknowledge the truth. Until that day comes and on this anniversary of Allison’s death, it’s illuminating to know exactly how the day unfolded for the rest of the Krause family.

At 12:24 p.m. 28 Ohio National Guard soldiers — after hearing what they later called sniper fire — opened fire on unarmed protesters at Kent State University. Most of the protesters were more than the length of a football field from the soldiers. The soldiers had live rounds in their guns and must have been cautioned that they may need to shoot to kill the college kids.

At about 3:00 p.m. 15-year-old Laurel Krause got off the school bus and started walking to her home. A neighbor ran up to Laurel and told her that the radio had announced that Allison had been hurt in a shooting at Kent State.

Laurel called her mom and dad who were at work.

Laurel’s mom came home and called the Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, Ohio, and was told over the phone that “she was DOA.” Doris Krause collapsed on the floor.

Laurel’s dad, Arthur Krause, worked as a middle manager for Westinghouse and his co-worker brought him home. Arthur had received a call from his brother saying that the local radio station had announced that Allison was dead. When he arrived home, Doris confirmed it, and the family friend drove them from their home in Pittsburgh, Penn., to the hospital in Ohio.

Laurel recounts that no one from the university or the U.S. government was there to assist them. When the door swung open to the room where Allison lay dead, Laurel could see her sister’s body. When her parents went into the room to identify Alliston, Laurel waited in the hall where two armed men wearing no uniforms were standing. One of the men muttered behind her, “They should have shot more.”

These are the memories Laurel Krause has carried 43 years. These are the memories that motivate her to make regular calls to the Department of Justice and ask when her sister’s murder will be investigated and solved. And every time Laurel calls, she is referred to the civil rights department. Laurel says, “She was nothing more than garbage to them. They don’t want to investigate her murder. The DOJ has no department for the killing of students by the government.”

The day after his daughter’s death, Arthur filed a lawsuit he refused to drop regardless of how much money he was offered. Arthur died never receiving the justice he was after. Laurel has continued his fight. She says the battle can get unpleasant but that won’t stop her. She’s not surprised that she hasn’t gotten answers, and she’s not daunted by the obstacles in her way. Laurel says, “Any time the FBI kills a member of your family, they are gonna to be up your ass for the rest of your life.”

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is host of the The Pulse Morning Show, which broadcasts in Maine and is available on the web at zoneradio.com. She is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She was the Green Party’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, with David Cobb as its presidential candidate. Pat may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com

Revealed: How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy December 30, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Roger’s note: The Empire Strikes Back.  Those of us who oppose the imperial capitalism-on-steroids policies of the United States government are vulnerable to being labeled as terrorists.  And targeted for assassination!  As long as you behave yourself, as most Americans do, you are safe from government oppression (of course, you may lose your home or your job and go into bankruptcy over health care costs, but that is a horse of a different color).  A police state does not attack all its citizens, only those who are uppity. 
Published on Sunday, December 30, 2012 by The Guardian

New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

  by  Naomi Wolf

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

occupy-oakland-clashes-007_0

Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:

“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”

Verheyden-Hilliard points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism”:

“This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

The documents show stunning range: in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a “Bank Fraud Working Group” met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activists back to the Richmond FBI, which, in turn, categorized OWS activities under its “domestic terrorism” unit. The Anchorage, Alaska “terrorism task force” was watching Occupy Anchorage. The Jackson, Michigan “joint terrorism task force” was issuing a “counterterrorism preparedness alert” about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Michigan, the FBI and the “Bank Security Group” – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to “National Bad Bank Sit-in Day” (the response was violent, as you may recall). The Virginia FBI sent that state’s Occupy members’ details to the Virginia terrorism fusion center. The Memphis FBI tracked OWS under its “joint terrorism task force” aegis, too. And so on, for over 100 pages.

Jason Leopold, at Truthout.org, who has sought similar documents for more than a year, reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Street existed at all. But the release may be strategic: if you are an Occupy activist and see how your information is being sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, not to mention the “longterm plans” of some redacted group to shoot you, this document is quite the deterrent.

There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.

Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.

Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

© 2012 The Guardian

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Naomi Wolf

Author, social critic, and political activist Naomi Wolf is the author of The New York Times bestseller “The End of America” (Chelsea Green) and, more recently, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. Wolf’s landmark international bestseller, The Beauty Myth, challenged the cosmetics industry and the marketing of unrealistic standards of beauty, launching a new wave of feminism in the early 1990s.

FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring December 25, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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See the released documents here

  • December 22, 2012

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.

The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.

“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).  “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.  These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

“The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation,” stated Heather Benno, staff attorney with the PCJF.

  • As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.

 

  • The FBI’s Indianapolis division released a “Potential Criminal Activity Alert” on September 15, 2011, even though they acknowledged that no specific protest date had been scheduled in Indiana. The documents show that the Indianapolis division of the FBI was coordinating with “All Indiana State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,” as well as the “Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center,” the FBI “Directorate of Intelligence” and other national FBI coordinating mechanisms.

 

  • Documents show the spying abuses of the FBI’s “Campus Liaison Program” in which the FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to “sixteen (16) different campus police officials,” and then “six (6) additional campus police officials.”  Campus officials were in contact with the FBI for information on OWS.  A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.

 

  • Documents released show coordination between the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and corporate America. They include a report by the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), described by the federal government as “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector,” discussing the OWS protests at the West Coast ports to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report shows the nature of secret collaboration between American intelligence agencies and their corporate clients – the document contains a “handling notice” that the information is “meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…” (The DSAC document was also obtained by the Northern California ACLU which has sought local FBI surveillance files.)

 

  • Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to the DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor for the port actions. The NCIS  describes itself as “an elite worldwide federal law enforcement organization” whose “mission is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps ashore, afloat and in cyberspace.” The NCIS also assists with the transport of Guantanamo prisoners.

 

  • DSAC issued several tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest” which it defines as ranging from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” It advised to dress conservatively, avoid political discussions and “avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces. Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas or other measures to control crowds.”

 

  • The FBI in Anchorage reported from a Joint Terrorism Task Force meeting of November 3, 2011, about Occupy activities in Anchorage.
  • A port Facility Security Officer in Anchorage coordinated with the FBI to attend the meeting of protestors and gain intelligence on the planning of the port actions. He was advised to request the presence of an Anchorage Police Department official to also attend the event. The FBI Special Agent told the undercover private operative that he would notify the Joint Terrorism Task Force and that he would provide a point of contact at the Anchorage Police Department.

 

  • The Jacksonville, Florida FBI prepared a Domestic Terrorism briefing on the “spread of the Occupy Wall Street Movement” in October 2011. The intelligence meeting discussed Occupy venues identifying “Daytona, Gainesville and Ocala Resident Agency territories as portions …where some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.”

 

  • The Tampa, Florida FBI “Domestic Terrorism” liaison participated with the Tampa Police Department’s monthly intelligence meeting in which Occupy Lakeland, Occupy Polk County and Occupy St. Petersburg were discussed. They reported on an individual “leading the Occupy Tampa” and plans for travel to Gainesville for a protest planning meeting, as well as on Veterans for Peace plans to protest at MacDill Air Force Base.

 

  • The Federal Reserve in Richmond appears to have had personnel surveilling OWS planning. They were in contact with the FBI in Richmond to “pass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.” There were repeated communications “to pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies and the following information received from the Capital Police Intelligence Unit through JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force).”

 

  • The Virginia FBI was collecting intelligence on the OWS movement for dissemination to the Virginia Fusion Center and other Intelligence divisions.

 

  • The Milwaukee division of the FBI was coordinating with the Ashwaubenon Public Safety division in Green Bay Wisconsin regarding Occupy.

 

  • The Memphis FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force met to discuss “domestic terrorism” threats, including, “Aryan Nations, Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous.”

 

  • The Birmingham, AL division of the FBI sent communications to HAZMAT teams regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement.

 

  • The Jackson, Mississippi division of the FBI attended a meeting of the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for “National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day” on December 7, 2011.

 

  • The Denver, CO FBI and its Bank Fraud Working Group met and were briefed on Occupy Wall Street in November 2011. Members of the Working Group include private financial institutions and local area law enforcement.

 

  • Jackson, MS Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a “Counterterrorism Preparedness” alert. This heavily redacted document includes the description, “To document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”

You can read the FBI – OWS documents below where we have uploaded them in searchable format for public viewing.

The PCJF filed Freedom of Information Act demands with multiple federal law enforcement agencies in the fall of 2011 as the Occupy crackdown began. The FBI initially attempted to limit its search to only one limited record keeping index. Recognizing this as a common tactic used by the FBI to conduct an inadequate search, the PCJF pressed forward demanding searches be performed of the FBI headquarters as well as FBI field offices nationwide.

The PCJF will continue to push for public disclosure of the government’s spy files and will release documents as they are obtained.

Click here to see the FBI documents obtained by the PCJF.

Two Scandals, One Connection: The FBI link between Penn State and UC Davis November 24, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Roger’s note: the military, the police, the FBI, the CIA, etc. are everywhere: in our high schools, our colleges and universities, etc.; they represent the accelerated militarization of our culture and are characteristic of police states everywhere; the images we are seeing of the police repression of the Occupy movement at Davis, Oakland, Berkeley, New York, etc. are hardly distinguishable from those we are seeing in Egypt and Syria.
Published on Thursday, November 24, 2011 by The Nation

  by  Dave Zirin

Two shocking scandals. Two esteemed universities. Two disgraced university leaders. One stunning connection. Over the last month, we’ve seen Penn State University President Graham Spanier dismissed from his duties and we’ve seen UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi pushed to the brink of resignation. Spanier was jettisoned because of what appears to be a systematic cover-up of assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s serial child rape. Katehi has faced calls to resign after the she sent campus police to blast pepper spray in the faces of her peaceably assembled students, an act for which she claims “full responsibility.” The university’s Faculty Association has since voted for her ouster citing a “gross failure of leadership.” The names Spanier and Katehi are now synonymous with the worst abuses of institutional power. But their connection didn’t begin there. In 2010, Spanier chose Katehi to join an elite team of twenty college presidents on what’s called the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which “promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI.”

Spanier said upon the group’s founding in 2005, “The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board promises to help universities and government work toward a balanced and rational approach that will allow scientific research and education to progress and our nation to remain safe.” He also said that the partnership could help provide “internships” to faculty and students interested in “National Security issues.”

FBI chief Robert Mueller said at a press conference with Spanier, “We knew it would not be necessarily an easy sell because of the perceived tension between law enforcement and academia. But once we’ve briefed President Spanier on the national security threats that impact all of you here at Penn State and at other universities, it became clear to all of us why this partnership is so important. “

But the reality of this partnership is far different. Its original mandate was about protecting schools from “cyber theft” and “intellectual property issues.” As has been true with the FBI since Hoover, give them a foothold, and they’ll take off their shoes and get cozy. Their classified mandate has since expanded to such euphemisms as “counter-terrorism” and “public safety.” It also expanded federal anti-terrorism task forces to include the dark-helmeted pepper-spray brigades, otherwise known as the campus police.

As Wired magazine put it in 2007, “presidents are being advised to think like ‘Cold Warriors’ and be mindful of professors and students who may not be on campus for purposes of learning but, instead, for spying, stealing research and recruiting people who are sympathetic to an anti-U.S. cause.”

Chancellor Katehi said in 2010 that despite these concerns, she was proud to join the NSHEA because “it’s important for us to learn from the FBI about the smartest, safest protocols to follow as we do our work, and it is equally important that the FBI has a solid understanding of matters of academic freedom.”

Sacremento’s FBI special agent in Charge, Drew Parenti, praised her involvement, saying, “The FBI’s partnership with higher education is a key component in our strategy of staying ahead of national security threats from our foreign adversaries…. we are very pleased that Chancellor Katehi has accepted an appointment to serve on the board.”

As for the actual meetings between the presidents of academic institutions and the FBI, those discussions are classified. If you are a rabble-rousing faculty member or a student group stepping out of line, your school records can become the FBI’s business and you’d be none the wiser.

Chris Ott, from the Massachusetts ACLU, said of the NSHEA, “The FBI is asking university faculty, staff, and students to create a form of neighborhood watch against anything that is so called ‘suspicious.’ What kinds of things are they going to report on? Who has the right to be snitching? One of the scary things is who [on the campuses] will take it upon themselves to root out spies?”

In the wake of the scandals that have enveloped and now destroyed the careers of Spanier and Katehi, the very existence of the NCHEA should now be called to question. Given the personal character on display by these two individuals, why should anyone trust that the classified meetings have stayed in the realm of “cyber theft” and intellectual property rights? What did the FBI tell Chancellor Katehi about how to deal with the peacefully assembled Occupiers? Was “counter-terrorism” advice given on how to handle her own students?

As for Spanier, how much of Sandusky’s actions at Penn State, which were documented on campus but never shared with the local police, was the FBI privy to? Why did the school hire former FBI director Louis Freeh to head up their internal investigation? Does that in fact represent a conflict of interest? And most critically, did  the “chilling effect” of a sanctioned FBI presence at Penn State actually prevent people from coming forward?

When Spanier was asked in 2005, if he was concerned about whether a formal partnership with the FBI would cause objections he said, “If there is an issue on my campus, I’d like to be the first person to hear about it, not the last.” In the context of recent events, it’s probably best to let those words speak for themselves. But fear not for the futures of these two stewards of higher education and academic freedom. Maybe Spanier can put his experience as a federal informant to good use from inside a federal prison. As for Katehi, if, as suspected, she’ll be unemployed shortly, perhaps she can take advantage of one of those fabulous internship opportunities having the FBI on campus provides.

© 2011 The Nation

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Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin is the author of Welcome to the Terrordome: the Pain Politics and Promise of Sports (Haymarket) and the newly published A People’s History of Sports in the United States (The New Press). and his writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Sports Illustrated.com, New York Newsday and The Progressive. He is the host of XM Radio’s Edge of Sports Radio. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com

Police Crackdowns on OWS Coordinated among Mayors, FBI, DHS November 16, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
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Roger’s note: Crackdowns?  Police repression?  We ain’t seen nothing yet.

Published on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 by Juan Cole

  by  Juan Cole

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan let slip in an interview with the BBC that she had been on a conference call with the mayors of 18 cities about how to deal with the Occupy Wall Street movement. That is, municipal authorities appear to have been conspiring to deprive Americans of their first amendment rights to freedom of assembly and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances.

 

Likewise, A Homeland Security official let it slip in a phone interview that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security had been strategizing with cities on how to shut down OWS protests. The FBI is said to have advised using zoning ordinances and curfew regulations, and to stage the crackdown with massive police force at a time when the press was not around to cover the crackdown.

Wonkette suggests that the PATRIOT Act is implicated here, but I’m not sure how that works. Actually the techniques discussed are standard for US police forces in dealing with peaceful protests (the only routine technique missing is that of putting saboteurs among the protesters who cause destruction and create an image of them as violent.

What these two reports show is a high-level conspiracy to deprive Americans of their constitutional right to protest peacefully.

When will we see Occupy Wall Street protesters hooded, dressed in orange jump suits, and sent to Guantanamo for military trials? When you let the government act without regard for the rule of law toward foreigners suspected of terrorism, you open yourself to be treated the same way if the rich decide to sic their police on you (it is mostly their police). This is why a rule of law has to be maintained. Anything less ratchets toward tyranny.

© 2011 Juan Cole

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Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His latest book, Engaging the Muslim World, is just out in a revised paperback edition from Palgrave Macmillan. He is also the author of Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot October 4, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, War on Terror.
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Thursday, Sep 29, 2011 1:30 PM 20:37:53 CDT, www.salon.com

Are there so few actual Terrorists that the FBI has to recruit them into manufactured attacks?

The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade — much of it valid — but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots.  Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.

Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success.  In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro.  And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using “remote-controlled” model airplanes carrying explosives.

None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it.  They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them.  Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI’s Terror plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers’ bags).   I have several observations and questions about these matters:

(1) The bulk of this latest FBI plot entailed attacks on military targets: the Pentagon, U.S. troops in Iraq, and possibly military bases.  The U.S. is — as it has continuously announced to the world — a Nation at War.  The Pentagon is the military headquarters for this war, and its troops abroad are the soldiers fighting it.  In what conceivable sense can attacks on those purely military and war targets be labeled “Terrorism” or even illegitimate?  The U.S. has continuously attacked exactly those kinds of targets in multiple nations around the world; it expressly tried to kill Saddam and Gadaffi in the wars against their countries (it even knowingly blew up an entire suburban apartment building to get Saddam, who wasn’t actually there).   What possible definition of “Terrorism” excludes those attacks by the U.S. while including this proposed one on the Pentagon and other military targets (or, for that matter, Nidal Hasan’s attack on Fort Hood where soldiers deploy to war zones)?

(2) With regard to the targeted building that is not purely a military target — the Capitol Building — is that a legitimate war target under the radically broad standards the U.S. and its allies have promulgated for itself?  The American “shock and awe” assault on Baghdad destroyed “several government buildings and palaces built by Saddam Hussein”; on just the third day of that war, “U.S. bombs turn[ed] key government buildings in Baghdad into rubble.”  In Libya, NATO repeatedly bombed non-military government buildings.  In Gaza, Israeli war planes targeted a police station filled with police recruits on the stated theory that a valid target “ranges from the strictly military institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the logistical funding and human resources” to Hamas.

Obviously, there is a wide range of views regarding the justifiability of each war, but isn’t the U.S. Congress — which funds, oversees, and regulates America’s wars — a legitimate war target under the (inadvisedly) broad definitions the U.S. and its allies have imposed when attacking others?  If the political leaders and even functionaries of other countries with which the U.S. is at war are legitimate targets, then doesn’t that necessarily mean that Pentagon officials and, arguably, those in the Congress are as well?

(3) The irony that this plot featured “remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives” is too glaring to merit comment; the only question worth asking is whether the U.S. Government can sue Ferdaus for infringing its drone patents.  Glaring though that irony is, there is no shortage of expressions of disgust today, pondering what kind of Terrorist monster does it take to want to attack buildings with remote-controlled mini-aircraft.

(4) Wouldn’t the FBI’s resources be better spent on detecting and breaking up actual Terrorist plots — if there are any — rather than manufacturing ones so that they can stop those?  Harboring hatred for the U.S. and wanting to harm it (or any country) is not actually a crime; at most, it’s a Thought Crime.  It doesn’t become a crime until steps are taken to attempt to transform that desire into reality.  There are millions and millions of people who at some point harbor a desire to impose violent harm on others who never do so: perhaps that’s true of a majority of human beings.  Many of them will never act in the absence of the type of highly sophisticated, expert push of which the FBI is uniquely capable.  Is manufacturing criminals — as opposed to finding and stopping actual criminals — really a prudent law enforcement activity?

(5) Does the FBI devote any comparable resources to infiltrating non-Muslim communities in order to persuade and induce those extremists to become Terrorists so that they can arrest them?  Are they out in the anti-abortion world, or the world of radical Christianity, or right-wing anti-government radicals, trying to recruit them into manufactured Terrorist plots?

(6) As usual, most media coverage of the FBI’s plots is as uncritical as it is sensationalistic.  The first paragraph of The New York Times article on this story described the plot as one “to blow up the Pentagon and the United States Capitol.”  But the FBI’s charging Affidavit (reproduced below) makes clear that Ferdaus’ plan was to send a single model airplane (at most 1/10 the size of an actual U.S. jet) to the Capitol and two of them to the Pentagon, each packed with “5 pounds” of explosives (para. 70); the Capitol was to be attacked at its dome for “psychological effect” (para 34).  The U.S. routinely drops 500-pound or 1,000-pound bombs from actual fighter jets; this plot — even if it were carried out by someone other than a hapless loner with no experience and it worked perfectly — could not remotely “blow up” the Pentagon or the Capitol.

(7) As is now found in almost every case of would-be Terrorist plots against the U.S. — especially “homegrown Terrorists” — the motive is unbridled fury over (and a desire to avenge) contintuous U.S violence against Muslim civilians.  Infused throughout the charging Affidavit here are such references to Ferdaus’ motives, including his happiness over the prospect of killing U.S. troops in Iraq; his proclamation that he’s “interested in traveling to Afghanistan” to aid insurgents; his statement that “he wanted to ‘decapitate’ the U.S. government’s ‘military center’ and to severely disrupt . . . the head and heart of the snake” (para 12) and to “essentially decapitate the entire empire” (para 34) (compare that language to how the U.S. described what it tried to do in Baghdad).  At least according to the FBI, this is how Feradus replied when expressly asked why he wanted to attack the U.S.:

Cause that would be a huge scare . . . the point is you want to scare them so they know not to mess with you . . . They have . . . . have killed from us, our innocents, our men, women and children, they are all enemies (para 19).

If the FBI’s allegations are accurate, then it’s clear Ferdaus has become hardened in his hatred; he talks about a willingness to kill American civilians because they have become part of the enemy, and claims that he fantasized about such attacks before the FBI informant spoke to him.

But whatever else is true,  it’s simply unrealistic in the extreme to expect to run around for a full decade screaming WE ARE AT WAR!! — and dropping bombs and attacking with drones and shooting up families in multiple Muslim countries (and occupying, interfering in and killing large numbers before that) – and not produce many Rezwan Ferdauses.  In fact, the only surprising thing is that these seem to be so few of them actually willing and able to attack back that — in order to justify this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror)  — the FBI has to search for ones they can recruit, convince, and direct to carry out plots.

Complaint Affidavit

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Torture in the US Prison System: The Endless Punishment of Leonard Peltier August 13, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Human Rights.
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Saturday 13 August 2011
by: Preston Randolph and Dan Battaglia, Truthout         | Op-Ed

 

 

Leonard Peltier, a great-grandfather, artist, writer, and indigenous rights activist, is a citizen of the Anishinabe and Dakota/Lakota Nations and has been imprisoned since 1976. (Photo: Leonard Peltier Defense Committee)

Your visit to one of America’s prisons may last only a few hours, but once you pass the first steel threshold, your perception of humanity is altered. The slammed doors, metal detectors and body frisks introduce you to life on the inside, but the glaring hatred from the guards and officials make it a reality. When you creep back into your own world afterward, you wonder what is really happening to the people who permanently languish behind bars.

In June 2006, the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons released “Confronting Confinement,” a 126-page report summarizing its 12-month inquiry into the prison systems. The commission follows up the analysis based on its findings with a list of recommendations. Topping the list of needed improvements is better enforcement of inmates’ right to proper health care and limitations on solitary confinement. Five years after the report’s release and despite its detailed and well-researched studies, inmate abuse continues. More recently, news reports from California’s Pelican Bay Prison amplified the need for change, but after the three-week inmate hunger strike ended, the torture of solitary confinement continues nationwide.

More than 20,000 inmates are caged in isolation in the United States at any one time. Originally designed as a temporary disciplinary action, solitary confinement has drifted into use as a long-term punishment. This act of inhumanity is a clear contradiction of the Eighth Amendment. During the Pelican Bay hunger strike that rippled into prisons across the country, a 66-year-old man with extreme medical needs, Leonard Peltier, was forced into “the hole” at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.

Nightmarish as it is, what follows is fact.

In 1977, American Indian activist Leonard Peltier was convicted of murdering two FBI agents during a shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Peltier has now served more than 35 years in federal prison. His trial remains one of the most controversial in the history of the American judicial system.

 

Since Peltier’s conviction, overwhelming information has been released confirming extreme misconduct by the FBI and the government prosecution’s withholding of evidence and use of coerced testimonies. It is obvious that Peltier, despite overwhelming reasonable doubt, was considered guilty before the trial began. It is now well known that during the time of Peltier’s involvement with the American Indian Movement (AIM), the FBI’s Cointelpro programs were running secret, illegal tactics to eliminate political organizations of dissent, including the strategic assassination and imprisonment of activists. Cointelpro was officially abolished in 1971, but the illegal tactics it used continue. The political agenda formulated against Peltier did not end with his trial, but persists as he serves his prison sentence. In 1992, Amnesty International deemed Peltier a political prisoner and stated that, “FBI misconduct prejudiced the fairness of his trial.”

Former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) official Bruce Smith served nearly 20 years at Leavenworth State Penitentiary in Kansas. Smith experienced firsthand the wrongdoings and mistreatment toward Peltier during the decades Peltier spent at Leavenworth.

“It’s obvious they [the FBI and the BOP] have an agenda out against Leonard. What has happened to him is wrong. See, they have the tendency to know where they want to go in a case, and then build their evidence to that point, and that’s exactly what happened to Leonard,” said Smith.

The FBI’s “blood for blood” agenda to railroad Peltier has merged its way into the prison system, where, it is noted, he has received inadequate and abusive treatment. Since his incarceration, Peltier has endured several hardships at the hands of the BOP, some of which have been labeled inhumane and immoral.

 

Currently Peltier is facing serious health issues, including diabetes, hypertension and, recently, symptoms of cancer. Many of these issues have been directly caused by lack of medical treatment and poor nutrition during his imprisonment. But this does not appear to have prevented the BOP from mistreating – or, more specifically, torturing – Peltier.

Since 2009, we have been producing a documentary film exposing the Peltier case.

 

As filmmakers, we are personally committed to exposing the truth and having an impact in serving real justice. We have accessed archives across the country pertaining to this case and have been in communication with key players on both sides of the story. Our intention is to tell the truth, much of which will be shocking to audiences. The more information we uncover, the more obvious it is that Peltier is an innocent activist, placed in hell because of extreme and illegal FBI actions. What is really shocking is how the mistreatment of Peltier behind prison walls continues even into his old age and as his health declines.

On June 27,  the day after the 36th anniversary of the FBI agents’ deaths on Pine Ridge, Peltier was abruptly moved from a cell among the general prison population into solitary confinement. The reasoning for the move was hidden from his legal team and supporters for days, and concern for his well-being grew.  Nearly a week after, the entire fiasco as to why the prison guards at Lewisburg decided that a 66-year-old man was a major risk to the security of the supermax prison was revealed.

The BOP incident reports linked immediately above do not tell the whole story.

The first charge indicated Peltier received a letter the previous day from a supporter in Scotland that contained a 20-pound note. Peltier had asked the mailroom to send back the enclosed money, but this request was not followed up. He then addressed a letter, including the 20-pound note, to a friend, with the intent to send it out of the prison, knowing that possession of unauthorized money was a violation of prison rules. This violation can only bring up the question: why did the BOP allow the 20-pound note into the prison in the first place, and why did the mailroom not take action when Peltier brought it to their attention?

The second charge relates to dangling wires found within Peltier’s cell. The incident report claims that an officer was inspecting the cell when he observed two exposed wires above the top bunk. The guard then pulled on the wires and was shocked with a jolt of electricity. (Who in his right mind would pull on exposed electrical wires?) Even though Peltier was not in the cell at the time, the BOP classified the incident as an “assault.” The report concludes by saying that Peltier was the only occupant in the cell. The BOP did not explain that a cellmate was recently transferred out of Peltier’s cell. This inmate was occupying the top bunk, which Peltier cannot access. Nonetheless, he was the one punished.

These miniscule infractions are excuses to punish Peltier, who is now set to serve six months of solitary confinement in a small cement hellhole for 23 to 24 hours a day. The conditions to which he is subjected are horrific. Lewisburg Prison is a notoriously old penitentiary, and the solitary confinement cells are not properly ventilated or air-conditioned. This raises further concerns about Peltier’s health as a major heat wave passes through the Eastern United States. Recently, another inmate was moved into the small, isolated cell that Peltier inhabits. The inmates who are forced into solitary confinement are not allowed personal visits or personal items of any kind. In the scorching heat, Peltier has sweated profusely, has been unable to sleep and has lost his appetite. It has been acknowledged that solitary confinement creates new health problems in inmates and can exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

This is torture, especially when used as punishment for such minor and questionable infractions.

According to Smith: “What’s happening is wrong. Their goal is to make Leonard miserable. They are out for blood because of the deaths of the agents, and they will not be satisfied until they get it.”

It seems that, since Smith’s retirement in the 2000’s, this agenda has not changed.  Peltier continues to be harassed, mistreated and denied proper health care and living conditions. Once the facts are presented, it’s quite obvious that from the government’s perspective, Peltier is meant to die in prison.

In the United States, where our Constitution opposes “cruel and unusual punishment,” we must ask ourselves what has happened. The imprisonment and harassment of an activist whose guilt is still in question is an outrage to our justice system. Everything pointing to Peltier’s guilt has been debunked, to the point that the prosecutors themselves have admitted that they couldn’t prove who killed the agents. Now, after 35 years of a wrongful imprisonment, Peltier, an ailing, 66-year-old man, continues to be harassed and tortured in prison. A six month-sentence to solitary confinement could very well be a death sentence. Immediate action is needed before it is too late. This case is contrary to everything America claims to stand for, and until Peltier is freed, this atrocity stains the hands of all of us who stand by and watch it happen.

More information on the Peltier case, his current situation and how to take action can be found here.

For more information about the film can be found
here.

Preston Randolph and Dan Battaglia are members of the 12-person film crew producing “Wind Chases the Sun,” a feature documenting the Leonard Peltier case.

Anything Goes: The New FBI Guidelines June 23, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy.
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Published on Thursday, June 23, 2011 by The Progressive

The FBI should not be given more power to spy on dissenters in America. In fact, it should not have that power at all.

Once upon a time, the FBI could investigate a person or organization only when the agency had reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. This crucial requirement came about after the revelations of massive FBI abuse in the 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1976, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho held hearings on FBI wrongdoing. The Church Committee’s findings shed crucial light.

In the wake of the hearings, the attorney general of the United States drafted guidelines that mandated a criminal predicate before the FBI could launch an investigation. While often honored in the breach, and watered down over the years, until 9/11 this requirement served as a crucial bulwark against FBI intrusion into our protected First Amendment activities.

Unfortunately after the Sept. 11 attacks, first under Attorney General John Ashcroft and then under Attorney General Michael Mukasey, the requirement of a criminal predicate was removed. As a result, the FBI and other anti-terrorist agencies spied on many forms of legitimate protest and dissent. For example, pacifist groups such as the Thomas Merton Center and Catholic Worker were investigated under the rubric of domestic terrorism.

Protests have been a special target. For instance, 15 months prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., a specially created FBI Intelligence Center began to spy on, and place informants in, groups it suspected were going to participate in demonstrations.

President Obama campaigned on protecting our civil liberties, so you might have expected his attorney general, Eric Holder, to provide people with greater protections from FBI snoops. But he has not. And it is about to get even worse.

The new Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide will empower the FBI to dispatch surveillance teams, to follow targets, to dig through trash, to search commercial databases and to expand the use of informants to infiltrate a wide range of organizations.

If you are part of a group that disagrees with government policy in Iraq or Afghanistan, or that dislikes nuclear energy, the next time you throw out your trash, an FBI agent may be examining it a few hours later — from what you eat to what you buy to what you read and think.

The next time you attend a meeting to fight for better schools, protest drug testing on animals or criticize almost any aspect of government policy, the person next to you may be an informant, recording everything you say. Or perhaps the informant will participate in the meeting, steering the organization’s activities in ways the government wishes.

It is now almost ten years after 9/11, the event that frightened many into giving the FBI broad spying authority — authority that now threatens the very essence of democracy. Piece by piece, the constitutional protections for dissent are disappearing.

It’s time for new congressional hearings, similar to the Church Committee’s, on FBI spying. We must protest the new expanded powers about to be bestowed on the FBI and follow that with a demand to Attorney General Holder for new guidelines ensuring that dissent and protest will be off-limits to the FBI.

Copyright 2011, The Progressive Magazine

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Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner is the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is co-author with Margaret Ratner Kunstler of “Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century

Margaret Ratner Kunstler

Margaret Ratner Kunstler is former education director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She is co-author with Michael Ratner of “Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century

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