COINTELPRO News (2015)

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.” – Mike Royko

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Anyone who is unfamiliar with counterintelligence stalking should
read the What is “Gang Stalking?” page for an overview.

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March 3, 2015

Round-up of recent surveillance state news…

Time constraints – not a shortage of relevant news – have kept me from posting updates here in recent months about America’s police state business. Among the important developments which demand discussion is the U.S. Senate’s report on the CIA’s use of torture. I will try to address that issue at some length in the near future. For now, here are some of the other recent items that deserve attention.

“Citizenfour” wins an Oscar

On matters of civil rights, America is largely a nation of boiled frogs. Twenty-one months after Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance by the NSA, no serious reforms have been implemented, and nothing even remotely resembling a Church Committee-type  investigation is being proposed by Congress to fully expose the abuses of power by U.S. intelligence agencies. Many Americans seem resigned to the notion that a secretive militaristic Big Brother-type government will be lording it over America forever (to keep us all safe, of course). If that’s our fate, no one can blame Laura Poitras. In addition to playing a critical role in receiving the encrypted information leaked by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, she also made a documentary film about the whole affair. Oh, and the film she created was of a caliber that merited an Oscar.

For now at least, you can watch it here.

FBI issues approximately 60 National Security Letters per day

One of the various Orwellian legal weapons that is very likely used by the U.S. government against individuals targeted for counterintelligence stalking is something called a “National Security Letter (NSL).” Essentially, it is a substitute for a legitimate (i.e., constitutionally valid) search warrant. The letters can be issued by federal agents to command organizations or individuals to hand over information about someone. NSLs also contain a gag order which prohibits the recipients of the letters from ever telling anyone about the letter.

Over a year ago President Obama said that he was ordering the Justice Department to sharply limit the use of NSLs that never expire. As The Intercept reported recently, however, the FBI still issues approximately 60 NSLs per day.

“Despite the post-Snowden spotlight on mass surveillance, the intelligence community’s easiest end-run around the Fourth Amendment since 2001 has been something called a National Security Letter.

FBI agents can demand that an Internet service provider, telephone company or financial institution turn over its records on any number of people —without any judicial review whatsoever — simply by writing a letter that says the information is needed for national security purposes.” 

Chicago cops take a page from the CIA’s playbook

Chicago’s police have a long history of abusing their powers, so they probably don’t need lessons from the feds about how to bend the laws. This latest scandal, however, suggests they might be borrowing tactics from the Central Intelligence Agency, which operates “black sites” for torturing prisoners.

A good summary of America’s massive security machine

Former FBI agent-turned whistle-blower, Mike German, wrote a good overview of the security infrastructure that keeps us all under the government’s thumb safe.

Virginia quietly expands “sneak and peek” warrants

It’s not just the feds who want to have secret unfettered access to your personal information. State politicians also want state and local cops to be able to search through your personal information without having to obtain a warrant, as noted by Watchdog.org.

“Bypassing the regular search warrant process, law-enforcement agencies could rifle through financial transactions, phone logs, computer records and other personal data without obtaining a judge’s approval.”

Note that only one legislator dissented from this proposal when it was approved by Virginia’s state house in January. Both major political parties in America are filled with cowards who will agree to almost anything the security industry demands. Probably the one stubborn patriot who voted against the bill is now on some sort of watch-list.

For some executives, generating fear is very good for business

For years, Carol Rose and Kade Crockford at the ACLU of Massachusetts have been doing a superb job of calling attention to the quiet expansion of the American police state. This post is a case in point.

“A new report issued on behalf of private business executives, and co-signed by former Boston Police Department Commissioner Ed Davis, asks America to build an even larger domestic spying apparatus to snoop on ordinary Americans. These recommendations fly in the face of evidence that such policies fail to keep us safe, while threatening fundamental liberties.

The report — funded by Business Executives for National Security — was signed by a group of current and past defense-industry executives, law enforcement officials and spies. It invokes the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2009 Fort Hood shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing to justify calls for increased public spending to engorge the already bloated national surveillance state.”

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February 22, 2015

America’s fake news show gives a fake journalist a free pass

Unconstitutional counterintelligence operations by the U.S. government are made possible, in large part, by the failure of America’s corporate news media to report honestly about U.S. national security policies. Many of the worst offenders occupy the most high-profile positions in the news industry. A typical example is NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who was suspended earlier this month after being caught lying about an event in the Iraq War. He had falsely claimed that he was onboard a helicopter which was struck by enemy fire.

Although Williams’ lie was unrelated to his reporting on the Military Industrial Complex, the incident illustrates the kind of phony people who infest the highest echelons of the TV news business. Normally, such deception by a network news anchor would be handled as a pitch into the wheelhouse on “The Daily Show,” but Brian Williams is a friend of the host, Jon Stewart; consequently, Stewart did all he could to downplay the incident, as explained by Kyle Smith at the New York Post.

Far more serious than Williams’ effort at self-promotion by fabricating
a war story – or Jon Stewart’s failure to take him to task for it – is the problem of how people such as Brian Williams cover national security issues generally. Fortunately, this point was not lost on Democracy Now!, which featured this exchange about the matter:

NORMAN SOLOMON:  Well, Brian Williams was, of course, one of the many mass media spinners, not only for the invasion of Iraq, but later catastrophic interventions in Libya and elsewhere. This suspension story, the falsehood told by Brian Williams, is the kind of story that the mass corporate media absolutely love, because it’s about an individual personality, it’s not about structural power; it’s about a personal flaw or a misstatement or deception or lie, if you will, but not about constant streams of lies coming from institutions such as NBC News and many others that have billions of dollars of capital behind them.

AMY GOODMAN:  Interestingly, Norm, on Tuesday, Williams’ former boss at NBC Universal, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying, quote, “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.” Your response to this?

NORMAN SOLOMON:  Yeah, well, in the corridors of power, being a suck-up to the U.S. military is a high praise and qualification. And, in fact, those journalists who have challenged the escalation, the automatic support for whatever the president wants in terms of going to war, those folks hit a glass ceiling pretty quickly within the media establishment.

Although Solomon and Goodman were specifically referring to coverage of wars, the same values are at play when major networks and newspapers report – or fail to report – on the activities of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. People like Brian Williams and his former boss are happy to function as shills for the security establishment if they believe it will benefit their careers.

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January 25, 2015

Meeting one’s heroes 

I had the privilege of meeting three people yesterday who should be viewed as heroes by anyone who was a victim of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations (and by anyone who is a target of the contemporary version of that program – “organized stalking”). They should also be recognized as heroes by anyone else who believes that America should be a free society rather than a police state. Betty Medsger, the journalist who co-wrote the first news report about COINTELPRO, made a public appearance in Pasadena, California yesterday along with John and Bonnie Raines, who were among the eight activists who broke into an FBI office in March 1971 to obtain the secret documents which exposed J. Edgar Hoover’s infamous illegal counterintelligence operations.

Most people who read this website are probably well-acquainted with the main facts of the COINTELPRO scandal, and a section of this website addresses the subject in some detail, so I won’t attempt to review the many interesting elements of the story here. I would, however, like to direct readers to a superb summary of the whole matter in the current issue of the Pasadena Weekly, by that publication’s editor, Kevin Uhrich. As the article explains, yesterday’s appearance by Medsger and the Raineses was part of a “Lessons in Courage and Resistance Tour.” The events are partly a book tour for Medsger, whose book The Burglary has been highly praised. Whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, for example, described it as “astonishingly good….The best book I’ve read about either the antiwar movement or Hoover’s FBI; a masterpiece.”

More than 50 people attended the meeting yesterday, which was arranged with assistance from the ACLU. John Raines began the presentation with an eloquent defense of civil disobedience, and a description of the climate of fear which prevailed during Hoover’s reign as FBI director. Then, as now, most politicians feared the intelligence agencies in general, and the FBI in particular. Raines explained that the bureau’s arrogance actually helped the activists in their break-in at the FBI office because there had been minimal security measures in place; the FBI simply hadn’t considered the possibility that their victims would ever dare to use the same kind of tactics (such as illegal break-ins) that the FBI uses.

Bonnie Raines described her role in the burglary – which included helping to case the FBI office in advance by posing as a job applicant to get an inside look at the facility. Targets of counterintelligence crimes today would do well to try to emulate the courage – and cleverness – displayed by the activists who derailed Cointelpro.

Betty Medsger described her interesting perspective as a Washington Post reporter who unexpectedly received the extraordinary documents and realized that the FBI was engaged in politically-motivated efforts to destroy people – rather than in fighting crime. She made the decision to push for publishing the report about the FBI’s criminality. One of the things which stood out to her as she viewed the classified documents was that J. Edgar Hoover viewed all African-Americans as legitimate targets of government surveillance.

All three of the speakers had high praise for the man who concocted the plan for the break-in, the late Bill Davidon, the physicist and peace activist who died in November 2013. Ms. Medsger said that Davidon’s bold plan was partly a response to his perception that the anti-war movement activists who were being targeted by the FBI had felt that trying to fight the agency seemed hopeless.

Some of the audience’s questions and discussion at the end of the presentations last night centered on whether there is currently the political will among the public to challenge the abuses of power today by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. John Raines spoke passionately about the necessity of rejecting “the politics of fear” which is prevalent today – just as it was during the Cointelpro era. During the Cold War, the fear of communism was the claimed excuse for granting unlimited power to the intelligence agencies; today the threat of terrorism is constantly cited by the cowards and opportunists in the government and the news media. Betty Medsger recommended this article in the current issue of the New Yorker as a good example of the lying by U.S. intelligence officials who seek to capitalize on fear. The piece examines the claim made by Michael Hayden, the former C.I.A. and N.S.A. director, that mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records had disrupted 54 terrorist plots. The claim fell apart like a cheap suit when it was closely examined.

To answer the inevitable question from readers of this website: yes,
I did share information with the three speakers about the ongoing counterintelligence crimes discussed in this website. Time constraints made it impossible to explore the subject in any detail, but I did convey some specific information.

Toward the end of the presentation, Mr. Raines offered this advice
to anyone who might be hesitant to push back against the corrupt government officials who trample on Americans’ civil rights: “Don’t you dare be afraid; be angry!”

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If you can help expose the use of illegal counterintelligence operations against American citizens by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies and their private contractors, please do so. America needs more patriots like Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Russell Tice, William Binney, Ray McGovern, Thomas Drake, Frank Serpico, Thomas Tamm, Hugh Thompson, Jr., William C. Davidon, Bonnie Raines, John Raines, Keith Forsyth, Judi Feingold, and Bob Williamson.

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