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FBI's new Cointelpro?

by In these TImes Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 at 6:46 PM

FBI testimony provokes fear of new Cointelpro By Hank Hoffman



FBI testimony provokes fear of new Cointelpro

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


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


extremist groups" that raised eyebrows among


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


"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,


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


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


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."


Alternative Press Review - www.altpr.org

Your Guide Beyond the Mainstream

PO Box 4710 - Arlington, VA 22204

Factsheet 5 - www.factsheet5.com

PO Box 4660 - Arlington, VA 22204

Mid-Atlantic Infoshop - www.infoshop.org

Infoshop News Kiosk - www.infoshop.org/inews

Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed


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They're trying to shut down the movement KILL-THE-CIA Monday, Aug. 27, 2001 at 8:08 PM
No justice, no peace FUCK THE POLICE COP KILLER Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2001 at 4:16 PM
U.S.- World's Worst Terrorist Threat Anti-Fascist Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2001 at 11:02 PM
FBI tracking device FBI tracking device Saturday, Oct. 09, 2010 at 6:16 PM
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