The other day some guy on the Los Angeles Indymedia site accused me of being part of CIA Psy-Ops. This rant isn't really about him, but I thought it would make an interesting lead-in. I'm not sure whether he meant meant it or not - it may just be that he didn't like what I said and was too lazy to actually copy and paste my comments into a text editor and do a real critique - but I think he was actually so frightened and (or at least so upset) by what I wrote that he assumed that I was weilding some kind of powerful governmental juju.
But he got me to thinking. What would I do if I WERE part of COINTELPRO or some kind of illegal domestic CIA thing meant to destroy the activist community? How would I operate? What would I make of the unique opportunity this massive attack on American soil offered me?
Well, as a Psy-Ops agent, I start by reading Indymedia. I've got all the time in the world and I'd really like to know what the radical left is thinking. It's much easier to take advantage of an existing trend than it is to create a whole new one.
I've got a REALLY GOOD GUESS about how things will evolve because the left is very predictable. We've spent millions of dollars infiltrating you and millions more gaming this stuff out, but I need to make sure. Most of the options open to the left can be worked into our plans somehow. The only thing we really fear is an intelligent, sustained critique on capitalism.
Even if the attack had been a surprise to me I wouldn't be concerned because it was a surprise to the left too. Very few of the people on the left (unlike myself, with my special training) are capable of adapting quickly to a new political reality. I like that about you leftists. Most of your tactics evolved in the sixties and haven't changed much.
I would know, as a CIA Psy-Ops agent, that we made it a point to destroy all your leaders back in the sixties and early seventies, and that in response you've adopted a collective approach to making decisions. This is a fairly good response on your part, but it has a weakness - collectives learn very slowly, usually at something substantially below the learning curve of their dumbest, most stubborn member.
Collectives are much better at reacting than acting. Acting requires generating a new response, which is difficult to do by committee. On the other hand, reacting can be accomplished by choosing from any of the already existing responses in which the collective is versed. Also, while a collective structure can be quite stable in social terms, it has trouble with long term planning. Once again the problems and issues of the dumbest member come up here. We know all about you. We've done studies.
Am I scaring you yet? Good. I don't usually write to scare, but to be honest, the guy who thought I was with the CIA scared me. In fact, he scared me a lot. Not for my sake, but for the sake of the movement. So I'm scaring back.
You see, I'd gone to the trouble of looking up some court decisions about civil liberties during wartime, and I'd also studied a law called the Espionage Act of 1917, which is still on the books. (This act was used to destroy the Socialists during World War I.) I'd also gone to the trouble of finding a speech by William Rehnquist on the issue of civil liberties during wartime, (he's against them by the way - not a big surprise) and I'd further taken the trouble to write all this up and consider the issue of how the Espionage Act could be used against the left in the present, and suggest some ideas for mitigating the problem.
(You can find that bit at http://la.indymedia.org/display.php3?article_id=10451 though it's not essential reading for this piece.)
Instead of thanking me for the warning, and trying to strategize around these issues, this guy became convinced that I was with the CIA and commented on my piece telling me so. I'm assuming (despite my nasty remark to this effect) that he's not clinically paranoid, and probably represents a fair fraction of my readers at least in general attitude. But let's get back to what I would do if I were Psy-Ops.
So where were we in this unpleasant little fantasy of mine. Oh yes - I'm reading Indymedia to see what the trends are, and we've established that the CIA knows all about you.
What I read pleases me no end. The vast majority of the leftists posting are convinced that there should be anti-war protests. I like that. We've been planning for this eventuality (an anti-war protest,) for years, because this is the response that comes up most frequently both in our field research and in our wargaming. All I have to do is follow a simple plan that was laid down years ago and has been refined constantly since.
As a CIA Psy-Ops agent I'm well versed in psychology, law enforcement, and law - I'm especially well versed in legal precedent. I pay particular attention to recent Supreme court decisions, and I know that this court loves to screw the little people. I've got all I need to tie the left in knots for years.
Using the CIA supercomputer I infiltrate several ISPs and give myself a couple identities at each. I call our support people and arrange for previously created webpages to be revised and updated to fit the current facts, then I upload the files to the accounts I have created and register them with search engines. (We've got software that can register web pages really quickly!) The web pages call for peace now in several styles ranging from the amateurish to the extremely professional. A couple sites call for violent action - nothing serious, just some property destruction and the occasional suggestion that the writer has thrown a few bottles at the cops.
Some of the sites even have mailing lists and data collection software attached - nothing invasive, just places to register with your name and address, or even just your e-mail. At this point you may think I'm helping you, but I'm really not. I'm collecting data and setting you up.
Then I start canvassing leftist chat rooms and calling for peace under the identities I've just given myself. I also mention "my" webpages and give URLs. Another specialist is making occasional posts to Indymedia - not initiating anything, but being generally supportive of anyone who suggests a peace march or violent action. She's got dozens of identities too. A couple days from now we'll be posting articles too, but meanwhile we're getting people used to us and making sure they think we're on their side.
In the next few days several of us go to meetings or peace marches. We stick to the big ones - we don't want to be too intimate with the people we're destroying. That makes it much harder. We also drop "big" cash contributions into any collection tins. By "big" I mean that we drop a bunch of fives and tens - perhaps a couple hundred dollars in all - into the collection tins at each meeting. We don't want you buying a nice new computer or anything, but we want to make sure that you have enough money for xerox expenses and net access.
So where is all this leading? So far you must be really happy with us. We're your friends and neighbors, people who were convinced by the violent images on TV that there had already been too much killing - NOT!!
What we're doing is simple. We're leading you straight into a trap.
The trap will be sprung in Washington DC on September 28th. We're glad we convinced the IMF and World Bank not to meet that day. It's just you and us and shitload of angry cops. We've got only one thing left to do. My boss is gonna take a bunch of John Ashcroft's boys and a couple military men to lunch. Officially it's one of those interagency task force coordination thingies, but there's really only one agenda right now. My superior is gonna convince John Ashcroft's boys that we can't dink around with dissidents right now.
"Listen, have you guys thought about invoking the Espionage Act of 1917?" my boss asks.
"The what?" This vice admiral has forgotten his history. One of Ashcroft's guys reminds him.
"You know, the law that was passed in World War I to keep Socialists from interfering with the War effort. It makes it illegal interfere with recruiting activities or military loyalty either in person or through the mail. We've been talking about using in on peace marchers but we don't know your agenda. Are you guys going to reinstitute the draft?"
"We might," answers a Marine Corp general. "We're still working out final strategies, but I think it's gonna get rough."
"There are some questions," says one of the Assistant AGs, "Are we officially at war? Is a peace march an attempt to interfere with recruitment, and is e-mail considered mail under the statute?"
"We win," the other AAG says around a bite of pasta, "5-4." Of course, he's talking about the Supremes.
"That's about right," agrees another AAG.
"We'd like to see it invoked," says the Marine. He's worked with us before.
The vice-admiral nods. He'd like to see everything be ship-shape. "Even if we don't win," he opines, "we'll keep 'em tied up in court for years."
"Yeah," my boss says. "Look how many punks the Mumia and Peltier things are keeping off the streets. If we arrest a couple thousand kids and put 'em through the wringer the whole movement will go nuts just trying to keep them out of jail."
"I'll get our liaison to the DC police working on this," says AAG number one, "We'll have them turn any protesters they arrest over to us and we'll alert the right people in the local offices. It's round up time!!"
So there you have it. We pick up all the anti-war protesters and sentence them all to the maximum term under the Espionage act. Then we put lots of well financed effort into convincing you that the most important thing you can do is spend money and time to get these folks out of jail. Don't worry, the judges know how this game is played. Look for lots of attention grabbing courtroom drama as you fight for civil liberties and freedom and justice and stuff like that.
Our statistics people estimate that the jailing of 2000 of you will result in approximately 62% of your movement jumping ship completely out of simple fear. Of the remaining 38% some 10% will make getting those 2000 people out of jail their major cause, 8% will find something less controversial to agitate against, and most of the remaining 20% will fall into factional struggle leaving a miniscule minority to engage in that activity which we most fear - a long, well thought out critique of capitalism.
Meanwhile, globalization will go on as planned. A new series of treaties, each better for big business and Big America will be passed - most of them unnoticed by your movement. After the wonderful, final treaty that's scheduled to turn the entire world into one big multinational is passed, I'm looking forward to buying a couple of you myself. I think hippie chicks are gorgeous - and you environmentalists - WHOO YAA - that outdoorsy look really gets me hot.
If you lefties were only capable of generating new responses to a new situation, you'd have a chance. You're not even contemplating doing any of the things that we're really scared about - such as keeping your eye on the ball. As it is, this whole operation for destroying the lot of you will only take a couple weeks and we only expect to work at it only part time.
Thanks for being such easy targets.
Well folks, what do you think? That was an interesting game of pretend...
Or was it?