Quit Spying on Nonviolent Activists 

Quit Spying on Nonviolent Activists 
Posted by CN Staff on August 24, 2004 at 08:58:10 PT
By Jeff Cohen 
Source: Common Dreams 
They're at it again. FBI agents in recent weeks have been visiting and interrogating dozens of young activists believed to be planning or considering protests at the Democrat and Republican conventions. The New York Times exposed the FBI's home visits and intimidating interviews last week in a report headlined "FBI Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers" -- those last two words tell us more about Times bias than about the activists in question. 
With Al Qaeda and similar terrorists bent on murdering as many ordinary Americans as possible, why would the FBI divert resources and personnel to protesters and nonviolent civil disobedients? It's the ultimate question. But it's not a new one: In the fall of 2001, with Al Qaeda on the verge of attacking us, why was the FBI so passive about leads that might have thwarted the attack -- yet so aggressive in hounding prostitutes in New Orleans and medical marijuana suppliers in California? Or going further back: While Ku Klux Klansmen were murdering civil rights activists in the South 40 years ago, why was the FBI deploying far more resources and agents to monitor Martin Luther King, his associates and sex partners than the Klan? The truth is that spying on political dissenters (or harassing prostitutes and pot providers) is much easier than going after violent criminals and terrorists. Political spying can make agents and cops feel righteous about protecting the social order against "troublemakers." But mostly, it's safer. Send a spy into a Quaker group or the Ruckus Society and the worst they'll endure is an endless meeting in search of consensus. Send a spy into the Klan or Al Qaeda and it's a life or death proposition. While the ideological subterfuge has changed from "anti-communism" in the '50s to "law and order" in the '60s to "anti-terrorism," the impulse to spy on dissenters (especially on critics of the FBI or police) is almost always about propping up the status quo and almost never about preventing violence. I know of what I write. My nonviolent political activities were monitored for years by multiple police agencies -- city, state and federal -- and I've reviewed many of the "intelligence" files. As a journalist and lawyer, I spent years investigating police and FBI spying. As a teenager in Detroit, because I borrowed my father's car to attend civil rights and antiwar gatherings (including one co-organized by John Kerry), the Michigan State Police launched a political dossier on ... my dad. It was a total mistake. Sol Cohen was no card-carrying activist; the only cards he carried were Visa and American Express. Yet he was one of 38,000 people subjected to dossiers in Michigan from 1950 to 1974, when a judge put the "Red Squad" out of business and ordered the files released. Not one of the 38,000 had been indicted for a crime. One part of my dad's file chronicles a ridiculous day-long surveillance by three Detroit police officers who tailed two left-wing activists around the city by car, writing down such quaint details as: "BRV 248 parks at Church's Fired Chicken on Davison. Subjects ordering food to go." The year was 1974. Detroit had one of the worst violent crime rates in the country -- but the three officers were not assigned to stop violence, just politics. After I moved to Los Angeles, my tennis partner turned out to be an undercover LAPD officer. She had a crush on me. Mercifully, it wasn't mutual. As a lawyer, I was part of a massive ACLU suit against LAPD spying, which uncovered that Big Brother was taking notes on Jesse Jackson, Jackson Browne, Cesar Chavez, Susan Sarandon, Stevie Wonder (he was labeled a "socialist" for performing at an anti-nuclear event), L.A.'s black mayor and thousands of activists. It was a huge spy operation without any focus on crime or violence. Our LAPD lawsuit did surface the name of one individual who had indeed led a hostage-taking terror group: Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze, of the Symbionese Liberation Army. His name surfaced when a police supervisor admitted under oath that DeFreeze had himself been an LAPD undercover informant prior to forming the SLA. Because the impulse of law-enforcement to spy on dissent (and divert resources from more daunting and violent threats) is so powerful, it's easier to change names than habits or mission. Nearly two decades before the 9/11 attacks, L.A's tarnished Intelligence Division renamed itself the "Anti-Terrorist Division." All the things that conservatives claim they hate about "big government" -- wasting tax dollars, bureaucracy, bungling, invasive -- apply many times over to police and FBI spying. Yet here we go again. With our country facing a genuine and lethal threat from Al Qaeda-style terrorism, John Ashcroft's FBI -- in league with local police agencies egged-on by the Bureau -- is deploying agents and resources to save America from the Black Bloc, from teen-aged anarchists, from anti-corporate-globalization militants who take glee in breaking a window or two at McDonald's or Starbucks. After 9/11, many wondered what the CIA and FBI were so distracted by that they could miss all the pre-attack chatter. Thinking back on the official paranoia and reaction over global justice protests in Seattle, D.C., Quebec City, Genoa and elsewhere, is it unreasonable to suspect that these intelligence agencies had become distracted by largely nonviolent activists who stalked IMF and WTO meetings? How many agents and how many millions of dollars will be diverted to surveillance of these activists and to anti-Bush protesters in the coming weeks? The go-ahead to monitor and intimidate protesters, according to a document obtained by the New York Times, has come from none other than Ashcroft's Office of Legal Counsel, the same office that authorized torture against detainees in U.S. custody. The right to dissent is up for grabs in America today, and on Election Day. Progressives have rightfully criticized John Kerry over his Bush-lite positions on several issues, but here is one on which Kerry and Bush seem miles apart. While Bush has unleashed Ashcroft against nonviolent activists, Kerry knows what it's like to be a victim of political spying -- having been heavily targeted by the Nixon gang and the FBI in the early '70s. There's an eight-letter word that spells out why Bush needs to be replaced on November 2nd: A-S-H-C-R-O-F-T. Jeff Cohen is a media critic, former director of FAIR: and now a consultant with the Progressive Unity Voter Fund: Title: Anti-Terrorism Tip: Quit Spying on Nonviolent Activists Source: Common Dreams (ME)Author: Jeff CohenPublished: Monday, August 23, 2004 Copyright: 2004 Common DreamsContact: editor Website: -- FBI Archives
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Comment #23 posted by Virgil on August 25, 2004 at 17:48:28 PT
Baby boomers and Omega 3 EFA's
It has been said for 30 years that the baby boomers will shape the economy and life in America as they age. Now straddling both sides of 50, the baby boomers are about to meet Omega 3 and understand the vitalness of this in the diet. People get to much Omega 6 as it is in various frying oils and it is the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 that makes it superior to flax oil. It is hard to find hemp oil and it is expensive, but a retailer addicted to keeping the doors open could make it nationally availbable in weeks. About a month ago I saw where Wal-Mart is now carrying flax oil for under $6 for 12 ounces possibly. Even the mainstream papers carried the report from the EPA this week that the fish in the lower 48 are heavily contaminated with mercury and mercury is as far on the bad side of the spectrum as Omega 3 is on the good side of things to have in the body.The big discoveries in my life concerning health are melatonin to sleep, Stevia to as a no-calorie sweetner, and Omega 3 whose best source is hempseed and its oil.Yes, EJ, there is a learning curve going on and the baby boomers trying to avoid premature death will find hemp oil.
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Comment #22 posted by E_Johnson on August 25, 2004 at 07:17:18 PT
I must confess
When I first started using medical marijuana, I thought this hemp stuff was kind of silly. But now I eat my hemp seed granola every morning and I see this is actually very important.It's an incredible plant that can shrink malignant tumors and provide a viable substitute for fish.Not all cops are idiots. The ones who are smart and care about their bodies will eventually see what we see too.It's a learning process. This community right now is made of those who have climbed the learning curve. But more will follow, I am sure of it.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 20:00:06 PT
NPR: About The Toxins in Fish
EPA Expands Warning on Fish, Toxins:
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 19:56:24 PT
Off Topic But Important
E.P.A. Says Mercury Taints Fish Across U.S.By MICHAEL JANOFSKYPublished: August 25, 2004WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 - The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that fish in virtually all of the nation's lakes and rivers were contaminated with mercury, a highly toxic metal that poses health risks for pregnant women and young children.Michael O. Leavitt, the E.P.A. administrator, drew his conclusion from the agency's latest annual survey of fish advisories, which showed that 48 states - all but Wyoming and Alaska - issued warnings about mercury last year. That compared with 44 states in 1993, when the surveys were first conducted. 
The latest survey also shows that 19 states, including New York, have now put all their lakes and rivers under a statewide advisory for fish consumption. But Mr. Leavitt said that the widespread presence of mercury reflected a surge in monitoring - not an increase in emissions - as part of growing state efforts to warn local anglers about the fish they are catching. Last year, states issued 3,094 advisories for toxic substances, compared with 1,233 in 1993."Mercury is everywhere," Mr. Leavitt said at a news conference in his office. "The more waters we monitor, the more we find mercury. Monitoring is up and will continue to go up. But emissions are down and will continue to go down."Complete Article:
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 18:14:25 PT
Dave in Florida
As far as I know it still is in Canada. Mapinc. takes care of that end for me. I don't know if that makes a site more secure or not because I don't know how to measure on line security. I mostly worry about not getting hacked. That is something I'm cautious about but still I'm not sure how to stop it if it would happen.
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Comment #18 posted by Dave in Florida on August 24, 2004 at 18:08:31 PT
Is there any security at all on this site?
I believe the server that C-News is on, is in Canada. I could be mistaken, but I believe that to be the case.Dave in Florida
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Comment #17 posted by siege on August 24, 2004 at 11:41:14 PT
             mis reading this or not           Eddy Lepp,Brief and Case - Feds cannot revoke DEA license for advocating marijuana use - Conant v. Walters, 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir 2002), cert refused, Oct 14, 2003.[54]	This disparity between benefits and burdens matters because it makes doctors peculiarly vulnerable to intimidation; with little to gain and much to lose, only the most foolish or committed of doctors will defy the federal government's policy and continue to give patients candid advice about the medical uses of marijuana. *fn7 Those immediately and directly affected by the federal government's policy are the patients, who will be denied information crucial to their well-being,
[ and the State of California,( whose policy of exempting certain patients from the sweep of its drug laws will be thwarted.) [In my view,] it is the vindication of these latter interests--those of the patients and of the state--that primarily justifies the district court's highly unusual exercise of discretion in enjoining the ((federal defendants)) ((from even investigating possible violations of the federal criminal laws.]))[55]  	In 1996, the people of California, acting by direct initiative, adopted a narrow exemption from their laws prohibiting the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana. The exemption applies only to patients whose physicians recommend or prescribe the drug for medical  purposes. To those unfamiliar with the issue, it may seem faddish or foolish for a doctor to recommend a drug that the federal government finds has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," 21 U.S.C.  812(b)(1)(B). (But the record in this case, as well as the public record, reflect a legitimate and growing division of informed opinion on this issue.)(A surprising number of health care professionals and organizations have concluded that the use of marijuana may be appropriate for a small class of patients who do not respond well to, or do not tolerate, available prescription drugs.) *fn8.*fn8 I am indebted to the brief of amici American Public Health Association et al. for its lucid and forceful analysis of this issue. Much of the discussion in the text is plagiarized from that brief. For ease of readability, I dispense with further attribution.*fn7 As Alice Pasetta Mead explained in her expert report: [P]hysicians are particularly easily deterred by the threat of governmental investigation and/or sanction from engaging in conduct that is entirely lawful and medically appropriate . . . . [A] physician's practice is particularly dependent upon the physician's maintaining a reputation of unimpeachable integrity. A physician's career can be effectively destroyed merely by the fact that a governmental body has investigated his or her practice . . . . The federal government's policy had precisely this effect before it was enjoined by the district court. Dr. Milton N. Estes, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), reports: As a result of the government's public threats, I do not feel comfortable even discussing the subject of medical marijuana with my patients. I feel vulnerable to federal sanctions that could strip me of my license to prescribe the treatments my patients depend upon, or even land me behind bars . . . . Because of these fears, the discourse about medical marijuana has all but ceased at my medical office . . . . My patients bear the brunt of this loss in communication.
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Comment #16 posted by E_Johnson on August 24, 2004 at 11:35:29 PT
One last detail sorry
I guess I'm being a little fanatic about this SLA thing, but this reference to DeFreeze reminded me of that time.Listen to this -- the guy REGISTERED TO VOTE at his new address under his own name after supposedly escaping from San Quentin.If you just escaped from San Quentin and you were a black man, would you move in with a white woman in a rich white neighborhood and register to vote under your own name?It's so weird, it's major league weird.
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Comment #15 posted by observer on August 24, 2004 at 10:51:54 PT
FBI Supressing Dissent? Deja Vu
But wait ... isn't quashing political dissent what the FBI is all about?, the FBI - dey was born an' bred supressin' political 
dissidents here in America, lan' o' de Free!
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Comment #14 posted by E_Johnson on August 24, 2004 at 10:42:04 PT
I still have this wish
I wish the full story of the SLA will come out some day. I can't believe the whole story has really been told, because I still can't accept that prison escape story of Donald DeFreeze, and if that is flaky, the whole story afterwards is just as flaky.
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Comment #13 posted by potpal on August 24, 2004 at 10:38:18 PT
Move over Seattle...|Charlie|Y
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 10:28:58 PT
EJ, I Agree
I'm the kind of person who if I went to any protests I would stick flowers in the guns. I don't get violent or encourage violence. I believe the pen is mightier then the sword.
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Comment #11 posted by E_Johnson on August 24, 2004 at 10:23:08 PT
It's a double-edged sword
They can go ahead and spy on me, it's not going to help their self esteem, because I have nothing to be ashamed of, and I think they do.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 10:17:33 PT
Thank You. I believe that when good people see something that is wrong and do nothing that is wrong. We need to help make this a better world. It's an uphill battle but just because it is an uphill battle doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on August 24, 2004 at 10:14:01 PT,too
"I made that decision to stand a long time ago."
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 10:07:03 PT
Max Flowers
I have some security but does it help? I don't know. I am aware of my risk. I hope that talking about reform is still allowed. I had someone register and then post on how to make or get ingredients for Meth. That person was banned and the snipped very old article was removed. I protect us that way. We aren't here to do illegal things but to help change laws. When I think of risk I think of what I need to do to protect me and everyone who posts here. There are no guarantees in life and I know bad things could happen to me. I made that decision to stand a long time ago.
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Comment #7 posted by Max Flowers on August 24, 2004 at 09:50:42 PT
This article reminds me of something I've thought about with regard to this site many times. Have you considered that the same thing may be happening here? I mean regardless of your basically non-partisan views, Cannabis News from the POV of LEO is no doubt highly radical, what with our members making comments all the time about the treasonous acts of the federal government.Is there any security at all on this site? I have always assumed there probably isn't and that feds could track me and Virgil and Kapt etc very easily to find out who we are. Not that I really care, since all we're doing is speaking the truth about what these people are doing... THEY are doing the illegal activities, not us, but I'm sure they don't see it that way. So my question is, do you have even the slightest protection on your server/PC? You do at least have a firewall don't you? And you realize that as its operator, you would be seen as the top of this "ring" of "dissedent protesters" of ours, right? If I were you I would have gotten as much PC security as possible a long time ago, not only for your own safety but for that of all the commenting regulars. 
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Comment #6 posted by E_Johnson on August 24, 2004 at 09:31:39 PT
Normally FoM
Normally I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories about people being planted in activist groups because anyone could be smeared with that accusation just for being opinionated or dissenting from group norms.HOWEVERWhen it comes to the SLA -- I think there are enough weird inconsistencies in the background of "Cinque" to build a case for him being an LAPD or FBI creation in his entirety.People don't just walk out of San Quentin in the middle of a sentence. And during that period in our nation's history regarding race -- any black man living in a white neighborhood with a white woman would have been thoroughly checked out by the local police.DeFreeze did not even take up an alias. He escaped from San Quentin and imediately ran to BERKELEY and lived UNDER HIS OWN NAME?That's across the Bay, FoM. He could still see San Quentin from where he lived.How many prison escapees would really do that? It makes no sense, at all unless he was sure he would not get caught.I wonder if he really died in that fire.
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Comment #5 posted by dongenero on August 24, 2004 at 09:31:13 PT
good FoM
Yes, that's worthwhile FoM. It's reassuring for me to read articles by like minded people. Thanks.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 09:18:28 PT
Thanks Treeanna
It's really hard for me to figure out what to post because of it being an election year. We have people who are on totally opposite sides right now reading and commenting here. I tread very lightly. I am not affiliated with any party and never will be. 
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on August 24, 2004 at 09:17:55 PT
Thanks FoM
I remember this part well:"Our LAPD lawsuit did surface the name of one individual who had indeed led a hostage-taking terror group: Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze, of the Symbionese Liberation Army. His name surfaced when a police supervisor admitted under oath that DeFreeze had himself been an LAPD undercover informant prior to forming the SLA."He also seemed to have just walked out of San Quentin one day and nobody could find him even though he was living openly under his own name with a white woman in a white upper class neighborhood in the Berkeley Hills.He was just a walking bundle of law enforcement mystery, that man.
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Comment #2 posted by Treeanna on August 24, 2004 at 09:11:46 PT
It is always interesting to read good stuff :)Thanks
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 24, 2004 at 08:59:22 PT
I Wasn't Sure About This Article
I thought some might be interested in it so I posted it.
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