by Justin Raimondo, July 31, 2009
Well, we can relax, because the bad old days of the Bush administration, when government agencies routinely spied on the antiwar movement and other dissidents, are over — right?
Wrong – very wrong.
The indispensable Amy Goodman has the scoop: The Seattle Port Militarization Resistance (SPMR) group in Washington state thought their listserv coordinator, who went by the name “John Jacob,” was one of them: a dedicated antiwar activist and self-described anarchist. They trusted him, they put him in a key position, they befriended him – and then they found out that he was a government informant.
His real name: John Towery (here’s his myspace page, and here is a photo). He claimed to be a civilian employee at Washington state’s Ft. Lewis: in reality, he was and is a functionary of the force protection unit, i.e. military personnel. His job: spying on the antiwar movement.
Towery was “outed” when one of SPMR’s members filed a public records request in the city of Olympia for any documents, including emails, in the city’s possession that referenced communications between the city police and the military regarding “anything on anarchists, anarchy, anarchism, Students for a Democratic Society or the Industrial Workers of the World,” as local antiwar activist Brendan Maslauskas Dunn described it to Amy Goodman on her “Democracy Now” program. The results were startling: “I got back hundreds of documents from the city.”
It was in going through this material that he and his fellow activists discovered the truth about “John Jacob”: that he was a spy sent in to keep track of antiwar activity in the area, and a member of the Force Protection Service at Ft. Lewis. His fellow activists confronted him, and, as Dunn stated:
“He admitted to several things. He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which … was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis. … He admitted to other things, too. He admitted that the police had placed a camera, surveillance camera, across the street from a community center in Tacoma that anarchists ran called the Pitch Pipe Infoshop. He admitted that there were police that did put a camera up there to spy on anarchists, on activists going there.”
Oh, but he had a story: it wasn’t as bad as it seemed, he hadn’t completely betrayed his friends and associates, who had known him since 2007, when he first insinuated himself into local activist circles: because, you see, the Olympia and Tacoma cops had been planning to raid the Pitch Pipe Infoshop, as well as a house in Olympia where many activists lived, and they wanted their informant to tell them about all the guns, and drugs, and bombs that they imagined – hoped – were stockpiled there. Because, as everyone knows, no self-respecting anarchist is ever without a bomb to throw. “And, of course,” says Dunn, “John told them, no, we didn’t have any of that stuff. He told them the truth.”
“Of course” is maybe giving Towery too much of the benefit of a doubt: after all, if his friends were arrested, and the anarchist “conspiracy” broken up, his intelligence-gathering activities would be rendered more difficult. Perhaps Dunn is allowing his residual feelings for someone he describes as a former “close friend” get in the way of a more realistic assessment. Towery did his job all too well.
Be that as it may, this incident throws the spotlight on a shadowy national network of domestic spies – in effect, Obama’s political police, who infiltrate dissident groups of whatever sort and send the information back to what are called “fusion centers,” part of the new “integrated” approach to fighting our eternal “war on terrorism” — a war that isn’t only being fought on the battlefields of Afghanistan.
The enemy is not just the Taliban – it’s Americans, too. And we aren’t just talking about the various weirdos and would-be mini-Osama bin Ladens, like John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. The national hysteria over the alleged threat of “homegrown” terrorism is being stoked to a fever pitch by the latest FBI “catch,” a rural North Carolina “terrorist cell” supposedly headed by the proprietor of the local drywall contractor — a former “soldier of fortune” who allegedly fought in Afghanistan against the Soviets by the name of Daniel Patrick Boyd (“also known as Mohammed“), and a good old boy if there ever was one.
The next logical stage in our carefully-stoked national hysteria is to cast the “anti-terrorist” net wider – to include antiwar organizations like SPMR, and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which Towery took a particular interest in. The antiwar movement is not a collection of “terrorist cells,” and yet that is precisely how the US government is dealing with them: infiltrating and spying on our organizations, planning “raids” on activist gathering places and homes, and no doubt engaging in further disruptive activities yet to be revealed. How is this possible in the land of the free?
It’s possible – and, indeed, inevitable – due to the post-9/11 national security industry that grew up in the wake of 9/11. A vast bureaucracy sprang up around the stream – nay, river – of tax dollars that flowed out of Washington in the wake of the worst terrorist attack on American soil in our history. No expense was spared, no contractor was left behind – and the money spigot has only been opened wider now that Obama and his Keynesian advisors have decreed we must spend our way out of the economic recession. All these people, busily compiling “intelligence” on anything deemed “suspicious,” are a police state waiting to be born.
The “fusion centers” are the product of a supposedly “wholistic” theory of intelligence-gathering adopted by the burgeoning Homeland Security bureaucracy in the post-9/11 era, an approach that integrates the personnel and facilities of various government agencies and pools them in designated “fusion centers.” Fusing the civilian and the military, the local cop on the beat and the national security bureaucracy, the new apparatus of surveillance and repression is the virtual embodiment of government “work.” Unable to get anywhere near Al Qaeda, they have to produce something to justify their funding, and naturally began to broaden the definitional limits of the “terrorist” label to include an ever-widening array of “suspicious” activities. The antiwar movement soon came into their purview, and the rest, as they say, is history.