SHAKING THE TREE
The Budget & Ecological Crisis
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Same-Sex Marriage And AIDS
The Road to Marriage Equality
Violence in Mexico
Beyond the Tea Party
Resisting Resource Colonialism
Housing and Health
Emerging Labor Responses
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Government Orchestrated Terrorist Threats
Justice focuses on “three high-profile terrorism prosecutions” where “government informants played a critical role in instigating and constructing the plots that were then prosecuted.”
Using informants and agent provocateurs was a tactic perfected by the FBI during the 1960s and 1970s when COINTELPRO (a program aimed at destabilizing New Left groups, and the Black and women’s liberation movements) became a household word, at least in movement households.
According to a report by the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, also known as the Church Committee, the FBI relied on “secret informants...wiretaps, microphone ‘bugs,’ surreptitious mail opening, and break ins, [which gathered] vast amounts of information about the personal lives, views and associations of American citizens” and “conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”
After 9/11, the re-ignition and ramping up of the so-called “war on terrorism” has brought about an escalation of these methods by government agencies. While the tentacles of entrapment have stretched across political, religious, and ethnic lines, they have been primarily focused on Muslim communities and organizations. “Since September 11, 2001, the
The report, titled “Terror and Entrapment: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States,” covers three high-profile terrorism prosecutions: the Newburgh Four with a focus on defendant David Williams; the Fort Dix Five with a focus on defendants Eljvir, Dritan, and Shain Duka; and the case of Shahawar Matin Siraj. According to the report, the FBI and/or the New York City Police Department “sent paid informants into Muslim communities or families without any particularized suspicion of criminal activity.”
As the report points out, the use of informants has always been a dicey proposition since they are often working in areas of law enforcement for which they have no particular training. Equally problematic is that informants receive personal benefits for their work: the reduction of charges in a pending case, the lessening of a pre-existing prison sentence, a “change in immigration status,” or payment in exchange for “providing useful information,” which creates “a dangerous incentive structure.”
In the cases examined by “Terror and Entrapment,” “the government’s informants held themselves out as Muslims and looked in particular to incite other Muslims to commit acts of violence. The government’s informants introduced and aggressively pushed ideas about violent jihad and, moreover, actually encouraged the defendants to believe it was their duty to take action against the
Government agents preyed upon the “defendants’ vulnerabilities—youth and poverty,” in its methods. The government appears to have also taken full advantage of the lack of sophistication and street smarts of many of those lured into participating in the “concocted plots.”
The report’s authors found that, “In all three cases, the government selected or encouraged the proposed locations that the defendants would later be accused of targeting. In all three cases, the government also provided the defendants with, or encouraged the defendants to acquire, material evidence, such as weaponry or violent videos, which would later be used to convict them.” The report points out that those convicted, “are facing prison sentences of 25 years to life.”
Since 9/11, it has been documented that “there have been more instances of politically-motivated violence in the
Regardless of how much one believes that there is a palpable threat of terrorism from homegrown Muslims, white supremacists and/or Christian “patriots,” the government’s methodology used to uncover real or manufactured plots needs to be thoroughly examined.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.