September 16th, 2014
“There isn’t enough bile to conjure up the shame and disgrace of all of this, nor the palpable physical revulsion, nor the visceral contempt building, nor the sense of betrayal and rage, nor the literal physical and emotional shattering of people exposed to the growing madness day in and day out.”
Lenin’s Tomb blog, “Crisis in the SWP,” Jan 11, 2013
The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is – or was until recently – widely considered to be Britain’s “largest revolutionary organization”. The party has been rocked by internal dissent and has lost many members. This development was triggered by allegations of sexual abuse against a leading cadre by a young female comrade. The person in question was the national organiser, Martin Smith, who was nicknamed “Comrade Delta” in the communications of the SWP. The party tried to brush the scandal under the carpet. They set up a commission consisting essentially of friends of the accused, who then proceeded to “exonerate” him. After asking the victim questions about her sexual past and her drinking habits, they predictably decided that the rape allegations were unproven. The pretext to handle this mockery of justice by a kangaroo court was that the “bourgeois court system” could not be trusted “to deliver justice.”
Perhaps in a previous age this sham could have worked. But when details of the case were “leaked” online it forced many to take a stand. Numerous blogs were set up and a number of members started to breach party discipline.
[Read more →]
September 1st, 2014
Infiltration and Agent Provocateurs
From 2007-09, John Towery, a criminal intelligence army analyst in the Force Protection Service fusion center at the Fort Lewis military base spied on anarchists and peace activists in Tacoma and Olympia, WA who were part of SDS and the Port Militarization Resistance, which protested international war shipments. Under the name ‘John Jacob’, Towery became close friends with the activists, surveilled them, and shared data with local, state, federal and military agencies. A public records request uncovered the surveillance operation of Towery against the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, IWW, Iraq Veterans Against the War, an anarchist bookshop, amongst others. The 9th circuit court of appeals has ruled in December 2012 that the subsequent lawsuit against Towery can proceed in the narrow terms of intentionally enabling arrest without probable cause in order to repress free speech, but apparently not on the Posse Comitatus law that bars the use of armed forces for law enforcement activities inside the US.
The Earth Island Journal published documents obtained through FOIA requests that show how the Bryan County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s department was spying on the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and other direct action groups against the proposed tar sands pipeline to run from Canada to Texas. Some activists were arrested earlier, the action camp infiltrated and a protest preempted. The targets are described as eco-activists; Native American resisters; Occupy members; Anarchists; and locals from the community. Documents also show how the corporation TransCanada who will build the pipeline works closely with the multi-government agency Fusion Center in Oklahoma advising on policy, changing laws, sharing intel, ensnaring activists, and generally protecting their own interests and facilitating the increase of their profits.
The agent provocateur “Anna” performed extensive FBI surveillance and entrapment of three other activists (see the Life During Wartime book review) used to convict Eric McDavid for 19 years and 7 months, the second longest sentence for recent environmental prisoners. During McDavid’s trial, his lawyer attempted to argue government misconduct because of “Anna’s” intimate relationship with him, however this was dismissed in light of the 1991 9th Circuit ruling in US v Simpson that the government can exploit intimate and sexual relations between the infiltrator and anyone under a surveillance investigation.
Back in January 2011, The Guardian newspaper journalists Paul Lewis and Rob Evans broke the huge story of how Mark Kennedy, a London Metropolitan Police officer, infiltrated numerous European left and direct action networks under the name “Mark Stone” and “Flash”. 22 countries including Germany used Kennedy as an agent provocateur in order to ensnare activists in illegal activities, gather information, maps networks, etc. (The website “Mark Kennedy: A chronology of his activities” gives more details and corrections to the initial news reports, although not on his Berlin spying.) Various British police and government agencies cut Kennedy loose, avoided responsibility, attempted to stop or curtail “reform” of undercover agents’ behavior, and denied their support of his spying, especially concerning how Kennedy had sexual relations with numerous women over the years in order to gather intel and ensnare them. 8 of those women have sued Scotland Yard for sexual misconduct by five agent provocateurs Bob Lambert, John Dines, Jim Boyling, Mark Cassidy and Mark Kennedy. The reporters have in 2013 published a book on the wider use of infiltration and surveillance called Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police.
The Associated Press reporters Matt Abuzzo and Adam Goldmann, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for their series of investigations of the NYPD’s surveillance operations against Muslim Americans (in and outside NYC and the state), have published a new book Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Spying Unit that gives much greater detail through meticulous research on these operations. NYPD’s Demographics Unit spent six years using a huge network of informants to surveil every aspect of life, actions which did not lead to a single arrest, criminal cases or thwarting of so-called ‘terrorism’ plots. (Ray Kelly, the NYPD Commissioner, has been floated to be nominated to run the Department of Homeland Security.) Various lawsuits brought against the NYPD by Muslim Americans affect by the spying are pending in court.
[Read more →]
July 24th, 2014
July 17th, 2014
Extreme right wing groups in Britain have so far failed to capitalise on popular revulsion at the killing of a soldier by presumed Islamists in South London earlier in the year. Lee Rigby was hacked to death in Woolwich in May 2013, with his alleged killers then staying around to explain their act to passers by before they were arrested.
The British National Party has been riven by splits, and the anti-Muslim/pro-military English Defence League has been seemingly stagnating. Both clearly hoped that the killing would give them a burst of renewed energy, and indeed a few days later the EDL did manage to turn out at least 1500 people on the streets of Newcastle.
However, the BNP’s proposed march from Woolwich to Lewisham Islamic centre was banned, and went ahead with a small turnout in Whitehall in central London – the area close to Parliament. The EDL were also restricted to Whitehall when they held a protest on May 27th. The EDL’s subsequent attempt to march on East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets on September 7th was also severely restricted, with the police preventing a crowd of between 500 and 700 EDL supporters getting anywhere near their target. [Read more →]
July 11th, 2014
is not directly social
and for society