Thursday, January 17, 2013

The FBI and the Infiltration of Radical Groups

Back in the day, when I was kind of peripherally involved with certain elements of society who were considered "radical" (I previously posted something on this, quite coincidentally, exactly one year ago today), there was a certain amount of paranoia in the air about FBI undercover agents sent in as spies and agents provocateurs.

I especially remember one guy who seemed to pop up out of nowhere and was quite vocal in his desire to "stick it to the man". He proposed any number of outlandish plots, one of which, bombing the local National Guard Armory, he was especially eager to discuss.

Unfortunately for him, we weren't that kind of radical. A number of us were card-carrying members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and while we had a basic sympathy for, and agreement with, the stated goals of its splinter/offshoot group, the Weathermen (later the Weather Underground) -- and had Bill Ayres or Bernadine Dohrn actually made contact with us for assistance while they were in hiding, we would have rendered it gladly -- we didn't agree with their tactics of violence, symbolic though they may have been in intention and practice.

So this guy apparently got the idea and disappeared after a while. He had the look and the attitude and the slang and the politics down, but we all pretty much agreed that something just wasn't right about him.

Looking back now, especially after reading A Window Into Infiltration: The FBI Informant File of Sheila Louise O'Connor, it seems obvious that we weren't so paranoid after all. Now it appears more than likely that, as we suspected, the guy was an FBI informant/provocateur. (I can't recall his name now, but that doesn't matter since I'm sure it wasn't his real name.)

The FBI, doing its part,  instituted COINTELPRO to disrupt, discredit and destroy the New Left and its allies in the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Liberation Movement, the Black Panthers, etc., and then put a bunch of the Weather Underground leaders on its Ten Most Wanted list, edging out a bunch of real criminals.

Sadly, the issues that fired up the radicals of the 1960s and 1970s are still with us: Racism, imperialism, neo-colonialism, political prisoners in our own repressive prison-industrial system, ongoing wars against indigenous Third World populations, etc. etc. So it is perfectly reasonable to assume that Occupy, to pick just one example, has more than its share of undercover agents and general provocateurs involved with it. And, as a simple Google search shows, this is a fact.


double nickel said...

Interesting. Many parallels between what was going on in the 60's and early 70's to the Idle No More movement currently gaining traction in Canada.As usual, the feds are blindly ignoring what's happening on the streets, but you can be sure their guys are making tons of shit up and ID'ing potential enemies of the state as we speak.

the yellow fringe said...

Occupy, at least some things I read, has been infiltrated by FBI and in NYC the NYC's own secret police guys too. The reall waste of money and time for the FBI is the monitoring of environmental groups. This I assume is to appease the energy industry, which makes it scary I guess, that they would consider recycle centers a threat But really, guys that want you to use a pig tail light bulb or to write letters about dirty air or poached elephants, come on.