Two new communiqués from the surveillance state this week. Over the weekend, the New York Times and Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, came up with another batch of documents released by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, who has told us in a year more truth about the world we live in than our media seem prepared to tell us in the next two decades.
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, former Black Panther Party leader Marshall "Eddie" Conway joins us less than 24 hours after his release from nearly 44 years in prison. Supporters describe Conway as one of the country’s longest-held political prisoners. He was convicted of killing a Baltimore police officer in 1970, for which he has always maintained his innocence. The shooting occurred at a time when federal and local authorities were infiltrating and disrupting the Black Panthers and other activist groups. At the time of the shooting, the FBI was also monitoring Conway’s actions as part of its counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO.
New records obtained by the Defending Dissent Foundation prove that the United States Army used a multi-agency spy network to gather intelligence on nonviolent, antiwar protesters and to disseminate their findings to both the FBI and local police departments.
The latest Snowden revelations - including Julian Assange figuring on a manhunting timeline and a possible classification of WikiLeaks as a malicious foreign actor - clearly demonstrate the National Security State's conflation of journalism and whistleblowing with terrorism.
Newly unsealed documents allege Minnesota war protesters told an undercover FBI informant they believed in violent, armed revolution against the U.S. and raised money for Colombian and Palestinian organizations the government considers to be terrorists.
In 2007, John Towery attended a conference on domestic terrorism in Spokane, Washington. There he distributed "domestic terrorist" dossiers that appeared to place Brendan Maslauskas Dunn and Jeffery Berryhill, two young activists who were members of Students for a Democratic Society in Olympia, into a terrorism index.
The very point of the FBI's COINTELPRO strategy of the 1960s was paranoia, divisive hatred, and ultimately cannibalization of radical opposition movements in the United States. And it was grimly successful. Now that there are signs that US police agencies are reviving such tactics, it is imperative that activists learn from the mistakes of their counterparts two generations ago, and find rational, principled, humane and above all tactically astute ways to respond.
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.
Counterintuitive as it may seem, we are targeted for digital surveillance as groups and communities, not as individuals. Big Brother is watching us, not you. The NSA looks for what they call a “pattern of life,” homing in on networks of people associated with a target. But networks of association are not random, and who we know online is affected by offline forms of residential, educational, and occupational segregation.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was one of hundreds of journalists who received in the mail a packet of covertly-copied COINTELPRO documents. They were sent by eight activists who broke into FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971—and whose identities just became known last week. On WBAI’s “Law and Disorder,” on January 13, Mumia told us that he wasn’t sure if he received the papers because he was a radio reporter at the time, or whether the activists saw his name as a Black Panther Party member targeted for surveillance. The papers detailed names and activities of individuals he knew well for years, living and working closely together in communal spaces, who were FBI informants.