Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Brief History of COINTELPRO in America

Another week, another mass shooting in America.  (Actually, there were several, but only one managed to be selected as worthy of national news coverage.)  I overheard a couple of co-workers yesterday talking about what happened in Dallas on Thursday night.  They were eyeing me during their undertone conversation, so, having no TV and blissfully unaware of Thursday's events, I strolled over cheerfully and asked, "What's up?"  They proceeded to tell me, and to offer a number of opinions regarding how American society should view both Black lives and police lives.  My next words must have shocked them.  "Have you ever heard of a false flag operation?" I asked.

From the looks on their faces, I could tell that this was not a possibility they had considered, even though one of them acknowledged that he knew what the term means.  I consider this to be a shocking failure of our outlets of culture and media to inform adults who have the right to vote, who live in what is supposedly the "most powerful country on earth," and who therefore should be much better informed.  Consider this post to be my attempt to rectify this deficiency.

I want to begin by introducing a potentially unfamiliar term to you.  According to Wikipedia, COINTELPRO "was a series of covert, and at times, illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting and disrupting domestic political organizations."  The COINTELPRO operation was conceived under FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.  Note the words, "discrediting" and "disrupting."  If you read the Wikipedia article, you can see the United States from the 1950's to the 1970's as a nation whose favored members enjoyed the greatest privilege the world had ever seen - yet that privilege was built on the backs of those peoples of the world who had been violently oppressed in order to build that privilege.  So the favored members of American society lived in a great deal of insecurity and felt horribly threatened by the presence of any voices challenging their privilege and the oppression on which that privilege had been built.  They were frightened by those voices which were asking for a more equitable life for all.  COINTELPRO was designed by the FBI and others as a way to discredit and neutralize the voices of those who protested the oppressive order set up by the United States and other First World nations.  Read how COINTELPRO especially targeted the leaders of the Black Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's.  One of the tactics of COINTELPRO was the use of agents provocateurs, paid police agents used to attempt to incite protest organizations to engage in illegal activity so that law enforcement would have a justification for arrests.

One thing to note: there is at least one case on record of undercover police being implicated in staging violence by protesters against police during a political rally.  I am sure there are many more cases that can may be discovered by an enterprising researcher.  I leave that as an exercise for the reader.  (You might start here, here, here, here, or here.  Goodness gracious, I think I've done a lot of the work for you!)

Now a funny thing happened in the 1970's.  In 1971, the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI managed to break into an FBI office, and stole several files which contained records of the COINTELPRO operation.  (See this also.)  They then dutifully leaked these records to the press.  Many press outlets refused to publish the leaked documents, but they eventually were widely circulated, and the FBI was forced to ostensibly "end" COINTELPRO.  But like many things that are evil (including sewage leaks), the basic mechanisms of COINTELPRO never really ended.  They just went underground.  (See what was done in the 1980's to environmental protest groups, for instance.)  Indeed, the Wikipedia article cited at the beginning of this post shows that from 1980 onward (and especially during the presidency of George W. Bush), there has been a sharp revival of COINTELPRO-like operations.

As far as the Dallas sniper incident, note the following details:
  • Not only were police shot, but protesters as well.  (How very similar to what happened in Maidan in the Ukraine just before the Western backed coup that plunged that country into civil war.)  
  • Initial reports stated that several snipers were involved, and a number of Black men were arrested.  However, the official police story against these men fell apart, and the official narrative was changed to implicate only one man, who, of course, "died in a gun battle with police" after managing to fire on police from several positions in a superhuman feat of mobility.
  • Police responders and media were conveniently on scene to provide an instant high-drama "response" to the incident.
  • The man who has been implicated as the lone sniper is conveniently very dead right now, and therefore cannot stand trial.
  • The dead man was implicated in less than 24 hours after the incident, in contrast to the many unreported mass shootings (defined as shootings in which four or more people are hit), in which police don't find a perpetrator for days or weeks. 
  • The dead man's race and supposed political ideology were used to attempt to implicate and scapegoat entire group of people in order to justify the ongoing oppression and violence practiced by a dominant majority against this group.
In the details of the list I have presented are similarities with a number of high-profile incidents over the last two years, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Paris Massacre, the San Bernardino shootings, and the Orlando nightclub shootings.   The official narrative of these incidents has been mercilessly picked apart by a growing spectrum of people who are tired of being oppressed and especially tired of a dominant society which seems bent on finding ongoing excuses to continue the oppression and scapegoating.  So it is not surprising that one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is identifying the Dallas shooting (and similar incidents which have taken place in other parts of the United States in the last two days) as a false flag operation.

I agree with her.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Zombies of London

 Image taken from The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches, Heinrich Hoffman, 1858.

(I offer my apologies in advance to Warren Zevon.)

One of the ways in which personality-disordered people sometimes garner lots of attention to themselves is by committing suicide in a slow, dramatic way.  Imagine, for instance, someone climbing in broad daylight to the very top of the arch of the Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon, while wearing a bright fluorescent lime-green clown suit.  Picture him swaying precariously over the Willamette River while screaming his intentions through a bullhorn to all and sundry for an hour or so.  Then, after traffic has shut down in both directions, while drivers are out of their cars staring raptly skyward, and news crews swarm like bugs in helicopters all around the bridge, watch him jump off and make the biggest (and last) splash of his entire life as he hits the water.

That's how Great Britain seems to me in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  While I have been following the rise of far-right racist ultranationalism in Europe over the last few years, I hadn't been watching Britain very closely.  Much of what I know has been hastily gleaned from news over the last two weeks.  Many of you may know far more.  Yet things have played out pretty much as I might have expected, and the British are now getting their very own taste of the outworkings of damnation.

Here's what I know so far:
  • The breeding ground of the Brexit campaign consisted of the frustrations of many Britons who were experiencing the loss of the standard of living that had been promised to them under a "free market", capitalist economy.  They felt that their country was at the mercy of a foreign bureaucracy over which they had no control.  In this, as an observer in the USA, I'd have to agree somewhat with them.
  • That frustration was fed and amplified by the fomenting and encouragement of completely unrealistic racial and national pride, violent racism and dangerous xenophobia.  Immigrants - especially the dark-skinned, and especially the Muslim - were targeted and blamed for the unraveling of the British working class and middle class.  (But surprisingly, that blaming extended to the targeting and blaming of white Eastern Europeans as well.)
  • The cheerleaders of the campaign to scapegoat immigrants - the same who championed the entire Brexit campaign - were a handful of doofus fly-by-nighters, among whom were Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage.  They played a classic scapegoating game of the type seen in textbook cases of dysfunctional families where the family member who is causing the greatest damage manages to deflect blame onto a family member who has no logical connection to the suffering which the family is experiencing.  Farage, Gove, and Johnson are members of Britain's wealthiest class, and it is the predatory policies which this class has championed, not only in Britain, but worldwide, which are causing the suffering now being experienced by ordinary Britons.  (For an example of predatory policies, try looking up the word "austerity" and the phrase "income inequality.")
  • It is also coming out now that many of the claims made by these men during the Brexit campaign were in fact lies.  Indeed, Nigel Farage has admitted that some of his claims were false.  I think he feels free to admit this because he feels that his victory is now secure.  Also, the Brexit campaign led directly to the murder of a British member of Parliament in a killing that had a distinctively American style, as a gun was used by a disgruntled Angry White Male to do the killing.
Among the biggest lies told by the Brexit champions was that leaving the European Union was the guaranteed ticket to the revival of the British standard of living and the revival of British national strength.  Why is this a lie?  According to the World Factbook published and maintained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Britain is a net importer of almost every commodity and resource which it needs.  For instance, British agriculture is able to supply only 60 percent of Britain's nutritional needs.  British manufacturing accounts for only 10 percent of British economic output.  Britain is running a net trade deficit.  Britain has been a net energy importer since 2005.  (Read what the Energy Watch Group of Germany had to say about British oil, gas and coal reserves in its 2013 report on fossil and nuclear fuels.  And note that the situation for Britain is worse now than in 2013.)  By far, the main sector of the British economy is the service sector, which accounts for 83.5 percent of British GDP.  Central to the British service sector is the financial "industry", comprised of banking, insurance and business services.  According to the Factbook, the United Kingdom has, until now, enjoyed a position as "the central location for European financial services."

And now that enjoyable position, and all that depends on it, has all gone up in smoke, set on fire by the architects of the Brexit.  Other nations are already re-thinking their reliance on British financial services.  The British pound has already suffered a drastic decline.  The Brexit architects have, in the space of two weeks, already shown themselves to be incapable of governing a country.  (Hey, man, if your feet can't reach the pedals, you shouldn't be behind the wheel.)  The Brexit is already threatening a serious increase in trouble for an economy that was already in trouble.  (See this, this and this, for instance.)  And the Brexit vote has fractured the British body politic - perhaps incurably.  Britain is about to find out in a hurry that it is no autarky, no self-sufficient paradise.

I know that Schadenfreude is a sin, yet there is something in me right now that feels more than a little satisfaction.  It is a dark satisfaction, the kind that a researcher or scientist might feel when reality validates a theoretical model, even though that model has predicted something horrible.  For the troubles that Britain has gotten itself into are a direct validation of Galatians 6:7 - "Don't be deceived. God is not mocked.  For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption..."  It is also bitingly funny (more bite than a very strong and bitter cup of espresso!) to think of how the Brexit champions will cope with the damage they've done, now that they are running out of scapegoats.  Think of the doofus right here in the USA who is pulling similar scapegoating stunts in a bid to capture the White House this November.