The Six FBI Reports Treating Merton Center Anti-War Activism as Terrorism

Glenn Fine–DOJ’s Inspector General–is usually one of the most credible agents of oversight in the federal government. But his last report–examining whether the FBI investigated the First Amendment activities of lefty groups as terrorism–is a masterpiece of obfuscation. It manages to look at three different investigative efforts of the Thomas Merton Center’s anti-war activism, all treated as terrorism, and declare them unconnected and therefore not evidence that during the Bush Administration anti-war activism was investigated as terrorism.

The coverage of the report has largely focused on Robert Mueller’s reportedly unintentional lies to Congress explaining why an anti-war event sponsored by Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center was investigated in the guise of international terrorism. For good examples, see Charlie Savage and Jeff Stein’s versions of the story.

The short version of Meuller’s misinformation to Congress the report offers is that 1) a rookie FBI officer was sent out as make-work to improperly surveil a peace protest, 2) after that became clear through FOIA, his boss and a lawyer in the office and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division tried to retroactively invent reasons for the surveillance, 3) largely through the bureaucratic game of telephone that resulted, Robert Mueller (and in more significant ways, a response to a Patrick Leahy Question For the Record) provided false information to Congress.

One cornerstone to this rather credulous narrative is the way the IG Report treats the surveillance of Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center. Rather than treat all the surveillance of the center together–which would reveal an obvious pattern and much better reason to lie to Congress–the report treats  several different iterations of surveillance separately. As a result, Fine was able to look at at least six reports treating Merton Center anti-war activism as terrorism (and ignore one more FBI investigative effort) and declare each of them acceptable.

The Chronology of FBI’s Thomas Merton Center Surveillance

Let’s start with the timeline (note all the names, except that of Farooq Hussaini, are pseudonyms chosen by DOJ IG, as reflected by the quotation marks) which shows fairly sustained surveillance of the Center over the course of three years:

November 29, 2002: Supervisory Special Agent “Susan Crosetti” sends rookie FBI officer “Mark Berry” to surveil people associated with the Thomas Merton Center distributing leaflets opposing the Iraq War. Berry takes photos of some participants. The report recording the surveillance is placed in the “international terrorism” file.

January 2003: Secret Service agent visits Merton Center to discuss upcoming protest in Pittsburgh.

February 26, 2003: Pittsburgh office produces Letterhead Memorandum, titled “International Terrorism Matters,” describing a vigil the Merton Center was planning for when the Iraq War started, as well as local events that had taken place on February 15, 2003 in association with the NY-based United for Peace and Justice sponsored protest.

April 4, 2003: FBI produces EC on Pittsburgh organizational meeting at the Merton Center in advance of Miami FTAA.

July 8, 2003: FBI EC describes threats that FTAA protesters would use puppets to attack riot police and Molotov cocktails.

July 10, 2003: First document recording ties between Person B (alleged to have pro-Palestinian feelings) and the Merton Center (note, this document must have been withheld from the FOIA).

July 21, 2003: Miami Field Office opens domestic terrorism investigation in relation to the FTAA protests.

July 25, 2003: Miami Field Office sends EC to Pittsburgh Field Office on August 29-31 planning meeting for FTAA including Merton Center.

July 26, 2003: FBI designates FTAA a Special Event worthy of heightened surveillance.

August 29-31, 2003: FBI conducts research on FTAA planning meeting at Merton Center in Pittsburgh.

October 29 (?), 2004: First report from confidential source mentioning the Merton Center (all these reports were faxed on July 8, 2005 and declassified on January 4, 2006). The source was apparently the friend of an agent’s son, and included reporting on planning for an anti-war march the Merton Center was planning. The source was purportedly recruited for an investigation into several alleged members of the Pittsburgh Organizing Group; that investigation was a terrorism investigation.

February 25, 2005: Second report from confidential source on the Merton Center.

March 1, 2005: Third report from confidential source on the Merton Center.

March 19, 2005: Fourth report from confidential source on the Merton Center.

Unknown date (before May 18, 2005): FBI agent visits Merton Center intern at intern’s residence asking for information about Merton Center activities.

May 18, 2005: ACLU PA FOIAs FBI documents referencing the Thomas Merton Center (among others).

Unknown date, 2006: Pittsburgh’s Chief Division Counsel reviews the source reporting (and two earlier anti-war reports) and tells agent to close the source.

January 23, 2006: “Carl Fritsch,” a member of Pittsburgh FBI’s legal staff, and Crosetti, both search FBI databases on Farooq Hussaini’s name.

February 1, 2006: National ACLU files FOIA.

February 8, 2006: FBI Field Division Attorney “Stanley Kempler” sends Record Management Division a routing slip, written by “Carl Fritsch,” indicating that the November 29, 2002 surveillance had been directed at Farooq Hussaini and alleging that Hussaini was associated with “Person B” who was the subject of a different investigation. This routing slip was–in the IG Report’s judgment–the first attempt to invent a cover story for the November 2002 surveillance. The same slip provided background on the February 26, 2003 and urged RMD not to release it.

March 14, 2006: ACLU releases FOIA documents, focusing on November 29, 2002 report; FBI issues a press release see PDF 205) inventing a public rationale for the surveillance and purporting to address the February 26, 2003 report.

March 22, 2006: FBI Director’s Research Group writes document “ACLU Allegations of Spying.”

May 2, 2006: Patrick Leahy asks Robert Mueller why FBI was surveilling anti-war demonstrators.

“Soon after” hearing: Leahy asks several Questions For the Record, including for any “earlier investigative memos” that served as the basis for the November 2002 surveillance.

May 16, 2006: Counterterrorism Division’s Executive Staff tasks “Clarence Parkman,” from their Iraq Unit, to draft a response to Leahy. Minutes earlier, Parkman had done a database search on Thomas Merton Center. Two analytical employees in the Iraq section emailed Kempler (cc’ing Berry) for more information. Kempler forwarded the request to Crosetti.

June 5, 2006: Iraq Unit of Counterterrorism Division provides 3-paragraph response to Leahy’s question about November 2002 anti-war rally newly claiming that Person B was the subject of the surveillance. The response also claims–contrary to the description in the original EC but corresponding to story Berry first told to IG–that Berry took pictures of just one, female, protester.

The IG presents this series of surveillance actions directed at the Merton Center as discrete events. It attempts to find an explanation for each incident of surveillance in isolation, and as such, is able to describe each as legally permissible, leaving only the attempt to retroactively invent an explanation for the November 2002 surveillance as really problematic.

But examining the other reports makes it clear that there was a pattern of investigating the Merton Center’s anti-war activities under the guise of terrorism.

The February 26, 2003 Letterhead Report

Whereas the IG Report provides clear evidence that FBI was trying to retroactively justify its November 2002 surveillance, it could offer no explanation whatsoever for a February 26, 2003 Letterhead memo which also labeled Merton Center anti-war efforts as terrorism.

We were unable to determine the origins and author of the February 2003 LHM. We were also unable to determine to whom the LHM was sent, or whether it was distributed outside the Pittsburgh Field Division. The LHM bears no signature, initials, or routing information. It did not have a file number assigned to it. The LHM was on an FBI form used to disseminate information to other law enforcement agencies, but it did not identify intended recipients.

It goes on to describe the February 8, 2006 routing slip–the same routing slip that developed the first retroactive justification for the November 2002 surveillance–strongly urging the Records Management Division people responding to the FOIA not to release the document because it did not appear to be an agency record. The IG Report quotes from the routing slip:

The source of this document appeared on a stenographer’s computer hard drive. The Pittsburgh Division was unable to identify the author of this document. Attempts to locate a file associated with this document were negative. The Pittsburgh Division believes that this document could possibly have been a draft that was never approved for filing.

Here’s how that was translated for a response to a Leahy QFR on the report.

In response to the FOIA request the FBI conducted a manual search beyond its record system for all information responsive to the request. The 2/26/03 document was discovered during the search of stenographer’s computer hard drive for responsive information. This document identifies no author or file number and contains no markings indicating supervisory approval for entering into any FBI record keeping system. The Pittsburgh Division where the document was located was unable to identify the actual author or locate a file associated with this document. The document could possibly have been a draft that was never approved for filing. As a loose document it could be retrieved only by someone with access to the computer on which it had been saved.

The IG Report goes on to explain that the stenographer’s logs from the period indicated a particular Special Agent had authored the LHM, but that she had no independent memory of that agent being  the author. The agent in question denied he was the author.

And even though Susan Crosetti, the woman who played a central role in inventing two different explanations for the November 2002 surveillance, was that agent’s supervisor, the IG Report concluded “we found no indication that the 2 documents were related or part of a coordinated focus on the Merton Center.”

The FBI’s Agent’s Son’s Friend’s Confidential Source Reporting on the Merton Center and POG

Then the IG Report discusses the investigation of several people associated with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which it describes as an anarchist group. After the Pittsburgh FBI extended its investigation of these men (though they had no evidence of criminal activity), one of the agents involved recruited what appears to be a friend of his son who was in legal trouble to act as a confidential informant on the POG members.

At the time the source was recruited, he had charges pending against him for [redacted]. In one e-mail from the source to the case agent during the time he was acting as a source, the source described his efforts to obtain an extension on “my court date,” and asked if the case agent had contacted a particular officer connected to the case.

[snip]

[T]he agent recruited a friend of his son and gave him surveillance assignments with at best thin relevance to any open investigation or to preventing terrorism.

Though the predicate for this source reporting was the investigation into the three alleged POG members, much of the reporting actually pertained to the Merton Center.

In fact, the first source report filed in the Herman preliminary inquiry contained virtually no information other than information about First Amendment expressions of participants in a political discussion group at the Merton Center. This report had no apparent connection to any actual or potential crime and focused solely on the identity of the participants and the content of their speech.

[snip]

The first source report was limited to identifying information about the participants in a political discussion together with characterizations of the content of the speech of the participants. No information remotely relevant to actual or potential criminal activity was collected. We do not believe that any of the information recorded in the report regarding the Merton Center political discussion was pertinent to the Herman preliminary inquiry or any other authorized law enforcement activity.

[snip]

Three reports related to planning meetings held at the Merton Center for an anti-war protest, as well as a report on the protest itself.

[snip]

The FBI established a confidential source to attend political meetings and protests and collect information that was almost exclusively focused on the First Amendment activities of persons who were not the subject of any investigation.

Now, the document here deserves mention. The source reports released to ACLU in 2006 must be reports from this confidential source because the IG Report does not deal with them anywhere else. Indeed, the first report (chronologically) appears to be the report the IG Report describes as the sources first report on PDF 91. (Though there appears to be at least one more report from 2004 not released to ACLU in FOIA, which therefore must not mention the Merton Center; the original FOIA did not name POG.) Yet the IG Report treats these primarily as surveillance of the three alleged POG members, and not surveillance of the Merton Center. In at least one place (see the third redaction on PDF 91), the IG Report rather inexplicably redacts what must be a reference to the Merton Center. And the source reports mention the Merton Center on at least two more occasions that the IG Report either redacts or neglects to mention entirely.

The two investigative actions the IG Report doesn’t mention

We’ve seen that the FBI investigated the Merton Center’s anti-war activities in November 2002, February 2003, and late 2004 through 2005. All of these investigative actions were classified as terrorism investigations.

But that leaves out at least two more investigative actions, revealed in the original FOIA.

The Thomas Merton Center (the “Merton Center”) is a 501(c)(3) entity, incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1972 with its principal place of business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Merton Center is a peace and justice resource and organizing center that is actively involved in organizing non-violent resistance to war, racial and economic justice. Among other things the Merton Center is involved with organizing protests and consults with various groups concerning social change. In addition, the Merton Center works with local mosques to address the detention of Arabs and Muslims in the greater Pittsburgh area. Prior to various protests in the Pittsburgh area, the Merton Center has received visits from the Secret Service. For example, in January 2003, a Secret Service agent visited the office to discuss an upcoming protest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition, an intern at the Merton Center was visited by an FBI agent at his residence and asked to provide information about various activities at the Merton Center. [my emphasis]

In 2003–a month before the LHR included in the IG Report–the secret service questioned the Merton Center about an upcoming protest. The protest in question was almost certainly an anti-war protest, as that’s all that was listed on its site at the time. And then, at some point before the ACLU filed this FOIA, the FBI was questioning a Merton Center intern at home.

DOJ’s IG’s jurisdiction is limited to DOJ, so it is understandable that the report makes no mention of the Secret Service interview. But there is clearly at least one more FBI action pertaining to the Merton Center that the report doesn’t mention. The absence of any discussion of it is all the more inexcusable since this FOIA was what ultimately led to this report.

The three year investigation of the Merton Center’s anti-war activities as terrorism

Ultimately, the story the IG Report tells is something like this: An FBI supervisor trying to make work for a new agent in 2002  sent him to surveil a Merton Center anti-war event that he labeled as terrorism in his report, but that was just make-work and all other problems can be blamed on the agent’s inexperience. Three months later, someone reporting to that same FBI supervisor wrote a report on the Merton Center’s anti-war actions and again labeled it international terrorism, but since the IG was unable to pinpoint who wrote it and why, we can’t conclude anything about that. Then, the following year, an agent trying to help his son’s friend beat some kind of legal trouble recruited him as an informant and just because of timing had him report on the planning and implementation of an anti-war protest organized by the Merton Center. The underlying premise for that surveillance was also terrorism. But since the agent was just trying to meet his FBI quota for informant work, we don’t have to worry that he used the investigation of POG to once again investigation the Merton Center’s anti-war activities.

And all that leaves aside the FTAA-related surveillance, as well as two more investigative actions that likely pertain to peace activism as well.

So it’s all the result of misguided but relatively harmless chance, the IG wants you to conclude.

Except that looked at more closely, it’s clear that Pittsburgh’s FBI office persistently investigated the Merton Center’s anti-war activism as terrorism.

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      • klynn says:

        No problem. (Did you catch the other @ my comment @5?)

        July 8, 2003: FBI EC describes threats that FTAA protesters would use puppets to attack riot police and Molotov cocktails.

        If religious pacifist were involved, this would NOT be part of any protest plan.

        • klynn says:

          The TM Center in Pittsburgh has its’ historical roots from anti-war inspiration during the Vietnam War and was founded on absolute pacifism influence by simplicity.

          My guess is, there is a bigger file on the PA TM Center going back to the Vietnam War.

          So, what military/gov contractor is in the Pitt/PA area that views religious pacifists as a threat?

          I hope the suit covers violation of religious liberties.

          Sorry, absolute pacifism, simple living beliefs and anti war voices do not make a terror threat.

          They do make a threat to grow an anti-war movement which could lead to less $$$ for the IMC, as pressure to end wars would grow.

          This has never been an effort based on “chance” in the history of the government investigating the TM Center.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, what was going on was that Miami Field office was starting a generalized investigation in anticipation of the FTAA, and bc of that contacted Pittsburgh bc of the Merton involvement. They did use the treat of civil disobedience and possibly violence to justify the terrorist designation, and that’s how a peace org w/ties to Catholicism got investigated as a terrorist.

          • klynn says:

            A little homework would have ended the investigation. TM Center was interested in the FTAA because the center supports fair trade. The Center has a long history of supporting fair trade. The Center holds an annual alternative Christmas market featuring fair trade gifts and donation gifts to support third world development (similar approach like the Heifer Project were you buy a share or a whole cow or chicken as a donation gift in someone’s name). The Center has a long held practice in simple living and the practice of “Simple Christmas.”

            Totally stupid this FBI investigation even went on.

              • klynn says:

                I agree. I was being sarcastic. Of course they would not end the investigation.

                My point stands irt the threat that pacifist movements/ organizations present in terms of $$$ lost to the IMC.

                Which states volumes about who is in charge at FBI and irt Homeland Security’s real purpose.

                Amazing what a threat the Vietnam Peace Movement caused to the IMC.

                (BTW salmon and strawberry cake sound perfect right now!)

  1. justbetty says:

    And just imagine if there was anyone in Congress who wold truly try to hold any of these people accountable! I guess I like living in the past- so 20th Century of me to be thinking like that.

  2. klynn says:

    “Misguided, relatively harmless chance” my a– IG

    The underlying premise for that surveillance was also terrorism. But since the agent was just trying to meet his FBI quota for informant work, we don’t have to worry that he used the investigation of POG to once again investigation the Merton Center’s anti-war activities.

    …to once again investigate the Merton Center’s…

    Marcy, were any participants in the MC activity’s of a religious background which has peace/pacifism and/or anti-violence as a core belief?

    Were members true to Thomas Merton’s held beliefs and practices?

  3. JamesJoyce says:

    EW,

    For your third eye, if you have time… lol

    I-Team: Calls for Reform of Coroner’s Inquest Process Grows

    A real fair process? Gamed? Seems to be a common theme and thread here in America. Tampering…

  4. emptywheel says:

    Btw, I’m not certain but I think one of the people pictured on the TM site is the mother of a woman I used to play ultimate frisbee with. We’d play a tournie in Pittsburgh every year, at which point her folks would treat us to a HUGE dinner, with a full salmon and this great strawberry cake.

    It’s a pretty big deal, feeding an entire ultimate frisbee team.

  5. klynn says:

    A small observation I would like to make about the whole report (I have read the first 100 pages in detail and have skimmed the remaining.) The opening pages of the report are gems for “give-aways” regarding intentions.

    The groups are listed 1-6 TM Center, PETA, Greenpeace USA, The Catholic Worker, Glen Milner, Quakers…Then there are some footnotes made with this list:

    4. Our review period encompasses most of the years covered by the FOIA requests and end in 2006, when the OIG received the Congressional inquiries.

    I take that as code for “we have a fat file on Quakers dating over decades…”

    5. PETA was the only one of the groups we reviewed that the FBI had investigated during our review period as a terrorism enterprise.

    Then why is a majority of the investigation efforts focused on three faith based, pacifist groups and not totally about PETA?

    Perhaps I am missing something or, I totally see through the BS.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, the reason the bulk of the report focuses on TMC is because Fine had the most problems w/it (and the fewest w/the investigation of PETA–accepting if you will that throwing blood constitutes damage).

      • klynn says:

        Perhaps I am reading the tone of the report wrong. I agree that Fine had the most problems with The TM Center being investigated (or so he portrays )but I think the bigger problem he sees is the depth of history of the investigating is probably longer than the given FOIA and the reality of the violations will be seen as far worse due the potential of 1st and 14th Amendment violations.

        PETA can be easliy PR’d as radical for throwing blood. Although, how does one hide all the “Go Naked” PR shots of Christy Turlington and Pamela Anderson in their files? Bet they love following Heather Mills (McCartney).

  6. bmaz says:

    Aafia Siddiqui sentenced to 86 years prison:

    A Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill American soldiers and F.B.I. agents in Afghanistan, was sentenced to 86 years in prison on Thursday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

    The case of the scientist, Aafia Siddiqui, 38, had attracted the attention of human rights groups, some of which conducted campaigns in favor of a lenient sentence.

    • greenharper says:

      Thank you so much, bmaz! That poor woman, and her poor children. And, for that matter, given what U.S. authorities have done to them in our names, our poor country. Witnessing, and remembering, are important.

  7. klynn says:

    Seems it is time to broaden Christopher Pyle’s policy work to include the FBI, CIA and anything related to homeland security.

    From 2005:

    The military’s penchant for collecting domestic intelligence is disturbing — but familiar — to Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer.

    “Some people never learn,” he says. During the Vietnam War, Pyle blew the whistle on the Defense Department for monitoring and infiltrating anti-war and civil rights protests when he published an article in the Washington Monthly in January 1970.

    The public was outraged and a lengthy congressional investigation followed that revealed that the military had conducted investigations on at least 100,000 American citizens. Pyle got more than 100 military agents to testify that they had been ordered to spy on U.S. citizens — many of them anti-war protestors and civil rights advocates. In the wake of the investigations, Pyle helped Congress write a law placing new limits on military spying inside the U.S.

    But Pyle, now a professor at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, says some of the information in the database suggests the military may be dangerously close to repeating its past mistakes.

    “The documents tell me that military intelligence is back conducting investigations and maintaining records on civilian political activity. The military made promises that it would not do this again,” he says.

  8. donbacon says:

    The Six FBI Reports Treating Merton Center Anti-War Activism as Terrorism

    Terrorism? Or support for terrorism.

    The US is currently engaged in a long-term war on terrorism. The president recently renewed two (2) national emergencies relating to this war. One of them refers to “the national emergency with respect to persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism.”

    The 2006 National Intelligence Estimate stated: “Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests.”

    A DOJ Review of FBI Investigations: “The core predication standard for investigations under the 2008 Guidelines is based on an articulable factual basis of a “reasonable indication” that a federal criminal violation or threat to the national security “has or may have occurred, is or may be occurring, or will or may occur. . .” –p. 10

    So during a national emergency, when the terrorist threat level is “elevated” as it is currently, the US government’s police focus on people who are protesting the US war on terror because they believe that these people are in effect supporting terrorism and anti-US sentiment, and so they take action based on on “an articulable factual basis or a “reasonable indication” that a federal criminal violation or threat to the national security may occur.

    In other words they don’t necessarily believe that their targets are terrorists but that in being anti-US they are in effect supporting terrorism thjat may occur. And they get a real kick out of what they’re doing.

    A nation at war, led by its significant classes, is engaged in liberating certain of its impulses which have had all too little exercise in the past. It is getting certain satisfactions, and the actual conduct of the war or the condition of the country are really incidental to the enjoyment of new forms of virtue and power and aggressiveness.

    War Is the Health of the State — Randolph Bourne

    So the basic problem is the damn war.

    • emptywheel says:

      No. That’s not what the report says.

      It lays out the grounds for calling someone a terrorist (basically, a group that tries to achieve political or social ends via illegal violence), and then assess the claim that these groups are terrorists. All of the surveillance of TMC was filed as terrorism investigation, in spite of the fact that there was no violence involved. That’s the problem.

    • gvandergrift says:

      Can you prove the US is at war? What makes you think the US is at war?

      The US hasn’t won a war in which it was involved for more than 4 years since 1783, if you think that was the US, otherwise never.

  9. DWBartoo says:

    Thank you, bmaz, for sharing this “news”.

    To pursue this OT, just a wee bit, the American government claims, that while in custody in Afghanistan, Aafia Siddiqui fired upon (US) Army officers and FBI agents, trying to kill them, and that she was then shot in the abdomen.

    Aafia testified that she never even picked up the M4, that was, supposedly, left on the police station floor. Her lawyers argued that the lack of bullets, casings, or residue from the M4 suggested that it had not been fired …

    “Ms. Siddiqui’s lawyers said that they had not decided whether to appeal. They suggested that prosecutors had played to New Yorker’s anxieties about terrorist attacks.”

    One of Siddiqui’s attorneys said the decision “was based on fear but not on fact”.

    DW

  10. protoslacker says:

    E W I am so grateful for your reporting.

    It is particularly interesting you are on the case about events local to me. I am not much of an activist. I did attend the 2002 Labor Day event here where President Bush spoke as well as the January 2003 March. I thought about other connections to the Merton Center I have had. It is useful to know that the Thomas Merton Center is a community resource. The Merton Center is connected to all sorts of initiatives which are not strictly projects of the Center. For example I thought of a few events I attended in support of the people in Northern Uganda where the Merton Center was in some sense “involved.” I doubt that most people attending these events had any idea about the connection to the Merton Center, because the involvement was just on the order of helping with questions about how to get permissions and the like. My point is that surveillance creates a list of people who probably do not imagine their participation as particularly political; for example dinners to raise money for bicycle businesses in Uganda, or for books at a community center.

  11. onitgoes says:

    Hmmmm…. seems like nothing is new under the sun.

    So, lessee, we have rightwingers of all stripes, including politicians, openly and unequivocably calling for such actions as (not an exhaustive list): 1)succession, 2)openly carrying weapons to public meetings, 3)not so thinly veiled incitements to harm (or more) various politicians, including the POTUS, 4) loads of hate speech inciting violence against women seeking abortions & their providers, any and all minorities, perceived illegal/undocumented workers, and gays. Plus you have radical fringe rightwingers out there protesting against the POTUS bc he’s an illegal, has no birth certificate, spitting on politicians, carrying signs with incendiary hate speech? Sure I’m missing much more bc there is much more, including rightwing shock jocks encouraging violence against other citizens and pols, plus at least one political candidate (must be more) of the T-party actively encouraging her constituents to kill progressives.

    And so: are these activities, people, organizations (i.e., the Koch brothers rightwing think tanks, for ex) being investigated like the TM Center??

    Doubtful.

    Just like J. Edgar Hoover having infitrators in the anti-Viet Nam War protests and women’s consciousness raising groups. Plus “outside aggitators” sent into campuses to *cause violence* as a means of discrediting what the students were doing.

    Yep, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Thanks for the post. Glad to see the info getting out here and elsewhere lately.

    • fatster says:

      Nothing new under the sun:

      Man at center of FBI terror sting may argue he was induced to commit crime

      “Lebanese citizen Sami Samir Hassoun is charged with plotting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago after a Dave Matthews Band concert. The [FBI] undercover agents gave him a fake bomb . . .”

      LINK.

  12. TalkingStick says:

    Marcy, Thank you for your precise and comprehensive work on this subject. The reality of course is these are just tips of the huge iceberg the federal government employs to spy on virtually all of its citizens. There is no way these programs are simply out of concern of violence to person or property.

    They are in my view inherently political and intended to prevent movements espousing significantly different political principles than the current power structure from gaining a foothold. From a broad perspective we really maintain very narrow boundaries containing permissible dissent. My own experience is mostly of religious intolerance, Humanists, Quakers, Unitarians and Muslims all fall outside those boundaries.

  13. hackworth1 says:

    Only Leftys are terrorists in a right-wing world:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/09/amy-goodman-arr.html

    All four journalists were released hours after being arrested. Goodman was officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer.

    “Democracy Now!” plans to continue its coverage of the protests despite the police presence, which Goodman described as “overly aggressive.”

    “I was very angry. This was a violation of my rights,” Goodman said. “But

    it’s so much bigger than us. When the press is shut down, it’s closing the eyes and ears of a critical watchdog in a democratic society.”

  14. MadDog says:

    A really well done “connecting the dots” deconstruction and analysis of this latest DOJ OIG report EW!

    The result is a DOJ OIG credibility factor hovering around zero.

    Though I myself trashed Glenn Fine for this epic whitewash in an earlier thread, I’ve had second thoughts about the authorship of this report.

    It is likely that Glenn Fine himself was not the primary author, but instead it was underlings on his OIG staff.

    Yes, it went out in the name of the IG, but the reality is that the primary authorship is likely that of the workerbees within the DOJ OIG.

    The reason I bring this up is to point out the fact that regardless of who sits as leader in these federal organizations, the real malignancy is amongst those who toil in the trenches and who constitute the overwhelming majority of disease vectors who infect the federal corpus.

    Whether it is this deliberate whitewashing of violation of protected 1st Amendment rights or the invocation of States Secret Privilege, I believe the majority of the impetus comes from these faceless and nameless federal workerbees.

    This conclusion is not meant to exculpate or excuse the managerial failures and/or inadequacies of federal department leadership including that of the DOJ OIG, and the DOJ itself.

    This conclusion was instead to merely point out the severity of the patient’s illness.

    • bobschacht says:

      The reason I bring this up is to point out the fact that regardless of who sits as leader in these federal organizations, the real malignancy is amongst those who toil in the trenches and who constitute the overwhelming majority of disease vectors who infect the federal corpus.

      Is this, then, another example of Bush appointees “burrowing into” the civil service ranks so that in order to get rid of them they have to get due process and just cause?

      Still, Fine does not have to sign off on such crappy work products.

      Bob in AZ

  15. TarheelDem says:

    Thomas Merton

    He had developed a personal radicalism which had political implications but was not based on ideology, rooted above all in non-violence. He regarded his viewpoint as based on “simplicity” and expressed it as a Christian sensibility. In a letter to a Latin-American Catholic writer, Ernesto Cardenal, Merton wrote: “The world is full of great criminals with enormous power, and they are in a death struggle with each other. It is a huge gang battle, using well-meaning lawyers and policemen and clergymen as their front, controlling papers, means of communication, and enrolling everybody in their armies.”

    On December 10, 1968, Merton had gone to attend an interfaith conference between Catholic and non-Christian monks. While stepping out of his bath, he reached out to adjust an electric fan and apparently touched an exposed wire and was electrocuted.

    The Wikipedia entry seems to have been purged of references to Thomas Merton’s writings about the Vietnam War. Significant enough that for many years, the CIA was thought to be behind his accidental death. I’m not sure what the Church Committee found out about this rumor.

  16. Jeff Kaye says:

    Fine’s report is a fairy tale. Believe me, if you’re an FBI agent in Pennsylvania, you are not unfamiliar with political organizations that are anti-war and anti-racist (pushing for justice for Abu Jamal, for instance, this latter being a particular no-no in Penn. law enforcement circles).

    You’d have to believe the FBI has never been caught in this kind of behavior before, that Cointelpro never happened. In fact, if we were looking for patterns, you couldn’t do better than start with a consistent pattern over decades by the FBI and its red squad friends in various police and prosecutors offices of attacking the left, whether of the pacifist or Marxist or anarchist or black nationalist or whatever variety.

    This is a great job, EW, of demonstrating the kind of false narrative the FBI builds to cover-up their abuse of power. I’m hoping you’re going to continue on with the PETA and Catholic Worker portions of the report as well.

  17. fatster says:

    O/T Blackwater/Xe trial:

    Rampant drug use, random gunfire at Blackwater’s Baghdad parties: claim
    Blackwater founder threatened to ‘come after’ lawyer pursuing allegations: claim

    “Blackwater employees in Baghdad held wild parties featuring large amounts of cocaine and hash, where armed personnel would sometimes fire randomly at nearby buildings housing Iraqi civilians, says a former contractor for the security company.

    “Howard Lowry, a Texas businessman who worked in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, made the allegations in testimony he gave in a whistleblower trial aimed at Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater.”

    LINK.

  18. shaw53 says:

    I was profoundly influenced by Thomas Merton and his work as a kid in the 60’s and am not suprised by all of this. This is the tip of the iceberg. There’s countless little footsoldiers doing this dirty work, if for no other reason than the cancerous bureacracy demands more worker drones.

    It’s just familiar make-work to set the stage for a real, serious crackdown on the public…. based on typically trumped up crap which will then be reported as fact by media.

    Even if it is rescinded later, the fear seeds will have been sewn. The initial hysteria always trumps the later rationality. The elites need war. War is fear-mongering devolved to violence. It also pays well for the connected.

    Suddenly, all those cute idiots on tee-vee wil be reporting on some kind of Thomas Merton Incident with no knowledge of the history of this guy and his complete non-violent stance.

  19. wayoutwest says:

    The interesting thing is that in the 70’s when this behavior was exposed there was outrage and action to stop it. Today when it is exposed we hear very little about it and nothing happens. I guess American Fascism has matured.

    • MadDog says:

      As the OIG report indicates, a major reason for the OIG investigation was as a result of questions raised by Senator Leahy.

      Yes, that selfsame Senator Leahy who is currently the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

      And since the release of this OIG report, what has been the response of Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy?

      You got it! Crickets!

  20. JamesJoyce says:

    A federal version of “Mississippi Burning.” Intimidate Americans who express disgust with policies crafted to protect “?.”

    911 demonstrated the complete and utter incompetence of the government to keep America safe from a terrorist attack, orchestrated by a “FOREIGN GROUP,” America covertly supported. What did we do to piss them off?

    The resources use to spy on Americans expressing contempt for “FUCKHEAD” policies, is an insult, added to injury. For years we fought a cold war against Soviet influence. The Feds acted like “communists” towards the American people. They are truly sick mother fuckers. We have seen this all before and the consequences suck!

  21. szielinski says:

    Just catching up

    As a Pittsburgher I feel very much safer just knowing the FBI kept a sharp eye on the Pittsburgh Mertonites and the anarchists they support. Pacifism and civil disobedience are so threatening to the social and political order that I feel even safer knowing that President Obama could legally order the liquidation of this viper’s nest and its inhabitants. It’s completely appropriate to murder pacifists and civilly disobedient citizens because their murders would defend property and the personal rights to dispose of that property. These pacifists and anarchists are anti-individual. They must die.

    /sarcasm