Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pentagon Rebrands Protest as "Low-Level Terrorism"

You have to hand it to Pentagon securocrats and their corporate cronies, they never miss an opportunity to demonize, vilify or otherwise slander domestic political dissent as "terrorism."

The American Civil Liberties Union reported June 10 that "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as 'low level terrorism'."

According to the civil liberties' watchdog: "Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course, the DoD asks the following: 'Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?' To answer correctly, the examinee must select 'protests'."

Yes, you read that correctly. The Pentagon has designed a training system that puts you in the crosshairs! And why not? Back in 2003 Mike Van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) said of antiwar demonstrators brutally attacked by riot cops at the Port of Oakland during a protest against the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq,

"You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. "You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act." (Ian Hoffman, Sean Holstege and Josh Richman, ("Intelligence Agency Does Not Distinguish Between Terrorism and Peace Activism," Oakland Tribune, May 18, 2003)

Pretty ironic coming from a sprawling bureaucracy currently engaged in two aggressive wars of conquest for whom dropping a proverbial dime on unsuspecting goat herders or wedding parties is a walk in the park! Not to mention Joint Special Operations Command's "executive assassination ring" operating out of the former Vice President's office, who without so much as a by-your-leave, bumped-off official regime enemies.

This latest outrage follows a consistent pattern by the Pentagon that the ACLU has called "an egregious insult to constitutional values."

As Antifascist Calling revealed in previous reports, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team is now deployed inside the United States "under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the "service component" of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

AFC also reported that since NORTHCOM's launch in 2002, it has been mired in controversy. Among its more dubious accomplishments were illegal domestic spying operations in conjunction with the Pentagon's shadowy Counter Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA). Before being run to ground, like many Defense Department intelligence operations, CIFA was heavily outsourced to security corporations. More than 900 employees out of a total work force of 1,300 were high-paid contractors.

A veritable honey-pot for defense grifters such as Mitchell Wade, the notorious ex-chairman of MZM Inc. and his sidekick, disgraced former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), eventually imprisoned when a cash-and-hookers-for-contracts scandal signaled the (temporary) eclipse of neoconservative stalwarts in Congress.

Despite CIFA's shut-down last year, its TALON database (Threat and Local Observation Notices), which contained hundreds of files on antiwar activists, was shunted over to the FBI for safekeeping in its Guardian database, one component of the Bureau's massive Investigative Data Warehouse.

Its a safe bet however, that the illegal collection of intelligence on domestic dissidents continues.

Inside the Antiterrorism-Training-Complex

While the ideological mind-set driving domestic counterterrorism policies may not have changed much in the intervening years since Van Winkle's provocative statement, security firms and a veritable army of consultants drive America's Homeland Security-Industrial-Complex.

As USA Today reported in 2006, "the homeland security business is booming, and now it eclipses mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue." And is likely to continue along that trajectory well into the future as new official enemies, particularly in the heimat come on-line.

"Specialists" in this lucrative market are former Special Operations soldiers or retired Military Intelligence, FBI or CIA officers who supplement their pensions by plowing the green pastures of the "antiterrorism training" industry. Indeed, there's even an industry association (one of several), the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP).

According to a blurb on the group's website, IACSP was formed to create a "center of information and educational services for those concerned about the challenges now facing all free societies" and "is open to anyone with a sincere professional interest in understanding the security threat posed by terrorism and related conflicts." The organization conducts seminars and publishes The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security magazine. IACSP partners include:

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR): Self-described as an "American and Israeli nonprofit corporation," ITRR market "Israeli and American experts" who provide "counter-terrorism training, seminars, and security specialization in dealing with threats such as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), suicide bombers, and other forms of international terror striking both the public and private sector." Their American-based "terror experts" conduct training seminars "in dealing with domestic terrorism and eco-terror groups, including the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)." ITRR's Targeted Actionable Monitoring Center (TAM-C) was created to provide "provide accurate and actionable intelligence about potential security threats throughout the world." TAM-C's Ground Truth Network "leverages the ITRR's international contacts and sources to provide real-time intelligence from the field," while keeping "international corporations apprised of threats to their assets and personnel throughout the world." Partners include among others, The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute (IEICI), the Perelman Security Group (PSG), and Multi Tier Solutions (MTS), a firm licensed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, that provides "specialized consulting, field operations, specialized training, fusion center technology, intelligence management platforms." One shudders to think what activities fall under MTS' "field operations" brief!

Henley-Putnam University: Describing itself as "the only online University that specializes exclusively in Intelligence, Management, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies," Henley-Putnam boasts that their faculty is comprised of "leaders in tradecraft from organizations such as the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service." Corporate partners include the Vienna, Virginia-based C2 Technologies, a firm specializing in "strategic human resources management, mission-critical outsourcing and information technology." The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre): based in Alexandria, Virginia the firm offers "in-depth and relevant education, training and analysis on counterintelligence, counterterrorism and security." With a staff comprised of veteran Cold Warriors, CI Centre was founded in 1997 by David G. Major, "a retired, senior FBI Supervisory Special Agent." With tailored "core competencies" offered in counterintelligence strategy and tactics, understanding terrorism, economic espionage protection and the like, CI Centre boasts of a staff of instructors who are "seasoned veterans" from the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, Military Intelligence, State Department, Department of Justice, Canadian RCMP and Cuban DI." CI Centre is a corporate member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), an ultra-rightist outfit founded in 1975 by CIA officer David Atlee Phillips. AFIO was a critical behind-the-scenes player that worked to sabotage Watergate-era investigations of CIA crimes by the Church and Pike Committees. CTC International Group, Inc. (CTC): Self-described as "a private intelligence agency for the global business community," CTC International "is staffed primarily by former CIA officers" that "acts as a private intelligence organization for the legal and corporate communities."

The Performance Institute (PI): A "private, nonpartisan think tank," PI conducts seminars and on-site training that provides "intensive, methodology-based courses" that "include step-by-step processes to improve organizational management capacity." PI's Law Enforcement brief includes training in "Law Enforcement Management, Use of Force, Homeland Security, Funding, Sex Offender Management, Narcotics, Emergency Preparedness and Technology."

IACSP will be sponsoring the 17th Annual Terrorism, Trends & Forecasts Symposium, September 18, 2009 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. In addition to standard boilerplate on Islamic terrorism and the "threat" of illegal immigration to national security, topics will include a presentation on "National Security and Liberty: A Delicate Balance." Needless to say, readers of Antifascist Calling won't be surprised at how the scales are tipped during this presentation!

Another player in the Antiterrorism-Training-Complex is The Backup Training Corporation. In 2007 Backup Training was purchased by Blackwater (now Xe), the private military (mercenary) corporation. Backup is now Xe's "digital training division;" terms of the deal were not disclosed according to Washington Technology. The firm's law enforcement brief offers dozens of DVDs on diverse topics such as Community Policing, Cultural Diversity (!), Domestic Terrorist Groups, Gang Training, a Home Defense webinar, Managing Street Informants, Racial Profiling and Surveillance.

But IACSP and Blackwater aren't alone in this lucrative field.

St. Petersburg College's Florida Regional Community Policing Institute offers an "Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Awareness Training Program," in conjunction with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Operating with grants from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, the course is designed "to provide training to state and local law enforcement officers in domestic and international terrorism. The goal is to provide officers with a working knowledge of past and present terrorist/criminal extremist groups and individuals, their activities and tactics, and how to recognize and report potential indicators of terrorism and criminal extremism." There's even a module that will help you "identify the electronic tools and media which international and domestic terrorists use and the best practices identified for properly seizing computer hardware and peripherals."

The Institute for Preventive Strategies (IPS): A division of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky, IPS offers a Terrorism Prevention course for "law enforcement professionals." According to a blurb on the group's website, IPS avers that "Incidents related to homegrown terrorism in the United States are on the rise. Western Europe has long struggled with homegrown terrorists, but instances of American-born-and-raised citizens acting on Islamic terrorist motivations are a relatively new threat to the U.S." Studiously ignored however, are recent incidents of terrorist violence directed against Americans such as the assassination of women's health care provider, Dr. George Tiller, gunned down in his church in Wichita, Kansas on May 31. The alleged shooter, Scott Roeder, an associate of the violent antiabortion Army of God and the white separatist Freeman movement, was videotaped gluing the locks on a Kansas City clinic according to Democracy Now! Although footage was turned over to the FBI days before the murder, the Bureau failed to act. Which just goes to show, "terrorism prevention" is fine when it comes to "Islamic radicals," antiwar activists or "ecoterrorists." Far-right Christian gangs on the other hand, are treated with kid gloves by the state or even celebrated as "heroes" by homegrown clerical fascists. Indeed, elements of the media such as the despicable Bill O'Reilly and his Fox News cohorts helped set the stage for Tiller's murder by labeling him "guilty of Nazi stuff," as Salon reported.

America's Orwell Complex

"Policing ideas, rather than criminal activities" as the ACLU wrote in a strongly-worded letter to Gail McGinn, Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, "runs counter to our nation's core principles, undermining the very foundations of a free society."

While true as far as it goes, the history of the United States is replete with Orwellian moments such as this, where "freedom" is code for buying commodities and keeping your mouth shut--or else.

From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, from COINTELPRO to Operation CHAOS, and from the USA PATRIOT Act to warrantless wiretapping and beyond, the national security state has always had but one purpose: to keep the lid on at home, thus greasing the wheels for corporate resource extraction (armed theft) on a planetary scale.

And they call this "freedom."


dragoneyes said...

Very informative post! You got me thinking... I have often wondered what's in some intel agency's files on me. On the one hand I have twice held a basic secret clearance due to some companies I once worked at. On the other hand I did protest against the re-election of George Bush in Jan 2005 with a group that I later discovered has some (serious) anarchists in it. I rarely attend protests, but I found this one most fascinating. Oddly it was a very fun and festive event with folks protesting a wide variety of issues, many of them middle-aged first time protestors. I don't think that could even happen in today's environment... as our country keeps getting more and more determined to discourage such events.

First of all the hype surrounding the security at Bushes 2nd inaugural did not seem to match the reality on the streets. 2nd, the local DC police seemed fairly uninterested in hassling the protestors, until the protest march got very near the parade stands when they pushed back a bit. I figured the intel folks were monitoring all the email lists where the protesters coordinated their activities, and that from the type of posts people made I think they realized they didn't have much to worry about.

The most fascinating thing was how I was treated by the group I protested with after I went home. I had inadvertently ended up with a few things that belonged to one of their group and when I attempted to return the items they got very strange with me, refused to give me a mailing address, and stopped answering my emails. I finally put the pieces together and realized the folks I was protesting with thought I was a gov't agent spying on them. In a way I kinda understood their viewpoint as I came in from the "outside" and joined up wth them via a Yahoo list and none of them knew me personally before that.

If the gov't was indeed spying on this group, they no doubt figured out I wasn't a threat to anyone, but I still wonder about it all on occasion. I am very troubled by the loss of privacy and increasing fascism.

Clint said...

"You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department."

That's an incredible statement. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm surprised at this type of behavior from the U.S. government. It's all too prevalent, especially in wartime. I suspect that anyone here who's participated in an anti-war protest has seen agents from the FBI or Homeland Security or another affiliated department.