Back To The Nixon Era – Paranoia Strikes Deep

Police Infiltrate Protests, Videotapes Show. Government agents infiltrating organizations, disrupting events, and starting riots.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, “I am a shameless agitator.” She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.
Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

This is the NYC police. In California it was the National Guard. It’s phone calls and e-mails being monitored. It’s students questioned by federal agents for asking for a book at a library. It’s citizens searched and questioned for attending a religious conference.
I lived through this shit once. Paranoia is the next step, when you wonder if the person next to you at a meeting is a government agent. You hear a click and wonder if your phone is being tapped — you nervously “joke” and say stuff about “You in the FBI, take notes.” Often enough it was true.

6 thoughts on “Back To The Nixon Era – Paranoia Strikes Deep

  1. If the House or Senate begins to put the brakes on this abuse of power–that’s one thing–but without an unmistakable curtailment of this trend, we could be in real trouble. Domestic spying cannot be allowed to stand. We can’t say we haven’t seen it coming. The crude tactics of “Free Speech Zones”, putting protesters in chainlink holding pens. And as far as the domestic snooping and infiltration of activist groups is concerned, it’s been going on for a couple of years, at least. But in terms of what it means to go from selective political snooping to comprehensive spying on the whole country, is a leap from harrassment to repression. What will be next?–sedition law?–or some kind of Kristallnacht aimed at internet communities? We are in a constitutional crisis now. Watching your back is not enough, better circle the wagons!

  2. Dark times ahead! And one wants to underline every single word in your post, Copeland!

  3. Somewhere in the archives is all the stuff I wrote about what was going on in NYC during the Republican convention, first hand reports, interviews of friends and neighbors and terrified neighborhood parents who couldn’t find their high school age kids who had inadvertently gotten swept up with the crowd and stuck in the pokey overnight with no way their parents could even find out where they were. This being New York, where bad things are likely to have happened to people who don’t get home at night, this was not funny.
    I guess Dave tuned in to the fact this kind of stuff was happening during the Nixon era, but it had started long before that with spying on the civil rights movement. In fact, wasn’t there plenty of it all through the Cold War, and certainly during the McCarthy era? It looks to me as though we manage to sort of damp it down for awhile, or at least force the spying on us to be a bit less obvious for awhile, then it flares up again. It’s as though, since the end of WW II, the feds think they have some kind of god-given right to spy on us. Supposedly in the name of national security, but what the hell — four minutes of a video a police helicopter took here in NY are of a couple doing it on an apartment balcony, and we only know about this because one of them is gonna sue for invasion of privacy. Watch your back and your front and your bedroom windows.

  4. By the way, about that telephone “click.” This may just be rumor, but although it’s true that if your phone is bugged you’re not going to know it, that “click” is intended to make people paranoid about being bugged.

  5. Government repression of dissent and infiltration of groups challenging government policy goes way back in American history.
    I have been doing some enlightening reading lately on the COINTELPRO-like disruptions of the BLACK anti-war movement during World War I. And don’t forget that Congress, under Democratic president Woodrow Wilson, passed the Sedition Act, resulting in the jailing or deportation of thousands of oppoents of the war.
    We are in greater danger today than at any point in American history not because of a suddden irruption of government spying: governments always spy on dissidents. What’s new is the government’s ability to intercept almost every electronic communication, radically diminishing the unmonitored private space within which legal organizing against government policies once took place. The opportunities for the government to disrupt legitimate forms of social protest are growing by leaps and bounds.
    Of course if the government decides that it is not bound by the laws on the books, as the Bush regime has proclaimed as its operating principle, then there literally is no place to hide.

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