December 20, 2005

What the Heck Am I Missing Here?

Hatched by Dafydd

I am so totally confused and befuddled that I wonder whether I should even be blogging about this. I'm obviously missing some huge point, because if the New York Times is "charging" the FBI with doing what it sure as shootin' looks like they're charging them with, then the entire world has gone mad.

F.B.I. Watched Activist Groups, New Files Show
by Eric Lichtblau
The New York Times
December 20, 2005

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief, newly disclosed agency records show.

F.B.I. officials said Monday that their investigators had no interest in monitoring political or social activities and that any investigations that touched on advocacy groups were driven by evidence of criminal or violent activity at public protests and in other settings....

But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

But here are all of the examples that the Times cites -- and note that some of these citations are simply documents wherein the FBI discussed the upcoming protests... the Times does not even claim that the FBI spied on each of these groups:

Many of the investigative documents turned over by the bureau are heavily edited, making it difficult or impossible to determine the full context of the references and why the F.B.I. may have been discussing events like a PETA protest. F.B.I. officials say many of the references may be much more benign than they seem to civil rights advocates, adding that the documents offer an incomplete and sometimes misleading snapshot of the bureau's activities.

"Just being referenced in an F.B.I. file is not tantamount to being the subject of an investigation," said John Miller, a spokesman for the bureau.

So these "citations" are simply instances where the name of a group came up somewhere in the pages of a document from the FBI:

  • "Surveillance... of a "Vegan Community Project.'"
  • "[A] document talks of the Catholic Workers group's 'semi-communistic ideology.'"
  • "[D]etermining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals."
  • "[D]ocuments on antiwar groups, showing the agency's interest in investigating possible anarchist or violent links in connection with antiwar protests and demonstrations in advance of the 2004 political conventions."
  • "[D]ocuments involving, among other things, people protesting logging practices at a lumber industry gathering in 2002."

Can we assume that, since these are the only examples that the Times cites, that they're the most egregious examples of FBI perfidy in the mind of Mr. Lichtblau and his editors?

What stuns me is that every one of these groups has, in the past, either committed violent crimes or nonviolently but criminally tried to disrupt our war effort: radical animal-rights groups such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Greenpeace, and PETA have staged violent or dangerous protests, committed arson, interfered with vital military operations, and threatened to commit terrorist actions that would actually kill Americans, such as planting bombs; I don't specifically know what the "Vegan Community Project" might be, but I surely understand why the FBI might be interested in finding out.

Not every group has done every action; ELF and ALF engage in more action directe than does Greenpeace; but many people are members of more than one group, there is collusion between the groups, and money does flow back and forth between them... which (we learn at the end of the article) is exactly what the FBI was investigating anent Greenpeace.

Anti-logging groups have done such horrific terrorist actions as "spiking" trees, driving a railroad spike deep into a tree; if the loggers don't notice the markings (which the "environmentalists" usually but not always supply), and they run the tree through the sawmill, then when the sawblade strike the spike, the blade can rip off and go spinning across the floor. Loggers have been severely injured by such "spiked" trees and could easily be slain.

We all know about the violent protests sparked by those opposed to the World Trade Organization (WTO), by groups like the Stalinist "International ANSWER," and other violent anarchist or "antiwar" groups; for heaven's sake, even the New York Times admits the documents they obtained from the ACLU referred specifically to "violent links in connection with antiwar protests."

And finally, "pacifist" Socialist groups like the Catholic Workers Movement -- founded in the 1930s by Dorothy Day but still active today -- are well known for aiding and abetting deserters from the military and smuggling into the country and giving sanctuary to illegal aliens... both of which are federal felonies. (I have never heard of the Catholic Workers league, but I assume either the Times meand the Movement or else a closely associated group.)

For the love of God, what is the New York Times playing at? First they break the shocking "scandal" of the NSA doing it's job by monitoring communications between persons in America suspected of being terrorists and known al-Qaeda affilliates abroad... and now the Times is making its bones breathlessly reporting the stunning news that the FBI is actually discussing and sometimes even surveilling radical, violent, and fanatical groups in the United States that have often committed federal crimes in the past.

When the FBI investigates (or merely discusses) these sorts of groups, it's typically done by the Counterterrorism Bureau, tasked with investigating domestic terrorism. The Times appears outraged that such a bureau even exists:

But the groups mentioned in the newly disclosed F.B.I. files questioned both the propriety of characterizing such investigations as related to "terrorism" and the necessity of diverting counterterrorism personnel from more pressing investigations.

"The fact that we're even mentioned in the F.B.I. files in connection with terrorism is really troubling," said Tom Wetterer, general counsel for Greenpeace. "There's no property damage or physical injury caused in our activities, and under any definition of terrorism, we'd take issue with that."

What a shock: the groups being investigated claim they're not in any way terroristic. But Greenpeace certainly has attempted on numerous occasions to disrupt our military response to terrorism: they routinely interfere with Naval Aegis anti-missile tests, for example. Maybe it's just me, but how the FBI chooses to allocate investigative resources between the various bureaus at the Bureau seems a little out of the purview of the journalistic world.

I've assumed for years that the New York Times is simply the house mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, but this goes far beyond mere partisanship: by manipulative and tendentious articles that imply without actually saying that various government agencies are engaged in criminality or corruption; by calculated smears and lies by omission; by insinuation and inuendo -- printed not even during an election, when one might expect it and cut some slack, but simply during a war far in advance of any elections -- the New York Times has transmogrified itself into some horrific creature indistinguishable from the despicable "yellow journalism" of William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal.

There simply is nothing left of the Times -- "no one left to lie to," as Chris Hitchens famously wrote about Bill Clinton (though I think the phrase actually originated with Reagan). The New York Times has sailed beyond the sunset of self-parody to become the yawning black hole of pseudo-journalism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 20, 2005, at the time of 2:03 PM

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Tracked on December 20, 2005 10:39 PM


The following hissed in response by: stackja1945

In the 1970s, "The New York Times "had" sailed beyond the sunset of self-parody to become the yawning black hole of pseudo-journalism."

The above hissed in response by: stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 20, 2005 4:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

1970s? Make that the late 30s. The NYT used it's power and prestige to supress the news of what was at the time one of the largest examples of genocide in History and to ruin the reputation of any journalist trying to get out the truth.

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 21, 2005 5:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jack Tanner

Isn't that like, their job?

The above hissed in response by: Jack Tanner [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 22, 2005 10:15 AM

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