- Category: Repression
- Created on Friday, 07 September 2012 19:29
- Written by Mike Ely
Why would anyone trust documents emerging from COINTELPRO -- an operation rooted in disinformation and organized smears?
"We don’t need a verdict on Richard Aoki, but we do need a verdict on the credibility of government claims about revolutionaries, past, present and future."
"There is a new Cointelpro afoot in the U.S. We will see many dirty tricks and smear campaigns (by media and government). And people need to be trained to step back, not rush to judgement, suspect the motive of certain sources, and not feel compelled to have a 20-second verdict on every issue on earth."
"We should be inherently skeptical of charges that arise from government claims, and that rest on "evidence" emerging from the archives of FBI's disinformation operations."
Kasama has hosted investigation into the charges made against Black Panther veteran Richard Aoki.
This is Part 3 of a series by Mike Ely on police infiltration of radical movements.
- Part 1 is “Straight talk about the New Cointelpro” -- it discusses some basic elements of a needed security culture.
- Part 2 is "The making and unmasking of informants" -- discusses the methods and profiles of infiltrators.
- Part 3 deals with how we should, as a movement, view claims about revolutionaries emerging from government or media campaigns.
- Part 4 will appear shortly -- it addresses the view that there is nothing radical movements can do to combat infiltration, and that revolutionaries should merely "put agents to work contributing to the movement."
By Mike Ely
The accuser of Richard Aoki, Seth Rosenfeld, recently released once-secret files in his possession. So now we have documents.... supposedly from the bowels of the FBI archives.
I am not among those who say “Anyone who knew and respected Richard Aoki knows he could not have done this.” Humans are complex creatures, capable of many hidden contradictions and terrible betrayals.
But I am saying that any serious revolutionary movement needs to train its ranks in a deep deep skepticism toward charges that emerge from government disinformation agencies. That would seem obvious — but is not.
Put another way: We don’t NEED a verdict on Richard Aoki, but we do NEED a verdict on the credibility of government claims about revolutionaries, past, present and future.
Nothing has changed
We knew there were such documents — we hadn’t seen them yet, but we knew what they would allege. The fact remains: The only evidence indicting Richard Aoki comes from the center of government programs historically tasked with creating disinformation against revolutionaries.
Why would anything they say, or any documents they produce, be taken at face value?
My deep skepticism about anything they say comes from my own frontseat to 1960s-70s COINTELPRO — where government smears were invented wholesale to divide, demoralize and isolate revolutionary forces.
And those campaigns of disinformation involved the fabrication of written materials, the manufacture of charges that genuine revolutionaries were agents, and the discrediting of a movement by bringing down individuals.
As a basic matter of orientation: we should train ourselves and each new generations in a deep skepticism toward such government claims.
To put it bluntly: After decades of FOIA disclosures, why would anyone rule out COINTELPRO operatives planting false records in their own files?
They know documents come out with great impact (Wikileaks?) Why would we assume that the documents they released were not manipulated or simply invented? Why would we casually or automatically rule out the possibility of deceit?
They have huge institutions and funds for psyops. They have trained liars pumping out rumors and smears (literally around the world). They have stables full of professional disinformation specialists playing on cracks, differences and gullibility. And (whether this Aoki scandal arises from a conscious campaign) we can be sure that we will see their work real-time in our future.
We may never know the actual story — but (speaking for myself) I don’t accept claims of the FBI, its agents or professional liars to be conclusive proof. And I urge everyone to think through why we should adopt such a stance.
Living with the absence of proof
It is possible that Aoki was an agent but it is unproven that he was an agent. And it may remain unproven (as many such things do, until the future date when police archives are fully opened and laid bare before the people.
There is an info mood in our current culture that somehow can’t accept the inability to reach quick verdicts, or the approach of long-term open-ended investigation into ambiguous matters.
Some things are not quickly knowable. Some things may never be unraveled after this hatchet job by a hitman-with-a-wordprocessor. Sometimes, living with unclarity and ambiguity is part of thinking with a scientific-materialist method.
Even it it proves true that Aoki was an agent — this METHOD for treating charges will serve us very badly.
There is a New Cointelpro afoot in the U.S. We have already seen society-wide coordinated campaigns defaming Occupy's left edges (where a liberal media worked in deliberate lockstep with Democratic mayors and a Democratic White House). We have seen agent provocateurs jump out in one entrapment case after another. We have seen informants step forward in criminal indictments -- giving a glimpse of how busy the counterrevolution has been.
We will see more. We will see many dirty tricks and smear campaigns (by media and government).
And in preparation: people need to be TRAINED to step back, not rush to judgement, suspect the motive of certain sources, and not feel compelled to have a 20-second verdict on every issue on earth.
Sometimes we at Kasama are denounced for not “having a position” on every question on earth — verdicts on the Syrian opposition, quick verdicts on “What the nepalis should do”, an inherited assumption that communists need to rush to form a particular kind of organization and so on.
In fact, despite the climate of our times, a serious approach to many questions is investigation and patience — and (at times) accepting the limits of what we actually know.
This is not just about Aoki (and giving him a treatment that he deserves in death). Such habits of skepticism are essential for our future — for anyone entering into complex and protracted conflict with deceitful and resourceful enemies.
I have seen some people say they thought these FBI documents were convincing -- is it accidental that these same people thought Rosenfeld's charges were convincing before these docs emerge? Or that they already thought the Black Panthers were ultra-left and destructive to a more reasonable left at the time of the 60s?
I think there is a general kneejerk disbelief (in some places) that the left would be targeted by dirty tricks (meaning now). Why would they bother, it is thought. Such assumptions and starting points reflect disbelief that radical forces are any real (current or potential) threat against the power structure today.
Someone suggested it would be unlikely that the FBI would go to the trouble of faking some documents. After all, think of how hard it is for an army of Homeland Security agents and JTTF teams to create a few hundred pages of boilerplate documents.
Are we really wondering whether they have motive.... after the west coast has been <emwracked by Democratic government demonization of Occupy's left edge, after raids on leftist collectives in the Northwest, after hysteria over the breaking of a few windows, after a wave of police baiting of anarchists by left liberals, etc.
There is a whole narrative radiating from liberal circles that militant tactics are (somehow) useful for the police (and wanted by the police)... and it is used to divide radical forces who have emerged in an embryonic unity.
Now, a charge emerges that goes the heart of this country's revolutionary experience -- the armed anti-police patrols of the Black Panther Party -- with a completely absurd implication that the Panthers got guns because of the police). Can anyone who remembers the 60s imagine the Oakland police conspiring to willingly put guns in the hands of the embryonic Black Panther collective?
I have no way of quantifying the likelihood of the possibility that these docs are fake. Again: we may never know what happened here (though we do have documentation that Seth Rosenfeld is a liar).
But I repeat: We should be inherently skeptical of charges that arise from government claims, and that rest on "evidence" emerging from the archives of FBI's disinformation operations.