If You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong

You might wind up on a terrorist watch list and under surveillance anyway:

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

The department started sending letters of notification Saturday to the activists, inviting them to review their files before they are purged from the databases, Sheridan said.

***

But Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) noted that undercover troopers used aliases to infiltrate organizational meetings, rallies and group e-mail lists. He called the spying a “deliberate infiltration to find out every piece of information necessary” on groups such as the Maryland Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance. When Hutchins called their members “fringe people,” the audience of activists who filled the seats in the hearing room in Annapolis sighed.

Once again, what I eight years (hell- three to four) ago would have derided, mocked, and sneered as little more than the delusional fantasies and paranoid conspiracy theories of the dirty fucking hippies (DFH, for short), turns out to be true. Welcome to Dick Cheney’s America.

And let me be clear- once again, the DFHer’s were right.

40 replies
  1. 1
    SamFromUtah says:

    once again, the DFHer’s were right.

    I dunno, those Quakers and vegans are some pretty shifty-eyed folk.

    It really does seem like the Authoritahs are surveilling anyone who doesn’t fit the manly-man Conservative ideal of what Americans should be.

    But you can see their point – clearly anyone who says that killing people is bad must be a violent extremist.

  2. 2
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    Of course we were. While this DFH is happy to see someone like you acknowledge this it would be far better if those who have been leading us down the primrose path to destruction would do so too.

    I know, fat chance. That’s reality.

  3. 3
    Kamishna ya Watu Xenos says:

    Does anyone know exactly what COINTELPRO was doing in regard to the Weather Underground that made the FBI drop charges against Ayres? A quick google search has some interesting names popping up, like Mark Felt, who admitted to breaking into homes of relatives of Weathermen activists, looking for dirt.

    it is well established that FBI supported agents provacateurs to stir up murderous disputes within the Black Panthers. We are left to wonder what role that they held in the weather underground such that admitted bombers like Ayres could get off scott free.

  4. 4
    Carnacki says:

    You’re man enough to admit when you were wrong. Kudos to you for that. Did you see how the former Republican delegate, who was state police superintendent when this occurred, referred to the activists as "fringe"? From the poll numbers on Iraq, I’d say they were mainstream.

  5. 5
    Richard Bottoms says:

    So, you ever going to apologize for telling me to fuck off?

    I admit I wasn’t subtle about needling you. And yes, I am gloating, but then you can do then when you are proven 100% completely, incontrovertibly, exactly, and utterly right. Heh.

  6. 6
    4tehlulz says:

    Nixon was a Quaker.

    Just sayin’.

  7. 7
    max says:

    Once again, what I eight years ago would have derided, mocked, and sneered as little more than the delusional fantasies and paranoid conspiracy theories of the dirty fucking hippies (DFH, for short), turns out to be true.
    Not your fault, really. This country really wasn’t a police state that many moons ago, although the potential has been there a long time. (Certainly since the days when Nixon was encouraging Thieu to screw up the negotiations, and Johnson knew it because he was illegally wiretapping Nixon HQ.)And let me be clear- once again, the DFHer’s were right.
    I’m neither dirty, nor a hippie, but I’ve known I’ve been under watch since somebody in the FBI sent me an email demanding to know who I was. (And it was from inside fbi.gov, I tracerouted it.) They did this when I was discussing the unlikelihood of an airbase in Florida getting nuked by terrorists and even if it were to be nuked, you’d still need to be in LOS to have a problem. That would be March 2002.
    I was also discussing the fact that I figured that even if Bush was an idiot, Cheney surely would not be stupid enough to support invading a country full of sand and not much else, when they weren’t even sure they had got bin Laden. Evil Cheney might be, maybe, but not stupid I thought, so of course, I figured they had to be hot to trot with Iraq mainly to help with the fall elections.
    Hah. Stupid AND evil. My. So *I* got that wrong.
    max
    [‘Ever since, I have estimated nothing as being beyond them, be it evil or stupid.’]

  8. 8
    volney says:

    Nixon’s parents were Quakers. Billy Graham’s kid was a drunk and general ne’er-do-well. Happens in families everywhere. And the DFHs were and are right on every issue of substance since Kesey and Leary, and including issues about substances.

  9. 9
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    once again, the DFHer’s were right.

    Sounds like a new tag to me.

  10. 10

    The only thing that surprises me about this is the cops admitted it without anyone having to resort to thumbscrews. If you are now in or have ever been in an activist group, you’ve met an undercover cop.

    When I was at IU (way before 9/11 changed everything) the university police infiltrated a group that was trying to block the sale of some univeristy land to make a giant garbage dump. Why? Just to make sure they weren’t planning anything that would embarrass the university.

  11. 11
    NonyNony says:

    And let me be clear- once again, the DFHer’s were right.

    You know every time you say that an angel gets its wings.

    Or a freeper rends his garments. Or something. I dunno. I just know that every time I see a John Cole "the DFHs were right about this" post it makes me smile a bit.

  12. 12
    Zifnab says:

    So, here is what makes this so laughable. They’re NON-VIOLENT PROTESTORS! What is the worst these people could possibly begin to do to you? Oh noes! The hippies are out with signs again! I am aghast.

    Eight years ago you didn’t need to have a terror list to control popular opinion against these folks. That’s what FOX News was for. Have Bill O’ jam a camera in their faces and start shouting at them for hating America. The Bushites were more than happy to throw eggs and bad fruit at these folks just for being too liberal.

    But that’s not the worst of it. What’s really bad is that our law enforcement can’t take this terrorist watch list seriously. If cops are going in to monitor Quakers and Sierra Club meetings, the list isn’t worth a damn. What are we being protected from? Hiking and oatmeal? When another list of names comes down, how does law enforcement know how to prioritize between the twenty-something wanna-be ninjas and the actual survivalists Waco-style wackos? You’re basically asking for another Ruby Ridge or Oklahoma City with tactics like these. It’s a giant waste of time and energy that makes everyone lose respect for the system.

  13. 13
    Existenz says:

    John, you should go watch Fahrenheit 9/11 again. There is a scene where he discusses how the Federal government send undercover agents into peaceful antiwar groups and caused this kind of trouble.

    Michael Moore, king of the dirty fucking hippies, was right.

  14. 14
    jcricket says:

    I’m fairly liberal, but amongst my Seattle friends I’m probably middle of the road. I excoriated many of them for voting Nader in 2000, and still have to argue with them about the Democrats not being equal to Republicans.

    So, with that in mind, I took most of what the DFH’s said with a grain of salt. I figured it was hyperbole.

    God help me, I was horribly wrong. I always assumed Republicans would f* the economy, the poor, enrich the already rich, etc. I never for once imagined they would turn us into a police state. It’s incredibly depressing and will take years to undo (if we ever do).`

  15. 15
    jcricket says:

    If cops are going in to monitor Quakers and Sierra Club meetings, the list isn’t worth a damn.

    This is the really depressing part. That all of the actions of Bush, Cheney, et. al wrt terrorism are making us less safe, or at least not making us more safe. They’re misguided wastes of money that likely make more enemies and divert us from what’s really going on.

    Frankly, the entire drug war is a trillion-dollar diversion, but no one’s taking that on.

    To me this comes back to the poisoning of the debate by the Republicans. If we werent’ debating teaching creationism in schools, whether Plan B is abortion, embryonic stem cells being humans, whether torture/harsh interrogation is "cool", what Dick Durbin might have sort of mis-said, we might be making progress on issues that matter.

    But it’s no surprise that the party that hates government has no ideas for doing useful, productive things with government.

    Tell me again why we need these two parties? I’m fine with opposition that provides a useful counterbalance. But the Republicans do nothing but waste everyone’s time.

  16. 16
    Punchy says:

    Damn, just how many "jake" handles can one blog handle?

  17. 17
    Kamishna ya Watu Xenos says:

    John, you should go watch Fahrenheit 9/11 again. There is a scene where he discusses how the Federal government send undercover agents into peaceful antiwar groups and caused this kind of trouble.

    I never saw Fahrenheit 9/11 until late 2006. I was astonished that it was ever considered offensive. I recommend that people watch it again and check their responses this time.

  18. 18
    MattF says:

    This should have a tag ‘Never vote Republican’. Maryland had a Republican governor at the time all this was happening– now has a Democrat, so the truth comes out. The Republican-appointed police chief was just doing what came naturally.

  19. 19
    aimai says:

    Glad someone up thread brought up cointelpro. True story, I stayed at my great uncle’s house one summer when I was nineteen and we used to joke that probably the lamps and the phones were bugged. I used to answer the phone "mao tse tung" and pretend to talk treason into the lamps. I was sharing his house with an older woman law student who went on to work with some FBI guys who were, as it turned out, bugging my great uncle (they had a lot of sympathy for him personally, they were tracking one of his children, but he was considered an enemy of the state too and they’d been bugging him for years). She asked him, delicately, how they bugged his house and he said "oh, the lamps, the phone"–somewhere in some sub basement there are probably recordings of me saying "this is mao tse tung!" This was…hm…1979?

    Yeah, I’ll say the dfh’ers were right. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Or something.

    aimai

  20. 20
    Svensker says:

    Nixon was a Quaker.

    Just sayin’

    .

    He was kicked out. Seriously. He was "read out" of the Meeting.

    No offense to John, since I only fell off the Rethug wagon a few years before he did… But assuming Obama wins, one of the happiest days of my life will be, when a winger complains about something Obama is doing, being able to say, "America — love it or leave it." I plan on saying it a lot.

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    But that’s not the worst of it. What’s really bad is that our law enforcement can’t take this terrorist watch list seriously. If cops are going in to monitor Quakers and Sierra Club meetings, the list isn’t worth a damn. What are we being protected from? Hiking and oatmeal? When another list of names comes down, how does law enforcement know how to prioritize between the twenty-something wanna-be ninjas and the actual survivalists Waco-style wackos? You’re basically asking for another Ruby Ridge or Oklahoma City with tactics like these. It’s a giant waste of time and energy that makes everyone lose respect for the system.

    But that is just it. The point is not to protect anyone, the point is to stifle dissent.

  22. 22
    Cassidy says:

    Personally, my hat goes off to any undercover cop that can stand the stench of that much patchouli at one time.

  23. 23
    Scott H says:

    This is what happens when you let the government stick pennies in the Constitutional fuse box because the lights are out and you just want the lights back on.

    The whole place burns down. Some of us have seen this before, and we’re not all DFHs. Still, we’re all DFHs now as far as our rulers are concerned. And potential terrorists, too.

    The next time you’re tempted, by fear or by resentment or by whatever is driving the lizard brain that day, by someone who says they can’t do the job without extraordinary powers, remember that the only operative part of that statement is that they can’t do the job. Time to get someone who can.

  24. 24
    SGEW says:

    . . . the DFHer’s were right.

    (emphasis added)

    Thank you. And, at the risk of being (more) obnoxious, "I told you so."

    Many years from now, when I dangle my grandchildren upon mine knee, I shall proudly regale them with my stories of non-violent protest* against the Bush Administration and the corrupt corporations of the time**, and how I was persecuted for my actions by a malevolent police state. They will be agog as I talk of a certain conservative blogger, who excoriated me for my beliefs and actions at the time, but then came to realize that the Republican party*** was simply wrong and apologized to us en masse, then voted for Obama.

    Then we shall reload our explosive flechette autorifles as the zombie robots enter our perimeter again. But we’ll still have the memories.

    *See, e.g., here.
    **See, e.g., here
    ***"What’s the ‘Republican Party,’ Grandpappy?"

  25. 25
    r€nato says:

    zifnab beat me to it.

    if the purpose of this surveillance is to disrupt potentially violent domestic terrorists, the LAST people they should be spying on are the DFHs. This might have made sense in the late 60s/early 70s when the New Left was in its ascendancy, but since then what little there is of the activist left is avowedly peaceful, and highly, highly unlikely to own so much as a (perfectly legal) handgun let alone be making pipe bombs in their basement.

    It’s the far right – the ones who subscribe to Soldier of Fortune and belong to militia groups who frequently engage in violence-tinged anti-government rhetoric – who need to be watched closely. I’m not saying that never happens, but I doubt it happens anywhere near as frequently as spying on the granola-eating pacifists does.

  26. 26
    jcricket says:

    This should have a tag ‘Never vote Republican’.

    I’m seriously considering this. We have a couple of "reasonable" Republicans in WA state (Sam Reed, Rob McKenna). They have actually performed the duties of their office in a non-partisan (mostly) fashion.

    That said, I can’t support promoting them and giving cover to the real Republican party anymore.

    I’m voting for their Democratic opponents. If there comes a point where I can’t do that because the opponents are totally crazy, I will write someone in.

    Republicanism needs to be burned to the ground, then covered with lime, tilled, burned again, and then the soil decontaminated, then taken to a holding tank.

  27. 27
    Cassidy says:

    It’s the far right – the ones who subscribe to Soldier of Fortune and belong to militia groups who frequently engage in violence-tinged anti-government rhetoric – who need to be watched closely.

    But then they’d have to go out and find them, which tends to be harder than your garden variety anarchist quilting club.

  28. 28
    SGEW says:

    . . . but since then what little there is of the activist left is avowedly peaceful, and highly, highly unlikely to own so much as a (perfectly legal) handgun let alone be making pipe bombs in their basement.

    Actually, there have been a couple (i.e., two) "leftist" activists who’ve been arrested for owning illegal firearms and explosives. 9/11 truther guys (who are, by the way, disavowed by the actual left*), but they’re associated with the activist community.

    The funny thing is . . . those guys were turned in by other leftist activists, including a quaker pacifist, who were shocked and appalled by the guns and the bomb stuff. Nobody ever thought that those crazy 9/11 guys would actually hurt anybody (except themselves, of course, or someone else by accident), but the community as a whole took a big crap on them and turned ’em in without (many) regrets.

    Course, all it takes is one bad apple, and it can be used to justify a police state.

    (btw, I know there are many here who would disagree, but I believe that labeling Bill Ayers as a "terrorist" is incorrect: terrorism requires killing people, or attempting to kill them. Ayers has never drawn blood.)

    *Gawd I hate those guys.

  29. 29
    Jon H says:

    Possibly the lamest part:

    Both Hutchins and Sheridan said the activists’ names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries.

  30. 30

    […] John Cole.  Cross posted to UTI.) No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this […]

  31. 31
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    You know every time you say that an angel gets its wings.

    I think that was supposed to be Zuzu’s line, but, I still love it. :)

  32. 32
    SamFromUtah says:

    This should have a tag ‘Never vote Republican’.

    Though this is a good rule of thumb for now, "Never" is a long time – it’s possible that the Republican party will shake off the crazies and, in a few years or decades, be sane and respectable.

    Now that the Democrats are ascending, the same corrupt forces that pooified the Republicans will be looking to roost with them.

    It’s the bad ideas we have to fight, not their labels.

  33. 33
    Batocchio says:

    And let me be clear- once again, the DFHer’s were right.

    Cheers.

    When I was at a peaceful, registered protest years ago in D.C. the FBI was trying to photograph and ID everyone there. There was a certain foolish lack of reflection to it all. Here were people who, rather than being violent, were using the existing system for peaceful demonstration rather than trying to tear it down. Oh, and they were exercising the constitutional rights doing so. Of course, if one’s aims are to control rather than to safeguard citizen rights, then it’s not foolish, it’s just evil. But several folks have covered that point upthread…

  34. 34

    […] instance, this article where John concludes, “And let me be clear, once again, the [Dirty Fucking Hippies I derided and […]

  35. 35
    Delia says:

    In Oregon people who live in small communities and on farms near privately owned forests have protested the spraying of herbicides by companies like Weyerhauser and Seneca on the forest lands. The sprays drift over onto their homes, gardens, schools, etc., and sicken people. Once the chemicals are in your system they can’t be removed. The companies have taken steps to add deodorants to the sprays so people don’t realize why they’re feeling sick. But, the sprays cause long term health damage like cancers and may be implicated in autism.

    Anyhow, people (basically small town and farm people) who organize to protest the spraying policies are monitored by DHS as terrorists.

    And as an addendum, I think this is just a shining example of how the republicans defend small town values.

  36. 36
    tda says:

    The DFHs are now warning us of an imminent coup attempt by the Bushites (e.g. Naomi Klein). Will you again deride, mock, and sneer? Or will you take a careful look at it, and help us prepare to fight it?

  37. 37
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    I dunno, those Quakers and vegans are some pretty shifty-eyed folk.

    It’s just a muscle imbalance. I inherited it from my maternal grandfather’s side of the family.

    Anyway, here’s a shout out to anyone who might be keeping tabs on me today: Howdy guys! Nice day, eh?

  38. 38
    LiberalTarian says:

    Though this is a good rule of thumb for now, "Never" is a long time – it’s possible that the Republican party will shake off the crazies and, in a few years or decades, be sane and respectable.

    Now that the Democrats are ascending, the same corrupt forces that pooified the Republicans will be looking to roost with them.

    It’s the bad ideas we have to fight, not their labels.

    Amen to that.

    I worry about provocateurs more than them spying on me. They are getting their terror fighting funds by spying on people, which is ass-backwards, but that’s the deal.

    What worries me is the guys like cop who infiltrated that Stockton anti-war group and tried to incite violence. They wanted to bake cookies. They only found out he was an agent because they saw his obituary and realized they knew him by an alias.

  39. 39
    Funkula says:

    Dirty fucking hippiers?

  40. 40

    […] And before you laugh and call me paranoid, remember what has happened the past few years. […]

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