Pentagon Rebrands Protest as "Low-Level Terrorism"
by Tom Burghardt
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,
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)
[For complete article links, please see
source at Antifascist
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.
outrage follows a consistent pattern by the Pentagon that the ACLU has
called "an egregious insult to constitutional values."
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
Its a safe bet however, that the illegal collection of
intelligence on domestic dissidents continues.
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
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."
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."
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay
Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and
Global Research, an independent
research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists
based in Montreal, his articles can be read on
The Intelligence Daily,
Pacific Free Press and the
whistleblowing website Wikileaks. He
is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance"
Planning, distributed by