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lnp3 at lnp3 at
Wed Jun 28 17:43:27 MDT 2000


The appearance of radio-equipped, masked men in black attacking shops
during the Seattle demonstration became, not surprisingly, a focus of media
coverage. Journalists quickly assumed that the window-smashers represented
elements of the anti-WTO protest. But while it is permissible, under
corporate journalistic ground rules, to make such assumptions it is not
permissible to make the equally likely assumption that these masked rioters
might have been government agents or corporate thugs.

There is a long history of such activities by both government and
corporations encompassing the use of professional strikebreakers, the
placing of agents provocateur within protest groups, not to mention more
drastic techniques such as the massive disruptions of Contelpro or
'accidents' of the Karen Silkwood variety. Even as the Seattle
demonstrations were underway, the Washington Post was reporting the
attempted entrapment of Marion Barry that didn't even bother with official
approval -- apparently dedicated to nothing more important than settling
the FBI's score with a jury that didn't give Barry a long enough sentence.

Such operations can range from simple disinformation to the sort of
multi-agent intimidation experienced by Patrick Knowlton, who testified not
to the government's liking about what happened in Ft. Marcy Park around the
time that Vince Foster's body was found there. And of course, we also have
the death threats issued against various of Clinton's paramours.

More to the point in this case, however, is something that TPR reported in
late 1997:

Timothy Maier of Insight Magazine has followed up his stunning story of
Clinton administration bugging of over 300 locations during the 1993
Seattle Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference with word that FBI
videotapes of diplomatic suites show underage boys engaging sexcapades with
men in several rooms over a period of days. The operation involved the FBI,
CIA, NSA and Office of Naval Intelligence. Bugged were hotel rooms,
telephones, conference centers, cars, and even a charter boat. Some of the
information obtained was apparently passed on to individuals with financial
interests in Asia. Also involved: alleged kickbacks on purchases of
surveillance equipment by the spooks.

How did such a major scandal escape exposure? According to Maier's sources,
those agents who complained were told that pursuing any crimes would have
endangered a major national security operation. Writes Maier: "Some
claiming direct involvement say they are outraged and are willing to come
forward and tell what they know under oath before a grand jury or
congressional committee. Others, fearful of reprisal and career damage,
will not step into the limelight but are deeply troubled by what they did
-- or what they did not do."

Why did Maier's story not get wider exposure? Probably for the same reason
the media would just as soon believe that the masked men in black are part
of the labor or environmental movements, even though it has more than
50,000 case studies before this eyes that this is not how your typical
environmentalist or union protester looks or behaves.

And so it is left to alternative journalists such as Ken McCarthy to bring
up questions such as, "Does anyone remember a certain elaborate training
exercise held last spring in Oakland which featured gun thugs in gas masks
practicing arresting protesters in large numbers" with US and NATO military
and police "observers" from all over the west coast taking part? Or to
wonder why police did not try to stop the store smashers.

The best jobs in journalism go to those who know what not to ask. Better to
libel a whole citizen movement than risk angering an official source.


Louis Proyect

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