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Five Arrested in Ohio FBI Sting
May 2, 2012 8:10 AM   Subscribe

According to an FBI press release and various news sources, five "self-proclaimed anarchists" were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to blow up an Ohio bridge.

Several of the men were "associated" with Occupy Cleveland, according to the AP, although not in any formal capacity and they were "frustrated that other anti-corporate protesters opposed violence." Organizers quickly released a statement affirming the group's "principles of non-violence," and clarifying that the alleged bombers did not "represen[t] or ac[t] on behalf of Occupy Cleveland." Planned May Day protests were canceled.

The FBI investigation was "aided by a paid confidential source who had previous robbery and other convictions and was on probation for passing bad checks" and was similar to previous sting operations, most recently that of Rezwan Ferdaus, involving supplied inert explosives.
posted by Kadin2048 (152 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mean people suck. Also, those guys have the stupidest mug shots I've seen in years.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:13 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


those guys have the stupidest mug shots I've seen in years.

Mug shots or Bon Iver cover band?
posted by Fizz at 8:13 AM on May 2, 2012 [17 favorites]


You mean the FBI is still setting up terror plots? Say it isn't so!
posted by tilde at 8:14 AM on May 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm curious how many of these "self-proclaimed anarchists" were coached, manipulated, trained and outfitted by FBI agents, in their ongoing efforts to create and then foil terrorist attacks.
posted by grudgebgon at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


coached, manipulated, trained and outfitted by FBI agents, in their ongoing efforts to create and then foil terrorist attacks.

Could you give us a citation for that?
posted by HuronBob at 8:18 AM on May 2, 2012


"self-proclaimed anarchists"

As opposed to officially appointed anarchists, as recognized by the bureaucrats at the National Council of Anarchy?
posted by darksasami at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2012 [64 favorites]


Here is a .pdf of the official criminal complaint.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean the FBI is still setting up terror plots?

"Defense attorneys in those cases have accused federal authorities of conducting overblown operations that entrapped their clients. Authorities have defended the practice, saying it’s prevented countless terrorist attacks."

Sounds like it's SOP. Now that they don't have Osama up on the Most Wanted list anymore they gotta do something to stay relevant.
posted by Vetinari at 8:19 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]




(Er, that was in response to Huron Bob.)
posted by griphus at 8:21 AM on May 2, 2012


although not in any formal capacity

Well, yeah. One of the benefits of deliberately keeping your movement loosely defined and leaderless, and letting anybody at all participate in your assemblies and protests, is that when a few of those people get caught doing something like this, you can release a statement claiming that they weren't associated with your group in a "formal capacity."

I'm sure Seattle protestors would make the same statement about the black-clad thugs who went around smashing windows yesterday. "No, they weren't members officially."
posted by red clover at 8:22 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Seriously, though, if they're trying to protect us from / keep us in fear of radical left-wing terrorists (whichever really), and these are the best radical left-wing proto-terrorists they could find to have their informant mold into a cell, I'd feel pretty safe from radical left-wing terrorism in Cleveland.)
posted by Vetinari at 8:22 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, instantly wondering if these are dumbasses acting of their own accord or at the prompting of the FBI, who have probably trying to get some poor Occupy sucker to bite on this since they made the news.
posted by Artw at 8:23 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why are these anarchists "associated" with anything, if they are anarchists?

(Answer: Because the thing they are "associated" with is from the Left. Abortion bombers and KK members are never part of any part of any political party/wing or church.)
posted by DU at 8:24 AM on May 2, 2012 [23 favorites]


coached, manipulated, trained and outfitted by FBI agents, in their ongoing efforts to create and then foil terrorist attacks.

Could you give us a citation for that?


Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI 'entrapment' questioned

Consider David Williams IV

When the government gets in the business of playing along with terror plots, it's not just justice that suffers – but our safety
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


From the document Bobby Van linked:
WRIGHT has been known to use the alias 'CYCO.'

BAXTER has been known to use the alias 'SKABBY.'

HAYNE uses the names 'TONY' and BILLY.'
Well, I guess it beats the days of the week.
posted by griphus at 8:24 AM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Could you give us a citation for that?

You could check any of the previous threads where this has been hashed out. Or, you know, read a history book.
posted by DU at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Defense attorneys in those cases have accused federal authorities of conducting overblown operations that entrapped their clients."

You mean to suggest that the people paid to defend the suspects claim that the suspects are innocent?
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]




who have probably trying to get some poor Occupy sucker to bite on this since they made the news.

There are a lot of claims that Monday night's "violence" in San Francisco was done by agent provocateurs.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:27 AM on May 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think it says that we capture the glob.
posted by raheelnajmi at 8:27 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure Seattle protestors would make the same statement about the black-clad thugs who went around smashing windows yesterday. "No, they weren't members officially."

They probably would have said that, because ... they weren't?

Here's my question: if you get to blame me for the actions of strangers I've never simply because of some perceived ideological affinity, do I get to blame you for the presumably pro-capitalist person who smashed the window of the IWW offices yesterday?
posted by enn at 8:27 AM on May 2, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm starting to suspect that the FBI pulled off a single, successful black flag operation under J. Edgar Hoover and has been getting caught with their pants around their ankles ever since.
posted by griphus at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Not that Brecksville is anything other than a center of cosmopolitan sophistication -- I've never been down that way -- but this was a really lame choice of bridge. I can think of five or six other area bridges that would have been more symbolic and/or massively inconvenient to attack.

I'm certainly glad the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is once again safe from the forces of evildoing.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:29 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, that Anthony Haynes - "Tony" is an insufficiently evil-sounding nickname for Anthony. EVIL FAIL.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:30 AM on May 2, 2012


"butbutbut they gave us the silly putty and cellphone detonator, WE TRUSTED THEM"

(hey if you wanna bomb with the big dogs, conduct some fucking counter-intel, these fucking idiots should go to jail for a long time)
posted by clavdivs at 8:30 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Defense attorneys in those cases have accused federal authorities of conducting overblown operations that entrapped their clients."

You mean to suggest that the people paid to defend the suspects claim that the suspects are innocent?


these types of operations are the closest thing you can get to entrapment without it being entrapment. It really is a terrible defense from a legal standpoint, because you have to show three things (1) The idea for committing the crime came from the government agents and not from the person accused of the crime; (2) Government agents then persuaded or talked the person into committing the crime. Simply giving someone the opportunity to commit a crime is not the same as persuading them to commit that crime; and (3) The person was not ready and willing to commit the crime before interaction with the government agents.

It is a very tough road to hoe.

But these prosecutions are generally ridiculous of late, with the total, turn-key nature of the operations. All you need is $350 and the government provides you with everything except the bombs. It is a lot of a waste of money to catch stoners like these fools. Seems like the money could be better spent on other stuff.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's put our heads together and start a new country up.
posted by davebush at 8:33 AM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


It is a very tough road to hoe.

Row. Row to hoe. :)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:36 AM on May 2, 2012 [18 favorites]


these types of operations are the closest thing you can get to entrapment without it being entrapment

so we shall call it pre-entrapment?
posted by clavdivs at 8:36 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's put our heads together and start a new country up.

Country 2.0 Kickstarter!
posted by slater at 8:38 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best thing about the Seattle anarchists smashing the windows of the Nike store: they were wearing Nike shoes.

Seattle Occupy is loaded with fucking idiots.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Best thing about the Seattle anarchists smashing the windows of the Nike store: they were wearing Nike shoes.

Seattle Occupy is loaded with fucking idiots.


Again, or people whose motives might not be so obvious.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:43 AM on May 2, 2012


Local details for you:

This is a two-lane bridge is in a semi-rural area -- midway between Cleveland and Akron -- of small town center, farms, and parklands. It crosses the Cuyahoga River and connects the bedroom communities of Brecksville and Macedonia. It's in the middle of the Cuyahoga valley N. P. It's at least 10 miles downstream (Cuyahoga = crooked river) from any part of the river navigable by lake-going ships.

There's a bald eagle nesting site almost under it, the relict Ohio & Erie Canal, and the Cuyahoga Valley Line railroad tracks (strictly recreational here). I do my marathon training on the old canal towpath. Beautiful area and a beautiful bridge seen from below, which is how I usually see it, but it's loss would not exactly be devastating to the economy of Northeast Ohio.

Blowing up this particular bridge to strike a blow against whatever you perceive the powers that be to be would be like blowing up an old stone bridge in Stony Brook L.I. or Hastings-on-Hudson to 'get back at' NYC.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:44 AM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Best thing about the Seattle anarchists smashing the windows of the Nike store: they were wearing Nike shoes.

Seattle Occupy is loaded with fucking idiots.

Again, or people whose motives might not be so obvious.


The problem is that in the court of public opinion, the burden will be on an Occupy movement to prove that. It is an inescapable fact.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2012


but this was a really lame choice of bridge. I can think of five or six other area bridges that would have been more symbolic and/or massively inconvenient to attack.

Yeah, this is what makes me lean towards the idea that it WASN'T an FBI entrapment scenario - they picked an insignificant bridge in the middle of nowhere because they figured they wouldn't get caught because nobody would be paying attention. I would think an FBI-engineered scam plot would target one of the many bridges that would actually really really screw up life in Cleveland.

The fact that they may have been "associated" with Occupy has caused the right-wingers who regularly post on the Plain Dealer's website to go utterly batshit.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2012


"Yea let's get back at corporate.

How?

Um...blow up a bridge.

You know, a bridge that average, hard working people use just to get by on paying their mortgage, food, medical bills; less than a .5% chance a big wig corporate guy is taking but who cares?

Wooo hoo....anarchy!"

Fucking morons.
posted by stormpooper at 8:49 AM on May 2, 2012


Look, I'm an anarchist. I live in Minneapolis and am pretty familiar with various kinds of "terrorist" prosecutions, from the 100% fake (RNC protest organizers; kids dressed up as zombies) to the coached kind. (Brandon Darby and those kids with the molotovs). Let me lay this out for you:

1. Some "terrorist" prosecutions are the result of cops seeking drama - like the zombie protesters who recently won $165,000 from Minneapolis.

2. Some "terrorist" prosecutions are politically motivated, like the prosecution of the RNC 8, who were charged because they helped plan and organize the big anti-RNC demonstrations. Their prosecution was part of an effort to shut down the demonstrations, demoralize activists and justify the GIANT budget for equipment that was given to the cops. (After all, if no one is going to blow anything up, how do you justify your Super Macho Tazer and Spying Budget?) A lot of lies about all kinds of things were told (that protesters were going to throw shit on attendees, etc) But luckily, these lies and false charges were exposed and the case was dropped, after several years of horrible, stressful legal wrangling.

3. Then there are the coached/FBI-instigated ones. These are intended to discredit the movement as a whole. (I actually know someone the FBI tried to recruit to spy/coach people). Typically, the FBI zones in on some isolated, mostly socially inept young white straight guys on the fringes of the activist scene. Guys like this don't have a diversity of experience or a large group of friends or strong group ties that would keep them from doing stupid things. Then the FBI agent befriends them and starts talking up violence, "doing something", "making a statement". Sometimes the FBI agent actually helps them get materials, sometimes not.

Now, these dudes would almost all have stuck with talking if the FBI agents hadn't jumped in. They may be foolish or irritating, but they're guys who would have stuck to boasting and complaining and eventually moved on to something else, or even grown out of it entirely. They are NOT people who are heavily into the movement - people closely connected in the activist community have, you know, a philosophy. Even when we're stupid, we very seldom think "let's blow up a bridge! then the revolution will happen!" And we know about informants, and we know that if WE do big stupid things, it will hit everyone around us incredibly hard.

I can almost guarantee you that if you hear of someone who wants to do something that is obviously dangerous - that is likely to kill people or create extreme, immediate hardship for large numbers - that person is an agent or the tool of an agent.

Occupy is an interesting thing, actually, because it's brought together a lot of people who are totally new to radical politics. Sometimes this is great - new ideas! new needs! new information! - and sometimes it sucks - resentful, mansplaining dudebros at all the meetings!
posted by Frowner at 8:51 AM on May 2, 2012 [47 favorites]


Yeah, this is what makes me lean towards the idea that it WASN'T an FBI entrapment scenario...

Well, one of their original around-the-bong plans was to topple distract cops with smoke grenades and topple over financial billboards. If this was an entrapment scenario, the FBI may have been guaranteeing against something important being blown up in case the bomb-throwing anarchists got their bombs from a different source (who doesn't shop around in this economy?) and went ahead on their own.
posted by griphus at 8:53 AM on May 2, 2012


"Yea let's get back at corporate.

How?

Um...blow up a bridge."


That's the part that sets of my conspiracy theory-dar. Doing something specifically about the richest of the rich, the 1%, won't make the average person very mad. Blowing up a bridge, or threatening to, will scare the average person and make them distrustful of OWS. Who out there wants to turn public opinion against OWS the most?
posted by troika at 8:53 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


enn: "Here's my question: if you get to blame me for the actions of strangers I've never simply because of some perceived ideological affinity, do I get to blame you for the presumably pro-capitalist person who smashed the window of the IWW offices yesterday?"

I'll bite: No you don't get to blame me, because I never used inflammatory rhetoric calling people to "take over" and "occupy" public spaces and then look all surprised when people smash windows and set shit on fire.
posted by gertzedek at 8:55 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eventually the FBI is going to set up the NYPD while they are both trying to make terrorists to sting.
posted by fuq at 8:56 AM on May 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Answer: Because the thing they are "associated" with is from the Left. Abortion bombers and KK members are never part of any part of any political party/wing or church.)

That is total horseshit and you know it. If these guys WERE planning to blow up an abortion clinic, there wouldn't be any of the FBI ENTRAP-GRAR going on in this thread, the comments would be one big panty-wad of "right-wing extremism and militias!".

The left side of an asshole stinks just as bad.
posted by resurrexit at 8:57 AM on May 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


troika: "Blowing up a bridge, or threatening to, will scare the average person and make them distrustful of OWS. Who out there wants to turn public opinion against OWS the most?"

This is the same line of reasoning that leads people to say "the black bloc guys are agent provocateurs", which is a pretty tired shtick at this point, and a great example of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.
posted by gertzedek at 8:57 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Row. Row to hoe. :)

It's much tougher to hoe a road than a row.
posted by yoink at 8:57 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll bite: No you don't get to blame me, because I never used inflammatory rhetoric calling people to "take over" and "occupy" public spaces and then look all surprised when people smash windows and set shit on fire.

If you think calling for people to occupy a public street is inflammatory, I think that kind of speaks for itself.
posted by enn at 8:59 AM on May 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


No you don't get to blame me, because I never used inflammatory rhetoric calling people to "take over" and "occupy" public spaces and then look all surprised when people smash windows and set shit on fire.

So when OWS types say "Use peace and love and nonviolence. Stand on your rights, but don't hurt anyone," as they CONSTANTLY do, they get no credit, but if they use the word "occupy" to mean "take up public space peacefully" (which they have also said, REPEATEDLY and loudly) then they are to blame if someone interprets it to mean "Smash random shit."

Ok then. No double standard there.
posted by emjaybee at 8:59 AM on May 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


From the affidavit:
To prevent capture, [BAXTER] suggested getting tacks that they could throw out of the back of the car if they get in a chase.
Brilliant!
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:01 AM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Now, these dudes would almost all have stuck with talking if the FBI agents hadn't jumped in.

Almost all of them, huh? So almost none of them, without a little goosing, would really have started playing around with explosives and maybe killed somebody?

I'm gonna go out on a limb, here, and say that if some guy egging you on is sufficient inducement to get you to blow up a bridge, you're a danger to yourself and others.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:03 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anarchists Rule #1: the guy who knows where to get the explosives is always from the FBI.

These idiots even recognized Rule #1 and thought they "would go to Gitmo" if they were caught, and still went through with the plan anyway.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:03 AM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Now, these dudes would almost all have stuck with talking if the FBI agents hadn't jumped in. They may be foolish or irritating, but they're guys who would have stuck to boasting and complaining and eventually moved on to something else, or even grown out of it entirely. They are NOT people who are heavily into the movement - people closely connected in the activist community have, you know, a philosophy. Even when we're stupid, we very seldom think "let's blow up a bridge! then the revolution will happen!" And we know about informants, and we know that if WE do big stupid things, it will hit everyone around us incredibly hard.

But wait a second. What else does anyone who pulls one of these stunts ever think but, essentially, "Step A: blow shit up; Step B...; Step C: the revolution will happen!" Timothy McVeigh, Anders Breivik, the Unabomber etc. etc. etc. None of them had anything like a coherent plan about how they'd move from blowing shit up to effecting the kind of political and social change that they envisaged. I'm strongly getting the impression from this thread that if the FBI or their equivalent had managed to hear about McVeigh or Breivik or the Unabomber (or...fill in countless other examples) and had managed to feed them fake explosives or fake ammunition or what have you that we'd all be here on the Blue griping about how this was obviously a set-up and these guys were clearly harmless loony loners who would never actually have gone so far as putting their obviously nutty plans into operation.
posted by yoink at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just because the only individuals the FBI seem to be able to compromise to the point of arrest appear to be slackers, stoners and/or idiots doesn't mean these are the only individuals they target or even want to convict. But if during their intelligence operations they catch wind that someone is eager to "blow some shit up", regardless of how stupid/ignorant they may seem to be, they have to start an investigation and they have to see it through to whatever the eventual outcome is.

It isn't like this operation took place over the course of a day.

Idiot: I'm mad and I want to blow some shit up.
Fed: I hear you bro. Here have some (fake) C4.
Idiot: w00h00! Hey why won't this fuse light?
Fed: Hahaha. Busted n00b!

I do find it frustrating and disheartening that low to no-value arrests are all that are made anymore. Either we are witnessing continuing operations against a threat that that has significantly diminished; or enough credible intelligence continues to be generated to warrant these operations but the targets of value are too sophisticated to infiltrate.

posted by highwayman at 9:07 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The constant in these arrests is how clueless and inept the supposed terrorists are. Surely the fbi could dig a little deeper into the parts drawer when it is looking for conspirators?
posted by Forktine at 9:08 AM on May 2, 2012


because I never used inflammatory rhetoric calling people to "take over" and "occupy" public spaces and then look all surprised when people smash windows and set shit on fire.

Yes, the people who place themselves, unconcealed and unprotected, in public spaces for the specific purpose of engaging with ordinary people who use or pass through that space are of entirely the same ideology and mindset as those who wear hoods and shades and sow destruction and scare ordinary people away from those public spaces. Well spotted.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:09 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is the same line of reasoning that leads people to say "the black bloc guys are agent provocateurs", which is a pretty tired shtick at this point, and a great example of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.

See, I would feel really differently about this except that I know people who have dealt personally with informants and provacateurs. I know people who tried to be kind to an informant, actually, because he seemed so awkward and weird - they figured he was an outsider and just needed love. Actually, he was a spy and got several of them arrested on totally false charges that were later dropped.

I've also been at many, many events where there are cops and cop-allies taking photos and trying to get you to tell them when "the real stuff" is going to go down. I have literally had some kind of provocateur/spy try to get information out of me.

The thing is, there's a really distinctive flavor to provocateur/spy stuff. It's true that there are anarchists who commit property destruction all on their ownsome (which is a totally different discussion) but if you've been around a while you start to get a feel for what's real and what's not.

I'd be the last to deny that activists can do some dumb shit.
posted by Frowner at 9:09 AM on May 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


Cleveland's previous brush with small-bore terrorism:

Ashby Leach and the Seige of the Terminal Tower, August 26, 1976.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:11 AM on May 2, 2012


Seems like with the state of our infrastructure, they could've just waited for the bridge to fall down on it's own.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:12 AM on May 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


So how does a movement like Occupy keep the violent jackasses out? Looking at the Seattle stuff, I'd love to say that if I'd been a marcher and seen one of those guys getting out of his black clothes to blend in, I'd have photographed him & reported it to the cops, or knocked him on his ass, or done something to get him openly ostracized... but that's an awful easy thing for me to think and type out on the internet.

Stuff like that really does cost protest movements a lot of potential supporters. I don't show up to protest marches because I know that A) there will doubtlessly be morons with no sense or self-control, and B) the police may very well arrest me along with him just 'cause I have the bad luck to be next to him when he does something stupid.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:14 AM on May 2, 2012


George_Spiggott - nope, this is what I mean:

Yes, the people who place themselves, unconcealed and unprotected, in public spaces for the specific purpose of engaging with ordinary people who use or pass through that space are of entirely the same ideology and mindset as ENABLE those who wear hoods and shades and sow destruction and scare ordinary people away from those public spaces.
posted by gertzedek at 9:16 AM on May 2, 2012


So when OWS types say

What are "OWS types"?

Use peace and love and nonviolence.

I'm sure this does get said at many Occupy meetings. Maybe all of them. But it's also true that nonviolent aggression (i.e., blocking bridges and streets) has been a primary tactic. It's true that nearly every time protestors and police have clashed, officers have been injured by protestors (fighting, throwing objects, etc.). It's true that vandalism and destruction of property, both public and private, have gone hand-in-hand with Occupy protests.

You're right the Occupy should get credit for its pacifist elements, but it's equally fair that it be blamed for the others. And no, especially given the nebulous nature of the movement, it doesn't seem credible or fair-minded to arbitrarily label the good eggs "OWS types" and the bad eggs "agents provocateurs."
posted by red clover at 9:16 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you read the PDF, it seems that the FBI specifically directed the informant to attend a rally for the purposes of sussing out targets (the name of the event is not given, but this coincides with the Occupy Wall Street Cleveland rally of October 21, 2011).

The informant targeted these guys specifically because they did not act like they were part of the crowd, and left when the organizers discussed the need for peaceful protest.

The FBI can claim they aren't targeting protest groups and let the media do its dirty work of association for them. Looks like the damage has already been done.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:17 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


That is total horseshit and you know it. If these guys WERE planning to blow up an abortion clinic, there wouldn't be any of the FBI ENTRAP-GRAR going on in this thread, the comments would be one big panty-wad of "right-wing extremism and militias!".

Maybe if the FBI weren't waiting until the Clinics are on fire to conduct an investigation, you might have a point.

That said, yeah, avoiding entrapment for this sort of thing is easy. Don't advocate violence, or keep your mouth shut.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:17 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


But wait a second. What else does anyone who pulls one of these stunts ever think but, essentially, "Step A: blow shit up; Step B...; Step C: the revolution will happen!" Timothy McVeigh, Anders Breivik, the Unabomber etc. etc. etc. None of them had anything like a coherent plan about how they'd move from blowing shit up to effecting the kind of political and social change that they envisaged. I'm strongly getting the impression from this thread that if the FBI or their equivalent had managed to hear about McVeigh or Breivik or the Unabomber (or...fill in countless other examples) and had managed to feed them fake explosives or fake ammunition or what have you that we'd all be here on the Blue griping about how this was obviously a set-up and these guys were clearly harmless loony loners who would never actually have gone so far as putting their obviously nutty plans into operation.

You know, if we didn't criticize the FBI for setting up right-wing violence, we'd be wrong. When the fibbies set up violent acts, they're raising the political stakes everywhere. And I care not one whit whether the justification for authoritarian state action is "protect me from the left" or "protect me from the right".

So let's all remember it....just in case it ever happens.

The real of the situation is that the FBI doesn't set up/enable right wing violence to discredit the right and justify their budget. The FBI targets the left, because the FBI is a tool of the right wing state.

And the real of the situation is that there is very, very little left-wing violence in this country, and even that which is prompted by the Feds is pretty small scale. We don't have left snipers targeting whatever the right-wing equivalent of an abortion-provider is. We don't have left-wing militias patrolling the border and murdering little girls. We don't have left-wing assholes beating and burning queer and trans folks to death. The best you can point to is the Unabomber.

Historically, paramilitary violence has been a right-wing thing, something that gets winked at by a right-wing state in order to keep a lid on popular organizing or unrest. *

*This isn't to deny the existence of left-wing state violence under communism; it's just that paramilitaries tend to be right.
posted by Frowner at 9:18 AM on May 2, 2012 [19 favorites]


Seems like with the state of our infrastructure, they could've just waited for the bridge to fall down on it's own.

Downtown, maybe, but this one is sound as a dollar. Sound as a dollar, I say.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:19 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm strongly getting the impression from this thread that if the FBI or their equivalent had managed to hear about McVeigh or Breivik or the Unabomber (or...fill in countless other examples) and had managed to feed them fake explosives or fake ammunition or what have you that we'd all be here on the Blue griping about how this was obviously a set-up and these guys were clearly harmless loony loners who would never actually have gone so far as putting their obviously nutty plans into operation.

Well...in 2010 some people were arrested for allegedly trying to incite sedition, the Hutaree militia (the charges were dismissed by the judge. Here was the Blue thread about it. People seemed to believe that the FBI of course had to have "mountains of surveillance footage," complained that they weren't being called "terrorists," etc. I certainly don't see the general skepticism of the FBI that's evident in this thread.
posted by dsfan at 9:21 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]




Darn. Need that edit window. Only intended to link the first line.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:23 AM on May 2, 2012


All Things Considered aired an interesting piece about the psychology/sociology of fraud yesterday that I think could equally apply to the psychology of FBI-enabled terrorism attempts.
posted by muddgirl at 9:24 AM on May 2, 2012


The FBI targets the left, because the FBI is a tool of the right wing state.

That's an interesting point, but a little broad so let's narrow it. You identified yourself as an anarchist. Apparently so did these would-be bombers. One of the themes coming out of OWS has pretty consistently been, "It is impossible to reform the system, we must dismantle it." If we accept that there are radicals on both sides, there is still a pretty big difference between the mainstream messages of donating money/electing Tea Party candidates/overturning abortion law/etc. and dismantling the entire system. Doesn't it make perfect sense that the FBI would target one and not the other? Isn't that what the FBI should do?
posted by red clover at 9:30 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


You identified yourself as an anarchist. Apparently so did these would-be bombers.
[A]ccording to the AP. . . they were "frustrated that other anti-corporate protesters opposed violence."
posted by Herodios at 9:34 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


red clover, is "dismantle the system" more central to the message of OWS than "second amendment solutions" and "government is the problem, drown it in the bathtub" are to the Tea Party? Is dismantling the government, which is at least originally constituted as "of the people, by the people, and for the people" less radial than dismantling the finance industry?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:36 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


People seemed to believe that the FBI of course had to have "mountains of surveillance footage," complained that they weren't being called "terrorists," etc. I certainly don't see the general skepticism of the FBI that's evident in this thread.
I really think "gang" is better than "terrorist cell." Cuts these assholes down to proper size.

...

I disagree; gangs generally have a better grip on reality.

...

Yeah, call me a dirty lib'rul and all that, but how about we call 'em "innocent until proven guilty" until they're, you know, given due process and a trial by a jury of their peers and, like are proven guilty (if they in fact are).
Gosh, what jailhawks we are when it comes to right-wing calls for terrorism!
posted by muddgirl at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2012


So how does a movement like Occupy keep the violent jackasses out? Looking at the Seattle stuff, I'd love to say that if I'd been a marcher and seen one of those guys getting out of his black clothes to blend in, I'd have photographed him & reported it to the cops, or knocked him on his ass, or done something to get him openly ostracized... but that's an awful easy thing for me to think and type out on the internet.

Looking at the link to the SF blogger alleging agents provocateurs were behind the SF violence Monday night you don't do what he did--just encourage others to leave the march. You need to basically "police" the movement and persuade people not to do that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on May 2, 2012


Kadin2048: "The FBI investigation was "aided by a paid confidential source who had previous robbery and other convictions and was on probation for passing bad checks" and was similar to previous sting operations, most recently that of Rezwan Ferdaus, involving supplied inert explosives."

Does this tactic seem absurdly risky to anybody else? The FBI could very easily end up instigating an actual terror attack if the gangs/terrorists that they're egging on have an alternative source for real weapons and explosives.

It also doesn't seem quite fair that the FBI is actively creating terrorists, only so that they can arrest them. I know that I'm talking far outside of my areas of expertise, but I really don't think that this is making us safer.
posted by schmod at 9:41 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, it just seems absurd, full stop. Risky, waste of resources even when it's successful, etc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:44 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't it be nice if we could pay the FBI to inflitrate groups which are talking about terrorism (or whatever their criteria is) and de-escalate situations?
posted by muddgirl at 9:45 AM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Looking at the link to the SF blogger alleging agents provocateurs were behind the SF violence Monday night you don't do what he did--just encourage others to leave the march. You need to basically "police" the movement and persuade people not to do that.

"Persuade" the guy who already thinks smashing out the windows at Nike Town is a good idea? What's the argument I'm gonna use on him other than, "Dude, we will all turn your ass in to the cops without a second thought?" Is there some other approach than that?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:48 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the real of the situation is that there is very, very little left-wing violence in this country, and even that which is prompted by the Feds is pretty small scale. We don't have left snipers targeting whatever the right-wing equivalent of an abortion-provider is. We don't have left-wing militias patrolling the border and murdering little girls. We don't have left-wing assholes beating and burning queer and trans folks to death. The best you can point to is the Unabomber.

I wasn't making any kind of point about "left" vs. "right," Frowner. I was making a point about the claim (made multiple times in this thread) that if you just left these guys alone they would "obviously" not actually commit violent acts because they were obviously loonies with no coherent political program about how to go from blowing shit up to changing the system. I instanced McVeigh and the Unabomber simply as readily accessible example of loonies who wanted to blow shit up who had no coherent plan about how that would lead to political change.

As for the charge that the FBI only targets left wing groups, that is pretty clearly false. You only care about the left wing groups it targets and think that it's obviously just "doing its job" when it targets right wing groups. Go to a right wing website, like Free Republic or whatever, and you find your mirror images sitting around griping about how the FBI always gives those evil lefties a pass and is constantly persecuting decent godfearing people like the Hutaree militia. But, again, that wasn't what my prior post was about.
posted by yoink at 9:49 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wouldn't it be nice if we could pay the FBI to inflitrate groups which are talking about terrorism (or whatever their criteria is) and de-escalate situations?

I totally agree with the sentiment--and would support the approach--but I have to wonder how one measures success on that. I also have to wonder, therefore, how often the FBI and other agencies may accomplish exactly that, and can't report it.

Although it's possible I'm extending way too much good faith there...
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:51 AM on May 2, 2012


The FBI could very easily end up instigating an actual terror attack if the gangs/terrorists that they're egging on have an alternative source for real weapons and explosives.

It also doesn't seem quite fair that the FBI is actively creating terrorists, only so that they can arrest them. I know that I'm talking far outside of my areas of expertise, but I really don't think that this is making us safer.


Obviously there are very real risks in this type of strategy. But equally obviously it would have been a wonderful thing if the FBI, say, could have found out about Timothy McVeigh and sold him a bunch of fake fertilizer to make his truck bomb with. Had they done so, would you be saying the day after he was arrested that the FBI was wasting it's time and that there was no possibility that McVeigh would have created a real bomb?

My point is not that the FBI must clearly be in the right--I simply don't know enough about the details of this case to say. It's simply to say that the details of the case actually matter; to simply assume that because the FBI provided the (fake) explosives that the whole thing was a set-up (which seems to be the running assumption in this thread) seems a completely knee-jerk reaction.
posted by yoink at 9:54 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


resurrexit: "(Answer: Because the thing they are "associated" with is from the Left. Abortion bombers and KK members are never part of any part of any political party/wing or church.)

That is total horseshit and you know it. If these guys WERE planning to blow up an abortion clinic, there wouldn't be any of the FBI ENTRAP-GRAR going on in this thread, the comments would be one big panty-wad of "right-wing extremism and militias!".

The left side of an asshole stinks just as bad.
"

So does the reasonable moist creamy center of an asshole.
posted by symbioid at 9:59 AM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I simply don't know enough about the details of this case to say

Focusing on the details of this case is shortsighted, I think. No one is arguing that the FBI should sit back and let terrorists blow shit up, then arrest them. We are pointing out that they have been clearly caught, in the past, infiltrating groups and escalating them towards violence, not just by supplying material assistance but by encouraging them when they hesitated over the ethics of the plot.

So yes, if it turns out in this case that the FBI smoothly stepped in at the last minute, great. These guys should go to jail. But I think it's proper to be skeptical if that was actually the case, given the track record of FBI informants.
posted by muddgirl at 10:04 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a coincidence, May Day protest day is when they hold their breathless press release.

This strategy of theirs going to bite them in the ass one day (on preview we have quite the ass-emblage of ass references up thread going on). Like when the guy who was going to group up for his big debut suddenly decides that the percentage of informants on the fringe is a mite too high and goes it alone. With catastrophic results.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:08 AM on May 2, 2012


We are pointing out that they have been clearly caught, in the past, infiltrating groups and escalating them towards violence, not just by supplying material assistance but by encouraging them when they hesitated over the ethics of the plot.

I see lots of statements in this thread about what "must" be wrong with this particular case and how it's "clearly" politically motivated and how "obviously" these clowns would never have done anything had the FBI simply left them alone. Those are the statements to which I'm taking exception. Statements about past cases where wrongdoing has been demonstrated are not relevant to my argument one way or another.
posted by yoink at 10:08 AM on May 2, 2012


Well, I guess if you go ahead and ignore history, it can't possibly repeat itself.
posted by griphus at 10:13 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I see a lot of "curiosity" and "wondering" and "either...or", without a lot of conclusions, but this is a debate over word choice that we've had before :)
posted by muddgirl at 10:13 AM on May 2, 2012


Bah, in my day proper anarchists wore domino masks, cloaks, and carried large spherical bombs with long fizzing fuses with the word 'bomb' written on the side.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:16 AM on May 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, I guess if you go ahead and ignore history, it can't possibly repeat itself.

Ooh, you got me. That part where I said history should be completely ignored and nobody should pay any attention to it was really, really stupid, wasn't it?

Oh, wait, I didn't say that anywhere, nor even imply it in any way shape or form. Hum....

Hey, you know what's stupid? Saying "I've seen similar cases to this in the past that turned out to have something wrong with them; therefore I will simply assume that there is also something wrong with this case and decide that I need not actually examine it in any detail whatsoever!"
posted by yoink at 10:22 AM on May 2, 2012


And I see a lot of "curiosity" and "wondering" and "either...or", without a lot of conclusions, but this is a debate over word choice that we've had before :)

Great--those aren't the posts I'm taking issue with. Your job as "defender of Metafilter from Yoink" is done for the day. A grateful nation can sleep a little easier knowing you're on the case.
posted by yoink at 10:24 AM on May 2, 2012


As for the charge that the FBI only targets left wing groups, that is pretty clearly false. You only care about the left wing groups it targets and think that it's obviously just "doing its job" when it targets right wing groups

Well, they'll totally go after neo-nazis, but you would never in a thousand years see them go after the tea party like this. And the tea party totally has idiots that could be exploited in this way.

It's politics, basically.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


But again, the Tea Party's overall goal is to see a much smaller federal government that consists of elected Tea Party candidates, whereas OWS' overall goal is to take apart the whole system and bring us back/forward to [unspecified]. So I would think it logical that the FBI has a much stronger reason to target OWS idiots than Tea Party idiots.

...assuming for argument's sake that is actually what happens.
posted by red clover at 10:30 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Literally the only person who seems certain in this case is Frowner. He explicitely stated that his certainty is based on his (I suppose you could call it) expertise as an actual anarchist involved with actual anarchist organizations. His experience also, understandably, colors his opinion, and the rest of us are free to take that bias into account.

But to dismiss his opinion as knee-jerk anti-FBI sentiment, and to lump other commenters in with that sentiment by pretending that it's widespread, is unhelpful. This isn't anti-yoink, it's anti-misperceptions-about-the-actual-conversation-that-is-occurring-right-now.
posted by muddgirl at 10:30 AM on May 2, 2012


I'm a self-proclaimed anarchist, but I don't think that it means the same thing when I say it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:33 AM on May 2, 2012


whereas OWS' overall goal is to take apart the whole system and bring us back/forward to [unspecified]

Can you cite this? I haven't been super-involved in OWS but I read the various statements and I see more 'reform' than 'dismantle.' Of course, some anarchists are associated with OWS, just as some left-wing capitalists are. The idea that OWS is a bunch of anti-government anarchists is a right-wing talking point that is raised to deter (rightful) comparisons to the Tea Party.
posted by muddgirl at 10:35 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


But again, the Tea Party's overall goal is to see a much smaller federal government that consists of elected Tea Party candidates, whereas OWS' overall goal is to take apart the whole system and bring us back/forward to [unspecified]. So I would think it logical that the FBI has a much stronger reason to target OWS idiots than Tea Party idiots.

Well, the Tea Party does occasionally make not-so-veiled threats against the president, but that's more of a Secret Service brief, and those guys are busy elsewhere...
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on May 2, 2012


I grew up very close to that bridge. I can only imagine if they succeeded. You would have to take a really long detour to reach the Clippety Clop Shop. Bastards!
posted by Falconetti at 10:44 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


But again, the Tea Party's overall goal is to see a much smaller federal government that consists of elected Tea Party candidates, whereas OWS' overall goal is to take apart the whole system and bring us back/forward to [unspecified].

That's not remotely the OWS goal, as anyone but a dishonest political hack would understand it.

I can't claim to be involved in it, or know much more than the average onlooker, but OWS itself has been damn clear from the beginning that it doesn't have a single unifying agenda (much to the annoyance of the many who'd like to see them with a more concrete platform, as has come up again and again here on the blue and elsewhere).

Also, the vast majority of those involved have pretty explicitly been lobbying for a fairly modest return to the historical norms for the American way of regulating industry and taxing its people--in other words, many of them actually want to see a return to historical norms, not a revolution. It's the anti-tax, dismantle government crowd on the right that want to drown government in the bathtub.

These guys are obviously just confused patsies with blind frustrations directed generally at everybody--including OWS, which as noted, they found to be too pacifistic--than a splinter cell of OWS with any kind of coherent political agenda.

The press is covering these guys as is they were OWS activists, when in fact, they were plainly OWS rejects who didn't feel welcome in the OWS fold because OWS is too committed to nonviolence.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:46 AM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


erm... that is, 'than not a splinter cell of OWS with any kind of coherent political agenda.'
posted by saulgoodman at 10:48 AM on May 2, 2012


anyone but a dishonest political hack

Is it really this difficult for some of you people to have an adult conversation?
posted by red clover at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2012


I do kind of get the impression that the portions of Occupy that have any kind of agenda have roughly settled on "an end to capitalism" as it. Which, obviously, isn't likely to happen anytime soon and probably wouldn't result in anything most folks would want anyway. The rest just sort of mill around being vaguely unhappy about things.
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2012


Yeah, red clover, this has been a pretty good conversation with one or two exceptions.

But I think at best you're selectively ascribing minority or fringe viewpoints to the whole in the case of one movement, but not the other. When it comes to formal, and/or widely acknowledged positions, a.k.a. positions that recognized spokespersons do not immediately distance themselves from, only one of the two movements openly advocates arming themselves in support of the change they seek, whereas the other specifically has "nonviolence" in all its positioning statements. Also, most of the OWS rhetoric seems to be about the rededication of government power to its original aims (i.e. "of the people, for the people") and for the protection of the weak from the strong, rather than antigovernment.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:55 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


and 'as is if

Is it really this difficult for some of you people to have an adult conversation?

There's nothing childish about calling a duck a duck.

To claim that OWS has a single coherent political agenda that can be as glibly summarized as 'to take apart the whole system and bring us back/forward to [unspecified]' flies in the face of so much evidence to the contrary that anyone with honest intentions could find even just casually following the topic here on MeFi, that what would really be a childish way to have the conversation is to pretend this claim was made with honest intentions.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:56 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]




I do kind of get the impression that the portions of Occupy that have any kind of agenda have roughly settled on "an end to capitalism" as it. Which, obviously, isn't likely to happen anytime soon and probably wouldn't result in anything most folks would want anyway.
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on May 2 [+] [!]


We have this collective failure of imagination. Modern capitalism isn't terribly old, and there's no reason to assume it will be around forever.

Somehow, even the people that are unhappy with capitalism imagine it as being monolithic and unshakeable, and can't imagine any future after its collapse that isn't worse than what we have now.

I'm not saying that capitalism will collapse any time soon, or that it will be replaced by something better. Just that it could, and that it can.

It's interesting that even while discussing how intolerable and unsustainable capitalism is, very few people seem to be able to imagine anything replacing it. Graeber actually very briefly touched on that at the end of his Debt book, and I was glad to see it, it's something that's troubled me for a while. Our sense of history doesn't leave much room for the past and future, just more of the same, always more of the same, no matter how unlikely that is.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:57 AM on May 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


only one of the two movements openly advocates arming themselves in support of the change they seek, whereas the other specifically has "nonviolence" in all its positioning statements.

That's fair enough. But you can draw the distinction a different way: Only one of the movements openly advocates, and takes, direct action. Even if every Tea Party supporter owns a firearm, that's the end of it. There doesn't appear to be any substance given by them to the linking phrase, "[firearms] in support of the change they seek." By contrast, OWS is causing actual disruptions, where violence and vandalism regularly ensue.
posted by red clover at 11:05 AM on May 2, 2012


The problem is that in the court of public opinion, the burden will be on an Occupy movement to prove that. It is an inescapable fact.

Which is why the infiltrator tactic is so successful and people worry about it so much.

I've also been at many, many events where there are cops and cop-allies taking photos and trying to get you to tell them when "the real stuff" is going to go down.

I've found that the word "stuff" alone is a pretty excellent flag for an undercover cop. "Event" and "going down" are others.

Somehow, even the people that are unhappy with capitalism imagine it as being monolithic and unshakeable, and can't imagine any future after its collapse that isn't worse than what we have now.

What. You are not reading the same authors as I am.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on May 2, 2012


It's interesting that even while discussing how intolerable and unsustainable capitalism is, very few people seem to be able to imagine anything replacing it.

Why couldn't we just continue to develop into a proper social democracy, like we were on track to do before the crazies suddenly started dominating the right-wing politics in the US? We don't need to replace capitalism; we need to properly implement it, with the right regulations and political activism to ensure its worst tendencies aren't allowed to swell out of proportion and swallow up its potential benefits.

From my point of view, what we're seeing now is an unnatural, harmful interruption in the way the US political/economic system had naturally been developing up until right around the early 80s. And all the data--as this chart and many others on certain key economic indicators--pretty clearly show. Things started going wrong for the US economy in a fundamental way starting in the late 70s and early 80s and conditions have just continued steadily eroding, finally culminating in the latest financial collapse, ever since.

Even under Nixon, we were heading quite naturally and steadily in the direction of social democracy--not communism, not socialism, but modified socially democratic capitalism. That's where history seemed to be leading us, and our national prosperity seemed to be steadily increasing as it did. Until we suddenly found ourselves faced with an upper-class tax revolt and all sorts of financial/regulatory capture schemes designed to push all the risk for private sector financial speculation onto the public purse starting in the late seventies and early 80s.

I know some of the OWS folks probably want to see more radical changes--even revolution. But just a few well-placed, major reforms and a renewed commitment to reciprocal social responsibility and fairness across all levels of our society/economic system would be a good start from the point of view of many of us who are critical of how capitalism has been working out lately in the US.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:18 AM on May 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


By contrast, OWS is causing actual disruptions, where violence and vandalism regularly ensue.

Yes, OWS is causing actual disruptions. And they are beautiful. ;)

Vandalism occurs sporadically in what are pretty small and isolated amounts given overall number of participants. It's irregular and carried by a small number of idiots. The larger mission of OWS denounces aggressive acts of vandalism primarily not because they are illegal (OWS recognizes a diversity of tactics, and some of those tactics/direct actions are treated as not legal- among them un-permitted marches that take over a street, soft blockades, die-ins, etc.) but because they hurt the group, make marches and actions less safe, and cause unnecessary damage to innocent parties.

Violence ensues however, is another thing. I don't know of any violence that's regularly been carried out by OWS members. You must here be referring only to the violence that's regularly carried out by police.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


By contrast, OWS is causing actual disruptions, where violence and vandalism regularly ensue.

Nonsense. By the evidence we have on hand here, the only people causing "actual disruptions" are people who've found themselves unable to fit in with OWS due to their preference for violent means of political expression. That marks this kind of statement as nakedly prejudicial and politically motivated in my eyes.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally I don't think we even need to end capitalism. Packaging risk/reward into bite-sized chunks so that small players can get involved and big players can balance their exposure strikes me as a good thing.

It's when that packaging gets so byzantine, opaque, unregulated and corrupt that it hides a gigantic con game that takes most of the first world governments to the cleaners that we have a problem.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:24 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


(... er, that's not to suggest that taking non-first-world governments to the cleaners is okay by contrast...)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:25 AM on May 2, 2012


I totally agree with the sentiment--and would support the approach--but I have to wonder how one measures success on that.

# of terrorist attacks this year. # of fatalities from terrorist attacks. you know, "Key Performance Indicators."

Oh yeah, all those numbers are trivial. The prime motivations are arrests and convictions (and budget), not saving lives.

I do kind of get the impression that the portions of Occupy that have any kind of agenda have roughly settled on "an end to capitalism" as it. Which, obviously, isn't likely to happen anytime soon and probably wouldn't result in anything most folks would want anyway. The rest just sort of mill around being vaguely unhappy about things.

Discrediting mission accomplished!
posted by mrgrimm at 11:25 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pff. Occupy works way harder to discredit itself than the FBI does.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on May 2, 2012


Pff. Occupy works way harder to discredit itself than the FBI does.

Not nearly as hard as some of the people in this thread.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:28 AM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


The Declaration of Occupy Wall Street does not mention "capitalism."

The U.S. already has a centrally planned economy. Mostly, it seems like "Occupy" just wants to change (or ascribe an actual positive goal to ) how it is planned and regulated.

It is the talking heads on cable news and op-ed writers in the NT and WSJ that have convinced casual readers/observers that Occupy is an attack on "capitalism."
posted by mrgrimm at 11:30 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, that and the placards they had when they were in Westlake Plaza. Clearly those homeless looking dudes were part of a complicated COINTELPRO plot.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on May 2, 2012


Vandalism occurs sporadically in what are pretty small and isolated amounts given overall number of participants.

The comparison raised was between OWS and the Tea Party. I'll grant you that vandalism occurs in relatively small proportion to the overall number of participants. But vandalism frequently occurs when/where OWS are staging events, and the correlation between protest-stagings and vandalism is far higher for OWS than for the Tea Party.
posted by red clover at 11:34 AM on May 2, 2012


It is the talking heads on cable news and op-ed writers in the NT and WSJ that have convinced casual readers/observers that Occupy is an attack on "capitalism."

Yup. Demonizing your opponent: the Cliff's Notes version:

"They want to destroy everything good and replace it with something bad."

Naked like that it's kind of obvious, but it's really quite easy to tweak it into something that sounds plausible when you control the message distribution to the extent that corrections don't get out without just sounding like muddled qualifications and nitpicking.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:37 AM on May 2, 2012


Are you going to address the "ensuing violence" assertion as well, red clover?
posted by stagewhisper at 11:39 AM on May 2, 2012


red clover, you might not have noticed, but Tea Party folks have been implicated in some pretty serious acts of vandalism--like this case where some Tea Party activists in Maine trashed an eighth grade classroom.

Not to mention that right-wing abortion terrorists have made for such a toxic environment in many states that medical providers won't provide legal abortion-related services even in the event of medical emergencies due to concerns for their safety.

Don't pretend for one second you've got any kind of case to make here if you don't selectively exclude a lot of contradictory information.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:40 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, you know, if you wanted to avoid that, or the other general impression that it's just a stroke-off circle for self-important pseudo-liberals, having some kind of actual goals would have helped. As is Occupy's problems are largely their own, and any black block idiot who wants to throw a rock or be led into foolish shit by the FBI gets to set their perceived agenda. All the whining and complaining about how people should just know what they are about intuitively does nothing to help whatsoever.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on May 2, 2012


Fuck I don't have time to reply to all this! So anyways, I wanted to post this online version of an old printed (infoshop style) pamphlet I got back in 2000 or so from our local book collective.

You Can't Blow Up a Social Relationship (an anarchist case against terrorism).
posted by symbioid at 11:43 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]



What. You are not reading the same authors as I am.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on May 2 [+] [!]



You seriously haven't noticed a touch of eschatology in the left's rhetoric lately?
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:48 AM on May 2, 2012


The demands of the Tea Party seem far more obscure and nebulous to me than the Occupy movement. As far as I can tell, it was started by CNBC's Rick Santelli during the bailout, as a way to demonize or discredit government assistance to personal home owners who claimed to have been defrauded by credit institutions.

What is the Tea Party's main platform? Yay for banks? What do they have to get violent about? Their members are not destitute ...

We don't need to replace capitalism; we need to properly implement it, with the right regulations and political activism to ensure its worst tendencies aren't allowed to swell out of proportion and swallow up its potential benefits.

Hey hey hey, now. Don't get all "Occupy" on us.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:48 AM on May 2, 2012


I really hate the fact that this has turned into a thread about OWS *again*, thereby strengthening its link (falsely) to terrorists, and giving the same old axe-grinders yet another opportunity to call not only myself but all of the people I'm surrounded by- people who are risking their livelihoods, personal safety, and right to privacy while working so hard in this movement "self-important pseudo-liberals". I'm still giddy and exhausted from what turned out to be a beautiful, inspiring, hopeful, *fabulous* day in NYC. So, I'm going to bow out of this thread now because once again I am trying to argue against misrepresentations of who I am and what I'm experiencing *right this moment* as part of the movement and I'd rather just take today to savor what happened yesterday and rest up for all the hard and productive work that's yet to come.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:49 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


whoa, great resource, symbioid. i'm going poking ...

"unlike such religions as Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism, and Islam, astrology is not based upon guilt, misogyny, and sexual repression. It is simply based upon credulousness, ignorance, irrationality, and the eagerness of human sheep to be led. "

posted by mrgrimm at 11:52 AM on May 2, 2012


But vandalism frequently occurs when/where OWS are staging events, and the correlation between protest-stagings and vandalism is far higher for OWS than for the Tea Party.

So what you're saying is that lefties don't put on "These colors don't run" T-Shirts and show up at tea party rallies and fuck shit up? Man, they are such assholes for not doing that.

I'm not entirely serious. The real reason is that the Tea Party rallies have better door control. They have a bucket with an Obama action figurine in it, and if you're not willing to urinate in the bucket they don't let you in.

(Not being serious there either. But to be actually serious, when a lefty shows up openly at a righty event, violence, committed on the person of that lefty, has been known to ensue. Does anyone have an example of the reverse occurring?)
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:53 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's fair enough. But you can draw the distinction a different way: Only one of the movements openly advocates, and takes, direct action. Even if every Tea Party supporter owns a firearm, that's the end of it. There doesn't appear to be any substance given by them to the linking phrase, "[firearms] in support of the change they seek." By contrast, OWS is causing actual disruptions, where violence and vandalism regularly ensue.

There's two ways to demonstrate intellectual honesty when discussing your oppositions' goals and results: compare your goals with their goals, or their results with your results. When you claim upist protest rallies are marred by the violent intent and action of their lunatic fringe but that your downist charters say violence is forbidden...

What is perfectly clear about the situation is that the FBI has arrested five flaming assholes. Is society worse because they're in the system now? No. Is society worse if the FBI is manipulating people with mental illness and adjustment disorders into committing crimes instead of waiting for them to discredit themselves jacking it in San Diego? Probably. If we accept the premise that a group of FBI agents entrapped these men into committing a crime, does that indicate the FBI is a right wing conspiracy, or does it indicate that there's a subset of agents at the FBI that are amoral and willing to do anything to score points?

... or to dwell upon my point, when the intelligence agency of the upists manipulates rejects from your downist coalition into a PR coup, but your coalition isn't established enough to have an intelligence agency so it doesn't have to address those murky waters...
posted by elsp at 11:59 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


"You would do the same if you were in my shoes" isn't a very good defense, given that terrorists can validly make the same claim.
posted by muddgirl at 12:08 PM on May 2, 2012


Metafilter: a very tough road to hoe.
posted by Twang at 12:21 PM on May 2, 2012


stagewhisper: "The larger mission of OWS denounces aggressive acts of vandalism primarily not because they are illegal (...) but because they hurt the group, make marches and actions less safe, and cause unnecessary damage to innocent parties."

I can't not notice the order you put those three reasons, how you prioritize them. I wonder how OWS would behave if "aggressive acts of vandalism" didn't hurt the group or make marches and actions less safe. Too bad for the "innocent parties".
posted by gertzedek at 12:33 PM on May 2, 2012


Give me a fucking break.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:37 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes a lot of sense as an inside job to me. Silence an inconvenient political movement using the all powerful terrorist card via a couple of rubes. Now that's how you silence dissent!

If a government agency had some role in this there must be serious consequences. Let us not forget: this country still belongs to the people (at least in principle.) There is no place for public servants who put the interests of any other entity before them.

OTOH, maybe this time they'll manage to sentence these "anarchists" (and Occupy) without even giving them a trial. (see Sacco and Venzetti previously)
posted by nowhere man at 12:40 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's always "self-proclaimed anarchists", isn't it? Makes me want to set up a National Board of Certification for Anarchists which offers laminated membership cards and identity documents certifying that one is a fully accredited anarchist.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:45 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


nowhereman: I think you flatter the Occupy movement by suggesting a government conspiracy to silence dissent. It's become more of a nuisance for local government officials than anyone in the "1%," and most people can't hear the "dissent" it's generating above the background noise.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:48 PM on May 2, 2012


Makes me want to set up a National Board of Certification for Anarchists...

The NCA may take issue with this plan.
posted by griphus at 12:52 PM on May 2, 2012


I'll go one better. I am willing to contribute $10 to establish a fund for the "Prize in Anarchy, in Memory of Alfred E. Nobel", which we can then informally refer to as the Nobel Prize for Anarchy, and issue press releases every time we give it out.

Might cost a few more bucks to get the actual Nobel Committee to give it out, but such hurdles have been overcome before, and it's really optional. We could just rent the same banquet hall on a different date and call each other by Swedish names for the occasion.

Attentive readers will of course be aware that Alfred Nobel's middle initial was not E.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:06 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Although that makes me wonder why there isn't a Nobel Prize for explosions, other than the fact that "Nobel Laureate Michael Bay" doesn't have much of a ring to it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:13 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, the old story is that there's no Nobel Prize for explosions because Alfred Nobel's wife left him for an explosion and he held that grudge for the rest of his life.
posted by griphus at 1:32 PM on May 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


The NCA may take issue with this plan.

There's something beautifully apt about the idea of setting up multiple competing anarchist certification organizations. It reminds me of Vingean libertarianism, or Heinlein's jurisprudence-for-hire in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:46 PM on May 2, 2012


No you don't get to blame me, because I never used inflammatory rhetoric calling people to "take over" and "occupy" public spaces and then look all surprised when people smash windows and set shit on fire.

So... Sarah Palin's bullseyes *are* responsible for the Giffords shooting?
posted by Slothrup at 1:58 PM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Man I hate it when those OWS protesters get all violent, damaging flash-bang grenades with their heads and like threateningly sitting on sidewalks and stuff. Really there should be a law...

Violence in OWS has far and away been by the state against protesters. Violence is allowed to flow 'downward' in an oppressive relationship, from abuser to abused, from police to citizen, etc. When violence flows in the other direction - as when the abused attempt to defend themselves - the oppressors take it as a vindication of their own use of violence to suppress dissent, and redouble their attacks. This is why non-violent movements have been more successful in the 20th century; removing violence steps outside of the framework of oppression, and upsets the narrative that power uses to justify itself.

What red clover is doing is voicing the argument of power: By claiming that OWS protesters are violent in action and intention, he's justifying the use of state violence against OWS. The reality of that claim doesn't actually matter; it's an exercise in confirmation bias and keeping his own world view firmly in place.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:22 PM on May 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I can't not notice the order you put those three reasons, how you prioritize them

gertzedek, this is an incredibly stupid statement. Lists are not always prioritized from 'most' to 'least,' especially when speaking for effect.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:26 PM on May 2, 2012


The reality of the claim isn't really in question. But the second half of that ("justifying the use of state violence"), I'm pretty sure you are making up. I haven't discussed state violence. We certainly could, if you want to. Begin by defining the term. Do you mean the removal of protestors from streets, parks, etc.? Or do you mean police officers using chokeholds?
posted by red clover at 3:34 PM on May 2, 2012


The best you can point to is the Unabomber.

Man, would Ted be pissed off if he read that. More than half the stuff he's ever written is condemning, carping about and generally trashing leftists.

Also, why are people constantly conflating anarchists and leftists? Lots of anarchists I've met seem to self-identify as leftists, which confuses me. By my understanding of anarchism, it's against hierarchy and state power. It isn't "leftist."

What scares me more than warped etymology, though, is STUPIDITY. I haven't read much about these guys, but the little I've seen reveals a frightening depth of STUPIDITY.

1 - They apparently knew the informant since October. Reliable sources will tell you that you shouldn't engage in stupid, illegal activities with anyone you've known for fewer than 10 years. STUPID.

2 - They apparently had deep suspicions that there was an informant in their midst, but went ahead with the plan anyway. STUPID.

3 - They attempted to blow up a bridge. This choice makes me want to run away from these people very fast, and I'm not even near them. Blowing up a bridge is a guaranteed, fool-proof way to inconvenience, anger, frighten, and alienate nearly everyone, and to make them applaud when you are caught and prosecuted. Even if you blew up a bank or a dam, you'd alienate about 99.999% of the population, but at least you'd impress that tiny percentage of people who are into that sort of thing. NOBODY HATES BRIDGES. STUPID.

4 - They got involved with explosives, which immediately puts you into a different class of criminal vis-a-vis the FBI, federal charges, etc. STOOPID.

It reinforces my belief that you shouldn't be an outlaw unless you have a brain.
posted by crazylegs at 4:38 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


that makes me wonder why there isn't a Nobel Prize for explosions

Because Nobel made his fortune (partially) inventing dynamite, and then decided he wanted people to remember him for more β€” but mostly better β€” than just that.

red clover: The comparison raised was between OWS and the Tea Party. I'll grant you that vandalism occurs in relatively small proportion to the overall number of participants. But vandalism frequently occurs when/where OWS are staging events, and the correlation between protest-stagings and vandalism is far higher for OWS than for the Tea Party.

Demographics (old retired people for TP events who attend by the hundreds if that versus youth who see the dismantling of social mobility happen right before their eyes, in the relative safety afforded by the anonymity of large numbers).

We pretty much know how OWS protests end: being kettled, pepper-sprayed, and wrongfully arrested and then tortured by an overly militarized police. Let's see how the TP crowd reacts once such a pattern is established on their rallies. Not that that will ever happen, of course: they're a creation of the media and the right-wing financiers.
posted by LanTao at 4:59 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The vast majority of OWS arrests related to civil disobedience. Sure, OWS protestors were arrested in greater numbers than Tea Partiers, but that's because the two groups employed different tactics. It isn't ideological, or at least there's no reason to conclude that it is. If the Tea Party staged a months-long campout in the middle of a city and refused to leave, then you'd have a better comparison. I think you'd also see roughly the same number of arrests.
posted by red clover at 5:15 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It isn't "leftist."

Well, it is in the original, non-Americanized sense of the term. "Left" historically just means on the political side of the masses of non-ruling class/non-aristocratic people. It's really only recently in America that it's come to mean whatever Rush Limbaugh and other movement conservatives find politically expedient.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:31 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


No you don't get to blame me, because I never used inflammatory rhetoric calling people to "take over" and "occupy" public spaces and then look all surprised when people smash windows and set shit on fire.

So when OWS types say "Use peace and love and nonviolence. Stand on your rights, but don't hurt anyone," as they CONSTANTLY do, they get no credit, but if they use the word "occupy" to mean "take up public space peacefully" (which they have also said, REPEATEDLY and loudly) then they are to blame if someone interprets it to mean "Smash random shit."

Ok then. No double standard there.


Why are you expecting the other side to play fair? They never do. You have to have a plan for double standards and not playing fair. The freedom riders and lunch counter protestors had extensive traIning from CORE and SNCC. They had leaders. They agreed to combine together and submit to discipline as a group becaus it made them stronger. They truly organized. And it paid off.

The Klan never played fair. Haven't you seen the films of he young black men sitting at be counters and the whites trying to get in their face? They sat there stoic and never moved. When th TV cameras caught that, it was immediately obvious who was in the right and in the wrong.


It's sort of built in for Occupy. They were spontaneous, which gave them buzz.

But long term sticking power. That takes organization and planning.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 PM on May 2, 2012






Interviews with friends and family of the suspects and more background on the FBI infiltration.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:58 AM on May 26, 2012


Neighbors of Chicago 3 held at gunpoint and taunted about their sexual orientation and political beliefs for a couple of hours the night of the raid.
posted by stagewhisper at 3:38 PM on May 27, 2012


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