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Repression, Civil Liberties, Right-Wingers, and Liberals:
Resisting Counterinsurgency and Subversion Panics

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Life During Wartime:

Resisting Counterinsurgency

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About the Book

"Together, the writers sound a sobering warning: the American government is an iron fist in a velvet glove whose purpose remains preserving the status quo and enriching the rich."— Publishers Weekly

What happens when the techniques of counterinsurgency, developed to squash small skirmishes and guerrilla wars on the border of Empire, blend into the state's apparatus for domestic policing? In Life During Wartime, fifteen authors and activists reflect on the American domestic security apparatus, detailing the increasing militarization of the police force and the re-emergence of infiltration and counter-intelligence as surveillance strategies, highlighting the ways that the techniques and the technologies of counterinsurgency have been applied on the home front, and offering strategies for resistance.

Includes contributions from Kristian Williams, Lara Messersmith-Glavin, Will Munger, Claude Marks, Rachel Herzing, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, David Cunningham, Chip Berlet, Elaine Brown, Walidah Imarisha, George Ciccariello-Maher, Beriah Empie, Elaine Brown, Geoffrey Boyce, Conor Cash, Vicente L. Rafael, Alexander Reid Ross, Evan Tucker, Layne Mullett, Sarah Small, and Luce Guillen-Givins.


"Nowadays, most folks hear words like 'wartime' and 'counterinsurgency' and think Middle East, but editors Williams (Our Enemies in Blue), Munger, and Messersmith-Glavin, who are associated with various anarchist groups, are more interested in how these words can be applied to life in the United States. In this radical collection, insurgency is defined as popular resistance to the state, and America is the state in question. The contributors — professors, political theorists, Black Panthers, anarchists, and public health advocates — argue that counterinsurgency tactics developed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now being used to repress socially marginalized groups, including blacks, the poor, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and gangs, as well as antiwar, environmental, and animal-rights activists. Together, the writers sound a sobering warning: the American government is an iron fist in a velvet glove whose purpose remains preserving the status quo and enriching the rich. Less revolutionary readers may weary of the relentless characterization of America as a racist, militarist plutocracy protected by oppressive security forces, but it's hard to discount the evidence presented here of heavy-handed tactics (injunctions, informants, provocateurs, mass incarceration) that have Democratic and Republican politicians alike up in arms. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


About the Authors

Kristian Williams is the author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America, American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination, Confrontations: Selected Journalism, and Hurt: Notes on Torture in a Modern Democracy. He has written about counterinsurgency and political repression for Counterpunch, Clamor, In These Times, Z Magazine, International Socialist Review, Labor Notes, Social Anarchism, the Earth First! Journal, Eat the State, PDXS, Dollars and Sense, and (perhaps oddly) The Comics Journal — as well as in the introduction to the 2007 edition of The New State Repression.

Lara Messersmith-Glavin is the founder and managing editor of the non-fiction journal Alltopia. Her own writing has appeared in Alltopia, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, the Spoon Cafe Journal, and MaLa, the premier English-language literary and nonfiction journal of China. Her accounts of culture shock, education, the military response to a Tibetan uprising, and the Sichuan earthquake earned her the 2008 Chinalyst.com award for Best Travel Writing. Lara is on the board of directors for the Institute for Anarchist Studies, which seeks to further anarchist thought, solidarity, and practice by funding radical writers through grants, and providing opportunities for publication through Perspectives (now both online and in print form) and the Anarchist Interventions book series (produced in collaboration with AK Press).

Will Munger is a member of the Life During Wartime editorial collective and also organized the 2011 Counter Counterinsurgency Convergence.


Chapter on "Repression, Civil Liberties, Right-Wingers, and Liberals: Resisting Counterinsurgency and Subversion Panics"

Cite: Chip Berlet, 2013, “Repression, Civil Liberties, Right-Wingers, and Liberals: Resisting Counterinsurgency and Subversion Panics.” In Kristian Williams, Will Munger, and Lara Messersmith-Glavin, eds., Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency, AK Press.

Endnotes with Live Links

1 Some of the research in this chapter was originally conducted for and used in Chip Berlet
and Matthew N. Lyons, “One Key to Litigating Against Government Prosecution of Dissidents: Understanding the Underlying Assumptions.” In Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report, in two parts, Vol. 5, No. 13, January–February Vol. 5, No. 14, March– April, West Group: 1998. A few sentences are borrowed with permission.
2 Personal correspondence between author and José Palafox. The exchange resulted in the
posting of a public statement: José Palafox, “Grand Juries as a Political Weapon: From José Palafox in California,” http://www.buildingliberty.us/grand-juries/palafox/, May 9, 2012.
3 Andy Grimm, “More anti-war activists subpoenaed, attorney says: Action apparently
part of federal terror-funding inquiry,” Chicago Tribune, http://articles.chicagotribune. com/2010-12-23/news/ct-met-anti-war-subpoenas-20101223_1_grand-jury-anti-war­activists-subpoenas, December 23, 2010; David Schaper, “FBI Targets Peace Activists For Alleged Terrorism Support,” NPR News, http://m.npr.org/news/front/130274688, Oct. 2, 2010.
4 James Baldwin, “An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis,” New York Review of Books, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1971/jan/07/an-open-letter-to-my­sister-miss-angela-davis/, November 19, 1970.
5 Interview by author with Arthur Kinoy, 1997.
6  Interview by author with Harvey Silverglate, 1997. Conducted for and used in Berlet and
Lyons, “One Key to Litigating Against Government Prosecution of Dissidents.”

7 Chip Berlet, “Inside a Fright-Wing Cell,” Boston Phoenix, August 19, 1988. The author
also attended a dinner featuring one of the defendants, Robert Miles, and heard the case discussed in detail by Miles.
8 Interview by author with Harvey Silverglate.
9 Chip Berlet, “‘Christian Warriors’: Who Are the Hutaree Militia and Where Did They Come From?” Religion Dispatches, http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/poli­tics/2413, March 31, 2010.
10 Emma Reynolds, “Michigan militia are CLEARED of plotting to overthrow government - despite massive undercover FBI operation,” Mail Online, March 28, 2012, http://www. dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2121490.
11 Ibid.
12 Gary Alan Fine, “The Chaining of Social Problems: Solutions and unintended conse­quences in the age of betrayal,” Social Problems, 53, no. 1 (Feb. 2006), 3–17.
13 Brian Glick, War at Home: Covert Action Against U. S. Activists and What We Can Do About It. (Boston: South End Press: 1989). Glick has authorized the full text of his book to be placed online at http://www.buildingliberty.us/war-at-home/glick_overview.html.
14 Glick, War at Home.
15 Victor Serge, What Everyone Should Know About State Repression, (London: New Park Publications, 1979).
16 On the Iranian SAVAK, see Library of Congress, Iran: A Country Study, http://lcweb2. loc.gov/frd/cs/pdf/CS_Iran.pdf, (2008). On El Salvador secret police operations, see Ross Gelbspan, Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War Against the Central America Movement. (Boston: South End Press, 1991).
17 Leo Huberman, The Labor Spy Racket, (New York: Modern Age Books, 1937); George. J. A. O’Toole, The Private Sector: Private Spies, Rent-A-Cops, and the Police-Industrial Complex, (New York: Norton, 1978). See also Frank Donner, The Age of Surveillance: The aims and methods of America’s political intelligence system (New York: Knopf, 1980); and Protectors of Privilege: Red squads and political repression in urban America (Berkeley: University of California Press,1992).
18 Louis F. Post, The Deportations Delerium of Nineteen-Twenty, (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1923). It would have been nicer if Post had mentioned this assessment while signing the deportation orders for Attorney General Palmer.
19 Allan M. Jalon, “A Break-In to End All Break-Ins,” Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2006, http://articles.latimes.com/2006/mar/08/opinion/oe-jalon8.
20 Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, (Boston: South End Press, 1988); and The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent, (Boston: South End Press, 1989).
21 Jeffrey Haas, The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, (Chicago: Chicago Review / Lawrence Hill, 2010).
22 David Schaper, “FBI Targets Peace Activists for Alleged Terrorism Support,” National Public Radio, October 10, 2010, http://www.npr.org/2010/10/02/130274688/

23 Schaper, “FBI Targets Peace Activists For Alleged Terrorism Support.”
24 Grimm, “More anti-war activists subpoenaed.”
25 Grimm, “More anti-war activists subpoenaed.”
26 Interview by author with Fred Solowey, 2011.
27 James Retherford, “Brandon Darby, The Texas 2, and the FBI’s Runaway Informants,” The Rag Blog, May 26, 2009, http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/james-retherford­brandon-darby-texas-2.html.
28 Victoria Welle, “Brandon Darby in New Orleans: FBI Informant Was Egotistical Sexist,” The Rag Blog, May 26, 2009, http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/brandon­darby-in-new-orleans-fbi.html; Kristian Williams, “Profiles of Provocateurs,” Portland Indymedia, June 9, 2011, http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2011/06/408869.shtml.
29 Welle, “Brandon Darby in New Orleans”; Williams, “Profiles of Provocateurs.”
30 Huberman, The Labor Spy Racket.
31 Trevor Aaronson, “Terms of Entrapment: A Guide to Counterterrorism Jargon,” Mother Jones, September/October 2011, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/coun­terterrorism-glossary.
32 Will Potter, “Mafia Law Used Against Environmentalists for Tree Sits, Civil Disobedience,” Green is the New Red, April 29, 2009, http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/mob-law­i-69-environmental-activists/1804/.
33 Frederick Clarkson, “Terror in the Name of the Lord,” Ms Magazine, Winter, 2002, http://www.msmagazine.com/dec02/clarkson.asp; Political Research Associates, “What is the Army of God?” http://www.publiceye.org/reproductive_rights/violence/aog.htm.
34 Xavier Beltran, “Applying RICO to eco-activism: Fanning the Radical Flames of Eco­Terror,” Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 29, No. 2 (2002).
35 The author is not an attorney; this text should not be considered competent legal advice. Always consult an attorney on questions of law. Please do not test the limits of repression to prove a political point without first speaking with an attorney about your risks.
36 Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). See resource pages at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1968/1968_492; and Boston
College, http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/brandenburg.html.
37 The test is discussed here: Doug Linder, “Advocacy of Unlawful Action and the ‘Incitement Test’: The Issue: When does the First Amendment allow the government to punish in­dividuals for expression that may lead to unlawful conduct?” Exploring Constitutional Conflicts, http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/incitement.htm.
38 Linder, “Advocacy of Unlawful Action and the ‘Incitement Test.’”
39 Donner, The Age of Surveillance (1980); Protectors of Privilege (1992). See also: Chip Berlet, “Government Intelligence Abuse: The Theories of Frank Donner,” Political Research Associates, (2008), http://www.buildingliberty.us/repression/#donner
40 “Coalition Letter to Chairman Peter King,” Addressed to “The Honorable Peter T. King, Chairman, House Committee on Homeland Security,” February 23, 2011, http://www. buildingliberty.us/repression/dox/Coalition-Letter_Peter-King.pdf.

41 Chip Berlet, [1987] 1993, Hunt for Red Menace: How Government Intelligence Agencies and Private Right-wing Countersubversion Groups Forge Ad Hoc Covert Spy Networks that Target Dissidents as Outlaws, monograph, Somerville, MA: Political Research Associates, http://www.buildingliberty.us/repression/#hunt.
42 Personal observation; the author helped organize the Chicago event. Personal collection of flyers and programs for the event.
43 Interview by author with Debra Chaplan, 2011.
44 Chip Berlet, “Chairman Lieberman’s ‘War on Terror,’” Right Web, September 16, 2008, http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/Chairman_Liebermans_War_on_ Terror.
45 Chip Berlet, “Violence and Public Policy,” Criminology and Public Policy, special issue on terrorism, Vol. 8, Issue 3, (October, 2009): 623–31.
46 Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), “Counterterrorism policy: MACLC’s Critique of the NYPD’s Report on Homegrown Radicalism,” MACLC website, http://maclcnypdcritique.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/counterterrorism-policy-final­paper3.pdf.
47 Tim Murphy, “Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP’s Anti-Sharia Crusade,” Mother Jones, March 1, 2011, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/david­yerushalmi-sharia-ban-tennessee; Salim Muwakkil, “The Muslims Are Coming!” In These Times, April 7, 2011, http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/7156/; Tanya Somanader, “Asked About AZ Shootings, Gingrich Pivots To Slamming Liberals For Ignoring Threat Of ‘American Islamists’,” January 11, 2012, http://thinkprogress. org/politics/2011/01/11/138222/gingrich-islamophobia-az-shooting; Chip Berlet, “Islamophobia, Antisemitism and the Demonized ‘Other’,”Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), August 14, 2012, http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/islamopho­bia-antisemitism-and-the-demonized-other/.
48 Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), “Smearcasting,” 2008, http://www.smearcast­ing.us/.
49 Thomas Cincotta, Manufacturing the Muslim Menace: Private Firms, Public Servants, & the Threat to Rights and Security, Political Research Associates, (2011), http://www.build­ingliberty.us/repression/#muslim.
50 Interview by author with Thomas Cincotta, 2012.
51 Berlet, Hunt for Red Menace. See a special page devoted to the escapades of Rees and his network, http://www.buildingliberty.us/repression/informers/rees-escapades.html.
52 Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building. (New York: Schocken Books, 1990).
53 Andrea Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, (Cambridge: South End Press, 2005).
54 Gary Alan Fine, “The Chaining of Social Problems: Solutions and Unintended Consequences in the Age of Betrayal,” Social Problems, Vol. 53, 1, 3–17.
55 Robert Justin Goldstein, Political Repression in Modern America, From 1870 to Present, (Cambridge, Schenkman, 1978).
56 Frank Donner, “The Terrorist as Scapegoat,” The Nation, 20, May 2 (1978), 590–94; Donner, The Age of Surveillance (1980); Berlet, The Hunt for Red Menace (1993).
57 Donner, “The Terrorist as Scapegoat.” The “Secret Army Organization” in the United States should not be confused with the French nationalist “Secret Army Organization,” also known as the “Organization of the Secret Army,” which in French is “Organisation de l’Armée Secrete” or “Organisation Armée Secrète” (OAS).
58 David Cunningham, There’s Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence, Berkeley: University of California Press, (2004), 32, 111–12.
59 Cunningham, There’s Something Happening Here, 145.
60 Ross Gelbspan, Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War Against the Central America Movement, (Boston: South End Press, 1991).
61 Wojtek Sokolowski, “The State,” Left Business Observer Listserv, (LBO-Talk Archives), September 25, 2009, http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2009/2009-September/013295.html.
62 William W. Keller, The Liberals and j Edgar Hoover, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989).
63 Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, “Repression and Ideology,” (1998), http://www. buildingliberty.us/repression/#ideology.
64 See Donner, The Age of Surveillance, 414–51; Gelbspan, Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI, 73–84, 169–73, 183 –95; Berlet, [1987] 1993.
65 Berlet and Lyons, 1998.
66 William I. Thomas and Dorothy Swaine Thomas, “Situations defined as real are real in their consequences” (1970): 154–55, in Gregory P. Stone and Harvey A. Faberman, Social Psychology Through Symbolic Interaction, (Waltham: Xerox College Publishing, 1970).
67 Vijendra Singh Jafa, “Counterinsurgency Warfare: The Use & Abuse of Military Force,” South Asia Intelligence Review, http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/publication/faultlines/vol­ume3/Fault3-JafaF.htm.
68 Personal correspondence between author and Kristian Williams, 2012.
69 Singh Jafa, “Counterinsurgency Warfare: The Use & Abuse of Military Force.”
70 Ibid.
71 William S. Lind, “Understanding Fourth Generation War,” Lew Rockwell website, January 6, 2004, http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind3b.html. The website is a clear­inghouse for White Nationalist Paleocons. Note that LewRockwell.com has a slogan “an­ti-state, anti-war, pro-market.” For a principled anti-racist critique by a conservative eco­nomic libertarian, see Tom Palmer, “From Lew Rockwell to Racist Collectivism,” March 2, 2005, http://tomgpalmer.com/2005/03/02/from-lew-rockwell-to-racist-collectivism/.
72 Chip Berlet, “Breivik’s Core Thesis is White Christian Nationalism v. Multiculturalism,” Talk to Action, (2011), http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/7/25/73510/6015.
73 Glick, War at Home; Chip Berlet, “Encountering and Countering Political Repression” in The Global Activists Manual, eds., Mike Prokosch and Laura Raymond, (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002), http://www.buildingliberty.us/security/countering_re­pression.html; See also Sheila O’Donnell, “Common Sense Security,” Public Eye Network, (2012), http://www.buildingliberty.us/security/common-sense-security.html.
74 Sheila O’Donnell “Common Sense Security.”
75 New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, “You Have the Right to Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Law Enforcement Encounters,” NLGNYC web-site, http://www.nlgnyc.org/pdf/publications/kyr-righttoremainsilent.pdf.
76 George Seldes and Clarice A. Rosenthal, You Can’t Do That: a survey of the forces attempt­ing, in the name of patriotism, to make a desert of the Bill of Rights, (New York: Modern Age Books, 1938).
77 “Freedom is a Constant Struggle,” lyrics to the song as used in the play, “McComb, U.S.A.,” written by students of the McComb, Mississippi, Freedom School in 1964, and archived by the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, http://courses.education.illinois.edu/ci407ss/freedomconstant­struggle.html.


Also on this website:
Security for Activists Collection Common Sense Security
By Sheila O'Donnell
Encountering and Countering Political Repression
By Chip Berlet
Disruption: Warning Signs
Sexism, egos, and lies:
Sometimes you wake up and it is not different

By Lisa Fithian / The Rag Blog / March 22, 2010

Stop Spying US
An online collection of survellance documents from various government agencies.
No More With Hunts: A National Campaign in 1981



Dissent is Essential!
Global Human Rights