Tag Archives: spying

The Military Sees Grassroots Organizing in USA and Globally as a Threat

20476673-isolated-computer-with-large-eye-spyingLittle Rock       We were just talking a couple of days ago about how Canada was now monitoring every grassroots protest through their vast country.  Being “Debbie Downer,” I speculated that you can bet that the USA is all over that, too.  Almost simultaneously, what do you know, the UK-based Guardian runs a story saying essentially, “oh, yeah!”  It’s almost just a matter of degree rather than a difference.  The USA goes worldwide, not just in-country, and doesn’t care about the bite-sized demos and fish fries, just those groups everywhere that involve 1000 or more members, you know like ACORN and all of its affiliates in Canada, Latin America, India, and elsewhere.

Here’s the rest of the story thanks to reporter, Nafeez Ahmen and his good work.

First, it’s not exactly spying, at least not yet, it’s “studying,” which I’m going to look up in a dictionary or Wikipedia when I finish this piece and see if that is now listed as a possible synonym for “spying.”  The Department of Defense has something called the Minerva Research Initiative which is giving out extensive grants to universities, and let’s pause immediately and say “shame, shame” on their money grubbing selves, like Cornell and the University of  Washington, to study the potential threats that they see in grassroots groups and social movements.

These studies funded by Defense are directly supervised by the military.  In the Cornell case:

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions…”


We’re not just organizers building organizations, we’re something close to carrying agents for infectious diseases.  God and the military know all of this turmoil in the streets doesn’t come from profound inequities and unresolved grievances, but from contagions.  The University of Washington project “…managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,” and will cover 58 countries in total.”

Ahmen quotes the frequent Social Policy journal contributor, James Petras tellingly:


…James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, concurs with… concerns. Minerva-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the “study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements,” he said, including how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

So sure the military wants to get up to speed on terrorism and that’s an excuse these days for looking at everyone and everything they do, but there are clearly no boundary lines in any of these studies.   I can remember a book decades ago that discussed why the police are so dangerous in our communities because they are trained to always look everywhere for the “invisible assailant,” and they think anyone different represents that threat.  In fact, Ahmen finds evidence of the same thing in a Minerva funded study on who among us is a potential terrorist:

The piece concludes (and, in between, it explains how virtually all social activists–both violent and non-violent–are targeted in this effort) by noting that there are, “a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilising impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.”

I’ve always said we’re dangerous, because we enable the dispossessed and powerless to build power and create change, but it’s only becoming clear in modern times that we may not be worth funding to do the vital work that we do, but a lot of resources are being expended and a lot of outfits and institutions are getting funded to watch what we’re doing and pretend that they have a clue.

Big Brother is watching, so organize!

Ps.  Thanks to Jim Lynch from Little Rock, one of my faithful readers for making sure I didn’t miss this Guardian article – hey, CIA, we’re crowdsourcing now!


All Demonstrations are Now Spying Opportunities All the Time

does-pay-per-click-keyword-spying-really-helpDallas   We condemn China’s regular crackdowns of dissidents and many countries offer them safe harbor.  We cheer the courageous members of Pussy Riot in Russia or Femen in the Ukraine who have stood up to governments for the freedom of speech and the rights of women.  We are outraged at the military coups that subvert democratic elections in Egypt and Thailand to restore “order,” and are repulsed at the death sentences meted out to opponents.  There is little pretense that these governments are democratic in anything but name only, if that.

We are also rightly horrified when we read, or watch, police violently busting up demonstrations in Istanbul in disagreement with the government there or in Brazil on the eve of the World Cup.  These are our more progressive allies on the world stage on various matters.  Freedom of association, the right to participate in the public forum as everyone’s equal space, and the right to speak even if ignored, are all fundamental principles of most political formations purporting to be free and democratic.  Right?  No, wrong!  Those are just old school, July 4th kind of sentiments repeated routinely, but having little meaning it seems even in the most ostensibly “democratic” countries.  Security, not freedom, is the overarching trump card from governments of all stripes and sizes these days.

In the United States thanks to all of the information leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency subcontractor, we now know that in the name of security the USA monitors everyone everywhere, and it takes almost a religious act of faith to not believe that Americans are not also monitored domestically, which few are capable of summoning.  Inarguably, we have lost even a smidgen of moral authority here.

Canada, our sometimes more transparent neighbor, has now stepped up and freely acknowledged through its Government Operations Centre that it monitors all demonstrations in Canada all the time.  In an email leaked to the Ottawa Citizen a bulletin was sent by the GOC to all federal agencies making their intentions and instructions crystal clear saying:

The Government Operations Centre is seeking your assistance in compiling a comprehensive listing of all known demonstrations which will occur either in your geographical area or that may touch on your mandate.  We will compile this information and make this information available to our partners unless of course, this information is not to be shared and not available on open sources. In the case of the latter, this information will only be used by the GOC for our Situational Awareness.

Of course ACORN Canada leaders and organizers were madly sharing this information because no doubt every one of their actions was caught in this net.  There was no happiness.

It seems the GOC had gotten a taste for this kind of activity by monitoring Aboriginal protests against fracking and other environmental developments.

…the Government Operations Centre was involved in coordinating a response to Aboriginal demonstrations against fracking. The GOC distributed a map of the area where the RCMP had conducted raids on protesters who had seized an oil company’s vehicles. It also produced a spreadsheet detailing 32 planned events in support of anti-fracking.  Those included a healing dance in Kenora, Ont., a prayer ceremony in Edmonton and an Idle No More “taco fundraiser, raffle and jam session” planned at the Native Friendship Centre in Barrie, Ont., according to documents obtained through the Access to Information Act by APTN National News.

Talk about leaving no stone unturned, eh?

And who is this Government Operations Centre anyway?  Well, once again according to the Ottawa Citizen:

The GOC was created in 2004 by Public Safety Canada. It is connected with the operations centres of 20 federal departments and agencies, as well as with those of the provinces and territories, and other countries, including the United States.

And, I’m not paranoid, but I can read and still connect the dots, when they mention the United States, that means the NSA again, and when they mention other countries certainly that means the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and likely Australia and others where we have all have buddy-buddy info-sharing arrangements.  If there’s anyone who believes that this is just good, ol’ friendly Canada sharing for the sake of sharing and that the other countries, where they are connected, aren’t giving as good as they’re getting, then I want to talk to you about buying a bridge from me that crosses over the Mississippi River or somewhere closer to your home.

So much for freedom of association.  Just sent your leaflets to the local police and save yourself the trouble of wondering who is watching and do what you have to do to make change happen.  And, as for all of those other countries, please do what we say, not what we do!