Back in May, five guys in Ohio who thought it would be a Good idea to blow up a bridge got arrested. The government said the plot “was meant to convey a message to the civilian population, the corporate world, the financial system, and all levels of government.” In reality, the Famous Five — Joshua S. Stafford, Anthony Hayne, Brandon L. Baxter, Connor Stevens, and Douglas L. Wright — were actually being set-up by an FBI agent who’d infiltrated their circles (apparently centred on the Occupy movement in Ohio). Now (November 20) the five are being sentenced for their stoopid. Connor Stevens’ Pop complained to the judge that his son had been entrapped. “My son is guilty,” James Stevens said, “and so is the government”, but in sentencing Connor to eight years’ jail and the government to none the judge obviously failed to agree.
Though a strategy with a long history, FBI infiltration and (especially) entrapment appears to becoming more commonplace in recent years (at least as far as this particular milieu is concerned) and seemingly as a result of both (er) difficulties associated with the search + destroy of animal rights and ecological industrial saboteurs and the opportunities provided by radical involvement in Occupy movements in the US.
And ’cause it’s what the state do.
In Melbourne the fact that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has recently expressed an interest in teh anarchy has provoked a good deal of disco among local anarks, some serious, some slightly silly. In terms of state shenanigans, probably the most immediately relevant case* is that of Operation 8 in Aotearoa/New Zealand, in which a number of anarchists and indigenous radicals were targeted as part of a state conspiracy to construct a terrorist organisation and to destroy radical activist networks. Well, Operation 8 and the monkey business insurrectionary anarchists on various islands are undertaking…
Some relevant texts made in response to the reportage re ASIO include:
• Rebecca Winter’s response to today’s Fairfax article, Anarchistaffinitymelbourne, November 13, 2012;
• Press Statement, Melbourne Anarchist Club, November 15, 2012;
An open letter to anarchists (and others) in Melbourne (and other places) who feel under attention from the state; or, “Please Don’t Talk To The Cops”, goldenbarleyschool, November 17, 2012;
• Melbourne: Solidarity with grand jury resisters and response to coffee with ASIO, disaccords, November 17, 2012.
The last time I can recall a hullabaloo over similarly spooky goings-on was back in 2007 when another student was approached and invited to spy on activists in Sydney (see Tricksy ASIO wants the nasssty anarchisssts, June 26, 2007). Oddly, the APEC summit which ASIO was one of several agencies responsible for ensuring went smoothly witnessed the first time extreme right-wing activists posing as anarchists went public; the same, slightly smaller mob were at it again last weekend (Saturday, November 24), this time disrupting a ‘pro-Palestinian’ rally (but more on that later).
On November 16 a rally in solidarity with anarchists imprisoned in the US for refusing to cooperate with a Grand Jury took place outside the US consulate on St Kilda Rd. I estimate that somewhere between 50–70 people took part during the course of the afternoon (AA reckons 40–50), and the photographer from the Australian Federal Police (?) obtained a good number of images to add to their files.
In terms of active infiltration, ‘Operation 8’ apparently relied in part on infos provided by a Kiwi fella by the name of Rob Gilchrist; in the UK, police employed Mark Kennedy. (Most recently, Mark has been identified as responsible for infos which brought about French state prosecution of the Tarnac 9.) The massive expansion in mineral resource exploitation, especially coal and uranium, will undoubtedly bring with it a proportional increase in state repression and corporate surveillance and infiltration. Of note in this context is the curious case of Mehmet Ersoy, exposed several years ago in the pages of The Age and, of course, working class stalwart Nicola Roxon’s publicly-expressed fears of Bad people subverting campaigns against the coal and gas industries.
For an historical account of anarchist terror, state violence and public hysteria see The International Campaign Against Anarchist Terrorism, 1880-1930s (Richard Bach Jensen), December 31, 2009.
*Note that ASIO is engaged in some very tricksy business inre refugees, part of a much wider panoply of state powers employed to keep keeping the subhuman tide at bay — to popular applause.