Protest actions occurred in 50 cities on January 25, same day as news was released that the FBI was duped in an embarrassing "counter-terrorism" lecture hoax.
If you check out these two Uptake (citizen-journalist) films of protests in Minneapolis and Chicago, you might note that even though the actual weather in the Midwest is opposite of other hot spots in the world, there are some similarities in the political climate when authorities try to make dissent a crime.
Hundreds demonstrate outside Minneapolis and Chicago Federal Courthouses
Ironically, news broke on this national day of protests that the FBI Chicago Division investigating the anti-war activists had itself been bamboozled. It seems that certain FBI offices, including the Chicago one, were duped into hiring a 66-year-old guy to lecture them on counter-terrorism who turned out to be a complete fraud. The Chicago FBI is reported as one of several governmental and academic entities to have paid William G. Hillar, who regaled FBI agents, military members and college students with stories of his daring exploits as a retired Green Berets colonel fighting terrorism.
Combine this news of U.S. tax money going for hoax lectures of FBI agents by a con artist with the prior news of wide spread cheating by the FBI on their own internal "counter-terrorism" tests, and it simply does not instill much confidence, does it?! Could it be that the FBI ought to be spending less resources going after anti-war activists and more time investigating their own "counter-terrorism" lecturers?
All irony aside, it's sad to see a history of repression of civil rights repeating, and even sadder and more frustrating for someone like myself, a retired veteran of the FBI who worked for years on real crimes like serious Mafia conspiracies in NYC and who also, for several years, taught the rules of criminal procedure to FBI agents and other law enforcement officers. (The law of criminal procedure largely consists of respect for the various civil rights embedded in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, 8th and 14th Amendments.)
It seems necessary for someone to warn the FBI's new agents who are too young to know about these worst of FBI abuses that happened during the 50's, 60's and 70's and therefore can't understand how they are falling prey to similar factors and pressures. Essentially one can substitute the new word "terrorist" for the old word "communist" and easily see history repeating, all of it very counter-productive to solving real crimes. I can tell you that during the early 1980's the FBI suffered from a significant image problem stemming from the COINTELPRO (Counter-intelligence program) abuses that often hampered our efforts to develop rapport with different segments of the public. I was even warned by older (mostly retired) agents who had suffered through that era, some of whom, actually ended up themselves in trouble for their "black bag jobs," for blindly following Hoover's orders and other improper activities targeting civil rights, anti-war and even feminist activists.
How have the last 10 years of ongoing wars and terrorism hysteria caused so many in the national security apparatus to focus on American advocacy groups and seemingly forget the rationales that undergird the tried and true concept of "community policing"? How do headlines like "FBI, Memphis SWAT Unit Crash Peace Center Meeting" help law enforcement solve real crimes?
Warnings to "Top Secret America" (click for my short or full version) are finally provoking some response! But this initial response by former Minneapolis FBI counter-terrorism "Assistant Special Agent in Charge" Timothy Gossfeld proved to be nothing but a simplistic denial. What's needed is a real debate in front of a new Church-type Committee.