By Matthew Rothschild on May 04, 2006

The FBI has been keeping tabs on SOA Watch, the human rights group that monitors the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.

In fact, the FBI has elevated its concern to “priority” level, claiming that the group is subject to “counterterrorism” monitoring, according to documents released on May 4 by the ACLU and its Georgia chapter.

SOA Watch was founded by Father Roy Bourgeois back in 1990, and it organizes annual protests at Fort Benning that now draw about 10,000 protesters. (The School of the Americas, in a PR stunt, has changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.)

“Our intentions are peaceful and our commitment unwavering as we nonviolently call attention to a school that has trained some of the worst human rights abusers in this hemisphere,” says Father Bourgeois in the ACLU press release.

The FBI itself recognizes the nonviolent nature of the group, according to one memo from October 2003. “The leaders of the SOA Watch have taken strides to impart upon the protest participants that the protest should be a peaceful event,” the FBI document states.

The FBI denies doing anything wrong in its investigation of SOA Watch.

“Our reaction is the same to all the other ACLU allegations about FBI spying,” says Bill Carter, a spokesperson for the agency. “The FBI does not investigate individuals based on First Amendment activities. The FBI investigates only when we have information that an individual or a group may be involved either in violent activity or national security issues.”

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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