By The Progressive on December 17, 2005
Rumsfeld Spies on Quakers and Grannies
By Matthew Rothschild

December 16, 2005

Not to trouble you or anything, but the next time you’re going to a protest, the eyes of the government may be upon you.

And I’m not just talking about local police filming your activity.

I’m not talking about the FBI under cover in your midst.

I’m talking about the Pentagon, too, getting into the act.

According to an MSNBC story on December 13, Rumsfeld’s Pentagon is tracking some of the most innocuous and lawful protests.

For instance, the Pentagon has a file on an anti-war group that was gathering at the Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Florida, to plan a counter-recruiting effort at local high schools.

That group of Quakers constitutes a “threat,” according to a 400-page Pentagon document that MSNBC got hold of.

It was “one of more than 1,500 ‘suspicious incidents’ across the country over a recent 10-month period” that caught the attention of the Pentagon snoops, MSNBC said. Of these, “nearly four dozen” were anti-war meetings or protests.

The Pengaton’s partial file on the spying is available at
DODAntiWarProtestDatabaseTracker.pdf.

It lists 43 events in a six-month period alone, dating from November 11, 2004, to May 7, 2005. Pentagon political spying took place in the following states and the District of Columbia: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

One took place in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 26, 2005, according to the Madison Capital Times.

It was sponsored by the Student Labor Action Coalition and the Stop the War, the Capital Times reported. “Participants in the rally numbered only about 20,” the paper said, and it was designed to protest recruitment in Madison. “A planned Air Force recruiting drive was abandoned as a result.”

The Pentagon’s database “listed the type of threat posed by the event as ‘anti-DOD vandalism’ and marked the source as ‘not credible.’ The case, however, was left on a status of ‘open/unresolved,’ ” the Capital Times reported.

The Pentagon snooped on another counter-recruitment protest, this one in Santa Cruz on April 5. It labeled the protest a credible “threat.”

“Over 300 students marched into a campus job fair, occupying the building and holding a teach-in until all military recruiters left,” according Santa Cruz Indymedia. It quoted third-year student Jen Low saying: “The notion of the Pentagon spying on peaceful protesters is a major threat to the freedoms that they claim to protect.”

The Pentagon also surveilled Code Pink and the Raging Grannies in Northern California, starting a file on a November 10, 2004, protest at the Sacramento Military Entrance Processing Station (“Disposition: Open/Unresolved,” the document states) and a May 7, 2005, counter-recruiting protest at the San Francisco Recruiting Station (“probably peaceful,” it notes).

“It’s just a big waste of time and money,” says Natalie Wormeli, who is on the board of directors of the Northern California ACLU and is co-founder of the Davis chapter of Code Pink. “I think taxpayers should be outraged at that.” She adds, “We are not the enemy of the state. And I do worry it could have a chilling effect on newcomers to the cause. I get concerned we’re headed to a new COINTELPRO. The U.S. can do better this. We should not be living in a surveillance society.”

Ruth Robertson of the Raging Grannies, who provided songs for the San Francisco rally, says, “I guess they still don’t get it that grannies in flowery hats are peaceable.”

Gail Sredanovic of the Raging Grannies makes an additional point: “Aside from the disturbing civil liberties aspects of the Pentagon spying on local peace groups, it makes me scared to think that the folks in charge of protecting us from possible terrorist attacks can't tell the difference between a terrorist threat and a peaceful citizen gathering. Are they really that stupid?”

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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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