By Matthew Rothschild on July 28, 2009

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now just broke a story that is a piece of a larger puzzle: and that puzzle is the spying on dissidents right here in the United States.

This time it was done by someone working for the U.S. military, which may be illegal.

It happened out in Olympia, Washington, where a guy who went by the name of John Jacob infiltrated a group of anarchists working with Students for a Democratic Society and the Port Militarization Resistance. This went on for a couple of years.

When the activists found him out just last week, they were shocked.

“John Jacob was actually a close friend of mine,” Brendan Maslauskas Dunn told Amy Goodman. “We hung out. We gave workshops together on grassroots direct democracy and anarchist struggle.”

But John Jacob was not who he purported to be.

His real name is John Towery, and he’s no anarchist. He’s a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis.

This is just the latest case of domestic spying on political groups that may be happening all over.

A few months ago, it came out that an undercover FBI agent had infiltrated some peace groups in Iowa City.

The case in Olympia is even more troubling, as it involves the U.S. military, which is supposed to be banned by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in law enforcement.

But this isn’t the first time that the military has been caught with its hand in the spying jar.

Back in 2004 at the University of Texas Law School in Austin, two Army lawyers attended, under cover, a conference entitled "Islam and the Law: A Question of Sexism.”

On Mother’s Day, 2005, the National Guard in California was keeping tabs on the Raging Grannies and Code Pink.

And last year at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, the U.S. Northern Command provided support. (See democracynow.org, and "What Is NorthCom Up To?"; in the February 2009 issue of The Progressive.)

The Pentagon also was involved in spying on activists through its notorious Talon database.

Though the Pentagon shut down Talon, the national security state is still involved in gathering intelligence through so-called fusion centers.

The Olympia activists were surprised at the extent of the spying. It turns out that the head of investigations and intelligence at New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force contacted an Olympia police officer about the anarchists, saying he was looking into “leftwing anti-war groups” himself and would appreciate “any Intel.” And the U.S. Capitol Police Intelligence Investigations Section sought information from the Olympia police about an event at Evergreen State College that was planning protests at the Democratic and Republican conventions last year, according to Democracy Now.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Dunn told Amy Goodman. “I have no clue what’s below the water.”

For more information on hundreds of similar incidents, go to McCarthyism Watch at The Progressive’s website.

And to support the work of The Progressive on this vital civil liberties issue, please send a tax-deductible contribution by clicking here.

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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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