Huffington Post blogger John
Serry wants to know, in response to the intimidation and
harassment of Pomona College professor Miguel Tinker Salas, how “the FBI
[could] be so duped or goaded into having their domestic operations so blatantly
hijacked and transparently politicized.” Obviously, Mr. Serry knows little
about the FBI and its long-standing agenda to harass, intimidate, and neutralize
individuals and organizations deemed a political threat by the government.
In essence, for decades, the FBI has served as the secret police for
various administrations, going after civil rights and peace activists as well
as more militant individuals and organizations such as the Black Panthers, AIM,
Earth First, and others. Senator Edwin Muskie, a victim of FBI harassment, remarked
from the floor of Congress that this surveillance was “a dangerous threat
to fundamental constitutional rights.” During the 2004 political campaigns,
the FBI went around the country intimidating antiwar activists, interviewing
(or rather intimidating) their family and friends. As FOIA documents reveal,
the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force “inappropriately regards public
protest as potential ‘domestic terrorism,’ prompting it to investigate
and build files on the political activities of peaceful dissenters,” the
ACLU of Colorado noted in an August 2 , 2005, press release.
None of this is new. J. Edgar Hoover cut his teeth on going after political
opponents, most notably as head of the General Intelligence Division of the
Justice Department in 1919, and later as the head of the Bureau of Investigation,
which became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. Newspapers liked to
portray the FBI as an all-American crime-busting outfit going after the likes
of John Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Machine Gun Kelly, but in fact its primary
job was to hound and hunt down radicals and political opponents.
Early on, Hoover collected a massive database of 150,000 names, and using this
data he went after antiwar activists, labor unions, socialists, communists,
and other malcontents. By January 1920, Alexander Mitchell Palmer, United States
Attorney General under Woodrow Wilson, and Hoover had organized the largest
mass arrests, sans search warrants, in United States history—10,000 people
were rounded-up in Gestapo-like raids.
From 1956 until 1971, the FBI ran COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program)
and its sole purpose was to “neutralize” dissident political organizations,
that is to say Americans exercising their First Amendment right. In fact, the
very purpose of COINTELPRO was to “increase factionalism, cause disruption
and win defections” of target organizations. In 1981, the illegal activities
of COINTELPRO became legal when Reagan signed Executive Order 12333. As recent
revelations demonstrate, the FBI and a cornucopia of other government agencies—including
the CIA and the Pentagon—have infiltrated, harassed, and used psychological
warfare and extralegal force and violence against legitimate political organizations
and individuals. Again, none of this is new or especially revelatory. In America,
a Gestapo-like political and secret police has operated more or less unhampered
for nearly a hundred years.
John Serry’s blog entry was prompted by the intimidation of Pomona College
Arango Professor in Latin American History and Professor of History and Chicano/a
Studies, Miguel Tinker Salas. On March 7, Salas was “interviewed”
(interrogated and harassed) by two members of the L.A. County Sheriff’s
Department working for the FBI Joint Task Force on Terrorism. Salas’ crime?
He “teaches classes in Latin America history and has special research
expertise in the history and politics of Venezuela,” more than enough
to make him suspect in the eyes of the government.
Moreover, as of late various media outlets have asked Salas to “provide
historical background on the growing tension between Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez and the George Bush administration. For instance, several outlets contacted
him for a response after Donald Rumsfeld compared Chavez to Adolf Hitler. Most
recently, Professor Tinker Salas was interviewed for ten minutes on CNN en Español
about the history of U.S. intervention in Latin America,” according to
Serry. “What has Venezuelan politics to do with the war against terrorism?
Who officially sent out the thugs to pay a visit to my colleague? That ‘conversation’
was clearly meant to serve two purposes: to add to Professor Tinker Salas’s
ongoing file in a fishing expedition to uncover something incriminating against
him; and to let him know that THEY are watching, a not-so-subtle warning to
intimidate in order to curb his speech.”
Get used to it, John.
Mr. Salas is but the tip of the iceberg. Millions of us—no doubt
John Serry included, since he contributes a blog to the Huffington Post, a “liberal”
website, actually rather milquetoast, but a threat nonetheless to the Straussian
neocons—are subject to “investigation,” thanks to Bush’s
NSA snoop program, recently allowed to go forward, in violation of the Constitution,
as Congress has “cut a deal with the White House” to avoid a full
Senate inquiry (even though such an investigation would have been akin to johns
Recall a few short weeks ago Lindsey Graham, Congress critter-whore from South
Carolina, demanding Bush move more aggressively against “fifth columnists,”
that is to say millions of Americans who disagree with the occupation of Iraq.
AG Alberto Gonzales, a torture advocate and apologist that would make Grand
Inquisitor Thomás de Torquemada proud, told Graham the administration
would very much like to pick his brain on the subject, or vise versa. Congress
and the administration will be on the same page soon enough, probably as the
shock and awe campaign against Iran gets off to a murderous start. Dissent will
not be tolerated, as it now has a loud and growing voice on the internet.
Palmer’s raids, rounding up a mere 10,000 “subversives,”
will look like child’s play when compared to what the Straussian neocons
Of course, the NSA snoop and dossier program has nothing to do with “al-Qaeda”
telephone calls or email messages. It is all about compiling lists to be used
in the near future. History is replete with examples—Germany, Russia,
Chile, and Indonesia—of dictators rounding up the opposition, sending
them to camps, or “disappearing” and slaughtering them outright.
But history does have a funny habit of repeating itself. Miguel Tinker Salas
and members of antiwar groups in Colorado, to name but two, have experienced
the leading edge of the fascist wave coming to America, one terrorist event
away from becoming a boot-in-your-face reality.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root, after all, has not been awarded
a $385 million dollar contract by Homeland Security to construct detention camps
Venezuela expresses alarm: FBI terror agents question recognized US
EMBASSY OF THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
10 de marzo de 2006
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela today expressed its
alarm at a report published by New America Media stating that FBI agents had
questioned a recognized U.S. academic on his relations with Venezuela, if he
had ever been asked to speak in Venezuela’s favor, and on links between
Venezuela and terrorism.
Two agents from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI’s
Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) visited Miguel Tinker-Salas, a widely respected
professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California, on Tuesday, March 7. He
was questioned for 20 minutes on a number of issues related to Venezuela. Several
of Professor Tinker-Salas’ students were also questioned, and the agents
took note of cartoons displayed on his door. Tinker-Salas, who was born in Venezuela
and identifies himself as a critic of U.S. foreign policy, noted in the published
report that he considered the questions an attempt “to intimidate and
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela considers this incident
a violation of the freedoms of expression, thought and academic inquiry, and
views the move as a desperate attempt to link Venezuela to terrorism. The Government
of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela also believes this incident draws comparisons
to the Cold War, when academics and activists were regularly questioned and
intimidated by government officials for their political views.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a pluralistic, free and sovereign country,
one that maintains relations with academics of all political leanings. The Embassy
of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela recently helped Michael Shifter, Vice
President of the Inter-American Dialogue, professor at Georgetown University,
and critic of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in setting up meetings with
high government officials, including the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for
North America, the president of the National Assembly and the country’s
vice president, and did so with in respecting his academic activities and inquiries.
Venezuela condemns the actions taken by the FBI agents, expresses its solidarity
with the academic community in the United States, calls upon U.S. authorities
to provide an explanation for this incident and their policy towards Venezuela,
and demands respect for our sovereignty.