January 14, 2010
Cass Sunstein’s white paper, entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” is an exclamation point in the latest chapter of a long history of government tyranny against citizens who organize in opposition to the government. Sunstein argues that individuals and groups deviating from the official government narrative on a number of political issues and events are a national security threat. The administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs formulates “a plan for the government to infiltrate conspiracy groups in order to undermine them via postings on chat rooms and social networks, as well as real meetings, according to a recently uncovered article Sunstein wrote for the Journal of Political Philosophy,” writes Paul Joseph Watson.
|FDR, an icon for many liberals, sent the FBI after citizens who opposed his war policies.|
Sunstein’s plan is a reformulation of a long-standing effort to subvert the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Concerted government attacks against organized political opposition began soon after the founding of the republic — specifically with the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 by the Federalists — but have gained critical momentum in the modern era.
During the First World War, the government created the Bureau of Investigation, predecessor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and appointed J. Edgar Hoover as its head. Hoover’s Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of police and the military — described as a “citizens auxiliary” — conducted mass raids against the anti-war movement of the time, according to documents released by the Church Committee in the 1970s. The Bureau, specifically designed as a national political police force, “rounded up some 50,000 men without warrants of sufficient probable cause for arrest” for the crime of opposing the First World War.
In 1920, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer conducted a massive program in 33 cities and rounded up over 10,000 people. The Church Committee report (p.384) talks of “the abuses of due process of law incident to the raids.” According to Robert Preston (Aliens And Dissenters), the Palmer Raids involved “indiscriminate arrests of the innocent with the guilty, unlawful seizures by federal detectives” and other violations of constitutional rights. The Church Committee (p.385) “found federal agents guilty of using third-degree tortures, making illegal searches and arrests, using agents provocateurs.” Palmer and Hoover found no evidence of a proposed Bolshevik revolution as they claimed but a large number of the rounded up suspects continued to be held without trial.
The Second World War brought a new wave of government terrorism against political opponents. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a 1940 issued a memorandum giving the FBI the power to use warrantless wiretaps against suspected subversives, that is to say activists opposed to U.S. involvement in the war. FDR not only unleashed the FBI on activists, but concerned citizens as well. After giving a speech on national defense in 1940, FDR had his press secretary, Stephen Early, send Hoover the names of 128 people who had sent telegrams to the White House criticizing the address. “The President thought you might like to look them over,” Early’s note instructed Hoover.
Following the Second World War, the government engineered the immensely profitable (for the military-industrial complex) Cold War and the attendant Red Scare. In 1956, the FBI established COINTELPRO, short for Counter Intelligence Program. COINTELPRO was ostensibly manufactured to counter communist subversion, but as a numerous documents reveal the program focused almost exclusively on domestic opposition to government policies.
The Church Committee explains that COINTELPRO “had no conceivable rational relationship to either national security or violent activity. The unexpressed major premise of much of COINTELPRO is that the Bureau has a role in maintaining the existing social order, and that its efforts should be aimed toward combating those who threaten that order.”
[efoods]”This is a rough, tough, dirty business, and dangerous,” former Assistant to Director Hoover, William C. Sullivan, told the Church Committee. “No holds were barred.”
This “rough, tough, dirty business” included infiltration of political groups, psychological warfare, legal harassment, and extralegal force and violence. “The FBI and police threatened, instigated and conducted break-ins, vandalism, assaults, and beatings. The object was to frighten dissidents and disrupt their movements,” write Mike Cassidy and Will Miller. “They used secret and systematic methods of fraud and force, far beyond mere surveillance, to sabotage constitutionally protected political activity. The purpose of the program was, in FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s own words, to ‘expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize’ specific groups and individuals.”
After the Church Committee exposed COINTELPRO, the government claimed it had dismantled the program. However, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration legalized the tactics by signing Executive Order 12333.
“There is every reason to believe that even what was not legalized is still going on as well. Lest we forget, Lt. Col. Oliver North funded and orchestrated from the White House basement break-ins and other ‘dirty tricks’ to defeat congressional critics of U.S. policy in Central America and to neutralize grassroots protest. Special Prosecutor Walsh found evidence that North and Richard Secord (architect of the 1960s covert actions in Cambodia) used Iran-Contra funds to harass the Christic Institute, a church-funded public interest group specializing in exposing government misconduct,” Cassidy and Miller continue.
In addition, North worked with FEMA to develop contingency plans for suspending the Constitution, establishing martial law, and holding political dissidents in concentration camps. Since the false flag attacks of September 11, 2001, the government has worked incessantly to fine tune plans to impose martial law. It has also worked to federalize and militarized law enforcement around the country.
Brian Glick (War at Home) argues that COINTELPRO is a permanent feature of the government. “The record of the past 50 years reveals a pattern of continuous domestic covert action,” Glick wrote in the 1990s. “Its use has been documented in each of the last nine administrations, Democratic as well as Republican. FBI testimony shows ‘COINTELPRO tactics’ already in full swing during the presidencies of Democrats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman. COINTELPRO itself, while initiated under Eisenhower, grew from one program to six under the Democratic administrations of Kennedy and Johnson… After COINTELPRO was exposed [by the Church Committee], similar programs continued under other names during the Carter years as well as under Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. They have outlived J. Edgar Hoover and remained in place under all of his successors.”
Sunstein’s call for authoritarian action against government critics — including outright censorship in addition to the established tactics mentioned above — reveals that COINTELPRO has indeed outlived Hoover.
“Some conspiracy theories create serious risks. They do not merely undermine democratic debate; in extreme cases, they create or fuel violence,” writes Sunstein. “Even if only a small fraction of adherents to a particular conspiracy theory act on the basis of their beliefs, that small fraction may be enough to cause serious harms.”
Sunstein’s analysis dovetails with that of the Department of Homeland Security. In its now infamous report on “rightwing extremism,” the DHS insists members of the constitutionalist movement (including Libertarians and advocates of the Second Amendment) are not only violent but also virulent racists (a conclusion provided pre-packaged by the ADL and the SPLC).
If realized, Cass Sunstein’s call for outright censorship and the absurd proposal to impose fines and taxes on people who hold political views contrary to those of our rulers will naturally result in a redoubling of political activity on the part of the truth movement (specifically mentioned as “kooks” by Sunstein) and Libertarians and Constitutionalists.
As history repeatedly demonstrates, when faced with a strong and determined political opposition government invariably turns to more brutal and violent methods to enforce its will. Our rulers understand this and that is why they are hurriedly finishing their high-tech police and surveillance grid.