Let's link the past to the present. History is full of examples where intelligence agencies have used "civilians" to sabotage political work. Internationally, there are wide spread allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA - or criminals in action if you prefer our title for them) used anti-revolution Cubans in the Congo in the 1960s. These people were purposely filmed engaging in acts of sabotage against the people such as poisoning water, beating women and children, committing rape, etc., and those acts were blamed on Congolese National Movement (MNC) fighters when in fact, these acts were scripted (as incredible as it seems) and carried out by people who were not native to the Congo nor living there. MNC forces claimed to have captured some of these people just to find out that their prisoners didn't speak Lingala, French, or any other local language. Only the style of Spanish spoken in the Caribbean countries. Further interrogation brought forth the truth about the origins of these prisoners. In one instance, one such prisoner captured in the Congo was actually an African from America who was arrested for stealing cars in Cleveland. He was allegedly given the option of carrying out missions in the Congo, getting paid, and avoiding prison, or not carrying out the missions and getting a long prison sentence. Today, we are aware that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informants inside of the Nation of Islam played a major role in widening the gap between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad to the extent that FBI documents congratulate someone and offer them a cash bonus for "work well done" the day Malcolm was assassinated. Also, there was inside information provided to the FBI about the sexual exploits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by an informant firmly planted in the inner circles of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The identity of this person was depicted in classified FBI documents as "Agent A." There has been widespread speculation about who this "Agent A" was and the accusations have been so persistent that the daughter of Rev. Ralph Abernathy, a top aide to King, has come out in public, repudiating efforts to suggest "Agent A" was her father.
Of course, the Black Panther Party (BPP) was subjected to widespread FBI sabotage. Between 1967 and 1971, the FBI coordinated "Counter Intelligence Program" or "COINTELPRO", was responsible for 233 specific intelligence actions against the BPP. These actions consisted of false letters being written and sent to key people with completely false allegations against individuals contained in the letters. These actions were not carried out haphazardly. Released FBI documents make it quite clear that the objective of the Bureau was to instigate distrust and stir up violence within the BPP by sending the letters. The FBI even had a term for it; "badjacketing" - "the practice of slandering an individual in a way that forces other movement people to distrust this person (COINTELPRO documents - 1974)." Examples of the FBI's most effective badjacketing campaigns were the letters sent to US Organization leader Dr. Maulana Karenga which led to the hostile environment that culminated in a shootout on the UCLA campus on January 17, 1969 in which Panthers Alprentice "Bunchy" Carter and John Huggins were killed. Another fatal example was the letter mailed to Blackstone Ranger leader Jeff Fort in Chicago "warning" him of BPP leader Fred Hampton's desire to "take over the Rangers." This attempt almost destroyed the brittle working relationship between the Panthers and the Rangers. A letter to imprisoned BPP founder Huey P. Newton accusing Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) of cooperating with police agencies is suspected of influencing Newton to have potentially ordered harm to come to Ture which influenced Ture to create space by traveling to Africa which led to his decision to move to Guinea in 1969. Certainly not last, and most definitely not least, FBI efforts to send communications to Newton disparaging the character of Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) while Newton was still incarcerated led Newton to distrust Ji Jaga immensely once the BPP leader was released from jail. This distrust was so entrenched that Newton allegedly ordered everyone on the BPP Central Committee to stay silent on expressing that Ji Jaga was present at a BPP Central Committee meeting in Oakland at the time the murder of the Santa Monica woman took place that would eventually cause Ji Jaga to spend 27 years in prison.
The point of the examples isn't to criticize the Africans used in the Congo, the one used in the Nation of Islam, or the SCLC. Nor is it to question the decision making of Jeff Fort, Maulana Karenga or Huey P. Newton. In most of these instances, most notably Fort, Karenga, and Newton, they were not paid by police agencies and there is absolutely no evidence (despite the constant chatter about Karenga for decades) that they were ever consciously working with police agencies at any time. The important element here is whether they meant to or not, they were manipulated and exploited to serve the interests of our enemies, but none of them had any way of knowing that a coordinated police effort was being deployed to undermine their political work. As far as they knew, they were ahead of the game with the intel they were receiving. Of course, we would know none of this were it not for the folks who bravely broke into the FBI office and liberated the files that led to Congress passing the 1974 "Freedom of Information Act" which revealed COINTELPRO's illegal tactics to the world. As a result of that, we know about badjacketing, frame ups, snitching to the police, and how all of those things hurt the movement in the 60s and before. What's shocking is that unlike Fort, Karenga, and Newton, although most activists today have some knowledge of these occurrences in history, we still continue to act in the very same self-destructive ways that those brothers were manipulated into doing in the 1960s. So, the question is if we know this history, why are people still playing right into the enemy's hands? Does that mean there are active police informants still doing the same things in 2015? Of course there are police agents doing these things, but that may not be the most important element worth looking at. Some of the challenges today are more so related to social media and the mass influx of new activists. There are literally thousands of activists who just came on the scene. They have no sense of history and many of them don't believe they need one. Although it's great that they are here, if this serge is going to sustain itself and prove to be a decisive force, there will have to be some context for everything going on. Social media, the communication going on within it, and the information portrayed through it do not represent a viable alternative to the dedicated study of the forces we are fighting against. So, if these new activists are going to last in this struggle, and not be "brush fires" in the words of Kwame Ture, here's some simple advice from an OG:
1. Stop using social media to attack other people in movement. If you have a problem with someone, take that issue directly to that person, off camera, and have principled ideological struggle with them until you can come to a mutual point of respect. If you are unable to do that, then at least resist the urge to "call them out" on social media. When you do that you are not confronting them, in spite of how much you may think you are. What you are actually doing is engaging in extremely destructive passive aggressive behavior that gives police free evidence and information on weak points in the movement from which to attack our forces. If we can find ways to engage in that principled struggle, it will make our movements much stronger while stopping our enemies from being able to so easily manipulate us. Principled struggle strengthens us and makes us less vulnerable to attack!
2. Learn how to plan out our actions if you must carry them out. Have strategy sessions to map out all exigencies and how you plan to address them when they come up. This is the severe weakness of reaction mobilizing and everything is spur of the moment and nothing is planned. This is a sugar laced invitation for sabotage to act out against us. Plan your work and don't be afraid and too proud to reach out to other more experienced persons for help.
3. Create study groups in your organization that are designed to guide your work by giving you an analysis of the problem as well as a comprehensive approach to the solution, whatever you deem the solution to be. Include a serious component in your study process for criticism/self criticism where honest assessments of your work, and your individual ideas, activity, and participation, can and will be carried out on a consistent basis.
4. Lastly, create a practice of being in an organization and working with organizations. Working with individuals is risky because they are not accountable to anything or anyone other than themselves. At least with organizations, the persons representing the organization are responsible to the line structure and position of that organization so that even if you don't know the person, if you know the organization, you have a blueprint for how the individual should behave. If the organization has no line, structure, or position, it's probably not a real organization!
None of us are perfect, but if the three steps above are committed to and carried out by activists, we will see much of the unnecessary drama eliminated and we will also find that the police will have a much more difficult time attempting to sabotage our work. They will have more difficulty because we will be building a foundation based on integrity and principle that keeps us focused on our mission. That increased focus on our mission, instead of on ourselves, will reduce the egoism that is so rampant in movement circles today while also making it much more difficult for the forces who mean us harm to steer us off course. Let's learn from the mistakes of those before us and do better. And, as always, when we make any type of critique it's because we are offering our services to help correct the errors. If people want to know more, please let me know. We have been studying, presenting, and organizing against cointelpro for decades! We are interested only in advancing our collective struggle.