The Feds Go Fishing–Informer Discovered in AntiWar Committee’s Midst

Back in September 2010, a series of FBI raids were conducted in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago and North Carolina. These raids were conducted under laws pertaining to US citizens providing “material aid to terrorists” and targeted members of antiwar, leftist, and solidarity organizations. Since the raids, various activists that were targeted have been subpoenaed to appear at a grand jury and have refused to do so. By refusing, those subpoenaed are risking arrest for contempt. However, as of this writing, none have been taken to jail yet. As I wrote in an article first published in Counterpunch on September 27, 2010: “These raids are a clear and vicious attempt to intimidate the antiwar movement.” and the grand jury “is a fishing expedition, as evidenced (for example) by the warrant asking for papers from no determined time.”

The reaction of those whose homes were raided and their supporters was quick and determined. The targeted activists, their attorneys, and local supporters held a couple of press conferences within days of the raids and original subpoenas and a national network organized protests at Federal Buildings in a number of US cities and towns. Resolutions attacking the raids and subpoenas and pledging support for the activists and the right to organize were introduced and passed by a number of city councils and antiwar and labor organizations. The office of the US Attorney for the Northern Illinois District under the direction of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald temporarily withdrew the subpoenas. However, they were reinstated in December, leading to the aforementioned refusal of those subpoenaed to appear in front of the grand jury. Several more subpoenas were served on other activists. In fact, nine more activists have been ordered to testify before the grand jury on January 25, 2011 in Chicago.

A sidebar regarding Patrick Fitzgerald might be beneficial here. If that name seems familiar, it is because he is associated with many high profile cases. He helped prosecute Scooter Libby in the case known as the Valerie Plame affair. For those who don’t remember this case, it involved members of the George Bush White House releasing the name of a CIA agent to the media–a federal offense. Although Libby was convicted of the crime, it has always been believed that others in the White House, including Vice President Cheney, were involved in its commission. This demands the question as to why no one else was prosecuted and how much the prosecutor (Fitzpatrick) was involved in limiting the prosecution to one individual, thereby sparing the White House from a criminal investigation. Patrick has also been involved in many other high profile cases, including the prosecution off Illinois governors Ryan and Blagojevich in separate corruption cases and a case involving torture by the Chicago police that resulted in the conviction of Chicago detective Jon Burge.

In another investigation targeting leftist, anarchist and antiwar political activists in the Twin Cities, several homes and offices were raided before, and during, the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. If one recalls, that convention also saw the arrest of media members including Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, brutal attacks on protestors by police and private “contractors” working with police, and a lockdown against free speech activities in certain areas of the city. Several hundred people were arrested and many were beaten. Nine organizers were eventually charged with acts of terrorism. During their trial it became clear that the organizations these individuals were affiliated with had been infiltrated by government informers.

Similarly, last week the AntiWar Committee (one of the organizations targeted in the September raids) of the Twin Cities discovered that they too had had an informer in their midst since 2008. Going by the name Karen Sullivan, this woman claimed to be a single parent and a lesbian who did not get along with her child’s father. According to statements from members of the AntiWar Committee that appeared in the press, the group’s members were sympathetic to her cover story and, despite an initial concern by some members, accepted and befriended the woman. Also, since the AntiWar Committee (AWC) believed their meetings and activities to be covered by the first amendment and were always open to the public, there was little concern for secrecy.

“Ms. Sullivan” involved herself in AWC activities and meetings, even chairing some of them. She was also one of three AWC members that traveled to Palestine. As soon as they reached Israel, the members were told they would be detained unless they turned back. Two chose to stay and were detained while “Sullivan” went back to the US. It turns out that the Israeli authorities had prior knowledge of the visit and the intention of the group to meet with Palestinian women. While no one in the group could figure out how this was so, it seems apparent now that the “Ms. Sullivan” had provided this information to her handler who had in turn provided it to US officials, who then passed it on to the Israeli government.

In the wake of the January 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona there have been calls by a number of politicians, media commentators and others suggesting the need for new laws limiting political speech in the United States. Meanwhile, efforts are underway in Congress to renew sections of the PATRIOT Act that are due to expire soon. History tells us that when laws designed to curb political speech are enacted in the US, they are used primarily against groups and individuals on the left side of the political spectrum. There is no need for more laws. Instead, there is a need for more free speech. Laws like the PATRIOT Act and The Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996 and the subsequent interpretation of those laws by the courts have criminalized political activities that were previously legal. The investigation that the raids and grand juries discussed here are an example of this.

The intention of the government in this and other similar investigations is to intimidate people into keeping silent so they can carry on their business with a minimum amount of attention from the public. As the discovery of an informer in the AWC shows, they will stop at nothing in their attempt to silence protest against their imperial designs. It doesn’t matter if they get any convictions or even an indictment out of their fishing expedition. If they have intimidated those who oppose imperial war and support people around the world in their struggle against military occupation, they will have accomplished their goal. This is reason enough to support those currently targeted by the FBI in the investigations discussed here. It is more than enough reason to attend the protests against the grand jury on January 25, 2011 around the US.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator's Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Ellen Lau said on January 17th, 2011 at 11:31pm #

    Oh, of course, as a lesbian she’s given care blanche and is above all suspicion. No matter how suspcious her actual behavior.

    Meanwhile, anyone who questions the wisdom of the ‘leadership’ of these organizations is usually labeled an agent immediately and shunned.

    Wonder why no one takes the left seriously???

  2. Deadbeat said on January 18th, 2011 at 12:03am #

    In this particular case I have to agree with Ellen Lau. All a woman has to do is dump on “deadbeat” daddy and all is copacetic.

  3. M Richards said on January 18th, 2011 at 12:41am #

    Infiltration is essentially a con game. If you wish very cutting insight into conning people, pick up a copy of the film “House of Games.” You will find an incisive insight into the psychology of both the con artist as well as the mark.

    Infiltration preys upon very low-level assumptions. It hinges on trust — confidence. It’s a con. It is indicative *not* of how vulnerable you are, but of how gullible you are. The reason the left is not taken seriously is because the left is, on the main, gullible. Naive. The ones on the right who feed off low-hanging fruit are also naive and gullible. The ones on the left are exceedingly inclined to not be just the benthic feeders, but the ones at the tope. This comes from highly honed fantasies of noblesse that blind us to the facts of life, one of which is that these infiltrators are evil people. They can corrupt you, and go home without a twinge of conscience.

    The mere fact that the FBI uses these infiltrators is sign enough that the FBI and those who defend it are corrupt, and corrupted, people. They aren’t per se ‘evil’ but they are most certainly corrupt. They don’t have a conscience; all they have, the only thing they have, is ethics. Ethics is by definition amoral. People on the left are moral; they cannot do nor espouse immoral, much less amoral, things. In that respect, they are innocent.

    60 years ago, you could be duped in this fashion by a black hippie woman (hitting all the bases) sitting in your midst. If they said convincingly that they were a Communist, so much the better for their disguise. A disguise is a disguise. But back then, the movement was very tightly knit. Today, it is like a sieve. Now, it’s lesbians. Whatever. People are gullible.

    Don’t lose sight of the fact that opening up all these avenues —perfectly legitimate avenues— of personal profile also opens up vast chasms to be manipulated by. This is mere law of unintended consequences in action. So: Beware, and watch very closely those who fit profiles too neatly.

    I think it should be *very* evident that the Resistance is not only being subverted, it is being infiltrated. You’d best do your homework, and you’d best be heartless about it. These people are dangerous people; they are setting traps for you. Better to err on the side of caution than be caught in the web of deceit.

    Insofar as Patrick is concerned, prosecutors are driven by whether or not the law has been violated. That is what they prosecute. They rarely have a personal stake in the outcome. Once in the fray, they do become zealots, and will trot out every warlike move to convict. As defenders, as in the case of Libby, they will do precisely the opposite. You have to think like they do. They are human, but doing a job. Their conscience is not about ‘conscience’ — it is about fealty to the spirit of law (not *the* law.) For this reason, these people are the most deluded, since they occupy these offices under the aegis of personal cavalry. They do these jobs for personal aggrandizement, and will tell you in a breath the very opposite. These are the highest of ideologues. It is exceedingly rare that you will find a prosecutor who even comes close to being like Sam Waterston on TV.

  4. hayate said on January 18th, 2011 at 2:00am #

    Deadbeat & M Richards

    Yeah. The cover of single lesbian with kids makes a good cover. These modern day gestapo wannabees use all sorts of covers in their work. I’ve been hit up at least a dozen times over the last 10 years by these things posing as humans of various persuasions.

    The most obnoxious were a woman who “befriended” me several years ago on the zionist site guardiantalk and whom I eventually hosted a private, invite only talkboard with. It turned out she was data mining probably for an israeli source.

    The other very obnoxious encounter happened a couple of years ago and involved an individual who came to my place of work. He was from the UK and was visiting friends, he claimed. He pretended to be in the same sort of business, but it was clear after a few minutes “talking shop”, he was not. Initially I thought since he was obviously gay, it was just a pick-up routine. Later, when the guy had left and it was clear he wasn’t “on the make”, I started wondering what his game was. I then thought maybe he was a con artist in some sort of a rip-off scam. He then paid a 2nd visit a week or two later and seemed most determined to get me starting an internet branch of the business. After that 2nd visit, I went to the cops and filed a report. I also gave them a copy of a photo I took of the guy (without his knowledge). As the guy did nothing illegal, this was just a precaution if he turned out to be some sort of crook running a scam. I’m glad I leaned towards caution in that since it turned out the guy was data mining for a freakshow associated with some people I had clashed with at guardiantalk. Someone I know who also knows the people the guy is associated with let me know the story a couple of months later. These sayanim are located in the UK and some of them are most definitely more than casual israeli supporters. The guy who I met was one of their ranks who was going on a visit to the usa. It’s likely he was just a plug. The fact these things take their zionist role seriously they would got to such an extreme effort tells me that zionists are not normal people, but complete and total fanatics.

  5. Saoirse said on January 18th, 2011 at 8:42am #

    Hi, Ron. Thanks for covering this story. Two suggestions: (1) you cite the Patriot Act and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act as legislation that has made activists essentially outlaws; why not include the law that started it all back in 1981, Reagan’s Executive Order 12333 (and subsequent Attorney Generals’ Guidelines, according to NYU Prof. and attorney Brian Glick)? You see, I’m afraid that if activists who want an open society again focus on merely the recent history of bogus legislation that limits civil rights, we will never get rid of the police state that enforces that bogus legislation. That’s what Reagan, Bush I and Clinton created. Getting rid of the Patriot Act (though that certainly must be done) does little to affect the security infrastructure which has always operated outside the law elsewhere in the world – and now within it right here (2) in between paragraphs 4 and 5 would have been a great place to introduce proof that Ms. Sullivan was not snitch-jacketed. The snitch jacket, as you may know, is what true informers inside the leadership of an organization do to activists deemed as true threats to their autonomy. Yes – confidence players are essentially sociopaths who use others’ sympathies to gain their trust before stabbing them in the back, but it is important to note that Reagan’s E.O. 12333 made the infiltration of the LEADERSHIP of activist groups such as CISPES (one leader of which was targeted in the raid in September) a legal priority – THIRTY years ago. I support the Committee to End FBI Repression, but only to the extent they are willing to work to get rid of the ENTIRE police state here, in America. Focusing on merely the FBI will have little-to-no postive, practical effect for activists and not acknowledging this FACT makes these raids that have done little more than seemingly inconvenience a couple dozen people look like theatre designed to distract us. You can read more at:

    Also, you will not want to neglect the links. My community of activists has been taken over by the government a long, long, long time ago.