Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Busting Domestic Terror Networks

In recent years, some in federal law enforcement have pushed the "lone wolf" theory of criminal activity by far-right organizations from neo-Nazis to revolutionary antiabortion terrorists. Prosecutions may be easier if there is a focus on individuals. But time and again, it is clear the those who have been convicted of crimes based on their far-right ideologies, almost always came from a culture and organizational context that nurtured their views and honed their skills. What's more, its also so that these individuals often had help, and rarely act alone -- except in the narrowest sense of criminal culpability.
I discussed the underground networks behind antiabortion violence in Eternal Hostility: The Strugle Between Theocracy and Democracy.

Vicki Saporta, executive director of the National Abortion Federation, and others in the prochoice leadership told me in interviews for Womens eNews a few years ago that they saw pursuing the wider networks that support violent antiabortion criminals -- as essential.

"Other criminals," Saporta said, "will continue to rise up to replace the high-profile criminals who get caught, because they know they can count on food, shelter and other support. I think that until we put those people in jail, we will not be able to stop the violence."

The nationally syndicated radio news program Democracy Now recently featured an interview with a former FBI undercover operative who takes exception to the F.B.I.'s lone wolf theory. Here is part of their interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Today, we're joined by an ex-F.B.I. agent, Mike German, a whistleblower. He resigned from the agency last year in protest of what he saw as continuing failures in the F.B.I. counterterrorism program. German had worked for years going undercover to infiltrate domestic terrorist organizations like white supremacist skinhead groups and anti-government militias. On June 5, he wrote an editorial in The Washington Post advocating law enforcement pay more attention to groups that produce so-called lone wolf extremists like Timothy McVeigh, executed for the Oklahoma City bombing, and Eric Rudolph who planted the bombs at the Atlanta Olympics and women's health clinics, a gay night club, as well...

AMY GOODMAN: Looking at the piece that you did in The Washington Post, "Behind the Lone Terrorist, a Pack Mentality," you talk about every once in a while, a follower of these movements bursts violently into our world with deadly consequences. McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Buford Furrow, Jr., Paul Hill, to name just a few, all convicted murderers, identified as lone extremists, the most difficult terrorists to stop, because they act independently from any organization. Or do they? You write, "Tim McVeigh seemed able to find a militia meeting wherever he went. He was linked to militia groups in Arizona and Michigan, white supremacist groups in Oklahoma and Missouri, and at gun shows he sold copies of The Turner Diaries, the racist novel written by the founder of a neo-Nazi organization. No one finds such groups by accident." You talk about Eric Rudolph who planted the bombs at the Atlanta Olympics, two abortion clinics, gay nightclub, grew up in the Christian Identity Movement, which identifies whites as God's chosen people and encourages the faithful to follow the Biblical example of Phineas, by becoming instruments of God's vengeance. Aryan Nations, formerly of Hayden Lake, Idaho, was the center of Christian Identity thought. Not incidentally, Buford Furrow worked there as a security guard before going on a shooting rampage at a Jewish day care center in Southern California. And you talk about Paul Hill, wrote of the need to take Phineas actions to prevent abortions and was so well known that the news media used to -- used him to speak in support of Michael Griffin's killing of abortion doctor, David Gunn, that Hill later shot an abortion provider himself should have surprised no one. Give us the landscape of these groups. They're well known.

MIKE GERMAN: Sure, they're well known. And they're very well organized, and they're very smart. They understand criminal conspiracy laws. They understand the First Amendment. And they take advantage of those in training their operatives to go out and do these activities. And the point I was trying to make is -- is that we can't look at these as isolated instances. It would be as if we were investigating the mafia and looking at every mafia hitman as a lone assassin and not looking at the underlying organization that was producing these murders, you know. And these people are careful, the leadership are careful about separating themselves from the actual criminal conspiracy, you know. But they do set the motive. They set the method that's used, and I believe that makes them part of the conspiracy. Now, I'm not saying necessarily you can make a criminal case against them, but all I'm saying is if we're -- if our number one priority is to prevent acts of terrorism, we have to pay attention to these needle factories, because that's what they're producing is these lone extremist terrorists. And it's not just random violence that occurs once in a while, it's an organized pattern of activity.

AMY GOODMAN: I remember during President Bush, the first's presidency, Planned Parenthood trying to get the administration to talk about the whole movement of burning, bombing, attacking women's health clinics as a conspiracy, because the same kinds of things were happening around the country, not to mention the targeting of women's health professionals, and doctors who performed abortions. They could hardly get an audience with the Justice Department at the time, and the administration was adamant about not talking about conspiracy of these groups. What is the significance of this?

MIKE GERMAN: Well, I think the problem is if you blind yourself to the conspiracy, then the chances of them being successful in their next act of lone extremist terrorism is more likely. So, you know, again I'm not saying that we could necessarily take these leaders into court and convict them, because the whole purpose of their methodology is to separate themselves from the actual criminal activity, but what I'm saying is if we don't pay attention to those leaders, you're going to insure that the next group is successful, just as if we were only investigating the mafia one murder at a time and not looking at the underlying organization."


[Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com]

2 Comments:

Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Bruce Wilson said...

This raises the question : if the FBI and the DOJ are so willing to prosecute American citizens for alleged "material support" to terrorist groups ( whatever those are deemed to be ) under the rather broad definition of "material" as speech, then....

Why so few agressive prosecutions or investigations of domestic terrorist groups ?

4:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home