US: FBI, the Manufactured “Official Story”, and “Manufacturing Terrorists”

[The Official Story as told by FBI spokespeople, and repeated by the uncritical media, is “White House defends FBI query into Boston suspect (Associated Press, 22 April 2013) — The White House is defending the FBI’s performance in its 2011 inquiry into Tamerlan Tsarnaev (tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings….White House spokesman Jay Carney says it’s clear that the FBI followed up on information it received about Tsarnaev. He says the FBI interviewed him and his relatives and didn’t find any domestic or foreign terrorism activity…..The Russian FSB intelligence security service told the FBI in early 2011 about information that Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam. The FBI says it conducted interviews and provided the results in the summer of 2011. The bureau says it also checked U.S. government databases and other information to look into his telephone communications, possible use of radical online sites, personal associations, and travel and education history.”  But, given the history of COINTELPRO, and of post-911 FBI entrapment schemes and political Islamophobic campaigns, many are skeptical of the official story.  Was the Boston Marathon bombing either an FBI-manufactured-jihad or an event which was FBI-known but not prevented, for political reasons?  Has any major news media demanded the FBI records including the Tsarnaev files, the FBI agent/interviewer and “Tsarnaev handler” notes?  The corporate media has been such a loyal and uncritical, un-investigative propagandist for the ever-changing and offically manufactured story, it is important to take a look at sharply critical views and background, such as these given below. — Frontlines ed.]

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The Official Tsarnaev Story Makes No Sense

by Craig Murray – April 22, 2013

There are gaping holes in the official story of the Boston bombings.

We are asked to believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was identified by the Russian government as an extremist Dagestani or Chechen Islamist terrorist, and they were so concerned about it that in late 2010 they asked the US government to take action. At that time, the US and Russia did not normally have a security cooperation relationship over the Caucasus, particularly following the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. For the Russians to ask the Americans for assistance, Tsarnaev must have been high on their list of worries.

In early 2011 the FBI interview Tsarnaev and trawl his papers and computers but apparently – remarkably for somebody allegedly radicalised by internet – the habitually paranoid FBI find nothing of concern.

So far, so weird. But now this gets utterly incredible. In 2012 Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who is of such concern to Russian security, is able to fly to Russia and pass through the airport security checks of the world’s most thoroughly and brutally efficient security services without being picked up. He is then able to proceed to Dagestan – right at the heart of the world’s heaviest military occupation and the world’s most far reaching secret police surveillance – again without being intercepted, and he is able there to go through some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. He then flies out again without any intervention by the Russian security services. Continue reading

Historian challenges exaggerated claims and twisted “history” about Black Panthers’ self-defense program

Countering Subversion– Black Panther Scholarship, Popular History, and the Richard Aoki Controversy

By Donna Jean Murch, October 2012 issue of Perspectives on History, American Historical Review

Starting early Monday morning, August 20, with a barrage of texts, emails, and Facebook postings, friends and colleagues invited me into the growing storm over Seth Rosenfeld’s book, Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power. The book debuted with an accusation that Richard Aoki, one of the most trusted soldiers of the Asian American, Third World, and Black Power movements, was an FBI informant. To me this debate was deeply meaningful because I, like Rosenfeld, had interviewed Aoki and knew him informally over the years I spent at the University of California, Berkeley, researching what ultimately became my book, Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party.

Rosenfeld’s claim, which he bases on a single FOIA document and his interviews of two people who are now deceased, has immense implications because of Richard Aoki’s central role in the Panthers’ program of armed self-defense. Shortly after founding the Black Panther Party (BPP), Bobby Seale and Huey Newton consulted Aoki, who supplied them with their first guns, including.357 Magnums, 22’s, and 9mm’s. If Rosenfeld’s claim is true, readers could logically infer that from its inception, the state guided the Black Panther Party’s hand as it embraced the gun and the broader principle of armed self-defense.

It would be premature to talk definitively about the truth or falsity of Rosenfeld’s allegations, and it is imperative that scholars, activists, journalists and historians organize to get the remaining documents declassified by the FBI. In order to substantively respond to these claims, we need more research and more declassification. Indeed, this is true far beyond the case of Richard Aoki and extends into the larger field of postwar U.S. history. Until researchers have greater access to the archival holdings of the FBI and other national security agencies, what we understand of our collective past remains provisional and fragmentary.

Thus Rosenfeld’s book is a poignant reminder that we simply do not know the full extent and scale of state surveillance and repression—not only of radical social movements of the 1960s, but of a much broader spectrum of groups, organizations, personalities, and institutions. As a historian of the Panthers, one of a whole generation of younger scholars documenting the history of the Black Power and Black Studies, I’ve seen multiple examples of how state infiltration and backlash profoundly shaped the course of radical social movements and became the dark chiaroscuro against which youth activism emerged and defined itself. This is true not only for the BPP and UC Berkeley, but also for a wide range of historic grassroots struggles from Kent State to Attica and from the American Indian Movement (AIM) to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

The tremendously difficult, intricate, and expensive protocols of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, combined with the near impossibility of accessing state, local, and federal law-enforcement records, have made this work daunting and severely limited researchers’ ability to document the twilight worlds of repression and infiltration. These barriers are further complicated by the methodological problems of recovering the history of groups like the Panthers with aboveground institutions and underground wings engaged in clandestine activity. In this sense, I am very sympathetic to the particular dilemmas posed by this type of inquiry. The release of Subversives and the ensuing controversy provides a welcome occasion for public debate about the historical consequences of the domestic national security state.

That said, perhaps, what I find most unsettling about Rosenfeld’s book is its almost complete failure to engage most of the new research on the BPP. With the exception of a single monograph on violence and the Panthers, Rosenfeld employs little of the new scholarship in the Aoki section of the book, and instead relies heavily on an outdated journalistic account for background and two interviews and a single FOIA document for his most sensational finding. As a result, he makes sweeping claims that overreach his sources, like an exaggerated role for Aoki, who appears as the Asian Zauberer of East Bay radicalism, promoting violence at major historical junctureslike thefounding of the BPP and the Ethnic Studies Strike at Berkeley. Had Rosenfeld delved more carefully into the spate of recent books, dissertations, and edited collections on black radicalism, it would have been much harder to attribute the use of armed self-defense solely to his Svengali-like Aoki, who appears in the book replete with sunglasses at night, “slicked back hair,” “ghetto Patois,” and a menacing “swagger.” At the very least, pinning so much on Aoki is a big leap.

This is not a small point, or a mere turf battle between academic and popular history, because it has much larger implications for how Rosenfeld frames the role of Aoki as a decisive, corrupting influence. So how would incorporating more of the scholarly literature have changed his narrative? First, to truly assess how the state derailed these movements, we have to take the history of the groups and organizations seriously, and then explore how intervention changed their course. Ironically, had he followed this course, Rosenfeld might have found even more substantive evidence for exposing the role of state “subversion.” I argue, for example, in Living for the City, that it was precisely through the armed, military wing of the BPP that the state infiltrated the organization across different regions and time periods. However, to imply that the government invented or conjured armed self-defense, rather than using it to justify repression, is both historically inaccurate and misleading. Continue reading

Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers

Daniel Ellsberg's release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 broke through the official lies "justifying" the Vietnam war

consortiumnews.com

By Coleen Rowley and Robert Parry
June 15, 2010

Almost four decades after Defense Department insider Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – thus exposing the lies that led the United States into the Vietnam War – another courageous “national security leaker” has stepped forward and now is facing retaliation similar to what the U.S. government tried to inflict on Ellsberg.

Army Intelligence Specialist Bradley Manning is alleged to have turned over a large volume of classified material about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to Wikileaks.org, including the recently posted U.S. military video showing American helicopters gunning down two Reuters journalists and about 10 other Iraqi men in 2007. Two children were also injured.

The 22-year-old Manning was turned in by a convicted computer hacker named Adrian Lamo, who befriended Manning over the Internet and then betrayed him, supposedly out of concern that disclosure of the classified material might put U.S. military personnel in danger. Manning is now in U.S. military custody in Kuwait awaiting charges.

Though there are historic parallels between the actions of Manning today and those of Ellsberg in 1971, a major difference is the attitude of the mainstream U.S. news media, which then fought to publish Ellsberg’s secret history but now is behaving more like what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern calls the “fawning corporate media” or FCM. Continue reading