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Monday, January 26 2015 @ 11:44 PM CST

Operation Backfire Backfires on FBI

News ArchiveLike the cleansing waters of Hurricane Katrina, the FBI’s attack on the environmental movement has done more for creating community and organizing resistance to government oppression than we were seemingly capable of doing ourselves. At first, everyone was hunkering down or running for cover, moving on or going on hasty, long-term vacations. You did not know who to talk to or who to trust. Except for the peaceniks, the once-radical streets of Eugene were strangely quiet. The bars are full though, and there is a lot of whispering and commiserating going on. Operation Backfire Backfires on FBI

by Jim Flynn (Family / Friends of Daniel McGowan

Wednesday, May. 10, 2006

from the Earth First! Journal, May-June 2006

But out of the flooded backwaters of government repression a new power has risen. People are coming out of the woodwork to step up and help their friends in trouble—“retired” old-timers, family members and relatives, old friends and undaunted youngsters, too. Black Panthers, AIMsters, feminists, Vietnam-era activists and even those who lived through the McCarthy era are providing wisdom and camaraderie when, at one time, there was little connection. Some are organizing and taking off work to do grand jury roadshows, high school buddies and families are educating themselves and flying across the country to attend court hearings, food donations and an outpouring of support are being offered to affected families, proactive media collectives are forming, lawyers are volunteering their time, and environmental groups are being recruited for support.

One thing the FBI will never have is the outpouring of volunteer energy that comes with being part of a popular movement that is under attack. As you all have probably heard, the FBI has come to town and made a few arrests. If you live in Eugene like I do, you have heard that the FBI has been in town for many years now and that NOW they are going to town in an unfettered fashion! And, boy howdy, are they doing well for themselves! They’ve got a pyromaniac heroin addict who thinks it’s cool to dress up in body wires and go reminisce with (read: entrap) his old “friends,” many of whom didn’t
even know who HE [CUT: Jake] was. (JAKE FERGUSON IS HIS NAME, AND, DESPITE ADMITTING TO PARTICIPATION IN MOST OF THE ARSONS, HE REMAINS FREE AND WITHOUT ANY CHARGES AGAINST HIM.) They’ve got a dead defendant and 11 live ones (15 IF YOU COUNT THE ONES THEY DON’T HAVE), and the feds keep saying there are more to come. They’ve got subpoenas served and grand juries convened in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and maybe Wyoming and Nevada soon. And, much to their utter joy and ecstasy, they’ve got people tripping over each other to sing. They’ve got this snitch in this jail and that snitch in that jail, juggling to keep them apart and [CUT: the] costs down. They’ve got site visits and fruitless digging (literally) for evidence. I’ll bet this is the most fun the FBI has had in years. I’ll bet they are yucking it up over there at the FBI water cooler. And they are laughing at us, watching to see what happens next.

The once-untouchable Earth Liberation Front (ELF) movement—so covert in what it did (does) that the FBI had no leads on the most notorious acts of politically motivated sabotage the country has seen since Sam Lovejoy and the Plowshares—has, at least in the media, been reduced to he said, she said. Now, after all the post-9/11 hearings, the FBI ain’t looking so good, but let me tell you, once upon a time this outfit had some respect in this country, some teeth and some muscle. So it is not the FBI at their best that is claiming to have beaten the ELF, and it is a shame to have them laughing at us instead of the other way around.

So what to do? Well, after doing everything we can to help our INDICTED friends, we need to make sure this never happens again. I’m not sure where we went wrong, but somewhere along the way someone forgot to tell SOMEONES not to talk to the police. That message seems to have gotten lost [CUT: here in Eugene], AND this is not good.

How to fix it? Well, the answer is one word: Community. I know many of you were hoping for me to say something rad like, “Snitches get stitches!” Sounds cool, but it just ain’t practical. If we WAS in the Irish Republican Army or the French Underground, we might be able to have some solidarity against the coppers and violently enforce a “don’t talk” rule. But, that ain’t us. Not only are we not that tight of a community, having grown up in different places and being a bit on the diverse side, but we also ain’t the violent types—despite what the feds are saying. We aren’t the ones who beat people up; we get beat up. We don’t kill people; we get killed. Never forget JUDI Bari, the car bombing and the millions of dollars the FBI had to pay. Why hasn’t that violent crime by unknown assailants ever been solved?
Not politically convenient maybe?

So, that brings us back to community. Community is how you stop snitches. If someone knows they have a community to support them while they are awaiting trial or serving their sentence, and that it will be there for them when they get out, they are much less likely to inform on others. If we turn our backs on them or vilify them, then what motivation do they have to resist? Many of the defendants are cooperating with the feds. Some talked right away, others had to be coerced. They span the whole spectrum, from Stan squealing like a pig and begging for mercy (read: admitting guilt for himself and others) within hours of being taken into custody, to those who just admitted their own roles right away, to those who held out for months until more than half a dozen others squealed on them and were left with few options. I can understand some of their decisions, but we will not know who said exactly what and who gave up whom until the trial. I would suggest people not judge them too harshly until we
have all the facts.

The old adage goes something like, “If you do the crime, be prepared to do the time.” Well, if when you commit a crime, you’re thinking, “Well, even if I get caught, what am I facing, five to eight?” And then when you do get accused of the crime, you’re facing life plus 335 years! Well… they CERTAINLY have changed the rules on us, and I don’t think any of us on the outside can judge what is going on
in those interrogation rooms. BUT WE MUST LEARN TO NOT TALK TO THE COPS. REMEMBER THAT the feds had NEXT TO NOTHING [CUT: little] until they knocked over the first domino, then more began to fall. If Stan HAD kept HIS mouth shut, this would all probably have ended with one pyromaniac heroin addict trying to sell his story to
the FBI for some more dope money and them telling him to bugger off.

Regardless of the guilt or innocence of those charged, there are some important lessons that we can learn from everything. I know this is going to sound really obvious in retrospect, but it must be said: Just cause someone commits a felony with you, and, therefore, could be busted as well, does not mean that they won’t talk about it to someone THEY ARE SLEEPING WITH [CUT: in a bar some day] or go straight to the feds if they get desperate. So choose your partners very wisely. Think long-term. How well do you really know this person? Where do you think their head will be at in 10 years? Does this person that you are considering committing a felony with have obvious weaknesses like a drug addiction, a dim bulb, a respectable
job/career, a spouse or children? (No overt offense to the breeders among us, but the feds exploit family ties. SO it has to be considered a “weakness” here in terms of something that can be used as leverage against you.) Is this person a happy, productive, long-term member of your community? Apart from your local community, is this person a member of the Movement? Do they share our biocentric philosophy or are they just interested in fucking shit up? Choose your “friends” wisely.

There is a lot of work to do, and we need to keep at it. Decry the huge sentences our comrades are facing, but bring the issue back to the state of the environment. Sooner or later the real ecoterrorists (the Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the corporations who work for them) must be brought to task for their crimes. It remains up to us, the radical environmental movement, to speak out and take action to stop the madness. With global climate change, rampant deforestation, massive species extinctions and toxics all around us, we know it is not long before all hell breaks loose and things get really messy.

Jim Flynn was a member of the EF! Journal editorial collective last century when all they had to worry about was being associated with the Unabomber, death threats from loggers, and Roselle smoking pot in the office. Ah, the good ol' days!


Earth First! Journal, POB 3023, Tucson, AZ 85702, USA
(520) 620-6900; tortuga@earthfirstjournal.org

Subscriptions are $25/year (in the US), $22 for low income subs
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Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan

Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist, unjustly arrested and charged in federal court. Neither Daniel McGowan, nor his support group "Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan" are affiliated with any other organization or group
and any claim to the contrary is speculation and is strongly discouraged.


Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist, unjustly arrested and charged in federal court on multiple counts of arson, property destruction, and conspiracy, relating to two incidents that occurred in Oregon in 2001. Daniel has asserted his innocence by pleading not guilty to all charges. He is facing a minimum of life in prison if convicted.

General questions can be directed to friendsofdanielmcg@yahoo.com.
Interested in outreach or fundraising? Email outreachfordaniel@yahoo.com.

Support Daniel McGowan: http://www.supportdaniel.org
Daniel on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/danielmcgowan

Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan
PO Box 106, NY, NY 10156

Donations: checks or money orders can be made out to "Lisa McGowan" and sent to the above PO Box or online at http://tinyurl.com/8blde


Security note: All email accounts and lists run by Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan are being monitored by the federal government. Please keep that in mind and be smart with your correspondence. Thanks.

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