From the Kent State killings to Occupy Cleveland, this is the face of the new COINTELPROCoint

Bob Fitrakis
May 5, 2012

Recent events in northern Ohio underscore the new COINTELPRO assault on activism. On Tuesday, May 1, federal authorities arrested five “anarchists” charging them with conspiracy in trying to bomb property used in interstate commerce, according to the Associated Press (AP). The target of this alleged plot was a bridge running through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland.

Media immediately identified the men as linked to the nonviolent anti-corporate Occupy Cleveland movement. The next day, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson refused to renew the permits for Occupy Cleveland’s downtown encampment site. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio questioned why the Mayor would revoke the permit the day after the arrests. “Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not the groups they affiliate with,” said James Hardiman, ACLU’s Ohio Legal Director.

An undercover employee of the FBI later identified as an ex-convict sold the Cleveland “anarchists” fake explosives to blow up the bridge, according to the AP. As an axiom in activist politics, if anyone approaches a demonstrator and suggests violent activities and offers to procure guns or bombs – they are in all probability a cop or working for law enforcement.

Friday, May 4 was the 42nd anniversary of the Kent State shootings. Recall that the shootings only occurred after the mysterious burning down of the Kent State ROTC building on May 2, 1970. Numerous accounts of the event indicate that the Kent State police never attempted to stop the arsonist and the University’s own investigative study reported: “The persons involved in the actual incendiarism were few, were separated from the main crowd, and could easily have been apprehended by the police.”

The Ohio National Guard would have never been called to the Kent State campus without the ROTC arson.

William A. Gordon’s book “Four Dead in Ohio” noted that the Kent State University police made no attempt to prevent the ROTC fire despite the fact that their own intelligence warnings alerted them to the impending arson. One detective even admitted telling a TV camera crew, “Don’t pack your cameras. We’re going to have a fire tonight.”

The special grand jury report done under the auspices of Portage County Common Pleas Judge Edwin W. Jones concluded that, “It is obvious that the burning of the ROTC building could have been prevented with the manpower then available.”

In 1976, Senator Frank Church and his Senate investigation committee exposed the government’s Counter Intelligence Program (CONINTELPRO). The FBI admitted to the Church Committee that on May 7, 1970 they deliberately set fire to an ROTC building in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Six pages concerning ROTC fires were redacted in the Church Committee report.

As Alan Canfora, one of the students shot on May 4, said “some of the students there did try to light the building on fire. It was like the Three Stooges trying to burn the ROTC building. When we left, that fire was completely out.”

In his book, Gordon noted that a biker showed up with a can of gasoline and gave it to a high school student, George Walter Harrington, who then burnt the building. Gordon and others have speculated as to whether the biker worked for the FBI or federal authorities. Despite the presence of fire and police officials, neither the biker nor Harrington were every prosecuted.

The original COINTELPRO ran between 1956 and 1971. Its purpose was to discredit any peace and social justice movements. The tactics they used were those of psychological warfare. Tactics included smearing the reputations of individual activists and organizations through planting false stories in the media; forging documents; planting evidence leading to wrongful imprisonments, sending in undercover agents and snitches to promote illegal activities and violence; and even assassination.

The initial evidence in Cleveland, as in Kent State 42 years earlier, points to a rejuvenated COINTELPRO movement designed to destroy the reputation of the highly successful Occupy Wall Street movement.

David K. Shipler, the author of “Rights and Risks: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America,” pointed out in an April 29, 2012 New York Times op-ed that most recent terrorist plots in the United States have been hatched by the FBI. Shipler wrote “But dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naively play their parts until they are arrested.”

Two days after Shipler’s words, the five anarchists are arrested with fake C-4 in Cleveland. As Shipler points out, “Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, its not easy to tell the difference.”

Shipler should have added, some terrorist threats are manufactured by the government to destroy social justice movements.

It has already been widely reported that Homeland Security was involved in harassing the Occupy movement. (See The new CHAOS, COINTELPRO and the Occupy movement, Free Press, January 5, 2012)

A little known but highly influential private organization, The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, emerged last November as coordinating the crackdown on the Occupy movement. They were coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs.

It should come as no surprise that five so-called anarchists, with no capacity to blow up a bridge on their own, were sold or given fake C-4 from an ex-convict working with federal law enforcement. And then, a big city mayor uses it to attack the Occupy movement. From the Kent State killings to Occupy Cleveland, this is the face of the new COINTELPRO, same as the old COINTELPRO. The 1% are still protected by the illegal activities of the security industrial complex that routinely violate the civil liberties of U.S. citizens seeking nonviolent change.

Originally published by The Free Press,

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The Free Press uncovers one million voters purged in Ohio

Bob Fitrakis
April 15, 2012

The Free Press obtained public records from all 88 of Ohio’s county Boards of Elections (BOE) documenting that 1,092,392 voters were removed from the voting rolls since the last presidential election.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Democratic-rich Cleveland, led the Buckeye State with 267,071 purges. Franklin County which includes the capital of Columbus, removed 93,578 voters. Franklin County went 58% for Obama in the 2008 election. Hamilton County which includes Cincinnati removed 65,536 voters, for a total of 426,185 from these three Ohio counties. Once again, a few rural Ohio counties reported no purges. These include Hancock, Huron, Sandusky, and Wood counties.

The National Voting Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 mandates that each state make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official voting rolls. Some voters were purged for legitimate reasons such as those who are deceased and voters who moved out of the county or out of state. But, the Act also allows BOEs to remove voters who have not voted in two consecutive federal election cycles. BOEs are allowed to mail to registered voters who can be purged if they don’t respond to the mailing – even if they still live at their registered address.

These discretionary mass purges concentrated primarily in Ohio’s urban centers could be the key to whether Obama wins the nation’s most controversial swing state in this year’s election. A similar study by the Free Press during the 2008 year revealed 1.25 million voters purged. After the 2004 Ohio election debacle and recount, the Free Press discovered that between the 2000-2004 election cycles 305,000 voters had been purged in the state.

In 2008, the grassroots activist group ACORN and other groups re-registered many of Ohio’s purged voters before the November election. After Obama’s victory, an obviously concentrated effort by the Right targeted ACORN and succeeded in shutting it down. Without ACORN or a similar operation in place, what will happen in Ohio in 2012?

We could follow the actions of the ACLU in 2008, that won a lawsuit in Michigan halting the mass purging of voters in Detroit. Michigan officials purged an estimated 30,000 voters per year based on their failure to respond to the voter registration material sent to their house. Justice Stephen J. Murphy of the U.S. District Court ordered Michigan to “immediately discontinue their practice of canceling or rejecting a voter’s registration based upon the return of the voter’s original voter identification card as undeliverable.”

Perhaps the ACLU or another organization will step up in Ohio to remedy or eliminate these purges In the meantime, Ohio voters should check their registration status before heading to the polls this November.

2012’s Civil Liberties Apocalypse Has Already Happened

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
January 19, 2012

In case you missed it, President Barack Obama has signed a death knell for the Bill of Rights. It’s a hell of a way to begin a year many believe will mark the end of the world.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) makes a mockery of our basic civil liberties. It shreds the intent of the Founders to establish a nation where essential rights are protected. It puts us all at risk for arbitrary, indefinite incarceration with no real rights to recourse.

The Act authorizes a $626 billion dollar defense budget (which does not include the CIA, special ops, various black box items, etc). Obama’s signing statement says it does address counterterrorism at home and abroad as well as Defense Department modernization, health care costs and more.

But it also includes Sections 1021 and 1022, bitterly opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, among many others. The New York Times urged Obama to veto the bill because of them. The UK-based Guardian said NDAA 2012 allows allows for indefinite detention of US citizens “without trial [of] American terrorism subjects arrested on U.S. soil, who could then be shipped to Guantanamo Bay.” The Kansas City Star was equally blunt, stating that the NDAA is “trampling the bill of rights in defense’s name.”

Section 1021 reasserts the President’s authority to use the military to detain any person “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” It also includes the military’s power to detain anyone who commits a “belligerent act” against the U.S. or its coalition allies under the law of war. Despite widespread public pressure, Obama did not veto the bill. In his signing statement he said: “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

Citing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, the NDAA states that those detained may be detained “without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF].” The NDAA also allows trial by military tribunal, or “transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin,” or transfer to “any other foreign country or any other foreign entity.” This last practice is known as “rendition.”

It’s been been widely documented that the United States has used rendition as a way to let individuals be tortured outside of U.S. soil. “Extraordinary rendition”—used during the second Bush administration—is the kidnapping and transfer of individuals to a third country for purposes of “enhanced interrogation,” otherwise known as torture.

An amendment to the NDAA offered by Senator Mark Udall forbidding the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens failed by a vote of 37-61. A compromise amendment to preserve current law concerning the detention of U.S. citizens and lawful resident aliens within the United States proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein passed, but only sparked more controversy. Feinstein insisted the reference to current law meant that U.S. citizens could not be indefinitely detained, while Senators Carl Levin and John McCain argued that it does allow indefinite detention. Senator Levin cited the Supreme Court as stating that: “There is no bar to this nation’s holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant.”

Section 1022 of the NDAA deals with the “Requirement for military custody.” Section 1022 requires that all persons arrested and detained under Section 1021, including those detained on U.S. soil whether held indefinitely or not, will be in the custody of the United States Armed Forces. Thus, Section 1022 of the NDAA 2012 clearly allows the U.S. military the option to arrest and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens.

The ACLU stated that, “The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision…[without] temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future Presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.” Civil libertarians are calling for the specific repeal of Sections 1021 and 1022, asking elected officials to come out in favor of this repeal. Civil libertarian activists are also calling on local governments to pass ordinances and statutes declaring their municipalities and states “Bill of Rights Enforcement Zones” or “Rendition-free Zones.”

The ACLU believes that “the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured within the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.” Sections 1021 and 1022 pose a threat to U.S. citizens on U.S. soil who may be seized and held indefinitely because of so-called “belligerent acts.”

For a long while we have been hearing apocalyptic predictions about the end of the world through solar flares, natural disasters, invasions from outer space and the like. All that is believed to be slated for December, 2012.

But what most of the nation doesn’t realize is that the end of our basic civil liberties, in place since the December, 1791, ratification of the Bill of Rights, has already taken place.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, available at, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at Harvey Wasserman. Originally published by