COINTELPRO.2K MEETS THE WTO
Federal Anti-Activist Intelligence Network
By Frank Morales
On May 4, 2000, the Intelligence Newsletter, based in Paris, France, published a report which stated that "sources close to the Washington DC Metropolitan Police have given Intelligence Newsletter details about intelligence units that gather information on anti-globalization militants in the US and elsewhere". (1) In addition, the same sources said that during the April 17 Break the World Bank DC protests, "reserve units from the US Army Intelligence and Security Command helped Washington police keep an eye on demonstrations staged at the World Bank/IMF meetings." In addition, the French intelligence service report notes that "the Pentagon sent around 700 men from the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir to assist the Washington police on April 17, including specialists in human and signals intelligence. One unit was even strategically located on the fourth floor balcony in a building at 1919 Pennsylvania Avenue with a birds-eye view of most demonstrators."
According to the report, information on the protest movements is collected and stored by six Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) centers funded by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance. Ostensibly these intelligence centers are set up to counter organized crime, drugs and terrorism but it takes no great stretch to comprehend how civil disobedience, once defined as a terrorist threat and/or criminal conspiracy would, or has become a target. According to the Intelligence Newsletter report, "the RISS also act against any political activist group deemed to be a threat and over the last year has found itself focusing on anti-globalization groups." In addition, the report notes that in order "to justify their interest in anti-globalization groups from a legal standpoint, the authorities lump them into a category of terrorist organizations. Among those considered as such at present are Global Justice (the group that organized the April 17 demonstration), Earth First, Greenpeace, American Indian Movement, Zapatista National Liberation Front and Act-Up." Although this story has yet to be verified, given the existence of RISS and the paranoid proclivities of the US national security state and its civil disturbance planning apparatus, we should assume the report is accurate.
According to RISS program documents (2), the agency is set up to "share intelligence and coordinate efforts against criminal networks that operate in many locations across jurisdictional lines." The program "serves more than 5,300 member law enforcement agencies" across the country including the FBI, DEA, IRS, Secret Service, Customs and the BATF. It is overseen by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, State and Local Assistance Division, 810 Seventh Street, NW, Washington, DC (202-305-2923). Its immediateoverseer is the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), PO Box 12729, Tallahassee, Florida, (850-385-0600). The IIR also sponsors the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training program (SLATT) which provides, via its "extremist research experts", "training and information to state and local law enforcement personnel in the areas of domestic anti-terrorism and extremist criminal activity." (3) The FBI's National Security Division Training Unit is a partner with IIR in providing SLATT training nationally.
According to a 1999 Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) report on RISS, the six federally funded Regional Information Sharing System centers are financed "to support law enforcement efforts to combat multi-jurisdictional criminal conspiracies and activities." (4) The six centers, the Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, Newtown, PA, the Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center, Springfield, MO, the New England State Police Information Network, Franklin, MA, the Rocky Mountain Information Network, Phoenix, AR, the Regional Organized Crime Information Center, Nashville, TN, and the Western States Information Network, Sacramento, CA, are set up in such a way that "each center's staff possess sufficient flexibility to tailor the individual center's priorities and operations to the particular- perhaps unique - needs of the region." According to the BJA report, the centers "maintain pools of specialized investigative equipment for loan to participating member agencies", including "photographic, communications (and) surveillance" equipment. In addition, "all six RISS Intelligence Centers have confidential funds available to member agencies for the purchase of investigative information, contraband, stolen property, and other items of an evidentiary nature. The net amount of confidential funds provided by the centers to member agencies totaled $265,526 for 1998."
According to the Intelligence Newsletter report cited earlier, it's the Mid-Atlantic Network, based in Newtown, Pennsylvania, whose region includes New York and the District of Columbia, that is particularly efficient in activist spy work. According to the report, that center "distributes intelligence on the groups to other police departments via RISSNET, enabling investigators to find links between the movements and look into their finances, telephone calls and membership lists." According to Mid-Atlantic Network documents, it was "initiated by the US Congress in 1974 to aid law enforcement agencies in targeting, identifying, and removing multi-jurisdictional criminal elements." The Network offers a "secure database containing information concerning known or suspected criminals, businesses, organizations and their related identifying information", along with "training in the seizure of computers." (5)
As mentioned earlier, the Intelligence Newsletter report claims that hundreds of Army intelligence operatives were present during the DC anti-World Bank demo. Again, with a premonition of tens of thousands of protesters, it is quite likely that the report is accurate. After all, one can rest assured that the Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan, code-named Garden Plot, is especially fixated on defending the seat of government (corporate) power in America. (6) That DC was flooded with intelligence operatives and assorted government spies is, lamentably, quite likely. The US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), cited in the French report, is a "a major army command", which "conducts dominant intelligence, security and information operations for military commanders and national decision makers." (7) Based at Fort Belvoir, Flagler Road, Virginia, (the Nolan Building) since 1989, INSCOM recently redesignated a number of units including "the Continental United States Military Intelligence Group that supported the National Security Agency and a number of field stations."
According to military documents, during the course of the 90's, "INSCOM was drawn into contingency operations other than war all over the globe" These "contingency operations" or domestic military operations other than war, are law enforcement "support missions" in civil disturbance suppression. Quite possibly they are run out of the "Emergency Operations Center" at Fort Belvoir. These operations have been enhanced with the recent creation of the "National Ground Intelligence Center." Further, according to INSCOM, "the mission of the Special Security Group that had disseminated Sensitive Compartmented Information since World War II was drastically realigned. The unit was redesignated and resubordinated to the 902nd Military Intelligence Group." Some of this "sensitive" information is contained in so-called top secret SAP programs. In this regard, INSCOM is in the business of "providing counterintelligence support to the Army's growing number of Special Access Programs -- highly sensitive projects which required exceptional security measures." Actually, the gathering of intelligence during the DC protest involves an even higher source, given that "in 1993 the Secretary of Defense ordered service human intelligence assets consolidated under Defense Intelligence Agency control", at which time "INSCOM turned over most of its human intelligence operations"
Intelligence Newsletter, No.381, "Watching Anti-WTO Crowd", May 4, 2000,
Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) Program, www.iir.com/riss/
State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) Program, www.iir.com/slatt/
Bureau of Justice assistance, The RISS Program, 1998,
Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network,
Frank Morales, "US Military Civil Disturbance Planning: The War at Home",
CovertAction Quarterly #69, Spring/Summer 2000, www.covertaction.org/
US Army Intelligence and Security Command, www.vulcan.belvoir.army.mil/
anti-sweatshop coalition (ASC)