It’s almost tempting to want to give Jacob Sherman a pass. As a teenage wannabe earth warrior, he fucked up and bragged about his night time exploits to impress girls. Then, when the cuffs were on, he snitched out his friends in hopes of getting a lighter sentence. That is of course unforgivable, but since his release from prison (as far as we know) he’s steered clear of radical movement spaces and communities where he shouldn’t be welcome. He’s been sticking to liberal mainstream causes and perusing a career in “sustainability education.” But obviously our old comrade Jake hasn’t learned a thing about taking person responsibility. Sherman has been paying court ordered restitution money to the earth-raping companies that he attacked back in 2001 and now the government is moving to garnish his wages to get more money out of him, faster. This gave Sherman a chance to talk to the press about this injustice. So what did he say? “It’s unfortunate the government has taken this step. I’ve been told that two co-defendants are delinquent.” Apparently old habits die hard, and Jake Sherman thinks that the best way to get out of a bad situation, is to point a finger at others. He apparently wishes that the forest destroying companies, that he once sought to sabotage, should be getting more money, just not from him! People who see Jake, and rightly want to punch him in the face, should be aware that it’s a sure bet that he’ll turn you into the police after, if he’s able. Sherman is currently a “sustainability official” at Portland State University.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, who just months ago sentenced hacker activist Jeremy Hammond to ten years in prison, has allowed his former co-conspirator Hector Monsegur, aka “Sabu” to walk away with no addition jail time as a reward for his “extraordinary cooperation” with the FBI. She went on to commend him and say that he went from doing “evil” with Jeremy as part of LulzSec to “doing good” by deceiving and betraying his former friends and partners and manipulating them into hacking into the websites of foreign governments for the FBI. One person Sabu attempted to entrap turned out to also be an informant as well.
Sabu was living in public housing at the time of his arrest but was relocated by the Feds after he became an asset to them. Law enforcement agencies are well known for taking care of their informants to a minimum degree so long as they are useful to them. After that even law enforcement see them as the scum they are, and promises of assistance and security are quickly forgotten. Sabu left the Federal Courthouse in New York City, smiling and waiving as journalists briefly followed him. While the press may soon abandon their pursuit of Sabu it isn’t likely that Anonymous, that hacker network he once was affiliated with, will. In their words: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
Two informants who appear to have been very familiar with Washington, D.C. area anarchists helped FBI agents learn the identity of a photo journalist that attended and documented a small 2008 anti-IMF / World Bank protest that trashed the lobby of an upscale hotel. Now those informants may find themselves exposed if a D.C . judge’s orders are carried out.
Laura Sennett is a freelance photographer whose work has been published by CNN, MSNBC, the Toronto Free Press, and on the History Channel. She had covered anti-capitalist protests before, and was tipped off by phone about the early morning action at the posh Four Seasons Hotel, where the “humanitarian” bankers of the IMF and WB were staying. Protesters had her number, but so did someone who was likely posing as an anarchist, who in reality was serving the FBI. Another informant had identified Sennett in security camera footage as ‘Isis,’ which is a nickname Sennett was known by amongst activists. The FBI was then able to find that the phone number belonged to one Laura Sennett. They connected the name to her Virginia drivers license and found the picture matched the woman caught in the surveillance footage.
After being identified, Sennett was placed under surveillance, and two weeks later her home was raided by about two dozen heavily armed and militarized law officers. Her teenage son was dragged out of bed at gun-point, and the entire family was traumatized. Well aware of her status as a journalist, “agents seized dozens of items, including an external hard drive allegedly containing more than 7,000 photographs, two computers, several cameras, and several camera memory cards” according to court documents. Clothing and personal affects were also taken, but no charges were ever filed against Sennett. It’s possible that the entire operation was designed to put a scare into protesters or those who cover their activities, as well as to seize a great number of high quality photographs of protests in hopes that they may reveal illegal activity.
Mike German is a former FBI agent who twice infiltrated “extremist groups” but left the bureau in 2004. Now employed by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, he told the Guardian that he believes that the two informants in this case were likely private investigators. German also spoke critically of the FBI’s use of their joint terrorism task force to investigate an incident of political vandalism, saying that it’s indicative of a trend of the agency shifting it’s interest to be “more about suppressing dissent than investigating serious or violent crime.”
Sennett fought back and sued the Department of Justice, who had turned her home and life upside down despite the fact that she hadn’t broken any law. She also filed a series of Freedom of Information Act or FOIA requests in 2010 to uncover all the information she could about how she had become a target. The FBI complied with her request and gave her more than 1600 pages of files they had compiled on her. A number of documents were redacted and about 600 withheld, amongst them “a total of three paragraphs, spanning four pages” that included details about the two FBI sources that helped identify Sennett. The FBI was called out on their efforts to protect these individuals; and in a extremely rare and unexpected turn of events Judge James E. Boasberg of the US District Court in Washington, DC ruled Wednesday that the FBI had offered no legal basis for doing so.
The judge’s ruling revealed that the first FBI source in the case, who identified Sennett by a nickname, “had attended a meeting of individuals planning to protest the World Bank/IMF fall meetings” in the past. None of the documents provided to the court indicate that either informant continued to work with the FBI since the 2008 incident, nor that either was ever paid by the government for their service. This is part of why details about their past cooperation may become public. The government has 90 days to appeal this ruling but according to the plaintiff’s lawyer, D.C.-based Jeffrey Light, it is unlikely that they will be able to overturn this decision, giving anti-capitalist protesters a chance of revealing some of the undercover agents in amongst them.
Houston Police Officer David Allen Hayes has been trying to a pass himself off as a “friendly” “down” cop who supports “progressive” and radical causes in his off time. People who identify as “progressive” may not be aware of the absurdity such a notion. Before David, who also goes by the name David Furcas, was trying to pass himself off as a supporter of protesters, he was busy arresting them and locking them up in cages. Fortunately there are activists in Houston who remember and know better. They are putting the word out about this officer friendly.
The Chicago Police Department’s effort to make a show of setting up some activists on terrorism charges was in part a failure. In February a jury failed to find them guilty of any terror related charges. The jury did convict the novice protesters Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly, and Jared Chase of mob action and arson after they, along with two encouraging undercover police officers, drunkenly built four crude incendiary devices. On Friday Judge Thaddeus Wilson sentenced Church to 5 years, Betterly to 6 years, and Jared Chase to 8 years in prison. At present the state of Illinois only requires inmates to serve 50% of their sentence and the three men will receive credit for the 2 years they have already spent locked up.
The case was created by and relied entirely on the efforts of two Chicago Police Officers Mehmet Uygun a.k.a. “Mo” and Nadia Chikko a.k.a. “Gloves” working undercover to infiltrate and entrap activists. Once the officers successfully infiltrated a group of hard drinking, marijuana smoking protest minded men, they cajoled and used verbal challenges to their masculinity to keep them on task to make sure that incendiary devices were constructed. Once the empty police-provided beer bottles had been filled with gasoline, that one of the officers had offered to pay for, and wicks affixed, uniformed officers swooped in and made arrests.
Police in the case first sought out anarchists by hanging around at the Heartland Cafe – a Chicago restaurant, venue and gathering space founded by and popular among activists. At one time there were as many as six undercover officers, including Mehmet Uygun and Nadia Chikko, who eavesdropped on customers. The officers had been infiltrating this anarchist scene as early as early as February, 2012.
The three individuals targeted by police had chemical dependency issues and one was underage, despite this fact the officers knowingly and consistently provided alcohol to him and the other dependents. Law enforcement authorities were able to record a number of drunken boasts of militant bravado on 55 recordings that were admitted in court. Conveniently some of the more inflammatory comments the defendants are alleged to have made were said when the tape was not rolling.
This case is another example where police agencies looking to justify their huge bloated budgets have sought to create conspiracies for potential violence where none would have otherwise existed. We again see officers of the law manipulating and taking advantage of the less sophisticated and vulnerable among us. Support the NATO 3.
The FBI has found that one way to recruit otherwise reluctant informants is to deny their ability to travel in commercial airplanes unless they are willing to cooperate. In 2012 Kevin Iraniha, a known pro-Palestinian and anti-war activist, was blocked from boarding a flight to his home and birthplace in San Diego, California after attending a graduation celebration in Costa Rica. He and other mainly Muslim men have been pressured to talk to the FBI, after it is suggested that if they provide the right kind of information, they will be allowed to travel again freely.
A lawsuit brought this week by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project, on behalf of four such men, seeks to force the FBI to change their practices. As the bureau operates presently, there is no notification for being placed on a no-fly list and no way to appeal it.
Former environmental activist and eco-sabatuer Chelsea Gerlach is now out of prison, on the streets, and in the dance clubs of Oregon. Gerlach was a key leader in a cell of the Earth Liberation Front and is one of the individuals responsible for the 1998 $12 million Vail Mountain ski lodge arson attack, as well as 19 0thers. In 2005 she was arrested along with five other former cell members.
At the time of her arrest she was working as DJ in Portland, OR and selling illegal drugs. Her and her partner Darren Thurston (who later also turned informant) were living together, having put activism behind them, but still living an outlaw lifestyle. Besides the drug dealing business they were also collecting and storing guns illegally. Instead of standing by her actions and once professed ideals, Gerlach quickly turned informant after her arrest in exchange for preferential treatment.
As an informant she helped in the prosecution of numerous activists. One former close friend and comrade of her’s, William “Avalon” Rodgers, even committed suicide in custody in response to the treacherous actions of his former friends like Gerlach and the following police action. In exchange for her compliance Gerlach was sentenced to a few months less than she would have received otherwise and was sent to a nicer cage with more privileges than at least one of her co-defendants.
Gerlach admits that she carries “some shame for the anger and fear I have invoked — both through my acts of property damage and through my cooperation with the government.” She became a devout Buddhist and then a Christian while in prison. She is now attending classes at Portland State University, and says that she plans to pursue a graduate degree in divinity.
Gerlach will be a DJ at the Chance to Dance fundraiser at WOW Hall 7-9 pm Saturday, March 22. The event is a benefit for her disabled nephew Malachi.