Journalists Reaveal Details of NYPD Spying

enemies within book nypd spyingEarlier this month Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalists Matt Appuzo and Adam Goldman published Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America. The book detailed not only how the NYPD focused unprecedented resources and time into spying on Muslims after 9/11, but also how some of those resources were used to spy on activists. In 2008 following a minor explosion that caused some damage to the door of the Time’s Square Army recruitment station the NYPD focused attention on one particular activist: Dennis Burke (A.K.A. Thaddeus) who was publishing the website Bombs and Shields. The site posted about the explosion hours after the incident, including a link to a Fox News Story on the action. This was enough to justify a police investigation to both Burke and “certain of his associates.”

According to documents leaked from within the NYPD to Apuzzo  and Goldman, the NYPD knew that Burke was behind the website thanks to a “confidential source,” who had infiltrated activist circles and provided information as far back as 2005. The identity of the confidential source remains unknown! Beyond Burke other organizers were targeted including William DiPaola and B. Neubauer who along with Burke were members of the environment direct action organization Time’s Up!.

All of this spying was orchestrated by the NYPD Intelligence Division, which was formed post 9/11 by former CIA Deputy Director for Operations (DDO) David Cohen. The”confidential source” who provided information about Burke as far back as 2005 and attended activists events may still be enmeshed within activist circles. If that’s not the case it’s likely that other snitches, informants, and undercover officers are active and are undoubtedly playing a more than passive role. As Matt Appuzo said in an interview with Sam Seder of the Majority Report promoting the book:  “an undercover” NYPD officer “was assigned to infiltrate these groups: Time’s Up! New York, Critical Mass, Friends of Brad Will.”

The NYPD followed connections, some of them tenuous to say the least, all the way to New Orleans where undercover police officers attended the People’s Summit, and reported back to their superiors in NYC. One of their reports erroneously identified an activist named Jordan Flaherty as “a main organizer” of the summit. Flaherty did introduce a film at an associated film festival, but was not an organizer of the festival or the summit. News of the NYPD’s New Orleans excursion came to light as a result of the same documents leaked by sources withing the NYPD, possibly by a disgruntled officer frustrated by seeing the department wasting time and resources, or maybe just with their bosses generally, we don’t know. Appuzo and Goldman wrote about the Louisiana spy mission all the way back in March of 2012, but it wasn’t until this September, with the release of their books and accompanying source documents that a broader picture  of the surveillance effort came to light.

These newly revealed details aren’t the first indication that law enforcement might be actively trying to infiltrate activist communities within New York City. In November 2009 the FBI brought a  case to trial in Austin, Texas, but failed to convict Kate Kibby for allegedly threatening the FBI snitch Brandon Darby via email. Prior to the trial the FBI offered Kibby a deal on two occasions to make the charges go away were she to agree to become an informant herself, either locally in Austin or in New York City. Kate turned down that job offer, but sadly it is likely that someone out there didn’t turn it down and is posing as a friend and comrade of activists in NYC today.

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Somebody’s Watching You

bluejay1Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and numerous other social media and networking webistes and applications are a boon for law enforcement. Thanks to new tools like BlueJay, the “Law Enforcement Twitter Crime Scanner,” it is even easier to monitor the public in real time and to limit surveillance to within a geographical jurisdiction. This is just another example for why it’s necessary to be careful about what we reveal online.

Brandon Darby Can’t Stand To Be Ignored

brandon darby snitch flier The new documentary film Informant, by Jamie Meltzer which opened in select theaters on September 13th, seeks to cloud the issue of who Brandon Darby is, and what motivated his actions that helped the FBI send two young protesters to prison. Darby’s character is well known within activist circles and a previous film on the subject: Better This World is already available, as is an hour long radio investigation produced by This American Life. With little left to add Meltzer took the bizarre approach of having Darby reenact for the cameras portions of the story that have made him famous.

In promoting the film Darby has gone head to head (via video link) with David McKay, one of the individuals he helped send to prison. Darby continues to try and paint himself as a hero, but simply reveals that he is little more than a narcissistic egomaniac whose greatest fear is that people will stop paying attention to him.

Child Rapist / Informant Outed in Seattle

pedo informantRobert Childs, a convicted child rapist who previously worked as an informant for Seattle Police and the FBI, was spotted at anarchist events offering to help out, and looking to get involved. After May Day 2012 Childs was seen at numerous activist community events, including a barbeque asking pointed and cliche questions about where he could find the ‘leaders’ of the black bloc.

Childs became an informant working for both local law enforcement and the FBI after offering to to set up a Muslim man, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif with mental health issues for a terrorism charge. Childs was paid more than $90,000 for his work setting up Abdul-Latif in that case.

In 2012 Childs joined the Seattle-based street theater protest group, Salish Salish Circa Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA) using the name Robert Vincent or Sarg’nt Yell’r. He has also used the names Robert Joe Childs, Zechariah Childs, 
A.M. Khan, Ismail White,
 and Zech Zelli. Before being outed as an informant by Earth First!, Childs was outed back in June as a “The Clown Creep” for sexual harassment and groping a younger female activist. The author Tawnee Cowan, revealed that he “likes to troll coffee shops in search of young or new or pretty activists… he has a certain charm which is quite gross.” and that he was living on a houseboat on S Lake Union off 6th St. on the Queen Anne side in Seattle, Washington.

“He was last seen in the Portland[, Oregon,] area. Then recently in the Puyallup area. He is reported to be traveling on a renovated school bus, possibly with a young female companion.

“He MAY have recently attended a NW Rainbow event and/or another music festival in Oregon. He MAY be attempting to infiltrate the Rainbow Family community. He may have altered his appearance again.”

Pacific North West activists and those close to them, as well as others need to be on alert and always cautious about monstrous clowns like this.