In the wake of a University of California Berkeley protest that saw demonstrators burn campus lights and a sign for Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos in effigy, Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding from public colleges infringing on free speech.
But at least one Berkeley professor believes the so-called alt-right may have instigated the violence.
"I was there for part of last night and I know what I saw. Those people were not Berkeley students," former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich told CNN's Don Lemon, reiterating the statement issued by the university regarding the incident. "Those people were outsiders, agitators. I’ve never seen them before. There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a group that were organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event."
“You think it’s a strategy by Yiannopoulos, or right-wingers?" asked Lemon. "They put this on in an effort to show there’s no free speech on a college campus like UC Berkeley?”
“I wouldn’t bet against it, Don," Reich told him. "Again, I saw these people. They all looked almost paramilitary. They were not from the campus. And I’ve heard — again, I don’t want to say factually, but I’ve heard there was some relationship here between these people and the right wing and the right-wing movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News."
There’s another angle here, too. If you were Steve Bannon, and you wanted to justify a transition to total authoritarianism, what opportunities would you be looking for? If you were a Republican in a state house, and you wanted popular support for a bill that criminalized protesting (such bills are already in circulation), how would you get the people on your side? The answer is obvious: When organized protest presents a danger to the American people, a counter-action becomes necessary, and stifling dissent no longer seems so outrageous. It’s possible that Bannon and Trump could encourage the formation of citizen patrols to oppose leftist protesters, and that this organization could slowly integrate with law enforcement until America had its own version of the brownshirts. But it’s far more likely that retribution and domination would come from our militarized police force, who have already shown what they’re capable of when given free reign.
Pardon the Obama verbal tic, but let me be perfectly clear: The violence the Black Bloc can muster will pale to the crackback that comes from the state. They won’t be lighting garbage cans on fire or hurling molotov cocktails—they’ll be doing real damage. And the only thing preventing that action right now is that it would look particularly brutal coming from our government. At the moment. But each time a group like the Black Bloc undermines a peaceful protest with violence, the large portion of our country that would be totally fine with cops beating the shit out of the demonstrators—even killing them—grows larger. Fox News will amplify the story, moderates will be disgusted, and little by little, the threshold of acceptable retaliation from the state will grow. And once that counter-violence becomes normalized, the act of protesting will be too dangerous to undertake unless we accept the ultimate consequence. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be able to protest at the airport, or have my wife march on Washington, without being shot.
This, by the way, is why certain governments run false flag operations. The Reichstag Fire is the famous historical example—many historians believe that the Nazis staged a communist arson attack on the German parliament building in order to justify the destruction of their enemies. That happened in 1933, and it wasn’t long before their control of Germany, and much of Europe, was absolute. A dictator only needs a sliver of daylight in order to snuff out a tradition of democracy.
The Black Bloc may believe that they are perpetrating necessary violence, but—assuming they themselves aren’t a false flag—all they’re really doing is giving Bannon the first excuse he needs to tighten the noose of totalitarianism around the necks of the American public.
Robert Reich does not make that assumption. Neither do I.
There are many precedents for this type of provocation. The example that comes first to my mind takes us back to the Nixon era, around the time when Trump's pal Roger Stone discovered the world of dirty tricks. In 1972, a police informant named Louis Tackwood revealed a similar plan to disrupt the Republican National Convention, originally to be held in San Diego, later moved to Florida.
One of Tackwood’s most startling revelations concerns the “Squad 19” or “San Diego” conspiracy. Tackwood’s disclosures outline a plan for the CCS (operating in concert with elements of the CIA and the Nixon White House) to stage a violent incident at the 1972 Republican Convention in San Diego. This incident, to be blamed on “left-wing militants,” was to be used as a pretext for suspending the ’72 elections and, in effect, instituting martial law. (Tackwood passed a polygraph examination and his allegations were substantiated by the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Newsweek.)
Was the plan genuine? I'm not sure, but I suspect that it was.
Many years ago, I read the Glass House Tapes, the book which contains this allegation; it seemed persuasive enough. Later, I met someone who had known Tackwood himself; this person cackled knowingly and called Tackwood a natural-born con artist. And yet: This same individual suspected that Tackwood was telling the truth about the plot against the Republican convention.
The problem: One more or less had to be fast-talking sharpie to operate in Tackwood's world. He did a job which required the wearing of more than one face.
The Tackwood allegation is repeated in a book called Combat by Trial: An Odyssey with 20th Century Winter Soldiers by Nancy Miller Saunders -- a book which I have not read. (In fact, I found out about it only just now.) Judging from the excerpt available via Google Books, Saunders has another source for the same claim.
According to Donald Freed in the chapter "Operation Gemstone" in Big Brother and the Holding Company, Louis Tackwood, ex-agent provocateur for the Los Angeles Police Department told of plans to provoke a small-scale war at the Republican Convention, then expected to be held in San Diego, leading to the declaration of a "State of Emergency" and martial law. Tackwood was to lead a team of black and Chicano provocateurs, which would foment street violence. Inside the convention hall explosives would kill and maim Republican delegates.
According to Freed: "An FBI provocateur, William Lemmer, has since admitted that a group posing as VVAW cadres, but with a special lightning flash insignia for recognition, would fire on convention delegates with automatic weapons." VVAW was Vietnam Veterans Against the War, led by John Kerry.
The possible connections between Watergate, the Secret Army Organization, and the attempted assassination of George Wallace should have been, but were not, fully explored by the Senate Watergate Committee. There may have been, as well, connections to another, successful, assassination attempt:
In The Glass House Tapes, Tackwood is quoted as saying:
"I'm giving up only two names. There's 'Martin', and there's 'White'. Aright, now, 'Martin' was the code name for my contact, and I'm gonna tell you he's C.I.A., all the way. Are you ready for this? He was in Dallas when they got Kennedy; he left out of there for the Caribbean."
Martin and White were names used by James McCord and Howard Hunt.
Actually, "Jack Martin" was a name used by a number of American covert operators in that era. I don't think that Hunt ever used the name "Martin." Although James McCord used the name "Ed Martin," nobody -- to my knowledge -- has ever claimed that he was in Dallas.
Please forgive this stroll down memory lane. (Memory Lane sometimes looks a lot like Nightmare Alley, doesn't it?) This blog engages in such reminiscences from time to time because I believe in the old adage: There is nothing new save that which has been forgotten. The job of older fellows, such as myself, is to make sure that certain things are not forgotten, at least not completely. If younger investigators study what came before, they will see the current situation a little more clearly.
Love ya Joe, your blog is absolutely the best! You highlight a lot of interesting things from the past, present and possible futures that make me think. You don't push (shove down your throat) crazy like Alex Jones & Co but you do put out things that make the mind engage and allow the reader to think for himself/herself. I hope you live to be 200 as we need people like you. Don't always agree but you seem to be a person that likes that we don't have to agree and good discussion is always welcome on your doorstep. Thank you Joe! Keep up the good work. -Rick
posted by Anonymous : 5:29 PM
There is nothing new save that which has been forgotten. The job of older fellows, such as myself, is to make sure that certain things are not forgotten, at least not completely. If younger investigators study what came before, they will see the current situation a little more clearly.
"All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again....and again..."
That quote from the Battlestar Galactica reboot popped into my head upon reading your last paragraph. And yes, you are correct.
The problem I see is not with you, but with younger investigators who think that it's boring to look at the past and assume that history started....well, when they turned on the internet to check their email. One can see the patterns, the links, if one looks hard enough--but of course, one must choose to look hard enough.
Glad you got around to revisiting the Louis Tackwood testimony (a few weeks ago I deleted a long comment about those same Liddy attempts).
Memory Lane, eh? I remember attending a viewing of the Zapruderish film that Lane hosted. I neglected to ask him to sign my dogeared copy of Russia To Judgment.
All seriousness aside (as Steve Allen used to say), I recall when McCord was testifying at the Watergate Select Committee, and the problem about the door being taped with tape came up (probably Samuel Dash was asking about it), which the security guard at the Watergate had removed, but which had been replaced with new tape (and thus turning on a light bulb in the guard's head); and at that moment, McCord either requested or Chairman Ervin ruled that McCord would continue his testimony in Executive Session. I could be mistaken, maybe the Executive Session was ordered when McCord was asked about some of the other men who were arrested, who were part of the forces during the Bay of Pigs flop flip.
Germany in 1933 was a fractured, defeated, and destitute society. The comparisons are silly. Besides, the German people had no knowledge, history, or crackpot theories about 'false flag' operations, while Americans are more or less hip to the concept.
It's unfortunate that Robert Reich didn't mention Liddy, et al., and the proven conspiracies hatched at the Nixon White House.
posted by Amelie D'bunquerre : 9:19 PM
I had the father of a secret Service agent tell me that the agents are worried that Trump will start using the militia's as his brown-shirt street enforcers: