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Originally posted at:

http://thewrenchphilosleft.blogspot.com/...

I was brushing my teeth, and getting kidney meds into my cat, Switch, when I heard my three dogs going nuts downstairs.

I jostled down the stairs, wiping toothpaste off my face to attend to the rapping, and the doggies.

There was a man at the door.

I thought it was a Jehovah Witness, so I was wondering whether to make coffee.

I arrived at the door, signaled to the fellow–who I could now see was holding out a badge–that I needed to get my dogs outside. ‘Barky, not bitey,” I believe I said.

The man’s name is MIKE HUTSON, Pennsylvania State Police, FBI Joint Terrorism task Force, Williamsport Office. He was investigating reports of “vandalism” at unspecified compressor station locations, and he had with him a copy of the excellent Jeremy Alderson’s Fall/Winter (2.2) Edition of the NO FRACK ALMANAC (http://www.nofrackalmanac.com/...).

Originally posted at:

THE WRENCH: WHEN THE GAS INDUSTRY USES THE STATE POLICE AND THE FBI JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE TO SILENCE A CITIZEN: INTELLIGENCE OFFICER AT MY DOOR, 2.14.14.

I was brushing my teeth, and getting kidney meds into my cat, Switch, when I heard my three dogs going nuts downstairs.

I jostled down the stairs, wiping toothpaste off my face to attend to the rapping, and the doggies.

There was a man at the door.

I thought it was a Jehovah Witness, so I was wondering whether to make coffee.

I arrived at the door, signaled to the fellow–who I could now see was holding out a badge–that I needed to get my dogs outside. ‘Barky, not bitey,” I believe I said.

The man’s name is MIKE HUTSON, Pennsylvania State Police, FBI Joint Terrorism task Force, Williamsport Office. He was investigating reports of “vandalism” at unspecified compressor station locations, and he had with him a copy of the excellent Jeremy Alderson’s Fall/Winter (2.2) Edition of the NO FRACK ALMANAC (http://www.nofrackalmanac.com/...).

He wanted to know about the pictures–the ones I have included here.

He wanted to know about the activists in the anti-fracking movement–and whether or not “they” commit acts of vandalism and/or violence.

He wanted me to give him names of “bad apples.”

I know of no such “apples.”

So, I scoffed.

Such a notion–as I made very clear to Mr. Hutson–is preposterous.

I reminded him of the activism of Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchu, Aung San Suu Kyi , Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King, and made very clear that these were our heros.

I mentioned Socrates who was willing to die for what he stood, and that he was executed for daring to question authority.

In fact, if there’s to be a discussion of violence, I said, he’d be far better to investigate the industry. It will use whatever it can to silence us–and that is what brought the state police–an intelligence unit in a big black window-tinted van–to my door in rural Pennsylvania.

Many of us in this movement spend time wondering if we are surveilled. We try to avoid paranoia–all the while we know that, given the immense power and money at stake, this is an industry that does not conceive of the law as anything other than either a nuisance or a weapon to cast legitimate exercise of free speech as “eco-terrorism.”

We see that everyday in its flagrant flouting of environmental, safety, and zoning law, and in it’s liberal use of retired intelligence agents to harass, follow, surveil, and intimidate us.

Many of us have experienced vandalism clearly intended to silence our voices.

I used to wonder if I was surveilled, if my phone was tapped.

Now when I call my mom, I say into the phone that the agent listening might as well go get donuts.

Now I have the state police intelligence unit at my door.

What more effective way to intimidate a movement activist than to make up a complaint about “vandalism” at “compressors” that will get the police to her door?

But I have a message for this industry–and it’s police lackeys:

I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU. AND I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE STATE YOU WIELD AS YOUR PERSONAL POLICE FORCE.

Here’s the good news:

First, I got nothin’ to hide. In fact, I’ll bet that makes the industry even more nervous. I’m a mommy and a professor with some goddamn convictions, a steady paycheck, and a deep sense of duty to my four kids.

Doesn’t get more ferocious than that.

Second, as a movement, we must be making some real headway for the industry to go to all the trouble to fake a vague charge against some unspecified folks in order to get an intel-officer dispatched on the tax payer ‘s dime and time to the door of an activist with no arrest record, no history of violence.

What she’s got is a raft-load of knowledge about an industry that ought to be criminalized, a capacity to write down what she knows, a good camera, and some guts.

And she’s keeping all four.

*Update: Thank you “BJ” for bringing the following two items to my attention–particularly thefact that Mr. Hutson is with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

http://stepsofpa.com/...

http://www.pennlive.com/...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Important safety tip: Never talk to the cops. (14+ / 0-)

    And never, ever talk to the feds!

    Always take the Fifth and lawyer up!

  •  Please watch this video. (15+ / 0-)

    This is a defense attorney, followed by a veteran police officer, explaining in great detail why you should never talk to the cops.

    Take the Fifth and lawyer up!

    •  The Fifth Amendment (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for posting the video. I have watched this--carefully. And I do get what he's arguing here. I think that there can be other issues--such as whether not speaking might endanger others. But all in all, he's clearly right, and this WILL be my future approach.

      Thanks!

  •  this is not rare (11+ / 0-)

    with the GOOPS controlling state govs everywhere, big biz is emboldened to use the tools of State

    it is not an hyperbole anymore to use the proper term, fascism

    Stand up before its too late.

    by pnchad on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 04:15:33 PM PST

  •  If true, that is the definition of fascism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, Mokislab, cosette, Nattiq

    and so I hope it is NOT true.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 04:24:31 PM PST

  •  Well Since We Know Everyone's Being Surveilled, (5+ / 0-)

    it's to be expected that activists especially relating to big energy would be tracked. Unless you're organizing via carrier pigeon it isn't hard to do.

    Ordinary legal watching facebook for regional organizing might be enough to explain your visit. (I don't use Facebook so I can't be certain.)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 04:49:12 PM PST

  •  Have courage philosleft. (13+ / 0-)

    Keep on waiving the flag.  

    One comment, and bit of advice based on my own experience for all of us advocating for progressive causes, and suddenly and surprisingly in these kinds of cases:

    1. Be very careful about using any words or emotions that can be misunderstood, taken out context, and misreported or misrepresented.

    One of my closest friends was a leader of the non-violent sit in resistance to the Seabrook Nuclear Power plant, sponsored by the Friends Service Committee, a group of pacifist Quakers.  Through documents obtains through two decades of Freedom of Information Requests, and reported in the New York Times it has become known that Federal, local, and state law enforcement agencies, as well as private security forces hired by the nuclear industry, infiltrated the year of weekly planning meetings to advocate violence.

    Why, it was so they could then take fragments of tape recording to judges to get the surveillance warrant based on the obvious "violent terrorism" going on. I repeat the proposals for violence were made by undercover officers, and private security and represented to judges as the plans of the pacifist Quakers, which anyone familiar with the group would not is preposterous.

    But, with regard to your statements,

    I reminded him of the activism of Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchu, Aung San Suu Kyi , Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King, and made very clear that these were our heros.

    I mentioned Socrates who was willing to die for what he stood, and that he was executed for daring to question authority.

    In fact, if there’s to be a discussion of violence, I said, he’d be far better to investigate the industry. It will use whatever it can to silence us–and that is what brought the state police–an intelligence unit in a big black window-tinted van–to my door in rural Pennsylvania.

    Notice that if this guy is idiot, or even just of average intelligence, and goes back to the office to write up the report, he writes
    "the subject became agitated, made speeches, and declared that "he was willing to die" for his causes. Furhermore, subject states that "any and all violence he may perpetrate on the U.S. gas and energy pipelines will be the fault of the industry."
    I'm not trying to freak you out, but remember his purpose is trying to find juicy information he can put into a database.

    As part of the post 9/11 explosion of funding for domestic surveillance we have several billion dollars  "local intelligence fusion centers" in almost every state. They have outsourcede the staffing of these centers to private contractors so there is little to know quality control.

    FBI files are notorious, and have a long history of having every piece of gossip, and BS that any agent can find to dump in there.

    2. Make sure you ask to see the agents badge and write down the name and badge number.  Many cases of industry security forces, consultants, and even free lancers have posed as police or intelligence officer to gain data, for whatever private purposes they may have. In the case of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant case, some of the freelance security forces, who were retired, or even fired former police, or intelligence officers were being hired by consultants to find ways to discredit the Friends Service Committee, and all antinuclear protesters.

    Others were trying to sell contracts for their services so they could show they can deliver valuable intelligence.

    So, it is best to stick to nothing by succinctly answering their questions, as simply as possible, as in "No, I am not personally aware of anyone who might commit illegal acts."

    Perhaps, "I'm a pacifist and totally oppose any and all violence."

    3. Also, be careful of entrapment. After this experience, you should not be surprised if someone joins a blog site, or sits next to on a bus, or laundry mat, and also happens to appear to be a young idealistic anti-fracking activists. He, or she, may suggest that "we really need to do something about this, and may suggest, some act of minor vandalism, or something.

    Immediately distance yourself from that, and respond that

    you are a pacifist and oppose any and all illegal behavior, and are only interested in winning the hearts and minds of our nations voters in the exercise and pursuit of democracy, responsible energy policy, withing the wonderful legal framework of the United States of America.
    Whether you wipe a little tear of patriotic joy from you eye, is optional.

    This is just one reason, by the way, why I strongly believe the only positive social change that is possible now, is through completely peaceful (I don't even like to say "non-violent" outloud," means

    Keep on truckin' philosleft.  

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 04:49:44 PM PST

    •  I didn't mean to discourage you, I am very pleased (8+ / 0-)

      we have young people still trying to improve the world.

      Old dogs like me are getting tired out, and the road ahead is not longer as long as the road behind, I fear.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 05:17:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you Hound Dog (0+ / 0-)

      First, Thanks--the time you took to compose so thoughtful a response--I truly appreciate it. In fact, the many kind and foresightful responses I have received on this thread make me feel both less alone and far more sane.

      I have been deeply involved in the movement to end extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction for several years now, and I am something of a war horse of a number of other issues--all of them environmental, animal welfare, feminist, human rights... But the issues that revolve around fracking include elements of all of these--and I live on the Marcellus Shale.

      I will take very seriously the caution you suggest, and I am indeed close to a pacifist. I am brutally analytic--consistent with my philosophical training (I'm a professor)--with respect to my deconstruction of the political, economic, money-soaked corruption that allows this industry to rape the forests and the waterways of my state--and those of many others. I write a regular blog--The Wrench--and I am one of my movements photo-documentarians (http://www.flickr.com/...)--and I KNOW that intimidation was what brought this officer to my door. I have no illusions about the corruption of the police, and the history you so eloquently offer here.

      I assume Officer Hutson will be back. Indeed, the Williamsport Sun gazette carried a story just yesterday (2.24.14) about acts of ecoterrorism aimed at the gas companies in Pennsylvania. The story offered NO evidence in support of that outrageous claim, and the piece was written by a "journalist" who works for an industry newsletter--Morgan Myers. It was nothing but propaganda designed to legitimate the continuing harassment of activists like me--and many others.

      So, thanks very much. Unless I am arrested, I will post every event that transpires relevant to this attempt to silence an activist, to smother one citizen's right to free expression. If I am arrested, I have already put into place folks who will make THAT as big a media event as we possibly can. Officer Hutson could do little more to galvanize this movement to protest nonviolently--but LOUDLY and with PERSISTENCE--than to arrest one of its war horses.

  •  I heard from a well site security guard (7+ / 0-)

    that the company was worried about environmentalists. This is their spin.

    I suggested to him that if there's vandalism, it would more likely be done by someone whose property had been seized through eminent domain to run a pipeline through.

    •  Investigation into vandalism is a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mayfly, marina, MGross

      legitimate role of law enforcement. Whether the FBI should be involved, I don't know. Maybe it depends on what the evidence points to.

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 05:46:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  More likely provocateurs... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina

      ...hired by the Kochs to discredit environmental groups.

    •  Vandalism (0+ / 0-)

      Brief note--I think Officer Hutson's insinuation of vandalism--at the BARTO COMPRESSOR, RT. 42, Sullivan county, PA, was actually just a pretext to get me to talk. I take folks on "toxic tours" out there often--including buses full of college students. There IS no vandalism--the folks at the Barto station just don't like it that I take pictures from a PUBLIC road of their FRACK TRASH:  http://www.flickr.com/...

      But that dumping--that destruction--is precisely what the public affected by this blight of an industry has every right to see.

      These companies can be worried about environmentalists all they want. But they're deluding themselves if they think that what they have to worry about is us. What they have to worry about is the cancer, the endocrine disruption, the neurological damage they are going to suffer at the end of their well pad careers. And that is something no one's going to be able to fix with money.

  •  Apart from asking you questions, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, barleystraw, marina

    were there any other consequences?

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 05:44:32 PM PST

    •  Fake News Article in the Williamsport Sun Gazette (0+ / 0-)

      What I have learned since this incident is that Officer Hutson's visit was orchestrated with a piece written by Morgan Myers for the newspaper above. But, as I mentioned to Hound Dog, this appears to be a concerted effort to make the case that there is ecoterrorism in PA--when there is NOT. making up such a story--and then using activist visits to substantiate it--is how an industry that controls the police gets us off their backs.

  •  what is pollution but an act of vandalism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VirginiaJeff, marina, occupystephanie, Chi

    of the shared common areas and resources that we all depend on to survive?

    Why doesn't Officer Hutson take his van over to the polluters and investigate their crimes?

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