Saturday, September 5, 2009

Police look to London for lessons on G-20

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It has become a defining image of the London G-20 summit -- a video of the last moments of Ian Tomlinson's life.

Mr. Tomlinson, a 47-year-old newspaper vendor, is seen walking down a street in the center of the city on the evening of April 1, trying to navigate police lines and crowds of protesters on his way home. His hands are in his pockets.

A dozen police officers in yellow jackets approach him from behind. One officer, wearing a black ski mask, slaps Mr. Tomlinson's legs with a baton. The officer then shoves him.

Mr. Tomlinson falls, slamming against the ground.

"What did he do?" a young protester shouts at police.

Mr. Tomlinson then stands and walks away. Up the road, off camera, he collapses.

The video, filmed by an American and later obtained by the Guardian newspaper, sparked a public uproar in the United Kingdom about police handling of protests during the most recent summit.

As they prepare to host the next G-20, Pittsburgh police officials are looking closely at what happened in London and at similar gatherings, such as the meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999.

"We have gotten a lot of great information and insight that we have incorporated into our planning process," said Diane Richard, a spokeswoman for the city police bureau.

At first, police officials in London claimed that Mr. Tomlinson had suffered a heart attack and protesters had pelted officers with bottles as they tried to help him. But an autopsy showed that Mr. Tomlinson died from internal bleeding, and, in the video, no officers were seen assisting him after he hit the ground.

Mr. Tomlinson was the only fatality during the summit, but scores of other videos have emerged, showing violent clashes between police and protesters on the streets of London on April 1 and 2.

Prosecutors are considering manslaughter charges against the officer who struck Mr. Tomlinson, and another officer has been suspended for hitting two women.

Police also have faced criticism for the use of "kettling," or surrounding and containing groups of protesters in one area for long periods of time. Britain's Independent Police Complaints Commission has received 280 complaints related to the G-20.

The controversies have led to several investigations and calls for reform in the United Kingdom in how police handle protests.

"These incidents and the tactics that led to them caused considerable adverse comment and have the potential to seriously damage the public's faith in the police," said a House of Commons report released in June.

The report, which followed weeks of public hearings, praised police for organizing a "remarkably successful" security operation under trying circumstances. But it also argued that officers need to emphasize the protection of democratic rights and improve communication with protest groups.

"Above all, the police must constantly remember that those who protest on Britain's streets are not criminals but citizens motivated by moral principles," it said. "The police's doctrine must remain focused on allowing the protests to happen peacefully."

Little time to prepare

Pittsburgh public safety officials and the Secret Service -- who are overseeing security for the next summit Sept. 24 and 25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center -- face the same delicate balance of ensuring constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly versus protecting a high-profile gathering of world leaders.

The differences between the settings of the London and Pittsburgh summits are vast.

London, with more than 7 million inhabitants, is a national capital and a center of global finance. Its Metropolitan Police Service, also known as the "Met," has 31,000 officers, while the Pittsburgh Police Bureau has fewer than 900 officers.

And Londoners are accustomed to seeing angry citizens air grievances on the streets. According to police statistics, more than 5,300 protests were held in the greater London area between April 2008 and March of this year.

But the two summits have a critical similarity: Organizers had only a few months to assemble massive security operations.

"I would say that this week of the G-20 was probably the most complex policing event the Metropolitan Police and our partners have undertaken, certainly in my length of service," police Cmdr. Bob Broadhurst told a House of Commons committee hearing in May.

The Met commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, called it "a remarkable operation planned over an incredibly short period of time."

Even with London's prominence as a spot for demonstrations, very few of its officers had been through anything of the magnitude of the G-20, which attracted an estimated 35,000 protesters. Many frontline officers were beat cops from London's boroughs who had received just two days of crowd-control training a year.

On April 1, the first day of the London summit, 10 separate protests were held at seven sites, including a "stop-the-war" march that took place without incident, according to a report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, or HMIC.

About 4,000 to 5,000 demonstrators gathered at the Bank of England. The size of the crowd surprised police, who called for reinforcements from the ExCel Centre, the main site for G-20 meetings.

By noon, officers were facing flying bottles. One officer collapsed after a pole hit his head. Some protesters attacked the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Police commanders decided to impose an "absolute cordon," meaning thousands of people -- including journalists and passers-by who were not involved with the protests -- would be held in one spot.

The encounter with Mr. Tomlinson occurred in this area around 7 p.m.

At the same time, a peaceful gathering of environmental activists known as "Climate Camp" at nearby Bishopsgate became chaotic when police decided to impose another containment area, confining 4,000 protesters.

According to one report, police commanders were worried about the violence from the bank area leaking into the Climate Camp group. Also, that gathering had not been approved by police and was blocking a roadway.

Later in the evening, police began to move the environmental protesters again, with some officers using shields, batons and gloved hands to strike people directly in front of them.

"There was no warning given. There was no request to move. There was no indication of what was going to happen," Chris Abbott, who was in the crowd, told legislators. "The police advanced on us. They pressure pointed my girlfriend on the neck ... and dragged her backwards off me."

One officer punched Mr. Abbott in the face. Others started hitting him with shields, he said.

"The police 'kettled' the Climate Camp for no obvious reason ... they also physically compressed the protest into a smaller and smaller space, using violence to do so," David Howarth, a member of Parliament and protest observer, wrote in an e-mail message last week.

"There was no reason either of public order or public safety for this maneuver, and it was only the remarkable composure and presence of mind of the protesters that prevented the situation from deteriorating into a very dangerous riot."

Another highly publicized confrontation caught on video occurred April 2 at a vigil for Mr. Tomlinson, when a police sergeant pushed and smacked protester Nicola Fisher.

She pushed the sergeant and shouted, "What are you doing hitting a [expletive] woman?"

The sergeant smacked her again and hit her legs with his baton, shouting "Get back!"

Lessons for the future?

Cmdr. Broadhurst told lawmakers that most officers used restraint during the London protests, but the lack of experience was a reason "one or two of them, as you have seen on television, may have used inappropriate force at times."

The House of Commons report said inexperienced officers should "never again" be placed on the frontlines during events such as the G-20.

Frances Wright, a legal observer for Climate Camp, said rank-and-file officers need to change how they think about large demonstrations.

"Very often officers are brought in to police an area they don't know and they assume there's going to be problems," Ms. Wright said in a phone interview last week. "They don't really come with the attitude that they are supposed to be facilitating the protest."

That attitude already has started to change, she said. Last week, London was the site of another Climate Camp protest, and the police presence was much smaller. There were no major incidents, Ms. Wright said.

Both sides agree that communication between police and protesters is crucial, before and during the events.

Mr. Howarth warned that "misguided police tactics" could transform a peaceful protest -- even ones that may not have proper permits or permission from authorities -- into a violent event.

"The starting point for policing protest should be that there is a democratic right to protest peacefully and that the main objective of the police, in a democracy, should be to facilitate peaceful protest," he said, "not to prevent or disrupt it."

Jerome L. Sherman can be reached at or 412-263-1183.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Provocateurs At End The Fed Rally?

“Anarchists” tried to get protesters to commit crimes

Provocateurs At End The Fed Rally? 010909top3

Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

According to testimony given at a Missouri House of Representatives meeting yesterday, anarchists attempted to get other protesters to commit criminal acts during the End the Fed protests late last year, in what was a possible attempt to instigate chaos to justify a harsh crackdown on behalf of the authorities.

In March it came to light that the End the Fed protests, which took place at banks and regional Federal Reserve branches across the country on November 22, were being monitored closely by the United States Army Reserve Command, who implied that those protesting against the Fed and the bankster bailout were essentially terrorists.

On November 22, 2008, Alex Jones led a rally at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas Texas. The Dallas protest is specifically mentioned in the official Army document. Ron Paul’s brother was also in attendance.

During testimony given in response to the infamous Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report, a document authored by Missouri Highway Patrol and distributed to fellow law enforcement agencies that characterizes Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, people who display political bumper stickers, people who own gold, or even people who fly a U.S. flag as potential domestic terrorists, one of the organizers who attended the protests said that “anarchists” attempted to recruit followers and encouraged them to commit illegal acts.

“My group was at the End the Fed rally and there were a bunch of different groups there,” Cisse Spragin told the Missouri House of Representatives on Monday. “And there was this group of anarchists who started talking to us. And then they tried to recruit us or have us join their group. Then they started telling us what should we should write on our signs, and insisting on letting them re-write some of our signs. Later we overheard them saying they couldn’t even get us to jaywalk.”

Spragin’s testimony suggests that the anarchists were attempting to steer the nature of the protests in the opposite direction to guidelines published by End the Fed rally organizers before the protests which called for “Cooperation and respect for local laws and authorities,” and “No blocking of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that anarchist groups have been used as a tool with which to stir chaos. As we have documented before, the black bloc anarchist groups are routinely infiltrated and steered by authorities who use them to provoke disorder as a pretext to crack down on legitimate demonstrators.

During the April 2009 G20 summit in London, police stood back and watched anarchists attack banks and other buildings in an incident that had all the hallmarks of a staged event.

Following the SPP protests in Canada in 2007, Quebec provincial authorities were forced to admit that three rock-wielding black mask-wearing “anarchists” were in fact police infiltrators used to gather information on protesters.

Video shows two of the provocateurs pick up rocks and try to incite violence before they are outed as cops by legitimate demonstrators. The two thugs then tried to slip behind police lines before their fellow officers were forced to stage their arrest. Again, the fact that they were cops in disguise was later admitted by authorities. Watch the video.

Alex Jones’ film Police State 2: The Takeover exposed how the black bloc anarchists were completely infiltrated and provocateured by the authorities during the violent 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.

The authorities declared a state of emergency, imposed curfews and resorted to nothing short of police state tactics in response to a small minority of hostile black bloc hooligans. Police allowed the black bloc to run riot in downtown Seattle while they concentrated on preventing the movement of peaceful protestors. The film presents clear evidence that the black bloc anarchist group was actually controlled by the state and used to demonize peaceful protesters. Watch the video below.

At the WTO protests in Genoa 2001 a protestor was killed after being shot in the head and run over twice by a police vehicle. The Italian Carabinere also later beat on peaceful protestors as they slept, and even tortured some, at the Diaz School. It later emerged that the police fabricated evidence against the protesters, claiming they were anarchist rioters, to justify their actions. Some Carabiniere officials have since come forward to say they knew of infiltration of the so called black bloc anarchists, and that fellow officers acted as agent provocateurs.

At the Free Trade Area of Americas protests in Miami in late November 2003, more provocateuring was evident. The United Steelworkers of America calling for a congressional investigation, stated that the police intentionally caused violence and arrested and charged hundreds of peaceful protestors.

Monday, August 31, 2009

CIA: Osama Helped Bush in ‘04

CIA: Osama Helped Bush in ‘04

Robert Parry
August 31, 2009

(Originally published on July 4, 2006)

Editor’s note: The following article rests on the predicate that there is a legitimate terrorist group known as “al-Qaeda” and Osama bin Laden was alive in 2004 and producing videotapes. In fact, Osama’s videotapes are obvious fakes (a prime example of this is the December, 2001, Osama “confession” tape featuring a fat-nosed, considerably heavier and darker-skinned Osama stand-in). There is evidence — ignored by the corporate media — that Osama died in late December, 2001, in Afghanistan. Osama’s funeral was reported by the Egyptian newspaper al-Wafd on December 26, 2001. Pakistan’s Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have stated for the record they believe Osama is dead. The FBI’s counter-terrorism chief, Dale Watson, told the BBC in July, 2002, that he believes Osama is dead. It should come as no surprise the corpse of Osama bin Laden was exploited (and still is) for political purposes — al-Qaeda was manufactured specifically for political purposes and as an excuse to invade small and defenseless countries and kill recalcitrant Muslims.

Consortiumnews Editor’s Note: A new book by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge describes how Bush administration insiders pressed for an escalation in the color-coded threat level the weekend before the 2004 election following a released videotape of Osama bin Laden denouncing George W. Bush.

Ridge says in his book, The Test of Our Times, that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged the escalation but Ridge and FBI Director Robert Mueller blocked the move by citing a lack of significant threat evidence.

Ridge writes that he wondered, “Is this about security or politics?” — and the incident firmed up his decision to quit, which he did, although not until after the election.

However, lost in the debate over Ridge’s revelation is evidence that al-Qaeda was almost as eager for Bush to gain a second term as the Republicans were. One senior al-Qaeda leader later confided to a terrorist ally in Iraq that “prolonging the war is in our interest.”

Plus, the reason for the threat-elevation discussion — the release of bin Laden’s video — was being interpretted inside the CIA’s analytical division as an attempt by bin Laden to ensure Bush’s second term and to make certain Bush’s clumsy “war on terror” continued.

Because of the Ridge disclosure, we are re-posting a story from our Archive — originally published on July 4, 2006 — regarding bin Laden’s clever tactic to keep “crusader” Bush in office:

On Oct. 29, 2004, just four days before the U.S. presidential election, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden released a videotape denouncing George W. Bush. Some Bush supporters quickly spun the diatribe as “Osama’s endorsement of John Kerry.” But behind the walls of the CIA, analysts had concluded the opposite: that bin Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term.

This stunning CIA disclosure is tucked away in a brief passage near the end of Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, which draws heavily from CIA insiders. Suskind wrote that the CIA analysts based their troubling assessment on classified information, but the analysts still puzzled over exactly why bin Laden wanted Bush to stay in office.

According to Suskind’s book, CIA analysts had spent years “parsing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, [Ayman] Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin Laden speaks only for strategic reasons. …

“Their [the CIA’s] assessments, at day’s end, are a distillate of the kind of secret, internal conversations that the American public [was] not sanctioned to hear: strategic analysis. Today’s conclusion: bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.

“At the five o’clock meeting, [deputy CIA director] John McLaughlin opened the issue with the consensus view: ‘Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President.’”

McLaughlin’s comment drew nods from CIA officers at the table. Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, suggested that the al-Qaeda founder may have come to Bush’s aid because bin Laden felt threatened by the rise in Iraq of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; bin Laden might have thought his leadership would be diminished if Bush lost the White House and their “eye-to-eye struggle” ended.

But the CIA analysts also felt that bin Laden might have recognized how Bush’s policies – including the Guantanamo prison camp, the Abu Ghraib scandal and the endless bloodshed in Iraq – were serving al-Qaeda’s strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists.

“Certainly,” the CIA’s Miscik said, “he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years,” according to Suskind’s account of the meeting.

As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts drifted into silence, troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. “An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,” Suskind wrote.

One immediate consequence of bin Laden breaking nearly a year of silence to issue the videotape the weekend before the U.S. presidential election was to give the Bush campaign a much needed boost. From a virtual dead heat, Bush opened up a six-point lead, according to one poll.

Symbiotic Relationship

The implications of this new evidence are troubling, too, for the American people as they head toward another election in November 2006 that also is viewed as a referendum on Bush’s prosecution of the “war on terror.”

As we have reported previously at, a large body of evidence already existed supporting the view that the Bushes and the bin Ladens have long operated with a symbiotic relationship that may be entirely unspoken but nevertheless has been a case of each family acting in ways that advance the interests of the other. [See “Osama’s Briar Patch” or “Is Bush al-Qaeda's 'Useful Idiot?'”]

Before al-Qaeda launched the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks against New York and Washington, Bush was stumbling in a presidency that many Americans felt was headed nowhere. As Bush took a month-long vacation at his Texas ranch in August 2001, his big issue was a plan to restrict stem-cell research on moral grounds.

Privately, Bush’s neoconservative advisers were chafing under what they saw as the complacency of the American people unwilling to take on the mantle of global policeman as the world’s sole superpower. Some neocons felt that only a new “Pearl Harbor” would galvanize a public consensus for action against Iraq and other “rogue states.”

Other senior administration officials, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, dreamed of the restoration of the imperial presidency that – after Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal – had been cut down to size by Congress, the courts and the press. A national crisis would help create a cover for a new assertion of presidential power.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, bin Laden and his al-Qaeda militants were facing defeat after defeat. Their brand of Islamic extremism had lost out in Muslim societies from Algeria and Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Bin Laden and his lieutenants had even been expelled from Sudan.

Bin Laden and his allies had been chased to the farthest corners of the planet, in this case the caves of Afghanistan. At this critical juncture, al-Qaeda’s brain trust decided that their best hope was to strike at the United States and count on a clumsy reaction that would offend the Islamic world and rally angry young Muslims to al-Qaeda’s banner.

So, by early summer 2001, as the clock ticked down to 9/11, 19 al-Qaeda operatives positioned themselves inside the United States and prepared to attack. But U.S. intelligence analysts picked up evidence of al-Qaeda’s plans by sifting through the “chatter” of electronic intercepts. The U.S. warning system was “blinking red.”

‘Something So Big’

Over the weekend of July Fourth 2001, a well-placed U.S. intelligence source passed on a disturbing piece of information to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who later recounted the incident in an interview with Alternet.

“The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up,” Miller said. “The incident that had gotten everyone’s attention was a conversation between two members of al-Qaeda. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the [destroyer USS] Cole [which was bombed on Oct. 12, 2000].

“And one al-Qaeda operative was overheard saying to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.’”

In the Alternet interview, published in May 2006 after Miller resigned from the Times, the reporter expressed regret that she had not been able to nail down enough details about the intercept to get the story into the newspaper.

But the significance of her recollection is that more than two months before the 9/11 attacks, the CIA knew that al-Qaeda was planning a major attack with the intent of inciting a U.S. military reaction – or in this case, an overreaction.

The CIA tried to warn Bush about the threat on Aug. 6, 2001, with the hope that presidential action could energize government agencies and head off the attack. The CIA sent analysts to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, to brief him and deliver a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.”

Bush was not pleased by the intrusion. He glared at the CIA briefer and snapped, “All right, you’ve covered your ass,” according to Suskind’s book.

Then, putting the CIA’s warning in the back of his mind and ordering no special response, Bush returned to a vacation of fishing, clearing brush and working on a speech about stem-cell research.

Al-Qaeda’s Gamble

For its part, al-Qaeda was running a risk that the United States might strike a precise and devastating blow against the terrorist organization, eliminating it as an effective force without alienating much of the Muslim world.

If that happened, the cause of Islamic extremism could have been set back years, without eliciting much sympathy from most Muslims for a band of killers who wantonly murdered innocent civilians.

After the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda’s gamble almost failed as the CIA, backed by U.S. Special Forces, ousted bin Laden’s Taliban allies in Afghanistan and cornered much of the al-Qaeda leadership in the mountains of Tora Bora near the Pakistani border.

But instead of using U.S. ground troops to seal the border, Bush relied on the Pakistani army, which was known to have mixed sympathies about al-Qaeda. The Pakistani army moved its blocking force belatedly into position while bin Laden and others from his inner circle escaped.

Then, instead of staying focused on bin Laden and his fellow fugitives, Bush moved on to other objectives. Bush shifted U.S. Special Forces away from bin Laden and al-Qaeda and toward Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

Many U.S. terrorism experts, including White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, were shocked at this strategy, since the intelligence community didn’t believe that Hussein’s secular dictatorship had any working relationship with al-Qaeda – and had no role in the 9/11 attacks.

Nevertheless, Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, ousting Hussein from power but also unleashing mayhem across Iraqi society. Soon, the Iraq War – combined with controversies over torture and mistreatment of Muslim detainees – were serving as recruitment posters for al-Qaeda.

Under Jordanian exile Zarqawi, al-Qaeda set up terrorist cells in central Iraq, taking root amid the weeds of sectarian violence and the nation’s general anarchy. Instead of an obscure group of misfits, al-Qaeda was achieving legendary status among many Muslims as the defenders of the Islamic holy lands, battling the new “crusaders” led by Bush.

Back in the USA

Meanwhile, back in the United States, the 9/11 attacks had allowed Bush to reinvent himself as the “war president” who operated almost without oversight. He saw his approval ratings surge from the 50s to the 90s – and watched as the Republican Party consolidated its control of the U.S. Congress in 2002.

Though the worsening bloodshed in Iraq eroded Bush’s popularity in 2004, political adviser Karl Rove still framed the election around Bush’s aggressive moves to defend the United States and to punish American enemies.

Whereas Bush was supposedly resolute, Democrat Kerry was portrayed as weak and indecisive, a “flip-flopper.” Kerry, however, scored some political points in the presidential debates by citing the debacle at Tora Bora that enabled bin Laden to escape.

The race was considered neck-and-neck as it turned toward the final weekend of campaigning. Then, the shimmering image of Osama bin Laden appeared on American televisions, speaking directly to the American people, mocking Bush and offering a kind of truce if U.S. forces withdrew from the Middle East.

“He [Bush] was more interested in listening to the child’s story about the goat rather than worry about what was happening to the [twin] towers,” bin Laden said. “So, we had three times the time necessary to accomplish the events. Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al-Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.”

Though both Bush and Kerry denounced bin Laden’s statement, right-wing pundits, bloggers and talk-show hosts portrayed it as an effort to hurt Bush and help Kerry – which understandably prompted the exact opposite reaction among many Americans. [For instance, conservative blog site, Little Green Footballs, headlined its Oct. 31, 2004, commentary as “Bin Laden Threatens U.S. States Not to Vote for Bush.”]

However, behind the walls of secrecy at Langley, Virginia, U.S. intelligence experts reviewed the evidence and concluded that bin Laden was fully aware that his videotape would encourage the American people to do the opposite of what he recommended.

By demanding an American surrender, bin Laden knew U.S. voters would instinctively want to fight. That way bin Laden helped ensure that George W. Bush would stay in power, would continue his clumsy “war on terror” – and would drive thousands of new recruits into al-Qaeda’s welcoming arms.