Is the FBI attempting to snitch-jacket Richard Aoki?

A refutation of a previous article we posted about Richard Aoki being an FBI informant
By Fred Ho


I knew Richard Aoki from the period of the late 1990s to the end of his life in 2009. Prior to the publication of Diane Fujino’s book, SAMURAI AMONG PANTHERS (University of Minnesota Press), I probably was the main person who had published the most about Aoki (c.f., Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America, AK Press).

In fact, Richard Aoki and I spoke on the telephone a day or two
before he killed himself. During the Spring of 2009 we were in regular contact via telephone (as he was in the Bay Area and I in New York City) as I had undergone another surgery in the cancer war I have been fighting since 2006, and he was facing major illness and deterioration, hospitalized during this time. Richard regularly contacted me as he was very concerned about my dying, and I was concerned for him as well.

We had a very special relationship that allows me to easily, comfortably and assertively rebut the claims made by the two proponents of the accusation that Richard Aoki was an FBI informant.

What was our special relationship? Richard was exasperated at how creative, revolutionary ideology had seriously waned, both from Panther veterans and from the younger generation stuck in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex mode of organization and their “activistism” (or what I humorously proffer as “activistitis”, the political tendency to be tremendously busy with activism but failing to have a revolutionary vision guide and dominate that activism). As Fujino remarks, Aoki viewed me as someone with creative revolutionary ideology and he sought me out and we shared many discussions and a special closeness. (Note: Aoki did not know the brilliant political prisoner, Russell Maroon Shoatz, someone who now at age 68, could go toe-to-toe ideologically with Richard Aoki!)

Why would an FBI agent do this, almost 50 years past the hoorah days of the Sixties? It is implied by the calumnious assertions by journalist Seth Rosenfeld (whose book is opportunistically coming out today: Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicalism, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) that Aoki was probably still an agent even to the time of his death, though, like the rest of the “evidence” or assertions by Rosenfeld, never substantiated or clearly documented.

That is because Aoki NEVER was an agent, and unlike many of the prominent Panthers (notably Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton), remained a revolutionary for life and never degenerated into self-obsession and egomania. To the end of his life, Aoki could go toe-to-toe with any revolutionary intellectual, theorist or organizer on the complexities and challenges of revolutionary theory, including the U.S. “national question,” socialism, etc.
Continue reading

Famed Black Panther Party ally Richard Masato Aoki revealed as informant

From the SF Gate:

The man who gave the Black Panther Party some of its first firearms and weapons training – which preceded fatal shootouts with Oakland police in the turbulent 1960s – was an undercover FBI informer, according to a former bureau agent and an FBI report.

One of the Bay Area’s most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Capitol.

Aoki went on to work for 25 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator at the Peralta Community College District, and after his suicide in 2009, he was revered as a fearless radical.

But unbeknownst to his fellow activists, Aoki had served as an FBI intelligence informant, covertly filing reports on a wide range of Bay Area political groups, according to the bureau agent who recruited him.

That agent, Burney Threadgill Jr., recalled that he approached Aoki in the late 1950s, about the time Aoki was graduating from Berkeley High School. He asked Aoki if he would join left-wing groups and report to the FBI.

“He was my informant. I developed him,” Threadgill said in an interview. “He was one of the best sources we had.”

Read more:

Occupy This: Crazy Tom the FBI Provocateur

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

“Anyone who remembers the sixties wasn’t really there.”
George Carlin

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

s weird as the 1960s became, Crazy Tom stood out. He set fires and started fights on the Stanford campus, supplied guns and explosives to fellow militants, and staged hold-ups “to support the Revolution.” He also created a secret mountain-top training camp and bomb factory to groom would-be urban guerrillas, from young, mostly white Maoists to the secret Black Panther army trying to free Soledad Brother George Jackson from San Quentin Penitentiary. Then, in February and March 1971, Crazy Tom Mosher put on a suit and tie, brushed down his wispy blond hair, and testified in secret before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security. According to his sworn testimony, the revolutionary terrorist had worked all along for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its state counterpart, the California Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (CII).

In his testimony, Mosher warned of a growing campaign of revolutionary sabotage, terror, and guerrilla war, which had already left a trail of violence and murder across Northern California. The Senate published his tale at taxpayers’ expense, while Reader’s Digest ran a first-hand account of his experiences, “Inside the Revolutionary Left.” As Mosher and the senators told it, he had been an informant, passively watching the illegal violence of the Left and reporting to the authorities to help them enforce the law. As those of us who knew him had seen for ourselves, he had created much of the terrorist violence he now condemned.

At the time, I was an anti-war activist at Stanford, increasingly burned-out, cynical, and without too many lingering liberal illusions. Yet I would never have suggested that the FBI or other police agencies had paid Crazy Tom to shoot guns on campus, set fires, or run a guerrilla training camp. More likely, I figured, he had created his own chaos, while selling his handlers whatever bullshit he could get them to buy. Continue reading

Earth First Journal launches new “informant tracker”

From Infoshop News:

The EF! Journal’s editorial collective has posted a featured page on the EF! Newswire website this week which allows people to learn details about those who are known informants in the government’s effort to monitor and repress ecological and animal activists. While a recent report by investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson states that the FBI has recruited a network of informants that today numbers around 15,000 (many of whom focus on Muslim communities), we can only know for certain the informants who are revealed through official court documents (often in the plea agreements of cooperating defendants.)

The point of this new page is to allow others a chance to know if they are associating with informants (for example, two individuals now working in the computer security field: Justin Samuel and Darren Thurston) who have a bio listed there.

We hope that this site may also serve to neutralize the effectiveness of these people and discourage individuals who would consider cooperating with the state as an option. To this end, we also feel it is also important to stress that active support for non-cooperating political prisoners is a critical tool in stemming the turncoat tide that swept the national in the past five years. Check out the EF! Journal‘s prisoner page.

Click here for the Informants Tracking page (or see tabs above.)

p.s. Remember, if the cops come knockin’, you have the right to remain silent and retain legal counsel. We recommend finding a good movement attorney…

How a Radical Leftist Became the FBI’s BFF


FOR A FEW DAYS IN SEPTEMBER 2008, as the Republican Party kicked off its national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Twin Cities were a microcosm of a deeply divided nation. The atmosphere around town was tense, with local and federal police facing off against activists who had descended upon the city. Convinced that anarchists were plotting violent acts, they sought to bust the protesters’ hangouts, sometimes bursting into apartments and houses brandishing assault rifles. Inside the cavernous Xcel Energy convention center, meanwhile, an out-of-nowhere vice presidential nominee named Sarah Palin assured tens of thousands of ecstatic Republicans that her running mate, John McCain, was “a leader who’s not looking for a fight, but sure isn’t afraid of one either.”

The same thing might have been said of David McKay and Bradley Crowder, a pair of greenhorn activists from George W. Bush’s Texas hometown who had driven up for the protests. Wide-eyed guys in their early 20s, they’d come of age hanging out in sleepy downtown Midland, commiserating about the Iraq War and the administration’s assault on civil liberties.

Read the rest of this article from Mother Jones Magazine here.

Profiles of Provocateurs

This is a very thorough and helpful look at a few recent provocateurs who have wreaked havoc in the movement. While reading this, however, it might be best to jump to the final section first- Proceed With Caution- (or at least make sure one gets to the end 🙂 )and remember that as Kristian Williams writes “it is totally conceivable, maybe even likely, that a person could fit this sort of pattern and not be a government agent” and that “it is important, therefore, not to jump to conclusions — and especially, not to jump to conclusions publicly. There is entirely too much mud-slinging, rumor-mongering, and trial-by-flame-war in the anarchist movement already. We can’t afford to make it worse with premature denunciations or allegations we can’t substantiate.”

Profiles of Provocateurs
by Kristian Williams

A recent article in Seattle’s Stranger detailed a long-term police operation to monitor, infiltrate, and entrap activists in Seattle: “The Long Con,” by Brendan Kiley, May 4, 2011:

The story is long, convoluted, and more than a little absurd; it’s all rather like the plot of a Coen Brothers’ movie. But the short version is that an undercover Seattle cop infiltrated an after-hours party scene — what prosecutors called “underground illegal gambling enterprises (concurrent with illegal liquor sales).” (All quotes in this section are from the Stranger article.) The SPD hoped to find some dirt on local politicians, the FBI hoped to find a connection to the Earth Liberation Front, and after two years they finally managed to hook someone with a drug scam:

“Bryan [Owens] had been pushing Rick [Wilson]—and everyone in their social set—for years to help him buy ever-larger amounts of cocaine. . . . he tried to play on people’s greed. ‘He’s like, “I can make you a millionaire,”‘ Rick remembers. . . . ‘He said he would pay for the drugs and I would take no financial risk. I told him to go fuck himself. He kept pestering me. I did, to my eternal shame, help him out,’ Rick says. ‘I asked around to some people who asked around to some people who eventually gave him some.'” Continue reading

UK: Third undercover police spy unmasked as scale of network emerges

Marc JacobsFrom the Guardian:

The unprecedented scale of undercover operations used by police to monitor Britain’s political protest movements was laid bare tonight after a third police spy was identified by the Guardian.

News of the existence of the 44-year-old male officer, who was involved in a sexual relationship while undercover, comes as regulators prepare two separate official inquiries into the activities of this hitherto secret police surveillance network.

The latest officer, whose identity has been withheld amid fears for his safety in other criminal operations, worked for four years undercover with an anarchist group in Cardiff.
Continue reading

UK: Police Informant revealed

Mark KennedyMark Kennedy AKA Mark Stone, who lived in Nottingham, has been exposed as having worked as an undercover police officer and this has been confirmed by Nottingham Indymedia and endorsed by other activist groups.

From 2000 to at least the end of 2009, Mark Kennedy was a well-known face in the local activist community and was actively involved in various environmental, animal rights, anti-capitalist and anti-fascist groups and campaigns.

Investigations into his identity revealed evidence that he has been a police officer and a face-to-face confession has confirmed this. The people involved in confronting Mark and getting his confession from him make clear that for security reasons no more information can be made public at this stage.

Any american or kanadian who knows that they had contact with him please make known the times and initiatives that he may have attended.

More information will be made public as it’s compiled…

Setting the record straight: FBI surveillance and Iowa City

From The Daily Iowan

We speak as some former members of an anarchist group from Iowa City no longer in existence, Wild Rose Rebellion. Recently, the Des Moines Register came out with a story detailing the FBI’s extensive surveillance while we planned attendance at the protest at the 2008 Republican National Convention. It has become obvious to us that there are a lot of misconceptions floating around, so we thought you might like to hear our take on the issue.

From the Palmer Raids and the Red Scare of the 20th century to the prosecution of animal-rights activists and protest organizers of today, our history is full of stories about civil-rights leaders, union organizers, and activists of all stripes being under surveillance — and often prosecuted — by the federal government. We were not surprised this happened to us. From our very first meeting, we shared stories about what had happened to those who protested at the conventions of 2004 and what we could expect to encounter.

Eight organizers of the 2008 Republican National Convention protests from Minneapolis-St. Paul were initially charged with “conspiracy to commit riot in furtherance of terrorism.” Four still face trial, including for “conspiracy to riot” — historically, a charge brought when nothing else exists to prosecute organizers.

The extensive surveillance and infiltration of their above-ground work by federal authorities was one part of the same effort used against us here in Iowa City. The documents released also show that authorities attempted to connect our organizing work to animal- and environmental-liberation activities, something authorities have been criminalizing to a greater degree in recent years — the “Green Scare,” as some have labeled it. We condemn this repression and declare our solidarity with those under such persecution.

Like many involved in work for social transformation, we are working-class people with rather limited resources. Not everyone involved in the planning could actually go to the convention, but they helped as they could with such items as gas money and helping get the word out. The idea of facing serious federal charges for protest activity is certainly a scary one.

However, the problem for us is not that the authorities went through our trash and watched us walk from our meetings at the library to a restaurant, bar, or grocery store. The real problem is that this seems intended to intimidate people from getting involved in such work.

Whether you think it was a good idea for the FBI to kept an eye on us just in case we were “dangerous extremists” or you are outraged at the waste of taxpayer money and intrusion on our rights, the bottom line is that you should know this goes on. You should know what the FBI is doing and the effect that it has on dissent. You should know what we are doing and why. That message seems lost in the controversy.

Besides the protest activity in question, members of our group worked on a number of issues, from supporting a union picket of Wells Fargo Bank to putting on a benefit for those affected by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids here in Iowa. We also confronted neo-Nazis in Des Moines and helped organize a community garden in Iowa City.

Simply put, we are for directly democratic and self-organized social movements, and we continue to be involved in such projects.

Iowa: 2008 FBI Documents made public

WRRDavid Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for files associated with an FBI surveillance of groups in Iowa City prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. What he discovered was the investigation was far more extensive than previously known.

Now, Goodner has turned over the files he received from the FBI exclusively to The Iowa Independent for publication.

As the documents show, the investigation into activities of peace groups in Iowa City involved staking out homes, secretly photographing and video taping members, digging through garbage and even planting a mole to spy on the peace activists up close. Known as the Wild Rose Rebellion, the protesters were described by the FBI as an “anarchist collective.” In an interview with The Des Moines Register, the FBI defended its actions.

Full story and documents are available here.