A lot of talk and discussion has been flying lately about the recent exposure of the United $tates's massive worldwide spying apparatus. While the European Union superstructure of imperialist nations and empires cry "Foul!," their cries are for show only. In January 2012 the E.U super-state shot down a proposal that would have made it illegal for the United $tates to spy on E.U. citizens. The Amerikans threatened economic warfare and the U.$. administration heavily lobbied E.U. officials to crush the proposal before it was brought to member nations for referendum. E.U. officials promptly did so, proving the United $tates to be the current dominant world imperialist superpower.(1)
A reason some European countries/empires are reluctant to raise much of an outcry is because most communications at some point have to travel thru U.$. telecom and internet servers. European imperialist countries can then backdoor their own countries' warrant requirements by just requesting the information from U.$. spy agencies. Britain has also been known to do this to monitor insurgencies in its colonies.(2)(3) These revelations bring about the question, how else does this issue affect colonized peoples and the Third World?
The United $tates set up the notoriously corrupt Mexican government's entire telecommunications network to spy on its own citizenry, and of course to allow the United $tates to monitor all communications passing thru Mexico.(4) As stated above most of the world's communications will pass thru U.$. systems and systems set up by the United $tates. This allows the Amerikans to spy on the entire world's communications, thereby helping them to control entire populations, and manipulate governments and markets, which explains why the United $tates is so willing to export this technology.(5)
The United $tates and Israel have been exporting this technology for years.(6) One of the largest electronic surveillance companies Verint was founded by former Israeli intelligence officer Jacob "Kobi" Alexander. The CEO is Dan Bonder, former Israeli army engineer.(7) The United $tates uses a lot of Verint software for eavesdropping. Another major client of Verint is the government of Vietnam, who uses Verint technology to monitor dissidents and silence them.(8)
Another large U.$./Israeli intelligence firm, Narus, provides eavesdropping technology to the Chinese Government, which uses the technology to monitor citizens, silence dissidents and to prevent Chinese workers from organizing. Narus also provides and has provided its services to the oppressive regimes in Egypt (Mubarak), Libya, and Saudi Arabia.(9)
Without this U.$./Israeli technology these repressive governments could not track VOIP calls or block "unapproved" websites or track dissidents.(10) These systems allow these repressive regimes to impose a stranglehold on their citizenry/workers on behalf of the U.$. imperialists. This makes these U.$./Israeli firms not only responsible for helping to maintain this stranglehold but also largely responsible for the death, torture, and detention of the citizens and workers of these countries.
MIM(Prisons) adds:In issue 33 of Under Lock & Key we are focusing on the importance of independence in order to achieve self-determination. U.$. surveillance is just one more thing to consider in trying to maintain independence. One positive result coming out of the information released about the NSA's global data mining operations is a flurry of support in the First World (from people who haven't had to worry about things like COINTELPRO in the past) for independent, open source technology projects that focus on providing security to all. Many of these we mentioned in our article Self-Defense and Secure Communications in ULK 31. But using better technology is not the only lesson to take from this. Another lesson is that more traditional forms of communication, in societies less integrated into the imperialist system (where resistance also happens to be more fertile) will be an even better route than depending on technologies, such as social media, where the imperialists can easily dominate.
The digital age is slowly reaching behind prison walls. So much so that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recently began implementing cell phone blocking technology around its prisons. MIM(Prisons) regularly receives emails from comrades behind bars via state-run email systems for prisoners. While we have long promoted careful study and practice around the use of computers for revolutionary work, we have generally felt this material had little immediate relevance for our comrades behind bars. This is changing.
While pointing to resources for further study and giving pointers on what the risks of using computers and cell phones are, we have historically veered away from recommending certain technology. This was partly due to a desire to prevent the state from building a profile of the technologies that we rely on, and partly because there are organizations more focused on these questions that will have more up-to-date and in-depth information to offer. While the latter is still true, there are a few technologies that are so standard that we see little risk in mentioning them by name.
Another thing we want to touch on here is imposing higher standards for our electronic communications from other revolutionary organizations. Recent communications we've received have reinforced to us the need for diligence in having secure communication networks. So let us begin with some basic principles.
Assuming that we have a practical interest in developing communications with another revolutionary organization, there are three political questions that we must ask about the organization: 1) what is their political line? 2) what practice can we see to prove they are consistent in implementing that political line? 3) can we confirm that we are talking to someone that represents the organization? Once we decide to communicate with an organization we must then be concerned with who knows that we are communicating and who knows what we are saying to each other.
On our website we have our public email address, a form to submit anonymous messages, and our public GPG key to encrypt messages to us. Our website has been online for over 5 years and has material dating back that far demonstrating our work and our political line. We believe this is a good model that would allow another group to confirm who we are and communicate with us securely and anonymously via the internet.
The downside to the public email address is that it is easily targeted for monitoring, allowing the state to know who is contacting us. This is why we have the anonymous form and why we tell people to email us from addresses that are not linked to them persynally. For prisoners, one may think that one's mail is monitored anyway, so emailing is no greater risk than sending a letter. However, there is an increased risk in that digital communications provide for permanent documentation of who you communicate with and what you say, allowing for easy data mining of that information later. This is possible with snail mail, but it requires more effort by the state and is not done consistently; at least for most people. Emailing is convenient, and is a fine way for prisoners to contact us, but be aware of the increased ease of surveillance. If you are using non-state-sponsored technology, then you should consider using the tools we mention below if you have access to them.
For other revolutionary organizations, if our only communication is via anonymous email then we need a way to confirm who you are. Having an established website with your public email address and public GPG key on it and then using that GPG key to encrypt all email is a way to do this. GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) encryption should be used for all communications. Not only does it prevent a snooper from reading intercepted messages, it allows the receiver to confirm the identity of the sender if they have a trusted GPG key from that party. Email addresses are easy to spoof, while it is practically impossible to spoof GPG signatures.
One of the documents we link to on this subject is titled Surveillance Self-Defense. We think this is an appropriate title, and we need comrades to think beyond fists and guns when they think about "security" and "self-defense." Even if you don't use computers or cell phones at all, then you must have a basic understanding of the risks to come to that decision (unless you are in prison and have no choice in the matter). While martial arts are great in many ways, we do not see hand-to-hand combat as a decisive aspect of the struggle at this time. And since we have assessed our strategic stage to be one where armed struggle would be a fatal mistake, we do not require or promote weapons training. We do require regular study, review and practice of anti-surveillance technology of our members. And we hold those we relate to to similar standards. The worse your security practice, the more risk you are to us, and the less we will interact with you. Simple as that.
While being effective in self-defense requires further study than this document, we want to give some simplified recommendations here to get people started:
When you carry a cellphone it is easy for the state to know where you are and to electronically record sound and even video of your surroundings, even if your phone is off
Encrypt your data, if possible encrypt your whole drive including your operating system; there are different tools to do this effectively, but TrueCrypt is a popular cross-platform tool
As discussed above use GPG to encrypt messages and confirm who messages are from
Of course, prisoners using state-owned computers will not have the option to use any of these technologies, so it is mostly just a question of using email or snail mail. But if you are looking forward to a release date and hope to keep in touch with MIM(Prisons) then it would be worth learning more about these technologies and tactics to protect yourself.
How we approach self-defense is very much informed by our political line. Our line leads us to focus more on the First Amendment than the Second. But ultimately there are no rights, only power struggles. Currently, we do not have the ability to defend the movement militarily, but we do have the ability to defend it with a well-informed electronic self-defense strategy. And just as computer technology, and the internet in particular, was a victory for free speech, it has played a role in leveling the battlefield to the point that the imperialists recognize computer warfare as a material vulnerability to their hegemony. The Obama administration has gone so far as to call journalist Julian Assange a "terrorist" after WikiLeaks published documents that the United $tates did not want the world to see.(1) As the means of production advance, we must learn to utilize the emerging technologies for both offense and defense in the interests of the international proletariat.
The pigs have been up to the same old stuff around here. Three days ago they shot and killed one of the brown brothers with the mini 14 assault rifle, the same rifle type the media and congress has been trying to ban. Two guys were attacking another guy and they were on him and wouldn't stop. So the pig stopped it with the assault rifle. The official report is that the victim had a stabbing instrument in his hand. But the men who were closest to the incident said they saw no weapon.
Of course they did the routine investigation and sent out some COs to ask if anybody saw anything. And of course no one wanted to talk. The pigs have brainwashed so many of us that we believe if we report on the pigs' wrongdoing then that makes you a snitch. A lot of guys are afraid to write a grievance for fear of being labeled. The bad thing is the pigs have their compradors in place to push this point.
Some guys here on a facility organized a food strike to protest the fact the kitchen has a mice/rodent problem. It was only one building. There was no communication that it was going to take place. They did it and got some people's attention. Inspectors came out and looked at the kitchen and gave the kitchen workers a pep talk and told them they needed to tell the population that the problem was being taken care of. All they did was put some mouse traps down and nothing else.
Hopefully the population continues to stand up for themselves. If this is a sign of change I hope it continues because the pigs got nervous when those guys refused to eat.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The righteousness of opposing "snitching" is in the idea that you don't go running to the oppressor to deal with problems among the oppressed people. In other words, don't snitch to the oppressor on the oppressed. There is no such thing as snitching on the oppressor. To report abuse of the pigs, you are not bringing the oppressor into a conflict among the oppressed; the oppressor already is the source of the conflict. And if the oppressed don't have the means to resolve that conflict, then it may be tactically correct to turn to other oppressors to resolve that conflict.
It is true that the prison administration gets nervous when prisoners organize. The more we can unite around common goals, the more power we will have. If the oppressed stay quiet and disunited, there is no counterbalance to the abuse that prisoners face.
Let's face it, most people coming to prison don't arrive with people's safety at the top of their priority list. Most come to prison with their homies' or comrades' safety in mind, but that is about it. Most come from an existence where, if you are not sharp-witted, treacherous or a cold hustler, you don't eat or you don't survive.
Being raised in this mind frame is not easily forgotten, so the economic hurdle is key in a prisoner's mindset. Many grew up in an environment where other nationalities are frowned upon or there are open hostilities between different nations. Then there are the mentally ill prisoners who may kick off some shit over nonsense and others follow suit. There are so many factors that make prisons unsafe that one can write a book on them rather easily. Each factor has many ways in which to approach it and combat it as well. But at the end of the day safe prisons anywhere in Amerika will only come from the hands of prisoners ourselves.
In a capitalist society prisons are not created to rehabilitate prisoners or teach us, they are designed to warehouse and neutralize us. So the first step in attempting to create safer prisons is understanding this. There is one key that unlocks the door to getting safer prisons and that key is education! I am not talking about Amerikan education, I am talking about revolutionary education. Rev Ed transforms people and betters people in all areas, including interacting with one's fellow prisoners. Take away Rev Ed and one is left with backwards thinking, reactionary behavior, abuse, set tripping, predatory behavior, religious nonsense, drug and alcohol addiction — all the tore up tradition that has self-destructed entire generations.
Ignorance of who you are will always bring out the worst in you. Knowing where one comes from, the deep tradition of resistance and legacy of struggle will always propel one in a positive path, a peaceful path, because when we learn who the real oppressor is we no longer look at another prisoner as the bad guy. Rev Ed teaches us that prisoners in general are an oppressed class and when we really grasp this there's no way can we walk around trying to pick fights with our fellow prisoners. Even the thought of this becomes absurd. Instead we are walking around trying to share revolutionary ideas and exchange revolutionary literature in our quest to revolutionize these hell holes. This must be our focus if we want to have the greatest impact that we can to make prisons safer.
I won't sugar coat it: this is hard work. When I read about shit popping off in what amounts to lumpen-on-lumpen crime I feel your pain because I been there and I still experience bullshit that clings to many of those who continue to hold on to nonsense or reactionary views. So I know how it is when violence ensues around you, especially if you have been working to educate people for a period of time.
These challenges don't change the fact that if you want a safe environment in prison you need to educate your fellow prisoners. The best way to do this is to start with yourself and your cellmate if you have one. I have always had long exchanges of ideas with a cellie. Whatever revolutionary publication I had I would read it, or my cellie would, and we would discuss what we agreed with or disagreed with. Once me and my cellmate were on the same page we would begin to educate our neighbors on either side regardless of who it was, passing publications and eventually books, and eventually involving the whole tier or pod. Many times this process would begin by just passing a publication to someone or telling one persyn to read it and pass it down the line. After a while the questions will begin. This is one way I have experienced creating more educated prisoners and thus safer conditions.
I have also found prisoners who could not read or write, and the state usually does not have material or classes for these people, so I would tell these prisoners I'll spend the time and effort to teach them to read on the condition that they must in turn teach someone else once they are able. One time I taught a prisoner to read out on the mainline and when I saw he had not found someone to tutor I went around and found someone for him. I would go to the law library when I was on the mainline and see someone trying to maneuver in the law and I'd reach out to help this persyn. These people were all different nationalities but in order to create "peaceful prisons" I have learned that you can't limit yourself to your own nation; someone has to build that bridge of relations. If I get to a yard where there is no bridge, I will fill the vacuum because someone has to.
What I have experienced in doing time (and I have spent more time of my life incarcerated than out in society) is that the majority of violence that occurs is over a business deal gone bad, either drugs or gambling debts. So if we have enough discipline to cut this out of the picture would reduce a lot of the violence. The next issue is predatory behavior which is just one persyn or group oppressing or attempting to oppress another, either because of ones nationality or what geographic location one grew up in. If you refrain from this behavior safer prisons become even more of a reality.
In California, prisoners in Pelican Bay recently issued a statement to end hostilities between all nationalities in California prisons, county jails and streets. This is unprecedented in California where lumpen-on-lumpen crime has gone on with deadly consequences for many years. This is only a step, but it is a necessary step in building any type of serious change or any transformation in each nation. The days when the state would pit prisoners on prisoners in California and use us as gladiators for their amusement are over. Prisoners have finally identified the real problem we face, i.e. the real oppressor. And if California can do this and if those in Pelican Bay SHU, who the state claims control all California "gangs," can do this then there is no reason why every prison in Amerika can't do the same and call for an end to all hostilities in all prisons, jails and streets! This is a necessary step if prisoners ever hope to create real safe zones in prisons.
We are seeing history play out in California where our future is in our own hands. If we want to have prisons where we can really rehabilitate ourselves then we must make it happen and the only way for this to happen is if we do so collectively and by ending the hostilities between all nationalities. This knocks down barricades that would otherwise slow down this process. This is not saying we don't have differences, there are many differences, but once you identify your oppressor you realize that lumpen-on-lumpen crime is not helping to reduce our oppression. It's very simple and all groups of all nationalities here in Pelican Bay SHU have agreed to this agreement. If we can do it so can you!
The real safe prisons will come when prisoners can exercise forms of people's power in these concentration camps. People's power exists when contradictions are resolved without having to rely on the state. Like the example I gave of helping my fellow prisoners to read and write or do legal work. Most prisons do not have programs for this, so rather than sit around and complain about it I started my own program on the mainline.
People's power can also be solving problems and preventing violence through mediation which does not involve the state. In Pelican Bay SHU there is the "Short Corridor Collective" which is a representative from each group Chicano, Black, white and sub groups, which seeks peaceful mutual resolutions to problems affecting prisoners. They even have come out with certain demands to the state. If Pelican Bay SHU can do it why can't other prisons across the United $tates form collectives that seek peaceful resolutions to issues affecting prisoners? The answer is they can, and they must, if real peace and progress are to be achieved within prisons.
Political education is the key. Once someone learns real history and understands the class contradictions in the United $tates, and how our oppression can actually be traced directly to capitalism, there is no way they will want to waste time on nonsense. Instead of sitting around gossiping about other poor people who are locked up and plotting on how to hurt other poor people, these educated people will instead study, educate others, form study groups, share progressive literature and books, and create independent institutions behind prison walls in order to advance the prison movement as well as the movement, for humyn rights more broadly.
The only thing I see in the way of us not having safer prisons is us not making these prisons safer!
El 20 de Agusto 2012 salió un articulo alegando que el Richard Aoki un Japonés y también unos de los primeros miembros del "Black Panther Party" (BPP) era una rata del FBI, esta declaración esta hecha por el periodista y autor Seth Rosenfeld en su libro titulado: subversivos. La guerra del FBI contra estudiantes radicales y el crecimiento del poder de Reagan, que estuvo disponible convenientemente el 21 de Agusto. También el 7 Septiembre 2012 Rosenfeld publicó un artículo consecutivo con 221 paginas de documentos recién liberados del FBI los cuales él cree que implican mas a Aoki como agente del FBI.(1)
Pero hay que empezar con la perspectiva política de Rosenfelds porque todos sabemos que no existe un periodista imparcial. La opinión de Rosenfeld sobre las luchas liberativas es revelada en su caracterización del frente de liberación del tercer mundo (TWLF) en el cual Aoki se enredó era un movimiento estudiantil violento (2). El le echa la culpa a los huelguistas del TWLF por la violencia en 1968-69 en los colegios universitarios en la área Bay, y no a los puercos. Aunque los estudiantes nunca iniciaron la violencia y de hecho fueron rociados con tanto gas lacrimógeno por los puercos que los arboles en la plaza Proul dentro la Universidad de California en Berkeley todavía molestaban los ojos de los estudiantes hasta el próximo año de escuela. Asi mirando las cosas de esta perspectiva debemos poner en cuestión la estimación que hizo Rosenfeld de el FBI.
Richard Aoki influenció el partido mucho al principio y es famoso por conseguir las primeras pistolas para el BPP de acuerdo con su biografía Aoki ayudo a construir la ideología tremprana de los panteras Bobby Seale y Huey Newton mediante su relación colegio Merritt y por su sugestión con literatura material y político debates con ellos.(3) Ademas del con ellos en el trabajo por la frente liberativa Tercer Mundial vía la política alianza - Americano Asiatico, Aoki se quedo cometido político y revolucionario hasta su muerte en 2009, sorpresivamente señor Rosenfeld es de San Francisco y estuvo investigando para su libro desde 1982 pero apenas en 2002 o 2003 se entero de Richard Aoki.
La demanda de Rosenfeld inició mucho debate por la internet y el radio si será verdar o falso, aunque nosotros reconocemos que siempre esta presente la posibilidad que cualquier persona puede ser agentes del estado pero MIM(Prisiones) prefiere estar de acuerdo con los que vienen a concluir con evidencia reales antes de denunciar al legado de Aoki al estado, viendo objetivamente la evidencia siguiendo la demanda es inconcluyente porque el articulo original estaba muy sensacional, vago y con mal cotizaciones de la entrevista con Aoki en 2007 por cual el autor entremete como su admisión. Además de estas distorsiones la única otras evidencias son los documentos del FBI por cual son ambiguos con cotizaciones diciendo que Aoki proporciono información "única" pero no esta al disponible por otros recursos y el testimonio de los ex-agentos FBI de por cual abra nomas uno que conoció a Aoki también esta muerto.(4) Pero todavía ningunos de los documentos dicen cual tipo de información Aoki proporciono al FBI porque todo estuvo borrado. En el programa de radio Apex Express un amigo cercano de Aoki, Harvey Dong ofreció a los escuchadores una lectura de las partes pertinentes de los documentos del FBI, citados por Rosenfeld (y también excertas de los papeles de colegio de Aoki) (2). La única información que alegan que vino de Aoki en los primeros documentos del FBI es supuestamente de el mismo Aoki y podiar ser obtenido usando intersepciones telefónicas o un agente dando información de Aoki, soponer que los documentos liberados por el FBI son real, los que fueron liberados el 7 Septiembre si establecen que Aoki estaba dando información al FBI desde 1961 hasta 1977 pero muy poco de la relación esta revelado.
El hecho de que el FBI borró todos los nombres de las personas y organizaciones que alegan Aoki proporciono información hace imposible el especular su asunto y enredo con el bureau el articulo consecutivo de Rosenfeld usa muchas citas de las 221 paginas/documentos indicando que Aoki dio información valorosa pero cualquier detalles que pueden soportar esta demanda están asbestos o borrados y aunque salieron las publicaciones de estos nuevos documentos todavía no hay ninguna información por cual el tipo de inteligencia que dicen que el dio al FBI del BPP u otros grupos, aunque nosotros siempre tenemos que estar trucha por la posibilidad que un camarada puede ser un agente, pero primero tenemos que ver evidencia de sus males hechos contra el movimiento antes de condenarlo especialmente si hizo mucho para avanzar la causa.
Es muy probable que el FBI esta dandole la imagen de rata al Aoki para quitarle su crédito como tercer mundial activista y revolucionario, quitarle crédito a los pantheros como peones por el FBI y mas simple para vender copias del nuevo libro de Rosenfeld. Una lección que aprendimos con los Pantheros y otros movimientos políticos de los 1960s es la importancia de seguridad. Los ataques del cointelpro contra los Pantheros ayudó a MIM construirse como una organización semi-clandestino por cual practicamos nuestros relaciones como camaradas alrededor de asuntos políticos y no de relaciones personales. Lo más interesante es en 20 Agosto el FBI todavía tenia que liberar 4,000 más páginas de documentos que tenía contra Richard Aoki, pero estaban diciendo que no tenían un archivo del Aoki, esto no pueder ser la verdad porque él éra muy activo políticamente. Rosenfeld y otros miraron el FBI retener los documentos como implicación de Aoki como rata soponer que estos reportes eran proporciones de Aoki dentro el tiempo de 20 Agosto y 7 Septiembre.
La FBI liberó 221 paginas de documentos que tenio de Richard Aoki y adentro del debate nosotros vemos que la FBI seleccionó un tiempo tan oportunistico para liberar estos documentos por lo cual llegamos a cuestionar su legitimidad ¿porqué la FBI liberó documentación que dice Aoki no ha proporcionado información con valor? Esta controversa esta jugando con sus agendas para socavar activistas revolucionarios y sus movimientos… La desconfianza que vino al resultado de esta demanda es en un clásico ejemplo perfecto en cual el BPP siempre citó al Mao por decir "no hay derecho de hablar, sin investigación, este escandalo en contra de Aoki debe servirlos como un recuerdo como el dar la imagen de rata a uno puede impactar nuestro movimiento anti-imperialista y especialmente nuestro organización dentro prisiones porque unos de los principales del frente unidos por la paz en prisiones es "unidad." Nosotros luchamos para unir a los mismos que luchan por nuestros mismos intereses y para mantener la unidad, nosotros debemos que tener una linea abierta de comunicación, cadenas y asegurar resolver cualquier situación con hechos reales, esto es una necesidad, porque asi como los puercos usan tácticos como rumores, ratas, y falseamiento para dividir los oprimidos, los puercos miran a nuestra unidad como el fin de su reinado(5).
Desgraciadamente esta es una lección que vamos aprender cada tiempo como la demanda que todos en las yardas SNY o custodia protectiva son rata y rumores en la yarda no significa nada si esta ausente la evidencia suficiente para llamar alguien más como un agente del estado, algunos veces recibimos sugestiones de otros camaradas que debemos pedir papeles y archivos del estado correccional vía los camaradas antes de aceptarlos en USW para determinar si están bien por sus cargos y dónde y cúal yarda estaban en sus pasados, esto es como decir que debemos preguntarle al estado a quién debemos dejar entrar al USW. Esto no nadamas suena ridículo en teoría, porque sabemos de un caso donde una rata le dieron falsos papeles y lo dejaron salir a la población general para ser un lugar teniente en un LO en California.
El estado siempre va poner energía para hacernos suspechar a uno de otras, como revolucionarios compañeros nosotros no debemos de hacer las cosas mas fácil para ellos, al reverso nosotros debemos comunicarlo directo si pensamos que algo esta mal porque nuestra lucha es muy importante para enredarlos en lo sectario y rumores. Aunque salga evidencia en el futuro que pruebe Aoki proporciono información al FBI y les ayudo atacar la lucha liberativa todavía no vamos estar devastados y también no estamos de acuerdo con Fred Ho's método subjetivo en defender a Aoki aunque si estamos de acuerdo con las consecuencias por las alegaciones si sale real si es verdad que Aoki era un agente, qué importa? Porque sí es era un pobre agente, porque hizo mas para el movimiento que para destruirlo (6) Mirandolo así es correcto y junto a nuestra mirada como mantener seguridad dentro el movimiento prisionero - anti-imperialista, nunca hay que darle al puerco oportunidad a destruirnos más - dando más información de la que se debe saber y aplicando altos estados de nivel diferentes a los miembros nos va ayudar a asegurar que de gente más por la causa que al enemigo.
This issue is going to production on the heels of the first countrywide action engaged in by a yet-unknown number of members of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), representing many political, religious and lumpen organizations and hailing from the prison systems of Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, New York, California, Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and the Federal system. Initially called for by UFPP signatory SAMAEL, MIM(Prisons) promoted the call for the Day of Solidarity on September 9 in our last issue of Under Lock & Key as something we felt embodied what the united front is about. In this issue we summarize what we know so far, but we expect to learn more in the coming weeks and will continue to report on this important action.
For our part, MIM(Prisons) made a strong effort back in July to directly contact all other prison rights organizations and activists on the outside to let them know about the Day of Solidarity. We also promoted it generally online and handed out fliers with the five principles of the UFPP on them at many events related to prisons and peace on the streets. Other media outlets that promoted the call included the San Francisco BayView Newspaper, anti-imperialism.com and NorthBay Uprising Radio (89.5 KZCT in Vallejo, CA), which did an extensive interview with a comrade about the day of solidarity, the united front and the prison struggle in general. Other articles in this issue discuss some of the repression faced by prisoners and MIM(Prisons) leading up to the action.
All that said, the primary focus of the day was the organizing of prisoners. To facilitate this we distributed updates to everyone involved about the plans of other groups participating, similar to what we did during the California strikes. One story we distributed from New York was from a handwritten kite a comrade passed to another brother at his facility: "Bro. - Please pay close attention to the article 'Call for Solidarity Demonstration September 9' on page 3. Let me know what you think. I've decided to fast on Sept 9th." The response was written on the same paper: "Yes I will fast on that day, it looks better when we all go to chow but we just don't eat. Thanks for that information." (This was what the 800 Attica comrades did on that day in 1971 in honor of George Jackson's murder.) The original organizers got this report and adjusted their own plans to go to chow and dispose of meals as outlined in their cheat sheet (see "Solidarity and Peace Demonstration Builds, Guards Retaliate"). This cheat sheet was passed on to the comrades in Florida whose report appears below, who also adopted the tactic:
On 9 September 2012, at Everglades Correctional Institution in Florida, individual members of The Blood Nation honored the soldiers of Attica by doing one or more of the following: fasting, boycotting the canteen/commissary, accepting chow hall trays and dumping them, and explaining why. Also participating individually were one or more members of the following groups (in alphabetical order): Black Gangsta Disciples, Crip Nation, Insane Gangsta Disciples, Almighty Latin King Queen Nation, Nation of Islam, Spanish Cobras, Shi'a Muslim Community, and Sufi Community. My apologies to anyone I missed. It was a small step at a spot with no history of unity, but even a single drop of water in a dry glass makes it wet. Respect to those who made the sacrifice, those who joined us midday, and those who expressed interest the day after. I'm as human as anyone, but let's TRY to remember who the enemy is!
Good work comrades! Seems like organizations in Florida are open to solidarity as another comrade from that state reports: "Being that today is September 9 and a day of solidarity and peace, all sorts of nations (organizations) got together here in the rec yard and had a jailhouse BBQ and lived in peace just for the day here at Cross City, Florida."
Many of our supporters are suffering in long-term isolation, so the opportunity for mass organizing is greatly limited. A report from Missouri read:
Today is September 9, 2012. My comrade (my celly) and I are participating in the mass stoppage of work and fast for our comrades who fell in Attica. Although we are in Ad-Seg we have chosen to sacrifice: no food, no [petty stuff], no arguing out the door, only working out four times for one hour each time, reading, studying and talking politics. For me fasting is something I do once a month, but today is the first time I've worked out during my fast. My comrade is pushing me and I'm not stopping. From midnight to midnight is how we're moving.
This white comrade also reported that he received ULK 27 announcing the Day of Solidarity, while his Black comrade's was censored. They report this is a common form of discrimination in Missouri.
Another great success occurred in Nevada where SAMAEL led the organizing of a good cross-section of prisoners representing about 30% of the population. Even if we get no other reports on the September 9 action, we'd say it was a success just from these examples. But we know from the list of states above that the day had much broader participation.
The progress represented by prisoners across the country acting in solidarity as a class took place in the context of the many other strikes and mass actions prisoners have led in the past year or more that have built off of each other as cipactli writes about in "Prisoner Uprisings Foretell Growing Movement". This progress is exciting on the subjective level. And we can look at periods of mass uprising to see what happens when times are "exciting." They tend to be crazy as well. People are confused, trying to figure things out and the enemy is working hard to confuse them more and divide them. So it is of the utmost importance that as the new prison movement emerges that we take time to study questions of security and correct leadership.
There is the question of security at the individual level, and how we judge someone by putting politics in command, as discussed by PTT in relation to Richard Aoki. In the belly of the beast, where there is so much wealth and privilege, security at the group level is very tied up with our class analysis. As our Nevada comrade points out in "Fighting Enemies in the Prison Movement", most people in this country will actively support imperialism without directly getting a paycheck for it, and this is true for a portion of the prison population as well.
One thing that sets communists apart from other revolutionary trends is our stress on the importance of correct ideological leadership. Putting politics in command can guide us in dealing with all challenges we face, not just security. We recognize that the truth will come from mass struggle, but that it will not always be recognized by the masses when they see it because everyone needs to learn to think in a scientific way first. In order to pick the best leadership, we must all be well-studied to think scientifically about both history and our current conditions. As we point out to the comrade who suspects we might be CIA, you should be able to judge the correctness of ULK and to struggle with us where you think we are wrong to decide whether the risk of subscribing is worth it.
Our comrade in BORO puts the September 9 Day of Solidarity in this context well when s/he writes: "Through the lens of a dialectical-materialist, we must see history as a never-ending stream of past events that gave and constantly give birth to present realities. This chain of historical events is constantly moving us forward into the ocean of endless possibilities. We must use this view of a 'living history' as a source of defining who we are and the direction we're heading as a people." (See "Black August and Bloody September: Stand Up and Remember on September 9.")
This September protest wasn't just to spend a day sitting quietly honoring the past; it was a time to learn from the past and apply lessons to address our current conditions. The day was a success, but it was only one step in developing a class-conscious prison movement that can change conditions. In the coming weeks, we look forward to hearing of more successes and accomplishments that organizers achieved on September 9.
On August 20, 2012 an article was released alleging that Richard Aoki, a Japanese national and early Black Panther Party (BPP) member, was an FBI informant. This claim was made by journalist and author Seth Rosenfeld, whose book Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power was conveniently released on August 21. On September 7, 2012 Rosenfeld published a follow-up article, with 221 pages of "newly released" FBI documents which he believes further implicate Aoki as an FBI informant.(1)
Let's start with Rosenfeld's political worldview, because we know no journalist is truly unbiased. Rosenfeld's opinion on liberation struggles is revealed in his characterization of the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), that Aoki organized in, as a violent student movement.(2) He blames the violence of the 1968-69 strikes of the TWLF on Bay Area college campuses on the strikers themselves, not the pigs. Yet the students did not initiate violence, and in fact were sprayed with so much teargas by the pigs that the trees in Sproul Plaza on the University of California at Berkeley campus were still irritating students' eyes even into the following school year. Coming from this perspective we must question Rosenfeld's assessment of the FBI right off the bat.
Influencing the Party greatly from its beginning, Richard Aoki is most famous for supplying the BPP with their first guns. According to his biography, Aoki helped shape the early ideology of the Panthers through his relationship with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton at Merritt College by suggesting reading material and engaging with them in political debate.(3) Besides his work with the BPP, Richard Aoki also did much organizing and protest work with the Third World Liberation Front via the Asian American Political Alliance. Aoki remained politically active and revolutionary-minded even until his death in 2009. Surprisingly, Rosenfeld is from San Francisco and has been doing research for this book since 1982, yet it wasn't until 2002 or 2003 that he learned of Richard Aoki.
Understandably, Rosenfeld's claim has sparked a lot of debate on the internet and radio as to whether it is true or not. While we are open to the possibility of nearly anyone being an agent of the state, MIM(Prisons) agrees with those who have held out for clear proof before we will consider denouncing Aoki's legacy of the state. Objectively, the current evidence supporting this claim is inconclusive at best. The original article was highly sensational, focusing on vague, chopped up, and misquoted sound-bites of a 2007 interview with Aoki that the author interprets as admissions of guilt. Besides these sound-bites, the only other evidence offered are ambiguous FBI documents, citing Aoki as providing "unique" information not available from any other source, and the testimony of former FBI agents, of whom the only one that supposedly knew Aoki is also dead.(4) Yet none of the documents say what information Aoki supposedly gave the FBI; it has all been redacted.
On the radio program APEX Express, Harvey Dong, a close friend of Richard Aoki, offered the listener a thorough reading of the relevant parts of the FBI documents cited by Rosenfeld (as well as excerpts from Aoki's college term papers).(2) The only information which allegedly came from Aoki in the first set of FBI documents is about Aoki himself and could have been obtained using a wiretap (or informant) on Aoki. Assuming the released FBI documents are real, the set released on September 7 does establish that Aoki was giving information to the FBI from 1961 to 1977, but very little about that relationship is revealed.
The fact that the FBI redacts all names of individuals and organizations that Aoki allegedly provided information on makes it impossible to speculate on the nature of his interactions with the Bureau. Rosenfeld's follow-up article pulls many quotes from the 221 pages of documents indicating that Aoki provided valuable information, but any details that might substantiate these statements are redacted or absent. Despite this release of new documents, there is still no information on what intelligence he allegedly gave to the FBI on the BPP or other groups. While we should always be prepared for the possibility that a trusted comrade is an agent, we need to see evidence of harm done to the movement to condemn someone who did so much to advance the cause.
It is very conceivable that the FBI is snitch-jacketing Aoki to discredit his work as a Third Worldist revolutionary activist, discredit the Panthers as pawns of the FBI, and more simply to sell copies of Rosenthal's new book. One of the lessons we learned from the Panthers, and other political movements of the 1960s, is the importance of security. The COINTELPRO attacks on the Panthers led MIM to develop as a semi-underground organization that keeps comrades at arm's length, centering around political, rather than persynal, relationships.
Interestingly, on 20 August the FBI had yet to release about 4,000 pages of documents on Richard Aoki, and was claiming to have no main file on Aoki himself. This cannot be true considering how politically active and outspoken he was. Rosenfeld and others saw the FBI withholding these documents as indicative of Aoki's status as an informant, assuming these were reports given by Aoki.(4) Then supposedly some time between 20 August and 7 September, the FBI released at least 221 pages of documentation just on Richard Aoki. With all the heated debate, we note that the FBI chose a very opportunistic time to release these documents, which causes us to further question their legitimacy. Why would the FBI release documentation that says Aoki didn't provide valuable information? This controversy is feeding right into their agenda to undermine revolutionary activists and movements.
The distrust that has evolved surrounding this claim is classic, and a perfect example of why the BPP often quoted Mao by saying, "No investigation, no right to speak." This Aoki "scandal" should be a reminder of how snitch-jacketing can impact our anti-imperialist movement, and our prison organizing especially. One of the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons is UNITY,
"WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."(5)
This is a lesson we've unfortunately had to learn time and time again. A claim that everyone on SNY or Protective Custody is a snitch, or a rumor on the yard, is not sufficient evidence to call someone out as an agent of the state. Sometimes comrades suggest that we require USW members to submit their files from the Department of Corrections to determine whether they are compromised in any way based on charges, and where they've been housed in the past. They tell us we should ask the state who we should let into USW. Not only is this ridiculous in theory, but we know of at least one case where an informant was given doctored files and released back onto general population to be a Lieutenant in a prominent LO in California. A piece of paper from a government agency should only be considered as one piece of evidence, not the sacrosanct truth.
The state is already putting a lot of energy into making us suspicious of our fellow revolutionaries; we should not make their job any easier. Instead we should be communicating with each other directly if we suspect unprincipled divisions are being fomented. Our struggle is too important to get caught up in rumor mongering and sectarianism.
Even if evidence does eventually come out which proves Aoki was providing the FBI with information that actually helped them attack the liberation struggle, we will still not be devastated. While we don't agree with Fred Ho's subjectivist methodology of defending Aoki overall, we do have unity with his perspective on the consequence of truth in the allegation. "If Aoki was an agent, so what? He surely was a piss-poor one because what he contributed to the movement is enormously greater than anything he could have detracted or derailed."(6) This view is right in line with our view on how to maintain security within the anti-imperialist prison movement; don't give a pig the opportunity to do more damage than good. Distributing information on a need-to-know basis and applying high standards to different levels of membership will help ensure people contribute more to the cause than to the enemy.
On July 7, 2012 a kite was passed to me, and it read as follows:
"I might be in some trouble. You don't know me and this is going to blow your mind. If I die in the next day Sr. Menendez in Unit 11 is responsible and probably the warden too. They are going to use inmates to do it. I threatened the warden with letters to the health department about blatant violations in the culinary and the way they do laundry and other things they are getting away with in here. If you hear of an inmate dying in the next couple of days don't let my death go in vain."
Without addressing the veracity of this communication, it is disturbing for a number of reasons (aside from the obvious). First and foremost is the specter of the state's use of inmates (and I use "inmates" here in the most specifically derogatory and anti-revolutionary sense of the term) to do their bidding. That a prisoner who sought to expose an evil visited upon us all would then have to fear reprisal from fellow targets of the evil, at the direction of the oppressor, is treachery of a singularly despicable character. (This is nothing new, but its nature has become more dominant, as is discussed below.) This is aside from the actual violation of our most fundamental constitutional and human rights, the subsequent retaliation for exposing this malfeasance of prison officials and the complete and utter disregard and contempt for human dignity.
This "tool" culture is becoming increasingly prevalent. Today, not only do we revolutionary and activist prisoners have to combat the oppressors themselves, but we must overcome their minions within the ranks of the oppressed as well — we must be ever vigilant against their agents among us. Not in the ordinary sense of infiltrators and narcs, but a whole culture of puppets, sympathizers and panderers intoxicated by imperialist fictions. What is truly frightening about this new breed of traitor is this fact: they want no recompense for their treachery. They believe in the rightness of the betrayal. They believe in the rightness of their loyalty to the oppressor, the enemy. These "people" are not seeking gain. They are an enemy cadre, steeped in enemy thought and ideology. They are (in the truest sense) patriotic Amerikkkans.
Doubtless, the state creates deprivations and uses these deprivations as bargaining chips to enlist the aid of petty snitches and unsavories of all types. That is never going to change in or out of prison. That is not the same animal. What is named here is a devoted enemy, an unrecognized and unofficial extension of the state in both thought and deed.
We must be aware of this counter-revolutionary element and be prepared to deal with them as they arise. There is increased urgency for A) the unification of all revolutionaries and activists regardless of race, religion, gender, custody, set or hood; B) critical analyses of the battle field without set mentalities; and C) application of the principles and theory which arise out of critical analyses. We must rethink our strategies and possibly our associations and act based upon what we have been taught by our conditions, not by what we feel or desire. The local conditions as applied to the global struggle should advise us — not predilection.
The only reason why we have remained oppressed is the enemy's effective and continuous infiltration and dis-empowerment. It is the enemy's ability to disunite and exploit this disunity, which provides them with a critical advantage. These are textbook guerrilla tactics which continue to work and reinforce the need for a steel-willed revolutionary vanguard. As such, we must immediately re-evaluate our objectives and tactical assessments, and evolve to meet the pale of the enemy. This requires that we take a long hard look at our environment and account for this emerging class of "enemy combatants."
A friend of the enemy is still an enemy.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We recently announced a day of solidarity for the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which in part is about promoting the five principles to discourage the kind of petty back-biting where prisoners will sell out for small favors from the pigs. But this comrade brings up a good point, that not all prisoners can be won over. The divisions created by the oppressors are not just individuals bought off to carry out individual reactionary acts in exchange for favors, but also individuals who buy in to the Amerikan political ideology and truly support imperialism as a system. Both groups are dangerous to the movement. We must protect ourselves from these people, both by trying to turn them to the side of the oppressed while exposing them and avoiding their traps and aggression.
I don't want to sound rude or suspicious about MIM but I have to be straight up with you about how I feel pertaining to your activism. I am concerned you have been already infiltrated or you're a CIA front organization claiming revolutionary organizing. I hope I'm just assuming things, because I have been corresponding and studying with you for several years. A lot of strange suspicious things happened to me like the prison guards and other staff trying to cross me out or set me up, or maybe the COINTELPRO is trying to discourage me. How come every time somebody gets involved with MIM it seems like that person gets either killed or in big trouble? Seems to me someone infiltrated your movement.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It's important that everyone approach security and organizing as carefully as this comrade does. We know that revolutionary movements are infiltrated all the time, from Lenin's COMINTERN to the Black Panther Party to MIM and beyond. The best we can do is force our comrades to demonstrate their correct line in practice, and never take people's word for their revolutionary commitment. If someone claims to be a comrade but puts forth a dangerous line (i.e. pushing people into armed struggle that will get them killed and set back the movement), or talks a lot but never does any work, we should view them with suspicion.
Similarly, it's good to question why repression comes down on you after association with an individual or organization. In prison, unfortunately this could just mean you are working with a genuinely progressive outside group, as the authorities can read all your mail and will punish you for working with such groups. We have countless examples of progressive organizations being labeled "security threat groups."
One of the reasons we encourage organizing in a cell structure is to limit comrades' exposure to others. You can do good work with people at arm's length, forming cells with those you know and trust. But in most cases, we recommend comrades in prison stay in touch with MIM(Prisons) (and others), despite the risks, because of the need to access both theoretical and practical information to help you organize.
The danger of infiltration wherever we are is why we disagree with many who say we should only work with prisoners in general population and we should isolate SNY prisoners. In our article on "Security in the Prison Movement" we argued, "We see this as a line struggle. Anyone can pretend to be USW inside, just like anyone can pretend to represent MIM(Prisons) or Maoism. If they uphold the line set forth by the vanguard organization and/or movement, then they're out there working to advance the struggle."
Everyone should approach working with groups claiming revolutionary politics with caution. It is possible the CIA is producing Under Lock & Key or other publications like it, just to identify the "trouble maker" prisoners. But if you read the pages of ULK you should be able to determine if the line and actions of our members and supporters are correct. In the end, if the CIA really was behind this good publication and its good work, we might be getting more out of that infiltration than they are.
Recently I received notice of change to regulations number 12-03, publication date 25 May 2012, effective date 10 May 2012, that is said to affect sections 3000, 3375 and 3375.6. It states the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) seeks to establish requirements for an automated needs assessment tool to be used to place prisoners in programs that would aid their re-entry to society and reduce their chances of reoffending by identifying the criminogenic needs of offenders.
The presentation appears to be harmless, but it is not harmless for those ignorant enough to boast about their gang involvement, family criminality, and other sensitive factors that will become readily available and quickly cross-referenced and correlated with information contained in intelligence files. In addition, the information gained from the compass core assessment official record can be used as an "administrative determinate" under 15 CCR 3375.2(b)(11) in addition to 3375.3 (9)(4)(A) & (B) which is the foundation not only for validation but for intelligence analysts.
Since the 1880s the concept of boycotting, or organizing to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with prison/jail stores or commissaries, has been a very powerful tool. In California it deprives the CDCR of a source of revenue. It also affects the bottom line of prison profiteers, whose profits are guaranteed by what amounts to cash transactions for hundreds of millions in profits and revenues, courtesy of prisoners who lack the will to sacrifice luxuries for a while in order to exercise necessary economic leverage, to compel some administrative change.
Prisoners in California should remember that canteen goods originally were purchased at wholesale prices and then marked up 10% and the proceeds over the costs and expenses went into the prisoner welfare fund to finance many programs and activities that benefited prisoners. This changed with the rise of Pete Wilson, the governor who used prisoner welfare funds to help finance a re-election bid which opened the flood gates for all sorts of misuse of the foundational purpose of the prisoner welfare fund.
The validation process is a means of control and manipulation that I have noted that some general population prisoners and sensitive needs yard (SNY/PC) prisoners embrace as a sort of badge of honor, only to belatedly find out the effects. In ULK 26an Oregon prisoner points to the most significant problems with the divisive nature in the development of LOs who are in competition with each other.
It's common for me to hear cats hollering that they are Blood this, Blood that. Crip this or Crip that, Norteño, Southsider, Bulldog, skin head, nazi, etc., trying to tout some bogus gangsta facade that ordinarily would land them on Corcoran SHU 4B and validated. These boastful cats are easily co-opted and manipulated. Their delusions of grandeur provide Institutional Gang Investigations (IGI) with a wealth of intelligence via their eyes and ears on the tier.
A perfect example is the Corcoran prisoner's statement about cats in ASU I (Administrative Segregation) laying down in fear of IGI retaliation for exercising their right to file an appeal! Typically conversations over the tier are recorded when IGI doesn't have a reliable agent to make note of what he sees and/or hears. As to the idea of not taking a cellie as a form of protest, the typical response is privileges taken for 90-180 days and 60-90 days of early release credits are taken. Cats who are addicted to sports programs or television or canteen will cave in every time because they lack the will to sacrifice luxuries for the cause.
Prisoncrats treat gang membership or association as a tool of extortion used in their agenda of touting the violent nature of street or prison gangs.
The CDCR is rife with crooked officials and staff and the secretary, governor and legislature are unable and unwilling to purge itself of those who regularly falsify reports. Supervisory staff/officials fail to address the problems so as to encourage the misconduct and repression. At the same time they are quick to feed a naive public a laundry list of bogus incidents to justify the administration's unwillingness to reform itself.
I try to examine all aspects of the criminal injustice system to see what tactics we can utilize in our struggle effectively, even if I have to employ them alone. I sacrifice luxuries already so I know it's possible and a little something for all to consider.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good topic of discussion: it's important we evaluate the tactics that will be effective in fighting prison repression. There are a limited number of protest options available to prisoners, and some will be more effective than others. Whichever tactics are best may vary by prison or state, but the fundamental task of building unity for the struggle remains the same across the entire criminal injustice system. Comrades in California continue to strategize on the best ways to build on the recent prisoner rights activism there. Join United Struggle from Within and work with other anti-imperialist prisoners so that we aren't stuck employing tactics on our own, but rather in a united front across facilities, organizations and nationalities.