FBI's Pre-Election Plan

Revolutionary Worker #1253, October 3, 2004, posted at http://rwor.org

Several months ago, some Bush administration officials publicly floated out the possibility that the November presidential elections might be "postponed" if there is a major "terrorist incident." Now, it seems the FBI has formulated its own pre-election plan.

According to a September 17 CBS news report, the FBI is "preparing a massive counter-offensive of interrogations, surveillance and possible detentions." CBS reveals that "FBI field offices and Homeland Security agencies will be advised of `extraordinary measures' that will go into place `beginning the first week of October through the elections.' "

What is this "October Plan" supposedly a "counter-offensive" against? The government claims that it is acting on "credible" intelligence that al-Qaida is planning a serious attack in the period around the elections--while leaving very vague what this intelligence information is. Whatever the reality behind these warnings, the government is using these "terror alerts" as justification to dramatically step up police-state repression. This could be seen, for example, in the extraordinary security measures against the protests at the Republican National Convention in New York City.

According to CBS News, an internal FBI e-mail from the "04 Threat Task Force" said the aim of the October Plan is "to foster the impression that law enforcement is focused on individuals who may be a threat."

Who are these people that the FBI considers a possible "threat"? CBS reports, "Specifically, the plan calls for `aggressive--even obvious--surveillance' techniques to be used on a short list of people suspected of being terrorist sympathizers, but who have not committed a crime. Other `persons of interest,' including their family members, may also be brought in for questioning." Agents will also visit mosques and ask people "whether they've observed any suspicious behavior."

So the FBI is targeting "suspected" people who are on a "list" but have not broken any laws--as well as family members and others who have some kind of connection with those "suspects" and anyone else who is accused of being "suspicious."

FBI officials apparently realize that their outrageous plan will spark protests--and they have included this in their calculations. The CBS report notes, "One element of the plan calls for addressing what some officials fear could be a wave of protests from Arab-Americans and civil libertarians once the so-called October Plan kicks in."

Targeting Immigrants and Protesters

The FBI's October Plan for massive surveillance and harassment is part of an avalanche of measures leveled against immigrants and people standing up to resist the moves of the rulers.

First came the roundups of nearly 1,000 Arab, Muslim, and South Asian men just after 9/11. Shortly afterwards the FBI conducted 50,000 "interviews" of immigrants from various countries. Then came the countrywide forced registration of immigrants. Another wave of interviews followed, specifically targeting Iraqi immigrants in the run-up to the war on Iraq.

Along with this has been the little-noticed moves by the FBI's National Crime Information Center to include civil immigration data into its database. The database--used by law enforcement throughout the U.S.--is a central repository for local, state, federal, and international criminal records. It is used by FBI agents as well as state and local police, who can access it within seconds. According to a suit filed against the government last year, since 9/11 the FBI has been adding civil immigration data, such as orders of deportation, to this "criminal" database. In short, the repressive "fencing" stretched around the immigrant population within the U.S. is getting wider and wider.

This widening repression also targets those who are stepping out to protest. One example of this was seen during the weeks leading up to the Democratic and Republican national conventions. FBI agents--working with local police agencies through the Joint Terrorist Task Force--systematically spread out throughout the country to "interview" people planning to protest. The FBI drew up a list of people who had been arrested at earlier protests. This, too, was cast as an "anti-terrorism effort," and officials denied any attempt to intimidate people. But clearly it was meant to send an intimidating message to activists, to expand the chilling atmosphere against dissent, and to recruit more snitches.

The FBI interviews and other threats did not stop over half a million people from delivering a big NO to the Bush agenda in the streets of New York City. But all this makes clear that the stakes are going up.

What Do Ted Kennedy and Cat Stevens Have in Common?

Another element of the grossly expanding machinery of repression was recently highlighted in the news when Yusuf Islam--the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens--was dragged off a plane by federal agents after his name popped up on the government's watch list. The incident took place in Bangor, Maine, while Islam, a British citizen, was flying from England to Washington, D.C.

Although Islam, a convert to the Muslim religion, has made a public stand against terrorism, the U.S. government considers him a security "threat." He was denied entry into the U.S. and quickly sent back to England. The U.S. media raised a big stink about the incident--not about the outrageous treatment of Islam, but around the question "why was he allowed on the plane in the first place"!

Among others on the same list that includes Yusuf Islam are U.S. senator Ted Kennedy, a leading Democrat, and Georgia representative John Lewis, a Black congressman and civil rights leader. Both have been repeatedly stopped and screened at airports because their names come up on the Transportation Security Administration's watch list.


The CBS News report on the FBI October Plan says that "Throwing hundreds of agents on the street and conducting invasive surveillance has become a standard post-9/11 tactic for the bureau." In other words, people should just get used to such gestapo tactics and consider them part of "normal life"! As Dick Cheney has declared, there is a "new normalcy" in this country.

Those in power insist that "either you're with us or against us"--and, from their standpoint, those "against us" include increasing numbers of people, from thousands and thousands of immigrants, to whole countries and peoples around the world, to those who take to the street to protest their wars for empire.

Where is all this headed? For the sake of humanity, people of conscience cannot afford to just wait to find out.