Thursday, January 23, 2020

Imagine if These Dirty MF's Had Had Today's Surveillance Technology at Their Disposal


commondreams |  After the FBI took to Twitter Monday with a message that allegedly aimed to honor "the life and work" of Martin Luther King Jr., a chorus of critics promptly urged the bureau to "sit this one out," pointing to its history of spying on King and trying to convince the civil rights leader to kill himself.

Each year on the national holiday dedicated to King, progressives criticize and work to counter the whitewashed public narrative of a man who, particularly in the years leading up to his April 1968 assassination, passionately condemned the "evils" of capitalism, militarism, and racism.

The FBI, during both the Obama and Trump administrations, has provoked a wave of criticism for posting shoutouts to King on social media, given the bureau's past treatment of him. Monday was no different.

Some critics expressed anger and disbelief. Rewire.News senior legal analyst Imani Gandy wrote in response to the FBI, "You've got to be fucking kidding me."

Journalist David Corn posed "a sincere question," asking: "Has the FBI ever apologized to King's family for wiretapping King, blackmailing him, and trying to get him to commit suicide?"

Crawford also noted that "the FBI's surveillance of black Americans isn't just history. [In 2018], we learned the FBI has been spying on black activists, labeling them 'Black Identity Extremists.' The feds also use powers obtained through national security laws like the Patriot Act to target people in the racially biased drug war."

"More disturbing: The FBI that spied on King and today classifies Black civil rights activists as 'extremists,'" Crockford continued, "is now partnering with Big Tech to amass unprecedented surveillance powers that history has taught us will be used to target communities of color, religious minorities, dissidents, and immigrants."

FBI director Christopher Wray testified before Congress in July 2019 that the bureau has stopped using the term "black identity extremism." However, some groups and individuals on Monday shared critiques of the FBI's current practices alongside denunciations of the bureau's past behavior.

The London-based advocacy group CAGE, which works to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror, tweeted Monday that the FBI still tries "to suppress dissent" and uses "dirty tactics that would make Edgar Hoover proud. But [is] happy now to co-opt MLK to try to cover up the above."