From North America to Europe, the ‘National Security’ Apparatus Is Being Bought off by Big Oil t

Pic: Quevaal (CC)

Pic: Quevaal (CC)

And here I thought I was a centrist.  Nafeez Ahmed writes at the Guardian:

Over the last year, a mass of shocking evidence has emerged on the close ties between Western government spy agencies and giant energy companies, and their mutual interests in criminalising anti-fracking activists.

Activists tarred with the same brush

In late 2013, official documents obtained under freedom of information showed that Canada’s domestic spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), had ramped up its surveillance of activists opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline project on ‘national security’ grounds. The CSIS also routinely passed information about such groups to the project’s corporate architect, Calgary-based energy company, Enbridge.

The Northern Gateway is an $8 billion project to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands to the British Columbia coast, where it can be shipped to global markets. According to the documents a Canadian federal agency, the National Energy Board, worked with CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to coordinate with Enbridge, TransCanada, and other energy corporations in gathering intelligence on anti-fracking activists – despite senior police privately admitting they “could not detect a direct or specific criminal threat.”

Now it has emerged that former cabinet minister Chuck Strahl – the man appointed by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper to head up the CSIS’ civilian oversight panel, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) – has been lobbying for Enbridge since 2011.

But that’s not all. According to CBC News, only one member of Strahl’s spy watchdog committee “has no ties to either the current government or the oil industry.” For instance, SIRC member Denis Losier sits on the board of directors of Enbridge-subsidiary, Enbridge NB, while Yves Fortier, is a former board member of TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Counter-insurgency in the homeland

Investigative journalist Steve Horn reports that TransCanada has also worked closely with American law-enforcement and intelligence agencies in attempting to criminalise US citizens opposed to the pipeline. Files obtained under freedom of information last summer showed that in training documents for the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), TransCanada suggested that non-violent Keystone XL protestors could be deterred using criminal and anti-terror statutes:

“… the language in some of the documents is so vague that it could also ensnare journalists, researchers and academics, as well.”

According to the Earth Island Journal, official documents show that TransCanada “has established close ties with state and federal law enforcement agencies along the proposed pipeline route.” But TransCanada is only one example of “the revolving door between state law enforcement agencies and the private sector, especially in areas where fracking and pipeline construction have become big business.”

This has had a tangible impact. In March last year, US law enforcement officials had infiltrated and spied on environmentalists attending a tar sands resistance camp in Oklahoma, leading to the successful pre-emptive disruption of their protest action.

Just last December, other activists in Oklahoma faced terror charges for draping an anti-fracking banner in the lobby of the offices housing US oil and gas company, Devon Energy. The two protestors were charged with carrying out a “terrorism hoax” for using gold glitter on their banner, some of which happened to scatter to the floor of the building – depicted by a police spokesman as a potentially “dangerous or toxic” substance in the form of a “black powder,” causing a panic.

But Suzanne Goldenberg reports a different account:

“After a few uneventful minutes, [the activists] Stephenson and Warner took down the banner and left the building – apologising to the janitor who came hurrying over with a broom. A few people, clutching coffee cups, wandered around in the lobby below, according to Stephenson. But she did not detect much of a response to the banner. There wasn’t even that much mess, she said. The pair had used just four small tubes of glitter on their two banners.”

The criminalisation of peaceful activism under the rubric of ‘anti-terrorism’ is an escalating trend linked directly to corporate co-optation of the national security apparatus. In one egregious example, thousands of pages of government records confirm how local US police departments, the FBI and the DHS monitored Occupy activists nationwide as part of public-private intelligence sharing with banks and corporations.

Anti-fracking activists in particular have come under increased FBI surveillance in recent years under an expanded definition of ‘eco-terrorism‘, although the FBI concedes that eco-terrorism is on the decline. This is consistent with US defence planning documents over the last decade which increasingly highlight the danger of domestic “insurgencies” due to the potential collapse of public order under various environmental, energy or economic crises.

Manufacturing “consensus”

In the UK, Scotland Yard’s National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (which started life as the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit and later became the National Domestic Extremism Unit), has had a long record of equating the spectre of “domestic extremism” with “single-issue protests, such as animal rights, anti-war, anti-globalisation and anti-GM crops.” Apart from animal rights, these movements have been “overwhelmingly peaceful” points out George Monbiot.

This has not prevented the police unit from monitoring almost 9,000 Britons deemed to hold “radical political views,” ranging from “anti-capitalists” to “anti-war demonstrators.” Increasingly though, according to a Guardian investigation, the unit “is known to have focused its resources on spying on environmental campaigners, particularly those engaged in direct action and civil disobedience to protest against climate change.”

Most recently, British police have gone so far as to conduct surveillance of Cambridge University students involved in social campaigns like anti-fracking, education, anti-fascism, and opposition to austerity, despite a lack of reason to suspect criminal activity.

This is no accident. Yesterday, senior Tory and ex-Cabinet minister Lord Deben, chairman of the UK government-sponsored Committee on Climate Change, characterised anyone suggesting that fracking is “devastatingly damaging” as a far-left “extremist,” holding “nonsensical” views associated with “Trotskyite” dogma. In contrast, he described “moderate” environmentalists as situated safely in the legitimate spectrum of a “broad range of consensus” across “all political parties.”

In other words, if you are disillusioned with the existing party political system and its approach to environmental issues, you are an extremist.

Deben’s comments demonstrate the regressive mindset behind the British government’s private collaboration with shale gas industry executives to “manage the British public’s hostility to fracking,” as revealed in official emails analysed by Damien Carrington.

The emails exposed the alarming extent to which government is “acting as an arm of the gas industry,” compounding earlier revelations that Department of Energy and Climate Change employees involved in drafting UK energy policy have been seconded from UK gas corporations.

Read more here.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    Vested Interests using the resources of the state to crush opposition? Couldn’t. Ever. Happen.

  • echar

    But… but… but… the IRS is targeting conservatives. Seriosuly, I spoke with my mom the other day and she told me that she got a letter from a non-profit saying that exact thing on the outside of the letter.

    • mannyfurious

      It’s a well-known, uncontested fact that Mitt Romney pays a tax rate half of what I do, even though he’s worth roughly $250,000,000 more than my family. Yet, people still buy into the idea that the rich are helpless victims in this country.

      Ionesco couldn’t come up with this shit.

      • InfvoCuernos

        OMG if I her one more conservative say that taxing the rich will take away the incentive to be rich I will vomit in their face. Once you reach a level of wealth that precludes your family from ever having to work again, I think that your children should be indentured to the State for a period of 5 years to work off some of that prosperity and maybe that next generation of rich kids will actually have something in their heads besides coke and entitlement.

        • mannyfurious

          Come on, InfvoCuernos, you and I both know that these people don’t owe anybody anything. They got rich wholly on their own willpower, in the most literal sense. They willed their money into existence by shitting it all out of their rectum. If only the rest of us put in the work necessary to shit money out of our rectums, we could all be rich like them.

          • InfvoCuernos

            Thanks! I didn’t realize that all I had to do was try to shit money harder! I bet if I had kept reading that Ayn Rand book, I would have uncovered the secret of rich people dianetics/diuretics.

          • mannyfurious

            Well, it IS a lot of work to get through an Ayn Rand book. Maybe that’s what they mean when they say “through hard work” we can all be rich too.

          • Anarchy Pony

            It should warrant hazard pay, that’s for sure.

  • BuzzCoastin

    The Dude: It’s like what Lenin said… you look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh…
    Donny: I am the walrus.
    The Dude: You know what I’m trying to say…
    Walter Sobchak: That fucking bitch…
    The Dude: Oh yeah!
    Donny: I am the walrus.
    Walter Sobchak: Shut the fuck up, Donny! V.I. Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!
    Donny: What the fuck is he talking about, Dude?

  • alizardx

    What part of “corporate state” does anyone not get?

  • InfvoCuernos

    Wait till we get private police forces on a large scale. Trained by Blackwater( or whatever their new alias is).

    • Anarchy Pony

      Academi is what I last heard.

  • gustave courbet

    A study of the history of British and American intelligence agencies will reveal a close and symbiotic relationship between them and big business from their inception. On another note, I recommend checking out Nafeez Ahmed’s other writings and interviews; he’s an excellent journalist and resource.

  • Dan Como

    So, if you are against fracking, and for clean potable aquifers and rivers, you are a low down possibly dangerous criminal. Seems legit :-/ Who needs fresh water on their property, and public lands, when you have Nestle to buy it (fresh water) from.

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