Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher concealed his pre-RNC operations from other law enforcement officials, including the St. Paul city attorney’s office, according to reports published January 13 in a PiPress blog. He now has asked the Ramsey County Board for $300,000 in convention costs, including money spent on agents and informants criss-crossing the country during the year before the convention. The expenditures could not be billed to the $50 million in federal convention financing, since they were secret.
As the RNC Commission presents its report to the St. Paul City Council on January 14, Fletcher’s strange secrecy is not the only unanswered question about law enforcement operations during the RNC. (The RNC Commission, headed by former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, was appointed by the city of St. Paul to review police planning and tactics, but not accusations of police misconduct.)
Politics In Minnesota (PIM) notes the PR manipulation surrounding police actions and RNC prosecutions:
[N]o one has ever proven the buckets Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher presented as ‘urine’ were actually urine, even though it has become a strongly held perception, underpinning most claims in favor of law enforcements’ conduct during the RNC. (Authorities like Chicago Mayor Richard Daley have regularly accused demonstrators of flinging bodily waste since the 1968 Chicago DNC… it’s something of a classic messaging frame, and it’s worked well so far.) Everyone’s kind of forgotten that Fletcher also claimed bike tires would be used to fling rocks…
(Positioned squarely in the middle of the Minnesota political road, PIM is published by Republican Sarah Janecek, though the about page says a “lefty” balance is provided by Dan Feidt, Peter Bartz-Gallagher, and Andy French.)
PIM also noted that FBI informant Brandon Darby, “who bragged about his actions in an unusual public letter, has sparked nationwide criticism of what’s seen as a law enforcement pattern of synthesizing terrorism-style cases by sending in informants to stir people up, in the classic COINTELPRO style.”
That “classic COINTELPRO style” can also be gleaned from documents posted on Wikileaks.org. Wikileaks publishes secret documents:
Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we are of assistance to people of nations who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact. Our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by all types of people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.
Wikileaks posted a Powerpoint presentation titled Special Event Planning 2008 Republican National Convention. According to PIM, the document “was evidently presented somewhere by Terri Smith, Branch Director for Response, Recovery and Mitigation at the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.” PIM goes on to observe:
The most illuminating slide shows the layout of the ‘Multi-Agency Communications Center’ (MACC). In particular, it reveals that the Pentagon’s new Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, had more seats than anyone else; fans of government intrigue will love the idea that this new, increasingly domestic-oriented military command had the most chairs. (According to the Army Times, no tinfoil rag, they are training troops for quelling “civil unrest and crowd control,” Posse Comitatus notwithstanding.)
While prosecutors focus on protesters, the danger posed by militarization of law enforcement slides right under the radar. Media attention to the military and law enforcement issues is easily distracted. As we have noted before, “At a minimum, raising the questions lets people know that the full story has not been told. But the mainstream media has an opportunity to do much more. They have the opportunity — and the resources — to reclaim journalism’s role of finding and speaking truth, rather than acting as stenographers for power.”