[Note: We have added another document – 2007’s “Military Intelligence – US Army Intelligence Activities” to the end of the article – IWPCHI]
Until recently, US citizens have been spared the kind of savage military response to attempts by workers to defend their rights such as we have seen this year meted out so brutally by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) against the Palestinian people in Gaza. But as the State of Missouri’s response to the uprising against police state murder in Ferguson shows, it looks like this kind of military intervention is going to be increasingly used against dissidents here in the US as well.
It is a little-known fact that throughout the civil rights struggle in the US, the FBI, whose own savage COINTELPRO tactics wantonly violated the Constitutional rights of US workers who legally fought for their rights, routinely kept the US military districts all over the US informed of their plans and activities.
In this document, the FBI, which is spying on both the anti-Vietnam War Movement and the late wife of Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, notes that the referenced memo (LHM means “Letterhead Memorandum” in FBI-speak) will be disseminated to several US military intelligence divisions in the various military districts…
…which the United States is divided into.
The U.S. Army Intelligence Command (USAINTC) is “the Army counterintelligence element formed in 1965 to conduct operations in the continental United States. The command had been allotted substantial personnel to carry out its mission. Its seven Military Intelligence groups controlled a network of 300 field and resident offices across the nation.” [Source: globalsecurity.org: “U.S. Army Intelligence Command and the Home Front“] In the FBI document above, we see that the 111th Military Intelligence Group, as well as the Naval Investigative Service [NIS – now known as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)] and the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) were being kept informed by the FBI as to the activities of the antiwar left and the key civil rights activists legally exercising their constitutional rights to protest and organize. Since the end of the Civil War, the US military has been used most significantly on behalf of the US capitalist class in order to smash labor strikes whenever the oligarchs’ private security forces have been overwhelmed by working class militancy.
The National Guard was famously used against black workers in the uprisings that broke out across the nation in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King as well as in the efforts to quell the antiwar protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.
In a 2009 article for the US Army’s “Joint Center for Operational Analysis Journal” entitled “The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Law Enforcement“, Retired Col. John R. Brinkerhoff provided a concise historical overview with a couple of surprises:
“Federal military troops have been used often to enforce the laws of the Nation. In the past two hundred fifteen years, the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Marine Corps has enforced the laws in over 167 incidents, or about 0.75 times per year on the average. Federal troops have been called on to quell insurrections, enforce unpopular federal laws, govern the seven states of the defeated Confederacy, protect minorities from harm, quell race riots, police the lawless West, guard the borders, break strikes, protect key assets against sabotage, seize and operate war plants, enforce civil rights laws, operate the postal service, and protect the population from lawless elements. (See U.S. Army Center of Military History, The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1789-1878 (1988).)
“A major source of confusion is the Posse Comitatus Act, which many people believe-incorrectly-prohibits the use of federal troops to enforce the law in the United States.
“What was originally no more than a way to prevent US attorneys and local sheriffs to require federal troops to enforce the law has become, in popular myth, a general proscription of any use of federal troops to enforce the law. This general belief is belied by the fact that despite the Posse Comitatus Act, Presidents after 1878 have used federal troops to enforce the laws when they saw fit to do so. Presidents have used the Posse Comitatus Act as an excuse to reject or avoid actions they did not want to do, but have not hesitated to work around the act to do what they wanted to do. During the labor riots of the late 19th Century, Presidents used federal troops to intervene in labor disputes under the pretext of protecting federal property. During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson breached the actual terms of the Posse Comitatus Act by allowing his subordinates to use troops without first obtaining his authorization. During World War II and for three decades thereafter, federal troops were frequently involved in law enforcement actions, such as surveillance, search, detention, and arrest in the course of authorized domestic operations. Federal troops not only enforced the law of the land, including making arrests and detaining lawbreakers, but they were expected to do so by a generally grateful public. The real intent of the original Posse Comitatus Act was to restore to the President sole authority to authorize the use of federal military forces to enforce the law in the United States.
“The real effect of the Posse Comitatus Act has been to slow down the response time for the use of federal troops.” [ibid.]
More information on this subject can be had by looking up the term “Operation GARDEN PLOT” which is “the DoD Civil Disturbance Plan, the generic Operations Plan [OPLAN] for military support related to domestic civil disturbances.”
This April, the US Army published a new “Techniques Publication” on how to handle civil disturbances. This document lays out in no uncertain terms just how our “heroes in uniform” have been handling “disturbances” created by our working class brothers and sisters courageously fighting for their rights under US military occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
We have confirmed that this document is genuine and comes from the US Army’s own website. In it are described many of the most notorious tactics used by the military and cops against political activists, including “extraction teams” and methods to “establish lethal overwatch” by placing snipers on tall buildings overseeing the likely sites where “disturbances” might take place.
This all sounds very scary, but even this extreme example of police state terror has its limitations, as has been belatedly discovered by every despot who was overthrown in a revolution led by an enraged working class and/or peasantry. After all, the National Guard and the rest of the armed forces of the US are composed of our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, and and also of poor and minority workers, who join the military not out of love for the ruling class and its government but out of desperation to find means to survive, especially at times of high unemployment. The army, therefore is very unlike the cops who more consciously hire on as the front-line defenders of capitalist private property, knowing in advance that they will be used to break strikes and to brutalize workers on a daily basis as part of their “jobs”. To the rank-and-file members of the military appeals can be made that they refrain from opening fire on their fellow workers.
Using the military to quell domestic disturbances can very easily lead to a rapid demoralization of the working-class members of the armed forces, their joining the insurrection, arresting their officers and turning the heavy guns of the military against the ruling class itself. If led by a revolutionary socialist vanguard party dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist system, this can lead to the collapse of the government and the accession of the working class to power. In the great Russian Revolution of 1917, almost the entire Czarist army went over to the side of the Bolsheviks, who alone among all the opposition parties had promised to end the bloodbath of WWI – and who followed through on that promise upon their seizure of power. Brute force is an effective deterrent to attempts at the overthrow of the government – until it finally fails to work… at which time, as we have seen repeatedly throughout history, the end finally comes for the hated government and ruling class that has dared to attempt to extend their tenacious hold on to power by slaughtering “their own” workers in the streets of “their own” cities.
Workers of the World, Unite!
Independent Workers Party of Chicago
UPDATE: We’ve run across another interesting unclassified US Army document entitled: “Military Intelligence – US_Army_Intelligence_Activities“. It’s a good overview of the extent of the US Army’s domestic and international espionage activities. – IWPCHI