Is the FBI Approaching Local Climate Activists?


Thanks, Ansel.
This might help explain a few things:…
"We do all kinds of routine activities throughout the state on any given day,"

Translation: We bother people all the time just to let them know we've got our eye on them. Sometimes we visit them at work and to make things a little uncomfortable with their boss. That's how we work. We are the Dept of Fear.
Yes they are:

"Detained, Searched and Interrogated Without Reason

Dear friends and allies,

On Saturday June 1, 2013 I was detained for more than 6 hours at Miami International Airport. I was humiliated, misled, intimidated and used by the system. I was never given a reason.

I realize that many folks, other activists, people of color, non-citizens, people of different sexual orientations and gender expressions face much, much worse at the hands of security agencies. But I feel a deep need to share this experience with my community. Like the sheer scale of NSA surveillance revealed this week, my experience is part of systematic abuse that we all face. Also this is a message of gratitude to all those that mobilized in my support.

Here’s what went down.

When returning from a family vacation in the Dominican Republic I was flagged and had to be searched at the airport in the DR but flew to Miami without too much trouble.

But they were waiting for me as I deboarded. At about 4:10pm, 3 Customs and Border Protection officers checked my passport and asked me to come with them. This was in front of my partner and 9 of her family members including 3 babies. I was humiliated from the outset.

I was taken to get my luggage, escorted to Custom’s special screening area, and searched in a back room.

There we were joined by two men in plainclothes. I asked who they were. One gave a vague answer that he was a liaison for people first going through this screening process. The other hovered in the background and never said a word.

Not finding any contraband, a Customs officer only took interest in my notebook that I use for work and at talks I attend. They took it to another room and returned it an hour later.

I was then taken to an interrogation room. I asked - hoping - if the conversation would be recorded. They said of course not, are you recording it? Do you have anything in your bag recording it? We don’t want that. My first real defeat. They asked many questions about my family, my work as a digital media consultant for non profits, the vacation and my travel over the past year. This didn’t seem odd, maybe they were just trying to confirm my story. They also said this was a random search and they’d get me out of there pretty quickly, it was a slow day. Then they got to my phone.

They had it and wanted the password. They had asked earlier when getting my luggage. I had said I didn’t feel comfortable with that and told them. I said this again. I kept asking what this was about, why they wanted it. I believe this is when they started to say they weren’t allowed to tell me. I asked what my options were. They began with intimidation. President Obama says we can search your phone just like your luggage. Do you have child pornography you’re trying to hide? You haven’t been admitted to the U.S.

They implied that at the Border - of which airport customs is part - I didn’t have the same rights, like to an attorney, and that I wouldn’t be let back in if I didn’t give them the password. I asked them what they would do with it, would they download the data? Not much, but we can’t tell you. Then I cracked. I was worried sick about my girlfriend and her family, I felt powerless. I gave them my password.

I might not have had much of a choice, but I still feel traumatized and guilty today. Like many of us, my work, really all of my life, is digital. Like that, I became their zombie, a tool under their spell. They took my phone away for many hours. Who knows what kind of data they collected and social mapping they are using it for.

I was defeated. We chit chatted for awhile and then they made me sit in their lobby with mostly non-citizens who were flagged for extra screening. Hours passed. Others were brought in and released. I missed my connecting flight. Finally, at 10:30pm, I was given my passport, escorted to baggage claim, given my phone and released into the arms of my partner. I have no idea why this happened or if it has to do with being a climate activist. I have never been arrested and there is no warrant for my arrest. They never told me anything.

Outside was a different story characterized more by misinformation. My partner, her father and her stepmother had been working for hours to figure out what happened to me. Often, because they have Latin American accents, their requests were met with skepticism. Airline staff and airport police were shocked that they, and I, were U.S. Citizens. The speculation was horrible, I was going to be sent back to where I came from (?!?), my family didn’t know who I really was, I probably wasn’t paying child support to an unknown former lover. Some staff helped and called customs. They came back with varying stories. I was in real trouble. I was being held by homeland security. There was a warrant for my arrest back in Seattle and I would be sent there without word because we aren’t married. Eventually, legal council helped them find out I was being officially held by Customs and then later Airport staff said that I would be released. No matter what, I am pissed by the trauma my partner and her family were subjected to for hours.

I believe being held for more than 5 hours without reason is a breach of my civil liberties. The “mandatory” confiscation of my phone and lack of information for my family at least should be.

Though traumatic for my family and me, this is fairly mild as abuses in civil liberties go. Borders and the security state are brutally thrust upon others everyday.

But I do want to find out what happened and I plan to document the event with the ACLU. I also need to take steps to restore some personal privacy. If you have any advice please send it my way.

In love and solidarity,


P.S. This can happen to anybody! Make sure you know your rights and take precautions when you travel!"…
@6, Ugh. What a horrible experience to go through.

I'm stubborn enough that I would have told them to arrest me or release me, and then not said another fucking word to them. No way would I ever give them a password to any electronic device.
Individuals acting in the name of the ELF and the ALF and other radical environmental groups have engaged in things like car bombings, firebombings of the homes of researchers, and other unpleasant business. And not in the distant past, either. Most of what members of radical environmental groups do for their cause is harmless, sure, but then there's also this stuff that isn't.

You might not like it that the FBI has taken an interest in this group of yours that won't reveal its name, but there is sort of at least a possibility that there might be a radical environmentalist in the Pacific Northwest who's fixin' to burn down a building or two.
While @8 is correct, and ecoterrorists are a real threat, this might just be due to us being kind of close to Victoria BC

Any real climate activist would support hydrogen.


Fuel cells too.

Row after row of glossy black boxes hum away on an acre of land between a cornfield and the banks of Delaware's Red Lion Creek. "It's basically a fuel-cell farm," says George Gottuso, senior project manager with Hill International. "Right now, it's delivering 5.8 megawatts to the utility."…
If the FBI ever wants to talk to you, you MUST watch this video first.…
Ansel, you're really getting hooked on the adrenaline rush of protest. I can quite understand that, I was in ACT-UP back in the day. More power to you. However, there is more to journalism than handing out revolutionary leaflets, which essentially characterizes your reporting. In your stories there is no semblance of balance, no attempt to explain context, and I strongly suspect you pick and choose which facts you report so that they fit the victimization narratives you so prefer. That isn't journalism, it's propaganda.

What do you plan to be when you grow up? A journalist, or a revolutionary? You seem to be aiming for both, meaning that you're not doing such a hot job at either one.
@13: I appreciate what appears to be an attempt at genuine constructive feedback, but you're just wrong. In this post alone there is complete adherence to the verifiable facts and nothing more (I could have speculated about the reasons for the FBI visits), there is context, and there's an inclusion of the FBI's response to the statement. It bears no resemblance to a "revolutionary leaflet," even though that's what you claim to see. You appear to be projecting your own biases onto my reporting. No thanks.
Ansel, keep it up. Alt-weeklies have a long proud history of doing little and large things to rock the boat, when it needed rocking.

I think what he means is that taking posts from anarchist propaganda sites, rewording them a bit, and then putting them up on SLOG without any new information isn't journalism.

Of course, you're not the only employee of The Stranger who's slipped into lazy mode from time to time— both Dom and Brendan have been guilty of doing the same lazy reblogging of anarchist sites in the past year.

Mainstream newspapers fall prey to it as well, of course— it's infamously easy for a good PR person to get a product-placing puff piece into the NYTimes Style Section, for instance.

I guess that's all @13 was really saying— your "journalism" in posts like this is a lot like the "journalism" of the NYTimes Style Section. Which lots of people enjoy— if your goal is just to garner more ad views for Tim Keck, you're doing a great job.
Right, because anything other than pro/con pieces on the doins of Patty Murray or other Law Makers which narrowly conform to the ideals of liberal democracy, or rah rah editorials on techonomics a la Tom Friedman are nothing but propaganda. The NYTimes is certainly not propaganda if you dig what they are selling.

You are doing a fine job, Ansel.
Also disturbing to note that anyone the FBI chooses to harass is immediately dubbed a member of suspected terrorist or terrorist sympathizer organizations (ELF & ALF).

Fit to be slaves.

Um, no.

What has been suggested is that, due to the observed past behavior of people acting the name of groups like the ELF and ALF, the FBI might reasonably believe that some particular (not all) radical environmentalist could have information about particular plans (not necessarily their own) to burn down a building or two.

It's kind of hilarious how anarchist propagandists expect their audience to completely buy into the idea that law enforcement has no legitimate investigative or preventive role.
And tell me, what is to be gained by this stop and chat tactic from the FBI?

I think you need to listen some defense attorneys that specialize in cases built off of finding someone to bully in a knock and chat. Mosques host them out every now and again because it is particularly pertinent that innocent Muslims learn to be very careful as they are the targets of constant FBI surveillance. I think you'd find it quite enlightening. Even the helpful innocent, those that think they are doing a duty as an American will find themselves on the wrong side of the law very quickly. Little has changed since the Red Scare days.

anarchist propagandist = someone that disagrees with your assertions that the FBI doesn't abuse and railroad political targets.