Trump's Blackwater Buddy Erik Prince Recruiting Only The Fanciest Ex-Spies To Narc On Liberal Groups
Just a few years back, it seemed that things like COINTELPRO and "Nixon's habit of spying on left-leaning groups and people" were things everyone collectively agreed were wrong and bad. One of those old timey things that was supposed to be an embarrassing blight on our history. But hey! I also thought that about anti-immigrant fervor, freaking out about "the reds," and scientific racism were not ever really going to be things again, so we all have our biases. In Nixon's day, he at least had the sense not to blare his plans from the rooftops, but as evil as he was, he was still smarter than Donald Trump.
Today, The New York Times is reporting that Erik Prince, of Blackwater and also of being Betsy DeVos's brother has been working in conjunction with James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to recruit ex- CIA and M16 spies to infiltrate liberal groups for the purpose of discrediting them. Not just "antifa" affinity groups, but Democratic congressional campaigns, unions and other groups on Trump's enemies list.
Via New York Times:
One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers' unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union's local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.
Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.
Both operations were run by Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups.
Wow! What an incredibly strange coincidence that these people would have chosen to spy on a teacher's union, when the guy helping them out is Betsy DeVos' brother, and she is the public-school hating Secretary of Education.
This is not the first time Project Veritas has been recruited to work on Trump's behalf, either.
In a book published in 2018, Mr. O'Keefe wrote that Mr. Trump years earlier had encouraged him to infiltrate Columbia University and obtain Mr. Obama's records.
This is not the first time that Prince's connections to Project Veritas has been exposed, either. As The Intercept reported in 2019:
In the winter of 2017, Prince arranged for a former British MI6 officer to provide more surveillance and elicitation training for Veritas at his family's Wyoming ranch, according to a person with direct knowledge of the effort. Prince was trying to turn O'Keefe and his group into domestic spies. For his part, O'Keefe posted photos on Instagram and Twitter from the Prince family ranch of himself holding a handgun with a silencer attached and wearing pseudo-military clothing. He described the ranch as a "classified location" where he was learning "spying and self-defense," in an effort to make Project Veritas "the next great intelligence agency."
The American Federation of Teachers of Michigan is now suing Project Veritas for $3 million for planting a 23-year-old Liberty University graduate named Marisa Jorge in their organization to steal their files, let Prince know when people working inside the organization were saying mean things about Betsy DeVos, and to otherwise spy on them. The ATF says that Project Veritas is a "vigilante organization which claims to be dedicated to exposing corruption. It is, instead, an entity dedicated to a specific political agenda."
While we don't know if Marisa Jorge is planning to continue her career in espionage (though she does hope to be on the Supreme Court one day!), it's always best to err on the side of caution. So if you see this girl anywhere, run.
Project Veritas Exposed has a number of profiles on Project Veritas agent provocateurs, so definitely check that out before you hire any interns.
Let me help everyone out here, with some tips my own dear mother gave me when I first started getting involved in activism as a teenager: when you are doing organizing work, be super careful around people you do not know.
Someone you don't know shows up at a meeting and starts suggesting some crazy shit that seems very out of touch with the page everyone else is on, they're probably a narc, so keep your mouth shut. Some new person seems a little too curious about activities and stances that might look bad blared across the front page of Breitbart? Keep your mouth shut. If someone comes up to you after you are leaving a meeting and seems curious about who was there, you don't know anyone, you don't know anything, keep your mouth shut. Someone corners you at a party and wants to "rap," run. Because they are either a narc or they are going to bore you to death and are probably on "bennies and milk." That last one is probably less applicable in the modern era, but you get what I'm saying.
Just because you don't think you're a radical doesn't mean people can't make you look like one. So, again, keep your damn mouth shut. Except for now, because this is your open thread!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse