Once upon a middle school career, I remember having to memorize Abraham Lincoln’s timeless phrase: “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Although, I believe a more appropriate and timely description of today’s US government would require replacing the word “people” with “corporations.”
If someone told me a few weeks ago that big money runs politics I would wholeheartedly agree — one look at the amount of cash thrown at Washington by lobbyists and Super PACs can show you that. However, if someone told me that the influence of Wall Street extended as far as our own government intelligence agencies, I would probably chuckle in disbelief. Ain’t nobody got time for conspiracy theories.
Alas, never chuckle too soon.
An FBI memo recently released by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), a Washington DC-based public interest advocacy organization dedicated to civil rights and economic justice issues, revealed a coordinated effort by the FBI and private corporations to withhold information regarding a detailed plot to assassinate various leaders of the Occupy Movement nationwide, just one month after Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began last year. On page 61 of the memo, which can be found at justiceonline.org, FBI informants describe intelligence of “a plan to kill the [Occupy] leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.”
While the FBI typically warns potential victims of serious threats, this information was buried until now and would not have surfaced had the PCJF not requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Ironically, while much of the information within the memo was redacted, it is clear that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security deemed the peaceful protest movement as a domestic terrorist threat. Essentially, these memos reveal our government intelligence agencies are acting as de facto pawns of Wall Street Bankers and corporate CEOs. Scared yet?
All of a sudden, it seems as though pictures of activists wearing Guy Fawkes masks just got a whole lot more relevant; perhaps there are more similarities between the current political atmosphere and the dystopian future depicted in V for Vendetta than its creators initially intended.
As an advocate for social justice, I believe peaceful protest to be one of the many effective ways of enabling social change and equality. I am proud to exercise my constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.
Not only do these memos stomp on these rights, but they also illustrate the way the US government and political leaders have become negligent to the voice of the people. More so, it reveals the true nature of our nation’s political discourse — one of money, greed and power.
While the task may seem challenging, the way to move forward is by educating ourselves and getting involved. In addition, we must keep our eyes wide open and always remain skeptical of the information that is presented to us by the mass media. College campuses like Loyola, given its libraries, professors and various student organizations, provide an environment full of resources and ways in which students can remain informed and politically active.
Timmy Rose is the Discourse editor