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Birther COINTELPRO

If you’re not familiar with COINTELPRO, a program of the Federal Government back in the 1960’s, it might be well worth your time to read up on it. The Wikipedia says:

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

Remarkably, the program begun in 1956 remained secret until 1971 when a group calling itself  The Citizens Committee to Investigate the FBI burgled an FBI office and got evidence of the program that it leaked to the Press. CONINTELPRO, among other things,  planted covert agents in targeted organizations to mislead them to do things that would discredit the organization, and the planted ideas of distrust between organizations. The four main tactics of COINTELPRO were:

  1. Infiltration
  2. Psychological warfare
  3. Legal harassment
  4. Illegal force

Putting hard facts aside, and folding up Occam’s Razor, let’s see if we can use this tale to understand the birther movement.

Certainly one of the things that has drawn me to study the birther movement is my desire to make sense of the world around me. Birthers fall under the extreme fringe of behavior I don’t understand. One way to make sense of bizarre behavior is to consider it an act, a false display, and there are several reasons a person might do that, to defraud others, for performance art, or for the purposes of discrediting a movement.

Could it be that those birthers who make up the most bizarre alternate histories for the President are agent provocateurs set in the birther movement to make the “true believers” look even more crazy? Could many of the nuisance lawsuits, those dismissed before the ink dried, have been filed just to run up the failed litigation numbers? One of the tools of the historical COINTELPRO was to seed distrust among the leadership or organizations. How many birther “cat fights” have we seen? Was Orly Taitz seduced to make her less popular with the religious right, a significant faction in birtherism, or is that story a clever lie? Is the homoerotic1 and excretory fetish commentary on birther web sites really a ploy to keep decent people away? Are the incompetent law enforcement activities of the Cold Case Posse intentionally designed to keep legitimate law enforcement at a distance? Have the total crackpot birther image analysts put themselves forward so as to immunize the public against any report by a real expert, or to so befoul the subject that no legitimate expert will enter the discussion—which indeed seems to be the case?

Is writing, designed to increase the level of paranoia about the government infiltration of the birther movement, also part of a government COINTELPRO operation?


1This is not to say that homoerotic commentary is any more or less appropriate than heteroerotic commentary—just that the former is what I find on birther web sites.

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18 Responses to Birther COINTELPRO

  1. avatar
    Craig HS October 15, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Oh, you rotter. THE CAKE IS A LIE!

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 15, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    I lived through the time of COINTELPRO, but I didn’t follow it closely. I was reminded of the gory details reading the book, “The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory.” It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the fact that such things actually happened in our liberty-loving land, but as the book documents, such things are the rule, not the exception.

    Even though birtherism is utter and complete nonsense, not all conspiracy beliefs are nonsense. There are real conspiracies.

  3. avatar
    Dave October 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    One thing we know for sure is that some of the crazy comments on birther websites are left by Fogbowers pretending to be birthers. Apparently the point of this hobby is to see if any actual birthers will agree.

  4. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG October 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    The big conspiracy of my childhood was that Elvis was still alive, and the government somehow had a hand in covering it up.

  5. avatar
    Slartibartfast October 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I think there are two corollaries of Poe’s law that apply here:

    No matter how outrageous something you’ve written is, there will always be at least one birther that believes it and at least one birther statement that is more outrageous.

    Doc C: Is writing, designed to increase the level of paranoia about the government infiltration of the birther movement, also part of a government COINTELPRO operation?

  6. avatar
    Hermitian October 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Mr. C believes that the TheFogBow.com is a Sunday School Class.

  7. avatar
    gorefan October 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    Are the incompetent law enforcement activities of the Cold Case Posse intentionally designed to keep legitimate law enforcement at a distance?

    After listening to a number of the CCP interviews, I’m convinced that the incompetence is real. And that they are also running their own COINTELPRO operation against the birthers.

    “Unchallenged this sleight of hand, this twisting of the science and outright lies become fact in the minds of the uninformed and this is exactly what they are trying to accomplish.” – http://www.bouldercountybeekeepers.org/toms-corner/#sthash.GyOYSKZ3.dpuf

  8. avatar
    roadburner October 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    it’s kinda interesting you should bring that up.

    i was reading about COINTEL with regards to bill ayres when a birfoon was screaming about him being `pardoned’

    seems their methods were dubious to say the least when trying to bust the weather underground, and the prosecutor decided to drop all charges against ayres and others

  9. avatar
    Benji Franklin October 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Doc,
    You out-did yourself when you playfully “asked” us, “Is writing, designed to increase the level of paranoia about the government infiltration of the birther movement, also part of a government COINTELPRO operation?”

    So now you have extended Fair and Balanced to presenting us with an Obama Conspirators Conspiracy Theory which the Bithers will probably claim is instead, a reality-obscuring COINTELPRO Obama Conspirator’s Conspiracy Theory. You represent to the Birthers an intolerable combination of intellectual integrity and literacy, two factors which make almost all Birther premises either unsupportable,, or revealed to be gibberish.

    Orly Taitz is a pretty obvious prime suspect of being out to torpedo any serious eligibility or identity assault directed at Obama. The generic disregard for Birthers streaming from her persistent infamous quasi-legal hijinks at this point seem to substantially poison the well for anyone who might yet discover a legitimate eligibility-challenging question to pose concerning this President.

    The notion that she is burdened by difficulties with the English Language cannot explain the seemingly endless absurd legal premises which she appears to never notice, sink immediately into failure when they encounter the contemplation of a real judge in a real courtroom. In my experience, reasonably intelligent, degree-holding persons who are multi-lingual, especially when working in a field that is so communication dependent (like the Law), generally are constantly looking for, and purposefully aware of the differing literal and figurative elements, including idiomatic usage, of all the languages which they acquire.

    Such people cannot afford to be never-ending victims of the kinds of misunderstandings that serve as the basis if jokes about tourists offending native residents in foreign countries by using pocket translating dictionaries naively.

    Furthermore, even a person who only crammed to pass tests on the Law, could probably not make as many professional misinterpretations of the Law, ignorantly misapply them to spectacularly appalling legal initiatives, and at the same time, be so inept at successfully adhering to the procedural and form-filling requirements of legal procedures, as Orly Taitz seems to have been.

    She virtually stalked two SCOTUS justices at their public speaking events, violated the event rules for participants, blind-sided them with inappropriate questions (about matters she knew they would be forced to deal with soon as justices), made wild claims accusing their staff of criminal behavior, and emerged to grotesquely misinterpret their startled, threatening-situation-defusing unresponsive answers (they assumed she was crazy), as though they were committing to consider joining or blessing her quixonian quest. (John Roberts assured her from the podium that, sure, he would review her box full of documents, the way you might abruptly agree to don an airborne terrorist’s soiled underwear if he insisted, to get him to hand over the gun and go back to sleep in his seat!)
    Imagine how Birther stock went up with SCOTUS after those presumptive “close calls”!

    Another inconceivable aspect of her quest, is the way she offends so many tenets of basic logic in her utterances. Just review the traditionally taught (at law school in particular) logical fallacies, at Wikipedia for example. A lawyer could hardly survive in the profession without a fairly comprehensive understanding of the well-known, categorical mechanisms of invalid argument. It seems truly unbelievable that such a person would also not appear to understand the rules of evidence, or even know what court-worthy evidence consists of. And yet her writings for the court demonstrate that she understands neither, unless these were actually cause-destroying, attention-getting excesses of using legalese to equivocate in a way that must have by now permanently rolled up the eyes of every real attorney who has read many of them.

    So I nominate Orly as the bog boss COINTELPRO in the Birther movement. Except for its members being burdened with the obligation to support so many patently ridiculous allegations against Obama, what could have hurt the Birther Movement more than Orly Taitz?

  10. avatar
    Keith October 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Is writing, designed to increase the level of paranoia about the government infiltration of the birther movement, also part of a government COINTELPRO operation?

    I see what you did there.

  11. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Not really. The Fogbow is all sorts of people.

    Hermitian: Mr. C believes that the TheFogBow.com is a Sunday School Class.

  12. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy October 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    I hoped folks would.

    Keith: I see what you did there.

  13. avatar
    BonsallObot October 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    Damn; now I suspect my own bad self. Wheels within wheels, man.

  14. avatar
    Lupin October 16, 2013 at 2:56 am #

    It’s tempting to redesign Orly as an agent provocateur. In a Philip K. Dick novel, she would show up in your drug-induced nightmares with mechanical appendages.

  15. avatar
    The Magic M October 16, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    roadburner: seems their methods were dubious to say the least when trying to bust the weather underground, and the prosecutor decided to drop all charges against ayres and others

    But what if… it was DOUBLE COINTELPRO and the Weather Underground had infiltrated the FBI so the latter would be perceived as “overstepping their bounds”, allowing the WU to get out scot-free? 😉

    The problem with conspiracy beliefs is that they can never explain why a certain interpretation must be the correct one when it could just as well be *another* layer of obfuscation and distraction. That’s why it’s like religion – you can never prove which supernatural entity is the “real god” and which is “just another false god”.

  16. avatar
    The Magic M October 16, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    Benji Franklin: Orly Taitz is a pretty obvious prime suspect of being out to torpedo any serious eligibility or identity assault directed at Obama.

    But only if you assume “they” are keeping the other birther lawyers (like KKKlayman, Apuzzo, Donofrio, …) from getting involved into more eligibility lawsuits – after all, Orly is the *only* one who has been doing anything at all (the involvements of the other birther lawyers were few and far between, they never bothered to go all out).

    I have been saying Orly screws up on purpose for a long time now – but IMO not because she wants to derail birtherism but because she knows she will get more support if she (can pretend she) fails on procedural grounds rather than the actual merits. After all, “they denied me standing because they knew they would lose on the merits” sells better than “they saw all my evidence and said it’s crap”.

  17. avatar
    Benji Franklin October 16, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    The Magic M: I have been saying Orly screws up on purpose for a long time now – but IMO not because she wants to derail birtherism but because she knows she will get more support if she (can pretend she) fails on procedural grounds rather than the actual merits.

    I’m sure you are right. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, she MAY not INTENTIONALLY BE the Birther movement’s most movement-destroying adherent, BUT she might as well be!

  18. avatar
    Kiwiwriter October 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    I suspect there are probably a few members of these various birther organizations who are there purely for giggles…like the folks who post on the pages under fake names, spouting provocative humor, quickly getting erased.

    However, I don’t think the feds are wasting their budget (particularly during a time of war and shutdown) heavily infiltrating these outfits. J. Edgar Hoover is dead, and the current FBI director doesn’t need to fake up a vast “Reds Under the Bed” scare at appropriations testimony to get the money he needs. He can just hold up photographs of 9/11, various New Jersey politicians, gruesomely-murdered mobsters, and so on. The main purpose of COINTELPRO, from what I’ve read, was to expand J. Edgar Hoover’s already formidable power base.

    There may be some local police surveillance or infiltration of some of these groups, particularly the ones that call for armed revolt. Those, like Kokesh brandishing his firearm at the Capitol, would definitely get visits from the FBI or the Secret Service.

    As for whether or not Orly screws up on purpose…I think she does. One of the aspects of paranoia is that people have life scripts in that state of mind, and they consciously or unconsciously behave in ways that will ensure that their scripts take place, even if they’re not. They will provoke their perceived enemies into attacking them, and then turn around and say, “See! I was right! They’re out to get me! Look how he came for me!” while leaving out the fact that they provoked their opponent…it’s like being angry at a lion for pawing you when you jab him with a sharp stick.

    At some levels, Orly knows that she plays out her life script and gets more support if she loses than if she wins. She would not know what to do if Obama went on TV and announced he had faked his birth certificate and was resigning. She expects to be thwarted, denied, stopped, sanctioned, and dismissed at every turn.

    What she seems (like a lot of these paranoid extremists) to not expect is that she gets ridiculed at every turn. The paranoid can handle being thwarted. They can’t stand being ridiculed. They believe that the rest of the world is really on their side (just blinded or intimidated or paid off by the cover-up), and they expect their pearls of wisdom to be greeted by the public with awe, wonder, and reverence.

    After all, the paranoid extremists are speaking ex cathedra. They expect to be given respect by their audience for their world-changing theory and lifelong commitment to battling at the brink against hopeless odds for truth and freedom. They are very upset when they are ridiculed.

    So I think at some level, Orly (and all of these folks) play to lose, to keep the script going, which is more important than the actual cause.