Looking at the political landscape of the past several decades it is often difficult, if not impossible, to find reason for hope or optimism! Today’s New York Times published “Burglars Who Took on FBI Abandon Shadows,” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/burglars-who-took-on-fbi-abandon-shadows.html?pagewanted=1&rref=us&hpw) the account of the burglary of the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office that blew the top off of J. Edgar Hoover’s Cointelpro operations against the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War.
Forty-three years ago, eight antiwar activists, five of whom are named in this article, broke into that FBI office during an evening when a hugely popular boxing match took place and provided the incriminating evidence from FBI documents of FBI wrongdoing to a reporter at The Washington Post. The rest is history, so to speak, with governmental wrongdoing and spying put ever-so temporarily on hold (The popularity of war was also questioned for a time…it had a name…Vietnam Syndrome).
By the early 1970s, the Vietnam War had become unpopular with a majority of those polled in the U.S., and the system of inducting men into the military by way of a draft was on life support (The draft lottery had already been implemented, but that did not take the energy out of the antiwar movement).
As a war resister during that era, my only criticism of those who have bravely come forward now is: why so late? I am keenly aware of all of the risks involved in taking bold action against an immoral war (It’s been awhile since there’s been a “moral” one), but one of the prices that must be considered in committing civil disobedience is paying a penalty for taking on authority and power.
Parallels are drawn between the FBI office burglars and the contemporary whistleblower Edward Snowden, but that analogy is somewhat stretched. I believe that Snowden did a service to this country, but unlike the Vietnam War where millions perished, the current wars that the U.S. wages are not on the scale of the former. Perhaps readers might conclude that the single death of an innocent civilian is one death too many, but the analogy to Snowden still falls short. However, the same issue of surveillance is at play now, as it was during the Vietnam War, but surveillance has reached Orwellian proportions now, so perhaps the analogy is closer than I originally thought.
As I observed in my comment on The Times article on the burglary: “Hats off gentlemen [sic]!”