12 April 2010

To Catch a Spy : The Story of George the Snitch

Dennis the Menace from The Comics Curmudgeon.

To catch a spy II:
A short history of one snitch

By Richard Lee / The Rag Blog / April 12, 2010

[The Rag Blog published an article by Lisa Fithian about acknowledged FBI informant Brandon Darby, on March 22, 2010. Lisa's piece received thousands of hits, and was reposted all over the Internet. And for Richard, it brought to mind another story from another time. For links to Rag Blog material about Brandon Darby and the infiltration of community groups by law enforcement agencies, see below.]

This is the story of George, not his whole story, just the part I know about.

San Diego, 1972. Nixon is coming here. We have been planning his welcome since Chicago four years ago. Not heavy planning at first, but as time passed we worked on the Republican Convention ’72 with increasing intensity, and as we left Washington after the huge MAYDAY demo in May of ’71 we said our goodbyes to our tribes with the phrase, “See ya next year in San Diego.”

The San Diego Convention Coalition in the spring of that year was made up of dozens of groups from across the country. Our affinity group arrived in March to help organize. In that time, one of the strongest groups that planned to attend was Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW.)

Two of us from our little affinity group were veterans. I had participated in some VVAW actions back in Boston, and we began to attend meetings of the San Diego chapter. Our thinking at the time was that, counting vets and their families, VVAW would bring about 50,000 demonstrators.

We met in public, open meetings once a week, and each week we would have two or three more vets than the last week.

One week a new guy came. His name was George. He was a vet; he had been in the Army for about a year, before he took the honorable way out with a Bad Conduct Discharge. My partner and I thought he might be the kinda guy we could relate to, and decided to get to know him better.

That VVAW meeting was the first time he had ever been to an anti-war gathering. George had no politics, neither left nor right, Republican or Democrat, he said he was against the war, but knew very little about it. He took notes, we stole them from him, and those notes consisted of little more than names, most misspelled.

We talked it over with some of the others in the chapter and decided that George needed a closer look. A week after the meeting, we invited George to go to out for a couple of beers. Instead, we drove to an isolated part of a park and started asking George some sharp questions. He didn’t put up much resistance, and after a couple minutes he ‘fessed up and began to tell us his story.

George was not only a vet, he was an ex-con, he had done nearly two years on a heroin conviction and was still on parole. Recently he'd been caught with a dirty spike by the SDPD. Instead of violating him, the SD pigs turned him over to the FBI. The feds told George they could make his bust go away if he would do a little something for them. VVAW was that something. And that was how George came to show up at the weekly meeting.

We spent an hour or so debriefing George. He told us that after the last meeting he went two blocks up the street where his handler was waiting in a car. They drove around while the feebee asked him questions; the Man was pissed that he had lost his notes (the ones we had stolen) and he couldn’t remember names. FBI man showed him pictures and when he recognized one, they wanted to know what the pictured vet had said.

I felt sorry for George. He was a loser, he had never won anything in his life and he never expected to. He hadn’t really hurt us at all, it was a public meeting of 20 or so people, we talked mostly about where we were going to camp the brothers and how we were going to feed them. But then again we couldn’t let him hang around, maybe to plant a wire, maybe to later tell lies at some trial. So, we told him it was over and not to come back. I wanted to give him a hug when we parted, but refrained.

The next week we reported what had happened to the membership. As we finished, the door opened and there was George again. He had given it some thought and seen that we were the right side to be on, and asked to be let back in. We put it to a vote, and it was surprisingly close, but he lost his bid. I knew his handler had put him up to it. George left and I never saw him again.

George didn’t become a snitch because of his politics, he had none. He didn’t do it for money, they didn’t pay him. George was only a junkie, a poor one, and he didn’t want to go back to the joint.

It leaves me with the question. What about Brandon Darby? Was it politics? Was it money? Was he jammed up? Blackmailed? Was he simply used, like poor George, or is he really just a snitch from that layer of scum that lies just above the scabs?

Also see:
  • To catch a spy by OneLove (now revealed to be Richard Lee) / The Rag Blog / January 11, 2009
And, Rag Blog articles about Brandon Darby and the Texas 2:For more background on the history of informants in Texas, read The Spies of Texas by Thorne Dreyer / The Texas Observer / Nov. 17, 2006.

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