The Bad Old Days Have Returned

The Bad Old Days Have Returned
A person cleans up debris from a broken window at a home FBI agents searched in Hartland Township mobile home in connection of an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in Heartland, Mich., on Oct. 8, 2020. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)
John Mills

The first Army Reserve unit that I was a part of while I was in college was a Military Intelligence Detachment (MID) at Ft. Lawton in Seattle. Very close to the World War II-era buildings of the MID was a substantial bunker facility that served as the headquarters of the Seattle-area Nike Missile Air Defense system.

All is gone now, but just up the hill are beautiful private homes—residences with a breathtaking sight of Puget Sound—that were converted from former officers’ quarters. The homes range in price from $2 million to close to $6 million, according to Zillow. They were quite dumpy when they were government quarters.

At the MID, the old-timers told me how in the old days (only a few years before), they were part of a massive Army and whole-of-government program to spy on anti-war groups and communist infiltrators. They were heady days until the program was shut down in the mid-1970s. Although we had renewed purpose with the Reagan buildup, the former days of spying on activists in the Seattle area were fondly remembered by many of the old-timers.

I felt like I had just missed a special time of defending America from the communist threat.

Most thought domestic spying was only a distant memory of the bad old days of the Nixon era. That’s until more recent times, as we now realize that government agencies were spying on presidential candidates and their extended contacts. It looks like federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies have also zealously monitored and infiltrated groups they deemed as threats. The old days are back, but unfortunately it looks like the Deep State isn’t defending America but focusing on anyone who questioned the virus lockdown or dared to wave or quote the Constitution.

Whitmer Kidnap ‘Plot’

One of the most iconic figures of the lockdown was Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. During the societal upheavals of 2020 to the present with the Wuhan virus, and urban rioting instigated by groups such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM) with their clear communist connections, she was omnipresent. She seemed to enjoy going out of her way to take away rights and liberties from the citizens of Michigan.
But when the alleged “plot” against Whitmer was announced in October 2020, I had mixed feelings. Extremist activity can never be condoned, especially when it’s actively threatening and carrying out violence against our Constitution. All groups that do this, left or right, can’t receive special treatment and be excepted. But immediately, elements of the alleged plot conducted by the “Wolverine Watchmen” didn’t quite make sense.

How Many FBI Agents Does It Take to Penetrate an Extremist Group?

Shortly after the announcement of the arrests, media reports and analyses started coming out that painted a confusing picture of the group involved in the plot. At least one of the members had posted anti-Trump tirades, and several were allegedly part of the “Boogaloo” movement, which is aggressively anti-police and not right-wing (and has allegedly included members of the U.S. military).
A report by the U.S. Army Military Academy Center Combatting Terrorism Center rightly points out the Wolverine Watchmen were not white supremacists, but actually quite participative and supportive of BLM protests. I appreciate the CTC analysis, but it’s also interesting that the Center is delving back into domestic issues. Is this a possible opining for the old days of the Army having a role in domestic surveillance? But nonetheless, the CTC observation runs counter to the Michigan attorney general’s narrative that the Wolverine Watchmen were white supremacists, which was often repeated by the media.

Words matter, and this description was off the mark significantly.

With the recent acquittals and mistrials of four members of the Wolverine Watchmen and the firing and alleged misbehavior of some of the FBI agents and informants involved in penetrating the group, the case against the Wolverines seems to be in trouble. The use of 12 informants and multiple FBI agents to penetrate the group and make 14 arrests makes it appear that over 50 percent of this group were actually government operatives. I think my MID alumni would be perplexed by this overkill of penetration of a group.
Fast forward to Jan. 6, 2021, and some have suggested that the “plot” against Whitmer was preparation for a much larger federal law enforcement operation against those gathering to show support for President Donald Trump. Being a professional planner of many complex inter-agency operations, I say a “dry run” is always a good idea.
The Wolverine Watchmen case hasn’t totally run its course, but the trajectory of the case isn’t trending well so far for the U.S. government. Meanwhile, it’s unclear how many Jan. 6 defendants still remain locked up, which is shocking in itself that the truth isn’t clear on this number and a disgraceful internment of Americans, which never happened during the Vietnam period.

What’s clear is that the bad old days have returned, yet those who protested against domestic surveillance seem to be the ones now conducting it on a much larger and more aggressive scale.

Depending on how the elections turn out in November, one of the highest priorities of Congress should be the disassembling of this new surveillance culture and the holding accountable of those in the executive branch who enabled and directed the oppression of U.S. citizens for asserting support for Constitutional America.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Col. (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now, Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense. Mr. Mills is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. He is author of “The Nation Will Follow” and “War Against the Deep State.” ColonelRETJohn on Substack, GETTR, and Truth Social
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