Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Small World, but Not in a Disney Kind of Way

I just wanted to give a shout out to David Corn, who co-authored this amazing piece in Mother Jones on the NRA mole and all around saboteur and agent provocateur Mary McFate/Mary Lou Sapone. Its a humdinger of a story and since my kids are going to be playing with David's kids on the cape I thought I'd throw the vast weight of my reading public onto the job. But what is even more interesting than the original story is some stuff hidden at the bottom. First, the label "agent provocateur" is no mere hyperbole:

Sapone's earliest known private intelligence operation occurred in the mid-1980s, when she served as an operative for Perceptions International, a Connecticut-based security firm. Working for Perceptions, which has since been shuttered, she infiltrated the animal rights community for US Surgical Corporation, a target of activists who objected to its testing on dogs. According to a 1989 article in New England Business, Sapone appeared on the animal rights scene in 1986 and quickly became "involved in at least a half dozen animal rights groups." More... She "made a point of getting to know all of the key people in the movement," and "traveled around the country to most protests, meetings and conferences." At meetings, activists would later say, Sapone advocated taking illegal or violent action to advance the movement. She befriended a 33-year-old activist named Fran Trutt, who in November 1988 would be arrested for planting a remote-controlled pipe bomb near the parking space of US Surgical chairman Leon Hirsch. According to Trutt, on her way to carry out the bombing she lost her nerve and placed a call to Sapone, who convinced her to follow through with the plan—a fact that prompted activists to accuse Sapone of acting as an agent provocateur. (Another Perceptions International operative, Marcus Mead, drove Trutt to US Surgical on the day of the attempted bombing.)
Second, in an astonishing bit of matriarchal villany Sapone seems to have organized a little family knock shop of wicked behavior with her son and daughter-in-law an anthropologist who have sold their services in what the basketball specialists call "instigating" to the US government as far afield as Europe and Iraq:

A resume that Montgomery Sapone used around 1999 describes her role within Mary Lou's business: "Collect and analyze intelligence on European activities of major international environmental organization for a company specializing in domestic and internal opposition research, special investigations, issues management and threat assessment. Write weekly intelligence update on European animal rights and eco-terrorist activity. Assist in confidential litigation support research." Sapone's son Sean, a Brown- and Harvard-educated paratrooper who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, was managing director of this firm, which at one point was called Strategic Solutions Group LLC and maintained an office in Washington, DC. According to a Strategic Solutions Group invoice sent to BBI in November 2000, Montgomery Sapone—a Harvard law school grad and Yale-trained anthropologist—once billed the security firm $400 for four hours of her time, which included a "visit to target's office."...
Montgomery has made a name for herself as one of the primary architects of the US military's human terrain program, which teams social scientists with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers better understand the local culture. (The controversial program has been sharply criticized by the American Anthropological Association, which fears it may cross an ethical line, and has been described by detractors as "mercenary anthropology.") Now a top Pentagon adviser, Montgomery also contributed to the Army's Counterinsurgency Field Manual drafted under the guidance of General David Petraeus.
I keep an eye on the Human Terrain program as a shadow anthropologist, or maybe I mean an anthrhopologist without portfolio, and despite its apologists it is both immoral and scary. It places good people in harm's way for unclear and unethical purposes and charges the American Tax payer a fortune to do it. Note the connection--Montgomery Sapone's husband was in the 82nd Airborne and the anthropologists mentioned in the Times article worked with the 82nd Airborne. Don't we have some corruption laws that would cover this sort of thing?

Oh, like mother-in-law like Daughter-in-law, from an anthropology blog:

This should confirm many allegations that have been circulating concerning the role of Montgomery McFate as a spy, who in part traded on her credentials as an anthropologist. It should serve, on the other hand, as a wake-up call to those anthropologists who, perhaps a little young and naive, are not quite aware of what they are dealing with when dealing with McFate, who has made a career as a spy and recently puts on sockpuppet performances as her own best friend on blogs, calling herself “Dee,” the former “Pentagon Diva” with her anonymous blog that was pulled down as soon as news of the identity of the author was circulated more widely.