[Why is Scott Ritter’s picture here? Read more below.]
You know how it is when you come back from a little vacation. Work piles up, people need to meet with you, your place is a mess from unpacking. Loads of fun.
Matt Smith’s article in the SF Weekly on NATLFED is really good. I thought it was going to be a standard snarky hit-piece on nutty Bay Area radicals but he does a nice job covering the shady history and current activities of the organization. I promise to post something about my experiences on the inside soon. Here is an excerpt from Smith’s article:
NatlFed doesn’t fit most people’s idea of a cult. There’s no religious dogma. Instead, it’s best known for preaching leftist revolution. Yet, during its 40 years of existence, it doesn’t seem to have performed a single terrorist act. Decade after decade, its members have merely gone about preparing themselves for the possibility of an eventual day of insurrection — like Pentecostals awaiting the rapture.
In the meantime, the group has undertaken charitable works that Palo Alto‘s Jeff Whitnack, who volunteered for the group in the 1980s until he became disillusioned, refers to as “flypaper” designed to lure young idealists. They maintain what NatlFed insiders refer to as “entities” or “mutual-benefit associations” to do food drives, recruit doctors and attorneys to provide services for low-income people, and give lectures about the need for mental health services in the Mission.
For anyone living in the Bay Area, these apparent front groups are simultaneously invisible and ubiquitous. At a recent Thanksgiving dinner I attended at a San Francisco friend’s house, five of the 10 adults present had volunteered for, donated to, or been contacted by NatlFed fronts.
These groups, which the FBI has linked to NatlFed, have names that make them sound like labor unions or professional associations, among them the Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals, the Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals, the California Homemakers Association, and the Western Farm Workers Association.
None of the groups enter into collective bargaining agreements or are registered with the IRS as nonprofits. They do not publicly disclose their finances. They don’t form close public alliances with community groups that have similar aims. They do not publish their regular activities, have Web sites, or create any public documentation of how they function. They keep themselves all but invisible — except to those they choose to contact.
In the “I knew he was a scumbag” department, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was busted in a sex sting. The Pocono Record notes, a “police affidavit gives the following account”:
Officer Ryan Venneman was posing as 15-year-old “Emily” in an online chat room when he was contacted by someone using the name “Delmarm4fun.” This person, later identified as Ritter, told “Emily” he was a 44-year-old male from Albany, N.Y.
“Emily” told Ritter she was a 15-year-old girl from the Poconos, at which point Ritter asked for a picture other than the one “Emily” had posted on her account. Ritter then sent her a link to his Web camera and began to masturbate on camera.
“Emily” asked Ritter for his cell phone number, which he provided.
Ritter again asked “Emily” how old she was. Told she was 15, Ritter said he didn’t realize she was 15 and turned off his webcam, saying he didn’t want to get in trouble…
What a guy…
Now some links:
Roland “But, I am a Liberal” Dodds proclaims Ron Paul “Useful Idiot of the Year“.
Flesh is Grass discusses anti-Zionist malice.
Modernity Blog on Sri Lanka’s Tamils.
Noga (Contentious Centrist) takes a stroll in the Arab Street.
Poumista on the great Carlo Tresca.
Kellie (Airforce Amazons) Strøm on the Iranian opposition.
Martin in the Margins on civil liberties for all, even those you disagree with.
Sultan Knish takes on Zinn, Moore and Stone.
ZWord on Tony Judt.