Radical Berkeley Used to Gov’t Surveillance

by Steed Dropout
June 13, 2013
Berkeley, Ca.


Berkeley has not shed its radical past, which often put it under government surveillance, nor have I. (My story will be told last).

Seth Rosenberg, award winning SF Bay Area investigative journalist, traces FBI surveillance at U.C. Berkeley to the early WW2 years in his recent expose of gov’t surveillance.

Berkeley radicals have had a half century to adjust to big brother tactics.

Except for wide-spread Berkeley activities on behalf of whistleblowers, like Snowden and Manning recently, there has been little personal concern from Berkeley rads who assume they’re being watched.

You might wonder if this isn’t Berkeley bragging.

But when Michael Delecour, who was a major planner in the People’s Park Riots, 1969, or another ringleader, Brad Cleveland, tells me the FBI was watching them since the free speech movement, a few years earlier — I believe them.

It would be incompetent of any government not to. Berkeley rads have not been cowed.

Oakland’s F____the Police Marchers, who regularly stage actions in Berkeley, are rads who will mix it up with cops with ties to homeland security. How long before FTP is charged with terrorism?

Oakland police know the FTP leaders, from thick dossiers and photos.

One local Rad, who doesn’t went to be named, is a hunted man, he claims; he loves it the way Thompson, Crane, and Hemingway loved being under fire.


What do Google’s computers and Facebook’s, and Amazon’s, and Verizon’s, and all the other Internet servers know about us?

Much has posted about bots in the cloud, yet the latest security leak, shows that gov’t security agencies are watching us all the more since 9-11. To this reporter, public reaction could be likened to inspector Renault’s, “I’m shocked, shocked that gambling is permitted here” (as he pockets his roulette winnings in Casablanca).

Journalist Mark Krulwich, writing in 2012, concluded that our mined and processed data (medical records, library books, prescriptions, internet content, friends and activities) reflects “more than even our friends and families know about us.”

We have looked into the eye of Big Brother and Big Brother has noticed us.


This is a bonus or a burden for those who’ve read this far.

I long ago signed away my privacy rights by going on welfare last century. I carry cards that document what I eat and drink. As Nixon, who learned a thing or two about surveillance, noted, “I knew I would be scrutinized…I didn’t know they’d use a proctoscope.”

Even fifty years ago,when surveillance was pre-internet, I knew someone out there was watching me.

The heat came from the FBI which surveilled draft resistors in Hawaii (a vast military base), where I wrote a series of resistance-positive articles for “Young Hawaii,” lionizing Hawaii’s Resistance.

In those days, surveillance was a squad of FBI agents who sat in an office clipping news accounts of their subjects.

I was first moved to throw in with these resisters after the FBI testified to Hawaii’s legislators based on news clippings. Several resisters showed up suggesting the bureau should “just ask us our activities; we’re an open organization. Come to our meetings, we’d like your feed back.”

Then they burned their draft cards.

I urged (then illegal) my students to resist the draft, and was a draft counselor at Church of the Crossroads which staged a major servicemen’s sanctuary in 1969. Such sanctuaries seemed to support desertion. I was interviewed for TV at the sanctuary.

I was then an inactive Navy reservist who completed sea-duty in 1965. I had nightmares of being recalled to my ship.

My delicate situation was not helped by an article in the Honolulu-Star Bulletin bragging about giving course credit for disrupting ROTC.

Then I was issued a warrant for sitting in in the Air Force Colonel’s ROTC office and the trial made the front pages for weeks.

FBI clippers would have been compelled to create a clippings file on me.

I was so anxious to move to SF Bay area, I didn’t even submit a tenure package at the University of Hawaii.


Vowing to escape my radical (Vietnam-era) past, I laid low — then blew it.

When, as a syndicated Berkeley underground feature writer, I phone-interviewed Louis Tackwood, a Los Angeles police informant, who had blown the whistle on Nixon’s Dirty Tricks tactics, which led, eventually, to Nixon’s resignation — I was bugged.

I think now they were interested in what Tackwood was saying, not me. In fact Tackwood was on the lam.


The kind of robot-generated mining which connects the dots within list serves and other on-line communities, could arouse suspicions about me.

My data would show up in phone calls and emails to local radicals.

Some calls I’ve made could sound conspiratorial, as I weigh in with plenty of advice about actions I’ve covered.

Some of those radicals have, ironically, called me “a conservative writer.” I can’t support every hair-brained Berkeley scheme.

Last year, the Berkeley Police Chief and a captain invited me to meet. I had written some pretty flamboyant articles about cops. We spent more than an hour talking about crime films.

The chief has a background in homeland security. Are they on to me?

These views do not represent any publications which publish my pictures and stories. This blog is unsponsored, except by Steed Dropout.

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