I.the revised boy scout manual
I have in the first issue of datacide discussed a few views on the concept of random assassinations, by on the one hand suggesting that “accidental” killings by the police force actually follow a strategy of intimidation/terror, and pointing to the crimes of the Manson Family supporting the view that random assassinations are the ones that spread the most terror. I will here as a post script briefly review The Revised Boy Scout Manual by William S. Burroughs, and then go on to two cases of killings that were not random at all but fall into a category of surgical strikes against insurrectionists, political assassinations as performed by the state.
The Revised Boy Scout Manual is printed in issue 4/5 of the San Francisco based magazine Re/Search, a special issue devoted to William S.Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Throbbing Gristle. Besides excerpts of Place of Dead Roads and Cities of the Red Night , an interview and a few bits and pieces, the section dedicated to William S.Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and also of works like The Electronic Revolution, an essay amongst other things on sonic warfare and the appliance of the Cut-Up Method (on which many of his books, particularly in the early 60’s are based in literary terms) to a revolutionary situation. Burroughs is now more or less accepted by the literary mainstream (first shunned and then celebrated as fag junkie genius), so the two mentioned political tracts have to be ignored…
The Revised Boy Scout Manual is an easy to follow guide to successful revolution, using the example of a republican insurrection against the system and establishment of the UK – Burroughs lived in London at the time, the early 70ies. It starts off with the situation we find in the 20th century that the development of weapons has advanced to a degree that it is not so easy anymore for rebels to manufacture weapons on the same level of efficiency and firepower that the defenders of the system have at their disposal. Guerrilla warfare is therefore often on the level of the last century, but also – even if it is successful – leaves intact a lot of the previous regimes means of power that lie in language, calendar, religion and bureaucracy. “It is a familiar pattern: the oppressed love the oppressors and cannot wait to follow their example. Morocco, independent from France, takes over the inefficient French bureaucracy. Arab countries liberated from England retain the barbarous English method of execution. Cannot a revolution make a clean sweep of all this old garbage?”
To avoid the mistakes of being taken over by the old order through the back door that most revolutions have succumbed to he proposes a five step program:
1. PROCLAIM A NEW ERA AND SET UP A NEW CALENDAR
2. REPLACE ALIEN LANGUAGE
3. DESTROY OR NEUTRALIZE ALIEN GODS
4. DESTROY ALIEN MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT AND CONTROL
5. TAKE WEALTH AND LAND FROM INDIVIDUAL ALIENS.
The text proceeds with what is basically an appeal to the imaginagion of the revolutionary to choose any kind of weapon available: Not just guns, but “crossbows and rubber band guns, homemade flame throwers and laser guns, cyanide injectors and blow guns.” Not to mention explosives, gas bombs, chemicals, biological weapons, viruses, infra-sound and Deadly Orgone Radiation!
But the key to bring about de-stabilisation and terror are the two types of assassination to be employed: Assassination By List and Random Assassination.
Assassination By List is self-explanatory, it is in fact what most (left wing) terrorists have practiced in the 70ies – target killings of representatives of the system:
“So who do you assassinate by list? Not the obvious targets, the politicians, narcs and pigs. They are servants who obey orders. So the targets are not the front men but the higher-ups behind the scene. You announce that you have a list of these secret controllers and that they will be killed one after the other. The list is guesswork of course but the real higher-ups will soon expose themselves. So for a start we assassinate a Swiss banker never wrong on that. Just get a list of Swiss bankers and pull his name out of a hat. This is Assassination By List (ABL). The rich and powerful cover behind guards and electric fences.”
Then follows a description of the “ingenious concept” of Random Assassination that is credited to Brion Gysin. Five people are to be murdered daily in five different districts of the city. Just “shuffle a pack of cards listing various categories housewife bowler-hat-and-umbrella nun meth-drinker lavatory attendant anyone driving or riding in a Bentley etc. Then shuffle another pack of city areas arranged into districts that do not correspond to the actual boroughs or wards. Since the choice is completely random there is no pattern and the assassinations cannot be predicted or anticipated. Exempt from this daily lottery are the police and the military. The reason: they are accorded this position of privilege to stir resentment in the populace and so set the stage for a subsequent accusation that rightist plotters carried out RA to create an emergency and seize power.”
Obviously here we can find a “revolutionary theory” that is free even of traces of Marxism and any sort of Political Correctness, it combines elements that are usually ascribed either to left or right wing extremists, and it gradually progresses into the comical fantasies of smartly uniformed young boys shooting members of the British aristocracy, expressing a deep seated hatred of the old ruling class but just as much a love for young boys, but then again who says that’s not as good a reason for revolution as any?
From this I’d like to go on to two examples of political assassinations by the State that under the above categories would fall under the heading of Assassinations By List. The first is the killing of the leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton and his comrade Mark Clark and the wounding of four more in a pre-dawn raid conducted by the Chicago police on december 4, 1969. The second is the killing of Wolfgang Grams, member of the Red Army Faction by the special police unit GSG 9 on june 27, 1993 in an apparent attempt to arrest him and his comrade Birgit Hogefeld. .
Search and Destroy: The raid on the Illinois Black Panther Party Head-quarters in Chicago
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was born in Oakland, California in 1966 as an organisation dedicated to community self defense in the wake of growing unrest and police harassment after the Watts riot a year previously. Soon it grew into a national organisation with a 10-point program for achieving political, social and economic goals, and the name was shortened to Black Panther Party.
“The Black Panther Party has been repeatedly harassed by police. After the conviction of the party’s leader, Huey P. Newton, for manslaughter in the death of a white policeman, Oakland police fired into the Black Panther office with rifles and shotguns presumably because they felt that a conviction for first-degree murder would have been more appropriate. On September 4, a group of 150 whites, allegedly including a number of off-duty policemen, attacked a group of Panthers and their white supporters in the Brooklyn Criminal Court building. The confrontation between the Panthers and some elements of the police has become a feud verging on open warfare.This warfare highlights the fact that for the black citizen, the policeman has long since ceased to be – if indeed he ever was – a neutral symbol of law and order. Studies of the police emphasize that their attitudes and behaviour towards blacks differ vastly from those taken towards whites. Similar studies show that blacks perceive the police as hostile, prejudiced and corrupt. In the ghetto disorders of the past few years, blacks have often been exposed to indiscriminate police assaults and, not infrequently, to gratuitious brutality. Many ghetto blacks see the police as an occupying army; one of the Panthers’ major demands is for stationing UN observers in the ghettos to monitor police conduct.”
Under the pretext of searching the premises of the Headquarters of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party for illegal firearms a unit of 14 police burst into the apartment at 2337 West Monroe Street in Chicago at 4.45am. Claiming they were received with gunfire they started shooting – with between 77 and 94 shots the place was literally sprayed with bullets fired indiscriminately into the direction of the nine Panthers present in the apartment, the shooting went on for ten minutes and left two dead, four wounded and three miraculously unharmed. The police claim that they were met with gunfire was later dismissed by independent research that suggests that only one bullet was fired from the inside and that most probably it wasn’t the first shot fired.
While everyone in the place was asleep as the cops – in plain clothes – stormed the place from the front and the back the version of the police painted the picture of armed insurrectionists immediately opening fire, calling out to each other to “shoot it out” and therefore their use of weapons being in self defense. A story was fabricated for the media and the public, and the police even had a television station film a re-enactment featuring the actual officers a few days later in the actual premises. Doubt crept up quickly however since the accounts of the police and the survivors of the raid differed considerably. However the official investigations of the case more or less absolved the police version despite evidence of it being largely falsified to justify the killings. But that as such was not particularly unusual – in the seven months preceding 11 black youths had been killed by police in the same neighbourhood, verdicts of “justifiable” or “accidental” homicide were returned in each case despite complaints of irregularity. What was more unusual was that one of the victims was the local leader of the Black Panther Party, so this was a more high profile operation. And not just that – it turned out that he was killed while being unconscious, possibly drugged, possibly by an informer who had left the place only hours earlier.
Without going into the particularities of forensic details here the conclusion reached is that the operation was a conscious attempt to assassinate Fred Hampton. The indications start with the choice of time – if the raid had really been about illegal firearms, a time during the day when few or no people were in the apartment would have been much better suited to confiscate the guns and arrest returning or already surveilled inhabitants. More than that the police unit was extraordinarily heavily armed, but not equipped with tear gas, lighting equipment etc. which would have made a raid without bloodshed possible.
Testimony concerning the raid was extremely inconsistent, but as far as the death of Fred Hampton is concerned, taking into account the statements by the cops, the survivors and the results of a total of three autopsies the report of the Commission of Inquiry comes to the convincing conclusion that Hampton was shot at relatively close range by an officer who could see him lying unconscious on the bed, probably after the other three people who had been in the same room had been removed, in other words, he was executed.
As to the question of him being unconscious, it is suggested that he was given barbiturates against his knowledge as he had passed out a couple of hours earlier in the middle of a phone conversation. The first autopsy denied the presence of barbiturates in his blood, but the second one affirms the presence of secobarbital. An embarrassed FBI repeated the test three months later to prevent the “assassination theory” that was being published by the Black Panther Party and others to spread too wide. Predictably they came to the conclusion that no barbiturates were present; however, Hamptons body had been embalmed with particularly large amounts of Lithol and Cavrex since it was at the time not known for how long the body would be unburied. To prove the presence of secobarbital was not particularly easy with a living person, but next to impossible with someone dead for three months and heavily embalmed. So the FBI findings are meaningless except that they were supposed to “prove” their theory. An interesting detail in this context is that the first autopsy claimed to have opened the stomach, but a subsequent one found the organ untouched, also the test used in the first autopsy was not suitable to detect secobarbital at all. I am only going into details like this to show how a cover-up is orchestrated in “scientific” details by “experts”. Besides, Hampton was usually never using barbiturates or any other drugs; if on the grounds of the second autopsy, and the testimony of witnesses that he remained unconscious during the wild shooting going on in his flat, we can assume that he was indeed drugged, it is a relevant detail that no barbiturates, prescription slips etc. were found in the apartment.
There was admission of police and the State’s Attorney’s office that an FBI informant and possibly one other informant was present in the days leading up to the raid. The identity of the informant(s) were however not disclosed by any governmental agency, presumably not willing to “burn” him/her and hoping to be able to keep using him in a similar context.
While the Commission of Inquiry stringently sticks to the proven facts the evidence brought forward still suggests that
– a plant of the FBI drugged Hampton
– the commando of police used the pretext of searching for illegal firearms to storm the HQ, spray the place with bullets – they even lightly injured one of their own men
– as the firing died down or even had stopped, an officer stepped to the unconscious Hampton and shot him in the head twice at close range.
Why? In the controversial conspiracy theory The Gemstone File the names of Hampton and Clark crop up as having been killed because they possessed information about the JFK murder squad in Chicago, where the assassination of the president was originally supposed to have taken place three weeks prior to his visit to Dallas when he was actually shot. Despite containing a wealth of valuable information and its undisputable entertainment value I rather list this mention for the record than make an attempt to evaluate it since the version of the File I have doesn’t offer any more details. It seems more likely that the raid and the planned assassination of Fred Hampton was part of an overall counter-insurgency strategy that was supposed to strike a substantial blow against the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and send a message to all insurgents around the country that they could easily be killed, and that the authorities could easily get away with it.
Bad Kleinen and the killing of Wolfgang Grams
There are a number of parallels in the case of the death of Wolfgang Grams on june 27, 1993 at the railway station of Bad Kleinen in Germany. Grams was a member of the Red Army Faction, the most important military group of the German urban guerrilla. The RAF was born out of the radical left wing scene of the late 60ies and constituted itself in 1970. The heads of the organisation in this early phase were Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and Horst Mahler, as well as Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Carl Raspe. Trying to get an urban guerrilla movement on its feet they were met with unprecedented police repression and all the leading members were behind bars by 1972. Already before that several members were killed by police in dubious circumstances, for example Georg von Rauch who was shot dead through the eye after already having been searched and arrested. A mammoth court case was prepared against the “leaders” of the “Baader-Meinhof-Gang” as it was commonly called in the media, even the whole wing of a special prison was constructed and built for this case, a massive high security building that also housed the court itself. Predictably the case became more and more of a farce as one defense lawyer after the other was excluded from the proceedings and the prisoners were subjected to isolation and sensory deprivation. When Ulrike Meinhof died in her cell on may 8, 1976 it became a controversial case of was it suicide or murder. Meinhof had been a well known journalist for the left wing magazine konkret before she went underground and to a considerable degree thanks to her and her well documented integrity the RAF had a lot of sympathies in the intellectual left wing milieu. This was answered with a witch hunt by the authorities and the right wing press.
The RAF in the meantime became more and more focused on freeing the prisoners and started undertaking increasingly spectacular actions of kidnappings and assassinations. This culminated in the autumn of 1977 with the kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer by the RAF and the hijacking of the Lufthansa Landshut by a Palestinian commando called Martyr Halimeh that also demanded the release of the prisoners. The airplane got stormed by a German special “anti-terror” unit called GSG 9 in Mogadishu, Somalia. After this Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Carl Raspe died in their cells in the Stammheim high security prison. Baader and Raspe had been shot. Those deaths were presented as suicides, a version that was accepted and propagated by most of the German media, but remains doubtful, to say the least. Their lawyers were supposed to have smuggled in the guns, they were said to have radio transmitters that allowed them to communicate and break the total isolation they were in fact subjected to in this period. This version has never been proven, logistically it is dubious (how exactly did weapons and communications equipment get into the H-Block?), in fact despite the desperate situation it also made no sense politically because the only signal that the death of the prisoners would send to the militants that were still fighting would be that of defeat: a signal that made a lot of sense for the state, but not for the guerrilla. In fact it became later known that the killing of the prisoners was actually talked about in the crisis meetings of the government during the Schleyer kidnap, nevertheless it remains a taboo, at least in Germany, to say the state might actually have murdered them.
I am trying not to get too much into the whole history of the urban guerrilla here (there will be another time), but only mention what’s relevant to Bad Kleinen. After ‘77 and throughout the 80ies the so-called “third generation” of the RAF continued operating, but were weakened by people getting arrested, people dropping out and disappearing (into East Germany as it later turned out), and in general the urban guerrilla was massively isolated ideologically and in terms of organisation, logistics and support from the rest of the left. Actions were only few but they were organised and carried out with stunning military precision, also it reached the point where the authorities did not know anymore who the inner core of the organisation were. It was this tight cladestinity and impenetrable organisation that the police were desparate to penetrate, and built up a contact over a period of over 8 years that finally led them to the possibility of preparing the arrest of two members: Birgit Hogefeld and Wolgang Grams.
The small railway station of Bad Kleinen was chosen and on the day it was swarming with agents and officers of the BK-A (Bundeskriminalamt, the central internal police agency running anti-terrorist campaigns) and the special GSG 9 force. GSG 9 had been the “heroes of Mogadishu”, but didn’t get into the heroic spotlight too much after that – remember, the authorities largely didn’t (and don’t) know who the RAF members they are hunting are, to the degree that it was suggested that there was no RAF at all… It seems that the GSG 9 had been used for certain cladestine operations abroad, but this was to be their great day at home: finally the arrest of a couple of members of the feared guerrilla.
Hogefeld and Grams were meeting the police informant Steinmetz in the cafe of the railway station, when they took a subway the cops struck, but strangely in a moment when it was possible for Grams to run up the stairs onto a platform that was empty of police forces. He was followed by half a dozen GSG 9 wildly firing after him, reaching the platform with not really anywhere to go, turned around returning fire with his Czeska CZ75 Brunner, firing 6 shots before being hit and falling backwards onto the rails. Two of the GSG 9 following him got hit by bullets, one got injured, the other died. Two other GSG 9 followed Grams, seconds later he was dead, shot in the head at point blank range. Hogefeld had in the meantime been arrested without the chance of using her gun (which was strangely enough only taken off her after she was already lying on the floor for over half an hour bound and blindfolded – were they keeping the option open to have her suicided too?). About this much is clear. It is also clear what the official version was supposed to be like: Hogefeld supposedly fired first, got subdued, Grams kept firing, killed and wounded the two cops following him before getting hit himself, falling onto the rails and then shooting himself in the head to avoid arrest. This version doesn’t withstand closer inspection, witness accounts and forensic details at all. While on the whole the members of the police stick to this story their various accounts are full of discrepancies, irregularities as well as details that were proven to be complete fabrication and lies (an example for this is that one GSG 9 member who was on the platform at the time said when Grams fell onto the rails he then couldn’t see him anymore – and that then he must have shot himself; but since the rails are only 20cm lower than the platform there is no way someone would be out of sight from anywhere on the platform at any time). Supposedly no one saw Grams shoot himself, everyone in the whole place was looking somewhere else at the time. This is understandable because he didn’t. In fact, one witness was apparently told that he was a dead man if he talked; he didn’t. But much to the embarrassment of the authorities the lady selling the newspapers witnessed most of it from a good point of view and never altered her statement. Worse: a member of the police force requesting anonymity, but coming up with inconvertible evidence that he was a genuine witness corrobated her story towards the news magazine Der Spiegel.
What followed was a massive exercise in “damage control” that consisted in bringing the statements of the GSG 9 members together, that consisted in doctoring evidence, “losing” vital pieces of clothing, as well as the planned character assassination of the newspaper-lady witness. The exercise consisted in systematically destroying and manipulating all evidence that could have proven to a jury or the German public that Grams was indeed murdered, for example his hand was washed in a way that made it impossible to analyse blood and gun powder residues. To do this – and a number of other things – only made sense to prevent inconvertible prove of the “assassination theory”, because if the official version had any truth in it there would have been no reason for these professionals to destroy evidence. In fact it would have been useful as the case sent some shockwaves around the country for a few days. After a week the federal Minister of the Interior resigned, a couple of other officials lost their jobs. A few swift moves and the situation was under control again. Even though the official version never stood up against closer inspection at all, a situation was created where it became a statement of support for the RAF to suggest that the state would “execute” its political enemies without trial.
Due to evidence that came to light there is still a widespread feeling that Grams was indeed killed by a member of the GSG 9, but that the killer acted as a freaked out, stressed out individual, possibly due to the death of his comrade, PK Newrzella. But here we find another number of discrepancies, and some evidence that in fact Newrzella was killed by police snipers mistaking him for Grams; the placing of these snipers (which has been denied, presumably as they would have been witnesses to the “execution” as well, and there would have to be an investigation into the killing of their own man) would explain that there were no police on this platform onto which Grams tried to escape. Their presence would also explain some ballistics evidence that otherwise doesn’t make sense, as well as the unrealistic rate of hits and misses of 50:50 for Grams, and only 15:85 for the highly trained special forces.
However clear or unclear the details of the case, the version that makes the most sense is that the killing of Grams was planned in the attempt of striking a last blow to the RAF, to achieve its disintegration through the assassination of one of its members, “burning” an informant to show that the organisation had been penetrated, both situations that at the time had to plunge the RAF into a dilemma: Only a year previously they had declared a fundamental change in strategy that was based on the desire to give up the kind of armed struggle that they had been leading for 23 years that had led them into isolation and that had not worked out the way it was intended. Militarily the killing of Grams would have forced them to renew the attack on representatives of the system, politically however that was not possible due to the declarations of the previous year. In fact it has been rather silent in the past few years, so maybe this time the murder paid off.
– Re/Search 4/5 William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Throbbing Gristle. San Francisco 1982.
– Search and Destroy. A Report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Black Panthers and the Police.ed. Roy Wilkins and Ramsey Clark, Chairmen. Metropolitan Applied Research Centre, Inc. New York 1973
– bad kleinen und die erschiessung von wolfgang grams. ed. ID-Archiv im Internationalen Institut für Sozialgeschichte/Amsterdam. Edition ID Archiv.. Berlin/Amsterdam 1994.