I barely knew Somali. I know a lot of my friends are expressing shock and a personal sense of betrayal and violation from the news that someone paid by corporates was spying on Peace Action Wellington and WARN. I'm shocked (mostly that anyone is that interested in us), but I don't have a personal reaction. I'm more worried about the damage that this will do.
I'm worried because often paranoia about spies can do far more damage than the actual spies (certainly far more damage than either Somali or Ryan did). If activists distrust new people, particularly new people who don't fit the steotype of the activist, then that wi Already people are talking about the need to be more careful. For example a comment on indymedia*:
In a way this'd be quite a good way of picking the spies. Only spies would be prepared to be part of a group for six months, without having any say (or knowledge) about what's going on. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be particularly helpful for any group.
Groups such as these may have to restructure them selves to allow new recruits to be screened before being able to be come fully involved.
A time period of say 6 months before some before they can be involved in planning type meetings or having to provide proof of previous activist experience are a couple of ideas.
Creating change requires numbers, it can't be done by the tens (and rarely by the hundreds), we need to grow much bigger and stronger. Shutting out new people is the most counter-productive move we could make. It's more important that we bring in ten new people, than we keep out one spy.
* I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that Somali is getting abused in a way that Ryan is not, and that that abuse is gendered.