Sunday, May 27, 2007


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*:

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.
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.

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.


  1. Anonymous1:22 am

    its also that he said he did something wrong and stupid - on camera too, and she is still denying it. she was part of two groups and he was part of one (well spying on).

    not to say one if goo and the other isnt, just some observations

  2. Anonymous9:11 pm

    I can tell you from experience, infiltrating leftist groups is a heck of a lot of fun. Throwing in the occasional logic or facts into a conversation can start the most massive fights!

    I'm surprised they had to pay anyone, and I think you'll find it a lot more common than you think.

    Of course, the ones that stir the most trouble are always just the ones there to hide the *real* spy.

  3. The two year time frame somali infiltrated over makes any screening period useless, the general rule is not to commit any dodgy action with someone if you havnt known them for seven years.

    Most activists already organise upon decentralised lines and this is probably the best way of preventing infiltration. I do hope this doesnt harm the movement and most activists I talk to while feeling betrayed are taking it well.

  4. Anonymous5:31 pm

    its also worth remembering that Somali was not a cop and not primalry interested in busting people. Her aim was to gather info for the corporates that were paying for the information. so in the case of the animal rights group, it was mostly political info like which companies were being targeted and getting advance warning of our media releases and public events. not just protests. Somali Young worked for arms manufacturers and animal torturers, all people with blood on their hands. While she is just a little cog in a very big death machine, she certainly isnt innocent.
    But like others have said, lets keep our eye on the big guys behind the scenes and lets make sure we stay open and inclusive rather than turning inwards and paranoid. we have right on our side and open campaign groups have very little to hide anyway.
    (Wellington animal rights network)