Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Harass the CIA

I live in a university town, so big corporations come through look for recruits. Recently, we were visited by none other than the CIA. That's the Central Intelligence Agency. So I was talking to my comrade, and we decided that the CIA would be here to project a very specific image of themselves. We have a duty to present a different image, so that potential recruits would have a broader perspective to make their decision from. So we got some dark suits and set up our own table outside the classroom the CIA was using to recruit folk. We got there before them and started handing out a brochure we made, laying out some of the CIA's checkered past. We also posted excerpts from CIA training manuals. We put up a map of government overthrows the CIA was involved in. And demonstrated rendition and interrogation. We didn't go as far as waterboarding, but we did do stress positions. One student saw the description of rendition we posted and said aloud "I'm not sure this is the kind of thing I want to be part of."

At one point, the building manager comes up and we have the following conversation.
"Are you guys with the CIA?"
"We are here to represent the CIA."
"What are your names?"
"That's classified."
"The other CIA guys could at least tell me their first names."
"We're in different departments."
"The other CIA guys are upstairs and they won't come down. They are very worried."
"What are they worried about?"
"This!" he said, showing us the brochure we were handing out.
"What do they find worrisome about it? Is any of it not true?"
"No, they don't know who made it or where it came from."
"Don't worry, it is based entirely on declassified documents. We aren't spreading any state secrets here." (This is a tactic of mine that rarely works. Act as if they are accusing you of something entirely different than what they are actually accusing you of.)

Thinking that was the end of that, we continued our show. Fifteen minutes behind schedule, the real CIA slunk by and into the classroom. They didn't even wave.

A few minutes later the police showed up.
"What are you guys doing here?"
"Presenting a different side to of the CIA to potential recruits."
"You know, impersonating federal agents is a serious offense."
"I don't think we are credibly impersonating. Besides, the First Amendment protects protest and satire."
"You have to leave. You're trespassing."
"I don't think so. This is a public space in a public university and we are students here."
"But you are creating a nuisance."
"Since when is saying true things in a university a nuisance?"
"You weren't invited."
"The CIA's invitation says 'all students are welcome.'"
Note to others: You can't argue law with the police. They are just the muscle the state uses to protect their interests. The Main Officer asks for my ID, while his sidekick asks for my partner's ID. I initially refuse, as Michigan is not a "stop and identify" state, but I guess when the police are called on you, that constitutes probable cause. He runs my name and finds no outstanding warrants, much to his displeasure. My partner, though, was having trouble. He didn't have his ID on him. Sidekick was giving him a really hard time.
"Do you know how close you are to getting arrested?" he asked.
"For what crime?" I asked.
"Failure to identify."
"He doesn't have his ID with him," I noted.
"That's a against the law," Sidekick explained.
"So it is against the law to leave your house without an ID?" I probed.
"Yes," he lied. Eventually he conceded to running the name without an ID.
The cops were acting really tough. When I put my hands in my pockets, he yelled "Hands out of the pockets!" and when I asked to get a drink from the drinking fountain behind him, he yelled "No drinks!" At this point, we were getting pretty nervous. They were acting all drunk on power, and we thought the next interrogation we were part of might not be a demonstration. Next, a guy shows up. Khaki trench coat and tweed scarf.
"Alright, get out of here," Khaki trench coat says.
"Right, now that someone authorized has told us." I said, rolling my eyes. The beat cops acted offended by this.
"Don't you know that's the Sargent?" They said. Because you should dress your high ranking people in khaki and tweed. It's a uniform that really commands respect. But considering they were threatening to arrest us, we took this as an opportunity to leave. Which, on reflection, was exactly what they wanted. Make us think we are in trouble, then give us an out. We take the out, and they get rid of their headache without having to do all the paperwork. Victory for the CIA and the local police.
So a day well spent, rattling the cage of government henchmen.
Here's a clip from the paper the next day. I'll post the brochure if I can figure out how to post a PDF. (click for larger.)

CIA Brochure PDF 2

1 comment:

Richard said...

That is really cool. I just worry that you would get in a lot of trouble. I do appreciate your smart-alec bravery.

It seems to me that you did nothing more than present the other side of the story.