Pacifica National Board Dissident
Members' Memorandum to Board
by Leslie Cagan
On Wednesday, June 27, 2001, the five dissident members of the Pacifica National Board sent a memo to the rest of the members of the Board. As of today, June 29th, there has been no response.
From: Leslie Cagan, Tomas Moran, Rob Robinson, Pete Bramson and Rabbi Aaron Kreigel
Date: June 27, 2001
We are contacting you about two important items:
a) CANCELLATION OF OUR JULY 1st MEETING
On June 14, 2001 we received a notice from Jennifer Spearman indicating that the Executive Director had asked her to inform us that the National Board meeting scheduled for July 1st was cancelled.
As you know from the messages from us since the March 4th Board meeting was suspended, we have attempted, unsuccessfully, to learn when and where the next Board meeting would be held.
We had to obtain a legal opinion from Pacifica's counsel verifying that all of us are indeed members of the Board and entitled to notice and participation. We submitted, without acknowledgment, items for inclusion on the agenda (June 8th memo to David Acosta, cc'd to the full Board.)
We were alarmed and upset that the July 1st meeting was cancelled. Briefly:
1) Our bylaws require us to have three meetings annually.
2) Most of the business done at Board meetings are not affected by the current lawsuits; this is not a valid reason for canceling the meeting.
3) As we understand it, the Pacifica Foundation faces a $20,000 cancellation fee from the hotel where we were supposed to meet. We believe it is wasteful of the Foundation's resources to have to incur such a large expense.
Finally, in the event that the decision to cancel the July 1st meeting was made by the Executive Director, that is inappropriate. Such decisions, obviously, should be made by the full Board.
B) KEN FORD'S MESSAGE ABOUT THE FBI
We take exception to the June 17, 2001 memo from Ken Ford, declaring his intention to turn over threatening, harassing, or intimidating mail to the FBI. We are extremely alarmed and must raise our objection.
During the course of this controversy, we have all received unpleasant correspondence. But none of us has the unilateral authority to involve a federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (which has historically been a bitter enemy of both Pacifica and the constitutional rights of individuals) into the internal affairs of the Pacifica Foundation.
A decision like this should never be made by one person on our Board. A decision that brings the FBI - or any other policing agency - into our front door can only be made in full consultation with the National Board membership.
There are other important concerns related to this, and so we refer you to an open letter that Matthew Lasar sent to Ken Ford on June 23, 2001. (see below)
We urge that a discussion of the full Board be convened as quickly as possible, by phone conference call if necessary, in order to reverse this action.
Rabbi Aaron Kriegel
Subject: An Open Letter to Ken Ford; Re: the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date: Sat, 23 June 2001
From: Matthew Lasar <email@example.com>
To: Ken Ford, Pacifica Foundation
Re: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
June 23, 2001
A message has come to my attention, purporting to come from you, in which you ask members of the Pacifica Governing Board to send what they experience as distressing listener e-mails to your offices. You, if I understand this message correctly, may then forward these documents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They may then form the basis of a Racketeering in Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit against various Pacifica reform groups or individuals that you do not like.
Mr. Ford, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to learn that this e-mail (enclosed below) is a fake and that I am the gullible victim of a clever Internet hoax. But if the message is real, I am very alarmed and implore you to reconsider acting on it. I understand that you do not enjoy being called upon to resign by thousands of people across the United States. Since I am familiar with Pacifica, I know that some of these messages may be rude. But inviting the FBI into this situation puts the organization that you represent in great danger.
If the Pacifica radio network has a natural predator, it is the FBI. In the early 1980s Pacifica obtained the network's Freedom of Information Act FBI files. I urge you to read these documents, which about six years ago I filed and sorted as volunteer archivist for the Pacifica National Office Papers. Since the 1950s, the Bureau has been poking, prodding, invading, infiltrating and harassing this organization in the most irresponsible and aggressive ways. It has planted informers within the network, sent agents pretending to be private citizens to inquire about the organization, and far worse.
In 1962, two staff members at WBAI in New York City interviewed a former FBI trainee about his experiences at the Bureau, and prepared to put his comments on the air in late October. After reading internal Bureau files during this period, I concluded that the FBI got wind of this program through a highly placed informer at KPFA in Berkeley (I do not know the identity of this person). Although Pacifica governing board members offered the FBI equal time to respond to the trainee's charges, the Bureau opted instead to begin a reckless campaign of harassment, including visits to staff members' homes, hostile anonymous phone calls, and threats of a raid at WBAI if the program was aired.
When WBAI broadcast the program anyway, the Bureau dossiered everyone of consequence within the Pacifica network, and forwarded its encyclopedia to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The SISS used the materials to subpoena and grill about 8 members of the National Board in hearings in Washington, D.C., then released transcripts of the hearings to a hostile press. The FCC, under the guidance of a former FBI agent who now served as a Commissioner, withheld Pacifica's licenses and demanded loyalty oaths. Even after the network survived this ordeal, which it did barely, the FBI continued to worm its way into and around the organization.
Do you imagine that Pacifica no longer broadcasts programming that displeases the FBI? Quite the contrary; in fact, some of Pacifica's most prominent programmers have, very recently, published books exposing the FBI's unethical activities. Through the 1970s, 1980s and to varying degrees still, the organization functions as a clearing house for the conclusions of every radical investigative journalist in the country.
Surely the FBI hates Pacifica radio. Do you really believe that if you invite the Bureau into the internal life of Pacifica, its operatives will narrowly adhere to the tasks you set before them, and meekly depart from the scene upon your command? This is the FBI, I remind you, that recently withheld information about the Timothy McVeigh case and put Wen Ho Lee in solitary confinement for a year. This week the newspapers report on an FBI operative who allegedly sold information to organized crime for tens of thousands of dollars.
"Unmanageable, unaccountable and unreliable," a United States Senator called the FBI on Thursday during a Congressional hearing about the Bureau. If you actually plan to bring the FBI to this situation, do you think that it will remain under your control? Up until this month you were toying with a small but precious radio network; at that point you will be playing with fire.
The question is, do you care? Mr. Ford, I don't know you. I do know that if you do not publicly repudiate this extremely ill-advised recourse, it is only further evidence of your lack of qualifications to have anything to do with the governance of this network.
In any event, if the FBI calls me for any reason regarding this matter, I will heed the advice that Lewis Hill gave to KPFA's listeners regarding the Bureau's activities in 1949, a year when it was extremely dangerous to give such counsel: "The FBI is a contemptible institution and the whole country knows it," the founder of Pacifica radio declared. " . . . Refuse to cooperate. Say, No. Say, I for my part will not."
Very truly yours,
New Pacifica Working Group
'Save Our Stations!'
Editor's note: No, I don't think that everyone thinks that the FBI is
a contemptible institution. I think that most people think that the FBI
is a law enforcement organization that should last into eternity. They
have no idea that the FBI murders people.