Secret government informer "Karen Sullivan" infiltrated Minnesota activist groups

Categories: Protest News
KarenSullivan2.jpg
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
"Karen Sullivan," an undercover agent who spied on Twin Cities activists.
The Twin Cities activists who had their homes raided by the FBI last September are starting to learn more about why they're being investigated by a Chicago grand jury in relation to material support of terrorism.

Lawyers for the activists have learned from prosecutors that the feds sent an undercover law enforcement agent to infiltrate the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee in April 2008, just as the group was planning its licensed protests at the Republican National Convention.

Going by the name "Karen Sullivan," the agent blended in with the many new faces the Committee was seeing at meetings in the lead-up to the RNC. But she stayed active afterward, attending virtually every meeting.

"She presented herself as a lesbian with a teenage daughter, and said she had a difficult relationship with her former partner, which is one of the reasons she gave us for not being more transparent about her story," says Jess Sundin, a member of the Anti-War Committee and one of the activists who has received a subpoena from the Chicago grand jury. "It was a sympathetic story for a lot of us."

Sullivan told the group she was originally from Boston but that she had had a rough childhood and was estranged from her family. She said she had spent some time in Northern Ireland working with Republican solidarity groups.

Sullivan at first said that she didn't have any permanent address in the area, but she eventually got an apartment in the Seward neighborhood. She claimed to be employed by a friend's small business, checking out foreclosed properties that he might buy. The cover story of a flexible job schedule let her attend all the meetings she wanted to, and to have individual lunches with other activists.

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Twin Cities Indymedia
Jess Sundin speaking at a press conference this morning.
"She really took an interest," Sundin said. "It raised some suspicions among other members at first, but after the other undercover agents from the RNC Welcoming Committee came out, and no in our organization did, we figured we didn't have any. Besides, we didn't think we had anything we needed to be secretive about."

Sullivan began to take on more responsibilities with the organization, chairing meetings, handling the group's bookkeeping, and networking with dozens of other organizations.

In the summer of 2009, Sullivan joined two other Twin Cities activists in a trip to visit Palestine. Somehow, when they landed in Tel Aviv, Israeli security forces knew they were coming, and that they were headed to Palestine.

The three women were told they could get on the next plane back home or they could face detention. Sullivan took the flight. The other two women chose detention and were ultimately deported.

Attorneys for the activists have also learned that prosecutors are especially interested in a small donation the women intended to give to their host organization in Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees. The group is registered as an NGO with the Palestinian Authority and not listed as a terrorist group by the United States. 

Last fall, Sullivan disappeared from the Twin Cities, telling her fellow activists that she had some family business to take care of. She never came back. On September 24, the FBI launched a series of early morning raids on the homes of members of the Anti-War Committee and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is relying on an undercover informant in his investigation of Twin Cities activists.
The FBI would not confirm or deny Sullivan's identity as a government agent or comment on this story by the time of publication. The U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago has said it will not comment on anything related to the grand jury investigation.

Last fall the Justice Department's Inspector General released a scathing report that criticized the FBI for invoking anti-terrorist laws to justify their investigations and harassment of groups including Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Catholic Worker.

"This is exactly what the Inspector General's report was talking about," Sundin told City Pages this morning. "The FBI doesn't have the right to spy on us. It's an abuse of our democratic rights. We're supposed to have freedom of association, not, 'You can associate but we're going to spy on you.'"

UPDATE: Who was Karen Sullivan?

Previous Coverage

* Moles Wanted: FBI recruits informants in advance of RNC
* Police raid anarchist homes in advance of RNC
* RNC Arrests: A police state of mind
* Amy Goodman sues cops over RNC arrest

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25 comments
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Minsota Not-Employed
Minsota Not-Employed

This is the O"Bama - Senator Klobuchar FBI doing this. What the hell are the progressives doing to tell Klobuchar this fascism must stop. She is up for re-election in 2012 and Klobuchar needs to stop this fascist statism by the O'bama FBI. Why is Klobuchar so hateful. She also let in over 1,200,000 Visa employees - LAST YEAR. Is she for America or not. Another 1,200,000 the previous year. 2.5 Million Visa immigrants with 17 Million unemployed. Were are the jobs Klobuchar.

gannie
gannie

waste and political use of our tax dollars. In MN, the FBI could put better use of tax dollars on uncovering child abuse and abduction, human trafficing, ponzi schemes, and the next shoot out. We all should be calling Fitzpatrick, our Senators and Reps to demand an end to these Grand Juries, and on FBI repression

swmnguy
swmnguy

I wonder how much of the alleged "illegal activity" being investigated was in fact instigated and egged on by "Karen Sullivan." That's been the norm for the FBI.

The guys from Miami accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, the kid in Portland accused of trying to plant a car bomb, and too many cases to count; all share the fact that an FBI informant, possibly working on commission, spent a very, very long time suborning and encouraging escalating behavior until, after months if not years, someone spoke "the magic word" into a hidden microphone, triggering charges, a media frenzy, and the payoff to the agent provocateur. Pretty sick stuff.

But it is encouraging, in that it demonstrates how few actual terrorist threats really exist, and how much effort is required on the part of the powers-that-be to create even such thin semblances of menace. People are a lot better, and the world a lot less dangerous, than the military-surveillance-prison complex can afford to have you realize.

Michael Cavlan RN
Michael Cavlan RN

The big, no HUGE missing part of this is that these raids, infiltration,spying and Grand Jury investigations of Peace activists are beingdone by the FBI. Under the direct orders of Attorney General EricHolder.. With the very direct authorization of president George Bus.....oh wait no.. President Barack Obama..

Will someone please send that memo to the progressive community?

I keep on sending it and it keeps on being returned, stampedUNREAD-RETURN TO SENDER

Michael Cavlan RNMinneapolis Minnesota

swmnguy
swmnguy

Anyone who thinks President Obama is a Progressive, or a friend of Progressives in any way, hasn't been paying attention to him, Press Secretary Gibbs, former Chief of Staff Emanuel, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, et. al.

Anyone who paid any attention to what happened to Van Jones, Jeremiah Wright, Shirley Sherrod, and in fact any Democrat who opposes war, corporate control of government and the pursuit of global empire can see exactly where Obama and his administration stand.

I still don't regret having voted for him. It's cool we finally had a Hawaiian president. But in 2012 we need to elect a Progressive president more.

Anon
Anon

Interesting that Rudy Giuliani can openly support a good organization that has found its way onto the terrorist watchlist, but anti-war activists are spied on under suspicion they do the same thing.http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-50...

Lanny Stricherz
Lanny Stricherz

I find it ironic, that in spying on American citizens, the FBI was willing to listen to the agent. But when an FBI agent, also in the Twin Cities found a link that would have or at least could have stopped 9/11 the agency would not listen to that agent, just like they would not listen to other agents around the country who were feeding them information that would have stopped the terrorists in their tracks. This of course would have made it unnecessary for the FBI to be spying on American citizens now.

Michael Cavlan RN
Michael Cavlan RN

City Pages

Regarding the FBI infiltrating and spying on peace and justice activists about their alledged ties to "terrorist groups." With the use of FBI agent Karen Sullivan. Would you please tell them that I have a lead for them?

Republican US Congressman Peter King of New York has had well documented ties to groups providing material suppport to the IRA. As in Irish Republican Army. I am an American who lived in northern Ireland for years. The name of Congressman King was mentioned quite a bit in Irish Republican circles.

I have tried contacting the FBI and mainstream media about this but neither will return my calls.

Oh and will someone tell the progressive community that this witch hunt of peace activists is done so under the direct orders of US Attorney General Eric Holder. With the direct authorization of president Barack Obama. Not to mention the silent compliance of the Democratic Party.

The progressive community seems to have missed that memo

Michael Cavlan RNMinneapolisollamhfaery@earthlink.net

Kenneth Halverson
Kenneth Halverson

First I want to say I support no terrorist activity in anyway what so ever, however Ireland has been beset by terrorist's for over 800 years, I am talking about the English Crown. Calling the IRA terrorist's is disingenuous at best they are fighting the illegal occupation of Ireland by the English. Any protestants of English descent that live in northern Ireland are a part of the terrorist activity in Ireland perpetrated by the English government. that is all I have to say about Terrorist's in Ireland.

Sks
Sks

endorsing sectarianism doesn't help with issues in ireland (any more than it does in palestine or the war on terror). More often than not, civilians are on the receiving end of the "struggle". The agenda on both sides in ireland is distinctly nationalist/theocratic, parts of the republican movement are politically motivated, parts are authoritarian communist in ideology, others are apolitical and criminal, some were trained and supplied by the libyans, others manipulated by british security forces.

I do sympathize with the injustices but I do not sympathize with deliberately bombing civilian targets. This really began in the 80's and 90's with attacks on train stations, shopping districts, bars, theaters and other soft targets on the mainland. These atrocities culminated in the Omagh bombing with 29 killed and 220 injured.

So to me, not calling irish republicans terrorists is disingenuous, lacks real in-depth analysis and romanticizes indiscriminate violence in the name of the cause.

Michael Cavlan RN
Michael Cavlan RN

Kenneth

I agree.. Same can be said of Palestinians. That is why Irish Republicans have always been firm supporters of the Palestine struggle. The Columbian issue is also related.

I put this out to point out the obvious hypocricy of the FBI.

Congressman Kings ties to groups supporting the IRA are well known and documented.

So to the FBI. Go get 'im boys and girls.

Funny how the media has NOT picked up on this angle though.

billysands
billysands

this is horrible, i feel like i'm living in nazi germany or the soviet union i dot want my government doing this!

Billz1936
Billz1936

i hear the goosesteps getting closer

h
h

they ain't closer. they are here

Meester Smith
Meester Smith

It was a terrorist group? They must have paid federal taxes. Shame shame shame.

Young Crip
Young Crip

So perhaps this was a peaceful group or perhaps it was a group of folks who were supporting terrorist organizations. If these groups were knowingly supporting Hammas or FARC, they should be held accountable--both groups are responsible for terrorist attacks against Americans. At any rate, we don't know yet, because the FBI isn't talking. And they shouldn't talk, lest they be accused of prejudicing a jury pool.

What astonishes me, though, is that CP would publish this agent's picture. If my gang, the Northside Gangsta Crips held a news conference and showed a picture of the undercover narcotics agent who had drafted search warrants on our places while we were awaiting trial, would CP publish the photo of the undercover agent, potentially placing the agent at risk?

I think the only difference is that the people accused are middle aged white people of privelege. Had they been Somali or African American in the same position, I doubt CP would have taken the same action. I also doubt that there would be the same outpouring of support.

My group, the Northside Gangsta Crips, by the way are violent narco dealers, we are peaceful people trying to bring economic opportunity to people in the depressed areas of Minneapolis.

Rebelgirl
Rebelgirl

Oh, paleez. You KNOW the government charges are accurate? Guess we don't have to bother with that due-process stuff. And I ALWAYS think of dealers when I think of anti-war protest.

Gecko
Gecko

She's battin' for the WRONG team!

Bret_Thiele
Bret_Thiele

So, to infiltrate a "left" group you have to prey upon their compassion. To infiltrate a "right wing" group you'd likely have to talk about how you share hatred for certain groups. I'm not surprised, but this "Karen Sullivan" should reflect on that and on all the hurt she's caused people that simply opposed unlawful war and brutality.

Iliadfang
Iliadfang

Don't respond to ignorance by being ignorant.

In this case infiltrating a "left group" was about praying on their naivety. Hipster lefty Twin Cities kids would do anything for anyone remotely associating themselves with anything GLBT. They would probably give up their kids as drug mules if they thought the guy asking was confused about his sexuality. To be hip. They are just as ignorant and just as hateful, to infiltrate a left group you just have to talk about hatred for any group they associate with the "right."

Anyone who subscribes to either party is a moron far as I'm concerned.

MattGordonMD
MattGordonMD

What is a shame is that the feds deem the peaceful, anti-violence groups as an entity to be infiltrated and radicalized. The ghost of J.Edgar 'Mary' Hoover won't give up.

Gee
Gee

What the fuck, America

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