Debate, Hate & Wait: How to Spot an Agent in Your Organization

Tonight (Fri Nov 26, 2010)  in San Francisco there will be an screening of an incredible documentary called ‘Cointel-Pro’ followed by a community discussion w/ children of political prisoners and Hip Hop artists Wise Intelligent, Killer priest, Casual and Digable Planets..It’s an important discussion followed by a concert.. For more info on discussion and concert click here…

In the meantime.. I want everyone to read this article about government infiltration/ domestic spying  into organizations.. The author Supreme gives a lot of insight and encourages folks to set up protocals vs going on witch hunts and having endless discussions about who is real and who isn’t..

This is important because government infiltration still goes on today and as was shown in the documentary Cointel-pro it’s not limited to militant/ Black organizations.. In fact groups like the Black Panthers were the last to get infiltrated.

In recent years we’ve seen agents touch base in peace organizations as highlighted by Michael Moore in his film on 9-11. We seen this happen in the aftermath of Katrina with Common Ground organization. The agent (Brandon Darby) who came to disrupt recovery efforts had already caused havoc among organizations in Austin , Texas.  This is important to note, because as the author Supreme points out in his article, so many groups don’t talk to one another. Some have egos and see everything as uber competitive. Others are afraid of losing funding by tipping off other operations. Others are simply ignorant to history and don’t believe our government will go that far..

More recently we here in Oakland saw this happen during the Justice 4 Oscar Grant Movement.. Sometimes its the feds other times its local police departments doing the infiltrating.  Folks need to read the article, get informed and act on principle not personality..

The most important statement in this article is as follows

Agents are no longer gathering information, unless your org. is HIGHLY proactive and doing intensive work in the community…so let’s stop this talk of  “They can come and take whatever notes they want…and I’ma teach em.”  No. Most agents now are simply working to keep orgs at a STANDSTILL. Mired in debate, hate, and wait. Read that again. DEBATE, HATE, and/or WAIT. Through these three mechanisms, they do their job QUITE effectively. “

-Davey D-


How to Spot and Agent?

by Supreme Understanding!/notes/supreme-understanding-supremedesignonline/how-to-spot-an-agent/464236052290

Author Supreme Understanding

I’m sick and tired of watching good groups fail because of the wicked people who are still being sent among us. Moreso because of our failure to respond appropriately to these wicked people. I don’t blame them so much as I blame us for not doing anything about them. But we who are intelligent people should be wise enough to know that COINTELPRO still exists, both online and in real life. Yet very rarely do I hear about people being “run from among us” nowadays. So we know that they’re here, yet we continue to let them do their work? They’re not gathering info. They’re making us fall apart. And my survey says that they’re being highly successful. So if you can use this to improve your organization, please do so. If not, I’ve said my part. Here’s some qualities to look for, when you are wondering if someone is an agent provacateur:

  1. They bring confusion and chaos with them. Everytime they come around, it’s drama.
  2. They keep discussions and productivity at a stalemate. They’d rather keep debating than engaging the community you’re supposed to serve.
  3. They focus on impertinent theoretical points of contention as serious sources of conflict. It’s never about the people or the work. It’s always about some ideas, structures, philosophy, or abstract concept.
  4. They create/increase tribalism and intensify pre-existing organizational dissatisfaction. Whatever issues you had, they root them out and make them grow.
  5. They don’t have reputable sources or references for where they come from. Nobody knows them where they say they came from, or they can’t even tell you who can vouch for them. Anyone with more than 5 years of involvement in any community should have good references. Anyone with less than 5 years experiences should not be in a position to dictate or distract.
  6. Many have short bursts of vigorous activity, not long histories of continuous (documented/verifiable) growth and development. They come in, make a mess, then disappear to enjoy their plea deal, stipend, etc…or to move on to another org. Because we have little cross-organizational communication, they can sometimes do the same thing to 3 or 4 orgs in a row. So many of them are organization-hoppers.
  7. Others claim long histories, even claiming “birthrights” of some sort, as a means to establish authority. Yet these claims rarely hold up under further investigation. For example, some agents who were outed by the Church Committee had claimed to be “born into” the organizations and groups they’d later infiltrated. Oh, by the way, I’m a historical researcher. Everything in this list is based on extensive research on publicly-identified agent provocateurs, as well as the documented methods used by COINTELPRO, the CIA, the “hip hop police” etc.
  8. They have ambiguous sources of income. They may be on the payroll, but they’re posing as an independent hustler of some sort, or working in some office building you can’t visit.
  9. They came from prison or worked in the military or law enforcement in the past (or the present, if u dig deep enough). They may be working in exchange for reduced time/plea agreement/special assignment.
  10. They turn around all questions about them into attacks on the questioner. They create scapegoats, red herrings, and target people who may be onto them.
  11. They build alliances with weak-minded dissatisfied people through shared vices, financial generosity, or a sense of solidarity. Do you smoke with em and give em a free pass on their transgressions?
  12. They also “give” as a means of establishing authority and legitimacy. Some even give “knowledge” to an extent that it blurs their allegiances, making less critical-minded people believe they “must” be on the side of good, since they share so much “good information.” But even this can be a ruse. If the information does not serve to liberate people, empower the community (regular people, that is), and engender social change, then they are doing NOTHING to disturb the status quo.
  13. These people don’t tend to be primary sources either. They simply get credit by “sharing” or transmitting information and ideas created by others. Yet these people also tend to “modify” this info as well, significantly affecting the end result.
  14. They act like zealots but aren’t zealous about social change. You’ll never see them go this hard when it comes to helping regular people.
  15. They want power and control, but demonstrate no ability to use this power or control for the good of others. Once they have acquired enough authority, it’s all gonna get burned to the ground.
  16. They are masters of manipulation, but never teach others how to manipulate the system. But watch how they can twist, spin, and distort everything that comes their way. It takes TRAINING to be that good. And there are actually programs that train people on how to do this.

FYI, I’m not talking about people who are stupid and don’t know how to act right. I’m talking about people who are clear, consistent, and CONSCIOUSLY working to undermine and neutralize progress. It’s not impossible to distinguish the former from the latter. And typically, the former acts that way because they are following the lead of the latter.

Also, let’s be clear. Agents are no longer gathering information, unless your org. is HIGHLY proactive and doing intensive work in the community…so let’s stop this talk of “They can come and take whatever notes they want…and I’ma teach em.” No. Most agents now are simply working to keep orgs at a STANDSTILL. Mired in debate, hate, and wait. Read that again. DEBATE, HATE, and/or WAIT. Through these three mechanisms, they do their job QUITE effectively.

What do you do if someone has many of these characteristics? If your org has a structure for calling someone to attention and letting them know their actions are creating a disturbance, then it’s time to gather the people who can call that meeting and notify that person. Either they will (A) become belligerent and threaten physical harm, (B) respond quietly and soon disappear, or (C) continue doing the same. If they disappear, notify other orgs about them, because that person may be headed their way. If they do (A) or (C), proceed to whatever is “level 2” of your org’s protocol for dealing with serious offenders. Just know that the person is NOT someone with a misunderstanding, or someone who just doesn’t get it yet. If you are effective in explaining your concerns (as a collective) and they PERSIST, it should be clear that they are not naieve. They are acting purposefully and willfully, and it is YOUR collective failure if you allow this behavior to exist, remain, thrive, and destroy everything around it.

I’m just one man speaking, but I had to say something because it’s getting out of control in some places. I hope people will take notice and DO something. Beyond what I’ve said above, it’s important we establish some cross-cultural/cross-organizational communication. I propose that we identify, by name and picture, those individuals we run out of our groups, so that when they come to another group, we will know not to accept this person in with open arms. I’d love to some sort of online agent provocateur database (like, but that presents too much potential for abuse and misuse. In lieu of that, we should AT LEAST engage in (a) teaching awareness of the above, (b) background checks on new people coming to our groups, (c) some checks and balances for people trying to leverage power and authority, (d) an investigation and response protocol for people causing repeated disturbances, and (e) cross-organizational communication for people who have been rooted out.

Tag anyone you know who is involved with an organization/group/culture that is serious about the community, and who would benefit from this perspective.

Thank you,

Supreme Understanding

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13 comments on “Debate, Hate & Wait: How to Spot an Agent in Your Organization

  1. I was raised around old school Panthers and I grew up with two socially aware parents. One of the BEST WAYS to spot an agent, is to look at who is pointing the fingers claiming others to be agents. The one calling someone an agent, is usually the one stirring up the drama.

    If you really think someone is an agent, PROVE IT, don’t just say it. A lot of good folks fall victim to Pro-Black groupthink even in the most well intended situations.

  2. Very true.. itas called deflection.. but really at the end of the day its about what Supreme laid out and folks focusing on goals vs personality

  3. Good info and I think that the author laid out some critical, need to know, info for those who are really operating on that level and it should be studied but I have always had one question. What are 99% of the people who are worried about agents doing so important that would cause someone to pay somebody a salary to watch them? Seems like most people who are the most active are the least worried about “agents.” Sitting in the back of a lecture with dark shades on or attending a study group does not make you public enemy #1.

    Steve Cokely gave us the formular years ago: Intention + Capablity =Threat.

  4. Your description of how to spot an informant is spot on. As an activist in Seattle I dealt with informants who infiltrated and created chaos in 3 organizations I worked in between 1985 and 2002: CISPES, the single payer movement and the support committee for the African American Heritage Museum. And that was their objective: stalemate. I write about this in my recent memoir THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE ( I currently live in exile in New Zealand.

  5. The good news is everyone reading this is free to get online and research successful people and ideas that lead to real-world bench-marked social and financial accomplishments and long term growth.

    In short , you are free to spy on what others are doing.

    The ironic thing is , many truly successful people are more than happy to let you absorb and learn from them,

    in short…you don’t even need to “spy” !!!

    If there are “agents” in you’re organizations… they’re people just like me. Satirical assholes that can’t get enough of this bullshit.

  6. I’ve spotted an agent in the comment room or at least an idiot that believes the rev is televised. lol!!!

  7. You know, if we could all learn to communicate along these lines community is built and strengthened just by that effort. We all face problems and we all have solutions, its coming to an understanding of methodology that is the hard part. One thing I’ve noticed across my travels in activism is a dogmatic unwillingness to go to the other side and offer the branch. To enact real social change we gotta help ALL people that want social change and open dialogue to that real solutions can be realized.

    This has some great ideas about how to achieve that… I’m glad I came across this while browsing the web. Something else I may wish to offer is that no centralized leadership should be idolized or established. Its hard to take down an organization on the move. Opening the lines of communication into action groups that effect social change on local level where people care the most and routing that through a regional group is how change happens. Doing research to the ways to effect change and not just having the ends in mind is also beneficial.

    I find that when I have an end in mind and it doesn’t come out just the way I thought I get discouraged and this is typically when a cointelpro goes to work. Taking a step back and getting fresh perspective from people outside an action group helps to realize that, though slowly, change is happening. Its important for morale to track success no matter how small it may be… and celebrate it as a large victory.

    We’re all going to get there… eventually.

  8. Yeah, Debate, Hate and Wait is just about it. Saw it in feminism in the 70’s, saw it in the left in the 80’s, saw it in the organized Wiccan movement in the 90’s. I think some of the obstructionists were informants of some kind, others were just egotists. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which they are – the results were the same. Anything that they couldn’t control, they would stall or destroy.

    A note of optimism. I volunteered last week with Occupy Brooklyn as they collected and distributed TONS of food, water, clothing and household goods. I don’t see any of the usual bullshit in these people. No Big Daddies or Big Mamas running the show and taking the limelight. No chaos and confusion beyond what is inherent in such a disparate situation. Just the beginnings of real collectivism. I never thought I would live to see it.

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