New 2008 Republican National Convention documentary "Better This World" brings light deep inside Minnesota's secret federal political subversion machine
By Dan Feidt for Twin Cities Indymedia -- A new documentary on the 2008 Republican National Convention, Better This World, screens at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival on Sunday and next Wednesday, and on PBS POV nationwide on Sept. 6th. Directed by Kelly Duane and Katie Galloway, the film premiered in March at SXSW in Austin, TX, earned stellar reviews from industry critics like Variety, and just days ago, Documentary Jury Prize at the 2011 Sarasota Film Festival.
Better This World exposes one of the most sinister & depressing narrative threads of the RNC, the elaborate federal sting operation staged from March-September 2008 upon two young activists from Texas, David McKay and Bradley Crowder, who wanted to participate in the Twin Cities protests, guided the whole way by the older famous activist and paid FBI operative Brandon Darby.
It's relieving to see these disturbing events and the independent media material reaching a national audience. [See TCIMC's previous Texas Two coverage] Twin Cities Indymedia, Glassbead Collective and other RNC videographers contributed footage -- and Better This World expands our view of events first shown in the Indymedia/Glassbead RNC documentary Terrorizing Dissent. PGH-IMCer Nigel Parry's RNC08Report.org helped provide substantive research for the film.
"Better This World" screens at St. Anthony Main Theatre Sun April 24th, 4:30pm, Weds April 27 9:30pm. Nationwide on PBS POV Sept. 6.
Also: Fantastic & funny Frank López film "End:Civ" screens 4/30 @ 7pm, Mayday Weekend at MayDay Bookstore in Cedar-Riverside (limited seating) and June 6 @ 7pm Walker Church, special Q&A with López & Waziyatawin! Below the fold: Untold details of the Texas Two case.
They brought DIY defensive protest shields - traffic barrels - to Minnesota as the Joint Terrorism Task Force watched their every move. Officials seized the trailer with the barrels, then McKay and Crowder built several Molotov cocktails. McKay's first trial proved he didn't think it was appropriate to launch an attack after they were built, and he planned to immediately fly out of the Cities. But law enforcement raided McKay and Crowder, pointing to them as their direly needed security threat justifying fifty million dollars of security operations, military deployments and police brutality.
Darby refused to participate in the film, which forced the filmmakers to focus more deeply on the FBI handlers and the justice system which ginned up this spectacle of imminent domestic terrorism. The widely excellent reviews for the film seem to prove that focusing on the sick, dramatic machinery of the justice system, rather than the individual informant's flamboyant & obnoxious character, expands the relevance and importance of the film.
A couple related notes: Darby subsequently teamed up with the rightwing media publisher Andrew Breitbart, who launched his website BigGovernment.com with the infamous Acorn video provocations and a column by Darby. Breitbart told Texas conservative bloggers that Darby would do excellent work to advocate their agenda -- and his site has a whole series attacking the film.
The same general template of provocation and tricks used by federal authorities to discredit more radical dissident movements has now been applied by a network of rightwing media operatives including Breitbart to neutralize organizations like Acorn, Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio. Until liberals finally understand how schemes like the Feds' Texas Two sting and Breitbart's plays are forms of deceptive information warfare, they'll keep getting played and having favored institutions blown out of the water.
Texas authorities used the arson at the Texas Governor's Mansion in 2008 as an opportunity to discredit and isolate McKay and Crowder, as well. Speaking via jail videophone at the Sherburne County Jail in 2009, McKay told this writer that the authorities knew he didn't have anything to do with the arson, and the arson media play had been a strategy to make them seem like enemies of Texas in their hometown.
However, just weeks before Better This World was released, the Texas media again pushed the phantom notion that McKay and Crowder somehow were involved with the arson. The New York Times stated that Darby had "encouraged" the Molotov plot and Darby promptly sued them for libel. The "newspaper of record" promptly folded like... a piece of paper. Sharing the truth of the multi-month federal intervention staged by Darby, as this film does, would restore NYT's credibility and help the American public understand the unregulated secret empire of federal informants and covert political subversion which fabricates the backdrop of the mostly fake 'war on terror'.
DAVID McKAY #14130-041
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 800
HERLONG, CA 96113
This writer saw up close how these events documented in the film went down. The feds pushed a classic prisoner's dilemma on McKay. In order to avoid harming Crowder more, McKay pled guilty and in the deal, recanted his claim that Darby pushed them to it. The befuddled and angry Minnesota Federal District Judge Michael Davis gave McKay four years. As he was led away, the beaming, grinning prosecutors strode into the glassy hallway high above downtown Minneapolis, while his crushed family and friends drifted out. Down on the plaza, these filmmakers collected interviews.
This whole traumatic series of events proved an important example of how the entire federal law enforcement & judicial system are deeply weird, highly rationalized systems devoid of substantive purpose. The federal judiciary & law enforcement carefully hide the depth they are permitted to stage fake realities, placing people in real-life Skinner boxes, presenting them with entirely synthetic decision sets. Pick one of our doors, little American, and no one will be allowed to see these secret administrative rules of our game (The secret "FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide").
That's how the traumatic episodes of the "war on terror" are fabricated: a constant series of informants with no oversight, prodding people towards acts of violence. Any quantity of fake 'decision trees' they put in front of you are 100% approved, packaged and ready for judicial digestion. No one in the real world is allowed to view their rules.
The case also pointed to the risks of talking to incarcerated people. There's a fairly deep secret agenda throughout America's prison system to treat communications with "politicized" prisoners as a predicate for declaring anyone corresponding with prisoners as dangerous, radical terrorists, as FOIA documentation and writer Will Potter's work on the Green Scare has proved. (Internal prison counterintelligence analysis classified Potter as more-or-less a terrorist contact.) Journalism and documentation are increasingly seen as terrorist info-crimes by corporatized government and prosecutors.
Due to the rather unreal atmosphere of their federally staged terrorist coverup, this writer got spooked off the case after interviewing McKay multiple times at Sherburne County. He had a number of important points he wanted out there and that material hasn't gotten a proper treatment yet. It's a relief to have this narrative placed in front of the nation, because it helps prove it wasn't just one narrowly subjective, hallucinatory, fictional experience. It was all too real -- and of course too fake at the same time. The story finally gets oxygen with Better This World, and more of this surreal experience remains to be told.
Related media & reviews: PRX - Better This World - Documentary about the Texas Two. Interview with Bradley Crowder, producer Mike Nicholson and cinematographer David Layton.