Michael Clayton Comes to Life as Corporations Spy on Activists

posted by scott parkin

As activists challenging corporate power, Michael Clayton has nothing on us.

A couple of months ago, Mother Jones posted an article about former cops and Secret Service digging through Greenpeace’s trash. Today’s Washington Post reveals more about the firm’s activities as one of their former investigators has been sharing files.

“Beckett Brown International, had an operative at meetings of a group in Rockville that accused a nursing home of substandard care. In Louisiana, it kept tabs on environmental activists after a chemical spill. In Washington, it spied on food safety activists who had found taco shells made with genetically modified corn not approved for human consumption.”


Corporations pay investigators to spy on nursing home activists?

These stories have been coming out a lot lately.

1. Burger King hired a sketchy private security firm to spy on the Coalition of Immokolee Workers.
2. The FBI tried to hire informants to infiltrate Vegan Potlucks to find out about anti-RNC activities in August.
3. Corporations Tracking Who Activists are Dating.
4. Don’t get me started on the stories I heard when doing Tibetan solidarity during the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco.

The heavy handed police tactics, the private security surveillance and anti-activist propaganda represents a new Red Scare (or Green Scare as the term has been coined). Right now, community solidarity, grassroots organizing and direct action are strong components in the environmental movement.

In Michael Clayton characters are watched and attacked by shady corporate operatives when they represent a perceived threat to a company’s bottom line. Much anti-corporate work entails creating a threat to a company’s public image and reputation. Truth is often stranger than fiction and maybe George Clooney should look into a film about Beckett Brown International.