Frank Morales is an Episcopal priest and activist in New York City.
Morales was born in 1949 and grew up in the Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His father was Puerto Rican and his mother Peruvian.
He first became involved in politics after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King as a member of the Assassination Information Committee.
Morales became an assistant pastor in 1978. In the Bronx he worked with squatters. In one interview he recalled, "I used to walk out of services with a crowbar and we’d open up abandoned buildings...." He now works at St Mark's Church in-the-Bowery.
Wit and her partner, the artist Jeremy Blake, are currently residing in the church’s historic Ernest Flagg Rectory, where this interview took place.
Wit: So we of Wit want to hear about your years of research into a few of these covert Pentagon programs that have and are being instituted against civilian populations in places like good ol' New York and Los Angeles, particularly against these cities’ expressive and creative communities, their artists and filmmakers…
Father Frank Morales: Yes, well there's Operation Garden Plot, which is the U.S. Department of Defense code name for "U.S. Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2." But it's Garden Plot for short in most of the documents I've seen.
Wit: But some people say Operation Garden Plot is a myth, a paranoid invention…
FF: It's secret, but there's a paper trail, a legal trail. The legal eagles of the military, they're called Judge Advocate Generals, or JAGs. They're the legal sophists who rationalize the death machine. They've published a bunch of papers on assassination, on various things that are very interesting reading, and one of them is on the subject of domestic military operations, against civilian populations, and this is Operation Garden Plot.
Wit: So these Pentagon Programs against domestic dissent were ramped up after the popular movements of the sixties, correct? They didn't want young people rising up and ending any more of their wars.
FF: Yeah. The historical roots of Operation Garden Plot, namely the Pentagon civil disturbance plan, emerged from the Kerner Commission. This was a federal commission that was appointed in 1967 according to a President Johnson Executive Order, to examine the roots of the riots that took place. There were 109 urban uprisings that took place in 1967, and they're looking at particularly Detroit and Newark, Watts. This report mentions ways in which to prevent riots in the future, and it’s also the first document to outline how Operation Garden Plot is a preemptive concept in this regard.
Wit: So like Cointelpro, it was designed to identify people and groups before they came to be influential and sway their peers or, in the case of someone like John Lennon, their popular audiences?
FF: Yes, it's suppression of dissent, and you can find many other documents online, for those who care to, at The Center for Law and Military Operations, or CLAMO. On their publications page there's a long list of legal dossiers, legal opinions, on this and other subjects.
Wit: And these are Pentagon documents?
FF: Well, it's been a work in progress since the popular uprisings against the Vietnam War and other popular uprising in the sixties. The military guys are always tweaking it, working it and so on. Over the decades, there's been administrative shifts in terms of who's the executive agent in charge of these things. It used to be the Army; now it's Northcom, which Dick Cheney heads.
Wit: And you said since the sixties the Pentagon devotes more and more money and manpower to something called Operations Other Than War.
FF: Yes, there's an increasing focus on turning the psychological operations might, the money, the suppression of dissent toward civilian populations. You can read about Operations Other Than War in these military magazines--Parameters Magazine, Military Review, The Army War College. It’s OOTW for short--Operations Other than War.
Wit: So what sorts of measures do they suggest taking against dissenters, protestors, or just people who have unpopular opinions?
FF: The primary law of counterinsurgency is preemption, and Operation Garden Plot is the main preemptive counterinsurgency strategy. In other words, you need to move before the opposition has a chance to gather any strength whatsoever. So, what Garden Plot represents from a macro point of view is a counterinsurgency apparatus directed at the American people to preempt and prevent the rise of resistance.
Wit: And what's Operation Chaos then?
FF: Operation Chaos is an intelligence gathering apparatus that was compiling lists of people who were involved in dissent. You know, various forms of rebellion against the, quote, unquote, authority of the U.S. government. So, they kept files on people. A lot of this was exposed in the mid-70s during the Church Committee hearings. But the Pentagon's machinations in the suppression of dissent have to this day remained fairly submerged. Operation Garden Plot has not been the subject of an article in The Nation or any other liberal journals in any extensive way--and forget any kind of mainstream stuff....