Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mack Press/As It Stands ‘Secret’ raid panics blogsters

This is from Dave Stancliff, columnist for the Eureka Reporter. It is reprinted here with permission from Dave Stancliff.
July 1st column
By Dave Stancliff
Don’t you just love secrets?
I know I do. It’s exciting to have one, or to discover one.
Gary Moore, the game show host for "I’ve Got a Secret," that ran from June 19, 1952 until April 3, 1967, successfully tapped into American’s love for secrets. Curiosity is a very human trait and it often makes life more interesting.
Last week’s worst-held secret award goes to the hoards of DEA and FBI types gathering in Humboldt County. The last time a successful secret raid was conducted here was in 1990 when "Operation Green Sweep" surprised and angered a lot of Humboldt residents who resented having 200 armed National Guardsmen and BLM officers swarm over their land.
This time the internet ratted the feds out. Anonymous blogs sprang up overnight and the word that hundreds of feds were gathering in town got around. I suspect that sources close to the operation probably shared their secret with the wrong person. But who knows?
If this was a military operation it would have ended badly for the attackers. Informed defenders are hard too sneak up on. Just think what would have happened if we had the internet back in the forties. D-Day would have been impossible.
Secrets are harder to keep these days with the popularity of the internet. I can’t help wondering how all those agents felt, knowing everybody in town knew they were there for a "secret" raid. It must have been somewhat unsettling wondering who was reporting your every movement.
One government spokesperson did tell Channel 3 News they were aware of the blogs and were actually getting information from them. That raised my eyebrows for a moment. As far as I can tell, after following all the blogs closely for the past two weeks, the only real information they got was that most of Humboldt County knew they were there and even had the dates right.
Another government official who had been passing out misinformation on what the feds mission was prior to the June 24th raid in Southern Humboldt, tried to play off the fact that their operation wasn’t a secret to anyone in the area.
As far as secrets go this was too big to elude cyber talk coming from informed sources and observers with blogs. There was a lot of paranoia on the internet, and every indoor grower in Humboldt County probably panicked at the thought of a sudden visit from the DEA.
We’ll never know how many growers decided to pull up their precious pot plants in a blind panic over the last two weeks. It’s safe to say some did however. Perhaps the panic worked in the feds favor if you consider the end results.
One of the most persistents rumors was that PG&E was sharing customers bills with the feds. This one is a case of part wrong and part right. PG&E doesn’t just hand out customer bills for anyone to examine. They do however, yield to warrants which, of course, the feds had. Their official line (as of this writing) was that they were just after one big growing operation.
The ripple effect of private growers shutting down their operations in a panic has to have the feds smiling. I can’t help thinking that the blogs were two-edged swords. Yes, the alarm went out to all marijuana growers, but it also hurt those who panicked and pulled their plants for no reason.
Humboldt County was outed by magazines like High Times decades ago. All you have to do while visiting other states, or even abroad, is to say, ""I’m from Humboldt County," and they immediately think marijuana. You might as well have a pot patch sewn on your forehead.
I still think that secrets are interesting and will always be with us for a whole slew of reasons. Right now I’m betting that there’s a lot of people shaking their heads and thinking about the difference between hearing about a secret, or a rumor. Secrets, like rumors, don’t have to be true. Their just something that is kept from you.
As It Stands, it’s no secret that our local economy is boosted by local marijuana growers who spend their money in the county.

1 comment:

Tom Sebourn said...

We ran with the story on about June 17th on KGOE 1480. I got it from the Humboldt Hearald and called the Red Lion where I got the manager. He said he still had rooms for the dates he was supposedly booked up. I went online to their web site and tried to book a room for the week the DEA was supposed to be here and it said they were all full. That contridiction led me to run with the story with full credit to the Humboldt Hearald. We got calls right away and the rest is history.