It’s October 2014. A little over 9 years ago, I wrote the first draft of the script for Daughter of God at the Palm Springs short festival. The year before, I had stopped filing tax returns as an act of defiance of the military consumption imperial complex. I know this was silly, as I was still sending in estimated payments, but it seemed like a beginning. The truth is, it’s probably more productive to file returns and minimize tax payments through legal means than to draw the attention of the IRS. 10 year later, the baleful eye of Sauron has still not turned my way, so I might just be able to make a pre-emptive strike and file those suckers. Into the fire with the ring of power.
We all know the story of Dan Kelly and his invisible FBI file, yes? It’s somewhere in these archives, but here’s the summary. I got arrested in 2003 BEFORE the start of the Iraq War for blocking Army reserve fuel trucks deploying to replace other trucks headed for Iraq. Eight of us sat down in front of them at the 81st transportation unit in Traverse City and were hauled off to jail. This was back when American’s were delirious with patriotic blood lust. Everyone had bought the yarn that somehow Saddam was behind 9/11, that he had weapons of mass destruction. Shock and awe was just around the corner, America was going to give back as good as she got, even if the target of her terrible revenge was the wrong one. Who fucking cares? When we sat in front of those trucks, family members of the soldiers driving the trucks were shouting, “Run them over!”
The county prosecutor charged us with two felonies – molesting government workers and criminal trespass. The Traverse City 8 (as we came to be known) were fully prepared for a full on show trial. Our action was well organized and fully backed by pro-bono representation. We were in it for the long haul.
Months later, the prosecutor realized that making an example of us was a huge waste of tax payer dollars and offered us “Blocking Traffic” – not even a misdemeanor. We considered that a win and called it good.
Fast forward to 2006. I’d written the script to DOG, found a quirky actress to play the lead and was headed for Canada to scout locations. I’m stopped at the border and the agent turns her screen to me and says, this is your Canadian FBI file, you have conviction here for Molesting Workers. That’s a 5 year prison sentence in Canada. I explain the situation to her and she is sympathetic, but there’s two empty boxes – there’s nothing for what I was tried for and what I was finally adjudicated for. As far as Canada knows, I was charged and skipped my trial. “Get the records from the County Clerk in Traverse City, have them notarized and come back to this border crossing and we’ll update your file here. It won’t fix your records in the USA but you’ll be able to get into Canada.” She was quite attractive, btw.
On the phone, the County Clerk in Traverse City assured me that my records had been passed to the FBI complete and intact. When my friend Melonie Steffes picked them up and had them Fedex-ed to me in NYC, sure enough everything was complete. So how did my file get altered?
I FOIAed the FBI for a copy of my FBI file so I could get it corrected. The FBI responded that I had NO FBI RECORD. But I had seen what the FBI shared with Canadian border authorities with my own eyes, so the FBI was lying. My FBI file was SECRET.
How many people were arrested protesting the IRAQ war BEFORE it started? MAYBE several hundred, max? How hard would it be to mess with those files in a way that would fuck with protestors lives while still being deniable as bureaucratic error? Keeping them from crossing the border in a hurry for instance.
Well, fast forward again to today. October 2014. Ten years of un-filed returns. Do I throw myself on the mercy of the IRS or gird myself for battle? Mary my accoutant says I don’t need a lawyer, but I say if they fucked with me once, whose to say they won’t fuck with me again? I was flagged as a trouble maker, wouldn’t it be a good idea to sand bag me if at all possible? I need to be prepared for any contingency.