Operational security and the Keystone protest

by Milan on September 6, 2011

in Activism, Civil disobedience, Climate change, Oil sands

Operational security is a bit like tradecraft — it is the set of techniques an organization uses to avoid being subject to the will of its opponents. It includes systems where existing members vouch for newcomers, secure channels of communication, and so on.

One notable thing about the Keystone XL protest in Washington is that there was none of that. All the information was online: when and where to show up for training, the aims of the organizers, the tactics to be used, the real name and photo of everyone getting arrested, and so on.

Regardless of how they felt about Keystone XL or civil disobedience, anyone who wanted to could have come to the training, to the action itself, and to the jail where participants were released.

That openness was necessary to bring together, train, and organize 1200 participants in 15 days. It is also evidence of the strong moral arguments for what was being done. The act of civil disobedience is open defiance against an unjust law, rule, or organization. The strength comes from the clear moral case of the participants and from their dedication.

The open and inclusive character of the Keystone protest were evidence of both of those qualities.

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Milan November 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm

An open discussion of what to do now that the Keystone XL decision has been delayed is ongoing now.

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