Eighteen months ago, when President Obama selected Chicago to host the 2012 NATO Summit — the first NATO summit to be held in the U.S. since 1999 — we can guess that a number of issues would have been running through his mind. He knew that by the time of the summit he would have already begun his 2012 campaign for re-election. He could have reasonably assumed that he wouldn’t be able to rely on the success of the U.S. economy as a basis for winning votes. More likely he would be shamelessly exploiting the Republican strategy of national security — presenting himself as a wartime president who voters should have more reason to trust than his untested opponent. In that context, the optics of the leader of the free world hosting an assembly of world leaders must have looked like a good opportunity for Obama to burnish his presidential image and have NATO 2012 look like some kind of global endorsement for Obama 2012.
That was before the NATO-led war in Libya — not popular among American voters — and before the birth of the Occupy movement.
In the weeks leading up to the summit, it seems like there was more concern about the risk of Chicago 2012 turning into a liability for the Obama campaign. Worst of all, from Obama’s perspective, would be if the event was turned into an icon of social unrest reminiscent of the international upheaval of 1968 and the demonstrations around the National Democratic Convention in Chicago.
The first indication that the Obama administration realized it was asking for trouble was when it made a last minute decision to shift the G8 meeting which had been scheduled to take place in Chicago right before the NATO summit. When the G8 move to Camp David was announced in March, the Associated Press reported:
It was an unusually late location change for a large and highly scripted international summit and came with little explanation from the White House. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – the former White House chief of staff who personally lobbied President Barack Obama to hold the summit in Chicago – was informed only hours before the official announcement.
As the NATO summit approached it appears that 1968 was a topic already on the minds of Chicago’s police officers.
A few days ago, when three young men from Florida were stopped for no apparent reason than that they appeared like they could be political protesters, one police officer remarked, “You guys know all about ’68,” while another officer recounted what appeared to have been a police slogan among those clamping down on the 1968 protests.
It appears that the men from Florida were not only apprehended without due cause but thereafter selected as suitable targets for entrapment.
The Guardian reports: Lawyers for three protesters arrested on terrorist-related charges ahead of the Nato summit have accused police of entrapping them and encouraging an alleged bomb-making effort.
The three were arrested on Wednesday night when members of the Chicago police department battered their way into an apartment in the Bridgeport area of the city.
According to court documents released on Saturday, the three men considered targeting Barack Obama’s re-election headquarters and the home of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Chicago police department said the men, described as self-proclaimed anarchists and members of the “Black Bloc” movement that has disrupted international gatherings in the past, were arrested on Wednesday and charged on Friday with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive incendiary device.
The three men charged were listed as Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire, and Brent Betterly, 24, from Massachusetts.
At a hearing on Saturday bail was set at $1.5m for each of the three. Their next court appearance is on Tuesday.
Supporters of the three men disputed the charges, saying the men had come to protest at the Nato summit peacefully and that the police had confused beer-making equipment with explosives.
A lawyer for the three, Michael Deutsch, said undercover police officers had entrapped them by infiltrating the group and encouraging the bomb-making effort. The Chicago police department declined to comment on the tactics employed in the case. [Continue reading…]