Given all the ad hominems that have been flung at this site of late I was reluctant to post this link, but in the spirit of contextualization — that is to say, solving an ethnographic puzzle — I think it is worth checking out. Mother Jones recently published a “Long article about Mary McFate/Mary Sapone”:http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/07/mary-mcfate-sapone-gun-lobby-nra-spy.html. According to Mother Jones, McFate/Sapone led a double life — under her maiden name of ‘McFate’ she was a gun control activist deeply involved with the movment. As ‘Sapone’ she was a research consultant who has hired by firms that had been targeted by citizen campaigns and activists — including the NRA. Apparently Montogomery McFate is her daughter in law. Here’s a large pullquote from the last page of the story:
In the 1990s—while working within the gun control community as McFate—Sapone formed her own intelligence-gathering business. And she enlisted family members for its operations. “In our business, it’s my daughter-in-law, Montgomery Sapone [who] does all the analytic reports, forecasting, and white papers,” Sapone wrote to a client in an August 1999 email obtained by Mother Jones. “She produces a very professional product.” Sapone continued, “We are warning our clients that activist groups are moving towards ballot initiatives…And it’s easy for groups like Greenpeace to emotionally shape a looming crisis in a 10 second TV spot 2 days before a referenda election. My daughter Shelley specializes in that aspect of our business. We are doing a lot of work now to help clients in the 2000 election.”
A resume that Montgomery Sapone used around 1999 describes her role within Mary Lou’s business: “Collect and analyze intelligence on European activities of major international environmental organization for a company specializing in domestic and internal opposition research, special investigations, issues management and threat assessment. Write weekly intelligence update on European animal rights and eco-terrorist activity. Assist in confidential litigation support research.” Sapone’s son Sean, a Brown- and Harvard-educated paratrooper who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, was managing director of this firm, which at one point was called Strategic Solutions Group LLC and maintained an office in Washington, DC. According to a Strategic Solutions Group invoice sent to BBI in November 2000, Montgomery Sapone—a Harvard law school grad and Yale-trained anthropologist—once billed the security firm $400 for four hours of her time, which included a “visit to target’s office.”…
These days, Sean and Montgomery Sapone are better known as Sean and Montgomery McFate, a successful Washington couple whose current bios make no mention of any past intelligence-gathering or opposition-research work… Montgomery has made a name for herself as one of the primary architects of the US military’s human terrain program, which teams social scientists with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers better understand the local culture. (The controversial program has been sharply criticized by the American Anthropological Association, which fears it may cross an ethical line, and has been described by detractors as “mercenary anthropology.”) Now a top Pentagon adviser, Montgomery also contributed to the Army’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual drafted under the guidance of General David Petraeus.
What are we to make of this article? It seems to blatantly contradict “this earlier SF Chronicle article”:http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/04/29/CMGHQP19VD1.DTL which describes her as “a punk rock wild child of dyed-in-the-wool hippies” who “was born on Jan. 8, 1966 in Waldo Point, a Sausalito backwater of houseboats and hippies” to a woman named Frances Pointer?
One paints McFate as a sinister insider, the other as someone whose hippy credentials lend validity to her attempt to ‘change the military from the inside’. It seems to me that there are three options here:
- Mother Jones has got it wrong.
- The Chron has got it wrong.
- There is some complicated double game being played here.
Anyone have any idea how to reconcile these different reports? I’d much rather chalk it up to 1 or 2 than 3.
Or there is 4) Rex has got it wrong, which appears to be the right answer — see my comment below.