Posted by Thomas Nephew on 30th December 2012
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has obtained FBI documents
detailing the agency’s national efforts to monitor the Occupy Wall Street
movement. Click here for more.
Last week, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) reported:
FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.
At the time of the wave of crackdowns against Occupy Wall Street (OWS) encampments around the country, some writers — most prominently Naomi Wolf (“The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy,” 11/25/11) — argued that events showed “coordination against OWS at the highest national levels,” while others like Joshua Holland felt the “word “coordinated” is too vague to offer any analytic value.”
In followups, many progressive commentators joined Holland in minimizing the federal role in the crackdowns. First relying on Holland’s rebuttal, and later focusing on reports from Portland exonerating the Obama DHS in that city, Corey Robin, for instance, argued that the “Crackdown on Occupy [was] Probably Not Organized by the Obama Administration.” To be clear: the motive wasn’t to minimize the crackdowns, but to question the need to invoke a driving federal role in them.* As Scott Lemieux (“Lawyers, Guns & Money”) put it mockingly — he seems not to be able to help himself — Wolf’s position implied that “authoritarian actions could not be the result of our benevolent local overlords but must be the work of the big bad feds. History does not provide much support for this assumption.” Robin’s analysis was the same, if more circumspect: “political repression in the US tends to be decentralized and local.” Call it the “They don’t need no steenkin’ federal badges” analysis.
True, there’s no smoking gun directly tying the DHS or the FBI to the violent evictions or the decisions leading to them.* But the documents show that focusing on the evictions per se was an analytic mistake of its own: federal agencies from the FBI to DHS to the National Park Service had laid the groundwork well before then.
PCFJ exec. director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard on “Democracy Now!”
A Democracy Now! segment summarizes the news of the document release:
…the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities, despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities.
Among the examples PCJF highlights:
- As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest. [...]
- The FBI in Anchorage reported from a Joint Terrorism Task Force meeting of November 3, 2011, about Occupy activities in Anchorage. Read the rest of this entry »