Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy

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New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent


Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP
By Naomi Wolf
The Guardian, December 29, 2012
It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.
The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).
As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledges Occupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:
“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”
Verheyden-Hilliard points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism”:
“This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
The documents show stunning range: in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a “Bank Fraud Working Group” met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activists back to the Richmond FBI, which, in turn, categorized OWS activities under its “domestic terrorism” unit. The Anchorage, Alaska “terrorism task force” was watching Occupy Anchorage. The Jackson, Michigan “joint terrorism task force” was issuing a “counterterrorism preparedness alert” about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Michigan, the FBI and the “Bank Security Group” – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to “National Bad Bank Sit-in Day” (the response was violent, as you may recall). The Virginia FBI sent that state’s Occupy members’ details to the Virginia terrorism fusion center. The Memphis FBI tracked OWS under its “joint terrorism task force” aegis, too. And so on, for over 100 pages.
Jason Leopold, at, who has sought similar documents for more than a year, reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Street existed at all. But the release may be strategic: if you are an Occupy activist and see how your information is being sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, not to mention the “longterm plans” of some redacted group to shoot you, this document is quite the deterrent.
There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.
Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.
Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.
  • Paul Fretheim

    It is proposed that $1.5 trillion be spent to purchase and deploy 2,400 F-35 warplanes. How much money is that?

    There are 74 million single family homes in the United States. An 800 kwh per month size solar array now costs less than $10,000. How much is 10,000 x 74,000,000? Well, take the big number, 74,000,000 and add 4 zeros. You get $740,000,000,000 or slightly less than half the amount proposed to purchase 2400 F-35 warplanes – $740 billion. So you have $760 billion left over.

    An 800 kwh per month solar array is pretty big. It’s enough to power an energy efficient 3 bedroom 2 bath home (300 kwh per month) and have enough left over to charge a 24kwh all electric car battery nearly every day, or, if you live in California, like I do, more than enough because a solar array rated at 800 kwh per month will actually produce 1 mwh (1000 kwh) of electricity a month here in California because we are closer to the equator than many states.

    So for the first $740 billion of the money already penciled in by our “broke” federal government for the F-35 warplane, we can eliminate all coal fired power plants and save the money which would have been spent on the coal since sunshine, the new energy source, is free, will remain free, and is inexhaustible for eternity. Shutting down all the coal plants permanently would eliminate hundreds of millions of tons of carbon emissions annually.

    And we have $760,000,000,000 left over. What if we decided to give vouchers out for all electric cars? How many $10,000 vouchers could we give out for that amount. Well, just remove 4 zeros from the big number – seven hundred and sixty billion, that is 760,000,000,000 – and, moving the decimal point 4 places to the left, we get 76,000,000 – seventy-six million.

    That’s right, seventy-six million ten thousand dollar all electric car vouchers could be provided with the remaining $760 billion proposed to be spent on the F-35 warplanes.

    We better make them $30,000 vouchers for a couple of reasons. The capacity does not exist to make 76 million electric cars for one thing. So if we give $30,000 car vouchers instead how many would there be?

    Well, my calculator tells me that 76,000,000/3 = 25,333,333. So we could put about 25 million all electric cars on the road with the remaining money. This would once again keep hundreds of millions of tons of carbon out of the air annually.

    Among other things this would solve would be the need for oil imports. It would eliminate the need for coal mining. It would provide millions of good paying jobs building all that stuff. It would save every homeowner in America the amount they now spend on electricity and gasoline or other fuel for their fossil car. They would also save in repair and maintenance because electric cars do not break down much and don’t need things like oil changes or anti-freeze. Don’t worry about the mechanics and service managers. We will need them to make the electric cars and install all the solar arrays. There will be a huge volume of all kinds of work involved from bookeeping to transportation.

    So let’s present the argument against the F-35 as a choice between alternatives. I think the ideas I have expressed in this message are so powerful as to be unstoppable if they can be widely disseminated to the American people.

    If these ideas are used by a new political movement or party as a campaign platform they may well become unstoppable too.

    And think about what we get for our money in each scenario.

    Plan one. 2,400 warplanes of limited value. For example, they do not have the range necessary to fly across the oceans, not even close, so what are they good for anyway even if you are in favor of violence?

    Plan two: 74,000,000 solar arrays that power both the homes and the cars of the United States. Plus 25,333,333 electric cars.

    Those planes seem ever more overpriced when you compare those numbers.

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  • aloeindica

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