Revealed: How the FBI Coordinated the Crackdown on Occupy December 30, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Tags: #occupy movement, dhs, fbi, government repression, Homeland Security, naomi wolf, occupy wall street, orwellian, ows, police state, roger hollander, wikileaks
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New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent
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.
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
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.”
“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 Truthout.org, 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.
Author, social critic, and political activist Naomi Wolf is the author of The New York Times bestseller “The End of America” (Chelsea Green) and, more recently, Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. Wolf’s landmark international bestseller, The Beauty Myth, challenged the cosmetics industry and the marketing of unrealistic standards of beauty, launching a new wave of feminism in the early 1990s.
Harper’s Border Deal Expands the National Security State February 1, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Civil Liberties.
Tags: border security, Canada, canada governent, canada-us, Civil Rights, emily gilbert, ibet, national security, orwellian, privacy, roger hollander, shiprider, Stephen Harper, us canada border
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The Canada-U.S. “Beyond the Border” agreement announced in December 2011 promotes bilateral “friendship, sharing, and collaboration.” These are excellent values. They are instilled in kindergarten. But if Canada wants to build an adult relationship with the United States, we need to openly address issues of civil rights, due process and accountability.
Nowhere is this more the case than with respect to the dramatic changes proposed for North American security. Numerous privacy concerns have already been raised with respect to increased data-gathering and cross-border information sharing. Very little attention, however, has yet been directed to the worrisome proposals for more integrated cross-border law enforcement.
Under the Beyond the Border agreement, the Shiprider pilot program will be standardized. Shiprider is an extension of Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs) which enable bilateral information and intelligence-sharing across the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Office of Border Patrol, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The main target of IBETs has been organized crime such as drug smuggling, contraband weapons and human trafficking.
The Shiprider program will extend IBETs to shared waterways and seaways, and will also permit cross-border law enforcement. Designated RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard officers will jointly operate vessels on patrol, and will be authorized to enforce the law on either side of the border. The Harper government has also tabled legislation, Bill C-60: Keeping Canadians Safe (Protecting Borders) Act, that would bestow these designated officers with enforcement capabilities equivalent to the RCMP — anywhere in Canada!
It is clear, therefore, that these cross-border law enforcement arrangements are not just about information-sharing. They are about creating interoperable security practices and personnel. As such they raise troubling questions regarding accountability, due process and civil rights.
When and where does a cross-border initiative start and end? Who decides? Who has jurisdiction over the information that is gathered? Who is responsible if something goes wrong? How might national security concerns be used to sidestep the law with respect to these designated officials?
Another “Beyond the Border” pilot project, Next-Generation, also raises concerns with regards to its widening security mandate. Next-Generation officers will be located between ports of entry. Like the IBETs, the Next-Generation program will facilitate intelligence and information-sharing. They will also, like the Shiprider program, allow designated officers to enforce the law on either side of the border.
But Next-Generation will also expand the security mandate of these officers by drawing together organizations responsible for the defence of national security: the RCMP, Public Safety Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Homeland Security. These are not just border agencies, but agencies mandated with the full weight of national security.
The “Beyond the Border” agreement will also bring Canada more closely in line with the extensive reach of the Department of Homeland Security. Criminal infractions can now be treated with the full force of threats to national security. But, for example, is the selling of contraband cigarettes a matter of national security? Are smugglers of prescription drugs on a par with terrorists?
As the title “Beyond the Border” suggests, the agreement is not just about efficient trade or border security. It is not about those kindergarten values of playing nicely together, sharing toys and secrets. This agreement is about deepening and extending the national security mandate across the two countries, well away from the border.
The public discussion about this border deal needs to grow up fast, in order to cut through the government’s infantilizing PR and face up to the ways that the Harper government is expanding the national security state, both in domestic policy and in our international relations.
Obama’s Orwellian Turn: Whistle-Blowing=Treason May 20, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy.
Tags: abby zimet, big brother, jane mayer, Obama, orwellian, roger hollander, thomas drake, treason, whistle-blowing
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05.19.11 – 11:42 AM
by Abby Zimet, www.commondreams.org
May 20, 2011
Candidate Obama championed transparency; President Obama has used the 1917 Espionage Act to preside over “the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history,” prosecuting more national security leak cases than all previous Administrations combined. The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer looks at the case of Thomas Drake, a GOP National Security Agency whistleblower who faces 35 years in prison for allegedly leaking information to a reporter about NSA waste and bureaucracy. To Jack Balkin, a Yale law professor, the increase in post 9/11 leak prosecutions represents “the bipartisan normalization and legitimization of a national-surveillance state.” To Drake, the turn toward secrecy is “Orwellian.”