What the FBI Documents released by PCJF really tell us
The Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJF), a public interest legal organization committed to defending civil liberties and protecting human rights just released FBI documents pursuant to their Freedom of Information Request demands pertaining to Occupy Wall Street. These documents reveal how the FBI treated Occupy Wall Street as a potential criminal and terrorist threat despite the FBI’s own admission in the documents that Occupy organizers “do not condone the use of violence” at demonstrations.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of PCJF commented on the 112 pages of documents her organization obtained:
“This production, 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 show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
As the documents reveal the FBI met with New York Stock Exchange officials on August 19, 2011, a month before Occupy Wall Street commenced. The focus of the meeting was to notify businesses that they may be the target of Occupy protests. The ties between intelligence agencies and their corporate patrons don’t end there. Within the 112 pages of documents is a report published by the Domestic Security Alliance Coalition (DSAC) described by the federal government as “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector,” discussing the Occupy protests at West Coast ports to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report also includes “Tips for reducing vulnerability in the event of civil unrest.” They are as follows:
1.) Avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activities or be met with resistance by security forces. Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas or other measures used to control crowds.
2.) Maintain a low profile by avoiding demonstration areas and discussion of the issues at hand, and by dressing conservatively.
3.) If violence erupts or is imminent leave the area as quickly as possible. If you cannot leave the area, seek shelter in large, public buildings such as hotels, churches, hospitals and museums. Wait until the crowds have dissipated before going back outside. If you know of an event ahead of time plan pedestrian and vehicular routes that avoid the affected areas. Road closures and traffic delays are possible. Give yourself extra time to travel.
4.) If curfews are imposed, strictly observe regulations and monitor the media for immediate updates to the situation.
5.) Severe civil unrest can disrupt businesses, industries and services. If you must travel during unrest ensure that hotels and businesses will be open, services will be available and transportation will be running. Confirm all meetings and reservations.
The “tips” provided by DSAC are indisputably intended for a specific audience; the passionately obedient, authority deferential, business-suit clad, who are entitled to special protection from the security force henchman of the corporate state. Few documents more clearly illustrate the secret collaboration between financial institutions and the state intelligence, surveillance and security apparatuses responsible for investigating, monitoring and ultimately dispelling Occupy Wall Street and its various off-shoots across the country. A closer look at these documents also reveals a nebulous of intelligence agencies involved in assessing the threat Occupy poses to the established order and the financial institutions that order is structured to serve. At the most local level municipal police departments were responsible for feeding intelligence on protesters to state and federal authorities via Fusion Centers as one of the reports contained in the documents the “Potential Criminal Activity Alert” shows. The FBI and Joint Counter Terrorism Task Force were also involved in creating and maintaining dossiers on protesters and protest groups affiliated with Occupy. As the Jackson, Mississippi Joint Terrorism Task Force noted, the intent was to “document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement” to prepare for counter terror measures.
Glenn Greenwald recently pointed out that many people living in the most totalitarian countries feel themselves to be completely free. He discusses the “bargain offered by the state” where those who refrain from challenging the established order will be left alone and those who dissent will face recriminations for their failure to comply.Those who buy this offer scratch their heads when dissenters and skeptics challenge the we-live-in-a-free-country view, dismissing their contentions as “radical.” Rest assured the passive, steadfastly obedient disciples of the corporate state more concerned with bargain shopping and going to work than with social justice and human dignity will likely continue to feel themselves free even while the sprawling surveillance system ensnares them and imprisons their neighbors for criminal activities like civil disobedience and political demonstration. The rationale, “what do I care if authorities are collecting intelligence on me if I am not doing anything wrong” should be showing signs of its first fissures. When doing something wrong includes “discussion of the issues at hand,” an offense that may result in being “harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas or other measures used to control crowds,” the dominant delusions that we live in a free society may give way to the sober realization that it is really not quite that way, although the lack of widespread resistance suggests this rationale exists intact. As abuses of power abound and the public remains willfully oblivious to the expansion of state authority corporate elites will go on colluding with intelligence and security agencies to undermine resistance to the system that secures their privilege. What the FBI documents really tell us is not just that the surveillance state is extending its tentacles further or that civil liberties and privacy are being continually undermined by intelligence agencies, but that the corporate class is complicit and has a direct line to call upon the largest intelligence and security network on the planet to quash dissent and keep the waters placid so profits can continue to mount without disruption.