BY JOHN STUDER
Recently released FBI documents show the extent of its spying against “Occupy” protest activities, as well as the involvement of other police agencies and private cops in these operations, and their special concern about any support among Occupy activists for labor fights and other social struggles in the interests of working people.
After a year of stonewalling, the FBI turned over dozens of heavily redacted documents to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil liberties law firm, concerning spying and monitoring of Occupy activities.
On Dec. 21 the government released 99 pages—out of 387 they claim they “reviewed”—in response to a PCJF Freedom of Information Act request.
“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,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, PCJF executive director, said in a statement released with copies of the files.
“Domestic Terrorism” was the FBI’s reference on many of the files. “We do not open investigations based solely on First Amendment activity,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told the New York Times when asked why the agency had targeted Occupy groups across the country.
The FBI started generating reports on Occupy in August 2011, the month before the group began its first action in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in New York City.
The files turned over to PCJF contain reports of cop spying in 32 cities, including New York; Anchorage, Alaska; Albany, N.Y.; Memphis, Tenn.; Biloxi, Miss.; Portland, Maine; Des Moines, Iowa; and Tampa, Fla.
Dozens of federal agencies, state and local cop outfits, university police and security forces for banks and businesses across the country are listed as participating in meetings with the FBI about planned protests and Occupy activists.
They include FBI-police Fusion Centers and local affiliates of the Joint Terrorism Task Force—both collaborative efforts combining FBI and other federal spy agencies with intelligence or “anti-terrorism” divisions of local police departments; the Domestic Security Alliance Council, which the government calls “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector”; and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which says it is “an elite worldwide federal law enforcement organization” whose “mission is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps ashore, afloat and in cyberspace.”
Targets West Coast port protestsOne central target of the spying was protests planned at ports up and down the West Coast in December 2011.
A Domestic Security Alliance Council “Liaison Information Report,” which states its purpose “is to raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity,” reports that Occupy groups are organizing to hold peaceful protests at ports in Los Angeles; San Diego; Houston; Portland, Ore; and Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, Wash.
The report is particularly concerned about potential cooperation between the protesters and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has stated that the actions of the OWS [Occupy Wall Street] Movement may or may not be coordinated with organized labor actions at the affected ports,” the anonymous DSAC author writes.
The Occupy actions at the ports included slogans in support of ILWU workers in Longview, Wash., who at the time were involved in a bitter fight against a lockout by EGT Development.
DSAC includes recommendations for executives of its business affiliates: “Avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces.”
An Oct. 19, 2011, “Domestic Terrorism” memo warns about the emergence of Occupy chapters in northern Florida. The FBI’s counterterrorism program coordinator there explains his concern that these are “territories” where “some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.”
An “Intelligence Briefing” issued in Los Angeles Oct. 20 reports on a meeting the FBI organized with local county sheriffs and L.A. Transit Security Bureau cops. The bureau’s special agent notes that there is a rise in confrontations with “verbally abusive” people on mass transit who confront cops about beatings of prisoners in L.A. Sheriff’s Department jails.
The FBI agent expresses concern for what would happen if “‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters mix with the more violent individuals upset about the alleged mistreatment of prisoners in the LASD jails.”
An Oct. 25 document reports the FBI “disseminated two intelligence products from the Campus Liaison Program to sixteen (16) different campus police officials” in the Albany, N.Y., area.
The authors of these files, whose names are all redacted out, work hard to present some potential for violence that justifies their investigation. Some note the participation of anarchists. One memo says Occupy would provide “an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.”
They also strain to give the appearance that the FBI is not running informers or provocateurs inside the Occupy groups.
“The documents indicate, however, that the FBI obtained information from police departments and other law-enforcement agencies,” the Times wrote, “that appear to have been gathered by someone observing the protesters as they planned activities.”
Attorneys for the PCJF say they “will continue to push for public disclosure of the government’s spy files and will release documents as they are obtained.”
Cops, prisons arose to enforce capitalist order
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