JudicialWatch.org recently gained the response they wanted on their November 11, 2011 Freedom of Information Request. They found themselves handed pages upon pages of documentation from the White House on their responses to the Occupy movement, which began last year. The emails show that the Obama administration was against the crackdowns on the movement. With Romney being on record as being against the Occupy movement itself, these letters give insight into the mind of the administration in Washington.
The information found in the emails was focused on a handful of Occupy protests, such as the Occupy Portland protest which was particularly ugly with the potential for more releases in the future. In the mails you see the intelligence agencies focusing more on violence control and the efforts of the hacktivist group Anonymous. You also can find clear condemnation of the arrests performed by the Portland Police Department. An email from Robert Peck, Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service department of the US General Services Administration says, in part:
The arrests last week were carried out despite our request that protesters be allowed to remain and to camp overnight
As well as:
We are trying to be flexible, cognizant at the same time of first amendment rights to petition and our need to protect Federal property and access to Federal buildings
Other interesting pieces are that rather than attempt to shut down criticism against the administration, you will find emails discussing outreach, and a general wish to explain the administration’s position. This comes as a refreshing difference from previous administrations which attempted to quell dissenting voices. Of course those running for office today seem to want to return to violating the Constitution and to prevent the redress of grievances.
A large part of the emails had to do with a premature release of a document the Department of Homeland Security was working which ended up at Rolling Stone. As the final draft of the report was not ready, there was a concern over the leak, which went on for many emails. However, the DHS members ultimately decided it was not a major issue, beyond the concern of the leak itself. Studying the emails reveals that the original request for the report came from members of Congress in light of the attempted bombing some blamed on the Occupy movement in Cleveland.
Another portion was in dealing with the release of police officers’ personal information, and concerns of vigilantism threats against their families. This concern was given multiple times in emails to police departments when asking for restraint in handling of the Occupy protesters. The administration rightly recognized that Anonymous responded to violence, and were not acting as anarchists as some in the media had presented them. The responses from some police departments, sadly, demonstrate how this warning fell on deaf ears, and the response from Anonymous was as predicted, with over 13,000 police officer names and addresses released.
There are also several emails responding to news agencies requests to the DHS from right-wing groups such as Fox News and the Washington Times over a variety of subjects. One in particular stands out: The Daily Caller was calling for a DHS employee’s termination for a personal statement of a wish to attend a May Day event in his local city. The email stated “May Day is a day on which socialist party faithful and labor unions have traditionally held massive anti-capitalism protests,” which is interesting, considering how May Day predates even Christianity in Europe. Another from Fox News classified the Cleveland bomb plotters as Occupy members and asked if there were more Occupy terror threats.
The emails, if taken in all, show a department concerned with balancing security with first amendment rights. The criticism of police departments which engaged in cracking down on occupy, while praising police departments which worked to make sure of the occupiers’ safety, clearly demonstrates which side the administration is on.