FBI documents just released under the FOIA by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund reveal that the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential terrorist organization, even though the organizers had explicitly called for all protests to be peaceful, and never condoned the use of violence in any Occupy protests. The documents are heavily redacted but what can be ascertained from reading them is scary, indeed.
As early as August 2011, the FBI had its agents and offices in “high gear” as they conducted surveillance against the OWS movement in New York and across the country even before encampments were erected. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), released this statement:
“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.”
Though the documents are heavily redacted, the PCJF has discovered that on August 19, 2011, the FBI met with representatives from the N.Y. Stock Exchange to discuss the upcoming protest. By September, the FBI had informed businesses on Wall Street that they might be the subject of the protest.
The Indianapolis FBI office released a “Potential Criminal Activity Alert” on September 15, even though there was no date set for any protests in Indiana. The documents indicate that the FBI was in contact and coordinating with Indiana law enforcement agencies.
The documents show clear abuses by the FBI’s “Campus Liason Program” on at least sixteen different campuses. Campus officials were going to the FBI for information on protests at their schools.
The FBI was working with several agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, NCIS, and private, corporate, security. The information network created by them to spy on OWS protests was extensive and included the entire country. Now the violent crackdown on OWS encampments last fall make sense. The documents reveal a frightening truth: the authorities were working for and with the banks. They implicitly agreed to join forces to target and intimidate American citizens who were doing nothing more than exercising their right to protest.
But the most frightening piece of information reveals that someone – exactly who is redacted – was planning to engage in sniper attacks against the leaders of OWS in several Texas cities including Houston, Austin and Dallas. The memo in question states:
“‘________’ intended to ‘gather intelligence against the leaders of the movement, obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.’”
“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.”
So we were spied on, targeted by “someone,” and then lied to about the existence of documents describing the widespread and corporate-friendly, well…conspiracy is the only word that fits. What does this mean for future protests? What does this tell us about our rights as citizens? I don’t know about you but the next time I attend a protest I will be glancing nervously at nearby rooftops.