FOIA Revelations Show Administration Role In Occupy Crackdown
DHS documents were released to Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) that despite extensive redactions reveal a greater administration role than previously known in the crackdown on the Occupy movement.
The release is described on the PCJF website:
Homeland Security Documents Show Massive Nationwide Monitoring of Occupy Movement
Documents just obtained by the PCJF from its FOIA request show massive nationwide monitoring, surveillance and information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and local authorities in response to Occupy. The PCJF, also on behalf of author/filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, has made a series of FOIA demands regarding law enforcement involvement in the Occupy Crackdown. …
This set of released materials reveals intense involvement by the DHS’ National Operations Center (NOC) in these activities. The DHS describes the NOC as, “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management. The NOC is the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room and DHS Leadership for domestic situational awareness and facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”
Documents reveal administration role in coordination of the crackdown on Occupy:
Dave Lindorff, in his article “White House & Dems Back Banks Over Protests: Newly Discovered Homeland Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Crackdown” explains the administration’s involvement, read the whole article, following are some excerpts:
Another group of documents shows that on November 9, two days after a demonstration by 1000 Occupy activists in Chicago protesting social service cuts in that city, the NOC Fusion Desk relayed a request from Chicago Police asking other local police agencies what kind of tactics they were using against Occupy activists. They specifically requested that information be sought from police departments in New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle — all the scene of major Occupation actions and of violent police repression. Realizing that it would look bad if it assisted in such coordination overtly, higher officials in the DHS ordered the recall of the request but then simply rerouted it through “law enforcement channels,” where presumably it would be harder for anyone to spot a federal role in the coordination of local police responses. In response to that order, the documents show that the duty director of the NOC wrote that he would “reach out” to “LEO LNOs (liaison officer) on the floor” to assist.
This request and the DHS’s subsequent farming out of the operation to PERF (Police Executive Research Forum, whose director is conveniently a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council) is the subject of early (and frequently deprecated by some) reports of DHS coordination of crackdowns.
As this report demonstrates, there clearly was coordination of tactics:
As the Associated Press reports, the Police Executive Research Forum held calls on October 11 and November 4, when mayors and authorities discussed dealing with Occupy protesters and their camps. For instance, the officials on these calls warned not to set a midnight eviction deadline, and to fence off a cleared-out encampment to prevent protesters from returning.
Shortly after this series of consultations led by PERF, there was a nationwide, violent crackdown in cities all over the country against Occupy encampments.
Office for State and Local Law Enforcement, which collaborates with “non-federal law enforcement and private associations” issued its “Weekly Informant” for December 5th including an update from the Police Executive Research Forum about Occupy.
When inquiries from the press started coming in, DHS coordinated its denials with the White House. From Dave Lindorff’s article:
Given the subterfuge revealed in these documents that went into trying to create the illusion that the DHS was and is not coordinating a national campaign of spying, disruption and repression against Occupy activists, it is almost comical to find documents that show the DHS was in “direct communication with the White House” to obtain advance approval of public statements by DHS officials denying any DHS involvement in anti-Occupy actions. …
There was, comically, also a White House-approved DHS “background” statement, too! (Typically background statements by federal officials are supposed to be used when they want to tell a journalist the true situation but don’t want to have that statement attributed to them or their department. Having it pre-approved by the White House defeats that purpose and is simply a manipulation of the media.)
Here’s the link to the documents that show the DHS was in direct communication with the White House for approval of public statements denying DHS’s involvement in Occupy actions.
When DHS coordinated directly with Portland, Oregon to assist in evicting occupiers the White House in response to a request from CBS created an approved statement, which stressed “how rare the federal involvement is.” Further it included a meme (which I’ll discuss later) about Occupiers being “unsanitary.”
DHS coordinates a military response to non-violent movement
In advance of the December 12 Occupy port actions, the DHS NOC requested urgent communications for Obama’s DHS Secretary. Field offices from Houston, Portland, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles were asked to provide information about “what actions they will be taking to prepare” for the protests by the “Occupy Movement.”
For the Occupy Oakland port actions November 2, DHS alerted the military, bringing NORTHCOM into the intelligence loop. In a “Significant Incident Report” DHS officials were “advised that this [port] closure is a combination of Longshoremen dissatisfaction of working conditions…and to show support for the Occupy Oakland Protest.” Among the items in Truthout’s listing of FOIA documents recieved is the notice that, “An email contained in the documents assures DHS that ‘Air Station San Francisco has a B-0 aircraft ready to respond as well.'”
DHS apparently worked to coordinate the military, the Coast Guard, several federal agencies, state and local authorities to create a military response to non-violent Occupy protest actions. Apparently the administration feels that military action isn’t just for Quakers anymore. DHS is making a list and checking it twice, then they disseminate it to offices all over the country. Imagine having your name and contact info distributed to authorities all over the nation due to committing the heinous crime of “using the sidewalk!” It was a special sidewalk, though, it was in front of a Bank of America branch.
One has to wonder why non-violent protests are responded to by government with such a display of military hardware and mindset. This article in The Atlantic, How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police goes a long way toward explaining the situation. Arthur Riser and Joseph Hartman detail how, after 9/11 George W. Bush’s “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism” shifted responsibility for counterterorism efforts away from the criminal justice system to the military. Domestic police agencies have been armored up and given military training and coordination through federal agencies to combat terrorism. The article goes on:
Undoubtedly, American police departments have substantially increased their use of military-grade equipment and weaponry to perform their counterterrorism duties, adopting everything from body armor to, in some cases, attack helicopters… [but] experts in the legal community have raised serious concerns that allowing civilian law enforcement to use military technology runs the risk of blurring the distinction between soldiers and peace officers. …
The most serious consequence of the rapid militarization of American police forces, however, is the subtle evolution in the mentality of the “men in blue” from “peace officer” to soldier. This development is absolutely critical and represents a fundamental change in the nature of law enforcement. The primary mission of a police officer traditionally has been to “keep the peace.” Those whom an officer suspects to have committed a crime are treated as just that – suspects. Police officers are expected, under the rule of law, to protect the civil liberties of all citizens, even the “bad guys.” For domestic law enforcement, a suspect in custody remains innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, police officers operate among a largely friendly population and have traditionally been trained to solve problems using a complex legal system; the deployment of lethal violence is an absolute last resort.
Soldiers, by contrast, are trained to identify people they encounter as belonging to one of two groups — the enemy and the non-enemy — and they often reach this decision while surrounded by a population that considers the soldier an occupying force. Once this identification is made, a soldier’s mission is stark and simple: kill the enemy, “try” not to kill the non-enemy. Indeed, the Soldier’s Creed declares, “I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.”
There is evidence that even Mayors of large cities are seeing themselves as military leaders and looking for military solutions to problems that are not appropriately described as violent conflicts.
Given what is contained in the recently released FOIA documents it seems reasonable to assume that the Mayors are being brought into a sort of military council arranged by federal officials and in coordination with the White House.
Spreading Fear Uncertainty and Doubt
Mainstream media accounts of the Occupy movement have associated it with violence, despite the fact that the vast majority of violence at Occupy events is committed by police. Reports also focus on any number of social ills which are certainly no more present in Occupy camps than in the cities which surround them, unsanitary conditions, homelessness, crime, drugs and alcoholism.
America’s large cities, especially New York are renowned around the world for their extreme cleanliness (you could eat off of the streets!) safety, widely-available free and healthy food, freedom from crime, drugs, alcoholics and homeless persons. Interestingly enough, Mayor Bloomberg and other large city mayors have taken a great interest in the sanitary conditions, safety and food quality in a very small area of their cities where Occupy encampments were located. So far cities like Philadelphia, Orlando, Houston, Dallas and Las Vegas have joined New York City in restricting food donations to the poor and homeless, a policy which seems to have coincided with the rise of Occupy. Interesting coincidence, no?
Even the Federal Protective Service, which polices federal properties used excuses about health and safety conditions DHS coordinated with Portland, Oregon regarding the eviction of the Occupy encampment from Schrunk Plaza.
You’d almost think that the excuses concerns were coordinated.
It’s interesting to note for anyone with a passing familiarity with history that underclass movements and unpopular ethnic groups are generally associated with certain traits. The popularlabel, “the great unwashed masses” springs to mind instantly. The hoi polloi of just about every age are labeled dirty, violent, lawless, alcoholic or drug addled, unstable, vagrants, etc.
It’s funny how all of those labels have come to rest upon the Occupy movement and get endlessly repeated by elite institutions who are attempting to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about Americans who are working for change. You’d think that this pattern is so well worn that those that catapult the propaganda would be ashamed to repeat the campaign, but then again, this program has been devastatingly effective in the past. When the public at large can be convinced that their fellow citizens are to be disparaged and less than fully human awful things start to happen.
Is there an adult in the room?
In light of the revelations about the DHS’s involvement in coordinating the crackdown on the Occupy movement and evidence that people in the White House are coordinating DHS’s messages about its actions one would hope that an adult in the room to would stand up and say something like this about America:
The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.