FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund(PCJF) pursuant to the PCJFâ€™s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did â€œnot condone the use of violenceâ€ at occupy protests.
The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuc-cotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.
FBI Treating Peaceful Protestors as Potential Terrorists and Criminals
â€œThis production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nation-wide scope of the FBIâ€™s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,â€ stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).Â â€œThese 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.Â These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm ofÂ Wall Street and Corporate America.â€
â€œThe documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation,â€ stated Heather Benno, staff attorney with the PCJF.
* As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldnâ€™t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.
* The FBIâ€™s Indianapolis division released a â€œPotential Criminal Activity Alertâ€ on September 15, 2011, even though they acknowledged that no specific protest date had been scheduled in Indiana. The documents show that the Indianapolis division of the FBI was coordinating with â€œAll Indiana State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,â€ as well as the â€œIndiana Intelligence Fusion Center,â€ the FBI â€œDirectorate of Intelligenceâ€ and other national FBI coordinating mechanisms.
Documents are Proof of Spying Abuses by FBI
* Documents show the spying abuses of the FBIâ€™s â€œCampus Liaison Programâ€ in which the FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to â€œsixteen (16) different campus police officials,â€ and then â€œsix (6) additional campus police officials.â€Â Campus officials were in contact with the FBI for information on OWS.Â A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.
* Documents released show coordination between the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and corporate America. They include a report by the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), described by the federalÂ government as â€œa strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector,” discussingÂ the OWSÂ at the West Coast ports to â€œraise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.â€ The DSAC report shows the nature of secretÂ collaboration between American intelligence agencies and their corporate clients. The document contains a â€œhandling noticeâ€ that theÂ information is â€œmeant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other person-nel…” (The DSAC document was also obtained by the Northern California ACLU which has sought local FBI surveillance files.)
* Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to the DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor for the port actions. The NCISÂ describes itself as â€œan elite worldwide federal law enforcement organizationâ€ whose â€œmission is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps ashore, afloat and in cyberspace.â€ TheÂ NCIS also assists with the transport of Guantanamo prisoners.
* DSAC issued several tips to its corporate clients on â€œcivil unrestâ€ which it defines as ranging from â€œsmall, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrationsÂ and rioting.â€ It advised to dress conservatively, avoid political discussions and â€œavoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity 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 to control crowds.â€
* The FBI in Anchorage reported from a Joint Terrorism Task Force meeting of November 3, 2011, about Occupy activities in Anchorage.
* A port Facility Security Officer in Anchorage coordinated with the FBI to attend the meeting of protestors and gain intelligence on the planning of the port actions. He was advised to request the presence of an Anchorage Police Department official to also attend the event. The FBI Special Agent told the undercover private operative that he would notify the Joint Terrorism Task Force and that he would provide a point of contact at the Anchorage Police Department.
* The Jacksonville, Florida FBI prepared a Domestic Terrorism briefing on the â€œspread of the Occupy Wall Street Movementâ€ in October 2011. The intelligence meeting discussed Occupy venues identifying â€œDaytona, Gaines-ville and Ocala Resident Agency territories as portions â€¦where some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.â€
* The Tampa, Florida FBI â€œDomestic Terrorismâ€ liaison participated with the Tampa Police Departmentâ€™s monthly intelligence meeting in which Occupy Lakeland, Occupy Polk County and Occupy St. Petersburg were discussed. They reported on an individual â€œleading the Occupy Tampaâ€ and plans for travel to Gainesville for a protest planning meeting, as well as on Veterans for Peace plans to protest at MacDill Air Force Base.
* The Federal Reserve in Richmond appears to have had personnel surveilling OWS planning. They were in contact with the FBI in Richmond to â€œpass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.â€ There were repeated communications â€œto pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies and the following information received from the Capital Police Intelligence Unit through JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force).â€
* The Virginia FBI was collecting intelligence on the OWS movement for dissemination to the Virginia Fusion Center and other Intelligence divisions.
* The Milwaukee division of the FBI was coordinating with the Ashwaubenon Public Safety division in Green Bay Wisconsin regarding Occupy.
* The Memphis FBIâ€™s Joint Terrorism Task Force met to discuss â€œdomestic terrorismâ€ threats, including, â€œAryan Nations, Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous.â€
* The Birmingham, AL division of the FBI sent communications to HAZMAT teams regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement.
* The Jackson, Mississippi division of the FBI attended a meeting of the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for â€œNational Bad Bank Sit-In-Dayâ€ on December 7, 2011.
* The Denver, CO FBI and its Bank Fraud Working Group met and were briefed on Occupy Wall Street in November 2011. Members of the Working roup include private financial institutions and local area law enforcement.
* Jackson, MS Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a â€œCounterterrorism Preparednessâ€ alert. This heavily redacted document includes the description, â€œTo documentâ€¦the Occupy Wall Street Movement.â€
You can read the FBI – OWS documents below where we have uploaded them
in searchable format for public viewing atÂ : http://www.justiceonline.org/commentary/fbi-files-ows.html#documents.
The PCJF filed Freedom of Information Act demands with multiple federal law enforcement agencies in the fall of 2011 as the Occupy crackdown began. The FBI initially attempted to limit its search to only one limited record keeping index. Recognizing this as a common tactic used by the FBI to conduct an inadequate search, the PCJF pressed forward demanding searches be performed of the FBI headquarters as well as FBI field offices nationwide.
The PCJF will continue to push for public disclosure of the governmentâ€™s spy files and will release documents as they are obtained.Â Î¦
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is a non-profit organization, founded in 1996 by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo.Â The PCJFÂ works onÂ cases regarding domestic spying and surveillance, police misconduct, dissent, free speech, educating the public on their rights and government transparency.Â They defend our right to fight for progressive social change.Â To learn more about them click here.