Back when occupy encampments around the country were violently evicted one after another by police armed in riot gear, activists speculated that it was a coordinated crackdown. Leading the charge was Naomi Wolf, who was immediately attacked for making accusations without any evidence to back them. To be fair, there was little to no proof at the time. Nevertheless, certain people (you know who you are) owe Wolf an apology for portraying her as a paranoid nut job because it turns out she was right.
According to recently released secret FBI documents, Occupy Wall Street, a peaceful and nonviolent movement, was labeled a potential hotbed for terrorist activity by the federal government. The heavily redacted documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) and can be viewed here.
The creepiest revelation of all would have to be the fact that activists were beaten, pepper-sprayed, tear gassed, hit with skull-cracking projectiles and arrested all on behalf of the private financial institutions that destroyed the economy with impunity.
The documents reveal that the FBI met with officials from the New York Stock Exchange in August 2011, a month prior to the first Occupy protests. In fact, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) boast about their partnership with the private sector, otherwise known as the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC).
On its website, DSAC claims that it “advances elements of the FBI and DHS missions’…particularly those effecting interstate commerce, while advancing the ability of the U.S. private sector to protect its employees, assets and proprietary information.” It’s board is made up of representatives from the nation’s largest companies, including Bank of America, Walmart, General Electric, Boeing, Citigroup, Walt Disney, Merck, CIGNA, Coca-Cola, Time Warner, American Express, Mastercard, Barclays, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ernst & Young, Dupont, Kellogg’s, JetBlue, Medco Health Solutions, NextEra Energy, USAA, United Airlines, Archer Daniels Midland, Bridgestone Firestone, ConocoPhillips, KMPG International, RBS/Citizens and 3M.
The DSAC website doesn’t publicly list all of it’s members, but according to Wikipedia, DSAC “facilitates information sharing and cooperation between the FBI and over 200 of the largest American companies [that] account for over one third of the gross domestic product of the United States.” In other words, companies like Bank of America and Walmart have direct access to a government funded intelligence organization which they can easily employ to squash public resistance to their operations.
This relationship is revealed in a DSAC report, which was among the released documents. The PCJF writes:
[The documents] include a report by the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC)…discussing the OWS protests at the West Coast ports to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report shows the nature of secret collaboration between American intelligence agencies and their corporate clients – the document contains a “handling notice” that the information is “meant 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 personnel…”
This led PCJF’s Executive Director, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, to conclude 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.” This is not speculation, it actually happened:
DSAC issued several tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest” which it defines as ranging from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” It advised to dress conservatively, avoid political discussions and “avoid 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.”
Given that Walmart sits on DSAC’s board, it wouldn’t be surprising if the FBI and/or DHS helped coordinate local police actions against the Black Friday Walmart strikes. At the time, I noted the troubling level of cooperation between Walmart and local police departments in preparation for the demonstrations.
Other private entities, like the Federal Reserve in Richmond, deployed their own personnel to spy on Occupy and then relayed information to the FBI. The Joint Terrorism Task Force received and sent intelligence as well.
Sometimes state and local law enforcement joined in the FBI-corporate orgy. The Biloxi Police Department in Mississippi went to a Bank Security Group meeting attended by the FBI and private banks to address the upcoming protest, National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day. Local law enforcement attended similar meeting about Occupy Wall Street in Denver, Colorado, with the FBI and its Bank Fraud Working Group made up of private banks.
The FBI also coordinated with universities:
Documents show the spying abuses of the FBI’s “Campus Liaison Program” in which the FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to “sixteen (16) different campus police officials,” and then “six (6) additional campus police officials.” Campus officials were in contact with the FBI for information on OWS. 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.
FBI coordination extended to so many different intelligence and private sector agencies that the acronyms alone could have filled several pages. One example is the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), which “reported to the DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor for the port actions.” According to its website, the mission of the NCIS “is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist, and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps-ashore, afloat, and in cyberspace,” whatever that means. The FBI in Birmingham, Alabama, even funneled information about Occupy to HAZMAT teams.
Verheyden-Hilliard says that this is “just the tip of the iceberg.” Heather Benno, a staff attorney with the PCJF, went on to say that the organization is “filing an appeal challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of the records of this operation.”