The Pervasiveness of Domestic Surveillance

In my last article I tackled the obvious dangers that size and anonymity offer to any specific institution. What I found intriguing was the evidence that unveils by a degree the extensiveness of the suppression tactics used against Occupy Wall Street. These tactics were becoming more violent as time progressed, including most federal agencies, which were guided by non-profit forums of individuals protecting their interests on lower levels(mayors and police chiefs). I was struck by how the coordinated efforts followed a single mindset and no one chose to oppose it. This signified that the balance of powers that were intended to protect people of varying States from external pressures were practically absent and usurped by these non-profit organizations. Blue State or Red State, the response was immediate as it was ruthless.The individual sovereign had become second to the Powers of the State, to the interests of the State. When the Judicial System tends to serve the State over the Individual in a liberty-minded society it becomes a System of Subjugation.

Even more, however, was a rather startling revelation that the FBI and other agencies knew of Occupy Wall Street a month before the protests occurred. This particular observation had me infer that, given how the coordinated suppression had ensued, Eric Snowden’s revelation doesn’t even scratch the surface on the extent of domestic surveillance. Uncle Sam’s counter-argument was as political as it was pointless. The DHS deflected the implications entirely by arguing that monitoring peaceful law-abiding protests was a ‘matter of policy’.[iv] As controversial as that defense may be, let us give it to them and then respond, “but what gives you the right to monitor those protesters before they become protesters?” After all, they knew it was going to happen before it happened. How? How, indeed, if they’re not spying on large swaths of the population? What tipped them off that OWS was going to form as it did and that they’d require surveillance because they’d become a large and significant force? How could they have known that OWS wouldn’t have turned out as a dud or that no one would show or be in the mood for activism? These things happen, more often than not. We hear about those that succeed, we don’t hear about the many, many failures. How could they have known? This is precisely what has been bothering me because, in truth, the initial Occupy protest was small by New York standards.

The forms seem to answer the question, on the surface, but it’s obvious there is a large chunk of information being withheld. On page 93, for instance, we can see their reference to an August 23rd video release by Anonymous claiming support for the upcoming protests, encouraging members to participate[v],however on page 35 we can see they had a meeting with the NYSE on the 19th of August concerning the “anarchist” protest titled “Occupy Wall Street.”[vi]Once again they refer to the websites and social media as a reference, but calls-for-action occur all the time – this seemed to warrant special attention well before it was considered to be a major concern, before it actually happened. Things were still in the organizational phase. Do the FEDs have the right to spy on anyone that’s an activist for any cause or who maybe preparing to demonstrate for said cause? That’s disconcerting. Give it some further thought. Where do they draw the line, where does it end? As the true protest had not yet begun the preparation and intelligence classifications,such as “anarchist,” seem predisposed to not only judge the disposition of the movement, but were actively coordinating with the New York Stock Exchange and business associates a month before it had actually happened. Early suggestions may have inclined them toward these deductions, that many Anarchists attended early preparation movements, however the protest truly hadn’t begun and their reaction to it signified a defensive posture. Instead of concerning themselves with preventing crime and maintaining civility they seemed preoccupied with the response to it in the interests of financial institutions and related businesses. They were so preoccupied with the response,in fact, that the heavy-handed manner gave Occupy the life it needed to become a massive movement.

Now to clarify some things I’m going to quote directly from a website on the beginnings of the protest to hit on some points, forgive the obvious bias but the resource was ground zero concerning OWS’ establishment:

“As many people know,the initial call for Occupy Wall Street (OWS) came from Adbusters, a Canadian anti-consumerist magazine, which put out a call in mid-July for an occupation of Wall Street to begin on Saturday,September 17. “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?” the magazine’s blog asked.“On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, setup tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.” Just a few days later, Adbusters sent the call for action to the email address of New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts (NYABC), a grassroots coalition of labor activists, students, and community members that I helped start in February 2011. NYABC’s mosthigh-profile action was Bloombergville, an encampment set up across from City Hall for three weeks in June to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts, which is presumably what brought NYABC to Adbusters’ attention.

NYABC was unanimous in its desire to support and explore the feasibility of Adbusters’ call and decided to put out the call for the August 2 GA following an already planned protest against the expiration of the federal debt ceiling. The coalition had previously discussed the idea of calling a GA modeled on those used in the University of California(UC) student movement during the 2009–10 academic year. Adbusters’ call seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a GA inNew York City.

On August 2, around one hundred people attended the NYABC demonstration, with about half that number staying for the GA. Besides NYABC members and supporters, most of the other people at the meeting were anarchists. Like NYABC, the anarchists saw the GA as a vehicle for a mass public forum, but they identified the concept with the use of a consensus decision-making process, which they argued had been central to the Greek movement of the squares and the Spanish indignados movement. Because the anarchists were united and insistent on this point and the meeting was turbulent and disorganized, a momentous decision was reached quickly and with little discussion.”[vii]

The Idea had started out as most of these things do: a callfor action. The call for action inspired a coalition of activists who then set a meeting into motion in which the General Assembly model was adopted. The core component of the original Occupy Movement was a focus on corporate malfeasance. This is in league with government corruption, of course, an example being Verizon who hadn’t really paid much into federal taxes over many years.[viii] The important point, however, is that they decided on General Assemblies and a generalized method of voting, thanks to the Anarchists. Many of the varied Occupy protests took on their own identity, veering off to make their own demands against what they thought the focus of the corruption was. Others responded to these observations and arguments and adapted as they went. Regardless of this array of interpretations, of different people arguing different opinions, the response was the same: repression.

This had an interesting and ironic influence noted by the author of the article I quoted above. Allow me to quote yet another observation from that same piece:

“Although the environment at Zuccotti was electrifying, the future of the occupation was far from assured. In the first week after September 17, OWS seemed capable of going in any number of different directions—being evicted by the police, maintaining itself as a small encampment, dwindling off and dying, or gaining traction and growing. The latter is what actually ended up happening. Ironically, this was largely thanks to attempts by the New York Police Department (NYPD) to repress the movement,which brought it to national attention and made it possible for OWS to rally broad layers of support.”

Without the repression Occupy would have probably fizzled and died without much notice, being a rather small initial protest by New York standards, but because of the hostile response by the ‘State’ people around the country were outraged and groups upon groups of supporters flooded in,inspiring others around the country to make a stand in their own way. It may have started as one initial idea but it turned into many – the energy was, at the core, anti-corruption and anti-power. They were not fine-tuned,they were not well-guided, and they were not efficient, but they did bring up alot of points and outlined some horrific abuses and existing problems within the Corporate and Federal realms. As such, it’s hard to say, even after the fact, that the government was justified in labeling the movement. It became something so much more than it was initially intended to be. On the whole,they were anti-abuse, ironically started by a group that seeks expansive government funding which is the very element necessary for such abuse to take place on such a wide and pervasive scale, as had happened with Occupy.

That aside, the government had full knowledge of the movement, which was relatively small starting out (meaning that if you start a movement you’re no exception to the policy), coordinated with the New York Stock Exchange, the Secret Service, the local Mayors, and Police Chiefs which inevitably segued into coordinated actions using intelligence sub-committees as a hub. These organized actions became massive and invasive measures of Human, Signal, and Analytical Intelligence to repress OWS nationwide. Even more, many of these acts of coordination and intelligence had occurred before the 17th of September. Before anyone, even the organizers of the protest, could have known that it would have exploded as it had. That’s the key argument here – they went through all the trouble, had coordinated, communicated, and conceptualized counter-measures to a movement that had not yet come into being, seemingly under the ASSUMPTION that it would go viral. Are we all treated that way or is there a missing piece to this puzzle?

How could they have coordinated as they had, assumed as they had, in the way that they had if they were not spying massively on American Citizens in order to assess their mood? It reminds me of that scene from V for Vendetta where one of the Party Members refers to “positive mention,” to how many times someone says a specific word – with their dishes and instruments listening into your homes and bedrooms– in order to assess the public’s opinion of the matter, or their likely response. Party Member Creedy, just after this intelligence quip, stated, “Arrests are higher than they have everbeen.” That, Mr. Creedy, is obvious.

Review, if you desire, some further points on these files:

“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 wouldn’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 FBI’s Indianapolis division released a “Potential Criminal Activity Alert” 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 “All Indiana State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,” as well as the “Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center,” the FBI “Directorate of Intelligence” and other national FBI coordinating mechanisms.
  • 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.
  • 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 federal government as “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector,” 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…” (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 theDSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor for the port actions.The NCIS describes itself as “an elite worldwide federal law enforcement organization” whose “mission is to investigate and defeat criminal, terrorist,and foreign intelligence threats to the United States Navy and Marine Corps ashore, afloat and in cyberspace.” The NCIS also assists with the transport of Guantanamo prisoners.
  • 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.”
  • 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 protesters 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 “spread of the Occupy Wall Street Movement” in October 2011.The intelligence meeting discussed Occupy venues identifying “Daytona, Gainesville and Ocala Resident Agency territories as portions …where some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.”
  • The Tampa, Florida FBI “Domestic Terrorism” liaison participated with the Tampa Police Department’s monthly intelligence meeting in which Occupy Lakeland, Occupy Polk County and Occupy St. Petersburg were discussed. They reported on an individual “leading the Occupy Tampa” 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 “pass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.” There were repeated communications “to 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 (JointTerrorism Task Force).”
  • 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 Ashwauben on Public Safety division in Green Bay Wisconsin regarding Occupy.
  • The Memphis FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force met to discuss“domestic terrorism” threats, including, “Aryan Nations, Occupy Wall Street,and Anonymous.”
  • 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 “National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day” 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 Group include private financial institutions and local area law enforcement.
  • Jackson, MS Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a“Counterterrorism Preparedness” alert. This heavily redacted document includes the description, “To document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”[ix]



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3 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

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