FOIA Request Shows Feds Were Gathering Intelligence On Occupy Wall Street Before The First Tent Went Up
A trove of documents released today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a FOIA request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee reveal that federal law enforcement agencies began their coordinated intelligence gathering and operations on the Occupy movement even before the first tent went up in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011.
On September 17, 2011, a Secret Service intelligence entry in its Prism Demonstrations Abstract file records the opening of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The demonstration location that the Secret Service was protecting? The “Wall Street Bull.” The name of the Protectee? The “U.S. Government.”
American taxpayers might find it odd to learn that the Secret Service was on duty to protect the Wall Street Bull in the name of protecting the U.S. Government. But there it is.
These documents, many of which are redacted, show that the highest officials in the Department of Homeland Security were preoccupied with the Occupy movement and have gone out of their way to project the appearance of an absence of federal involvement in the monitoring of and crackdown on Occupy.
On the street it would be called “Three Card Monte,” a swindler’s game to hide the ball -- a game of misdirection. The House always wins.
The DHS, as revealed in the newly released documents, has engaged in what appears to be a effort to avoid looking for Occupy related materials where it is likely to be found, including in Fusion Centers and DHS sub-divisions such as the Operations Coordination & Planning sub-division which is responsible for DHS coordination with local and federal law enforcement partners.
On November 16, DHS Press Secretary Matthew Chandler transmitted an e-mail to top ranking DHS officials, including the Chief of Staff to Janet Napolitano, the Chief of Staff to the DHS General Counsel, among others, in which he reports:
“We’re getting inquiries from CBS, AP, Daily Caller and others on an un-sourced Examiner.com piece that says that DHS and FBI are collaborating with cities by providing tactics and information on removing Occupy protestors. A check of I & A [Intelligence and Analysis] and FPS [Federal Protective Services] shows that this type of outreach is not occurring in any wholesale manner.”
The Press Secretary is careful to couch the official statement, that such is not occurring in any “wholesale” manner, leaving the door open to possible future revelations of such conduct.
But this official statement was based solely on a mid-November inquiry to two DHS sub-sections: Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and Federal Protective Services (FPS). And by the date of that statement, Federal Protective Services and apparently also the I&A Directorate had already purged, “restricted and/or rescinded,” any Occupy related intelligence products, as discussed further here.
it is not surprising that Press Secretary Chandler’s statement that no “wholesale’ coordination of Occupy related actions is based on incomplete information.
The Press Secretary, following the script, conveniently avoided other likely DHS repositories and departmental components, including the personnel deployed to Fusion Centers or to the DHS Operations Coordination; Planning sub-division, which according to the DHS web site is “responsible for monitoring the security of the United States on a daily basis and coordinating activities within the Department and with governors, Homeland Security Advisors, law enforcement partners, and critical infrastructure operators in all 50 states and more than 50 major urban areas nationwide.”
Before the first OWS action took place, the DHS Office Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) produced a series of NCCIC (National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center) alerts about the coming OWS demonstrations. When this was picked up by the media and it generated inquiry and press, the DHS learned its lesson: Misdirection.
In an email exchange dated September 29, 2011, DHS officials discuss the NCCIC alert and the fact that they will now need to respond to media inquiries about DHS monitoring and involvement in the response to the Occupy movement. The substantive discussion about how to handle the media is redacted, with one participant writing, “Here it is. That answer works-“ and the rest is redacted.
An October 5, 2011 document reflects that the DHS Philadelphia Megacenter was monitoring the OWS demonstration in New York, titled “Demonstration-Peaceful/Planned”, and reporting on assembly and movements “peacefully protesting union solidarity issues.”
An October 30, 2011 document shows DHS’ Battle Creek Megacenter also reporting that a “peaceful/unplanned” “Occupy Wall Street demonstration is taking place in Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, MO.”
These documents appear to be the tip of the iceberg, carefully submerged by the DHS. While there is policy discussion as to the propriety of a threat assessment regarding Occupy Pittsburgh, other emails reference additional internal inquiries about OWS that were withheld from public disclosure in response to this FOIA request.
Go read it. It's really long, there are hundreds of pages but the message is clear: American citizens who take part in the Occupy movement to protest the current economic injustices are being watched.