If anyone here wonders why I got so hot under the collar last weekend about Naomi Wolf, let me quote her original article:
So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.
The title of her Guardian article was "The Shocking Truth about the crackdown on Occupy". I note the use of the term "truth" in the title, and point back to her conclusion, which one might be led to believe is the "truth" as Naomi Wolf sees it, at least. What Wolf sees isn't something to ignore. She contends, after connecting her set of dots, that the United States Government in the person of the DHS is colluding with Congress and has been blessed by the President of the United States with the mission to wage violent civil war on citizens.
This was her "shocking truth." As I, Joshua Holland at AlterNet and many others pointed out, the only shocking thing about it was how utterly untrue that "truth" is.
Wolf has written a 5,300 word rebuttal to Holland's original debunking of her "truth" for Alternet. While she addresses specific allegations about sources and the like, she fails in any way to defend her central "truth"; that is, that there is a covert, bloody and intentional civil war being waged on ordinary citizens exercising their rights. In fact, by ignoring it, she affirms that her truth was no truth at all.
Originally, Wolf relied upon the Examiner.com article written by Rick Ellis (as cited by Wonkette and WashingtonsBlog.com), which alluded to DHS coordination but was subsequently updated to clarify that the DHS was involved in Portland, where protesters were on Federal land. She writes:
But Holland is seriously mistaken in reaching his premature conclusion that there is no evidence of DHS or federal participation in the crackdown, and for attacking me for having asserted the connection: "Mayors in a handful of cities," he concludes, "responding to local political pressures, decided to break up their local occupations – decisions that were announced to the press well in advance – and were advised as to how best to do so."
He is wrong on many counts. My evidence for federal coordination with local police exceeds the Wonkette citation, which was not, in fact, the basis of my confidence in writing about this coordination in the crackdown. I relied, rather, on many other sources of evidence. Among them, I was relying on what NYPD told me itself. I am certain that NYPD coordinates with federal authorities in OWS-related arrests because an NYPD official informed me that they did so through the bars of my cell, as part of his formal warning to me before my release, apparently to deter me from activities that might result in my rearrest. As I reported in the Guardian on 19 October 2011, part of the seventh precinct sergeant's caution to me about what could happen to me if I was arrested again, if I "rejoined [my] friends the protesters", was a threat based on his assertion of federal coordination with the arrests. He told me that in a second arrest, I would be photographed and fingerprinted, and the data fed into a federal database, to follow me forever. My partner, Avram Ludwig, confirmed that he was given the same warning about his data being fed into a federal database in the event of a future arrest.
The first sentence in bold is quite different from what she originally asserted. There is a material difference between coordination with local police and orchestrating a crackdown on orders that reach past Congress straight into the White House. Further, her "many other sources" appear to be a conversation she had with a sergeant at the NYPD rather than any one at the DHS, which proves nothing other than that a NYPD sergeant informed her of something she probably already knew: Fingerprints taken in local arrests are submitted and entered into the FBI's IAFIS database. This has been an ongoing effort since 1999.
There are legitimate arguments for and against IAFIS. They are worth considering, but IAFIS existed before the Occupy movement and it will afterward. Being informed after arrest that your fingerprints will go to that database is in no way, shape or form evidence of some conspiracy to wage war on citizens, nor is it unique to the Occupy movement. The only surprise is that she was surprised by it.
Wolf further relies upon FOIA requests to the DHS about their involvement with the Occupy raids. These FOIA requests are in process, and DHS appears to be working with those requesting documents to limit them to "senior DHS officials". Wolf sees this as some kind of effort to suppress access to DHS activity as it might relate to the Occupy movement. Does Wolf contend that DHS employees at the lowest level are part of some grand conspiracy to wage civil war? How would lower-ranking employees have the power or authority to wage such a war? It almost goes without saying that if one intends to allege a Grand Conspiracy, there should be evidence that officials at the top of the DHS ladder are involved in the formation and conduct of such a Grand Conspiracy. Yet Wolf views the DHS response to an ongoing and open FOIA request as some kind of evidence that this conspiracy does indeed exist.
Wolf also cites Congressional legislative authority as evidence that Congress is in collusion with the DHS to suppress the Occupy movement, and then agrees that there is no evidence of Congress colluding.
Can I offer formal documentation that this is how business is also done in relation to congressional decision-making about DHS, and then about DHS's own decision-making? Um – duh!– no. Obviously, I have no such documentation of this role of congressional self-interest. These favors and calculations are not generally put in writing; nor are they presented to journalists in press releases. But is it crazy to address this role of influence and expectation on those on the DHS subcommittee, or for that matter on any subcommittee? As anyone who has actually worked on the Hill knows, it would be crazy not to.
So again, we have Wolf feeling like it must be true, admitting she has no evidence for it, but contending that because she feels it, or has worked for a few months on the Hill, that it is true. That's pretty thin evidence to contend Congress is complicit in a civil war against US citizens. And indeed, she concludes that they bear additional investigation. I agree. It's always good to question and investigate. What's not good? Writing an article stating as "truth" things that probably warrant more investigation before drawing conclusions.
Here are a couple of things to note about the structure and jurisdiction of DHS. There is a division of DHS called "Federal Protective Service." Here is what they do:
The FPS mission is to render federal properties safe and secure for federal employees, officials and visitors in a professional and cost effective manner by deploying a highly trained and multi-disciplined police force. As the federal agency charged with protecting and delivering integrated law enforcement and security services to facilities owned or leased by the General Services Administration (GSA), FPS employs 1,225 federal staff (including 900 law enforcement security officers, criminal investigators, police officers, and support personnel) and 15,000 contract guard staff to secure over 9,000 buildings and safeguard their occupants. FPS provides comprehensive coverage for these facilities nationwide.
There have been pictures circulating which their circulators submit as proof that FPS vehicles are present at Occupy raids. It's difficult to tell whether or not they're actual images or not, but they've been traveling the Internet via Twitter, mostly. Here's the problem. Occupy protests which take place in cities are likely near Federal buildings. Federal buildings are part of what FPS protects. I'm certain there are some who would criticize the need for federal police near federal buildings, but again, the FPS exists and has been in existence for far more time than the Occupy protests.
As I originally said, if the FOIA requests yield evidence that the raids on the Occupy camps were a product of co-ordination with the DHS, then of course there is reason to ask if boundaries are overstepped and to protest that. But I would be quite surprised if the DHS were not consulted when these protests took place in areas near where they might have some jurisdiction, like Portland or cities with federal employees and federal buildings. In this day and age of budget shortfalls on every level, I can imagine cities would love to pass some of the expense off to the federal government for policing these protests, too.
Is Naomi Wolf 100 percent wrong? No, I think her instinct that DHS is present is probably right. But it's a long ride from a presence to a national conspiracy to wage civil war on citizens of this country. She did grave harm to the movement by alleging something far larger than anything she could prove. It's telling that she refuses to back down on it despite admitting she has no evidence to support the contention.
For more specific answers to Wolf's latest, please read Joshua Holland's response where he also expresses disappointment that she ignores central misstatements of facts while making baseless assertions.