“The Watters’ World segment on The O’Reilly Factor generally provides a bit of levity in the midst of the more serious political debating, and occasionally gets just a tad awkward. Case in point, Jesse Watters talked to a convention of Muslims in a segment that aired on the 12th anniversary of 9/11. The end result was a somewhat awkward segment in which Watters grilled Muslims about acts of terrorism committed by Islamic extremists…”.* What about acts of terror from right wing extremists (imaginary, according to Bill O’Reilly)?
“George Zimmerman, the Florida ‘neighborhood watch‘ volunteer armed with a gun, has been acquitted of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of unarmed African American teenager, Trayvon Martin.
This verdict is at once so shocking and so expected to me that without a doubt it exposes the lie at the heart of the American ‘criminal justice‘ system. We do not have, especially where African Americans are concerned, a “justice” system. It is often an injustice system that results in unequal treatment.”*
George Zimmerman was found “not guilty” of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. But is this right? Is this justice? There were many, many times after the moment of Martin’s death that were not handled properly, and now we as a people must deal with the implications the “not guilty” verdict sets forth.
It was the biggest information leak in US diplomatic history — over 250,000 US diplomatic messages or “cables” between the US State Department and US embassies all over the world — turned into a global sensation by the website WikiLeaks.
The cables dominated newspaper headlines and front pages, but what does this vast trove of documents really tell us about American diplomacy, and what impact has the leaking of the cables had?
In the first in-depth television analysis of the secret documents, Richard Bilton lifts the lid on a superpower’s secret thoughts and aspirations, plans and strategies, struggles and fears.
In this two-part series, he speaks to people at the top of the US Government about their experiences of the leaking of the cables. He finds out first-hand what the impact of the leak has been for US diplomats. And he travels to the place where the leaking of the cables helped fuel revolution.
He unpicks what the cables really tell us about the world’s greatest superpower, the stories America did not want you to hear — the difference between what the US says in public and what it says in private
- Icons Of The Iraq War: Battlefield Secrets And The Death Of Reuters Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen (rferl.org)
- Bradley Manning’s Own Words: Blowing the Whistle on War Crimes (dissidentvoice.org)
- Manning: I didn’t aid enemy; cables show need for diplomatic transparency (EndtheLie.com)
- Soldier: Leaks Meant to Enlighten on US Policy (abcnews.go.com)
- Manning pleads guilty in WikiLeaks case, faces 20 years (thehindu.com)
- WikiLeaks has more US secrets to reveal – Assange (rt.com)
- GI pleads guilty in WikiLeaks case, faces 20 years – San Jose Mercury News (mercurynews.com)
- Bildt accused of leaking secrets to the US (thelocal.se)
- Blowing the Whistle on War Crimes (dissidentvoice.org)
- Bradley Manning admits to leaking ‘the most significant documents of our time’ (rt.com)
It really isn’t a surprise to any of us who participate in the Occupy Movement, that the many Occupy groups across the nation and the world, would be infiltrated by the powers that be at some point. It was expected, and in many cases prepared for. What is a surprise is the collective of agencies both public and private in the United States and abroad, that feared the Occupy Movement, and worked together in an effort to conduct surveillance of it’s operations and in some cases, attempted to thwart and/or subvert their plans.
Once secret documents reveal the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street from its earliest days and treated the nonviolent movement as a potential terrorist threat. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential threat when organizing first began in August of 2011.
Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities, despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities. We’re joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the FBI documents through the Freedom of Information Act. “We can see decade after decade with each social justice movement that the FBI conducts itself in the same role over and over again, which is to act really as the secret police of the establishment against the people,” Verheyden-Hilliard says.
A full transcript of the discussion after the jump.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin with a look at newly revealed documents that show the FBI monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement from its earliest days last year. Internal government records show Occupy was treated as a potential terrorism threat when organizing first began in August of 2011. Counterterrorism agents were used to track Occupy activities despite the internal acknowledgment that the movement opposed violent tactics. The monitoring expanded across the country as Occupy grew into a national movement, with FBI agents sharing information with businesses, local police agencies and universities. One FBI memo warned that Occupy could prove to be an “outlet” through which activists could exploit “general government dissatisfaction.” Although the documents provide no clear evidence of government infiltration, they do suggest the FBI used information from local law enforcement agencies gathered by someone observing Occupy activists on the ground.
AMY GOODMAN: The heavily redacted FBI records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a Freedom of Information Act request. We invited the FBI to join us on the program to discuss the latest revelations, but they declined. Instead, spokesperson Paul Bresson issued a written statement saying, quote, “The FBI cautions against drawing conclusions from redacted FOIA documents.” He also said, quote, “It is law enforcement’s duty to use all lawful tools to protect their communities.”
Well, for more, we’re joined by Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. She’s executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which obtained the documents showing how the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street, joining us now from Washington, D.C.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mara. Tell us what you found. We’ve got time. Tell us what you found in these documents.
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, the documents, as you stated, show that the FBI and American intelligence agencies were monitoring and reporting on Occupy Wall Street before the first tent even went up in Zuccotti Park. The documents that we have been able to obtain show the FBI communicating with the New York Stock Exchange in August of 2011 about the upcoming Occupy demonstrations, about plans for the protests. It shows them meeting with or communicating with private businesses. And throughout the materials, there is repeated evidence of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, American intelligence agencies really working as a private intelligence arm for corporations, for Wall Street, for the banks, for the very entities that people were rising up to protest against.
AMY GOODMAN: Interesting that they came out on Friday before Christmas?
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, we certainly thought so. We have been trying to get these documents for more than a year. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed original FOIA demands with federal agencies as well as municipalities and police departments all around the United States, and we did so in the fall of 2011, when there was evidence of a coordinated crackdown on Occupy all around the country. And we wanted to get the documents out to be able to show what the government was doing. And the FBI has stonewalled for a year, and we were finally able to get these documents. They came to us, you know, as you said, the Friday before the holiday weekend. And we wanted to get them out to people right away. We assumed the FBI was expecting that, you know, it would just get buried. And instead, I have to say, it was, you know, great to be able to get these up and have people around the United States be able to see what the FBI is doing.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Mara, what about the issue of actual infiltrators, either paid or sent in by law enforcement or the FBI into the Occupy groups?
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, the documents are heavily redacted. There is a lot of material that, on the pages themselves, we cannot see. And the documents also, in terms of the breadth and scope of the production, we believe that there is a lot more that’s being withheld. Even when you go through the text of the documents, you can see that there’s a lot more in terms of meetings and memos that must exist. And we are filing an appeal to demand and fight for more material to be released.
But even in these heavily redacted documents, you can see the FBI using at least private entities as a proxy force for what appears to be infiltration. There is—there are documents that show the Federal Reserve in Richmond was reporting to the FBI, working with the Capitol Police in Virginia, and reporting and giving updates on planning meetings and discussions within the Occupy movement. That would appear, minimally, that they were sending undercovers, if not infiltrators, into those meetings.
There is another document that shows the FBI meeting with private port security officers in Anchorage, Alaska, in advance of the West Coast port actions. And that document has that private port security person saying that they are going to go attend a planning meeting of the demonstrators, and they’re reporting back to the FBI. They coordinate with the FBI. The FBI says that they will put them in touch with someone from the Anchorage Police Department, that that person should take the police department officer with him, as well.
And so these documents also show the intense coordination both with private businesses, with Wall Street, with the banks, and with state police departments and local police departments around the country.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break and then go specifically to several of the documents you got under the Freedom of Information Act. We’re talking to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, who is the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which got the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, has been trying to get them over the past few years. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We go back right now to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which released documents showing how the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street. I want to turn right now to one of the documents. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. I want to turn to part of a memo dated October 19, 2011, from the FBI’s field office in Jacksonville, Florida. The document is titled, quote, “Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorism.” It shows the FBI was concerned the Occupy movement, quote, “may provide an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.” In particular, the document cites certain areas of concern in Central Florida where, quote, “some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.” Mara, can you talk about this idea of a lone offender threat?
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: I think that that is very much a measure of box checking by the FBI. I don’t believe—and their documents show that they did not believe—that this was a movement that posed a threat of violence. Now, throughout the documents, they’re using their counterterrorism resources and counterterrorism authorities, they are defining the movement as domestic terrorism and potentially criminal in nature. But the fact is, they also throughout the documents say that they know that this is a peaceful movement, that it is organized on a basis of nonviolence. And by that logic, of course, you can investigate everyone in every activity in the United States on the grounds that someone might do something sometime. And, in fact, think about the tea party rallies. The tea party was having rallies all around the United States where their members come carrying weapons—they’re open carrying—including at events where the president of the United States was speaking. But the FBI is turning its attention to this movement.
And when they reference the locations in Florida, I think that’s actually a political analysis, a recognition that this is a movement whose time has come. And whether it’s in hibernation right now, it is based on an organic reality of the economic situation in the United States. And the FBI is referencing the high level of unemployment, the needs that people have, and it’s a recognition, too, of the dynamism and the dynamic nature of the people of the United States, the people all over the world, when they organize and come together. That’s the threat that we believe the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are truly focused on, not a threat of violence.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Mara, I’d like to turn to another document from the FBI’s New York field office that shows FBI personnel met with representatives of the New York Stock Exchange on August 19th, 2011, to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that were set for the following month. The memo describes the meeting, saying, quote, “Discussed was the planned anarchist protest titled ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011. The protest appears on anarchist websites and social network pages on the internet.” The memo goes on to say, quote, “Numerous incidents have occurred in the past which show attempts by anarchist groups to disrupt, influence, and or shut down normal business operations of financial districts.” Talk about these meetings between law enforcement and the parties targeted by Occupy Wall Street, Mara.
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, again, the documents throughout show that they know that the movement is nonviolent. And the FBI routinely uses reference to anarchists and demonizing anarchists or a political ideology as if it’s an—identical with criminal behavior. And so, they often reference anarchists in these materials and other materials that we’ve gotten over the years in our litigation, even where they know there are not acts of violence. And we also know how frequently the police themselves, you know, mask up and infiltrate demonstrate demonstrations, posing themselves as the anarchists that they’re always saying that they’re worried about.
But those documents again show the FBI working with private industry, with the banks. They’re not bringing evidence of real threats of violence. They’re talking about political uprising. And I think we can be sure that if they had evidence of criminal activity, they wouldn’t have redacted it. They would have been happy to produce that. But they don’t have it. And over and over again, you have the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security basically conducting themselves in a form of police statism in the United States against the people of the United States.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about the historical precedent here, the history of the FBI’s involvement in monitoring, surveiling and sometimes disrupting peaceful, dissident activity in the United States?
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: Well, exactly. This is just part and parcel of the long history of the FBI. And this is not the first incident, it is not going to be the last, and it’s not the worst, to be honest. We all know that. It’s not—you know, the FBI has a long history — ’50s, ’60s, ’70s — of mass surveillance, of targeting of people based on political ideology, of efforts to disrupt the movements for social justice, for efforts to shut down black liberation movement, the antiwar movement. And in the ’70s, of course, there were these great revelations about the abuses of the FBI, of the CIA, of other security agencies. And there were the Church Committee hearings. There were supposedly protections put in place. But we can see, you know, decade after decade, with each social justice movement, that the FBI conducts itself in the same role over and over again, which is to act really as the secret police of the establishment against the people.
AMY GOODMAN: Mara, a document from October 2011 indicates law enforcement from the Federal Reserve in Richmond, Virginia, was giving the FBI information about Occupy Wall Street. It says the Federal Reserve source contacted the FBI to, quote, “pass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.” Interestingly, the memo also notes that Occupy Wall Street, quote, “has been known to be peaceful but demonstrations across the United States show that other groups have joined in such as Day Of Rage and the October 2011 Movement,” it says. The memo describes repeated communications to, quote, “pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies.” Can you talk about the significance of this document, Mara?
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: That document is one of the ones that would indicate the FBI was minimally using private entities or local police departments as proxy forces for infiltration, for undercover operations, to monitor, surveil, collect information. And that document, too, and the series of documents also showed the breadth of the reporting. So you have individuals on the ground with the Federal Reserve Bank, with the state police agencies, apparently monitoring and collecting information on the planning discussions of protests in Richmond, reporting them into the FBI and also reporting them into state fusion centers and to other intelligence and domestic terrorism data centers.
Now, the data warehousing in the United States, the mass collection of data on the people of the United States, is of great concern. And you can see, through these documents, the FBI is collecting a lot of information on completely lawful activities, on the activities of people who are not alleged to have committed criminal acts, are not planning criminal acts, who actually are engaged in cherished, First Amendment-protected activities. And yet, it’s being collected under the imprimatur of domestic terrorism or criminal activity and being entered into these mass databases, which have a huge level of dissemination and access and which are virtually unregulated.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, for joining us, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which released the documents showing how the FBI monitored Occupy Wall Street. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.
- Documents show FBI considered Occupy movement potential threat (wtvr.com)
- Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy | Naomi Wolf (guardian.co.uk)
- BEST OF THE WEB: YOU are the ‘terrorists': FOIA documents reveal FBI was monitoring and inflitrating Occupy Wall Street movement as a ‘potential terror threat’ before it even began (sott.net)
- The FBI vs. Occupy: Secret Docs Reveal “Counterterrorism” Monitoring of OWS from Its Earliest Days (kjens22141989.wordpress.com)
- Secret Docs Reveal FBI’s ‘Counterterrorism’ Monitoring of OWS (crooksandliars.com)
- Documents Reveal FBI Teamed With Corporations To Spy On Occupy Wall Street, Classified As A “Terrorist Threat” (disinfo.com)
- The FBI vs. Occupy: Secret Docs Reveal “Counterterrorism” Monitoring of OWS from Its Earliest Days (alternet.org)
- Terrorists and criminals: Documents prove FBI monitored OWS (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- FBI Monitored Occupy Wall Street As Potential Terrorist, Criminal Threat (huffingtonpost.com)
- Terrorists and criminals: Documents prove FBI monitored OWS (rt.com)
Tuesday’s vote in the US was about much more than the White House and Capitol Hill. Across the country Americans were called on to cast their ballot in a wide range of referendums – and the results indicat the US is far more liberal than many thought.
Maine and Maryland made history by becoming the first two states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote – breaking a losing streak that has seen 30 states vote down such bills.
Gay weddings are already legal in six other states and Washington D.C., but that was down to legislators and the courts rather than the public.
The results follow recent polls showing for the first time the majority of Americans support marriage equality. And in Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay woman to be elected to the Senate.
Baldwin’s sexuality barely featured in her campaign and after victory she said she had not run to make history but to make a difference.
Obama secured the majority of the female vote. But more and more women are doing it for themselves with the number of female senators rising to a historic 20 per cent. That is just slightly less than in France which has a similar system.
In another sign of change in the Senate, Tea Party-backed Republican Ted Cruz becomes the first Hispanic to represent Texas.
One name that has been a constant on Capitol Hill for the last half a century is Kennedy – at least until the death of JFK‘s youngest brother, Ted Kennedy in 2009. But the election of Joe Kennedy III – JFK’s great nephew – ends the hiatus.
He goes to the House of Representatives for
Massachusetts 4th District.
It has been an electoral marathon, to say the least. And for those who are finding it all just a bit too much, Washington State and Colorado became the first states to approve the recreational use of cannabis in a referendum.
Marijuana is already allowed for medicinal purposes in other parts of the country.
There is no doubt the 2008 presidential vote was historic – but it looks like quite a few taboos have been broken this time round too.
President Obama tells the American people that as a nation we are moving forward four years after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He says while there’s more work to do, America‘s businesses have added 5.2 million jobs over the past 31 months and the unemployment rate is at the lowest level since the President took office. To keep our country moving forward, he saysCongress should act on the President’s plan to keep taxes low for 98% of the American people, rather than holding it hostage to give more budget-busting tax cuts to the wealthiest 2%. Congress should cut red tape so responsible homeowners can save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at lower rates, and act on the President’s proposal to create a veterans jobs corps to help our returning heroes find work. He says it’s time for our elected leaders to get back to work to help the middle class and build our economy from the middle-out, not the top down.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wants to cut taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor.
- “Eric’s Zombie Lie”: Cantor Says It’s Time To Tax The Poor (mykeystrokes.com)
- Eric Cantor Avoids Answering Whether He Thinks There’s Anti-Semitism In House GOP (mediaite.com)
- Eric Cantor says it’s time to tax the poor (dailykos.com)
- House Of Representatives Approves Cantor’s $46 Billion Tax Giveaway (thinkprogress.org)
- Eric Cantor, rap aficionado (politico.com)
- Eric Cantor: With leaders like these, who needs an opposition? (brobrubel.wordpress.com)
- Eric Cantor’s pregnant silence (blogs.jta.org)
- Duncan Black Thinks Eric Cantor Has Heard Some Remarkable Religious Insults from His House Republican Colleagues (delong.typepad.com)
- Cantor Defends Rep. Stearns Despite Birtherism: ‘He Has My Full Confidence’ (thinkprogress.org)
- Top GOP Congressional figure Eric Cantor just endorsed… (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- Medical Ethics (socgen180genocide.wordpress.com)
- Ethics case back before Nevada Supreme Court (mysanantonio.com)
- Ethics In Government (oelwingo.wordpress.com)
- Ethics Complaints Against California Fish and Game Commisioner Who Shot Mountain Lion (naturalhistorywanderings.com)
- Run for congress (jdmullenary.wordpress.com)
- The Government and its greed..! (onemorecup.wordpress.com)
- Assembly Member Mary Hayashi Introduces Legislation to Increase Public Access to Statements of Economic Interests (prweb.com)
- Role ethics as virtue ethics? (warpweftandway.wordpress.com)
- Conference Will Let Professors and Industry Experts Weigh in on the Ethics of Search Engine Optimization (prweb.com)
Embattled North Minneapolis homeowner Monique White had her day in court Monday morning, and faced the possibility of being evicted from her house this week. But apparent last-minute jockeying between her defense team and attorneys for Freddie Mac postponed her hearing until Friday when she’ll face a jury trial. The postponement, and potential for a settlement, was a small victory for White, her legal team led by Rachel E. B. Lang of the National Lawyer’s Guild and state representative Bobby Joe Champion (DFL, District 58B), and a team of activists from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) and Occupy Homes. White, a single African-American mother who works two jobs, including the nightshift at a North Minneapolis liquor store, invited Occupy activists into her foreclosed home early last November to fight off eviction.
She and South Minneapolis ex-Marine Bobby Hull (who won his home with a renegotiated mortgage last month) have become pinnacles in the burgeoning Occupy Homes movement and have garnered attention from national media. Freddie Mac moved to foreclose on White after she fell behind in paying her mortgage, which was previously controlled by U.S. Bank. Occupy activists have targeted both Freddie Mac and U.S. Bank with their campaign in recent months, claiming that the financial institutions that were bailed out by the federal government should give homeowners a second chance too.
Approximately 70 activists filled a housing courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center Monday morning in solidarity with Monique White. They carried red and white roses (“red representing our love for Monique, white representing our hope for a settlement,” said Occupy organizer Nick Espinosa) and raised their right fists into the air as the court was called to order. But the activists remained silent and peaceful as the proceedings were quickly delayed until Friday. “Today is a day that should not be happening,” NOC organizer Steve Fletcher addressed a rally before the court hearing.
“Today is a day that we’ve been trying to avoid for a long time. It’s also a day like any other day. Because in Monique White’s zip code, this has happened twice a day for six years. This has to change. This can’t keep happening twice a day. We can’t keep taking away families’ homes. And if it’s happening this often, there’s a problem with the system and the system needs to change.” Last Friday, the Minnesota Attorney General‘s Office encouraged Freddie Mac to work out a deal with Monique White, but the lender has yet to comply. Over the weekend Congressman Keith Ellison released a statement in solidarity with the embattled homeowner: ?I encourage Bank of America and Freddie Mac to act in good faith and negotiate a solution that works well for all parties and allows Monique and her children to keep their home.? Meanwhile, state senator Scott Dibble and state representative Karen Clark (both DFL) have sponsored a people’s bailout bill, which calls for a two-year moratorium on home foreclosures in Minnesota.
A much anticipated hearing will take place Wednesday at noon at the state capitol in St. Paul. And Monique White remains at the heart of a larger political battle that is escalating in Minnesota and nationwide.
- Occupiers Help Minneapolis Woman Stave Off Freddie Mac Foreclosure Proceedings (thinkprogress.org)
- Occupy MN to Defend U.S. Marine’s Foreclosed Home (occupycyberspace.wordpress.com)
- Ex-Marine Re-Occupies His Own Foreclosed Home in Fight Against Freddie Mac, JPMorgan Chase (occupycyberspace.wordpress.com)
- Houses Being Occupied, Banks Taking Notice: How ‘Occupy Our Homes’ Is Evolving (alternet.org)
- Occupy DC Protests Freddie Mac Foreclosure of One Family (axsmithlaw.wordpress.com)
- Occupy DC Helps Grandmother Avoid Eviction, Stay In Her Home (thinkprogress.org)
- Family Who Re-Occupied Foreclosed Home Resists Eviction (huffingtonpost.com)
- Changes to the Underwater Refinance Plan (bestfloridamortgage.wordpress.com)
- Treasury To Probe Freddie Mac’s Investments (alternet.org)
President Obama speaks at the United Auto Workers Annual Conference about the success of the auto industry, which is creating jobs and making profits after nearly collapsing before the President took office. February 28, 2012.
- Obama: Auto bailouts worked (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Obama looking to Michigan on GOP primary day (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- Greg Sargent Says That President Obama Has Eaten His Wheaties This Morning… (delong.typepad.com)
- Obama: Politicians rewriting history on autos (thegrio.com)
- POTUS’ Day Ahead: Shoring up the UAW vote (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- Obama forcefully rebuts Mitt Romney in speech to auto workers union (dailykos.com)
- The Side-Eye: “Money Makin” Mitt Romney Accuses President Obama Of Political Corruption In The Auto-Industry Bail Outs! (bossip.com)
- Obama to meet auto union workers as Republicans hold primary contest in Michigan (vancouversun.com)
- Barack Obama to meet with auto union workers (windsorstar.com)
- Romney Taking Heat For Statements About Cars (inquisitr.com)