“I Always Feel like Sombody’s Watching Me” – Secret FBI Documents prove Occupy Infiltration and Surveilance

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 Occupy LSX Take Over Unused Courthouse, Planning Mock Trial for 1%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.

[break]

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.

How To Occupy Wall Street or Keep Wall Street Occupied!

A fast, easy, free, and non-violent way to drive the big banks out of their greedy little minds is sitting in your mailbox right now. You just don’t know it yet.

The Day Mike Myers visited Occupy Wall Street

The day the unions came to visit… a Wall Street Tycoon calls the protestors anarchists, and calls Mark Ledziana monkey. Mike Myers chimes in. Plus a discussion on the evolution of the message.

Occupy the Dream: From Wall Street to Congress …. The Movement Continues!(w/video)

Four months after Occupy Wall Street grew into a nationwide phenomenon, America‘s Occupy activists plan to descend on Capitol Hill to “Occupy Congress” on Tuesday in what organizers hope could be the movement’s largest gathering yet.

Fascism in Progress – NYPD pulls the plug on #OWS Global Revolution TV

On Tuesday, NYPD arrested six individuals who ran OWS’ Globalrevolution.tv. According to law enforcement, the place where the individuals inhabited was “imminently perilous to life” and was a threat to the inhabitant’s health. Some say health concerns aren’t the real issues and claim NYPD tactics are changing and they are now targeting individuals. Goldie, OWS activist, gives us his take on the website shutdown and why he refuses to use his last name.

American’s Be Fruitful and OCCUPY!!!

and please don’t forget to “Like”

Occupy Cyberspace-American Autumn’s

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Mark Provost of Occupy New Hampshire on Exchange With Mitt Romney Over Corporate Personhood

Occupy New Hampshire activist Mark Provost made national headlines Wednesday when he attended a town hall meeting hosted by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and asked about his past comment that “corporations are people.” Provost’s question to Romney came Occupy New Hampshire is preparing for a series of events leading up to the state’s Republican primary to highlight the disproportionate impact corporations and wealthy donors have on the political process.

Democracy Now! airs an excerpt of the town-hall exchange and get Provost’s response to Romney reply. “I think his response, really, again is this denial that there’s this class in the country, and that there are some people within the corporation — specifically, the workers — that are taking it on the chin so that the United States’ executive management can make massive bonuses and serve their shareholders rather well too, because the profits largely go to capital gains and dividends.”

To watch the complete daily, independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, and for more Democracy Now! reports on the Citizens United ruling, the 2012 elections, and Occupy Wall Street.

American’s Be Fruitful and OCCUPY!!!

and please don’t forget to “Like”

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If You Watch anything today…. Please Watch This! “Occupy The World”

Rarely do images put a topic in perspective as this video does.

You Must watch this.

 Then You Must act!

American’s Be Fruitful and OCCUPY!!!

and please don’t forget to “Like”

Occupy Cyberspace-American Autumn’s

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Movement in Motion – “Occupy The Caucus” Targets Iowa (w/Video)

Two of 2011′s biggest attention getters are about to collide in Iowa. All year, a pack of Republican candidates have been relentlessly campaigning for their party’s Presidential nomination. Those candidates are about to run into protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“Occupy The Caucus” organizers have promised not to disrupt the Iowa caucuses that happen on Tuesday January 3. However, they do plan to “occupy” the candidate’s campaign headquarters and appearances, letting them know they disapprove of how government is allowing greedy corporations to run the country and accumulate most of the wealth. Occupy supporters met a week ahead of the caucuses in Des Moines to start organizing their actions for the week.

As you can see in the video, participants broke up into candidate “preference” groups.The difference is that people were asked to stand not with the candidate they support, but with the candidate (Republican or Democrat) whose campaign headquarters they intend to occupy over this week. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, December 28 ? 30, supporters will go to campaign headquarters and try to ask the candidates “real questions”.

They say they will be loud, determined and heard. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, January 1 ? 3, they plan to “chase the candidates and their Wall Street cronies around the state of Iowa, dogging their heels at all their black-tie dinners and staged media events, drowning out their empty rhetoric with the strong, clear message of the 99%: We are taking American democracy back!”

The group’s website says “We?re taking our demands for true democracy and economic justice directly to President Obama and the GOP candidates, to the banks, and to the media. They?ve ignored each of us as individuals, but they can?t ignore us all.”

American’s Be Fruitful and OCCUPY!!!

and please don’t forget to “Like”

Occupy Cyberspace-American Autumn’s

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Two Can Play at that game! – The Occupy Movement debuts it’s own UAV drone force

Occupy Wall Street‘s new drone: ‘The Occucopter’

With all the news about UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or Drones in the news, it was just a matter of time until these devices would be available to the general public.  Perhaps one of the most innovate use of theses moderately priced over-the-counter drones is being utilized by the Occupy Movement.

The Guardian UK writes……..

Drones have been utilized by police in the past to monitor large crowds of protesters but this might be the first time a drone has been used by protesters to monitor the police. Tim Pool has modified a Parrot AR Drone to provide a live feed of Occupy Wall Street from above, offering an angle unique from all the other Occupy live feeds already providing footage of the protests across the globe.

The Parrot AR Drone is a fairly inexpensive quadracopter which can be piloted via a smartphone or iPad. Its built-in video camera and $300 price tag make it a pretty accessible tool for protesters, no matter what the cause.

According to The Guardian, Pool is attempting to make it so multiple people in a crowd can assume control of the drone, just in case the pilot gets busted by the police. He also hopes to create a 3G controller to allow people to pilot the drone remotely.

As the line between advanced surveillance drone and remote control toy blur, we can probably expect to see a lot more amateurs fiddling with drones like this in the future.

The overwhelming amount of video footage of the Occupy protests – including that of the UC Davis pepper spraying incident – has mainly been enabled by technology like YouTube and smartphone cameras, tools that protesters in past decades never had access to. Now we can start expecting wide, sky-high shots of the drama as well.

American’s Be Fruitful and OCCUPY!!!

and please don’t forget to “Like”

Occupy Cyberspace-American Autumn’s

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Is this really America? – Occupy Bishop arrested, wife beaten…

Last weekend – patriots with the movement attempted to set up a new occupation in New York City – near Trinity Church – one of the oldest churches in the city. But that effort was blocked – when the church refused to give sanctuary to the movement – and the NYPD moved in. Bishop Packard and his wife Brook Packard – who were also on hand for last week’s demonstrations, and were arrested and beaten.