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FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring Issue

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FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring Issue:
Free Speech Gov't Transparency Case
Occupy Crackdown FOIA Requests
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
(PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal
that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a
potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency
acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful
protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.

The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI
offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting
surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month
prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and
other Occupy actions around the country.

“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a
window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring,
and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy
movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the
Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). “These documents show that
the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests
against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential
criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these
federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall
Street and Corporate America.”

“The documents are heavily redacted, and it is clear from the production
that the FBI is withholding far more material. We are filing an appeal
challenging this response and demanding full disclosure to the public of
the records of this operation,” stated Heather Benno, staff attorney
with the PCJF.

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 the DSAC
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 protestors 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 (Joint Terrorism 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
Ashwaubenon 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.”

The PCJF filed Freedom of Information Act demands with multiple federal
law enforcement agencies in the fall of 2011 as the Occupy crackdown
began. The FBI initially attempted to limit its search to only one
limited record keeping index. Recognizing this as a common tactic used
by the FBI to conduct an inadequate search, the PCJF pressed forward
demanding searches be performed of the FBI headquarters as well as FBI
field offices nationwide.

The PCJF will continue to push for public disclosure of the government’s
spy files and will release documents as they are obtained.