[Marxism] F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement
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Tue Dec 25 04:02:32 MST 2012
December 24, 2012
F.B.I. Counterterrorism Agents Monitored Occupy Movement, Records Show
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and COLIN MOYNIHAN
WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism
agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its
communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records.
The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a
counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two
landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American
Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for
the Occupy Wall Street.”
That was around the time that Occupy Wall Street activists set up a camp
in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, spawning a protest movement across
the United States that focused the nation’s attention on issues of
In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were
routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with
businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities.
An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office
was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist.
The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the
movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall
Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events
had “violent tendencies.”
The memo said that because of high rates of unemployment, “the movement
was spreading throughout Florida and there were several Facebook pages
dedicated to specific chapters based on geographical areas.”
The F.B.I. was concerned that the movement would provide “an outlet for
a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with
general government dissatisfaction.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism
for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather
intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty
and poverty issues.
The disclosure of the F.B.I. records comes a little more than a year
after the police ousted protesters from Zuccotti Park in November 2011.
Law-enforcement agencies undertook similar actions around the country
against Occupy Wall Street groups.
Occupy Wall Street has lost much of its visibility since then, but
questions remain about how local and federal law-enforcement officials
monitored and treated the protesters.
The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a
civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of
Information request to the F.B.I. Many parts of the documents were
redacted by the bureau.
The records provide one of the first glimpses into how deeply involved
federal law-enforcement authorities were in monitoring the activities of
the movement, which is sometimes described in extreme terms.
For example, according to a memo written by the F.B.I.’s New York field
office in August 2011, bureau personnel met with officials from the New
York Stock Exchange to discuss “the planned Anarchist protest titled
‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011.”
“The protest appears on Anarchist Web sites and social network pages on
the Internet,” the memo said.
It added: “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.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. in Washington cautioned against “drawing
conclusions from redacted” documents.
“The F.B.I. recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to engage in
constitutionally protected activity,” said the spokesman, Paul Bresson.
“While the F.B.I. is obligated to thoroughly investigate any serious
allegations involving threats of violence, we do not open investigations
based solely on First Amendment activity. In fact, the Department of
Justice and the F.B.I.’s own internal guidelines on domestic operations
strictly forbid that.”
But Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for
Civil Justice Fund, said the documents demonstrated that the F.B.I. had
acted improperly by gathering information on Americans involved in
“The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being
entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information
widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently,
private entities,” she said. “This is precisely the threat — people do
not know when or how it may be used and in what manner.”
The records show little evidence that the members of the movement
planned to commit violence. But they do describe a discussion on the
Internet “regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement about when it is
okay to shoot a police officer” and a law-enforcement meeting held in
Des Moines because “there may potentially be an attempt to stop the Iowa
Caucuses by people involved in Occupy Iowa.”
There are no references within the documents to agency personnel
covertly infiltrating Occupy branches.
The documents indicate, however, that the F.B.I. obtained information
from police departments and other law-enforcement agencies that appear
to have been gathered by someone observing the protesters as they
The documents do not detail recent activities by the F.B.I. involving
Occupy Wall Street.
But one activist, Billy Livsey, 48, said two F.B.I. agents visited him
in Brooklyn over the summer to question him about planned protests at
the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and about plans to
celebrate the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in September.
The agents, Mr. Livsey said, told him they knew he was among a group of
people involved in the Occupy Wall Street “direct action” group that
distributed information about the movement’s activities.
He said he felt unnerved by the visit.
“It was surprising and troubling to me,” Mr. Livsey said.
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