"Counter-terrorism" agencies' domestic spying on free speech activity
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-funded Fusion Centers used their vast anti-terrorism and anti-crime authority and funding to conduct a sprawling, nationwide and hour-by-hour surveillance effort that targeted even the smallest activity of peaceful protestors in the Occupy Movement in the fall and winter of 2011. This spying effort was exposed in a report issued today by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) based on 4,000 pages of government documents obtained by the PCJF.
The newly published documents reveal the actual workings of the Fusion Centers, created ostensibly to coordinate anti-terrorism efforts following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in collecting and providing surveillance information on peaceful protestors.
The new documents roll back the curtain on the Fusion Centers and show the communications, interactions and emails of a massive national web of federal agents, officials, police, and private “security” contractors. They accumulated and shared information reporting on all manner of peaceful and lawful political activity that took place during the Occupy movement, from protests and rallies to meetings and educational lectures. This enormous spying and monitoring apparatus included the Pentagon, FBI, DHS, police departments and chiefs, private contractors and commercial business interests.
PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated: "The U.S. Fusion Centers are using their vast counter-terrorism resources to target the domestic social justice movement as a criminal or terrorist enterprise. This is an abuse of power and corruption of democracy."
Carl Messineo, PCJF Legal Director, stated: "Fusion Centers are supposedly targeting terrorists planning catastrophic acts of violence. Instead, they target peaceful dissent. Rather than being a challenge to terrorism, the Fusion Centers are a threat to civil liberties, democratic dissent and the social and political fabric of this country. The time has long passed for the centers to be defunded."
To read the full PCJF report on the Fusion Centers' domestic spying operation, follow this link. Sections of the report include:
- Anti-Terrorism Resources Devoted to Spy on Occupy Movement; Major City Police Chiefs Used Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center to Produce Regular National Reports on Occupy Movement
- Investigating Terrorism in Boston: The Boston Regional Intelligence Center Monitored and Catalogued Occupy-Associated Activities from Student Organizing to Political Lectures
- Pentagon and Dept. of Defense Worked Through Fusion Centers to Target Occupy Movement
- The Terrorist Threat to U.S. National Security: Black Friday Consumer Boycotts
- Let’s go down to Occupy Encampment “hear some tunes and get laid”: Communication from Washington D.C. Fusion Center official to Maryland Fusion Center official
- Scared When the “Watched” Start Watching the Watchers
- Watching the PCJF
- A Well-Funded Surveillance-Industrial Complex in Search of a Mission to Justify its Exponential Funding
- The Fusion Centers are Incompatible with Democracy and Must Be Ended
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has also initiated a nationwide campaign to flood Congress and the President with letters demanding that the Fusion Centers be de-funded and ended immediately.