IssuesGov't Transparency, Surveillance
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests following evictions of Occupy encampments across the nation with the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Park Service (NPS), and municipal agencies requesting that the agencies release information that they possess related to the involvement of federal agencies and local law enforcement in the planning of a coordinated crackdown on encampments.
The PCJF has obtained thousands of pages of documents pursuant to its Freedom of Information Act demands and made them available for public viewing. The newly obtained documents show coordination and intelligence monitoring by the DHS, the FBI, the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies of “Occupy-type” protests.
FBI documents revealed 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.
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.
Separate government documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) showed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency created after the September 11 attacks under the rubric of combating terrorism, conducts daily monitoring of peaceful, lawful protests as a matter of policy.
Functioning as a secret political police force against people participating in lawful, peaceful free speech activity, the heavily redacted documents show that the DHS “Threat Management Division” directed Regional Intelligence Analysts to provide a “Daily Intelligence Briefing” that includes a category of reporting on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations” along with “Domestic Terrorist Activity.”
The documents show the routine use of Fusion Centers for intelligence gathering on peaceful demonstrations as well as the use of DHS’ “Mega Centers” for collection of surveillance information on demonstrations.
The CIA won’t disclose any potential involvement in OWS crackdowns, resopnding to the PCJF's FOIA request by saying that because the Agency is legally prohibited from policing or conducting domestic law enforcement, their system is not configured as to allow the CIA to “search reasonably calculated to lead to responsive records.”