Documents Show How White House and Democrats Worked to Protect the Banks Against Protests
Did the White House Direct the Police Crackdown on Occupy?
A new trove of heavily redacted documents
provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for
Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the
National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly evident that there was and
is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy
The new documents, which PCJF National Director Mara
Verheyden-Hilliard insists “are likely only a subset of responsive
materials,” in the possession of federal law enforcement agencies, only
“scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion
Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes
thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and
monitor the social justice movement.”
Nonetheless, blacked-out and limited though they are, she says they
offer clues to the extent of the government’s concern about and focus on
the wave of occupations that spread across the country beginning with
last September’s Occupy Wall Street action in New York City.
The latest documents, reveal “intense involvement” by the DHS’s
so-called National Operations Center (NOC). In its own literature, the
DHS describes the NOC as “the primary national-level hub for domestic
common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing,
communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of
terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.”
The DHS says that the NOC is “the primary conduit for the White House
Situation Room” and that it also “facilitates information sharing and
operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal,
non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”
A better description for a fascist police state network could not be written.
Remember, this vast yet centralized operation — what
Verheyden-Hilliard describes as “a vast, tentacled, national
intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government
operates against its own people” — was in this case deployed not against
some terrorist organization or even mob or drug cartel, but rather
against a loose-knit band of protesters, all conscientiously and
publicly committed to nonviolence, who were exercising their
Constitutionally-protected right to gather in public places and to speak
out against the crimes and abuses of the corporate elite and the
politicians who are bought and paid by that elite.
Among the documents obtained by the PCJF in this second batch of
responses to its FOIA filing is one from the NOC Fusion Center Desk
dated Nov. 5, 2011, which collects at the federal level and then
distributes the names and contact information of a group of Occupy
protesters who were arrested during a demonstration in Dallas, TX
against Bank of America, one of the nation’s biggest predatory
lenders. Although none of the seven arrested were charged with any
serious crime (six were charged with “using the sidewalk!”), their names
and contact information were widely disseminated by the DHS.
Fusion Centers, a post-9-11 creation, are a federally-funded joint
project of the DHS and the US Justice Department which are designed to
share intelligence information among such federal agencies as the DHS,
the FBI, the CIA and the US Military, as well as state and local police
agencies. By their nature they are designed to circumvent legal
constraints on various agencies, for example the ban on CIA domestic
spying, or the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars active military activity
within the borders of the US. There are currently 72 Fusion Centers
around the US.
Another group of documents shows that on November 9, two days after a
demonstration by 1000 Occupy activists in Chicago protesting social
service cuts in that city, the NOC Fusion Desk relayed a request from
Chicago Police asking other local police agencies what kind of tactics
they were using against Occupy activists. They specifically requested
that information be sought from police departments in New York, Oakland,
Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle —
all the scene of major Occupation actions and of violent police
Realizing that it would look bad if it assisted in such coordination
overtly, higher officials in the DHS ordered the recall of the request
but then simply rerouted it through “law enforcement channels,” where
presumably it would be harder for anyone to spot a federal role in the
coordination of local police responses. In response to that order, the
documents show that the duty director of the NOC wrote that he would
“reach out” to “LEO LNOs (liaison officer) on the floor” to assist.
Verheyden-Hilliard explains that LEO is FBI’s nationally integrated law
enforcement, intelligence and military network.
On December 12, when Occupy planned anti-war protests at various US
ports, Verheyden-Hilliard says the new documents show that the NOC “went
into high gear” seeking information from local field offices of the
Department of Homeland Security about what actions police in Houston,
Portland, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles planned to deal
with Occupy movement actions.
Another document shows that earlier, in advance of a planned Occupy
action at the Oakland, CA port facility on Nov. 2, DHS “went so far as
to keep the Pentagon’s Northcom (Northern Command) in the intelligence
Given the subterfuge revealed in these documents that went into
trying to create the illusion that the DHS was and is not coordinating a
national campaign of spying, disruption and repression against Occupy
activists, it is almost comical to find documents that show the DHS was
in “direct communication with the White House” to obtain advance
approval of public statements by DHS officials denying any DHS
involvement in anti-Occupy actions.
These documents show that both DHS and one of that department’s
police arms, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) were in direct contact
with Portland, Oregon’s police chief and mayor, discussing how to deal
with protesters who were in part on federal property. The coordination
between the feds and the local police and political authorities were
intense. Yet the approved statement sent to DHS from the White House
Any decisions on how to handle specifics (sic) situations
are dealt with by local authorities in that location. If a protest area
is located on Federal property and has been deemed unsanitary or unsafe
by the General Services Administration (GSA) or city officials, and
they make a decision to evacuate participants — the Federal Protective
Service (FPS) will work with those officials to develop a plan to ensure
the security and safety of everyone involved.
There was, comically, also a White House-approved DHS “background”
statement, too! (Typically background statements by federal officials
are supposed to be used when they want to tell a journalist the true
situation but don’t want to have that statement attributed to them or
their department. Having it pre-approved by the White House defeats that
purpose and is simply a manipulation of the media.)
The faux “background” information included the following–a flat-out lie:
DHS is not actively coordinating with local law
enforcement agencies and/or city governments concerning the evictions of
Occupy encampments writ large.
Tellingly, the documents also include a Dec. 5 copy of the “Weekly
Informant, ” an intelligence report published by the DHS’s Office for
State and Local Law Enforcement. The issue includes an update from the
Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) concerning the activities of the
Occupy Movement. PERF, Verheyden-Hilliard notes, is the group that the
federal government claims organized a series of multi-city law
enforcement calls to coordinate the police response to Occupy, which led
immediately to the wave of violent crackdowns. It was at those meetings
that police were advised among other things to act at night, to use
aggressive tactics and weapons like tasers and pepper spray, and to take
steps to remove journalists and cameras from the scene of crackdowns.
The overall sense from these latest documents is that Washington and
the DHS, along with the FBI, was the nexus of the crackdown,
orchestrating it, encouraging it, and attempting to cover its tracks.
The documents among other things expose the massive hypocrisy of the
Obama administration and the Democratic Party, which this election year
have tried to co-opt and claim as their own the anti-fat-cat theme of
the “We are the 99%”-chanting Occupiers, while actually acting in the
interest of Bank of America and its fellow financial sector mega-firms
in trying to crush the movement itself.
To see all the new FOIA documents, go to the PJIF website.
Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia.