[News] DHS Documents Show Role in Occupy Crackdown
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 28 10:14:51 EDT 2012
DHS Documents Show Role in Occupy Crackdown
By Justice Online
25 March 12
Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns
trove of documents released today by the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response
to a FOIA request filed by the Partnership for
Civil Justice Fund, filmmaker Michael Moore and
the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee
reveal that federal law enforcement agencies
began their coordinated intelligence gathering
and operations on the Occupy movement even before
the first tent went up in Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011.
On September 17, 2011, a Secret Service
intelligence entry in its Prism Demonstrations
Abstract file records the opening of the Occupy
Wall Street (OWS) movement. The demonstration
location that the Secret Service was protecting?
The "Wall Street Bull." The name of the Protectee? The "U.S. Government."
American taxpayers might find it odd to learn
that the Secret Service was on duty to protect
the Wall Street Bull in the name of protecting
the U.S. Government. But there it is.
The DHS's Game of Three Card Monte to Deflect
Disclosure of Law Enforement Operations
These documents, many of which are redacted, show
that the highest officials in the Department of
Homeland Security were preoccupied with the
Occupy movement and have gone out of their way to
project the appearance of an absence of federal
involvement in the monitoring of and crackdown on Occupy.
On the street it would be called "Three Card
Monte," a swindler's game to hide the ball - a
game of misdirection. The House always wins.
The DHS, as revealed in the newly released
documents, has engaged in what appears to be a
effort to avoid looking for Occupy related
materials where it is likely to be found,
including in Fusion Centers and DHS sub-divisions
such as the Operations Coordination & Planning
sub-division which is responsible for DHS
coordination with local and federal law enforcement partners.
On November 16, DHS Press Secretary Matthew
Chandler transmitted an e-mail to top ranking DHS
officials, including the Chief of Staff to Janet
Napolitano, the Chief of Staff to the DHS General
Counsel, among others, in which he reports:
"We're getting inquiries from CBS, AP, Daily
Caller and others on an un-sourced Examiner.com
piece that says that DHS and FBI are
collaborating with cities by providing tactics
and information on removing Occupy protestors. A
check of I & A [Intelligence and Analysis] and
FPS [Federal Protective Services] shows that this
type of outreach is not occurring in any wholesale manner."
The Press Secretary is careful to couch the
official statement, that such is not occurring in
any "wholesale" manner, leaving the door open to
possible future revelations of such conduct.
But this official statement was based solely on a
mid-November inquiry to two DHS sub-sections:
Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and Federal
Protective Services (FPS). And by the date of
that statement, Federal Protective Services and
apparently also the I&A Directorate had already
purged, "restricted and/or rescinded," any Occupy
related intelligence products, as discussed further here.
In other words, having looked into only two
drawers - which had already "restricted and/or
rescinded" all Occupy related intelligence
products - it is not surprising that Press
Secretary Chandler's statement that no
"wholesale' coordination of Occupy related
actions is based on incomplete information.
The Press Secretary, following the script,
conveniently avoided other likely DHS
repositories and departmental components,
including the personnel deployed to Fusion
Centers or to the DHS Operations Coordination &
Planning sub-division, which according to the DHS
web site is "responsible for monitoring the
security of the United States on a daily basis
and coordinating activities within the Department
and with governors, Homeland Security Advisors,
law enforcement partners, and critical
infrastructure operators in all 50 states and
more than 50 major urban areas nationwide."
DHS Monitoring, Megacenters and Misdirection
Before the first OWS action took place, the DHS
Office Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) produced a
series of NCCIC (National Cybersecurity and
Communications Integration Center) alerts about
the coming OWS demonstrations. When this was
picked up by the media and it generated inquiry
and press, the DHS learned its lesson: Misdirection.
In an email exchange dated September 29, 2011,
DHS officials discuss the NCCIC alert and the
fact that they will now need to respond to media
inquiries about DHS monitoring and involvement in
the response to the Occupy movement. The
substantive discussion about how to handle the
media is redacted, with one participant writing,
"Here it is. That answer works-" and the rest is redacted.
An October 5, 2011 document reflects that the DHS
Philadelphia Megacenter was monitoring the OWS
demonstration in New York, titled
"Demonstration-Peaceful/Planned", and reporting
on assembly and movements "peacefully protesting union solidarity issues."
An October 30, 2011 document shows DHS' Battle
Creek Megacenter also reporting that a
"peaceful/unplanned" "Occupy Wall Street
demonstration is taking place in Ilus W. Davis Park in Kansas City, MO."
These documents appear to be the tip of the
iceberg, carefully submerged by the DHS. While
there is policy discussion as to the propriety of
a threat assessment regarding Occupy Pittsburgh,
other emails reference additional internal
inquiries about OWS that were withheld from
public disclosure in response to this FOIA request.
The Fusion Centers
Moreover, the DHS documents evidence the
misdirection to avoid civil liberties issues by
handing off OWS monitoring to DHS's project of
Fusion Centers and then failing to make inquiry
for information to the Fusion Centers or DHS
personnel deployed to them, even though documents
indicate that a push-down of Occupy related
information into the massive fusion center clearinghouses was already in play.
By November 16, when the PCJF filed this FOIA
request, and when the media was contacting DHS
regarding its role in the Occupy crackdown one
I&A analyst, following such guidance, reported
that I&A "scrupulously avoided any connection
with the Occupy movement/protests/dismantlings.
We cannot speak for any individual fusion center
or other departmental component..."
On October 17, 2011, the DHS Intelligence
Coordination Branch wrote in an email titled
"Guidance Requested: Occupy Wall Street" that in
response to requests for OWS information, "we
that our intelligence Officers
refer inquiries [i.e., requests for intelligence
information] to Fusion Centers and avoid the
topic altogether. That being said, given the
number of requests that have appeared, we would
like to equip the field with formal guidance
DHS Guidelines on How To Justify Intelligence
Gathering on Free Speech Activities
The DHS then undertakes to draft policy guidance
on OWS. Within days, however, the DHS concludes
that formal policy guidelines are not going to go
into effect. Instead, on October 24, 2011, a
redacted email chain includes the recommendation
that policy guidance changes have sought "to take
out language that indicates our guidelines are
mandatory. For instance replace personnel must'
with personnel should'. I also recommend that we
advice only the DHS people and remain silent on
whether they should pass along our input to the Pittsburgh folks."
On October 28, 2011, further exchanges on the
guidance draft discuss making the recommendations
less specific, and that they should focus on the
"congruence concept." The "congruence concept" is
the creation of a supposedly criminal pretext for
investigation into First Amendment activities. It
is so loosely applied that any unsupported,
unsourced tip - or agent provocateur statement on
a website - can create the basis for monitoring and investigation.
When the final guidance is produced, it has no
mandatory language and states: "If you ever feel
you are in put in a situation where first
amendment rights could be potentially violated,
please refer to the below guidance, which was
created after we received a number of questions
from around the nation in reaction to the Occupy protests."
The guidance then explains how to "justify
research into and creation of a product
containing First Amendment protected activity
including the "congruence concept."
Subsequent discussion on October 31, 2011
regarding how and when DHS can "clear on any
[intelligence] product on OWS" is significantly redacted as is the author.
Purging of DHS Files and the Carefully Constructed Media Response
A November 1, 2011 email reflects that following
the internal guidance issued to I&A, all Occupy
related materials had been "restricted and/or
rescinded" including specifically by FPS. The
email, from an FPS official, reports that:
"FPS was notified of the guidance to the I&A
representatives to restrict production of all
Occupy products absent criminal activity and/or
life safety issues, FPS has followed this
guidance and restricted and/or rescinded all
products (both internal and pass-through)."
By November 16, when the media was barraging the
DHS with inquiries about its role in the Occupy
crackdown, the responses to media were carefully
crafted. "We're getting inquiries from [various
media] on an un-sourced Examiner.com piece that
says DHS and FBI are collaborating with cities by
providing tactics and information on removing
Occupy protestors. A check of I&A and FPS shows
that this type of outreach is not occurring in any wholesale manner."
As we now know, checking with I&A and FPS by
November 16 was not likely to lead to responsive
information given that the DHS activity was being
carried out by other components and that a purge,
restriction and/or rescission of intelligence "products" had taken place.
At this point the DHS provided a prepared
statement, given over and over to the press,
which includes a quotable paragraph and then "background" points.
Documents show that in the drafting of that
paragraph, which is disseminated repeatedly to
the press, and shows up in numerous press reports
from the time, there is a second paragraph that
is removed and appears not to be given to the
press. That sentence read: "We have held standard
coordination calls and face-to-face meetings with
our partners to ensure that the proper resources
are available for operations such as street closures, etc,"
Showing the deficiency of response to the FOIA
demands, there are no records produced that
reflect those "standard coordination calls" and "face-to-face meetings."
Evading a Complete FOIA Records Search
In addition to these efforts to misdirect the
press and the public, the other tactic the DHS
has used to stave off inquiry into DHS
involvement is to evade a responsive search to
this and other FOIA requests. As we stated
previously, we had been told by the DHS that
other media requestors agreed to narrow their
FOIA requests to consist only of materials in the
possession of select senior staff. We have not so
agreed, and will be pursuing further disclosure of information from the DHS.
Highly conscious of the demand for public
disclosure of DHS actions, one official wrote in
November of their considered response to FOIA
requests and urged the department to release
their policy guidance regarding First Amendment
activities. He wrote, "I understand we have
already received some FOIA requests regarding our
possible reporting of the "Occupy
" protests. I
think should the FOIA experts find it appropriate
to release information about the manner in which
this issue was managed with DHS, it could only be
perceived as a positive by those in the public
who closely observer [sic] the Department."
So for those of you who wish to "closely observe"
the Departments responses, the PCJF is making the
documents available in a searchable format. We
will also be disclosing and uploading more
materials obtained from our national campaign of
federal and local FOIA demands as they become available.
Documents Received from Department of Homeland Sercurity:
Pages 1 - 100
Pages 101 - 200
Pages 201 - 398
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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