On Christmas Eve, word broke of newly-released FBI documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act: they provide new evidence that The Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned counterterrorism agents to spy on the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning.

22 Responses to “ICYMI: FOIA'd records show FBI counterterrorism agents spied on Occupy”

  1. Chrs says:

    Always fun to imagine the response of NRA groups to similar surveillance.

  2. oldtaku says:

    I just took that as a given, but it’s nice to have evidence to back it up.

  3. lmegliol says:

    Not hard to spy on communications when the human microphone has everyone repeating what you say. ;)

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      They’ll still get it all wrong. I’ve seen various friends’ FBI files and they tend to be about 5% accurate.

  4. Joshua Ochs says:

    I imagine they track any such large gathering – it’s part of their job. As long as they’re not abusing said information (at times that’s a big if) I’d consider it business a usual.

    • Marja Erwin says:

      They share their intelligence data with banks to protect banks from peaceful protests. They don’t share their intelligence data with protesters to protect protesters from assassination attempts. Their priorities seem to be clear.

      P.S. I thought this was clear from context.

      I’m not saying “they didn’t share their intelligence data with protesters because not sharing it would protect protesters.” I’m saying “they didn’t share their intelligence data with protesters although sharing might have helped protect protesters.” I’m saying they care about the banks, but they don’t seem to care about protesters’ lives.

      • $8357570 says:

        the assassination planning was done by a government agency aka the DHS. People were able to figure this out from the unnamed organizaton + timeframe of information sharing. So it’s not like they’re really protecting them by not releasing that information – quite the opposite.

    • Simon Pribec says:

      haven’t they been doing exactly this since like…the 60s?

  5. mniejiki says:

    So? Large scale movements tend to attract some violent elements and I don’t see what’s wrong with the FBI keeping an eye out for them. More than that, it’s silly to just assume that some group is peaceful and having agents in such a large group to verify this seems perfectly logical.

    I’ve talked with at least one very dedicated OWS member (quit his job, school, etc. to join) who point blank said he’s in favor of violence and terrorism. In his mind it’s not a question of if anymore but of when and how. It was an enlightening conversation.

    Frankly, afterwards, it’s clear to me that the FBI knows more about how such groups function and act than all the random people online who condemn them for things like this. No, not everyone who associates with OWS is a peace loving hippy.

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      And its not like the FBI called all of them terrorists, had the banks hire outside investigators that aren’t bound by the tiny few rules about what information they can get, and funnel all the data into terrorist fusion centers.
      Not everyone in OWS is a bomb making neoanarchist either, but they did research for weeks on people just to make sure.  Then they made sure they protected the banks from a protest that was infact peaceful.
      Then they started assaulting people, lying about the assaults that were on tape, and blamed the actions of a few on the entire group.

    • Charles Lenchner says:

      “A new group of lots of people unhappy about something getting together planning stuff”
      Sounds like the Republican Party.

  6. redstarr says:

    A new group of lots of people unhappy about something getting together planning stuff sounds like a good thing for anti-terrorism forces to keep an eye on.  It turns out that Occupy was the peaceful kind of activism that a free nation didn’t need to be afraid of encouraging.  In hindsight, it’s easy to complain about Big Brother spying on the little guys who just want to be heard.  But we couldn’t just guess that it was going to be that way.  Imagine the response if they’d guessed wrong.  If the movement had taken an extremist turn, especially if it turned violent, folks would be demanding to know how this could happen and why no one was watching and preventing it.  It didn’t morph into a domestic terror situation, but it easily could have for all anyone knew back then. Looking into potential threats is the only way to be sure there’s nothing to worry about.  

    • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

      Did you miss the part where it did turn violent?
      Shooting protestors in the head with gas grenades.
      Waiting for people to try and help an injured man, then throwing a flash bang into the crowd to inflict max damage?
      Point blank pepper spraying of peaceful protestors?
      Point blank pepper spraying of women already detained?
      Lying to everyone about events clearly captured on tape?

      Its a shame we don’t have anyone watching them to make sure they aren’t going over the edge.

      • redstarr says:

         I’m totally with you that violent treatment of the protestors was absolutely awful.  But I see that as a separate issue from the one in the article.  The kind of spying and the people doing it mentioned in the article aren’t the same people and activity as the pepper spraying and gas grenades.  The way I recall it, that wasn’t the FBI or any federal anti-terror folks as much as it was local law enforcement in the various cities where things were taking place. The article was just about the ones doing the research on the movement and its activities.  It’s not fair to attach an unaffiliated group’s violent actions to a different group’s non-violent earlier ones. 

        • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

          DHS, FBI, ET AL informed EVERYONE OCCUPY was a terrorist group.  They treated them as such.  This changes the tone used by everyone.

          A cop pulling someone over for a traffic ticket is on edge, if a report of someone in a similar looking car comes over the air having just shot a cop he turns the dial to 11 to protect himself.  He is liable to be harsh and possibly brutal at ANY resistance or slowness (real or imagined) on the part of the driver.

          If you tell the cop the people protesting are just waiting to attack them, you get the results we saw all over the country.  Cops looking for a reason to bust the skulls of these miscreant terrorists.

          You roll cops out in riot gear, they are ready for a riot and not finding one they start one.  They are just terrorist america hating scum afterall.  They aren’t citizens exercising their right to peaceful protest, and well fuck giving them a chance to protest near a bank.

          This is what taxpayer money went into.  This was how terrorist fusion centers were used.  They covered up an assassination plot against american citizens, some bitch in flordia gets a mean girl letter saying stay off my man and we have a fucking FBI investigation… but real threats of murder… nah ignore them.

          The FBI fed their data, the banks private security research into the pipeline that was fed all the way up and down the line.  The outcome from the local PD’s was to be expected when the FBI told them the protestors were terrorists.  They went over the line on the local level, but the FBI declared war and fed the fires.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Looking into potential threats is the only way to be sure there’s nothing to worry about.

      Funny, I’d say that restoring economic and political balance to society would be a much more effective harm reduction strategy.

  7. Sagodjur says:

    Anyone care to research and present a comparison of FOIA releases on how the DHS might have dealt with the Tea Party Protests differently than the Occupy Protests?

    • pacbeller says:

      The DHS did a report, analyzing the potential rise in terrorist threats from rightwing sources who would be most likely disgruntled by the election victory of Obama.

      You can read about what happened next at this link:
      http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/08/dhs/all/

      I would imagine that their appetite for investigating TP groups would be curbed after that episode.

  8. Charles Lenchner says:

    Meanwhile, the NYPOST is calling OWS “terrorists” and getting away with it. Please help make them retract the accusation: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50112/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9160

  9. SoItBegins says:

    …just because you’re paranoid…

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