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"The merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI"
December 29, 2012 4:50 PM   Subscribe

How the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy

Naomi Wolf writes in The Guardian:

The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents... show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations' knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader(p61).
posted by dubold (177 comments total) 88 users marked this as a favorite

 
If power corrupts wouldn’t you have to agree that an inept, borderline retarded, governance would be superior to a cagey, well-organized, skilled one?

-A friend of mine

...said this the other day and I've been thinking about this sort of stuff with my little brain. Is there a way to unite as citizens in a way that's too fast or organic for our government to suppress our voice? Thanks for posting this.
posted by fantodstic at 4:58 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is appalling.
posted by overhauser at 5:01 PM on December 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't think that government needs to be inept and borderline retarded. Instead, you want it to move slowly and with consideration. Ponderous, perhaps. Not retarded in the mentally dysfunctional sense.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:02 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to unite as citizens in a way that's too fast or organic for our government to suppress our voice?

It would help to not use violent rhetoric publicly months before the protests ever happened, but I doubt that would ever happen (and am not sure it would mean the government would stop doing what it appears to have done here but would give them one less excuse).
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:03 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marxists have always maintained that the more developed, the “purer” democracy is, the more naked, acute and merciless the class struggle becomes, and the “purer” the capitalist oppression and bourgeois dictatorship. The Dreyfus case in republican France, the massacre of strikers by hired bands armed by the capitalists in the free and democratic American republic—these and thousands of similar facts illustrate the truth which the bourgeoisie are vainly seeking to conceal, namely, that actually terror and bourgeois dictatorship prevail in the most democratic of republics and are openly displayed every time the exploiters think the power of capital is being shaken.…
posted by the hot hot side of randy at 5:06 PM on December 29, 2012 [40 favorites]


This bumper sticker pretty much encapsulates my feelings about the current system.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:22 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the article:

The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

Ms. Wolf thinks they are peaceful American citizens. A bunch of folks (say, one percent) think they are domestic terrorists.
posted by bukvich at 5:23 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wanted to post about this, but I feel like I am too close to do it with a level head. I made a bunch of friends down at Occupy Tampa, and we still keep up with each other, mostly on FB (Tampa's a big metro area, we're scattered, I was never one of the core who camped and/or got arrested, etc). They are freaking the hell out about this. Every reaction you can think of: disbelief, paranoia, rage, fear, amusement.

One big WTF moment is a page somewhere in the sixties (61? 69?) where a [redacted] was discussing attacking Occupy encampments with a sniper rifle, I believe in Houston. There is some confusion over whether this is FBI sponsored, or whether it's a reference to an anti-Occupy group. That confusion can be plotted along the vaccines/chemtrails axis pretty accurately.

Another part (the relevant Tampa pages are 101-105) identifies the [redacted] leader of OT, who was planning to do X and Y and Z, etc, blah. I'm sure if I'd been more involved I'd know who this theoretical leader was; as it is, we're just making jokes about who it should be. "We have leaders? Since when? I wasn't at that GA!"

Occupy as a movement with a lot of momentum may have come and gone, but a useful thing it did was get a bunch of us activist types in touch with each other and let us experiment with various kinds of organizing. I've already seen plenty of folks making use of those connections for unrelated projects.

The only surprise these documents gave me is that they were released so soon -- but, I sort of expected it from the start. My Protestin' Hippie Mama loves to tell the story of how she wound up with an FBI file: for a time in the early seventies she had a union organizer as a housemate. Said organizer had a cop friend who passed along the message that the organizer guy was being investigated, and files were opened on his friends, coworkers, housemates, and so forth. Including my mom. She loves it.

The way I figure it, if your big protest movement hasn't attracted attention like this, then you are not getting your message out effectively. I've had most of my idealism burnt out of me, so I don't have any clear thoughts on whether this should or shouldn't be happening: just that it does, you take it as a given and keep doing what you're doing.
posted by cmyk at 5:25 PM on December 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


terror and bourgeois dictatorship prevail in the most democratic of republics and are openly displayed every time the exploiters think the power of capital is being shaken.

I disagree with the rest of Lenin's statement but yes, this is on the mark.

The worst parts of humanity don't disappear under democracy. They're simply buried a little bit deeper, forced to find a new way. In our society, capitalism is broken enough that a rich or well-connected businessperson can manipulate his way into a frightening amount of power that's backed up by the system itself.

The advantage for them, in return for their muted activity is that they don't have to act tyrannically or directly to oppress the people their actions hurt unless provoked. It's harder for them to be quite as ruthless as they'd be in a pure Might is Right society but in return they're protected a little bit. That protection goes away, of course, as soon as they fuck things up enough that protests start up and they're forced to directly show their hand.

It's disturbing that this was the case, and it's good that this is being revealed. The more blatant the source of the power becomes, the more people will act against it. Hopefully this makes it more obvious that Occupy, for all its flaws, struck a nerve in this country, and is absolutely doing work that needs to be done. It'll be interesting to see what happens next; I pray it doesn't get too violent on either side. We'll see in any case just how deep the corruption runs in this country, and what tremendous effort it'll take to get things back on track.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:25 PM on December 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Treating OWS as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do. No one knew whether these protests were going to stay peaceful or not. OWS certainly wanted it to turn into a phenomenon of national civil unrest. Why the FBI wasn't supposed to treat it as if it had the potential to go that way is beyond me.

Also, the idea that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies share information should not come as a surprise to anyone. It certainly doesn't count as any kind of news scoop.
posted by valkyryn at 5:27 PM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is there a way to unite as citizens in a way that's too fast or organic for our government to suppress our voice?

Well, if you had a mass strike - the real thing, not the one-day protest affairs they do in Europe - you could basically control the economy. Really once you've got the longshore workers, warehouse workers and truckers out (inability to move goods), you've basically got the economy at your mercy for a period of time. If you look at the longer general strikes in the US, like Seattle 1919 or San Francisco 1934, the infrastructure of an alternative social order ("dual power" in Marxist jargon) is built in the process. The problem of course is getting there.
posted by graymouser at 5:32 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


A) That was an incredibly slanted write up that doesn't seem to accurately represent the content of the documents.

B) Occupying public (and private) space is a revolutionary tactic, and of course the government is going to stop it. It has to, if it doesn't want to collapse.
posted by empath at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Treating OWS the Tea Party movement as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do. No one knew whether these protests were going to stay peaceful or not. OWS The Koch Bros. certainly wanted it to turn into a phenomenon of national civil unrest. Why the FBI wasn't supposed to treat it as if it had the potential to go that way is beyond me.

FTFY
posted by R. Schlock at 5:35 PM on December 29, 2012 [55 favorites]


It's hardly terrifying given the history of the FBI and all involved... what they've done in the past is far more terrifying.

Which leads to the more salient point which I think is: why is Naomi Klein selling fear? People like Klein have just become part of the entertainment complex. They have audience that laps up feelings of fear and impotence and that's what she serves to them. If anything, the crackdown saved Occupy from sitting around, moldering, and turning into even a bigger circus.

Regardless of whether the FBI are jackbooted thugs, Occupy checkmated itself.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:38 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


That confusion can be plotted along the vaccines/chemtrails axis pretty accurately.

What does this mean?
posted by OmieWise at 5:39 PM on December 29, 2012


valkyryn, you may be right that it's not surprising, but it's certainly un-American.
posted by odinsdream at 5:39 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Treating OWS the Tea Party movement as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do.

They actually did do this, much to the outrage of the right wing noise machine.
posted by empath at 5:40 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing is, before the Koch Brothers swept in and took over the Tea Party movement, it actually shared a lot with OWS. Obviously the Tea Party genesis was in response to Obama's election and racism played no small part in its formation, but it began (in part) as a protest against the idea of a bailout and banks being too big to fail.

I'm a lefty. I supported OWS. I never supported the Tea Party. But I think it's foolish to overlook their similarities. Right wing libertarianism and left wing antiauthoritarianism are not opposites. It's not that surprising that they would be strange bedfellows.
posted by Athene at 5:43 PM on December 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


That confusion can be plotted along the vaccines/chemtrails axis pretty accurately.

What does this mean?


While confusing, on a close reading the FBI document seems to be saying that they were aware of some other group interested in using sniper rifles to take out Occupy leaders. Some people have been (incorrectly) saying that the FBI itself was considering assassinating Occupy leaders.

The comment you were responding to seemed to be saying that people who thought the FBI was planning to assassinate Occupy leaders also get into other conspiracy theories.
posted by andoatnp at 5:43 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Treating OWS as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do. No one knew whether these protests were going to stay peaceful or not. OWS certainly wanted it to turn into a phenomenon of national civil unrest. Why the FBI wasn't supposed to treat it as if it had the potential to go that way is beyond me.

By this token the FBI was also in the right in treating the leaders of the Civil Rights movement as a "potential criminal and terrorist threat" - which, as is fairly well documented, they did. "National civil unrest" is not necessarily a bad thing if the system is broken in a fundamental way.
posted by graymouser at 5:44 PM on December 29, 2012 [32 favorites]


"potential criminal and terrorist threat"

Oh, totally. All those crusty punks and hippies and college students and elders having cuddle-puddles; BYOWhatever potlucks; engaging with the local homeless as human beings and not objects that need to move along; ten people stepping in to defuse a situation if one person got a little fighty; having workgroups dedicated to non-violent action, de-escalation, etc -- I can see how scary that must look to outsiders who, clearly, had never actually set foot on the ground and seen how things were going. Guitars and knitting time? Scary! Garden swap? Scary! Passing out bubbles and chalk for kids? Scary!

& re: chemtrails and vaccines: the folks more interested in that tend to be the ones who see "FBI file" and jump in scared outrage to the conspiracy-theory conclusions. Sorry I wasn't clear about that. My anecdotes aren't data, naturally; that's just what I've seen in my limited group of contacts.
posted by cmyk at 5:44 PM on December 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Treating OWS as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do. No one knew whether these protests were going to stay peaceful or not. OWS certainly wanted it to turn into a phenomenon of national civil unrest.

Because civil society becoming restless or dissatisfied with the powers that be is clearly criminal terrorism.
posted by XMLicious at 5:49 PM on December 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


Guitars and knitting time? Scary! Garden swap? Scary! Passing out bubbles and chalk for kids? Scary!

To the people opposing Occupy, every one of those things is terrifying.
posted by junco at 5:57 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, the modern American right. The federal law enforcement and security apparatus must be feared, unless they're going after hippies, in which case, go get 'em, boys!
posted by tonycpsu at 6:03 PM on December 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


What really pisses me off is the universities being complicit. You figure that a group of students is a group of customers of the educational institution to the tune of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars and here they're mortgaging decades worth of future income to pay the salaries of campus "security" employees to conduct surveillance on them.

For that money the campus security organizations should be working for the students and conducting surveillance on the government, or at least planting some misinformation.
posted by XMLicious at 6:05 PM on December 29, 2012 [23 favorites]


Because civil society becoming restless or dissatisfied with the powers that be is clearly criminal terrorism.

No. Which is why no one from OWS was shot or charged with incitement to riot or suborning treason. But it has the potential to become criminal or terroristic. Particularly when it starts to organize.

This is the government doing its job.

And no, the parallels with the Tea Party are really not on point in this particular instance. The Tea Party never set up camp in public squares and refused to leave. Rather, they got a shit ton of people elected to public office. The fact that they ran a bunch of bozos who either lost spectacularly or don't know their asses from a hole in the ground is hilarious, but demonstrates a clear difference between it and OWS.

When the Tea Party looked at Washington and said "That won't do," their solution was to try to get different people in Washington. When OWS looked at Washington and said the same thing, their solution was to take to the streets. They wound up not doing a hell of a lot once they got there, but no one had any way of knowing that would be the case until afterward. Until then, any time a large group of people take to the streets to protest, keeping tabs on the leaders is a prudent thing to do.
posted by valkyryn at 6:11 PM on December 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


And one thing Wolf fails to point out is any allegation that there's been a Fourth Amendment violation here. This doesn't even really fall into the whole "gutting of the Fourth Amendment" bit, about which I'm actually pretty pissed. I don't see anything here that would have implicated the Fourth Amendment basically ever. All we've basically got are reports of FBI branches around the country issuing alerts of potential civil unrest and coordinating with other law enforcement agencies.

This is why the FBI exists.
posted by valkyryn at 6:14 PM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Athene: "Right wing libertarianism and left wing antiauthoritarianism are not opposites. "

They both certainly lead to similar levels of oppression, violence, and economic incompetence.
posted by aerotive at 6:15 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


All those crusty punks and hippies and college students and elders having cuddle-puddles; BYOWhatever potlucks; engaging with the local homeless as human beings and not objects that need to move along; ten people stepping in to defuse a situation if one person got a little fighty; having workgroups dedicated to non-violent action, de-escalation, etc -- I can see how scary that must look to outsiders who, clearly, had never actually set foot on the ground and seen how things were going. Guitars and knitting time? Scary! Garden swap? Scary! Passing out bubbles and chalk for kids? Scary!

YMMV
posted by Bwithh at 6:21 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Domestic Security Alliance Council

DSAC - Soon to appear in distopian fiction(?)
posted by the noob at 6:23 PM on December 29, 2012


Treating OWS as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do.

This is the government doing its job.

Homines ad servitutem paratos.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:25 PM on December 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Which is why no one from OWS was shot or charged with incitement to riot or suborning treason.

I think your apologetics for the law enforcement response to OWS are disgraceful, but I want to address the factual inaccuracy of this statement in particular. People were in fact beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested, and yes, even shot with "non lethal" projectiles by law enforcement at OWS Oakland and elsewhere.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 6:32 PM on December 29, 2012 [40 favorites]


Occupy was an absolute tragedy of a campaign that could only have utility as a way to discredit anyone with half a concern about the banking system and alienate ordinary people.

Getting your handcuffs put on too tight is hardly Blair Peach territory really - half of Glasgow could complain of the same thing on a Saturday night.

This seems like an attempt to deflect attention from an awful, awful campaign run by the usual suspects.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:40 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


People were in fact beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested, and yes, even shot with "non lethal" projectiles by law enforcement at OWS Oakland and elsewhere.


I'd rather have that than the slow, dull rigmarole of letters and debt collectors coming to the door.

My perception is that many of occupy have never had that experience.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:46 PM on December 29, 2012


Yeah, it might have been an awful campaign as far as achieving its goals. I was not really a huge fan to start - OWS got my sympathy when I saw the brutality of the police response to it. How misguided or ineffective OWS was is so insignificant compared with how inappropriate and unjust the police violence in response to it was.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 6:46 PM on December 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'd rather have that than the slow, dull rigmarole of letters and debt collectors coming to the door.

My perception is that many of occupy have never had that experience.


Nonsensical statements! Strawmen! Ad hominems!

♪♪ it's the apologist variety houuuuur! ♪♪
posted by threeants at 6:49 PM on December 29, 2012 [18 favorites]


The Tea Party never set up camp in public squares and refused to leave.

Alot of that had to do with the fact that out of nowhere money would suddenly appear to provide air-conditioned chartered buses that would carry Tea Party members back and forth to events and print up protest signs and other swag and fund various other activities.

You're right, though, that it's been pretty entertaining that the interests paying for it all probably thought they were marshaling some bargain-basement priced secret weapon to shake all of the crazies and nutjobs out of the woodwork and rally them when Obama first got into office, but it ended up causing substantial disruption in the ranks of the more high-ticket Republican establishment operations.

I think that if nothing else OWS was valuable in producing data and evidence like what's linked to in the OP about what sort of response political activism will get in the 21st century, information which will likely be of value in the future.
posted by XMLicious at 6:52 PM on December 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


From the documents:
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
SITUATIONAL INFORMATION REPORT
Potential Criminal Activity' Alert

[. . .]

The group Day of Rage' is calling for "state and national non-violent protests and assemblies of people to demand that integrity be brought back to our [American] elections". While Day of Rage' does not condone the use of violence during the events, their website provides activists with information and training on "direct action, civil disobedience, how to deal with violence, and jailhouse solidarity", suggesting that violence and/or illegal activity is expected by event organizers.
Discussing ways to prevent or endure illegal violence that may be perpetrated on protesters by the state is now equivalent to making plans to commit illegal violence against the state. You have been warned, citizens.
posted by BlueJae at 6:56 PM on December 29, 2012 [24 favorites]


This is responding to a number of different people, I don't feel up for the usual Metafilter fight against the people who somehow think Occupy was wrong:

Treating OWS as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do. No one knew whether these protests were going to stay peaceful or not.

Treating valkyryn as a potential criminal and terrorist threat is exactly the right thing to do.  No one knows whether she will stay peaceful or not.

You prosecute actual threats, not potential ones.  To do it any other way is simply attacking who you want to attack, because you think they're threatening -- that has been abused far too many times in the history of both the US and mankind to let pass without challenge.

B) Occupying public (and private) space is a revolutionary tactic, and of course the government is going to stop it. It has to, if it doesn't want to collapse.

Depending on how you define "occupy," this could be seen as giving them a blank check to stop anything they want.

Which leads to the more salient point which I think is: why is Naomi Klein selling fear? People like Klein have just become part of the entertainment complex.

Or maybe you've lost the ability to tell the difference between the things we should be afraid of and those things the media has invented.  This is the Guardian, it's rather the wrong market for selling American-flavored fear.

My perception is that many of occupy have never had that experience.

If they HAD, then people would be complaining of them that they were just in it to get out of their troubles!  Just like the homeless were in it just to get food and shelter.  Sheesh, it's like no one can have any empathy for others.  
posted by JHarris at 7:02 PM on December 29, 2012 [28 favorites]


The article is by Naomi Wolf. Not Naomi Klien. Completely different people.
posted by ssg at 7:06 PM on December 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


BTW, valkyryn identifies as a "he" in his profile.
posted by XMLicious at 7:14 PM on December 29, 2012


I had a run in with undercover FBI agents in downtown Oakland, a few blocks from the encampment. I was riding my bike down one of the main streets during our monthly art walk and a belligerent drunk driver swerved at me and a few other cyclists and chased after us yelling something stupid about "get out of the road arghhh" or whatever. An unmarked car and some guys who got out and identified themselves as FBI told him to get lost before it escalated further.

I was glad that asshole didn't run me over, but was also left wondering why these feds weren't out chasing down the actual fucking terrorists running around with guns shooting each other in the Deep East of Oakland instead of patrolling a fucking protest camp in the relatively safe, gentrified part of town.

Of course the answer is that drug dealers with assault weapons shooting up a black neighborhood aren't a threat to capital, but people serving food to the homeless and shutting down ports are.
posted by bradbane at 7:22 PM on December 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Direct link to the PDF
posted by cosmologinaut at 7:24 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Accusing valkyryn of being some kind of apologist for state brutality or whatever is completely overlooking the fact that he made a critically important remark upthread -- whatever their other failings (I think there are many) the Tea Partiers got people elected to public office. Those representatives are now in a position to start remaking the system from within into what they want it to be. Obviously the story is a little more complicated than I'm making it out to be, but where are the OWS candidates? Where is the shadowy far left-wing apparatus supporting those candidates? Where is the attempt to change the system from within?
posted by wintermind at 7:24 PM on December 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think that regardless of whether one thinks Occupy is/was good, bad, well done, poorly done, or whatever the fact that the FBI, local police, and the BANKS were collaborating out to be disturbing.

Yes, the job of the FBI is to coordinate with local law enforcement.

No, the job of the FBI is not to work hand in glove with banks to quash dissent.

More important, it is not the job of the FBI, nor local law enforcement, and especially not the job of bankers, to decide which political viewpoints are good, which are bad, and to engage in oppressive activity towards political viewpoints which they deem to be bad.

This is starting to look, while not Hoover level bad, pretty darn bad for the FBI. The idea of the national police deciding to mess with people based purely on the politics endorsed by those people ought to be extremely disturbing to you whether you agree with those politics or not.
posted by sotonohito at 7:24 PM on December 29, 2012 [43 favorites]


wintermind: I think they gave up on changing the system from within when Obama sold them out.
posted by sotonohito at 7:26 PM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


wintermind you are 100% correct, but your point is 99% irrelevant to this thread. Kvetching about how ineffective Occupy was, what could have been done better, etc. is a distraction from the fact that domestic surveillance has gotten out of hand. It's not like the surveillance wouldn't have happened if Occupy were also officially backing candidates, funding primary challenges, etc.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:32 PM on December 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


My favorite part of the documents so far is the FBI "Customer Satisfaction Survey" attached to the report I quoted above.
FBI Customer Satisfaction Survey

Please take a moment to complete this survey and help evaluate the quality, value, and relevance of our product. Your response will help us serve you more effectively and efficiently in the future. Thank you for your cooperation and assistance.

Title: "Day of Rage" Activities Planned Nationwide on 17
September 2011

Dated: 15 September 2011

Relevance to Your Needs

The product increased my knowledge of an issue or topic. (Check one)

_5. Strongly Agree

_4. Somewhat Agree

_3. Neither Agree or Disagree

_2. Somewhat Disagree

_1. Strongly Disagree

Who are the FBIs customers? Apparently not everyday taxpayers such as myself, as I can't recall ever receiving any such requests from the FBI for customer feedback.
posted by BlueJae at 7:44 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obviously the Tea Party genesis was in response to Obama's election and racism played no small part in its formation, but it began (in part) as a protest against the idea of a bailout and banks being too big to fail.

My understanding was that the Tea Party originated with Rick Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange ranting about the federal government refinancing the mortgages of 'losers,' whose 'bad behavior' (being poor, I guess?) shouldn't be encouraged. It was absolutely not pointed at banks, but at banks' customers. Santelli proposed dumping derivatives in the Chicago River.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:45 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not attempting to defend the modern surveillance state, and I would prefer that the various levels of government spend their resources investigating and prosecuting actual crimes, but I agree with valkyryn that it's not always obvious a priori which threats are the "real" ones. What do we do to try and get a handle on this? U.S. history is rife with examples of how power is abused by those to whom it's entrusted, so how do we construct a system that provides for necessary operational security while actually being accountable to the people. We can't trust the Congress because ever since 9/11 they've been willing to expand the power of the state just about every time they've been asked to. Is the only practical way forward the "no privacy" movement, in which every interaction between two people is recorded and streamed to the cloud somewhere? I don't know.
posted by wintermind at 7:46 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not at all surprised to see evidence of a nationally coordinated effort to shut down the Occupy protests. Here in Los Angeles, where our supposedly left-leaning City Council formally resolved to support the movement massing outside its chambers, the subsequent massive police response, coming so soon after nearly identical evictions elsewhere, frankly stunk.

The pending class action lawsuit, which names L.A.'s mayor, the city, Police Chief Beck, Sheriff Baca and numerous "Doe"-styled underlings, is going to be really interesting. Who exactly issued these orders, and why?
posted by Scram at 7:54 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to address the factual inaccuracy of this statement in particular. People were in fact beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested, and yes, even shot with "non lethal" projectiles by law enforcement at OWS Oakland and elsewhere.

I stand by my statement. No factual inaccuracy. You show me a single OWS fatality related to state action--I seem to recall someone dying of dehydration; stuff like that doesn't count--and I'll reconsider.

Further, Occupy Oakland was far from peaceful, you're right. Disobey lawful orders to disperse? That's gonna get you arrested. Throw rocks at the cops? That's get you arrested and your ass-whupped to boot. These are facts which are true independent of anything supposedly newsworthy from this article.
posted by valkyryn at 7:59 PM on December 29, 2012


wintermind: "it's not always obvious a priori which threats are the "real" ones"

It's rarely obvious when they're engaging in mass surveillance, either. We ought to at least know how much more security we're getting in exchange for giving up our privacy, and there's been little to no evidence that these systems are effective.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:01 PM on December 29, 2012


Occupy was an absolute tragedy of a campaign that could only have utility as a way to discredit anyone with half a concern about the banking system and alienate ordinary people.

Followed by:

People were in fact beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested, and yes, even shot with "non lethal" projectiles by law enforcement at OWS Oakland and elsewhere.

I'd rather have that than the slow, dull rigmarole of letters and debt collectors coming to the door.

There's a whole lot of irony in your discrediting your own argument through hyperbole while claiming that Occupy discredited their argument through hyperbofuck it, why even bother pointing it out. You're clearly not here to make a rational point.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:07 PM on December 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


MetaFilter: hyperbofuck it
posted by tonycpsu at 8:08 PM on December 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Further, Occupy Oakland was far from peaceful, you're right.

You know that the Oakland Police Department was severely reprimanded by their federal overseers for their response to Occupy Oakland, right? Like, they disciplined/fired about 50 officers in an unprecedented crackdown on their own for their unlawful behavior and it was a major factor in their recent placement into receivership-in-everything-but-name. They almost did kill a few people (Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen for one).

The only violence I saw at Occupy Oakland was from the out of town cops beating the shit out of my neighbors and firing chemical weapons on my street night after night. For what? Some people feeding the homeless and organizing strikes? Crack a history book and you'll find this is a typical reaction by the authorities to anything that even smells of leftist organizing.
posted by bradbane at 8:10 PM on December 29, 2012 [49 favorites]


And people scoffed at me when I discovered nationwide coordination through the International City/County Management Association.

Government just does not get it. They believe they are trying to protect America. But they are trying to protect America from Americans.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:11 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, Oakland's perhaps a special case, but in Los Angeles peaceful, uninvolved citizens were injured and terrorized by law enforcement personnel responding to protest activities and spilling over into ordinary public space. LAPD set up a riot line and shot wildly into a crowd of Art Walk attendees after a small group of Occupy LA members came to the event and handed out chalk sticks wrapped in information about arrests of peaceful protesters who had been chalking the public sidewalk outside a business lobby group's offices. No Occupiers were hurt--most of the protesters had left before the shooting started--but several random passersby were pretty messed up, and more than a dozen non-protesters arrested.
posted by Scram at 8:11 PM on December 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Back when I was a lad, we had COINTELPRO infiltrating our meetings, and tapping our phones, and occasionally kicking down our doors and shooting us in the head, and WE LIKED IT! You young people today don't know how good you have it!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:12 PM on December 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


>>> Because civil society becoming restless or dissatisfied with the powers that be is clearly criminal terrorism.

>> No. Which is why no one from OWS was shot or charged with incitement to riot or suborning treason. But it has the potential to become criminal or terroristic.

> I want to address the factual inaccuracy of this statement in particular. People were in fact beaten, pepper sprayed, arrested, and yes, even shot with "non lethal" projectiles by law enforcement at OWS Oakland and elsewhere.

I stand by my statement. No factual inaccuracy. You show me a single OWS fatality related to state action--I seem to recall someone dying of dehydration; stuff like that doesn't count--and I'll reconsider.

So just for the record here, people were actually shot, but they were shot in a way that "doesn't count". And the statement you're standing by is some sort of rebooting of your actual comment where in this new timeline you instead had remarked that the evidence that OWS protestors were treated merely as potential criminal terrorists is that the authorities administered only non-fatal shootings and beatings.
posted by XMLicious at 8:30 PM on December 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


valkyrn, what is your brain drain where state violence gets your glowing leering sanction as long as no one is killed?

Seriously.
posted by mistersquid at 8:44 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I stand by my statement. No factual inaccuracy. You show me a single OWS fatality

You are moving goalposts.
posted by rtha at 8:44 PM on December 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is this surprising? It strikes me as logical, on the part of the banks, to do research on their opponent and submit that research to the FBI.

The FBI, one would hope but who are we kidding, would take that information stripped of politics. That is, only respond to actual law breaking.

Occupy did a lot of good in the direction of showing people ways in which they did not know they had power. I wonder if they wouldn't have done better by getting people elected. The system is there, mutable to those willing to take on the task of doing so. I would think if nothing else the Republicans have shown this time and again - when they have wanted something they have done what they needed to to manipulate government to get what they want. The problem isn't government it's the manipulation of it, but it is still an 'open' system as proven by the 'Tea Party'

Occupy failed
posted by From Bklyn at 8:54 PM on December 29, 2012


Sorry, 'Occupy failed' is left over from a sentence I ... Edit fail...
posted by From Bklyn at 9:02 PM on December 29, 2012


You're all correct. ;)

It's a good thing that the state keeps tabs on mass movements that may or may not turn violent. (If only they didn't get bitch-slapped every time they take the right winger threats seriously) It would also be a good thing if it was a more transparent process.

It becomes problematic when they begin interfering, whether as agents provocateur or by overtly spying to the point that it deters participation in legitimate protest. Both of these things happen enough to be disconcerting to me, but it would also be disconcerting if the government just said "fuck it" and intentionally ignored any group that claimed to have peaceful protest as its goal.
posted by wierdo at 9:28 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


duh
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:35 PM on December 29, 2012


I've been reading the original documents, and I haven't seen anything like a smoking gun yet. It's just information sharing about what Occupy is, combined with some details about various efforts to shut down the ports in Oakland and Ankorage. Even if you support those kinds of shutdowns, those ports move billions of dollars of cargo each day and it's a matter of federal concern when they get shut down.

There's also discussion of various peripheral events, like animal rights activists who were advocating violence through Oswego's Occupy, or a Drano "bomb" in Portland. It also discusses attacks ON Occupy, like an apparent plot to "kill local occupy leaders with sniper fire." I'm kind of glad the FBI caught that one.

I take it that a lot of people don't think that the FBI should talk to the institutions being targeted by protesters, but in my view this kind of communication can help to prevent over-reaction from local law enforcement by assuring them that the protesters are organizing along non-violent civil disobedience lines (which many of the reports emphasize.) When OWS planned a sit-in at banks, was it inappropriate to let the banks know? The sit-in wasn't a secret: knowing the planned date allows the bank to prepare, have staff on hand, etc.

Anyway, Wolf isn't very credible, so I'm interested which of the original documents trouble Mefites the most.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:37 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Heh, someone's looking for a smoking gun... in an abandoned warehouse full of spent ammunition. That's rich.

This is clearly the problem... one side of the equation refuses to use logic and discussion to come to a compromise. They don't even want to acknowledge that the problems exist. Words aren't even coming close to fixing the problems any more. And the next logical step is to buy stock in the pitchfork and torch conglomerates.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:51 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Accusing valkyryn of being some kind of apologist for state brutality or whatever is completely overlooking the fact that he made a critically important remark upthread -- whatever their other failings (I think there are many) the Tea Partiers got people elected to public office. Those representatives are now in a position to start remaking the system from within into what they want it to be

Sorry no - the tea party message is stunningly easy to sell. it's based on fear, greed and a sense of no longer belonging to one's own country. Completely different - to sell a leftist agenda one actually needs to tune into and understand the issues. The elected tea party aren't going to remake anything. Those with brains will learn that they have to STFU if they want to keep sucking at the gravy teats, the rest will be gone in a term or two once people are a wakeup to the fact that their agenda is too ill thought through to actually be useful.
posted by the noob at 10:58 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sorry no - the tea party message is stunningly easy to sell. it's based on fear, greed and a sense of no longer belonging to one's own country. Completely different - to sell a leftist agenda one actually needs to tune into and understand the issues.

This kind of elitist horseshit is why leftists can't win elections. It's fucking easy to sell progressive politics to the masses. The GOP just spent a lot of money tailoring their message and getting it out there.
posted by empath at 11:44 PM on December 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I dunno, empath, I think it depends on when you start the clock. The electorate has had conservative canards like "welfare queens" and "rubber rooms" driven into their heads for so long that even institutions like the social safety net and labor unions that were the backbone of the American dream for many decades suddenly seem harder to sell in 2012. Demographic changes are certainly making the task of closing the sale a bit easier, but during this time of transition, I think it's fair to say that selling progressive policies takes a bit more dexterity and nuance than it did back in the 1960s or than it probably will in the 2060s.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:05 AM on December 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


> It's fucking easy to sell progressive politics to the masses.

Citation really, really, really needed. Give us one example...!

Selling selfishness is really easy. Selling the idea that we need to stop obsessive consumption, stop trying to get ahead of others through unbridled competitiveness, greed and naked agression, stop trying to impose our will on other countries through force - this is a Very Tough Sell.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:09 AM on December 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


empath:
B) Occupying public (and private) space is a revolutionary tactic, and of course the government is going to stop it. It has to, if it doesn't want to collapse.
So, in your theory, if OWS wasn't stopped, the government of the United States of America would collapse? Wow.

Occupying public space (peaceably) is a constitutionally-guaranteed right of the people. Your statement is fundamentally flawed.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 AM on December 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


valkyryn: “This is why the FBI exists.”

Well, kudos to them for reminding us, because it's very easy to forget why an entirely extra-constitutional organization that has engaged in domestic terrorism, unnecessary and invasive surveillance of citizens, and the fomenting of criminal activity and civil unrest since its very inception actually exists. One might even be tempted to say that the FBI and the CIA are useless and destructive and have no good purpose whatsoever.

We have legitimate law enforcement agencies in this country, legitimate law enforcement agencies that do their jobs and prevent crime. The FBI is not one of them. Look over the history of the FBI and you'll see a history of blackmail, corruption, illegal activities and violations of the law. The high points – the high points – are its abject failures.

Honestly, I'm not a libertarian or a gun nut or a survivalist or anything like that, and I guess I'm even a big-government dude for some values of "big," but there are some senses in which our bloated and mistaken federal government really needs some house-cleaning. And I might feel different about the FBI if anyone were able to point to one single accomplishment of that bureau that's made this country a better or safer place.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 AM on December 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


Stop comparing the Tea Party and Occupy. The Tea Party was an astroturf "movement" planned in advance by wealthy right-wing organizations like FreedomWorks, started on cable TV, and relentlessly promoted on the air by Fox News. There was nothing grass roots about it; it was nothing but a strategy to reinvigorate the Republican Party after Obama won the White House. If you believe that the Tea Party was spontaneous or grass roots or insurgent or whatever, you are a sucker; the GOP and its allies spent millions telling that lie, and you believed it. The Tea Party is nothing like Occupy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:54 AM on December 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


Eventually there will be a lot more people in the streets. There will be strikes. It will be peaceful and the state will react with violence, but there will be too many people to be stopped. Troops, police and guards will mutiny and join the people rather than fire on their fellow citizens. Nobody will be invested in corrupt electoralism. There will be no candidates. Nobody will be trying to work the system from within, they will be trying to tear down the system that is oppressing them. Occupy failed as some of kind of leftist political movement, but it scored as a means for exposing people to revolutionary ideas. Expect a lot more moments like Occupy. Babylon will fall.
posted by bonefish at 1:03 AM on December 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Umm, the Tea party won elections precisely they never tried electing anyone dangerous, but actually made voters more easily manipulatable. You could not seriously compete in important election if you've any position dangerous to the status quo, heck here one seed the DHS and FBI coordinating the suppression of a simple airing of grievances. Could you imagine what they'd do if OWS had gathered enough power to win elections?

There is no automatic legitimacy conferred upon governments merely by winning elections. OWS worried the powerful enough that they tipped their hand with this coordinated suppression of speech, which erodes our government's legitimacy. It's just another step towards the necessary general strikes.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:06 AM on December 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


This kind of elitist horseshit is why leftists can't win elections.

Leftists win elections all the damn time. There is one in the White House and they control the Senate and they picked up seats this year in the House even with the tea party running wild all over us with their political superiority!

The difference between the left and the tea party is mainly that the tea party is willing to primary out Republicans they don't agree with even if it costs them in the general. The left is much more willing to stick with the winning horse even if they aren't as far to the left because they fear the results of Republican power more than they value political purity.

There are benefits and drawbacks to either approach.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:04 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Leftists win elections all the damn time. There is one in the White House

Not by any meaningful definition of leftist that I understand, there isn't.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:06 AM on December 30, 2012 [33 favorites]


Leftists win elections all the damn time. There is one in the White House and they control the Senate

The poverty of the American political discourse, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:09 AM on December 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


I voted for Gary Johnson in 2012. :P I am hardly a die hard on Obama, but I think any serious look at his personal views and policy outcomes suggests he is center-left by American political standards.

Even from a look outside the American perspective, if you look at a more general definition:

In politics, left-wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality.[1][2][3][4] It usually involves a concern for those in society who are disadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there are unjustified inequalities (which right-wing politics views as natural or traditional) that need to be reduced or abolished.[3]

I think it's fair to say Obama has views that can be described as perusing equality. He worked to help woman make equal pay, reduce discrimination against homosexuals, and has spoken out against unfair tax cuts for the wealthy and is even know aggressively trying to erase the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich. He certainly isn't as left as I would like, but he is left and is very good at winning elections.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:30 AM on December 30, 2012


This kind of elitist horseshit is why leftists can't win elections. It's fucking easy to sell progressive politics to the masses.

Is that why it's never done?
posted by the noob at 3:19 AM on December 30, 2012


Here in Australia we're "debating" asylum seeker policy - with the conservatives are demanding asylum seekers (refugees) are detained then sent off shore for "processing"; the mainland is excised from the migration zone, and if elected will tow boats back out to sea (with women and kids on board).

The progressives came into power with a more balanced - (ahem) progressive approach. No mandatory detention, no temporary protection visas where are we now? The progressives fear a hiding at the next election, so we're processing off shore, we're excised the mainland from the migration zone, we have something worse than temporary protection visas - but thankfully we're not yet towing boats back.

It's hard to sell a progressive message.
posted by the noob at 3:30 AM on December 30, 2012


"Treating OWS as "potential criminal and terrorist threat" was exactly the right thing to do. No one knew whether these protests were going to stay peaceful or not. OWS certainly wanted it to turn into a phenomenon of national civil unrest."

Because civil society becoming restless or dissatisfied with the powers that be is clearly criminal terrorism.


Yes, this is happening in India (a democracy) right now as well. Peaceful protests are being clamped down on. Seems like the Global Powers that be also exchange tips on how to manage civil society.
posted by infini at 4:16 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


OWS worried the powerful enough that they tipped their hand with this coordinated suppression of speech

This is said in a kind of laudatory way, as if it's a real accomplishment, and displays the power of OWS, but the powerful seem to be scared by parades of god catchers and young children these days. I think the response to OWS can just as plausibly, or more plausibly, be read as contempt. That doesn't make it good, but it also doesn't suggest that OWS per se was all that powerful.
posted by OmieWise at 4:45 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also "dog" catchers.
posted by OmieWise at 5:03 AM on December 30, 2012


parades of god catchers

Gotta catch 'em all!
posted by Wolof at 5:10 AM on December 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I take it that a lot of people don't think that the FBI should talk to the institutions being targeted by protesters, but in my view this kind of communication can help to prevent over-reaction from local law enforcement by assuring them that the protesters are organizing along non-violent civil disobedience lines (which many of the reports emphasize.) When OWS planned a sit-in at banks, was it inappropriate to let the banks know? The sit-in wasn't a secret: knowing the planned date allows the bank to prepare, have staff on hand, etc.

The point is that the government is able to leverage enormous resources to shut down Occupy, but doesn't have the same interest in uncovering and punishing white collar crimes committed by banks and corporations. A rational person would assume that the kind of crimes that destroy economies and put millions of people into poverty are more important to address than the crime of assembling to raise awareness about poverty and inequality.

The attack on Occupy was the fruition of the idea that people no longer have the right to disrupt business as usual to have a redress of grievances. America was founded on an armed rebellion claiming that right, as well as the right to have a meaningful say in the direction of their society.

Law enforcement is properly a tool of the State, but now the State is largely a tool of corporate interest and has little in common with the interests of ordinary Americans. That's why it's called a "crisis" to ask millionaires to pay the same tax rate as someone making 30k a year.

In the past this union of state and corporate interest was commonly referred to as fascism. Sure, we have a soft form of it, but that doesn't change the fact that it's destroying millions of lives through institutional problems from the Drug War all the way down to our backwards welfare system that gives more free money to already profitable corporations than to people trying to achieve a basic standard of living.
posted by tripping daisy at 6:02 AM on December 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


The attack on Occupy was the fruition of the idea that people no longer have the right to disrupt business as usual to have a redress of grievances.

Which is funny when you think about how this thread has gone, because the Boston Tea Party was a literal disruption of lucrative private business (including destruction of private property) as a way to address the lack of redress. (IOW probably a lot like how conservatives and the media describe Occupy Oakland.)
posted by gauche at 6:09 AM on December 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


The point is that the government is able to leverage enormous resources to shut down Occupy, but doesn't have the same interest in uncovering and punishing white collar crimes committed by banks and corporations.

This is nonsense. For one thing, the FBI has surely spent a pittance in the last year tracking Occupy, which was an easy, public group, compared to the millions it has spent uncovering financial crimes. For another thing, the FBI is only one of about a half-dozen agencies that has been investigating what went down, and there have been massive fines levied.

I notice no one has actually cited a document suggesting some impropriety on the part of the FBI here. There's lots of rhetoric, but not a lot of evidence.

In the past this union of state and corporate interest was commonly referred to as fascism.

More commonly, it's referred to as industrial policy. It's a staple on the left when it's state-led. THIS is fascism.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:19 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is funny when you think about how this thread has gone, because the Boston Tea Party was a literal disruption of lucrative private business (including destruction of private property) as a way to address the lack of redress.

It was also part of a, you know, revolution. Occupy was far from a revolution, but it could have been part of the opening acts of one. This is why the FBI intervened. The problem was that the Occupiers were not violently overthrowing anything but exercising their democratic right to protest. They were correct to say that the First Amendment is their permit for protests – nothing more is needed for the right to assemble peacefully or petition for a redress of grievances. The FBI is not there to prosecute crimes; they are the political police whose mission is to ensure that any threats to the status quo are quashed. In that kind of a state, well, even the Declaration of Independence would say that a revolution is justified.
posted by graymouser at 6:34 AM on December 30, 2012


This is nonsense. For one thing, the FBI has surely spent a pittance in the last year tracking Occupy, which was an easy, public group, compared to the millions it has spent uncovering financial crimes. For another thing, the FBI is only one of about a half-dozen agencies that has been investigating what went down, and there have been massive fines levied.

Massive fines? It's not massive when the profits earned from unethical behavior eclipse the fines by 10x or 100x. There has not been a single fine in the past fifty years that exceeded the profit earned by a guilty company. Meanwhile, how many protestors now have permanent records? How many had to be taken to a hospital after being beaten up? From your link:
This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
When officers of the peace wear riot gear and drive tanks to protests, is that not symbolic dick waving? When the police are tasked to protect private property and to ignore enumerated constitutional rights, is that not a direct contradiction of democratic principles? The excuse is that these military men are doing as they are ordered, so the violence is approved without need for review by a judiciary. It's not their fault for taking orders. It's the protestor's fault for attempting to have a voice in public.

Finally, you proclaimed "THIS is fascism" and probably failed to read the last paragraph:
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.
My contention is that fascism has arrived in the United States as it always does: under the guise of national security and protecting "traditional" societal norms. The proof is that you are currently under surveillance, because you are potentially a terrorist, and it's up to the State to decide how to save you with beatings and pepper spray and imprisonment. The proof is that anyone attempting to occupy public space to raise awareness about inequality is kettled, arrested, and bullied in an attempt to reduce democratic will through violence and oppression.

If that's not a form of fascism, I must confess that I don't know would be.
posted by tripping daisy at 7:52 AM on December 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


where are the OWS candidates? Where is the shadowy far left-wing apparatus supporting those candidates? Where is the attempt to change the system from within?

I went down to Zucotti park to check it out, see what occupy was all about and how it was working out maybe three or so days after it started being reported on.

Someone had just printed the Occupy Wall St. Journal (a 4-page broadsheet) and was handing them out to people as I arrived. Right away, I heard a woman talking to another woman, saying something like "This is bullshit. They didn't run the articles in here by the GA, they don't represent me, and they don't represent the movement I want to belong to. I think they're diluting our message. It seems like there are two kinds of people here. People who want to reform the system from the inside, and people like me who want to tear down the system and start over again."

So...I mean, that's part of it, anyway.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:59 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was also part of a, you know, revolution.

It's been a while since I studied it and I'm by no means a scholar of U.S. Revolutionary War History, but my recollection was that at the time of the Boston Tea Party the colonists were attempting to assert their rights as British subjects, and that it was only later that they asserted their independence. That is to say, while the same movement later grew into a revolution, it is incorrect to say that the Boston Tea Party was a part of a revolution.
posted by gauche at 8:38 AM on December 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


This thread reads like a scene that was cut from the final version of It Can't Happen Here.

Occupy didn't have explicit electoral candidates because it wasn't a fabrication created by organizations that support existing/prospective candidates.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:11 AM on December 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is nonsense. For one thing, the FBI has surely spent a pittance in the last year tracking Occupy, which was an easy, public group, compared to the millions it has spent uncovering financial crimes.

It doesn't sound nonsensical to me. That kind of coordination takes manpower, and it wasn't just the FBI doing it.

I notice no one has actually cited a document suggesting some impropriety on the part of the FBI here. There's lots of rhetoric, but not a lot of evidence.

That might be because we believe the second link of the FPP is obviously that document.

It was also part of a, you know, revolution. Occupy was far from a revolution, but it could have been part of the opening acts of one. This is why the FBI intervened.

1. That sounds like paranoia on behalf of the FBI. Its nice to see how what the FBI thinks could possibly be the beginnings of a revolution matters more than the damn First Amendment.

2. Occupy was a safety valve. A lot of people were rightfully angry. I like Occupy, but really? It probably would have petered out on its own eventually. But law enforcement stamped down on it hard. They closed the valve. So now the anger hasn't gone away; getting tear gassed made it worse. In fact, some people who were on the fence about whether Occupy was meaningful or not were probably convinced by the government thinking it was important enough to forcibly disperse.

By reacting as they did, the government legitimized Occupy. That's going to be how history remembers it.
posted by JHarris at 11:58 AM on December 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


The more I look at it, human history is Tamerlanes all the way down.
posted by Twang at 12:16 PM on December 30, 2012


Also, to respond to something in my own comment:
That might be because we believe the second link of the FPP is obviously that document.

We only HAVE that document because of the Freedom of Information Act. As government becomes more secretive, it'll become harder to obtain such documents.

As this happens, it will become more and more reasonable for people to act without hard evidence, and that opens the way to the monsters and demons, because however bad government is, it's nowhere near as bad as what some people will imagine it might be. That's part of why transparency in government is so incredibly important.
posted by JHarris at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2012


(Although I would also like to point out -- sorry, last time -- that the document itself is not easy to download from the website that released it. It's available in a Scribd-like online viewer, there is no download link. When that site goes down so will the document, and that would be a tremendous shame for history.)
posted by JHarris at 12:29 PM on December 30, 2012


That might be because we believe the second link of the FPP is obviously that document

Did you read it? Which part was the improper part? As I detailed upthread, there's nothing too surprising there. Sharing information is not impropriety, especially when the information is mostly: "These guys are nonviolent." The FBI even discovered a plot to kill Occupy "leaders."

The FBI has a bad track record on social movements, but given how deceptive Wolf's gloss on the documents are, I worry that OWS wants to tell this kind of story because they didn't even have the level of success that the Tea Party had. Even though delaying some trucks in Oakland isn't shutting down the port, that failure wasn't deliberate restraint. There were a lot of folks who wanted a General Strike and that's as close as they got.

Perhaps the FBI will produce evidence of serious infractions. But they haven't yet, so I don't think we have reason to believe they definitely will. I think it less likely than not, especially because there were systemic factors that folks like Graeber deliberately inculcated, like the consensus model, that suggest that OWS's failure to have bigger effects are due to constitutional choices at the outset, not to FBI inflitration and agents-provacatuer. (In much the same way that the Senate's insistence on super majorities through the filibuster is the cause of current impasses on legislative priorities.)

When officers of the peace wear riot gear and drive tanks to protests, is that not symbolic dick waving?

Sure, but so is the Black Bloc. People wave their dicks a lot. You need a little more than that for fascism.

Finally, you proclaimed "THIS is fascism" and probably failed to read the last paragraph:

See, like this line is dick-waving. What the fuck? I'm not impressed that you skipped to the end. I've written about Eco: I studied with William Weaver, his translator. I've read the essay. The quote you cite is a good one, and I tend to agree. If we were to compare notes on what's wrong with American democracy, we'd likely agree on a lot of points. But in my view, you don't restore democracy by calling for an ineffectual General Strike or by failing to shut down ports. Perhaps I'm wrong, but waving your dick won't persuade me. Offer reasons.

There has not been a single fine in the past fifty years that exceeded the profit earned by a guilty company.

This isn't true, since fines force companies into bankruptcy with some frequency (look at Countrywide) but it IS true the Goldman Sachs and some of the other actors make a lot more than they paid in fines. Bigger companies don't generally make *all* their profits from wrong-doing, so they don't pay all their profits as fines. And "all" over what time period? Ever?

If that's not a form of fascism, I must confess that I don't know would be.

Read the Eco essay. There's a lot more to it than surveillance and state-violence. Fascism requires a political and cultural movement to back it, one that eschews tradition and reason, that fetishizes action for action's sake, despises disagreement and diversity, is powered in large part by resentment of others' wealth and privilege, etc.

If you just use "fascist" to mean whatever you don't like in the world, then we're not going to make much progress: there's a reason comparing people to Hitler is generally a conversation-stopper.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:15 PM on December 30, 2012


We only HAVE that document because of the Freedom of Information Act. As government becomes more secretive

So, we only have the document because the Congress passed a law that requires such documents to be released to the public? How is that even "secretive"? Compare that to what it took to see the Stasi's files. You're being a bit hyperbolic, don't you think?

When that site goes down so will the document, and that would be a tremendous shame for history.)

Direct link to downloadable pdf. Why would you even write something so paranoid? This is the internet: things don't get memory-holed here when there's an obvious reason to preserve them.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2012


Bigger companies don't generally make *all* their profits from wrong-doing, so they don't pay all their profits as fines.

You've got to be kidding. You're saying that's fair? You're only punished to the extent that the illegal element of your operation benefited the company?

It's supposed to be punitive. It's supposed to hurt.
posted by Trochanter at 2:31 PM on December 30, 2012


Why Next to No Political Reaction to the Second Gilded Age?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:41 PM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're only punished to the extent that the illegal element of your operation benefited the company?

Err, that's not what I said. Of course there should be punitive damages for willful malfeasance. But even with punitive damages, you're not going to take a massive bite out of a firm like Goldman Sachs, just because they're making so much money, most of it legitimately and from totally different businesses. (The whole "vampire squid" metaphor indicates they have fingers in lots of pies: people wouldn't do business with them if most of those fingers weren't dealing honestly most of the time.) You've got to show that some major fraction of those profits are coming from wrong-doing. That's an expensive investigation, and it doesn't always give the desired results.

Plus, even though fines are supposed to be punitive, they can't be too punitive: there's got to be some proportional relationship between harm done and damages paid. (The Supreme Court has suggested about 3x is the limit.)

This is a different question from criminal prosecutions of individuals, by the way, which I have supported. But there's only so much you can prove to the criminal evidentiary standard, so it's a difficult proposition and time is running out on the statute of limitations.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:43 PM on December 30, 2012


THIS is fascism.

Oh FFS. Nobody is going to evaluate facism by considering whether Umberto Eco would think it is anti-syncretistic. This is not an intellectual struggle. There are much plainer and more practical definitions.

I can use a very plain and simple rule to define fascist activities: random citizens informing on other citizens. Or more specifically, informing on ME. I was appalled when I read page 85 of the documents. It describes a woman informing on Occupy Iowa to the FBI about the Occupy The Caucus direct action. She gave her Facebook and email account passwords to the FBI so they could read communications between Occupy Iowa members.

I worked with the people she's narking on, I attended statewide GAs with them, I received their emails, and I'm probably in those FBI files somewhere. She says they held private planning meetings outside the GA. It says she had no specific reason to believe there was any plan for criminal behavior, but she volunteered to be an informer anyway.

I know what this is all about, just from the date of the document. There was a group of "professional agitators" from the Catholic Worker organization who came to OI with the same old plans for direct action that they had been using since the Sixties. It basically was a plan for sit-ins and passive resistance to arrest during the debates leading up to the Iowa Caucus. Occupiers were pretty stunned when the CW people said they would call the media and the police just before their sit-ins, to maximize publicity of their arrests. The statewide GA thought they were crazy, and soundly voted down their plan. They wanted to use the same old tactics that they had implemented so unsuccessfully over the decades. If they had succeeded, OWS would not have been necessary. Oh but the CW people loved to recite how many times they had been arrested and they considered that a metric of their impact.

The Occupy the Caucus operation was very specific. It was soundly agreed that direct action would be taken against the candidates, but not against citizens who wanted to vote. The general plan was Mic Checks during candidates at public appearances. This was the first action in the US that was planned against GOP toadies on the campaign trail. But while we were planning, we were beaten to the punch by a bunch of junior high school kids, who mic checked Obama at an event at their school. They were drowned out, but their message was given to Obama on paper. They were asking the same question that all Occupy groups wanted an answer to: why were there hundreds of people arrested at protests, speaking up for their rights, but no bankers and financiers arrested? Why did the banks get bailed out, and the people were sold out? The Mic Checks became a defining feature of Iowa Caucus public appearances by candidates. But the CW people went ahead with their sit-ins anyway, and there were lots of photo opportunities, and the arrestees proudly claiming more Pyrrhic victories. The press declared these as actions by Occupy Iowa, even though they were definitely not condoned by the group.

Long after our Occupations dwindled away and GAs stopped, I started getting emails from the CW ringleader. Obviously he had gotten ahold of our mailing list and started spamming me (and hundreds, maybe thousands of others) with plans for new direct actions. The election season was in full swing, and he was coordinating direct actions in other states. But the government had already passed the "Anti-Occupy Law," the Federal Restrict Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act. And Mr. CW had managed to get himself arrested just after it was enacted, in a situation where it applied. His spammed emails declared his intention to continue. So I wrote him an email saying that Occupy never condoned his actions, I don't condone his actions, I never condoned his actions, and his actions are a security threat to me personally, since the FBI had probable cause to read his emails, and could consider me complicit in his Federal crimes. So for the record, and for other persons intercepting these emails, I want nothing to do with this. Take me off the email list. In response, I got a snotty letter from Mr. CW, who said it was interesting that we lived under a government that I feared. Well no. I have more to fear from the loose cannons on deck like Mr. CW, trying to co-opt OWS for their own purposes. That is why we resisted co-opting so seriously. Once OWS formed, every leftist and anarchist group came out of the woodwork, trying to get the Occupiers to join their agenda. This could only be an embarrassment to OWS, and used to discredit us. You are fighting the battle of the Sixties. You aren't a protestor, you're like a historical re-enactor, dressing up in a Confederate uniform and prancing around an ancient battleground with a musket.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:44 PM on December 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


See, like this line is dick-waving. What the fuck? I'm not impressed that you skipped to the end. I've written about Eco: I studied with William Weaver, his translator.

Wow.

I've read the essay. The quote you cite is a good one, and I tend to agree. If we were to compare notes on what's wrong with American democracy, we'd likely agree on a lot of points. But in my view, you don't restore democracy by calling for an ineffectual General Strike or by failing to shut down ports. Perhaps I'm wrong, but waving your dick won't persuade me. Offer reasons.

The entire point of the essay (in my opinion) is that fascism does not arrive in a box labeled fascism. Right now state power is tasked with enforcing behavior that adheres to the viewpoints of a narrow group that meet most, if not all, of the requirements:

1. Promoting a cult of irrational tradition -- the Founding Fathers cannot have been wrong about anything, drugs are bad because they are bad, gay people are "unnatural"

2. Rejection of modernism -- public hatred of socialist states or technological advancements like alternative energy or sustainable living

3. Action for action's sake -- critically examine practically any slice of American foreign policy, or popular attitudes against higher education that has even caused part of the country to consider public teachers as parasites who are underworked and overpaid

4. To distinguish is a sign of modernism -- "Disagreement as treason" is a fairy accurate discription of critical thinking in the Age of Terrorism

5. Fear of difference

6. "a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups"

7. "Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one." -- cue any story about Iran, Iraq, Egypt...

8. "Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy" -- cue any story about Vietnam or Afghanistan or the lamentations about the withdrawal in Iraq

9. "pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare." -- the United States has killed more people than any other state in the last 50 years, period

11. "By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life" -- view any television commercial for the Marines

12. Already covered

13. "For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will."

14. "All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning" -- For Americans, terrorism is defined as acts of violence or threats of violence by someone else. When we kill a few thousand people, it's always for Freedom. When someone else kills us, it's always for Evil, or socialism, or terrorism.

I'm not saying we live in a fascist state, or that the world is ending. What I am saying is that the evidence of creeping fascism in all parts of government, especially the federal government. We are only an election away from uniting someone who hates the modern world with unlimited State power because the Tea Party is afraid of gun control and small sodas, but for some reason sees no problem with the wholesale destruction of basic rights we've trusted in since the Magna Carta.

If you don't see fascist elements in any of that, then we can agree to disagree. But blaming Occupy for failing because the FBI undermines social movements for political reasons that have nothing to do with public safety isn't quite the way to achieve it.
posted by tripping daisy at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


because the FBI undermines social movements

This is the part has yet to be demonstrated. Which page of the pdf is the evidence that the FBI "undermined" Occupy?
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:22 PM on December 30, 2012


This is the part has yet to be demonstrated.

Either you are being disingenuous, or you do not know the history of the FBI. The FBI undermines social movements, both in the 1960s and in the modern era. COINTELPRO may not be running under the same name but the FBI has intervened to discredit and undermine social movements. We know more about environmental and antiwar movements at this point than Occupy, but it would be shocking if they weren't using provocateurs to discredit it.
posted by graymouser at 3:35 PM on December 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


>because the FBI undermines social movements

This is the part has yet to be demonstrated.


You don't have to look very hard for your demonstration.

FBI Raids Homes of Occupy Protesters in Oregon and Washington
(here is the Federal warrant)

Occupy crackdowns coordinated with federal law enforcement officials

I am pretty sure I know who was the FBI informer in my local Occupation.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:05 PM on December 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Was it the one who had the idea to send a dog to negotiate with the mayor? Because that was an idea that undermined the fuck out of OWS.
posted by OmieWise at 4:11 PM on December 30, 2012


It was the guy who said he moved out of his apartment and was staying in the camp until November when he had to go serve his Federal sentence for meth dealing. I'm sure he got time off his sentence for informing.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:24 PM on December 30, 2012


Oh FFS. Nobody is going to evaluate facism by considering whether Umberto Eco would think it is anti-syncretistic. This is not an intellectual struggle. There are much plainer and more practical definitions.

I can use a very plain and simple rule to define fascist activities: random citizens informing on other citizens. Or more specifically, informing on ME. I was appalled when I read page 85 of the documents. It describes a woman informing on Occupy Iowa to the FBI about the Occupy The Caucus direct action. She gave her Facebook and email account passwords to the FBI so they could read communications between Occupy Iowa members.


This a thousand times. I'm very sympathetic to Occupy's goals and follow it closely, yet exactly because of the government's mechanisms for suppressing it I have avoided direct involvement. I've even avoided going to Occupy events at my own church to avoid suspicion. At first this just seemed like paranoia, but it turns out to be entirely warranted. I have a young child. I cannot afford to spend days or weeks in jail or in a hospital as hundreds courageous Occupiers have done. Cowardice plays a part here, definitely, but I'm also emotionally weak. It brings me to tears to imagine being taken away from my family. Our own government's action against Occupy has been disgraceful, and even more importantly, it's had an extremely chilling effect on would-be participants.

I don't know what purpose is served by carefully examining exactly how much or little our current state maps directly to agreed-upon "Fascist" historical events when we have such an ever-present fear of our own government in evidence even from comments on the other side of the spectrum (e.g. those who are glad the FBI targets Occupy and similar groups "just in case").
posted by odinsdream at 5:43 PM on December 30, 2012


FBI Raids Homes of Occupy Protesters in Oregon and Washington

This is "undermining"? Like, we'd have had a revolution by now if it weren't for those lousy search warrants?

You're equivocating a bit: you've got people claiming that planted agents-provocateur took the movement down from the inside, and all the evidence you've offered is that some suspected vandals had their houses searched.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:13 PM on December 30, 2012


It does seem as though the FBI raiding peoples' homes with battering rams and stun grenades and naming them as being involved in an investigation of violent crimes, in response to participation in political activity, might inhibit others from participating in said political activity and consequently undermine whatever political movement the activity supported.

Discounting any significance to that claim while apparently conceding it as an actual example of the FBI response to OWS is kind of like saying "All they did was burn crosses on your lawn! Why let that bother you?" to civil rights protestors in the middle of the last century.
posted by XMLicious at 9:38 PM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I actually wrote and then removed a long diatribe about what state agents, including the FBI, did and do to African-Americans during the Civil Rights movement and today. There's simply no comparison.

I also left out a comparison to the Arab Spring, which Occupy took its impetus from, because 400 people were killed in Syria just on Saturday alone and the comparison seems unfair but telling. Those people live under tyrannical regimes, so when Americans claim to be similarly oppressed (and they're not black, illegal immigrants, or Native Americans) I suspect them of a lack of proportion.

The hyperbole is pretty thick in this thread, and I've been trying to moderate my own tone so as not to contribute to it. But if your criticism is that I'm not outraged enough, that's my explanation: I'm outraged at different things.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:13 AM on December 31, 2012


You appear to be saying that it hasn't been demonstrated that the FBI undermines social movements because the most that's being claimed is only that they conduct home invasions and embroil political protesters in potentially-stigmatizing-and-maybe-career-ruining investigations for alleged violent criminal conduct, instead of carrying out mass murder like Assad's regime does against its opposition.

I am saying that this is as ridiculous as valkyryn's characterization above that OWS protesters were only shot by the police in ways that "don't count".

Yeah, there's all sorts of ways it could be far worse, but I don't understand why anyone is so intent to cast this stuff as insignificant.

I mean, we're living in the century where the United States has started the present era off by engaging in preemptive war without even any pretense that we weren't the ones initiating hostilities, torturing people in secret prisons, and openly assassinating its own citizens, right? That's historical fact at this point rather than any sort of hyperbole, isn't it? In the current environment this sort of conduct by the national government against political protestors is nothing that should be shrugged off or swept under the rug.

You don't have to be outraged at anything in particular but don't expect anyone to take it seriously if you try to imply that these are all unremarkable humdrum everyday occurrences and no one should bat an eyelash at the FBI busting down the doors of political activists or people informing on their neighbors in a fashion straight out of Orwell (and beyond that handing over tools to conduct surveillance on their neighbors with), even if you're doing so for rhetorical effect in the interest of highlighting some other aspect of the issue.
posted by XMLicious at 5:12 AM on December 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


But look: the FBI investigates vandalism of federal government buildings. During the Occupy Mayday protests in Seattle and San Francisco, Black Bloc folks took it upon themselves to break a bunch of windows for no good reason, including windows on a federal courthouse. Which, whatever: I don't see much value in that as a tactic, but tastes vary.

No one should bat an eyelash at protesters busting shit up, and so long as they just bust up private property, the FBI can ignore it. But now the FBI doesn't have a choice, they're required to investigate that kind of nonsense by law when it targets federal property. I guess taxpayers don't like it when you bust their stuff. So the FBI does its thing. But that's not the same as undermining a movement. It's not even close to the allegations being made by Wolf or by others in this thread... and it didn't require a FOIA request to get the info.

You're moving the goalposts: either the FBI has made a concerted effort to target protesters in order to prevent the otherwise-inevitable revolution which is now strikingly revealed in the 100+ pages that I read yesterday, or they've done a few investigations around the edges of Occupy when crimes occurred. Which is it?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:44 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also left out a comparison to the Arab Spring, which Occupy took its impetus from, because 400 people were killed in Syria just on Saturday alone and the comparison seems unfair but telling.

What's even more telling is that 75-80% of Americans oppose large scale military action in Syria, despite the fact that the Federal Government has been a key player behind its destabilization:
Bashar Assad would have been the first Syrian president in 40 years to visit the United States had he attended the United Nations summit meeting in New York last week as planned. And it could have been an opportunity for two countries that have notably tense relations to talk.

Instead, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delayed his visa, excluded him from a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss Lebanon and Syria, and had a UN investigator arrive in Damascus at the time of his departure. Boxed in, Assad canceled his plans.

Rice's actions were in keeping with what Bush administration officials say their goal is toward Syria, to "continue trying to isolate it." Many in Washington argue that Syria is the "low-hanging fruit" in the Mideast, and that the United States should send it down the path to "creative instability," resulting in more democracy in the region and greater stability in Iraq. But this is a dangerous fantasy that will end up hurting American goals.
...
The United States has halved Syria's economic growth by stopping Iraqi oil exports through Syria's pipeline, imposing strict economic sanctions and blocking European trade agreements. Regular reports that the United States is considering bombing Syria and freezing transactions by the central bank have driven investors away.
Those people live under tyrannical regimes, so when Americans claim to be similarly oppressed (and they're not black, illegal immigrants, or Native Americans) I suspect them of a lack of proportion.

Now I understand. You have adopted the official line of Occupy being made up of privileged white kids who don't know any better. One of the sentiments I heard most often during Occupy was that they were protesting for everyone, not just for themselves, which is exactly the point in mass movements. When white citizens came to support equal rights for African Americans, MLK did not send them home for "a lack of proportion."

(And if you don't think there are white people suffering in America from the same institutional failures affecting minority populations, you probably need to get out more.)
posted by tripping daisy at 5:57 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok! Well, I'll definitely try to spend less time in my majority black neighborhood, my HBCU, and the prison where I teach, so I can try to get a better picture of the plight of white Americans!

they were protesting for everyone, not just for themselves

That's not actually how protesting works. You don't get to speak for others, especially not African-Americans, any more than the Tea Party does. Speak for yourself! That's the whole point.

And since Occupy did not primarily concern itself with things that are of value to the African-American community, claiming to represent them is particularly galling.

You have adopted the official line of Occupy being made up of privileged white kids who don't know any better.

Err.. I guess since I'm just adopting an official line, you can ignore me? Or just look around: how many people in the camps were white? How many under 30? How many from the middle-class? Was that number disproportionate given general demographic trends and the demographics of your city?

Look, I have friends closely affiliated with Occupy Baltimore, and they have worried about this, too. My radically-minded students did not feel welcome there, and redirected their energies to other political projects. DC was even worse: the Occupiers looked much more like the newcomers than the long-time locals.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:16 AM on December 31, 2012


To all of you lying down and taking it why don´t you just roll over.
Many Americans seem to have forgotten or ignore your own history. You mouth the idea of a more equal and just society for all with higher quality of life all around and yet when a movement imperfect as it is, attempts to move the status quo you shit on it from the highest point possible.
Some here seem to think that the present administration is leftist. Have I got news for you.
The puritanical, double standard conservatism of America never ceases to amaze me.
Tits horrify you when flashed for free but are commercialized everywhere; greed is good, healthcare for all is communist. Bankers and big business raping you is accepted. Guns kill so why not put more into the hands of every fucked up idiot; preferably automatic and repeating.
Land of the free to rape, loot and kill. Arguments contrary to this are deemed anti-American / rant.
Happy New Year from a semi socialist country far far away.
posted by adamvasco at 6:23 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're moving the goalposts: either the FBI has made a concerted effort to target protesters in order to prevent the otherwise-inevitable revolution which is now strikingly revealed in the 100+ pages that I read yesterday, or they've done a few investigations around the edges of Occupy when crimes occurred. Which is it?

Inevitable revolution? A hundred pages? The article that charlie don't surf linked to is one page long and talks about a home invasion authorized by a warrant to look for "anti-government or anarchist literature or material". I'm not the one moving the goalposts.

The arguments you want to beat the stuffing out of about inevitable revolutions and Americans who claim to be oppressed like the victims of mass murder seem to be things only you have mentioned; in fact, reading back up the thread the preceding mention of a revolution is someone saying "Occupy was far from a revolution..."
posted by XMLicious at 6:37 AM on December 31, 2012


Ok! Well, I'll definitely try to spend less time in my majority black neighborhood, my HBCU, and the prison where I teach, so I can try to get a better picture of the plight of white Americans!

Just to confirm, you're saying that the oppression of the working poor is an important issue unless they're white?

That's not actually how protesting works. You don't get to speak for others, especially not African-Americans, any more than the Tea Party does. Speak for yourself! That's the whole point.

This comment is borderline asinine. Of course protests are designed to show support for others. If they weren't being oppressed and silenced, they wouldn't need a public show of support in the first place. It's as if in your head MLK told all the white socialists to fuck off and go home when they showed up to march with him. Do you think non-gays should just stay home during Pride and cross their fingers to hope for marriage equality?

Your positions are getting increasingly bizarre. If you hate Occupy and you will never be convinced that it's important, just say so and move on.
posted by tripping daisy at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


A hundred pages? The article that charlie don't surf linked to is one page long and talks about a home invasion authorized by a warrant to look for "anti-government or anarchist literature or material".

The FPP is about a FOIA request. That's the 100+ pages I read. The search warrants were part of an investigation of vandalism during Occupy Mayday, looking for clothes and items that would identify the perpetrators of Black Bloc actions who were wearing masks.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


From MLK to Occupy, the FBI Resides on the Wrong Side of History.
Meanwhile in the original Occupy country things continue.
posted by adamvasco at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your positions are getting increasingly bizarre.

Well, your description of my positions are getting increasingly bizarre.

It's as if in your head MLK told all the white socialists to fuck off and go home when they showed up to march with him.

Read what I wrote. They showed up to work with him, rather than expecting him to come to them. Big difference when you're trying to work on someone's behalf.

the oppression of the working poor

Nothing about Occupy was oriented towards the participation of the working poor or fighting for issues that affect them. Focusing on debt and the inequality between the upper-middle class and the very rich basically guaranteed that.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:02 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Income inequality and political corruption have nothing to do with the plight of the working poor? That's your argument?
posted by tripping daisy at 7:12 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


tripping daisy, you don't seem to be paying very good attention to what anotherpanacea is actually saying, and you certainly haven't refuted any of his arguments about the difference between what is being claimed about the FBI here, and what the released documents show and the FBI mandate requires. If you overvalue Occupy, and will never be convinced that it wasn't the savior of all things good on this earth, just say so and move on.
posted by OmieWise at 7:37 AM on December 31, 2012


Income inequality and political corruption have nothing to do with the plight of the working poor?

Not the way Occupy approached them, no. Fighting over micro-differences in the upper-class is just elites fighting with elites.

But let me ask you a similar question: breaking courthouse windows is fighting for the working poor? How? How does shutting down the ports help the working poor? How does occupying help the working poor? And how are the working poor, who have dependents and shitty jobs with long hours, supposed to find time for all the GAs and encampments? They're supposed to drop everything? There's a reason that the church is the center of African-American political and cultural life: that's the only time everybody can get together.

I strongly suspect that the GAs were their own problem, not the FBI, but I'm still hoping to be persuaded otherwise. If I'm wrong, I want to change my mind: I identify as progressive, so I'd have less cognitive dissonance with the stuff that other progressives are saying and doing. But I can't just accept that the documents say something that they don't. So point me to the page.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:43 AM on December 31, 2012


The search warrants were part of an investigation of vandalism during Occupy Mayday, looking for clothes and items that would identify the perpetrators of Black Bloc actions who were wearing masks.

Except for whatever was in the sealed warrants concerning violent crimes which couldn't be revealed.

Good thing we've got a government who can protect against vandalism by smashing in front doors with battering rams. That kind of demonstration is essential to impress upon these lawless hooligans that you can't just go around wrecking other peoples' property.

I haven't read the documents that the OP is focused on but in this case, even after looking up some of the original news stories there would need to be some major unrevealed extenuating circumstances to convince me that the reality is the way you portray it, with the FBI having no choice under the circumstances and their hands tied by their duty to the taxpayers, forcing them to respond to petty vandalism this way.
posted by XMLicious at 8:22 AM on December 31, 2012


But now you're conflating two different issues. Multiple GAs have made the point that they are protesting for those who can't find the time to protest. That's why they're occupying public space: to raise awareness of inequality and demonstrate state repression of the opinion of the 99%. Are you telling me that those black churches spend time complaining about other citizens raising awareness?

Now, if you expect the FBI to reveal the politics that lead to their assault and violation of fundamental constitutional rights of individuals guilty of thoughtcrime, what is their incentive to do so? Do you ask your local police captain if he's racially profiling any of your neighbors, and then wish him a good day when he denies it?

If you don't understand the purpose of a general strike, I'm sort of at a loss for words. It's the demonstration of democratic action that keeps inequality low in more functional democracies found across Europe. The reason the French and the Germans have a month for vacation, health care, food security, and reasonably cheap educational institutions is because they demand it, and when their demands aren't met, they make the largest players of the economy pay with lost productivity by instituting nationwide strikes. There isn't a more basic method or effective method of keeping power centers in check than hurting the only thing they care about: their own pocketbook. How do you think Americans earned a 40 hour workweek and the end of children toiling away in sweat shops? Hell, during the railroad strikes hundreds of millions of dollars of damage was done to corporate property.

You seem to believe that the right of corporations to keep all of their swindled property untouched is more important than the right of people to assemble and demand action from their government if a few idiots decide to break windows during the said assembly. With that sort of attitude about rights, I wouldn't hold much hope for progress if possibly breaking a window is justification enough for your arrest, intimidation, and silence.
posted by tripping daisy at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


The reason the French and the Germans have a month for vacation, health care, food security, and reasonably cheap educational institutions is because they demand it, and when their demands aren't met, they make the largest players of the economy pay with lost productivity by instituting nationwide strikes. There isn't a more basic method or effective method of keeping power centers in check than hurting the only thing they care about: their own pocketbook. How do you think Americans earned a 40 hour workweek and the end of children toiling away in sweat shops?

This is actually what's so frustrating about these conversations--an expressed dissatisfaction with Occupy is read as a rejection of progressive (or even liberal) politics. I'll tell you why I think Occupy was worse than a waste of time: it didn't make any of the demands you quite rightly identify as central to increased general quality of life. It had no strategy for securing those rights, or for highlighting the need for them. Occupy was bereft of a coherent strategy that could reasonably be seen to lead toward the fulfillment of those demands, or any others. To me, as a progressive, I see Occupy as the failure of protest, or progressive politics. It was protest theater, and, like security theater it actually harmed the causes it claims to care about because it made the people involved think that they were actually doing something.

These conversations are frustrating because the very reasonable request for information about what Occupy actually did (in the sense of advancing progressive politics) is met with the accusation that this very request reveals the requester to be a conservative dupe, along with, frequently, some inchoate talk about how you can't really understand Occupy if you weren't taking part in general assemblies at every opportunity.

And this: Multiple GAs have made the point that they are protesting for those who can't find the time to protest. is kind of the height of nonsense, given the rhetoric of collective decision making for Occupy as a whole. How can those not present participate in decision making? How can groups that refused to even select representatives to negotiate with authorities claim to represent people who weren't present?
posted by OmieWise at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is actually what's so frustrating about these conversations--an expressed dissatisfaction with Occupy is read as a rejection of progressive (or even liberal) politics.

Hopefully you can see how frustrating it is to stare at the 60 trillion dollar catastrophe caused by the financial system, and then watch everyone lament about the hippies breaking windows, and furthermore to use the window-breaking as a rationale for destroying basic civil rights. No one here is pretending that Occupy was flawless, but excusing police brutality is not acceptable, and in my opinion, does contain a rejection of a lot of essential parts of progressive principles.

Robber baron capitalists get VERY upset when you talk about dismantling the institutions that allow them to exploit people, because it means they may not get to have absolutely everything they want. Some windows may break. There may be unruly crowds. But that's considered normal in other democracies, and it was considered normal here until very recently. Now sitting down on the ground can get you pepper sprayed and arrested for an obstruction of justice. How fucking ironic.

I'll tell you why I think Occupy was worse than a waste of time: it didn't make any of the demands you quite rightly identify as central to increased general quality of life. It had no strategy for securing those rights, or for highlighting the need for them. Occupy was bereft of a coherent strategy that could reasonably be seen to lead toward the fulfillment of those demands, or any others. To me, as a progressive, I see Occupy as the failure of protest, or progressive politics. It was protest theater, and, like security theater it actually harmed the causes it claims to care about because it made the people involved think that they were actually doing something.

It was theater when people were carted off while the NYPD demanded a media blackout? Theater when a young vet get sent to the hospital with a fractured skull? The amount of rationalizing and victim blaming you're doing for the state is beyond the pale, even if you completely disagree with Occupy's politics and strategy. Armed men wearing kevlar vests tasing, beating, harassing, arresting, and intimidating people expressing their right to assemble is not something you'll find in free countries, and there are plenty of better examples in the world today.

That culture of fear is the one used to keep poor neighborhoods under the thumb of an economic system that allows a small group of power oligarchs to enact a system of literal slavery that now has two million individuals, many in private prisons, forced to work factory jobs or as telemarketers for the benefit of for profit corporations. Occupy brought those stories to the front pages. When is the last time a socialist organization made the front page with any marginally positive coverage?

I mean, fuck. You come right out and say it:

And this: Multiple GAs have made the point that they are protesting for those who can't find the time to protest. is kind of the height of nonsense, given the rhetoric of collective decision making for Occupy as a whole. How can those not present participate in decision making? How can groups that refused to even select representatives to negotiate with authorities claim to represent people who weren't present?

Occupy was a gathering of people who wanted more justice assuming that they didn't know what to do, and going directly to the people for input on the future that they wanted. Since they lack a voting system, because they're not as large as the fucking Federal Government, they took input from only people local to that assembly. It was an attempt to end the strangle hold that elite power has exercised over society in the most democratic way possible, and it almost worked. But you're fucking surprised that a truly socialist organization didn't get good press from a media landscape entirely run by corporations, who are in bed with the politicians, who make phone calls to the local police departments and the FBI when things get uncomfortable?

What a fucking surprise! You'd think News Corp would announce the end of their free welfare ride with a ten hour free rock concert and front page splash about the march of equality for people instead of profits.

No one is claiming it was perfect. But when compared to everything else I've seen in the past ten years, Occupy was a hell of a lot better at bringing these kinds of ideas to the front page. It was a movement that was dismantled precisely because it had potential, and that's why I'm confident that it won't go away.
posted by tripping daisy at 8:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


But your response to me is just rhetoric. I mean, you haven't addressed any of my concerns, and some, like my concern that OWS was protest theater you answer with just a bunch of rhetorical questions that either misunderstand what I meant or indicate why the inchoate nature of the movement was seen as successful. Yes, even when people get beat up it's theater. The TSA takes itself very seriously, but it's still widely regarded as security theater by people who really care about security. More to the point, it's precisely because it's about theater and not about real security that traveling is now a pain in the ass but not much safer. No inconvenient set piece is too small.

It was an attempt to end the strangle hold that elite power has exercised over society in the most democratic way possible, and it almost worked.

But that's what I'm asking about, how did it almost work? Just to be crystal clear here, I am a potential ally of Occupy. I'm a progressive, and my criticisms are that Occupy seemed to focus on the wrong things (rhetoric and image) and consequently was not only not a success, it did not set up future successes. I've listed my concerns, and you've met them with rhetorical assertions that I can't see any basis for. By what metric would you consider Occupy to have almost ended "the strangle hold that elite power has exercised over society?" I can't think of a single one. Elite power seems diminished not a whit since Occupy. Again, to be clear, I'm talking about political concretes here. I'll just go ahead and say that your investment in Occupy makes you a poor judge of impact here, which is ok, but which precludes a valid answer being just a general sense of how things have changed. What, exactly, did Occupy accomplish, and how has that either made the world different or set up a different world for the future? (Hopes don't count. I would hope Occupy was successful, too.)

It was a movement that was dismantled precisely because it had potential, and that's why I'm confident that it won't go away.

I have several response to this:

1) It already has gone away. We just had a pretty big national conversation, carried out at different levels and in different venues, about current and future fiscal policy. Occupy cares about this, right? Occupy cares about who gets taxed, how much, whether the taxes are regressive or progressive, how the revenues are spent, what impact current fiscal decisions are likely to have on the social safety net, right? I'm not aware of a single Occupy voice (that wasn't already a national voice prior to Occupy) that offered significant comments, on a national stage, about these things. In contrast, the far right had plenty to say, and had a huge impact on how the policies that got written got written. I'm sure Occupy folks had comments, but as a movement with a national impact, they were absent from the debate.

2) On the other hand, I see it as a threat that Occupy "won't go away." For all of the reasons I detailed above, but basically because I see it as a failed movement, I want it to go away. I'm terrified that it will become a model for future inchoate (but very exciting, because protesting is very exciting, even if it's totally ineffectual) protest movements. That isn't going to help anyone.

3) This claim that because Occupy was dismantled it therefore must have been dangerous and scary to the powers that be is pretty empty. Contempt is just as likely an explanation as fear. Or really, the basic conservatism that sees any disruption as something to be controlled and silenced. The problem is that there's plenty of evidence that it simply doesn't matter what the message is, protest movements are reacted to with alacrity and negativity. That sucks, but it has no bearing whatsoever on whether said movement is effective, or scary, or empty of everything but rhetoric.

Look, I've been involved in my share of protests and protest movements. They are immensely exciting, and it's easy to become really invested in them. I get that, and I'm sympathetic to it. I don't think there's a thing in the world wrong with it. But I also recognize that ultimately if you want to claim an impact you have to show your work. And Occupy should recognize this too, right? We are talking about immensely important issues here, I think we can all agree about that. So, given what's at stake, it really isn't too much to ask to have the tactics, strategies, and impacts explained clearly and without recourse to false markers of importance. Occupy seems to have a lot of support around these parts. If it was so successful, this should not be a hard request to fulfill.
posted by OmieWise at 5:33 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll just go ahead and say that your investment in Occupy makes you a poor judge of impact here, which is ok, but which precludes a valid answer being just a general sense of how things have changed. What, exactly, did Occupy accomplish, and how has that either made the world different or set up a different world for the future? (Hopes don't count. I would hope Occupy was successful, too.)

How long did it take for the Civil Rights movement to move from hope to reality? Depending on where you start, it can be measured in hundreds of years. Blaming Occupy for failing because it was undermined by the media and by the government (and calling police brutality part of "theater") is not much different than blaming the suffrage movement for failing just after the Civil War and calling those suffragette marches protest theater if they weren't successful within two years.

You accuse Occupy of failing to be inclusive, and then you berate it for being too inclusive because that made it unsuccessful. This seems to be a queer American preoccupation with immediate and unmitigated success, but success for Occupy isn't about the national stage, it's about getting people involved on a local level to eventually affect the national stage. It's stopping to ask the question "What do we want?" instead of continuing to operate under inverse democracies, where parties tell constituents what to vote for.

I will concede that Occupy may not remain as Occupy, just as many other social movements retreat and then return under new organizational structures and new names, but to want to write Occupy out of history for failing to cause a revolution seems like a petty Orwellian way to view progressive movements in the 21st Century.

I'm not aware of a single Occupy voice (that wasn't already a national voice prior to Occupy) that offered significant comments, on a national stage, about these things. In contrast, the far right had plenty to say, and had a huge impact on how the policies that got written got written. I'm sure Occupy folks had comments, but as a movement with a national impact, they were absent from the debate.

What news outlets do you listen to? If you're looking for competent commentary on legitimate debates on market socialism versus raw capitalism, you're not going to find it on any major news network in the United States, because they are all run by capitalists. It's like complaining that Pravda didn't carry any news about the Refuseniks, so they must be a theatrical failure incapable of real change. The only difference is that US media outlets are incentivized to continue betraying their readership because their model is based on monetizing advertising space, which makes citizens the product and corporations their clients. CNN isn't going to spend millions of dollars trying to uncover the truth about their largest advertisers. That is a documented effect of American media as an institution.

On the other hand, I see it as a threat that Occupy "won't go away." For all of the reasons I detailed above, but basically because I see it as a failed movement, I want it to go away. I'm terrified that it will become a model for future inchoate (but very exciting, because protesting is very exciting, even if it's totally ineffectual) protest movements. That isn't going to help anyone.

So what movement has had more press and more impressive effects on American society in the last 10 years? You're about to rattle off a bunch of organizations that have been around for decades, so why doesn't Occupy deserve the same time frame for your approval or disapproval?

This claim that because Occupy was dismantled it therefore must have been dangerous and scary to the powers that be is pretty empty. Contempt is just as likely an explanation as fear. Or really, the basic conservatism that sees any disruption as something to be controlled and silenced. The problem is that there's plenty of evidence that it simply doesn't matter what the message is, protest movements are reacted to with alacrity and negativity. That sucks, but it has no bearing whatsoever on whether said movement is effective, or scary, or empty of everything but rhetoric.

Violent repression by the state has no bearing on whether a movement is effective? You can't possibly believe that. If you do, logically you'd have to say that the abolitionist movement should be blamed for failing to take down the institution of slavery in a reasonable amount of time. Is that something you consider to be a legitimate argument against social movements?

Look, I've been involved in my share of protests and protest movements. They are immensely exciting, and it's easy to become really invested in them. I get that, and I'm sympathetic to it. I don't think there's a thing in the world wrong with it. But I also recognize that ultimately if you want to claim an impact you have to show your work. And Occupy should recognize this too, right? We are talking about immensely important issues here, I think we can all agree about that. So, given what's at stake, it really isn't too much to ask to have the tactics, strategies, and impacts explained clearly and without recourse to false markers of importance. Occupy seems to have a lot of support around these parts. If it was so successful, this should not be a hard request to fulfill.

Occupy is not here to appease any existing social order. It's here to establish an inclusive process that asks what the social order should be, which issues are most important to everyone who is able and willing to participate, and then deliver that message, which it began doing in May Day of 2012:
1. The economy must be put to the service of people's welfare, and to support and serve the environment, not private profit. We want a system where labour is appreciated by its social utility, not its financial or commercial profit. Therefore, we demand:
...
2. To achieve these objectives, we believe that the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from local to global. People must get democratic control over financial institutions, transnational corporations and their lobbies. To this end, we demand:
...
3. We believe that political systems must be fully democratic. We therefore demand full democratisation of international institutions, and the elimination of the veto power of a few governments. We want a political system which really represent the variety and diversity of our societies:
...
But I suppose when May Day of 2013 arrives without all of their demands met, we'll hear about how Occupy is to blame for the massive institutional failures that currently own the planet, including the violent attacks and unaccountable intimidation tactics committed by law enforcement and their corporate partners. At least I won't be surprised this time around.
posted by tripping daisy at 10:55 AM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


And if you're tired of hearing me blather on, here's an article that I generally agree with: Massive May Day Turnout Highlights Media's Disconnect From Reality
posted by tripping daisy at 12:54 PM on January 4, 2013


I notice that, in your eg section responding to my comment that there was total lack of Occupy voices in the most current debate over fiscal policy you provided not a single counter example.

The unfortunate thing here is that your own over-investment in Occupy, coupled with a lack of real results to point to (this is the internet for fuck's sake, there is no cost to provide a link), shows me that I have not been wrong to write off Occupy as a bunch of dilettantes.
posted by OmieWise at 3:51 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're asking for proof of success, but only if it's found in capitalist-run media. You call me over-invested because I give Occupy the benefit of the doubt and more than 24 months to have additional success in addressing economic inequality that has been building in America for over fifty years. Given your peculiar demands for immediate and total success, there is not a single progressive movement that you would support that fits your bizarre and ridiculous and irrational demands.

So show us all the magical social movement that went from inception to success in 24 months. I'd love to read about it.
posted by tripping daisy at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2013


You're asking for proof of success, but only if it's found in capitalist-run media.

No, I'm asking for proof that Occupy is part if our national conversation. It's not like we don't have models for progressive social change in the US. Even if you think those models are bankrupt you should be able to describe Occupy's model to me in a way that my reactionary self can understand it. How is Occupy staying relevant? What's the next step? How do you see change coming about? Is it just faith based?
posted by OmieWise at 9:07 AM on January 5, 2013


Dozens of Occupy stories on Democracy Now
Thank You, Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street's Santa Problem
99% - Collaborative Occupy Film to debut at Sundance

Show me another progressive movement started in 2011 with more press eighteen months later.
posted by tripping daisy at 9:38 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


‎[Ford said] "... On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur. "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said Ford. "It is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going in for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"

"What?"

"I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"

"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."

Ford shrugged again.

"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."

-Douglas Adams.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:45 AM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I always think about the lizards every election season jeffburdges. That's one of the best bits Douglas Adams ever wrote.
posted by JHarris at 11:08 AM on January 5, 2013


jeffburdges, that is a great description of the relationship between Occupy and the progressive movement! I wouldn't have thought to describe it that way, but of course it pretty perfectly captures how progressives feel like this must be the right kind of movement just because it's a progressive movement. Thanks.

Dozens of Occupy stories on Democracy Now
Thank You, Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street's Santa Problem
99% - Collaborative Occupy Film to debut at Sundance

Show me another progressive movement started in 2011 with more press eighteen months later.


What? Those links don't provide any of the information about direction that I was asking about. Publicity doesn't mean a damn thing. Kim Kardashian got a lot of fucking publicity this year, too. The "Thank You" column was totally incoherent. Any column that starts by unfavorably comparing the electoral impact of the Tea Party with that of Occupy is written by someone who doesn't seem to be a very acute observer of American politics. The Forbes link actually points out why good intentions don't always translate into good policy, and that more thought might be in order. I confess I didn't hunt through the Democracy Now site. I like DN, and have listened to it on and off for years, but I wasn't sure what you wanted me to see there.

I'm going to leave this thread. I imagine you think I'm an asshole, and I know I think you are willfully ignoring the points I've repeatedly raised. I think you might put some thought into how difficult (impossible) it's been for you to answer the very reasonable questions about goals, strategies, directions, and outcomes that I've raised here. I'm not being disingenuous when I say I'm a potential Occupy ally. I'm much more disheartened to have asked these questions and not have had them answered AT ALL than I was when I still harbored hope that there was some there there.
posted by OmieWise at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2013


I think you might put some thought into how difficult (impossible) it's been for you to answer the very reasonable questions about goals, strategies, directions

So when I linked you to the May Day release that stated goals, strategies, and directions, why didn't you read it?

and outcomes that I've raised here

You said Occupy had "no voice" in the national conversation about financial reform, but any cursory searching will reveal the hippie dilettantes filing a 325 page amicus brief with the Supreme Court through Occupy the SEC. In short, you're making shit up because you don't know any better.

I'm not being disingenuous when I say I'm a potential Occupy ally.

Yes you are.
posted by tripping daisy at 3:48 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah OmieWise, you've been ludicrously outspoken about how much you disapprove of Occupy, cutting it at every possible opportunity. Then you turn around Douglas Adams' bit about elected officials and somehow make it about Occupy as well!

I'm just saying, hate that strong, it starts to look like love.
posted by JHarris at 4:56 PM on January 5, 2013


You said Occupy had "no voice" in the national conversation about financial reform

No, he said Occupy had "no voice" about the fiscal cliff decisions and the election that led to them. Here's the quote:
"Occupy cares about who gets taxed, how much, whether the taxes are regressive or progressive, how the revenues are spent, what impact current fiscal decisions are likely to have on the social safety net, right? I'm not aware of a single Occupy voice (that wasn't already a national voice prior to Occupy) that offered significant comments, on a national stage, about these things."
There's a difference between "fiscal" and "financial." Either you're being disingenuous or you're actually not reading your interlocutors with any charity.

The Occupy metaphor is a great one: that's why Occupy the SEC took it up. But their briefs and public comments aren't produced by GAs, because you can't write a 325-page letter on the Volcker Rule under those circumstances. If the metaphor evolves into more working groups like that, there's still reason to hope.

But if that happens, it'll be a repudiation of the organization that Graeber and the NYCGA propagated originally. I want Graeber to be right. That kind of victory, through non-democratic working groups, would be an acknowledgement that you can't counter bureaucracy with democracy. It'd be saying that the only way to beat the elites is to have elites of your own. It'd be a bittersweet victory.

But it's still better than losing, as progressives sometimes seem only-too-happy to do.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:01 PM on January 5, 2013


The unfortunate thing here is that your own over-investment in Occupy, coupled with a lack of real results to point to (this is the internet for fuck's sake, there is no cost to provide a link), shows me that I have not been wrong to write off Occupy as a bunch of dilettantes.

How about the recent article that was posted on the Blue that credit union membership has surpassed Bank of America in Seattle. A 30-percent jump since 2008, from 21.5% to 28%.

What's really damning though isn't that news, it's the coverage by the Seattle Times, the area's largest print and only remaining daily newspaper. Nowhere in their article do they mention Occupy or OWS.

Which kind of makes me happy, because you know they're scared.

And to head off the excuses, yes, it's Seattle, a liberal wasteland only second to SF, but regardless, it shows that OWS did and can have real results.

Another huge positive impact they've had has been highlighting some egregious police brutality issues in our country. The UC Davis pepper-spray incident was only one example of many, including Oakland and other places.

Yes, this brutality has been happening for years to minorities and less-privileged citizens. It's unfortunate that it took some relatively-privileged mostly caucasian kids getting maced and beat to bring additional attention to the problem, but it has brought awareness to it in middle america. And that's based on conversations with family and returning home for the holidays. Inequality, social support for the unprivileged and poor. These are all things OWS has increased discussion of in our national debate.

Regarding the vague goal, strategies and outcomes of OWS: this "issue" has been a standard talking point of Fox News and opponents of the movement since the beginning. And others have pointed out numerous times that their lack of a single, monolithic strategy is actually a strategy in itself. It's too easy to dismiss a single idea with talking points, and a single goal isn't representative of a truly democratic and distributed movement.
posted by formless at 6:58 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I addressed all your comments upthread, OmieWise.

I'd agree that "progressives feel like [OWS is] the right kind of movement because it's an [existant] progressive movement", but the entire point is that no other movements exist not because progressive ran out of ideas but because they aren't permitted to exist by the "basic conservatism that sees any disruption as something to be controlled and silenced." I'd agree that OWS's existence doesn't guarantee their correctness, but it's prolonged nature represents progress.

In fact, we learned that recent protests and strikes have proven ineffective largely because they occur so quickly that no economic impacts accumulate. I suppose short strikes mostly just help the union members feel good about their leaders, but stock holders lose real money only during longer strikes.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:50 AM on January 6, 2013


FWIW, Still not much there:

We still do not have anything approaching a complete picture of federal authorities' efforts to monitor and police the Occupy movement. And it would not be surprising to find that the surveillance of Occupy infringed on protesters' civil liberties (nothing new in the history of American protest movements). However, that story can't be told with the small cache of documents released so far.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2013


that story can't be told with the small cache of documents released so far.

Did you not read my comments upthread? I described how the documents described FBI monitoring the email list that included me and other OWS activists, and had informers giving information on planning meetings that I attended.

The small cache of documents is sufficient to establish that my personal civil liberties were violated. Is that not enough to start with?
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Charlie, as you can plainly see from the document you cite, the woman offered the access info, and THEY REFUSED IT. She was told that "...law enforcement could not and would not acknowledge her consent to access...."

Now, maybe that's a lie. Maybe they write each other these coy internal memos as a way of tricking would-be FOIA investigations down the road. But the document doesn't say what you're saying it says. Blame the crazy lady for being crazy, not law enforcement. They told her to get lost.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:26 AM on January 9, 2013


I don't think you interpreted that right, you're basing it only on the contents of the first letter. But take note, these documents are on FBI letterhead. These letters ARE FBI collections of information on legal political activities. It describes the police distributing DHS documents on how to "protect the safety" of protesters by herding them into Free Speech Zones. FBI Agents said they "did not offer any commentary" but they still collected this information on peaceful political demonstrations.

I will admit I took part in several secret meetings that organized and executed blatantly illegal acts of civil disobedience. These meetings involved the purchase and operation of propane powered space heaters, in direct violation of the Fire Marshall's orders. We collaborated with other OWS sites with similar problems, and how they dealt with their legal issues about heating devices. As winter approached, law enforcement across the nation discovered that it was very easy to suppress the OWS camps by suppressing their ability to stay warm.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:45 PM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Declining to "acknowledge her consent to access her social sites" and refusing to accept or use the access she provided them with are completely different things. In fact, the former looks to me to be an attempt to convey that they probably are going to use it or keep the option of using it open but cannot admit publicly and on the record that they will do so.

It looks like they're tying themselves in linguistic knots to both avoid saying that there would be anything wrong with conducting that kind of surveillance and to avoid making any representation that would be false if they went ahead and used what she'd given them.

If they did actually use her passwords to spy on the protesters nothing written in that two-page memo on pp. 85-86 would be a lie and it doesn't say anything I would interpret as "get lost"; it appears to entirely be vague language crafted to serve as a CYA no matter what anyone in the agency decided to do.
posted by XMLicious at 6:14 PM on January 11, 2013


Declining to "acknowledge her consent to access her social sites" and refusing to accept or use the access she provided them with are completely different things.

No. They don't decline to acknowledge consent: they "would not and could not" acknowledge consent. They're saying that they don't have the legal tools to make any information garnered legally admissible. They don't like to mess with that kind of thing.

Maybe an agent scanned her account, maybe she didn't, but this is the kind of write-up that emotionally disturbed paranoids get. "A man came in claiming to have evidence that President Obama was plotting the overthrow of the US Constitution, and offered us information on his Facebook page. We advised him that we would not and could not acknowledge his consent." Without consent, any evidence gathered is illegal and inadmissable, and the on-the-ground FBI agent isn't interested in combing through some crazy person's email. There are specialized agencies for wiretaps. The on-the-ground agents say, "If you give us evidence of wrongdoing, then we'll investigate." Which is what they say: get lost unless you've got evidence of threats to "public safety, officer safety, or criminal activity."

It looks like they're tying themselves in linguistic knots to both avoid saying that there would be anything wrong with conducting that kind of surveillance and to avoid making any representation that would be false if they went ahead and used what she'd given them.

Look, if you're desperate to have been spied upon, let me assure you that you almost certainly were spied upon by the NSA's algorithms, just like I was. All I'm saying is that these documents give us no reason to believe you were spied upon by the any living, breathing FBI agents. Maybe you were, but there's no evidence yet that you were.

And there probably won't ever be. The real reason they likely didn't do anything with that woman's Facebook data or the reams of data gathered by the NSA isn't legal, it's strategic, because Occupy was busy tying itself in knots to be as useless as possible. The FBI established that Occupy was non-violent early on, and they just weren't very worried about it. And so they treated it like a nuisance rather than a movement.

As winter approached, law enforcement across the nation discovered that it was very easy to suppress the OWS camps by suppressing their ability to stay warm.

You seem to believe that Occupy would have succeeded if not for government intervention. If only we'd been able to heat our tents! But that's silly: we've had heating issues licked in this country using a nice thing called "walls" for a while now. But still, you spent all your energy trying to get the heat outdoors. It's like a mirror cliché for the guy who spent so much time trying to get rid of the alligators, he forgot that his job was to drain the swamp.

You didn't write elaborate critiques of draft regulations to the SEC, you didn't keep people from being foreclosed on. That's okay! Neither did I. But I'm not trying to take credit for those things, either. I did what I did: I taught courses in prisons. I tried to get my students to think clearly about justice. I argued for a basic income guarantee. I decried inequality. None of it helped, much. Sometimes the things we do just don't help, much. The FBI didn't intervene, I just failed. All on my own.

At this point, it seems more likely that Occupy didn't see substantial government intervention precisely because it sucked up all the energy and outrage from the crisis and bailouts and dissipated it harmlessly. Unless Graeber was just a really deep-cover mole, I don't see how Occupy's failures are the FBI's fault.

But I do see why frustrated folks might wish that they had someone other than themselves to blame. Well, now you can blame me: if only I'd been more supportive... if only I'd acknowledged that the awesome might of the FBI was what truly brought the movement down... if only I'd canceled class May 1st... then the General Strike would have succeeded and we'd have been singing the Internationale in the streets side-by-side. Mea maxima culpa.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:17 PM on January 13, 2013


No. They don't decline to acknowledge consent: they "would not and could not" acknowledge consent. They're saying that they don't have the legal tools to make any information garnered legally admissible. They don't like to mess with that kind of thing.

The salient thing to me isn't whether they're "declining to" or saying they "would not and could not"—in fact the particulars of that wording seem completely irrelevant and I don't think that the distinction you're trying to draw even exists—it's that they're simply talking about whether or not they can acknowledge her consent, her permission to use her credentials on the social media sites to conduct surveillance.

Far from saying that they can't or won't conduct that kind of surveillance as you seem to want to interpret it, that memo isn't even saying that they can't or won't conduct that kind of surveillance with the credentials she's given them—it's simply saying that they would not and could not acknowledge that she has given them the ability to impersonate her in the course of conducting surveillance.

Which is what they say: get lost unless you've got evidence of threats to "public safety, officer safety, or criminal activity."

I think that the importance of putting those words in writing is not to note down that they told a particular crazy person to get lost, it's to cover their asses in case anything did happen related to the group she was trying to report on, whether she's crazy or not, so that they could say "see, here's the proof: in the specific conversation we had with her she didn't say anything actionable so we can't be blamed for failing to take any particular action in response to her."

If they meant to say "we discarded the credentials she gave us because everything she's talking about is useless and there is no way those credentials could be used anyway", as you're trying to interpolate it as meaning, they would have actually written that. Or even more likely they'd have not even mentioned that she gave them her passwords if they felt certain everything she was saying was irrelevant.

Look, if you're desperate to have been spied upon, let me assure you that you almost certainly were spied upon by the NSA's algorithms, just like I was. All I'm saying is that these documents give us no reason to believe you were spied upon by the any living, breathing FBI agents. Maybe you were, but there's no evidence yet that you were.

I am not involved in OWS at all and this has nothing to do with me. I just think it's ridiculous that you are so intent on dismissing the concerns of the people who object to the way the protestors were treated that you are ignoring what it literally says in that memo, so I'm inclined at least to be extremely skeptical of the other interpretations of these documents that you've been offering.

You are trying to interpret that memo as evidence that the FBI people involved made some sort of principled refusal to impersonate one protestor to conduct surveillance on others when it doesn't say anything remotely like that. And you're trying to portray anyone who disagrees with you as having mental problems, which is all the more absurd and obviously rhetorical.

It doesn't literally say what charlie don't surf is claiming it signifies, no, but neither does it contradict him. However trying to stretch it to fit your version of things by quibbling over whether "declining to" and "would not and could not" have the same meaning gives a far more desperate impression than any of his statements and fits with your previous hyperbolic characterizations attempting to dismiss unspecified people who believe in "inevitable revolution" and analogize themselves to the victims of mass murder, claims which only you seem to be able to see anywhere.

Since you keep mentioning it and seem to want acknowledgement, bravo for teaching in prisons and everything else, that genuinely is quite virtuous of you. But it doesn't make the other stuff you've been saying any more reasonable.
posted by XMLicious at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2013


You seem to believe that Occupy would have succeeded if not for government intervention. If only we'd been able to heat our tents! But that's silly: we've had heating issues licked in this country using a nice thing called "walls" for a while now. But still, you spent all your energy trying to get the heat outdoors. It's like a mirror cliché for the guy who spent so much time trying to get rid of the alligators, he forgot that his job was to drain the swamp.

You seem to believe that OWS participants just sat around in parks camping. How the hell would you know what we did? I am sure there are many MeFi people who have read my extensive, lengthy writing on this site, about forming a Tax Policy Working Group, to change local tax giveaways to real estate developers who were "redeveloping" the poor right out of their neighborhoods. Some of us tried working directly through government, other anarchists believed there were no governmental solutions to government problems, so they did direct actions. We actually looked around for families facing foreclosure, so we could defend them, but there weren't any in our area due to the distorted real estate market (yes, I know where to find this data).

Then there were our continual efforts on the Caucuses. I personally spoke to an audience of about a thousand people, specifically describing our proposals for financial reform, with extensive details of the failures of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, that deregulated the financial services industry and enabled the wrecking of the economy by bankers. Other OWS members became party delegates, and worked for months to get parts of our Statement of Principles adopted into the State Party platform, and I don't know how far they got, it's possible they got some of our Principles into the National platform. I know our Principles were influential nationally in other OWS camps, and I did a lot of teach-ins on everything from Gramm-Leach-Biley, to why the Tea Party was so angry about Marbury vs. Madison.

But I understand why you think we were so ineffective, I mean, your own august personage was unable to effect any substantive changes, how could anyone possibly do better? And I suppose you are entitled to a cloistered viewpoint from your ivory tower. But don't tell me what it was like out there, don't judge us by projecting your own impotence. We were in nearly daily communication with other OWS camps, with our own members moving between other cities and gathering a broader perspective of what we were facing, as well as distributing information we had learned, things I had researched and taught. We had our own intelligence security measures, but I was still surprised to find nationwide coordination of suppression efforts from unexpected angles like the International City Management Association, hell, I even linked right in this thread to some of the ICMA's public white papers right on how to suppress OWS camps. But you obviously didn't read that far upthread. No have you read the tens of thousands of words I have written on MeFi about OWS activities and strategies, trying to give my honest appraisal of our strengths and weaknesses. I know where we failed of our own accord, and where we failed because of organized governmental opposition and deliberate interference.

Our failures were not like your personal failures. We tried to find new tactics to replace the old failed ones, like the ones you tried. Maybe we even opened the door a crack, just enough for your old failed tactics to have a better chance the next time you try them. But you know the old saying, insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So don't call OWS crazy merely because they tried something different and failed due to causes you cannot even begin to comprehend. And at least credit us with our successes. We made income inequity part of the national dialogue. We changed the political environment, and now the GOP and the Tea Party aren't dictating the rules anymore. We had a big part in that. We're still at it, like for example, my local group just emptied its treasury and donated all our money to Occupy Sandy, for hurricane relief. Nationwide, the Occupy Jubilee movement is paying off mortgages under foreclosure. And a political infrastructure was built that is still in place, that can mobilize the disparate forces again. When you have done any of these things, please feel entitled to your condescending attitudes, but since you haven't, then you should probably refrain from sneering at the people who made more progress than you did.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:31 PM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never called OWS crazy.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:44 PM on January 13, 2013


Given how much you love to sneer, Charlie, I'm not going to take the rest of that stuff personally. Good luck with Occupy Jubillee.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:56 PM on January 13, 2013


How generous of you to not sneer or let things get too personal with people who are desperate to have been spied upon and haven't heard of walls before.
posted by XMLicious at 6:09 PM on January 13, 2013


Dude. Prove you were spied on. Even your supporters admit we don't have proof, yet.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:43 PM on January 13, 2013


Oh, wait, that was you who admitted we don't have proof. So...?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:47 PM on January 13, 2013


You appear to be reading this thread about as closely as you did those documents. I definitely was not spied upon in relation to anything having to do with OWS because I am not a member of any OWS organization and didn't participate in it at all.
posted by XMLicious at 7:12 PM on January 13, 2013


Dude. Prove you were spied on.

[facepalm]

Every single OWS site was under surveillance.

I saw the new police surveillance camera that watched our HQ.

I am not going to keep repeating myself to someone who will not accept plain and simple evidence. I pointed you to the FOIA documents, and pointed out page 88, where it clearly says:

Because of information received by the DMPD that there may potentially be an attempt to stop the Iowa Caucuses by people involved by Occupy Iowa, which may involve criminal activity, the DMPD called a meeting to which they invited various Federal, State, and local police agencies to attend.

That is written on FBI letterhead. It was obtained through an FOIA action that asked for information about federal surveillance of OWS.

This is the FBI admitting it kept surveillance files on OWS sites nationwide, and showing you the files. The DMPD/FBI meeting was called to discuss information that was announced at a planning meeting I attended.

If the FBI admission doesn't convince you, then you are being deliberately obtuse.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:38 PM on January 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, you started with page 85, and I responded about 85. Now we're on 88. Which doesn't say they spied on you; it says they got together to figure out whether there was any potential criminal activity in the Caucus work you did. And they didn't see any, but they reminded each other about the 1st Amendment, and as the final paragraph states, the FBI agents at the meeting did not see "a federal nexus" so they didn't offer commentary because there wasn't anything relevant to them.

Is your claim that in November of 2011, nobody knew that Occupy was hoping to participate in the Iowa caucuses, so the information must have been attained illegally? Because Anonymous was calling for caucuses to be shut down weeks beforehand, quite publicly. No spying required. They didn't have to have a mole at your planning meeting because ANONYMOUS BLABBED.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:01 PM on January 13, 2013


And here's David Goodner confirming that Occupy Des Moines planned to do sit-ins in the Register two weeks before that meeting.

So you guys announced it! That's how they knew you were going to do it. The FBI doesn't violate your rights by reading the newspaper.

If David Goodner's admission doesn't convince you, then you are being deliberately obtuse.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:07 PM on January 13, 2013


Right, thanks for confirming you are being deliberately obtuse.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:41 AM on January 14, 2013


charlie, you claimed that the FBI had to spy on your planning meeting based on the line "Because of information received...." But you put the information in the newspaper! anonymous put it on the internet! Where's the surveillance?

The FOIA request coughed up files on OWS. There's nothing like a campaign of surveillance here. Not yet, at least. When and if they do, great! But you keep jumping from page to page that mentions Occupy Des Moines without establishing that any of the pages actually contains incriminating evidence.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:48 AM on January 14, 2013


Stop and take a look at what you are doing. You are lecturing someone about how to interpret events he was directly involved in, and trying to get him to deny the evidence he gathered himself, firsthand, at events over a year ago, and insisting that your own third-hand interpretation is true.

You are like an Moon Hoaxer trying to convince a NASA engineer that Apollo never landed on the moon. At this point, you're just embarrassing yourself. We're done here.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:37 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


You are lecturing someone about how to interpret events he was directly involved in, and trying to get him to deny the evidence he gathered himself, firsthand, at events over a year ago, and insisting that your own third-hand interpretation is true.

If you were there, you should be able to provide first hand proof.
posted by empath at 8:00 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just like a NASA engineer shouldn't be asserting that humans have landed on the moon unless she saw it first-hand with her own eyes from the lunar lander, huh?

I finally got the time to go through the PDF of the FOIA response. I'm sure that all of the most informative stuff is in the redacted bits and skipped pages but here are a couple of things that stood out to me:

On pages 54-56 is a memo describing contact with a non-FBI source who offers to attend and inform on an Occupy Anchorage meeting. It says that the agents he was talking to explained that they couldn't direct or ask him to attend the meeting so he would need to do so "on behalf of the Port" and he responded by saying that yes, his attendance would be on behalf of the Port. In a subsequent paragraph it's explained to him which sorts of information he should report to the FBI ("specific threats").

On pages 90-92 is a "Liaison with other agency" memo that describes contact with "the Assistant Vice President Law Enforcement Unit, ███████████████ of the Federal Reserve Law Enforcement unit" to "...pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies..." which sounds rather like information that would have to come from some sort of surveillance to me.

It continues to seem absurd to me that in a thread where we're discussing hundreds of pages' worth of documentation of (some of) the meetings where all sorts of law enforcement and military organizations and anti-terrorism groups were presenting information about OWS that had to be redacted from the FOIA release, referring to it as an anarchist organization, and mentioning it next to the Aryan Nations and Anonymous, as well as discussing things like the FBI conducting home invasions with battering rams and stun grenades, that people are demanding some sort of CSI: Occupy Wall Street level of smoking gun forensic evidence from charlie don't surf before any credence can be given to the suggestion that maybe some of these agencies were conducting active surveillance related to Occupy Wall Street.
posted by XMLicious at 10:27 PM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


referring to it as an anarchist organization

It *is* an anarchist organization. Anarchists are good. Anarchists are boring. It's not a dirty word.

mentioning it next to the Aryan Nations and Anonymous

Some parts of Anonymous were clearly allied with parts of Occupy, and again, I don't think that's a bad thing. See the links regarding the Iowa caucuses: different groups with similar aims, with tactics that were at least sometimes shared.

The only reason Aryan Nations is mentioned in the same documents as Occupy is because some of these documents are high level summaries of lots of unrelated things.

people are demanding some sort of CSI: Occupy Wall Street level of smoking gun forensic evidence

My only claim is that there's nothing alleged in these documents that establishes a violation of civil rights. That's all.

There are two possible interpretations of that:

1. Civil rights were violated, and the FBI has buried or redacted the evidence.
2. The FBI carefully avoided violating the movement's civil rights.

Notice: both of those interpretations are possible given the documents before us. Even if you're alleging conspiracy, you should expect that the FBI wouldn't be stupid enough to give up the goods after the first FOIA request.

On pages 90-92 is a "Liaison with other agency" memo that describes contact with "the Assistant Vice President Law Enforcement Unit, ███████████████ of the Federal Reserve Law Enforcement unit" to "...pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies..." which sounds rather like information that would have to come from some sort of surveillance to me.

Well, it looks like it came from a PRESS RELEASE to me.

It continues to seem absurd to me that you don't even consider that this was a very public movement that put everything out on the internet. You didn't need to engage in surveillance to find out what they were up to.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:26 AM on January 15, 2013


My only claim is that there's nothing alleged in these documents that establishes a violation of civil rights. That's all.

You've made a few more claims than that. For example you followed up the above statement by trying to imply that disagreeing with you involves positing a conspiracy theory, you've claimed that the OWS efforts failed because the participants didn't know what walls are, and you've tried to convey that disagreeing with you requires being "desperate to have been spied upon".

You seem much more intent on denigrating people who aren't buying your enlightened-grizzled-activist-who-sees-the-big-picture pose and patting yourself on the back for teaching in prisons than examining what these documents actually say or the other issues that have been discussed in this thread.

Though if we're at the point where you're conceding that these documents do not contradict what charlie don't surf is claiming and don't show things like the FBI refusing to conduct surveillance or refusing to accept means to do so, that these documents do support the fact that a variety of different agencies, public and private, were engaged in active intelligence-gathering and yes, even "spying" as you've been so contemptuously calling it, on various OWS organizations, and that the only trimmed-back version of your arguments that remains is to say that out of the types of surveillance the redacted versions of these documents indicate there isn't direct proof of the sort of surveillance that would violate civil rights laws because in the visible words on the included pages the FBI representatives involved were careful to put down in writing that they declined to acknowledge certain things and got people conducting surveillance to say that they were doing so on behalf of someone other than the FBI, then I guess we've made a little progress.

Well, it looks like it came from a PRESS RELEASE to me.

That's fine as long as we also observe that anyone other than you, that is anyone who is actually reading things instead of just casting about for some sort of sound bite to hurl or cherry-picking details to mention out of context, will note that the press release you link to is dated October 6th and doesn't say anything about "the events and decisions made during the small rallies" mentioned in the quote you were actually responding to and will realize that it's pretty silly to propose that continued contact "on October 05, 07, 14, and 15" was entirely to discuss just the one press release that was reproduced within the memo.
posted by XMLicious at 1:26 PM on January 15, 2013


They met a bunch of times. By October 15th, they would have had a press release dated the 6th. They met repeatedly to discuss what the rallies have been doing.

The fact that the FBI met with the Federal Reserve's security folks about the activists on the Federal Reserve's front lawn isn't suprising, is it? They repeatedly emphasize that Occupy is pacifist and non-violent. It's on their front lawn! At some point, they can't help but notice what the folks out there are doing. You want them *not* to notice?

As for the the Anchorage Port's guy who consulted with the FBI, what is it that you wanted to happen in that case? A private security person comes to the FBI. He says, "I am inside the Occupy group here, and I am monitoring their actions." or something to that effect. What should the FBI do? They do exactly what the memo says: "We're not condoning what you're doing, you don't represent us or work for us, but if you find evidence of specific threats, we'll investigate." That's pretty much boilerplate. I bet they've got dozens memos like that for every other movement under the sun. Private citizens fuck with each other sometimes, and the FBI only gets involved when one of them fucks with the other one in an illegal way. Attending a group that claims to represent the 99% is pretty much every schmoe's right, so even though I think it's a shitty thing for the Port to do, I don't see why the FBI is at fault.

Given the fact that Occupy has several times tried to shut down other ports on the West Coast, you can see why the Port wanted to watch Occupy Anchorage. What did you want the agents to do in that case? Arrest the security guy from the Anchorage Port for attending a political meeting? Tell Occupy that they have a mole? What?

it's pretty silly to propose that continued contact "on October 05, 07, 14, and 15" was entirely to discuss just the one press release that was reproduced within the memo.

You have no idea what inter-agency meetings are like, do you? :-) Meeting to rehash press releases is just about par for the course.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:16 PM on January 15, 2013


So I'll take that as "no, I didn't read the press release closely enough to see that it doesn't contain the quote about ‘events and decisions made during the small rallies’ I was claiming originated from it, so let me try to pretend I know everything about inter-agency security meetings and hope no one notices."

No matter how snarkily you say any of this stuff or proclaim your progressive bona fides and describe your struggle to get your students to think clearly about justice, at this point no one is going to believe that you're some sort of James Bond crossed with Gandhi and Socrates and just accept your authoritative interpretation simply because you say it really stridently and sarcastically and pretend familiarity.

This whole thing with setting up straw men to knock down has gotten old. You can strike your tone of amazed disbelief as much as you want and say things like "You want the FBI to go around and randomly arrest private security personnel? What?!?!" but I don't think anyone's going to miss the fact that the deranged conspiracy-theorist OWS supporters you've been describing keep needing you to put words in their mouths to fit the picture you're trying to paint.
posted by XMLicious at 9:21 PM on January 15, 2013


The whole back-and-forth is getting tiresome (several times now I've just wanted to post AAAAAUUUGGGHHH), but I felt I should respond to this, as a matter of general principle:

If you were there, you should be able to provide first hand proof.

Except proof is a much higher standard than just witnessing. Nothing about presence implies the availability of proof of anything.
posted by JHarris at 9:39 PM on January 15, 2013


So I'll take that as "no, I didn't read the press release closely enough to see that it doesn't contain the quote about ‘events and decisions made during the small rallies’ I was claiming originated from it."

But it does originate from that press release: everything after the passage you cite is a press release. So what did they learn from the small rallies? They learned the contents of the press release. It goes on for two pages, and it's a one-to-one match. They didn't need to attend the rallies to learn that. And they discovered the decisions of the meetings the same way I did: I read the results in the press release after the fact. Does that count as surveillance?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:28 AM on January 16, 2013


So suddenly it's not surveillance because it could've been more productive?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:48 AM on January 17, 2013


It's surveillance in the same sense that me reading about OWS in the Washington Post was surveillance, I guess.
posted by empath at 4:38 AM on January 17, 2013


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