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May 23, 2014 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Purportedly anti-terrorism Fusion Centers allowed police, military and "private sector partners" to share material about surveilling the nationwide Occupy protests

The NYT report is based on documents that were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

Commentary from RT, Reason and Cato.

Previously
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles (34 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
The security state's greatest political ally is the violent terrorist.

The security state's greatest political enemy is its own informed electorate.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:04 PM on May 23 [15 favorites]


Appropriate
posted by lalochezia at 2:20 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Government employees reading social media? Tyranny. Tyranny I say!
posted by jpe at 2:27 PM on May 23


I know it's a cliche at this point but it's astounding how much life has turned into a William Gibson novel.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:40 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I'll feel better when I read that the Tea Party has come under a level of scrutiny commensurate with the number of true domestic terrorists that seem to walk amongst them.

Not planning on feeling better anytime soon.
posted by nevercalm at 3:02 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]


Government employees reading social media? Tyranny. Tyranny I say!

Well, I think you're missing the point about why people (at least, myself) consider this important:

- The Fusion Centers were created implicitly if not explicitly for the purpose of fighting terrorism. Here, they're being used to monitor a domestic movement that has nothing to do with terrorism, fitting into a long pattern of purportedly anti-terrorism government initiatives being used for other purposes.
- The intense monitoring of Occupy protests is in line with the increasing surveillance in American society, steadily eroding privacy in both private and public space
- The collaboration of the military in any way in monitoring domestic political activity is disturbing
- The fact that the Fusion Centers allow law enforcement to broadcast information about threats to property or even earnings compiled by corporations raises the issue of state-corporate cooperation in combatting political movements
- The number of government agencies with supposedly different mandates and at different jurisdictional levels that are taking an interest in Occupy
- Given that the Occupy movement was eventually violently suppressed by the state in coordinated attacks all over the country, it's revealing to get a tip of the iceberg of how that was presaged

Yeah, the documents reveal some police forces doing rather innocuous things and some ineffective things and some confused things and some routine things. That's not the point.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:04 PM on May 23 [39 favorites]


NORAD was built to fight the Soviets. After the Berlin Wall fell, they had nothing to do, so they switched to counter-narcotics. But NORAD has been successfully reorganized multiple times under a military hierarchy, and still serves a useful function.

These guys, not so useful. Example: Comedy of Errors Led to False ‘Water-Pump Hack’ Report
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:27 PM on May 23


While obviously this is a misuse of the "fusion centers" and a terrible waste of taxpayer money (Noisy Pink Bubbles sums it up pretty nicely), looking through the actual documents I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the personnel (especially in the informal emails; for a good example, the last paragraph on page 45 of the documents) seem to basically agree with and sympathize with the Occupy movement.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:32 PM on May 23


Two Defense Department employees, for example, regularly sent information to the fusion center in Washington or to a federal official connected to the center. One of them, an intelligence research specialist working in the threat analysis center of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, circulated an email describing Google searches as “a very handy intel gathering tool” to keep tabs on Occupy protests.

Now we know why Google broke its search engine: it's trying to keep useful information away from the surveillance apparatus. Looking for information about the Occupy protests? Here, check out yahoo answers.
posted by medusa at 3:34 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I'll feel better when I read that the Tea Party has come under a level of scrutiny commensurate with the number of true domestic terrorists that seem to walk amongst them.

How many domestic terror attacks have been linked to the tea party?
posted by Drinky Die at 3:58 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


greenwald said recently that he's working on one of the biggest revelations from the snowden documents, and described the story as being about who exactly was being spied upon; my guess is occupy organizers.
posted by p3on at 4:18 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


- Given that the Occupy movement was eventually violently suppressed by the state in coordinated attacks all over the country, it's revealing to get a tip of the iceberg of how that was presaged

I think that the reverberations and tidbits of info that slowly collect to form a full picture of this over the next 5-10 years are going to make people realize the whole occupy thing, for all it's directionless fuckups and embarrassing moments, was a lot bigger and more interesting thing than a lot of people have thought because of the reaction and response.

Because i mean yea, it's something i'll never forget watching an 84 year old woman get pepper sprayed... but the increasingly powerful, ridiculous response to the whole thing was odd.

Why were they so scared? What did they see? What did they know?
posted by emptythought at 4:31 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


nevercalm (3:02), the tea party isn't your enemy. a congressman frequently associated with it, justin amash, just voted against his own bill which would have restricted the NSA, because it had been watered down too much. your enemies are the republicans and the democrats.
posted by bruce at 4:55 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


- The Fusion Centers were created implicitly if not explicitly for the purpose of fighting terrorism.

They weren't. They share info over threats, which can be weather, crime, etc.

Not sure how the military was participating. Fusion centers are domestic enforcement, not military. The article mentioned two defense employees that sent info, and that very well could've been voluntary for all we know.

re public / private: they monitored public sources. That hardly seems problematic.
posted by jpe at 5:03 PM on May 23


Mama always said, politically, if they're not afraid of you, you're doing it wrong.

No, really, she says that. She was so proud when I got into Occupy, and sent me out saying, "Give them hell. But don't get arrested, I can't afford to bail you out."

I still want to know what those snipers in Houston were about, but that'll be a cold day.
posted by cmyk at 5:06 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Abuse of power comes as no surprise.
posted by theartandsound at 5:17 PM on May 23


"The documents show that people connected to the centers shared information about individual activists or supporters, and kept track of those who speculated in social media postings that the centers had been involved when police departments used force to clear Occupy camps."

LO-FUCKING-L Everyone.
posted by stagewhisper at 5:33 PM on May 23


Have a camera? Then the Fusion Centers probably think you are a terrorist.

PINAC. You need only look at the first link.

(I start my day on this site. Coffee and outrage wake me up.)
posted by cjorgensen at 5:37 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


Some good comments from NYT readers - e.g.:

When the lunatic right offers armed racist screeching nothing is done; when the student left offers structural critique it is immediately crushed. I wonder why?
posted by ryanshepard at 5:52 PM on May 23 [10 favorites]


Nixon and Elvis shook hands, nothing illegal happening here with the government.

Hail Eris!

It must be the curse of greyface?
posted by Orion Blastar at 6:30 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


I told people about this long ago, right while it was happening, even here on MeFi, and I don't think anyone really believed me, although they all thought it was plausible. I was suspicious of our City Manager's double-dealing, so I checked around and found the ICMA, the International City/County Management Association was coordinating action between cities. This is similar to even lower level organizations, cited in the NYT article:

At times, fusion center officials shared information produced by what Homeland Security calls “private sector partners.” For instance, the head of the Washington police department’s intelligence fusion division sent an email to colleagues before Thanksgiving 2011 with an order to develop a “one-page product” to acquaint commanders with “the potential threat” described in a 31-page report prepared by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The report examined protesters’ “attitude towards retail,” suggested that business could be disrupted on the day after Thanksgiving and listed several “specific known threats.”


Since it would be illegal for governments to directly infringe on First Amendment rights, the job is easily subcontracted to a quango. The International Council of Shopping Centers connection is one I had not heard of. It might explain why our FBI mole was always trying to organize stupid stunts like mike checking Walmart on Black Friday.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:36 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Why were they so scared? What did they see? What did they know?

I think the much criticized tactics and structure of Occupy were actually a lot more effective than most people give credit. It created a space where people could act creatively and collectively, and it was hard to cohesively co-opt even if the process was full of crazies and leftist drama. A lot of the ideas that people tried were stupid, embarrassing, pointless, stereotypical, ideological, counterproductive, or easy to make fun of in news clips. Not all of them were though, and ideas that worked tended to spread to the other camps almost instantly because you could watch all these things happen in real time via livestreamers and Twitter and then go vote on it in your own general assembly. Occupy created the direct action equivalent of viral memes, and that was scary to a lot of people.

I lived in Oakland near the encampment, from the very first day their goal was to take over a building, which they tried several times, several different ways and they faced a ridiculous amount of police violence for it. With the city's response it did almost seem possible, what would have happened if they had been successful? Every time the protestors showed up with some type of new gas mask or shield, other cities followed. If it worked in Oakland, could it work in your town?

Not surprisingly Oakland is now trying to install the Domain Awareness Center, their own little mini-NSA. But of course, it won't be used against protestors!
posted by bradbane at 8:48 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


The report examined protesters’ "attitude towards retail"

LOL did it examine their attitude towards light industrial, too?
posted by salvia at 9:42 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


There's a huge revenue gap here.

Let us dial up our lives, for a fee. Anyone can now access their own 'Truman Show'.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:21 AM on May 24


Also. Way back during the OJ Simpson hooplah, I had free cable.

The VHS tape of Fahrenheit 451 ended and flipped back to television, right onto the slow moving Bronco.
That was a big whiskey night.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:27 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I'll feel better when I read that the Tea Party has come under a level of scrutiny commensurate with the number of true domestic terrorists that seem to walk amongst them.
nevercalm (3:02), the tea party isn't your enemy.


The Tea Party are terrorists is an attempt to label something that isn't liked by someone else a negative label so one can attack the negative label.

Kind of like calling Occupy "terrorists".
posted by rough ashlar at 4:01 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Let's all pretend to be shocked and surprised.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:49 AM on May 24


"The Tea Party are terrorists" is an attempt to label something that isn't liked by someone else a negative label so one can attack the negative label.

... and has nothing to do with the continual stream of '...Or we'll instigate armed rebellion' rhetoric. If you hiss like a cat, don't complain when somebody bells your collar.
posted by Orb2069 at 7:50 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Tea Party are terrorists? I thought they were just douchebags who loved to drink tea?
posted by Orion Blastar at 8:45 AM on May 24


>The report examined protesters’ "attitude towards retail"

LOL did it examine their attitude towards light industrial, too?


You might be surprised that this actually was an issue. I went to our City Council several times, with other Occupiers, to object to my city's plan to issue TIFs to tear down and redevelop my city's last mixed-residential/light industrial neighborhood and turn it into malls and high density apartments. It was the last area in the center of town that was affordable to startup small businesses, and a home for many light industrial business that had been there for decades. It also contained affordable housing, which many of the upright citizens of my town considered a slum. For decades, real estate developers had been slavering over the prospects of developing this area, the TIF tax breaks would make it immensely profitable. Once the area was redeveloped, they could force the poors to move to cheap housing on the edge of town where the upright citizens would never have to see them, and where the poors would have no access to city services.

In fact, this was my final action with my Occupation. I got into a bitter argument with the anarchists, who objected to my plan to mobilize against the City Council proposal. They felt that the solution to this government proposal was not to be found within government, only direct action would be effective. I found a way to completely block the proposal within the system, I knew the State government had a law in committee against this precise sort of TIF, and the County Auditor and the Assessor's office was infuriated that the City was giving away all his County tax income to real estate developers and thus eroding their economic power. All I had to do was get Occupy to apply some pressure and grab the public's attention, and the City, State, and County would be at each other's throats. The TIF proposal would become snarled in interdepartmental infighting and die.

But no. The anarchists insisted that the way to solve this program was to go door to door in the "blighted" neighborhoods, getting residents and businessmen to sign petitions, handing out flyers, and to mobilize them in a properly socialist direct action response of marching in the streets carrying red banners. I actually had one anarchist say, "hey stay out of it, that's MY project, you're on MY turf." No, actually that was MY turf, I worked part time in the Auditor's office, and was friends with the Auditor, we had talked occasionally about this exact problem. I knew how to work the system. This only made the anarchists suspicious of my motives.

Of course, the anarchists never did a goddam thing except block me. I left the occupation, I gave up. The TIF passed, and just recently I have noticed some low income housing has been torn down and turned into strip malls.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:51 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


@caulkthewagon relating her experiences with BRIC on Twitter:

A BRIC detective followed my friend into an elevator, pushed her against a wall, shoved school records about her sexual assault in her face.

A different BRIC detective followed a friend into an alley and shouted his name, address, phone number, and mother and son's names at him.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:09 AM on May 24


Continuation of the longstanding social-engineering effort to do everything possible to keep those scary out-of-control 60s from ever happening again.
posted by Twang at 1:34 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Speaking of law enforcement and the Occupy movement: Cecily McMillan, from Zuccotti Park to Rikers

Cecily McMillan didn't get off easy. Her case is a threat to the future of protest
posted by homunculus at 8:42 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Wow, that conversation died quickly.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:36 AM on May 28


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