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FBI Considers the Occupy Movement a Terrorist Threat: The State of Civil Rights and Public Policy
A few weeks ago the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund released secret documents obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests revealing that the Occupy movement was treated as a terrorist threat by the FBI. This is despite agency acknowledgement that the organizers called for peaceful protests. The documents also show the massive resources used to track the Occupy movement, a month prior to the encampment in Zuccotti Park. FBI and counterterrorism agents in offices across the country, from Anchorage to Jacksonville, to Tampa, Virginia, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Memphis and Denver, coordinated with various local and federal law enforcement to monitor and collect intelligence on OWS. The documents obtained by the PCJF are heavily redacted and probably the tip of the iceberg, says our guest, attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. We also talk with Mara about her thoughts on the state of civil rights for the year moving forward.
- The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests with federal agencies, as well as with municipalities and police departments around the country.
- Prior to the FBI materials, we obtained a lot of documents showing the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement, as well as local police involvement around the country.
- It doesn’t come as a shock to people that the FBI has continued unabated its historic role as the secret police of the United States, acting against a social justice movement in the US.
The documents also show us this deep and close partnership the FBI and DHS have with Wall Street, and with the banks and businesses in the United States.
The documents show the U.S. intelligence agencies and supposed security agencies really working as the private intelligence arm for private businesses.
You have the people in the United States rising up in opposition to economic devastation caused by the banks and by Wall Street and the U.S. government acting in partnership with the banks and Wall Street against those people.
These documents show, for example, that the FBI was communicating with the New York Stock Exchange in August of 2011, a month before the first tent was set up in Zuccotti Park.
One of the documents we have involves the Domestic Security Alliance Council, in which they’re planning to respond to the West Coast port actions of the Occupy movement.
The DSAC is a government agency that describes itself as a partnership between the FBI, DHS and the private sector. The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative.
It shows that we’re not looking at something anomalous and aberrational; it’s pulling back the cloak on what the U.S. government, its intelligence agencies and its “terrorism” authorities are really doing and who they are partnering with. It’s against the people of the United States, not for the people of the United States.
Those people and that movement then gets treated by the government as a potential criminal or terrorist threat.
It helps you understand when the government uses the terms of terrorism so broadly and how it uses the authority and the money that it takes from the people of the United States.
If the FBI had materials that showed criminal activity, they would’ve been delighted to produce some and make those public. That’s not an uncommon action by the FBI, given its routine willingness over the years to set people up and announce a big terrorism arrest.
The sniper reference is a reference in Houston.
I think it bears pointing out that this FBI is President Obama’s FBI.
When the feel the power of the people in the streets, the U.S. intelligence agencies and the local law enforcement agencies go into high gear, because it really is the movement of the people that does cause change.
At times when it peaks like this, you can really see the truth of their operation.
It is illegal to use administrative raids for other pretexts.
We’re appealing both the redactions as well as the scope of production and scope of search.
Guest – Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s national Mass Defense Committee. Co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington, DC, she recently secured $13.7 million for about 700 of the 2000 IMF/World Bank protesters in Becker, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al., while also winning pledges from the District to improve police training about First Amendment issues. She won $8.25 million for approximately 400 class members in Barham, et al. v. Ramsey, et al. (alleging false arrest at the 2002 IMF/World Bank protests). She served as lead counsel in Mills, et al v. District of Columbia (obtaining a ruling that DC’s seizure and interrogation police checkpoint program was unconstitutional); in Bolger, et al. v. District of Columbia (involving targeting of political activists and false arrest by law enforcement based on political affiliation); and in National Council of Arab Americans, et al. v. City of New York, et al. (successfully challenging the city’s efforts to discriminatorily restrict mass assembly in Central Park’s Great Lawn stemming from the 2004 RNC protests.)
Last September, a federal judge struck down part of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama that gave the government power to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere in the world it considers to substantially support or be in associative force with terrorism. This includes US citizens. Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York had ruled the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments of U.S. citizens.
- Some people call it (NDAA) the Homeland Battlefield Act because it treats the United States as a battlefield and allows the military to exercise power over civilians, which is antithetical to our democracy and to our 200 years of Constitutional precedence.
- In May of 2012, after a trial before Katherine Forrest, who’s a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, we achieved a preliminary injunction. That was then appealed, but the appeal would stay pending a trial on a permanent injunction, and on September 12, 2012, Judge Forrest issued a permanent injunction against the NDAA.
- The NDAA was stopped between May 16, 2012 and December 12, 2012.
- However, once that happened, the Obama Administration went into overdrive and immediately appealed that to the Second Circuit and asked for a stay of Judge Forrest’s order pending appeal.
- That stay lifted Judge Forrest’s injunction, so unfortunately the NDAA of 2012 now operates.
- In their papers, the government promised our clients would not be touched under the NDAA and they seemed to imply that no one in a similar position to our clients would be touched under the NDAA.
- People can go there and read Judge Forrester’s 112-page opinion and all the documents from the case.
- What’s at stake is the liberty and the right to free speech of all journalists and all activists and indeed any citizen of the United States of America.
- Because the military has never had the power to detain civilians.
- The only exception to that was during World War II when Japanese-Americans were interned in prison camps.
- There’s no right to a trial by jury, there’s no right to an attorney. This an authoritarian measure.
- I would venture to guess your hosts and co-hosts are on a list somewhere.
- Chris Hedges, for example, was a correspondent for several years who covered not only al-Qaeda but 17 other groups that are on the State Department Terrorism List.
- He testified that he had a reasonable fear that the NDAA could put him in jeopardy.
- You know as attorneys what’s incredible about this law is that there’s no definitional section.
- It doesn’t define what “associated forces” are. It doesn’t define what “substantially supportive” means.
- Chris Hedges was detained by the military for leaving the press pool in Iraq.
- Now the NDAA allows these detentions “until the end of hostilities.”
- It really is a heinous statute.
- We lost the stay but we got an expedited appeal.
- The briefing is complete and we’re waiting for an oral argument date.
- The government has two moves: they say whoever brings the suit has no standing, then if it gets past that point they say, sorry, state secrets privilege doesn’t allow you to have discovery here.
- Attorney General Holder stated that Americans are entitled to due process, but that doesn’t necessarily means judicial process.
- It takes the view that “during wartime” the judiciary has no role to play.
- The NDAA is the culmination of 10 years of anti-civil liberties measures.
Guest – Attorney Carl Mayer runs the Mayer Law Group, LLC, and is the author of several books, including Shakedown and Public Domain, Private Dominion. Carl Mayer is a former law professor and served as special counsel to the New York State Attorney General.