FOIA Documents Show FBI Was Watching Occupy Protestors, Some Docs Still Secret on National Security Grounds

Just shy of the one-year anniversary of the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protests, the ACLU of Northern California obtained initial documents from the FBI about surveillance of Occupy demonstrations in the region (see the FBI’s response here).

The documents came after an ACLU-NC lawsuit filed after the FBI refused to release any documents in a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents are significant for two reasons:

First, they finally confirm what until now have only been suspicions that the FBI was conducting surveillance of the Occupy movement.
Second, the FBI is refusing to hand over documents "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy." In other words, to the FBI, political protests about economic policy pose an unspecified threat to national security.

The FBI has a troubling history of spying on political activists. We're concerned that in 2012, history is still repeating.

Documents from a FOIA request by the Partnership for Civil Justice have shed light on the involvement of various federal agencies, primarily the Department of Homeland Security and National Park Service. Suspicion has long run high that the FBI has been surveilling Occupy protests, but until now, we've seen no official confirmation of the agency's involvement.

The 13 pages of documents released to the ACLU-NC show that the FBI was monitoring Occupy events, in particular, the Port of Oakland shutdown on November 2, 2011 and the multi-city West Coast port shutdown on December 12, 2011. These include an FBI alert to "corporate security officers" in advance of the December 12, 2011 port shutdown.

But more troubling than what the FBI has revealed is what it's refused to reveal. We asked for FBI records about Occupy protests in Northern California, where several of the most high profile demonstrations have taken place, as well as intelligence bulletins, training materials, or justifications for investigating the Occupy movement anywhere in the country. The agency claims it only has a grand total of 37 pages on all of these topics, and is refusing to hand over more than half of those documents. One of the justifications for withholding the information, is that it supposed must be kept secret "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy."

We're at a loss to understand how information about the Occupy movement could implicate national security, and if it does, how the FBI can claim that it has only 37 pages of documents. We intend to push for additional information from the FBI on these issues. Stay tuned.

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Anonymous

I think that until any particular activist group proves itself not a clear and present danger, the FBI should be aware and watching. Occupy has had some problems keeping some extremists in line. As a occupier in Chicago, I saw criminal acts committed by people who called themselves anarchsts. I won't pretend to say one way or the other who they were. I will say that the occupy people represent some of the finest that I have met in my life.

The idea of them only having 37 pages is ludicrous and they would be falling down on the job if that were even remotely accurate. I was watched in the 60's and left alone when I presented no danger. The FBI also watches the right wii nuts as well. Many of them are violent in nature and I appreciate the idea of someone keeping an eye on them.

It is imperative that we continue to be involved in the legistative process and strive to move the country toward a more ethcal space. This cannot be achieved if we see it as a matter of us and them, we have to work together, striving to find the commonalities.

Anonymous

pelican bay discrimination
they just locked us down for something that supposaly took place in other prison but they only locked up us Mexicans and we can't do anything from this wall so please people from Aclu help we are being targets of race discrimination here at pelican bay state prison we are on state of emergency lockdown but yet all other races are going to yard recieving packages why we don't have nothing coming.. they the prison staff don't even let us know what we have coming never plan of action It has been since September 5-12 and yet they haven't properly inform us we are being targeted cause of our race this kind of discrimination has been going on for months any other race does something and they program same day or next day us nothing I haven even got my package for months please help us.

liberal_christian

Wish there would be more over site of corruption and constitutional violations in our community governments. Rather then spy on citizens exercising their Constitutional Rights and Liberties.

Sam

The problem with the ACLU is we tell them what is going on, but they won't help us. They have never helped even one of us. They don't need the documents, they know what is going on, because thousands of people whose lives are being destroyed by "intelligence" have told them everything about it. It's worse than anything people would ever believe, it's beyond Orwellian. Read about Cointelpro, CIA dirty tricks, how it is legal for them to test directed energy weapons on people who are under investigation!!! They moved a DOD radiation scientist across from me, and he was freaking hitting me with a gamma ray gun, and he admitted doing it! We don't have anyone who will stand up for us, certainly not the ACLU!

ceanf

the FBI has become a domestic intelligence organization. that is, their sole purpose is now to spy on american citizens.

mrdana

Ah yes, Hoover lives.

Anonymous

Ivan Greenberg has authored two major works on the FBI spying on Americans with "Surveillance in America" and "Dangers of Dissent."

I heard a talk by him where he claimed that the FBI had destroyed 250 million documents.

The books for some reason are very expensive which is very unfortunate.

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