The Mole At Occupy Wall Street

A "cyber security professional" has been forwarding organizers' emails to the FBI

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Not every civilian on the streets of lower Manhattan is there to help out with Occupy Wall Street. Some are there to help keep the police, the FBI, and private corporations keep tabs on their activities.

Gawker introduces Thomas Ryan, who is a member of a listserve being used to coordinate marches and protests related to the Occupy Wall Street movement, and who has been forwarding those emails to contacts at the FBI, the New York Police Department, and the conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

Ryan's role became clear when Breitbart posted Ryan's collected communiques online:

Interestingly, it was Ryan who revealed himself as a snitch. We learned of these emails from the archive Ryan leaked yesterday in the hopes of undermining the Occupy Wall Street movement. In assembling the archive of September17discuss emails, it appears he accidentally included some of his own forwarded emails indicating he was ratting out organizers.

"I don't know, I just put everything I had into one big package," Ryan said when asked how the emails ended up in the file posted to Andrew Breitbart's blog. Some security expert.

Support seems to be growing among figures of what might be called, for lack of a better term, the establishment. Look, notes Paul Krugman, personal finance guru Suze Orman is backing the protests now.

Protests continue to spread in cities around the globe, with arrests in New York, Chicago, London, and Rome, which erupted violently on Saturday. In London, the protesters have gathered outside St. Paul's Cathedral, and threaten to remain by the landmark indefinitely. In Rome, damage from clashes between protesters and police is already in the millions, officials said.

Is Occupy Wall Street going to compete in the popular mind with the Tea Party rallies of 2009 and '10? Just don't equate the psychology of the two, Todd Essig argues. The Tea Party was about "safety through exclusion," he argues, while Occupy Wall Street is "radically different."

Everyone is included, everyone gets to have a say. Rather than policy they have process. The “we” of OWS is worldwide, a globalized, networked “we” full of good and bad existing simultaneously and everywhere. The messier the better; better to let in those you don’t want then miss out on including those you do. Of course, inclusion can be a big problem because people say and do lots of really stupid things. And all that stupidity is then felt as “us,” not “them.” But that’s the trade-off of inclusion; you have to take the good along with bad.

That can be harder than it sounds. The Associated Press observes a decentralized protest coping with the inability to, well, centralize enough to make a few rules:

They were out to change the world, overthrow the establishment and liberate the poor. But first somebody would have to do something about those bongo drums.

At the Occupy Wall Street protest camp in Manhattan, protesters agonized over what to do about drum players who had turned part of the site into an impromptu dance floor. The neighbors were complaining about the racket. The protesters had tried to put a time limit on the noise, but the drummers were refusing to obey.

"It's an issue, definitely," sighed protester Kanene Holder, 31, late last week. "We'll have to work it out."

That decentralization has strengths, too, however:

And some academics who have studied dissent movements say that while being "leaderless" has some drawbacks, it could also have great advantages. Chief among them: It has allowed people with very different backgrounds - like union workers and anarchists - to rally behind the same broad message against corporate greed, without actually agreeing much on where the country should go from here.

"They have achieved popular support so much quicker than anti-war movement, or civil rights movement," said Todd Gitlin, an expert on political dissent at Columbia University.

Gitlin would know.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.