Homeland Security Communicated with Local Officials About Occupy

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If Occupy Wall Street activists were worried about the Department of Homeland Security monitoring their activities, wait unilt they get a load of this. According to new DHS documents obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), DHS officials were also communicating with local authorities in cities where Occupy Wall Street protests occurred. 

PCJF, a civil rights legal group working on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore, says the documents reveal a "vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people." One of its examples is from November when the DHS sent a request from the Chicago police department, in the words of PCJF, "requesting coordination and information-sharing about Occupy encampments and arrest charges in New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle." The group then points to the following document to back up the claim:

The questions appear to be fairly routine but it's not clear what DHS wants to do with the information, and to the OWS crowd, that's alarming. For liberal blogger Wendy Davis at Fire Dog Lake, the document confirms that a centralized Federal force has been trying to "quash Occupy."

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Others, such as the Daily Kos' Publius 2008, have found other aspects of the FOIA documents alarming. Publius points to an apparent response from the DHS to CBS News, which asked whether it was coordinating with local officials. "DHS is not actively coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and/or city governments concerning the evictions of occupy encampments writ large," reads the DHS response. To Publius, the "phraseology" of the statement is worrying. "Why the present tense in the use of coordinating?" Publius writes. "Does this mean DHS was not coordinating in the precise moment it wrote this sentence?"

It's a fair question to ask how extensive DHS's coordination has been with local officials regarding Occupy Wall Street (We've contacted DHS to explain just that and will update if they respond.) It's still difficult to see the extent of any possible wrongdoing by DHS, in part because a lot has been redacted from the FOIA request. As it stands, that's a reality even Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, PCJF's executive director, had to acknowledge as she hyped the FOIA documents. "These heavily redacted documents don't tell the full story. They are likely only a subset of responsive materials and the PCJF continues to fight for a complete release," Verheyden-Hilliard said.
We'll keep you updated if we find anything more galling in the documents.


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