New Evidence: Homeland Security Spied On Peaceful Protestors; Worried About Protests Getting News Coverage

from the homeland-security? dept

We just recently had a post on the head of one of Homeland Security’s “Fusion Centers” (the same Fusion Centers found by a Congressional investigation to be a near total waste of time and money, finding no terrorists, but violating the public’s civil liberties) who claimed that the DHS centers did not spy on Americans, and then immediately admitted that they spied on “anti-government” Americans.

The definition of “anti-government” was mostly left as an exercise to the reader. However, in a bout of good timing, the Partnership for Civil Justice has released some new DHS documents it received via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, showing that DHS regularly spied on peaceful demonstrators and activists. Because exercising your First Amendment rights must make you one of them there “anti-government” Americans, which means the DHS is free to spy on you.

Functioning as a secret political police force against people participating in lawful, peaceful free speech activity, the heavily redacted documents show that the DHS “Threat Management Division” directed Regional Intelligence Analysts to provide a “Daily Intelligence Briefing” that includes a category of reporting on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations” along with “Domestic Terrorist Activity.” (p. 68)

The PCJF has obtained thousands of pages of documents pursuant to its Freedom of Information Act demands and made them available for public viewing. The newly obtained documents show coordination and intelligence monitoring by the DHS, the FBI, the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies of “Occupy-type” protests.

The documents show the routine use of Fusion Centers for intelligence gathering on peaceful demonstrations as well as the use of DHS’ “Mega Centers” for collection of surveillance information on demonstrations.

And it’s not just the big cities. The new documents show that DHS is involved in spying on peaceful protesters and activists around the country. It also shows that DHS helped local law enforcement “crack down” on the various Occupy gatherings. But the key thing is that DHS seems to have no qualms at all about spying on anyone who disagrees with the prevailing positions of today’s federal government. And it’s clearly not because they’re trying to protect others from any threat of actual harm. They seem to be focused on spying to further the goal of preventing the administration from looking bad:

The documents show a Department of Homeland Security that appears obsessed with the question of whether any and all protests that are being surveilled receive media attention and coverage. Reporting within the DHS on media coverage of First Amendment protected activities, even in the smallest places, appears to be a routine part of DHS intelligence reports. None of the documents explain why media coverage of peaceful demonstrations is of interest to law enforcement or concerns “homeland security” in any way.

That’s because it doesn’t concern “homeland security” at all. It concerns the job security of those employed by Homeland Security.

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Comments on “New Evidence: Homeland Security Spied On Peaceful Protestors; Worried About Protests Getting News Coverage”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Define "Anti-government" and "Patriot"

The problem we face is that many in the government have long ago forgotten (if they ever knew) what the purpose of the government is. At this point, many act as if government is an end in itself, rather than a way to achieve the ideals and goals of liberty, peace and security. Once government becomes the end, rather than the means, then any criticism of government goes from being viewed as a call for improvement and instead becomes a threat. For those who feel threatened, there is little difference between a domestic source or a foreign enemy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Define "Anti-government" and "Patriot"

Which is why, for example, Bradley Manning is being treated the way he is. The oath that soldiers take in the Us is to “uphold the Constitution and protect the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic“.

What happens, then, when the government is the enemy?

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Define "Anti-government" and "Patriot"

Bradley Manning is facing one thing: bureacracy

It’s actually something that people don’t think about. What happens when someone thinks outside the box?

No institution is a better fit for the bureaucratic structure than the military. It is a model for Weber?s ?firmly ordered system of superiority and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher offices.?

Work goes on within a compartmentalized environment structured by rank and myriad rules and regulations. Action is focused on fulfilling specific orders normally without reference to outside consequences.

As a result, within the military bureaucracy thinking must always be within the box, which means it is done within the institution?s set thought-collective. Indeed, given the military?s particular environment, one that strives to shape the thought as well as the action of its participants, thinking can take on near totalitarian constraints.

Bradley went against the “military code” by going to outside sources. It’s why he’s being persecuted so greatly and with the full extent of the US government.

The government is supporting the wishes of the richest people and Bradley is a threat to their security by thinking outside of the box.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Define "Anti-government" and "Patriot"

We were warned.

“… We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

George Orwell

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well… Think about where most of their money comes from…

They have immense pressure to go after a specific subset of Americans and they have immense power to go after them. But this puts them on the wrong side of history. While everyone goes about keeping their head down, they ignore all of the unrest their actions cause.

TheLastCzarnian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I was thinking about this. The Tea Party is anti-government. The Occupy movement is anti-big business. If they are ignoring the Tea Party and going after Occupy, they aren’t worried about anti-goverment activities, they are worried about someones profits.

This isn’t even as noble(?) as protecting the goverment. This is corruption, pure and simple.

Double Entree says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The Tea Party is anti-big business too because they are against bailouts, against subsidies, and against crony-capitalism (aka corporatocracy, aka Fascism).
Both movements are fighting a common enemy: The merger of big-government and big-business (pretty much the definition of corruption).

Nostromo says:

Re: Re: insightful

DPRK is democratic, the Union of Communal Socialist Republics was democratic, Greece elected their first Tyrant democratically and many peoples have followed in their footsteps over the following centuries.

Democracy is a form of reaching apparent consensus, it is a way for a perceived “majority” to overpower a perceived “minority”. It is not a way to secure freedom.

Violated (profile) says:


“Because exercising your First Amendment rights must make you one of them there “anti-government” Americans, which means the DHS is free to spy on you”

Oh I understand that one. Any Government agent to me who violates the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is “anti-American”. These after all are the founding documents which define the very nature of what it is to be an American.

So here in the DHS, DoJ, FBI, CIA and more are these “anti-Americans” who are like Nazi Communist Triad Mafia Terrorists and who are a serious threat to the American way of life.

I will expect Congress to pass the anti-American Cannon act with due haste so these people with lying passports can be violently exiled, using a 3 mile long power shot, into the closest large body of water!

So the great United States was saved all thanks to the Google sponsored maglev cannon.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re: Americans

Using “anti-Government” would have been more valid.

Look on the bright side when it only takes one or two firings to make all Government department to much improve. Send them all the videos to see.

Google sponsoring the cannon is good for them. As the camera follows the pipe on the firing it can go like Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooogle. BANG ZOOM.

I expect if we got enough pubic backing we can have the first and worst ever Government employee fired in under 5 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Secret Police...

What makes you think they didn’t get scooped up and sent to Gitmo???

Can the government prove that no peaceful protesters were ever sent to Gitmo? Is there any record of who has been sent to Gitmo?

Wait, there’s a knock at my door, why it’s just the friendly the Gitmo Educational Specialization Transportation Agency for Political Opposition (GESTAPO)… I’m sure they just want to talk, be right back

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Secret Police...

I’ve won a free trip to a remote tropical island, so I guess I won’t be seeing anyone for a while.

Gotta love our government for providing these free educational opportunities, they tell me I’ll learn a lot while enjoying the local hospitality and climate.

I can hardly wait to go so I can get back and tell everyone about the great education camp and activities. They said my free trip was for an ‘indefinite’ period of time, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to share what I’ve learned with the rest of you, just imagine me sunning on a tropical beach while learning the best our government has to offer (or so the travel brochure says).

So why do I feel like the winners of the The Running Man before Arnold???

shutslar (profile) says:

The DHS is just doing their job. They are providing security for those who feel “right at home” as officials in our government. They help protect those that wish to continue to live as they do, once they are elected. If I held a job with an equally poor performance rating and still be 85% – 98% assured I would continue to be employed in that job, no matter my performance, I would feel “right at home” too. I would also want to get something in place to help secure it. My gosh, it’s the american dream. Stop picking on the DHS! It’s their job.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do believe that the people in power has forgotten what a democracy is built on. Sure, they can be the boss of me, but they are the servant of us. Those in the bottom are the same as those in the top; namely the public.
I don’t really know why they have gotten such high status from just having the job, when all it really should be about, is respect. But respect comes with honesty and by actually seeming to have a good reason for the actions they take. Any reasonable person can respect a guy by these standards, even if they don’t agree with him. I just wish that more of the difficult questions would be asked, without carefully formulating it to not offend, because that guy is “big”. To often they get away with no real answer to questions and no follow-ups. I wish that we could get through to a lot of these politicians and leaders, that they actually suck and seem to be piss poor at their job. I say “seem to be” because their reasons for decisions are so often buried or hidden that it can be hard to tell.

Any Nomous says:

Re: those in the bottom are the same as those in the top

Except, those at the top can use tools and tactics that those at the bottom would be put in jail for.

Is it right to kidnap your neighbor because you disagree with his speech?
No, but the State can send costumed men to his house and “detain” him indefinitely.

Is it okay for you to claim your neighbor owes you part of his food whenever he goes shopping? Would it be okay if you wrote it down? Would it be okay if 50 friends agreed?
No, but the State can “tax” him and all of us and you would be okay with it as long as it appeared to have the “majority” of the vote.

Is it correct for you to walk into his yard and punch your neighbor because he looked at you funny?
No, but the State bombs&invades other countries for less.

So, who works for who now?

Dave (profile) says:

Pay Attention To History

What the 0.01% of the population, that has most of the money, and that owns the Government, are forgetting, are the lessons of the Russians and the French at the turn of the 20th century. Eventually the citizens get fed up with the oppression and put them out of our misery. The problem here is that the governmant has nuclear weapons and IMHO would use them if threatened too much.

Dave (profile) says:

Pay Attention To History

What the 0.01% of the population, that has most of the money, and that owns the Government, are forgetting, are the lessons of the Russians and the French at the turn of the 20th century. Eventually the citizens get fed up with the oppression and put them out of our misery. The problem here is that the governmant has nuclear weapons and IMHO would use them if threatened too much.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you disagree with the status quo, you're a terrorist

The question is, what’s the status quo?

The key isn’t to argue against the status quo, this only validates and highlights it in the mind of the public. Contention is a tool widely used by governments to polarize the public into inaction.

Meet up with a friend, grab a dove and get onto a tour of the whitehouse. If you can’t find a dove, grab a pigeon. It’s the thought that counts.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

to be fair, this overhype of the issues with protestors tends to turn the LEO’s into thugs who feel these terrorists have no rights even if they are citizens.

And for the record the ones who did not stay peaceful are the ones who showed up in riot gear and assaulted peaceful protestors making situations worse.

Creating the illusion it MIGHT spiral out of control, calling them terrorists for protesting highlight what has gone wrong in this country.
Protest – get assaulted and your rights violated.
Destroy the economy – get handed more cash, special protection details, and no punishment.

Ninja (profile) says:

I’ve been aware of this for a long time now. Before I started reading Techdirt like 2-3 years ago I had contact with this underworld of protesters, occupiers, anonymous that people weren’t even talking about at that time. I’ve lost contact with this world due to real life issues (my job, my family and other things that started taking up more of my time) but back then there were some key protesters that found out they were followed and spied. By the US Govt. At the time Occupy was still very much embryonic and the focus were protests as harmless as some sex workers protesting against Google funding chauvinist organizations.

Yes, it is that bad. And probably older than that.

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