Was DHS really spying on Occupy?

Or was it just reading the lame newspaper coverage of the movement's early days?

Topics: Occupy Wall Street, Michael Hastings, Department of Homeland Security, ,

Was DHS really spying on Occupy?An Occupy Wall Street protester chants during an Occupy protest in January. (Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam)

It was sadly unsurprising to discover that the Department of Homeland Security has been keeping tabs on Occupy Wall Street for some time. Michael Hastings reveals in Rolling Stone that an internal DHS report, released by WikiLeaks, titled “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street,” offers broad, largely “benign” observations about Occupy in its early stages. Hastings notes:

“While acknowledging the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of OWS, the report notes darkly that ‘large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement.’”

You Might Also Like

Any mass political movement outside the realms of the party political system will garner the attention of government agencies. Occupiers shocked by the attention of DHS need a wake-up call and history lessons in federal intelligence fusion centers and J. Edgar Hoover.

My shock is rather at the cursory and complacent nature of the document. This is spying? The sources cited for Occupy information are almost entirely mainstream media reports (from the AP, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Reuters and others). These are some of the very outlets that the Occupy movement rightly criticized for  skewed or superficial or nonexistent coverage. They’re not exactly inside sources.

In a brief mention of one of Occupy’s catalytic moments — the march onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, which led to over 700 arrests — the DHS document even notes the wrong date. The bridge action took place on Saturday Oct. 1, but DHS dates the event on “September 30.”

If the leaked document is much to go by (and I’m not sure it is), DHS wasn’t paying all that close attention back in October. However, as Hastings rightly notes, “there is not much of a bureaucratic leap, if history is any guide, between a seemingly benign call for ‘continuous situational awareness’ and the onset of a covert and illegal campaign of domestic surveillance.”

And it should not be forgotten that DHS is primarily charged with protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks. As such, any internal document about Occupy, however slapdash, is sad evidence of the sparse tolerance for dissent in this country.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>