There’s a National Security Blanket, tightly interwoven of Red and Blue threads, which covers Occupiers, Eco Activist and who knows who else. While the National Security Agency, among others, uses the Security Blanket to cover as wide an area as possible in surveillance and such, We the Electorate seem to use it quite frequently as well. Whether willingly or otherwise, getting under it – from Right or Left – seems to provide a kind of comfort.
With all the attention to the NSA, with Edward Snowden as a “leaker” or “whistleblower,” a “traitor” or a “hero,” the need for context, for a “big picture” view, is important. One analysis I’ve found particularly interesting comes from Mark Karlin, editor at Buzzflash, in When the Surveillance State Is Used to Investigate and Prosecute Whistleblowers, the Occupy Movement and Environmental Activists.
No doubt a big reason I find his analysis helpful is because he provides some of the same context I, and lots of others, have been focusing on for some time.
Long ago, this intrusive … collection of intimate information and communication stopped being about just protecting the United States from terrorists. It is a massive database that can be used … to intimidate and prosecute whistleblowers who reveal lying and deceit at the highest levels and others who advocate for a participatory democracy and economic justice. …
Most importantly, the collection of knowledge about … recordable data on our lives, can be used to protect the status quo of the ruling elite and economic one percent against forces such as the Occupy Movement, protestors against the Keystone Pipeline, and so-called ‘eco-terrorists’ among others.
What follows are a few examples of the National Security Blanket covering the Occupy movement (which does continue, by the way) and environmental activists.
The Occupy Movement
Progressive.org, Matthew Rothschild:
Spying on Occupy Activists
Over the last few years, the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement officers have engaged in widespread domestic spying on Occupy Wall Street activists, among others, on the shaky premise that these activists pose a terrorist threat. Often, Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies have coordinated with the private sector, working on behalf of, or in cooperation with, Wall Street firms and other companies the protesters have criticized.
AlterNet, Natasha Lennard:
Surprise, Surprise! All Occupiers Phones Were Logged
In light of news that every day the entire of telecom giant Verizon’s call system records are handed over to the NSA, news that attendees of Occupy Wall Street protest attendees’ cell phones were logged should hardly come as a shock. It nonetheless bears noting that cell phone metadata of march and rally participants was likely specifically logged, as security expert Steven Ramdam recently noted. This means that individuals were directly targeted for their engagement with First Amendment protected activity.
ACLU, Linda Lye, Staff Attorney: FOIA Documents Show FBI Was Watching Occupy Protestors, Some Docs Still Secret on National Security Grounds.
There all kinds of consequences to such blanket surveillance tactics, but here’s one number, from Huffington Post: Occupy Arrests Near 8,000 As Wall Street Eludes Prosecution.
Checking in at Occupy Arrests, where only documented arrests are listed, as of May 21, 2013, there have been 7,753 arrests in 122 cities nationwide since the Occupy movement began in September 2011.
Popular Resistance, Adam Federman, writes Corporate and Law Enforcement Spying on Environmentalists. Federman focuses on one particular incident in Pennsylvania, but writes
… the episode represents a larger pattern of corporate and police spying on environmental activists fueled in part by the expansion of private intelligence gathering since 9/11. …
The specter of environmental extremism has been used to justify information sharing between law enforcement and the private sector. …
There are many others, but here’s the most recent example about which I know, from Ecowatch:
TransCanada Caught Training Police to Treat Nonviolent Keystone XL Protesters as Terrorists
In the midst of recent national controversy surrounding government surveillance of the public, a recent Freedom of Information Act request to the Nebraska State Patrol has exposed evidence that TransCanada provided training to federal agents and local Nebraska police to suppress nonviolent activists protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by arresting them on ‘anti-terrorism statutes.’ The presentation slides, obtained by grassroots landowner advocacy group Bold Nebraska, target Tar Sands Blockade activists by name.
‘This is clear evidence of the collusion between TransCanada and the federal government assisting local police to unlawfully monitor and harass political protestors,’ said Lauren Regan, legal coordinator for Tar Sands Blockade and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. …
Although TransCanada’s presentation to authorities contains information about property destruction, sabotage and booby traps, police in Texas and Oklahoma have never alleged, accused or charged Tar Sands Blockade activists of any such behaviors.
You can see that slideshow at Tar Sands Blockade.
Among others, Occupiers and environmental activists have been pointing to the fact that they were and are the targets of government, and corporate, surveillance, and that those efforts were coordinated at least some, if not a lot, of the time. One thing that Snowden’s revelations did was to get a much wider attention to the “surveillance state” than before. Or at least in a while. One of many questions we the “surveilled,” or potentially so, may ask, or be asked: What are we going to do about it? Do we stay under the National Security Blanket as it’s presented to us, as a necessary balancing of “security” and “privacy,” or do we raise some “uncovered” questions and objections?
At the People’s Library:
People generally do not like being spied on, but what people like even less than the actual spying is having to recognize that it is going on when they had previously been able to pretend it was not happening.
Now what do we do with that blanket?
(TransCanada Slide Show Via Tar Sands Blockade)