In October 2011, when the Occupy movement arrived in Houston, protesters were subject to local and federal surveillance, infiltration by police provocateurs, and police assault. Months later, Dave Lindorff reported for WhoWhatWhy, a document obtained in December 2012 from the Houston FBI office shows that the agency was aware of a plot to assassinate Occupy movement leaders—and did nothing about it.
The document, obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington DC–based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, reads in part:
“An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.”
As of June 2013, Lindorff reported, the FBI knew the identity of the person(s) who planned the sniper attacks, but had not released any names. The head of the FBI’s media office, Paul Bresson, explained, “The FOIA documents that you reference are redacted in several places pursuant to FOIA and privacy laws that govern the release of such information so therefore I am unable to help fill in the blanks. . . . [I]f the FBI was aware of credible and specific information involving a murder plot, law enforcement would have responded with appropriate action.”
Occupy Houston activists have speculated that the wording “if deemed necessary” might indicate that the unidentified plotter was an organization, such as the police or a private security group. Documents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security identify Occupy as a “terrorist” activity.
The FBI has a record of orchestrating attacks on citizen organizations deemed to be threats. For example, the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s revealed that the FBI orchestrated local police attacks (in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York) on leaders of the Black Panther Party.
Alex Kane of AlterNet reported that Beau Hodai’s SourceWatch report provided “an eye-opening look into how US counter-terrorism agencies monitored the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012.” Government documents, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and DBA Press from the National Security Agency and other government offices, revealed “a grim mosaic of ‘counter-terrorism’ operations” and negative attitudes toward activists and other citizens.
For instance, the largest Occupy Phoenix action took place in early December 2011, outside of meetings held there by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC hired forty-nine active but off-duty Phoenix Police Department (PPD) officers and nine retired PPD officers to act as private security during ALEC’s meetings.
The upshot, Hodai reported, is “the wholesale criminalization of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of American citizens who have dared to voice opposition to what is increasingly viewed as the undue influence of private corporate/financial interests in the functions of public government.”
Dave Lindorff, “FBI Document—‘[DELETED]’ Plots to Kill Occupy Leaders ‘If Deemed Necessary,’” WhoWhatWhy, June 27, 2013, http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/06/27/fbi-document-deleted-plots-to-kill-occupy-leaders-if-deemed-necessary.
Beau Hodai, “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch/DBA Press, May 2013, http://www.prwatch.org/files/Dissent or Terror FINAL.pdf.
Alex Kane, “How America’s National Security Apparatus—in Partnership With Big Corporations—Cracked Down on Dissent,” AlterNet, May 21, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/print/news-amp-politics/how-americas-national-security-apparatus-partnership-big-corporations-cracked-down.
Student Researchers: Danielle Davis and Andie Bugajski (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluators: Robert Switky and Melinda Milligan (Sonoma State University)