The FBI considered the Occupy Movement a terrorist threat

From a PCJF news release:

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.

The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.

In other words, according to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the Executive Director of the PCJF:

“These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

It is always good to have allies in high places….

Along with the thugs they authorize….

Failure?

Recently, political conformists in the United States celebrated the diminished presence of the Occupy Movement. To be sure, the lack of standing, active occupations — mostly due to the repression of such by America’s local militarized police forces — promoted a sense of relief among the conformists. The system worked! The Occupation failed; America remains intact; the natural aristocrats are still in charge. And their relief makes sense (to them) since the Occupy Movement was the first significant social challenge to America’s capitalist democracy and the austerity-minded political culture which emerged after the Recession of 2008. It is, after all, to this capitalist democracy that the conformists wish to conform. Failure, irrelevance ludicrousness of the Occupy Movement — these are the beliefs about the movement that pass muster among the corporate media.

Yet, we ought to ask, “Did the Occupy Movement fail?” The obvious answer: No! As Michael Niman points out:

The [corporate] media always held the Occupy movement to high standards, demanding nothing short of revolution, then calling the movement a failure when it failed to transform society in its first few months. But the pundits could only envision their own notion of revolution — replacing one set of leaders with another, all within the confines of our two-party system. Occupy, however, never aspired to being an electoral party or player, like the Tea Party, which, once organized, was co-opted by corporate interests in a matter of minutes. Occupy instead wanted to transform the debate — to shift the zeitgeist. To a punditocracy reduced to quantifying electoral battles as horse races, reporting on electoral tactics rather than substance, Occupy made no sense.

The Occupy Movement was and is a social movement, not an embryonic political party or new faction within the Democratic Party. Its goal: Radical change. Revolutions are instances of radical change. They are also improbable events just as radical change is improbable. It is because such change is improbable that demanding it from the Occupy Movement is tantamount to creating a pretext for judging the Movement a failure. Yet popular dissatisfaction remains intact, has real world motives and therefore must be considered a politically relevant variable in any analysis of America’s capitalist democracy that wants to be both sober and supported by evidence. The expression of this popular dissatisfaction only awaits an occasion which calls its name.

The American Autumn

Ralph Nader offered here what I consider an apt description of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s significance and its place within the greater political situation in the United States and the world:

In the Arab Spring of Cairo, Egypt earlier this year, it was said that a million people in Tahrir Square lost their fear of the dictatorship. It can be said that in this “American Autumn,” some 150,000 people have discovered their power and rejected apathy. They have come far in so little time because the soil for their pushback is so fertile, nourished by the revulsion of millions of their countrypersons moving toward standing up and showing up themselves.

I agree. Americans surely are now surpassing the collective denial which characterized the Reagan Revolution. They are learning that the United States is not what they recently believed it to be. An insistent and changing world has exposed the Reagan Revolution for what it is and what it was when first announced: A kind of class war occluded by myth. Therefore, I would not say that the Occupy Wall Street movement is more able than other recent social movements in the United States, and has succeeded where others have failed because of its abilities. Rather, Occupy Wall Street is, in part, a mirror reflecting the emerging — dare I say it?!? — class consciousness in the United States, a conscious experience of the essence of wage labor under capitalism by members of the popular classes.

Eyes on the NYPD

David Lindorff, a veteran journalist addressing the significance of the Occupy Wall Street protest, rightly claims that:

Probably the biggest accomplishment of the Occupy Wall Street movement to date has not been the light these courageous and indomitable young activists have shined on the gangsters of Wall Street, as important as that has been. Rather it has been how they have exposed the police of the nation’s financial capital as the centurions of the ruling class, and not the gauzy “people’s heroes” that they have been posing as since some of their number, along with many more firefighters, nobly gave their lives trying to rescue people in the doomed World Trade Center towers on 9-11.

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, a member of the establishment, did his light-shedding part in this excellent piece:

As O’Donnell reminds his viewers, gratuitous and illegal police violence is common in America. For some Americans, the police officers they face in their lives are little more than armed thugs, authorized by the state to abuse them, protected by the legal system in which they serve. Lindorff, knowing this and knowing that the police have had an aura of legitimacy since the 9.11 attacks, closes his article by pointing out that:

Even the corporate media, which for days had tried to pretend nothing was happening in Lower Manhattan, have finally been forced to report on the despicable police abuse of these brave kids.

The farcical mythology of police as heroes in blue is over.

Sad to say for those good cops who are just trying to protect and serve, the pigs in their midst have shown the true nature of NYPD policing, and unless we start seeing good cops coming out and denouncing the violent and un-Constitutional behavior of their thuggish colleagues and especially their even more thuggish supervisors, it will be hard going forward, at least for this reporter, not to laugh when someone next refers to cops collectively as “heroes.”

Quote of the day

While discussing the Occupy Wall Street protest, Glenn Greenwald makes the observation that:

The very idea that one can effectively battle Wall Street’s corruption and control by working for the Democratic Party is absurd on its face: Wall Street’s favorite candidate in 2008 was Barack Obama, whose administration — led by a Wall Street White House Chief of Staff and Wall-Street-subservient Treasury Secretary and filled to the brim with Goldman Sachs officials — is now working hard to protect bankers from meaningful accountability (and though he’s behind Wall Street’s own Mitt Romney in the Wall Street cash sweepstakes this year, Obama is still doing well); one of Wall Street’s most faithful servants is Chuck Schumer, the money man of the Democratic Party; and the second-ranking Senate Democrat acknowledged — when Democrats controlled the Congress — that the owners of Congress are bankers. There are individuals who impressively rail against the crony capitalism and corporatism that sustains Wall Street’s power, but they’re no match for the party apparatus that remains fully owned and controlled by it.

Greenwald, naturally, wanted to defend the protesters against the criticisms originating from the establishment media and, sadly, from the ‘progressive’ media. Channeling popular discontent into the Democratic Party and its common candidates is both self-defeating and demoralizing for those who hold dear radical goals and outcomes. If any President has made this problem clear that President would be Barack Obama. He got from the electorate a mandate for reform in 2008, but has since has squandered his political gift on reactionary economic policies and illegal war-making. To my mind, the path forward cannot waste itself on duopoly politicking. Common Americans must create the politics needed to address the problems they now confront, for, if not them, then who will make such a politics?

The NYPD vs. the Occupy Wall Street protesters

From parliamentary intrigue to popular contestation

Once Wisconsin’s Republican Senators made hash out of parliamentary procedure to cleave the union-busting component of Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill, it seems as though the Wisconsin GOP had triumphed over their partisan and popular adversaries. The Senators even included no-strike by public employee measures in the new bill. Their will and that of Governor Walker appeared firm as police — but not the Wisconsin National Guard! — began to remove protesters from the antechamber to the Assembly while permitting entry into the Capitol Building through an entrance that included weapons screening. Despite their having to face this repression, the demonstrators refused to yield. The New York Times now reports that:

As thousands of demonstrators converged on the Capitol, the police cut off access to the building on Thursday, creating a taut atmosphere in which Republican State Assembly members were seeking to maintain order long enough to vote on a bill that sharply curtails bargaining rights for government workers.

The State Assembly had been scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday morning. Though it is virtually certain to pass, it was now unclear when that vote might take place.

So, the protest campaign continues. Meanwhile, the demonstrators, their supporters and their opponents can only wait for the appearance of the legal challenges to this bill, challenges which will come soon enough.

Update

Wisconsin’s State Assembly finished its nasty chore and passed the anti-union bill 53-42. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, expressed well the absurdity of the moment when he claimed: “‘It will show to people in Wisconsin and throughout the country that we are not afraid to make hard decisions’.” Let us hope that over the coming months that members of the Wisconsin GOP will have many occasions to display their brave nature.

Cross-posted at FireDogLake

An emerging populist party?

Robert Reich suggests as much:

Now we may be seeing the birth of a genuine populist movement. Call it the People’s Party. Like the Tea Party, the People’s Party doesn’t have a clear organization or hierarchy or single address. It doesn’t have lobbyists in Washington. It’s not even yet recognized by the mainstream media.

But the People’s Party seems to be growing in numbers and in intensity. And it’s starting to push elected officials — first at the state level — to listen and respond.

I do not wish to quibble, but…there is a reason the People’s Party lacks an organization (a hierarchy comes with the organization), a single address, lobbyists and the other tools a political party does possess and use. The reason the People’s Party lacks these things? It lacks them because the People’s Party does not exist. It might exist someday. But currently it is a product of Reich’s imagination.

What Reich identifies as a party is, in fact, a social movement. Consequently, if common Americans want a political party of their own, a party that will represent their identities and interests, a party that will represent their public culture, they will need to create it.

Cross-posted at FireDogLake

Pastor Martin Niemoller recalls a troubled time

A demonstrator recalls Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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