Oh. Homeland security AND the FBI

Oh. Homeland security AND the FBI?

by digby

"If you build it" update:

Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict "Occupy" protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night's move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

Obviously unconfirmed, but in light of what the Oakland mayor said this morning, certainly not entirely unlikely.

I'm not surprised by this, but I am curious as to how they are going to justify the federal government's interest if this turns out to be true? (It will eventually come out if it's true.) If there's coordination of some kind, as seems fairly obvious, what's the legal foundation for it?

I don't have the answers. But I do know that the Federal, state and local police agencies have a tremendous amount of capability and I have no doubt they have been clamoring for the chance to use it.

Update: PPPPolls is tweeting:

Going to have some pretty bad numbers for Occupy Wall Street tomorrow...movement not wearing well with voters

I don't know exactly what these numbers say, but if the headline is accurate nobody should be surprised. All over the country people are hearing that the Occupiers are animals who are masturbating in public and shitting in the streets. The local news is luridly portraying the protests as hotbeds of crime infested with lunatics and drug addicts.

That stuff isn't disseminated just for kicks. It's done to poison the minds of the public before they have a chance to identify with the protesters.

I know that liberals don't want to see this in those culture war terms, but there are a whole lot of others who can't see these things any other way.

Update: it turns out there is quite a bit of documentation out there about at least some coordination with DHS and the locals. Here are some pictures from Portland on October 31st clearly showing DHS arresting people.

This is a DHS threat assessment for Pittsburgh for an Occupy demonstration:

This product was created in response to a request for information (RFI) concerning impacts to the Pittsburgh area from the planned Occupy Pittsburgh set for October 15, 2011. This product is intended to provide the private sector and first responders information on the event and appropriate prevention and response measures. Information in this report was collected through open source materials only. Open sources used in this product may include bias and misleading information. This product is an update to a previous assessment disseminated on October 6, 2011.

Click the link to read the whole thing. I see no reference to terrorism, so I guess DHS is now in the business of doing threat assessments and advising the local authorities about tactics and strategy about peaceful domestic demonstrations. Good to know.

Update II: This AP report indicates that the "coordination" netween the city authorities is ad hoc sharing of information and advice. Maybe that's all there is to it.

The attitude conveyed by the police in that article is pretty obtuse however:

From Atlanta to Washington, D.C., officials talked about how authorities could make camps safe for protesters and the community. Officials also learned about the kinds of problems they could expect from cities with larger and more established protest encampments.

In Portland, for example, protests were initially peaceful gatherings. Then the city's large number of homeless people moved in, transforming the camp into an open-air treatment center for drug addiction and mental illness.

On Oct. 11, just five days after protesters set up camp, police chiefs who had been dealing with the encampments for weeks warned that the homeless will be attracted to the food, shelter and medical care the camps offered.

Doesn't that just say it all?