To the surprise of absolutely no one, it turns out Obama’s FBI was deeply involved in suppressing (h/t DSWright at Firedoglake) the peaceful political protest movement, Occupy Wall Street. The documents, which make interesting readings (especially as they seem to exaggerate the threat of violence to justify repression), are provided care of a Freedom of Information Act request by The Partnership For Civil Justice Fund. They are quite enlightening, even if they are likely only the tip of the iceberg. Two things are immediately obvious about these documents–first their scope. A large number of locations, from Jacksonville to Oakland to Anchorage to Richmond are involved as are numerous federal, state, local and private actors. FDL highlights the strange participation in “monitoring” OWS by the Richmond Federal Reserve (so know the central bankers are literally identifying which of the critics of their actions are to be targeted by repressive police power?) but I find the “public-corporate” partnership in repressing dissent just as troubling in the response of authorities to the attempt to close the Port of Oakland (gee, crypto-fascism much?). The second obvious point is that the various different wings of the police-state were very nervous about OWS. The reading of DSWright that “[W]e have a police state. It is here and it needs things to do and Wall Street just happens to have some suggestions” seems wrong to me. The discussion of the Arab Spring, high levels of unemployment, and massive coordination in the documents make it quite clear that the people whose job it is to repress dissent are very, very concerned about a movement focusing on banks and capitalism as having an explosive potential. Huh. Go figure.
This Repression of Peaceful Dissent Brought to You by The Obama Administration (“They’re terrorists, doncha know?) (c/o TV Spy)
Back in the fall of 2011, anybody who proposed what was obvious at the time, that there must have been massive federal coordination to the various crackdowns on OWS by mainly liberal and progressive mayors (or “moderate” ones like Lord Bloomberg and his “private army” at Wall Street’s home ground) was widely derided as a conspiracy theorist. Let’s leave aside the epistemological silliness of this charge (as if there are no conspiracies of power going on–in the last decade, alone, we have been lied into a major war based on false confessions obtained by torture or bribing drunkards, had an economic bubble based on defrauding massive numbers of people, including one’s own investors, and had a government systematically lie about its covert “drone” wars), denouncing anyone suspicious of state power as a conspiracy theorist is darn convenient for the folks in power, now ain’t it? The major point, I think, of this derision of all the little boys pointing out Emperor Obama had no clothes on the issue of police repression (yeah, some “constitutional scholar” he turned out to be. Thanks, Harvard), it showed pretty clearly that the establishment liberals and the Democratic Party in general, even in its allegedly most liberal locales (Boston, Oakland), considered the anti-banking left a threat and was quite as likely to use police abuse to literally “hippie-punch” as any troglodyte GOP-er. Folks who pointed out the obvious imperiled Democratic hegemony, since it would have nationalized the story of police repression and involved the Obama administration–that might have suppressed the youth or minority vote for a guy who, you know, who really doesn’t care about their concerns but likes to pretend he does to get elected. (The Obama campaign was acutely aware of this since the apathy of these voting blocs to his program in 2010 ensured the historic Tea Party landslide of that year).
And, like most political repression (hey, just ask Putin), it worked. We are now on Obama and the Democratic Party’s preferred turf of making primarily symbolic income tax rate increases on the rich (the real money is in carried income, but that is how the hedge fund managers make their money, so who cares?) in exchange for cutting the social safety net. The Pelosis and the Obamas of the world are now able to talk about “strengthening social security” by cutting its benefits (some trick! why not just raise the income ceiling for the payroll tax?) and imposing Cameron-like austerity on the county (oh, yeah, that’ll work). The repression of OWS allowed the Dems to steal the movement’s populist rhetoric to get elected (obliged by the absolutely Scrooge-like ideology of the Romney campaign–and really, why didn’t Obama beat those Randian clowns by double digits?) and then immediately pivot to the “fiscal cliff” Kabuki that allows them to “place on the table” Medicare and Social Security for what?, exactly?
And, of course, this use of police surveillance and repression, now validated by liberal Democrats, has entered the DNA of the American state–the next GOP-dominated government is going to enjoy focusing these powers on unions, Democratic pressure groups and liberals in generals. Thanks, liberals. When you erode constitutional protections, you erode them for yourselves too, geniuses.
So, welcome to Putin’s America and Yankee-Doodle Stasiland–not that we haven’t been enjoying the most Orwellian reductions of basic civil liberties for some time now. But the treatment of OWS, as revealed in these documents, makes it quite clear that the massive expansion of state repressive power over the last decade has not been to thwart a largely non-existent “terrorist threat” but to define and repress as “terrorism” domestic dissent. Especially anti-capitalist dissent. It is the concrete example of what has been largely theoretical prior to this, the large-scale targeting of a peaceful dissent movement. The powers that be (and yes, I mean Democratic mayors and President Obama here) are terrified of an “Arab Spring” occurring in the “Homeland,” which tells you quite a bit who the corrupt tyrants are in this particular equation.