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Chris Hedges
Truthdig / Truthdig Op-Ed
Published: Tuesday 8 January 2013
The FBI documents obtained by the PCJF show that government security services began to monitor the activities of Occupy activists before the Zuccotti Park encampment was established.

State of Fear

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Shannon McLeish of Florida is a 45-year-old married mother of two young children. She is a homeowner, a taxpayer and a safe driver. She votes in every election. She attends a Unitarian Universalist church on Sundays. She is also, like nearly all who have a relationship with the Occupy movement in the United States, being monitored by the federal government. She knows this because when she read FBI documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund(PCJF) through the Freedom of Information Act, she was startled to see a redaction that could only be referring to her. McLeish’s story is the story of hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps more—whose lives are being invaded by the state. It is the story of a security and surveillance apparatus—overseen by the executive branch under Barack Obama—that has empowered the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to silence the voices and obstruct the activity of citizens who question corporate power.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, said in a written statement about the released files: “This production [of information], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protesters organizing with the Occupy movement. 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.”

The FBI documents are not only a chilling example of how widespread this surveillance and obstruction has become, they are an explicit warning by the security services to all who consider dissent. Anyone who defies corporate power, even if he or she is nonviolent and acting within constitutional rights, is a suspect. These documents are part of the plan to make us fearful, compliant and disempowered. They mark, I suspect, a government attempt to end peaceful mass protests by responding with repression to the grievances of Americans. When the corporate-financed groupFreedomWorks bused in goons to disrupt Democratic candidates’ town hall meetings about the federal health care legislation in August 2009, Eric Zuesse of the Business Insider notes, “there was no FBI surveillance of those corporate-organized disruptions of legitimate democratic processes. There also were no subsequent FreedomWorks applications for Freedom of Information Act releases of FBI files regarding such surveillance being used against them—because there was no such FBI campaign against them.”

The combination of intimidation tactics by right-wing fringe groups, which speak in the language of violence and hate, with the state’s massive intrusion into the personal affairs of the citizen is corporate fascism. And we are much farther down that road than many of us care to admit. 

“When activists took up relatively long-term residence in Zuccotti Park in New York City on Sept. 17 [in 2011], their message of outrage was a mirror to my own after we bailed out the banks with our tax dollars, then watched them get off scot-free without even a token attempt to help fix the wreckage they’d created,” McLeish told me over the phone when I called her home. “I personally lost considerable income and my retirement with the economic collapse, as well as more than half the value of my home. I could see the people around me struggling, too. I have friends, neighbors and family members that the banks refused to help, who lost their homes or were forced to pay for costly attorneys to defend themselves against fraudulent foreclosure attempts. People couldn’t sell their homes, as they were worth so much less than what they’d paid for them. Homes all over the area, including in my neighborhood right near the downtown [of Ormond Beach, Fla.], were abandoned due to the foreclosure crisis—and left to rot by the banks. Strip malls were emptied as businesses went bankrupt and closed their doors. More and more homeless people were wandering through the neighborhood—people you could tell had never been homeless, just by virtue of what and how much they carried with them. Families were sleeping behind big-box stores, and my area was featured on national news repeatedly for the number of homeless families.”

“These are some of the things that prompted me to create a Facebook page for Occupy in my area in solidarity with the courageous activists camping in Zuccotti—the only group to fully give voice to what I saw as the issue: the corruption of pretty much everything from the economy to the environment to our social safety nets to our democratic system of governance due to corporate greed,” she said. “The message of OWS [Occupy Wall Street] resonated deeply and moved me to action.”

The FBI documents obtained by the PCJF show that government security services began to monitor the activities of Occupy activists before the Zuccotti Park encampment was established. They revealed that when McLeish met with about 40 other activists in Daytona Beach, Fla., several undercover law enforcement officers were present.

“None of them identified themselves as law enforcement to meeting attendees, though a Homeland Security agent approached me afterward, probably because I facilitated the meeting,” McLeish said. “When the agent approached me after the meeting, it was pretty unnerving. I decided the best way to deal with it was head on. I responded with, ‘I’m so glad you’re here! There’s a group making threats against us. I assume that’s why you’ve come.’ I think he was surprised. I don’t think he acknowledged knowing about the threats from an online gun group. He said he wanted to make sure we weren’t infiltrated by troublemakers. He asked if we’d meet with law enforcement to find out what we were allowed to do. I said I’d be happy to do so. He said he would check into the threats. He said he would put me in touch with someone from the Daytona Beach Police Department.”

“I can’t remember exactly when we met with Daytona Beach Police Department the first time,” she said. “It could have been the next day or the day after. There were about six or seven of us, and I think it was three officers: Deputy Chief Ben Walton, who is now retired, and two other high-ranking officers. If I remember correctly, I pretty much began the discussion by stating that we were aware of our right to protest. We would be glad to coordinate as much as possible to make the Police Department’s job easier, but not to the point of infringing upon our rights.”

“We agreed upon very low police presence—one to a few officers—on the basis of the threats made by the online gun group, but not for surveillance on citizens engaged in peaceful protest,” she said.

The daylong event she and the other activists held on Oct. 15, 2011, was attended by more than 300 people. The past president of the local NAACP chapter spoke, as did a leader in the teachers union who was also a member of the school board, a couple of members of the postal union, the leader of a homeless coalition who was homeless himself, and a member of the Daytona State College Environmental Club. A female uniformed officer was present. McLeish noticed a man with a professional camera taking photographs of individual protesters in the crowd. She saw him later the same day amid several police officers. One officer confirmed that the photographer was with law enforcement but would not give more information, McLeish said. 

Daytona-area activists during the fall

of 2011 continued to organize events, including sidewalk marches to banks. In most cases they notified the police in advance. At one big event, men in plain clothes and standing with folded arms surrounded a seated group as it held a teach-in.

“It was extremely intimidating, not to mention the effect on people walking by who might have joined us if it weren’t for these heavy-handed tactics,” McLeish said.

The local activists set up an Occupy encampment every weekend in December 2011.

“There were no incidents of any kind,” McLeish said of the camp in Daytona. “No one spoke aggressively to an officer at any time. No one drank or used drugs. We had clearly posted rules to that effect at the camp. There was no violence whatsoever, verbal or physical—as was the case with any event we organized, and we had quite a lot of them. Further, we clearly expressed that while we would act in accordance with our rights, we would not violate any laws.”

“Given the lengths we went to, you can imagine my dismay as I saw Daytona repeatedly mentioned in national news as one of the main areas under surveillance by the FBI, Homeland Security, as well as some unknown ‘private partner’ agency,” she said. “We were being investigated, according to the released FBI documents, as if we were a ‘terrorist’ group engaged in ‘criminal activity.’ I checked the released pages to see what could only be references to me—my name, age, and phone number. Though redacted, they indicate that any search of people connected with domestic terrorist groups is likely to turn up my name.”

Since the spring of 2012 McLeish has co-hosted a morning radio show called “Air Occupy” (also streamed online) with Liz Myers and Jerry Bolkcom. They have interviewed, among others, Alexa O’Brien, the organizer of US Day of Rage, and Carl Mayer, the lead attorney in the case Hedges v. Obama, a challenge to the indefinite detention clause of the National Defense Authorization Act. Immediately after “Air Occupy” posted on YouTube the interview about the lawsuit against the NDAA, YouTube permanently banned the radio show on the ground of “violating community standards”—a ban that usually is imposed for graphic, violent or gory images or pornography. According to YouTube’s guidelines, a poster is allowed three “strikes”before an account is terminated. “Air Occupy” had received no notice of “strikes” or warnings of any kind from YouTube.

McLeish worries about how being a target of FBI attention will affect her life. “Can the inclusion of my name and information on a federal law enforcement domestic terrorist watch list impact my ability to make a living and provide for my children?” she asked. “Can I be subject to retribution of some kind through the NDAA’s new provisions or to federal surveillance due to interviewing other activists or in addition to my involvement in Occupy protests? I can’t afford an attorney to protect myself.”

“What does such surveillance and militarized response mean for our democratic system of governance as more and more people in our country and abroad struggle to survive and are moved to protest stark economic inequalities, mass unemployment and unfair working conditions, and impoverished living conditions?” she asked.

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ABOUT Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”

"How we learn to avoid those

"How we learn to avoid those portions of the maze that lead to the Hurt Button."

To make this short, sweet and to the point, our world as we know it has in its entirety been forcibly united under the banner of the Church of the Holy Materialism. Politics, religion, economics, science; any aspect of your life you care to examine is thoroughly addicted to the petrochemical Horn of Plenty and, in turn, its only lawful medium of exchange, the fiat currency of whatever region of the multinationals’ geopolitical map you happen to live.

Most people just put up with it, learn to navigate the portions of the maze that lead (we think) most reliably to the Reward Button, and call it good. The sensuous amplified electronic alternative realities of television, computer world games and the Internet combined with the occasional lottery ticket suffice for any dreams we may have of a life well above our present station.

Some of us think we see the naked evil of this entity and its principals and the manifold devastations it has caused. We feel we are victims of the final tightening death spiral of this addiction, an addiction that lately has reached a level of tolerance so high that only lethal levels of dosage bring relief to the craving. That the collateral damage is - no more and no less - the permanent destruction of all the fractal layers of ecologies on the planet makes it all the more horrifying.

We then move on to the final denial of the addict, that of rearranging our matrix of beliefs to prove that we are not addicted without cutting off our supply. Of oil, and money. And Internet.

Thus we proclaim that we have left the Church of the Holy Materialism for once and for all. We are clean. And we evangelize the scriptures of our new home, the Church of the Holy Outrage.

We join causes and groups. We sign petitions. We vote Green and eat Organic. We shout out each new outrage; we note each jot and tittle of the subterfuges of the enemy.

We sing to our new choir, brothers and sisters, and our new choir sings back to us. A new spirit is on the land, and all is wholesome again.

You might feel that this line of reasoning is insufferably arrogant and rude. Fact is, the game is rigged so tight that it is effectively impossible to escape the house odds of its authors.

And it is easier to justify defeat than to admit defeat. Or addiction.

We have lost our previous collective knowledge of how to feed ourselves, shelter ourselves, water ourselves, warm ourselves, heal ourselves. We are reduced to the infantile in that sense; we are incapable of providing for ourselves in the least of ways, let alone the greater, the spiritual. Additionally, we have turned the wealth of the planetary ecologies that supported this collective knowledge of ways of living into wasteland, so the raw materials are no longer there. If tomorrow came with a sudden and complete unavailability of everything related to the petrochemical supply chain and the absence of all fiat currency, most of us would be dead within weeks if not sooner. Admit or deny; the result will be unchanged.

This includes Survivalists, because all Survivalism is, is an excuse for a really extravagant foray into the aisles of the petrochemical hardware store.

This includes Revolutionaries, because you can’t eat Revolution any more than you can eat Money.

This includes the UHNW individuals in their compounds, because the masses have them outnumbered by odds of about 100 to 1, and at that point they won’t mind dying.

And so on; you can add other examples to this list as you please.

Ain’t nobody immune, no where, no way, ‘s what I’m saying.

And, in another 120 years, nobody presently alive on this planet will still be alive to tell the tale, anyway.

The planetary tipping point is now in the past, and the future is unknowable. To re-apply old cultural paradigms in the hopes they might work is wishful thinking. The new paradigm, if there is to be one, will come of a continuum of experience we have not yet had. We face a gap we are in no way equipped to handle.

I call this the Edge. Welcome to the Edge.


On December 28, Nation of

On December 28, Nation of Change published another article on the FBI's investigation of the Occupy movement. That article mentioned that the FBI had uncovered a plot by an unnamed (name redacted) group to assassinate Occupy leaders; this may be the same plot mentioned in the current article. As a result of the December 28 article, I created a petition on the White House petition site, urging the administration to investigate the FBI's apparent failure to further investigate the unnamed group that threatened Occupy or to take steps to protect the Occupy Movement. You can view my petition and sign it at the following site: Each petition must generate at least 150 signatures before it is posted for view by the general public. As of last night my petition had only generated 23 signatures and appears doomed to failure.

Dear Friend's. Please don't

Dear Friend's. Please don't tell me any of you are shocked by the revelation that anyone who decents is long since a marked person , exactly what in Gods name have you all been thinking since 9/11 or since the Fusion center scandal or since the Mega datamining building was finished in utah or there abouts .friends listen I'm gonna be as gentle as I can be ok , now step back and with your eye's wide open tell me exctly what you think is down the road for WE THE PEOPLE ? Do you people really think that those Nasty eldery Men who have waited decades for this plan to unfold covering as many bases as they obviously have are just going to go away quietly ? These criminally insane God complex sufferers are going to put the final phase into play without a single care in the world , these bastards are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people all across this planet do you actually think they left anything to chance, exactly who do you think the CIA FBI NSA and all the rest really work for , come on you don't really think they work for Justice and the American way do you ? You poor naive fool's better clean out your head gear because just as sure as I'm hitting these key's it's gonna get oh so much worse and right up until the time it smacks you in your kisser they are going to swear on the bible it's all for our own good and necessary in order to protect your kids your family ...yep right up until your stepping off the converted Rail cars and into the fenced in Fema camps with the oneway turnstyles . listen when you have lived a life such as there's where mega upmanship and the getting of wealth & the power and control it buys is all your focus has ever been it really doesn't take that long before you become a victim of your own bullshit ego , all anyone need do is just look at these people look at the arrogance that's stamped in there facial features .. it's a progressive desease that get's even worse the older you get ..My God has any of you ever seen a more butt ignorant fool as GW Bush who has the IQ of a stink bug yet walks around as if King and master over all he surveys now exactly how do you think he managed to get as old as he is when his brains can barely generate enough energy to keep his heart & lungs running .. People they ONLY WAY WE GET TO MAKE THIS RIGHT ... IS TAKE IT BACK .. Like an angry Tsunami just one big powerful disgusted wave after another until there are no more white haired NWO players left and the Board is cleaned off .. just a thought for those of you who still have a spine left ...

Integrity threatens the

Integrity threatens the corrupt who have the wealth and power.

Since it is the government of

Since it is the government of the 1% over 99%, the ruling elite think it is their
prerogative to monitor every activity they deem necessary, especially those who are
deemed trouble makers (those who want the elite to abide by the social contract, THE
CONSTITUTION). Hence the 99% must operate under this understanding and expect
anything, especially if they become DANGEROUS (threaten the power or money flow
of the elite). As long as the 99% just make noise in full view of the elite without
disturbing the money flow or power structure abruptly, the elite would not waste their
money on noise makers.....They cannot function with the 99% dragging their feet to
the animal farm every day. The more the 99% is divided with non-issue issues (male vs.
female, various shades of religions, various ethnic groups, various manufactured
issues), the more secure the elite in its entrenched castles. OWS seems to unite people
around the crux of all issues: 1% vs. 99%. This is something that the world has become
conscious about in mass and would likely be the force to change the distribution of
goods/services on more equitable basis in the long run if the 99% is not dragged into a
global war to divert the energy from internal problem to external manufactured
problems. Keep OWS and the flame of liberty alive. The 99% have some of the most
courageous, noble, decent humans among them. There are reasonable people among
the 1% as well. Somehow, the two will likely create a better world for all by restricting
the most unscrupulous segment of the 1% (those who are engaged in killing industries,
polluting industries and lying industries)!!!

It's an unnecessary waste of

It's an unnecessary waste of security-state resources to surveil people who believe America has a democratic system.

99% of the voters just reliably (again) obediently voted to continue the sociopathic corporatism of the corporate (R) & (D) party.

99% voted (again) for sociopathic corporate persons to decide what every policy will be... when, where, and how everything government does will be done to whom.

99% have chosen to accept corporatism, and pretend that's democracy.

99% compliantly and complicitly vote for the corporate party's (R)s and (D)s because they are 100% dependent upon corporations providing everything they need or want... and every thought they "think" they've thought.

Voter Consent Wastes Dissent:

exactly, so where does that

exactly, so where does that leave us? fooled again, fooled again and again. it would be nice if people woke up now rather than when the pain is severe but i think that's the way it goes.

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