WikiLeaks Uncovers Homeland Security Report on Occupy Movement
The transparency organization WikiLeaks has published an assessment report from the Homeland Security Department (DHS) on the Occupy movement that was put together in October of last year. The assessment was attached to a Stratfor email, one of five million or so emails the organization obtained and has been releasing since February 27.
The release of the report is timely, as it is being released just as Occupy supporters are mobilizing for demonstrations against the suppression of the Occupy movement by law enforcement and political leaders in the United States.
Put together by the Office of Infrastructure Protection under DHS, the report seems to have put together with the following presumption in mind, which appears in bold at the top of the report:
“Mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas. Large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement.”
The report proceeds to break down the risks and threats the Occupy movement poses to “critical infrastructure” by looking at their “impacts” on financial services, commercial facilities, transportation, emergency services and government facilities. The breakdown relied on news reports from sources like the New York Daily News, CBS, Associated Press, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, New York Times, Boston Globe, etc.
In the report’s summary, DHS concluded:
“The growing support for the OWS movement has expanded the protests’ impact and increased the potential for violence. While the peaceful nature of the protests has served so far to mitigate their impact, larger numbers and support from groups such as Anonymous substantially increase the risk for potential incidents and enhance the potential security risk to critical infrastructure (CI). The continued expansion of these protests also places an increasingly heavy burden on law enforcement and movement organizers to control protesters. As the primary target of the demonstrations, financial services stands the sector most impacted by the OWS protests. Due to the location of the protests in major metropolitan areas, heightened and continuous situational awareness for security personnel across all CI sectors is encouraged.”
Much like the threat government officials might allege WikiLeaks releases pose to national security, the threat is, for the most part, hype. Though the protests had been “peaceful,” Homeland Security determined that the fact that more and more citizens were turning out to support the cause of Occupy posed a possible threat to critical infrastructure and public order. The presence of supporters of Anonymous, which the FBI has been investigating, led Homeland Security to believe “potential incidents” or “potential security risks” could transpire. But, while Anonymous has claimed responsibility for cyber attacks, it has absolutely no history of violence in the world of non-virtual reality.
I have to be honest: my response to this is “So?”
OWS could always potentially be a threat to all the things they say. They have to make the assessment. Public order is one of the important aspects of governance.
Sure, OWS was non-violent. Sure it said it was. But they have to do a threat assessment anyway, just in case. Besides, it flouted the social and political system, which indeed is a “danger to public order” no matter how deserved. Is anyone actually surprised?