Documents obtained through FOIA requests show that the Department of Homeland Security was monitoring Occupy Wall Street demonstrations since their inception on September 17th of last year. Truthout filed the requests with the DHS and received hundreds of pages of documents, and a government spokesperson promised more by mid-April. The FBI however, claims it is "unable to identify main file records responsive to the FOIA" relating to OWS. This flies in the face of clear evidence that an FBI agent corresponded with an informant who embedded himself in the protests.
The documents mainly consist of emails exchanged between DHS employees that deliberate their official response to media requests. They also include emails from the Federal Protection Service, the DHS's law enforcement arm that protects federal property.
In one email, a DHS employee writes, "We really need to stress the third background bullet—make it clear how rare the federal involvement is," referring to an on-background list that includes the statement:
FPS has only been involved in one instance in removing protesters, in Portland, OR. FPS was assisting the Portland Police Bureau at the federally-owned Terry Schrunch Plaza where FPS arrested several people.
National Park Service police intervened to clear protests in Washington, D.C., but they are officially under the Department of the Interior, not Homeland Security. Capitol Police were also involved with responding to Occupy protests.
There is also no talk of the meetings DHS allegedly had with the US Conference of Mayors, and employees dismiss the claim proffered by a Justice Department source to the Examiner that evictions of Occupy movement in Salt Lake City, Denver, Portland, Oakland, and New York City were "coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies."
An employee said their involvement in the evictions was "limited." They go on to write to the reporter, "Off the record—Consider your source. An anonymous quote in the Examiner.com"
Yet they do concede that the DHS holds
standard coordination calls and face-to-face meetings with our partners to ensure that the proper resources are available for operations such as street closures, etc.
An email from DHS's Intelligence and Analysis department states, "I&A scrupulously avoided any connection with the Occupy movement/protests/dismantlings." Any information the DHS withheld was done so under an exemption that it "protects the integrity of the deliberative or policy-making processes" as well as information that is a "clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy." The NYPD responded to Truthout's FOIA request with the following:
Before a determination can be rendered, further review is necessary to assess the potential applicability of exemptions set forth in FOIL, and whether the records can be located.