Thursday, August 01, 2013

FBI knew about snipers aimed at Occupy Houston

But snipers affiliated with whom? Do you feel safer now?

As the Occupy Houston movement gained steam in 2011, the FBI was aware of a plan to use snipers to take out leaders of the movement, according to FBI documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The highly redacted documents do not point to any FBI involvement in the plan. Agency spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said that it's premature to draw conclusions about the documents because the publicly released information is incomplete.

The documents do raise questions about how much the FBI knew about the plot, said Houston attorney Paul Kennedy, who represented several of the Occupy protesters in misdemeanor cases.

In an email Wednesday, Dunlap said the agency investigates hundreds of such threats, and "rest assured if the FBI was aware of credible and specific information involving a murder plot, law enforcement would have responded with appropriate action."

Dunlap stated the documents "were redacted in several places pursuant to privacy laws that govern the release of such information." She cautioned against "drawing conclusions from FOIA documents, as they often contain raw data and are incomplete."

Kennedy obtained a copy of the FBI document, which was requested in December 2012 by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, and has posted it on his blog.

You may recall that I spent some activist time down at City Hall at the birthing of Occupy Houston. From Kennedy's post...

Just how scared of the Occupy movement was the government? Or, maybe the question should be just how scared were business leaders and their lackeys in the government? The Occupy protests were a mass movement that had the potential to catch fire. That they didn't is due to the government's crackdowns and, I would argue, on the lack of a cohesive message from the movement.

The more important question is, obviously, who was behind the alleged plot to assassinate Occupy leaders in Houston? Why did the government redact any identification information about whose plot it was? Is that information redacted because it would expose confidential sources, or is it redacted because the FBI was behind the alleged plot?

The historical comparisons to Occupy mirror those of the 1932 Bonus Army, among others such as the March on Washington, which was held 50 years ago this month.

I have missed any reference to snipers and Tea Party protests over the past five years. Can anyone fill me in as to whether there were any stories about that? A cursory Google search was not helpful. I do recall seeing some guns being schlepped around by those folks at their rallies, and I think they did complain about IRS audits. Or something.

The thing that authority fears most is organic, civil, peaceful protest, witnessed again as recently as two weeks ago when Houstonians who objected to the whitewash -- a savagely appropriate word in this context -- of Trayvon Martin's murder wound up blocking traffic on a Houston freeway. (Read Mayor Parker's reaction to that here, and an account of the follow-up visit by activists with the US Attorney who offices locally here.)

If you haven't watched the Chris Hedges video I posted last week, now would be a good time to do so. His analysis of the government's intentions with respect to Occupy are spot on.

And then you might ask yourself if a discussion about the number of debates in the Houston mayoral contest, or how much money what's-his-or-her-name has raised for a city council bid, is the best conversation we can be having about politics in the nation's fourth largest city.

Update: This news about sharpshooters in Texas arrives on a grim anniversary.

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