Update/Correction to Naomi Wolf Post

I originally posted this as an update to my earlier post, but I think it’s worth its own post:

I’d been avoiding posting anything about speculation that the Department of Homeland Security had anything to do with coordinating the police raids on occupy until there was some real evidence. I thought Wolf had some new sources but, as Kenneth Huey points out in the comments, it turns out Wolf’s sources rely on that same old anonymously sourced Examiner story. But there is currently no evidence that Congress or the White House ordered or coordinated the raids, and the White House has specifically denied this. If anyone knows of any particular mayor or police chief denying DHS involvement, please let me know.

There are many other problems with Wolf’s account of the story, as detailed here. That The Guardian is still running this story from Wolf without any updates or corrections is disappointing.

It’s worth noting that another source of national coordination regarding the Occupy movement has emerged. Wes Unruh pointed me towards this story in the San Francisco Bay Guardian which reveals that the international non-governmental organization The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) coordinated raids nationally. Police chiefs in several major cities participated in a series of conference calls distinct from the 18 mayor call mentioned by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. PERF has also been involved in coordinating crackdowns on anti-globalization protests. The executive director of PERF, Chuck Wexler, is also on the advisory council of DHS, leading some to refer to the organization as “having ties to” DHS (including the San Francisco Bay Guardian), but I wouldn’t (yet) read too much into this relationship.

It might also be worth mentioning that according to Tom Henderson DHS vehicles were spotted at the Occupy Portland eviction, but as Tom notes the Occupy Portland spilled into federal park, so we can’t read too much into that.

One final note on the potential federal involvement in the Occupy crackdown. I’ve noticed that Portland Mayor Sam Adams almost always mentions drug use in the camp when explaining why he flip-flopped from supporting Occupy Portland to ordering its eviction. Since 1981 there has been an ongoing erosion of military and civilian law enforcement, particularly with regards to drug law enforcement. Here’s an excerpt from Diane Cecilia Weber’s paper Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments:

In 1981 Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act. That law amended the Posse Comitatus Act insofar as it authorized the military to “assist” civilian police in the enforcement of drug laws. The act encouraged the military to (a) make available equipment, military bases, and research facilities to federal, state, and local police; (b) train and advise civilian police on the use of the equipment; and (c) assist law enforcement personnel in keeping drugs from entering the country. The act also authorized the military to share information acquired during military operations with civilian law enforcement agencies.

The overlap between civilian and military law enforcement was furthered in 1986 when President Reagan issued a National Security Decision Directive declaring illegal drugs a threat to national security. You can find more on this in Radley Balko’s book/white paper Overkill.

The possibility of federal involvement remains speculative, but returning to the line about drugs again and again could be a tactic to justify the invovlement of the feds, at least at the level of funding.

4 Comments

  1. in 2005, on a grant from the DOJ, PERF conducted a series of forums with local and federal law enforcement authorities, including DHS and FBI. out of these forums came a number of white papers, the fifth of which is titled “partnerships to promote homeland security.” the topic is how local law enforcement can share intelligence and coordinate strategy with DHS. ( http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/files/RIC/Publications/protecting_vol_5_rev.pdf )

    So PERF was paid by the DOJ to develop and disseminate strategies to help local police departments to coordinate with DHS.

    that said, holland’s dismissal of Wolf’s claims of affiliation is an odd tell: “Its only “affiliation” with DHS is that PERF’s Executive Director, Chuck Wexler, also sits on a DHS “advisory board” (along with a dozen police chiefs, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton).”

    if you strip the emotionality out of Wolf’s opinion piece and realize she may have been a bit overspecific about both PERF and a hard-and-fast chain of command (she was, after all, very recently arrested), there’s a kernel of truth there. the DHS has poked holes in the walls between federal, state and local agencies, not just around the issue of drug law, but around immigration and human trafficking as well.

  2. Thanks for the update. I’ve linked to the story myself without further thought. I’ll be linking back here to this for some clarification.

  3. FWIW, my personal opinion is that Wolf is correct in broad outline, even if she exceeds strict verifiability in her claims. If anything, her antennae are a bit too finely attuned to the political currents that threaten to capsize what little democracy we have remaining. And not that it means anything, but I saw a Homeland Security van parked across from Antoinette Hatfield Hall, in downtown Portland, just the other day.

  4. DHS was present at last night’s OccupyLA eviction. They see to hover behind these actions.

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