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Federal agencies spy for corporate America

The United States is always awash with conspiracy theories, some more outlandish than others. But their source does not lie simply within the imagination of those who develop them. In fact, real, actual conspiracies by the American state constantly fuel people’s deep suspicions about their government. 

For the latest example, you have to look no further than the FBI’s secret war on the Occupy movement, whose activists were classed as “terrorists” and a threat to “homeland security”. Documents obtained by Partnership for Civil Justice Fund reveal the FBI collaborating with the Department for Homeland Security and using local branches of the Federal Reserve Bank in their illegal surveillance.

As to the fanciful notion that the FBI is there to protect its citizens against violent death, forget it. The FBI allowed a plot to murder Occupy activists in Texas with sniper rifles remain a secret until the heavily-redacted files were made public through a Freedom of Information request.

Even the right-wing John Birch Society is alarmed by the Obama administration-sponsored war on its own citizens. An article in its magazine notes:

According to analysts, in addition to exposing numerous violations of the Constitution, the newly released documents also offer a great deal of insight into the emerging ‘police state’ apparatus.

Pullitizer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges is of a similar mind, although quite rightly he links the FBI-Homeland Security activities to a plot to silence critics of big business, which Occupy placed at the top of its agenda. Hedges says the FBI documents show how widespread surveillance is and amount to an “explicit warning by the security services to all who consider dissent”, adding: “Anyone who defies corporate power, even if he or she is nonviolent and acting within constitutional rights, is a suspect.”  

Government security services began monitoring Occupy activists before the high-profile camp in Zuccotti Park, New York. Documents obtained by the PCJF show, for example, that they were in attendance when activists met in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The 9.11 attacks spurred the Bush administration into creating a threatening security framework which the Obama White House has not only embraced but developed in new ways. The imminent appointment of John Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency is a case in point.

Brennan, Obama’s principal counter-terrorism and security advisor, has made the use of targeted assassinations by drone attacks virtually an everyday event. They are considered illegal in international law. Brennan is a supporter of forms of torture and “extraordinary rendition”, by which suspects are kidnapped by US agents and flown to secret camps. No doubt Brennan will bring the CIA into closer focus with the FBI in the hunt for domestic opponents of the government.

As the struggles against massive inequality, unemployment and low wages gather pace, America's capitalist state is tooling up for mass confrontation.

At the heart of the Obama authoritarian state is a network of 77 “fusion centres” set up over the past decade. They were supposed to co-ordinate the “war on terror”. Instead, according to a recent Senate report,  the centres pose a threat to civil liberties as well as producing a series of half-baked reports which were worse than useless.

So as Obama starts his second term, the illusions many held in his administration four years ago have all but disappeared. The state is there to protect capitalist corporations and big finance. And Obama is there to co-ordinate the work of the state, putting together an apparatus that resembles those of a police state.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, said in a statement:

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.

As the struggles against massive inequality, unemployment and low wages gather pace, America’s capitalist state is tooling up for mass confrontation. The rights enshrined in the US constitution will have to be renewed through the creation of a more developed, revolutionary democracy. That much is clear.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
8 January 2013

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