“Operation Tripwire:” the FBI, the Private Sector and the Monitoring of Occupy Wall Street

“Operation Tripwire”– the FBI, the Private Sector and the Monitoring of Occupy Wall Street

Jump to source materials archive for this article.

By Beau Hodai, December 30, 2012

Records obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request indicate that the FBI employed tactics under a “counter terrorism” initiative called “Operation Tripwire” in the monitoring of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists.Herb dog bw

[Note: records referenced in this article were obtained by DBA/CMD on November 8, 2012, as a partial response to a FOIA request submitted by DBA/CMD to the FBI on June 7, 2012. DBA/CMD have been analyzing these incomplete materials along with other public records to tell a more complete story of the pattern of domestic surveillance that has been underway.]

“Tripwires,” Mall Cops, and “Radical Cheerleaders

On October 19, 2011, an FBI agent filed a report, titled “Domain Program Management [,] Domestic Terrorism,” detailing an October 11 briefing given to “Jacksonville Executive Management” (EM) and a supervisory special agent (SSA) “Counter Terrorism Program Coordinator.” The subject of the October 11 briefing had been the potential growth of the OWS movement throughout north/central Florida. (All agent names were redacted from this, and other, FBI reports.)

“During the 11 October intelligence meeting, writer advised EM of the Occupy venues and further advised that they may provide an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction,” wrote the agent, who went on to say that special areas of concern were Daytona, Gainesville, and Ocala, where “some of the highest unemployment rates in Florida continue to exist.”

As such, the report’s author recommended that the Counter Terrorism Program Coordinator, “consider establishing tripwires with the Occupy event coordinators regarding their observance of actions or comments indicating violent tendencies by attendees” (emphasis added). Continue reading

Posted in Corruption, Domestic Surveillance, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security, Investigative reporting, Jiffy Squid, Occupy Wall Street, Public records, Surveillance state | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

National Security Agency telecom surveillance archive: Jewel v. NSA, et al.

Former National Security Agency (NSA) analysts, and others, discuss the scope of the agency’s domestic telecommunications surveillance program in statements issued from September through November, 2012, in Jewel v. NSA, et al. (United States District Court of Northern California).

We’ll let the words of these informed individuals speak for themselves.

“I agree with Mr. [Thomas] Drake’s assessment that everything changed at the NSA after the attacks on September 11. The prior approach focused on complying with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The post September 11 approach was that the NSA could circumvent federal statutes and the Constitution as long as there was some visceral connection to looking for terrorists.”

— former NSA analyst J. Kirk Wiebe.

“The NSA has the ability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords and phrases in email. The NSA has the ability to do individualized or small scale searches for particular electronic communications in real time. It also has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers.”

— former NSA analysts J. Kirk Wiebe, Thomas Drake and William Binney.

Continue reading

Posted in Domestic Surveillance, Homeland Security, Jiffy Squid, Private Defense/Intelligence Industries, Public records, Public-private partnerships, Source Materials Archive, Surveillance state | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Buying Influence: how the American Legislative Exchange Council uses corporate-funded “scholarships” to send lawmakers on trips with corporate lobbyists

DBA Press, Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause release report detailing national ALEC ‘scholarship fund’ spending

Download Report.

“Buying Influence: how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) uses corporate-funded ‘scholarships’ to send lawmakers on trips with corporate lobbyists,” authored by CMD Executive Director Lisa Graves, offers a detailed accounting of where these ALEC “scholarship” funds come from, how they benefit their legislative recipients and how the use of such funds benefit ALEC’s private sector/special interest members.

The report offers, for the first time, a comprehensive nationwide overview of ALEC “scholarship” spending, revealing an estimated $4 million in travel, rooming at swank resorts and gourmet dining events, handed out since 2006 to state lawmakers by lobbyists representing many of the nation’s largest corporations/special interests. These corporations/special interest groups comprise the bulk of ALEC’s private sector membership. And, thanks to various legal loopholes, these gifts handed out under the ALEC banner have largely been hidden from public disclosure. Continue reading

Posted in Bribery, Conflicts of interest, Corruption, Investigative reporting, Lobbying and Special Interests, Public-private partnerships | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

America Eats its Young: Arizona communities embrace use of private prison employees in drug raids at public schools

By Beau Hodai, November 27, 2012

An unsettling trend appears to be underway in Arizona: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools.

Trick or Treat

At 9 a.m. on the morning of October 31, 2012, students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande were settling in to their daily routine when something unusual occurred.

Vista Grande High School Principal Tim Hamilton ordered the school — with a student population of 1,776 — on “lock down,” kicking off the first “drug sweep” in the school’s four-year history. According to Hamilton, “lock down” is a state in which, “everybody is locked in the room they are in, and nobody leaves — nobody leaves the school, nobody comes into the school.” Continue reading

Posted in Conflicts of interest, Corruption, Criminal Justice, Investigative reporting, Jiffy Squid, Lobbying and Special Interests, Private Prison Industry, Public-private partnerships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

AFSC investigation: Arizona Department of Corrections, Legislature, knew private prisons bad deal for state– eliminated oversight anyway

July 24, 2012

By Caroline Isaacs, program director, American Friends Service Committee Tucson

Documents recently obtained by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) show that the state of Arizona deliberately circumvented and ultimately repealed a state law requiring private for-profit prison corporations to demonstrate cost savings in their bids on new prison contracts. These records reveal that the state was aware that existing private prison contracts were not saving the state money–despite state laws requiring private prison contractors to deliver such savings.

In response to the actions of the AFSC and other concerned Arizona citizens, parties within the Arizona government–parties demonstrably under the influence of the for-profit prison industry– have repealed laws regulating contract awards to such vendors based on cost savings and quality of service criteria.

One such statute, ARS 41-1609.01 (G), stated:

A proposal shall not be accepted unless the proposal offers cost savings to this state. Cost savings shall be determined based upon the standard cost comparison model for privatization established by the Director.”

In response to a public records request, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has confirmed that the “standard cost comparison model” referred to in the statute is the Department of Corrections Operating Per Capita Cost Report (Per Capita Cost Report).

For the past six years, these reports have consistently found that private prisons are not saving the state money, and in many cases, the private beds cost more than equivalent public beds. In fact, an AFSC analysis of ADC Per Capita Cost Reports revealed that between 2008-2010, Arizona overpaid for its private prison beds by $10 million. Continue reading

Posted in Campaign finance, Conflicts of interest, Corruption, Criminal Justice, Investigative report, Lobbying and Special Interests, Private Prison Industry, Public records, Public-private partnerships | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Investigative report: “Quid pro Status Quo: ALEC and State-Sanctioned Corruption in Ohio

Quid pro Status Quo: ALEC and State-Sanctioned Corruption in Ohio

By Beau Hodai, May, 2012

Download report in PDF format

View source materials directory for this article

Part 1: Legislative Service with a Smile

“Quid pro quo: something given or received for something else”

– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

At about ten o’clock on the morning of March 23, 2011, Faith Williams walked into the office of Ohio House Majority Whip John Adams (R-District 78). Williams, a lobbyist with firm, Bricker & Eckler, LLP (Bricker), had an appointment to speak with Adams about an “economic development study” created by some of her clients in the life insurance industry.

Somehow during the course of this meeting– though both Adams and Williams told DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (DBA/CMD) that they have no recollection of how this came to pass– two noteworthy subjects were discussed: a proposed amendment to the state’s 2011 budget, and possible support for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Ohio “scholarship fund.”

At 4:06 p.m. the following day, March 24, Williams emailed a copy of the discussed budget amendment to Adams Senior Legislative Aide Kara Joseph. In the email, Williams expressed her gratitude to Adams for agreeing to run the amendment by House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-District 69) for insertion into the 2011 budget.

The proposed budget amendment was a 12-page portion of a more than 80-page piece of “model legislation,” known as the “Insurer Receivership Model Act” (IRMA), adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2005. Essentially, the amendment– an extremely technical, industry-specific item– would allow “Ohio-domicilled” life insurers to engage in a practice known as “derivatives netting.” This practice essentially allows insurers to lump their assets, losses and unfulfilled obligations into one tradable commodity. This practice, according to IRMA proponents, would help troubled insurers to “manage risks.”

According to records obtained by DBA/CMD from the office of Rep. Adams though public records requests, the amendment appears to have been advanced by Williams on behalf of an Ohio insurance industry trade association, the Association of Ohio Life Insurance Companies (AOLIC). AOLIC, one of Williams’ top clients at the time of the Adams meeting, is comprised of 13 life insurance insurers operating in Ohio.

At 8:45 the following morning, March 25, Joseph responded to Williams’ email.

“It was a pleasure meeting you too!’ wrote Joseph. “Rep. Adams was wondering if you could send me the contact names for the 4 insurance companies that are in Cincinnati so that he can call them next week for ALEC. He was also interested in asking you which ones would be most receptive to participating in ALEC?” Continue reading

Posted in Campaign finance, Conflicts of interest, Corruption, Investigative report, Investigative reporting, Jiffy Squid, Lobbying and Special Interests, Public records, Public-private partnerships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

This is what censorship sounds like

April 23, 2011

On Monday, April 23, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held a telephonic press conference to discuss what the group referred to as “the latest harassment tactic against ALEC by liberal front groups.” DBA Press founder, Beau Hodai, joined the call as a member of the press– only to discover (or rediscover) that the affinity he feels for ALEC is not reciprocated.

Hodai was kicked off the media conference call twice– both times after attempting to ask ALEC legal counsel Alan Dye a question. Following Hodai’s second attempt to ask the ALEC representative a question, a call operator informed him that he was being barred from the call because he was not a member of the “credentialed” media. Hodai informed the operator that he was, in fact, “credentialed” with the U.S. House of Representatives. After a momentary hold, the operator informed Hodai that ALEC would not permit him to rejoin the call– regardless of media credentials.

Hodai has been reporting on ALEC for nearly three years for publications such as: In These Times, PR Watch (of the Center for Media and Democracy), Extra! (of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), Prison Legal News and DBA Press. ALEC has, on multiple occasions, made its distaste for Hodai’s reporting abundantly clear.


The “latest harassment tactic” aimed at ALEC, as explained by Dye in both the conference and a concurrent press release, is a formal complaint submitted to the IRS by Common Cause. Continue reading

Posted in Censorship, Conflicts of interest, Corruption, Jiffy Squid, Lobbying and Special Interests, Media matters | Tagged , | Comments Off

DBA Press releases ALEC centralized source materials directory

From an ALEC public employee pension reform presentation.

DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy are pleased to announce the release of the “ALEC centralized source materials archive.” This archive contains well over 10,000 pages of documents gathered from the offices of ALEC public sector chairs and other ALEC member lawmakers in several states over the past several years.

All of the materials contained in the archive were obtained through public records requests submitted to the offices of these lawmakers. Such materials include: documents listing ALEC donor corporations, documents listing ALEC member lawmakers, pieces of ALEC ‘model legislation,’ ALEC ‘scholarship fund’ disbursements to lawmakers– and much more…

In October of 2010, DBA Press submitted the first of a long and as-yet-unended chain of public records requests to ALEC member lawmakers (most of these requests were submitted to the offices of state public sector chairs). While the strategies behind these requests have shifted somewhat over the years– some requests seeking drafting materials behind specific bills, some requests seeking all records pertaining to ALEC, some requests seeking all records pertaining to the state’s ALEC private sector chairs, some requests a permutation of all of the above– the intent has always been the same: to make public what ALEC and its members work so hard to keep private.

The ALEC public records road has been an interesting one. Records returned from the offices of ALEC public sector chairs in Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin have lifted the veil on much of ALEC’s interaction with these lawmakers and their staff. These records have also shown the extremely close-knit relationship cultivated through ALEC between the offices of these lawmakers and scores of lobbyists– who, in turn, represent hundreds of corporate special interests.

Such materials returned to DBA Press per these requests have included detailed records of state scholarship fund activity (records of donations and records of lawmaker disbursements), lists of donors to state-specific ALEC events, pieces of model legislation (and discussions surrounding such legislation), lists of legislative ALEC members– and an unending sea of think tank propaganda.

If read through, page by page, as a whole, these archives show the absolute immersion of ALEC member lawmakers in a world wholly pieced together of slanted think tank reports, exclusive flights in corporate jets and near constant diner and dancing opportunities with lobbyist friends.

If you are a constituent who feels that your representatives live in a world entirely severed from reality, this archive will bear your sentiment out.

If you are a constituent who feels that your representatives will listen if you raise an issue– if you believe our representative democracy has survived the constant pressure of monied interests intact– you might not want to read through these archives. They may break your heart– the pages upon pages of unanswered angry constituent letters in the Florida and Wisconsin archives that go unanswered or that are answered only with a generic form letter, while nearly every email from an ALEC employee, lobbyist or think tank luminary is quickly and enthusiastically answered by an actual human (be it a staffer, lawmaker, or both). The records contained in these archives might make you mad.

Continue reading…

Posted in Corruption, Lobbying and Special Interests, Public records, Public-private partnerships, Source Materials Archive, tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off