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Computer hackers known as Anonymous leaked information obtained by hacking into private intelligence firm Stratfor’s computer network. The documents – what Anonymous is calling a teaser – suggest that from at least October to November 2011 Stratfor worked with Texas law enforcement to infiltrate the Occupy movement and spy on the Deep Green Resistance movement. The document contains emails in which Stratfor employees discuss Occupy Austin and Deep Green Resistance. Stratfor “Watch Officer” Marc Lanthemann writes about receiving information on Occupy Austin and DGR from a “Texas DPS agent.” The Texas Department of Public Safety is a statewide law enforcement agency that includes an Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division.
Deep Green Resistance condemns the surveillance and infiltration of activist groups by law enforcement and private corporations and calls on activists and their allies to expose and protest this violation of all of our constitutional rights.
“Law enforcement sharing information about local activism with private intelligence firms should be a huge scandal,” writes Rachel Meeropol, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “Privately funded surveillance and infiltration of activist groups is especially chilling, as time and again we see such corporations operate as if they are above the law and accountable to no one.”
In the emails, the staff discuss how a Texas DPS agent went undercover and tried to gather information from an Occupy Austin General assembly, as well as receiving information from what he calls “my Occupy people” about people they assumed were in Deep Green Resistance. Comments in the email suggest that the agent’s surveillance of Occupy Austin was ongoing and continued past the incidents described. In addition, the Stratfor staff describe doing online research on DGR Austin and Deep Green Resistance more generally. They wrongly described the purpose of a DGR Austin public meeting on what radicalism means for Austin as “indoctrination”; they wrote about the book Deep Green Resistance, and they speculated about the relationship between DGR Austin and other groups.
Stratfor and law enforcement not only violated activists’ constitutional rights, they also were grossly incompetent. Their report is full of hasty generalizations and inaccuracies. They confuse members of the DGR action group in Austin (which does exist) with another group they call the “Phoenix commune” (which may or may not exist). And they allege a conflict between members of the DGR Austin group and Occupy Austin that doesn’t seem to have happened. It’s not clear if this is part of the strategy counterintelligence groups have used in the past to try to provoke conflict between different social movements—the FBI used this very effectively against groups like the Black Panther Party—or whether Stratfor is simply relying on unreliable or incompetent sources.
In addition, their claim that DGR is inspired by Nazism and philosopher Martin Heidegger is outrageous and obviously wrong. As is their claim that DGR “is focused on creating a situation where violent confrontation will be the ultimate outcome.” It doesn’t require an agent to get simple facts correct. Both of these assertions are just plain false.
In December 2011, Anonymous attacked the Stratfor website, allegedly stealing 200 gigabytes of data and shutting the site down for weeks. Anonymous has gone after such corporations before, such as internet security firm HBGary. They released private documents that included secret plans by HBGary and others to attack and discredit Wikileaks on behalf of big banks.
There is a long history of clandestine groups releasing secret information about the surveillance of social movements. In 1971, and underground group called the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an FBI field office and released thousands of pages of secret information, revealing that the FBI had attacked 1960s social movements with methods ranging from surveillance and infiltration to targeted assassinations. Though we have no contact with Anonymous, their leak of information about government and corporate tactics of repression is part of an important tradition. More leaked information from Stratfor is presumably forthcoming.