I’ve called bullshit — it’s still ringing.
Twitter is abuzz with news that the Occupy raids were coordinated with the help of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and that Obama “greenlit” the raids. (See also this.)
As far as I can tell, the source for this claim is an article in Examiner.com, which quotes an anonymous Department of Justice official who claims that the multi-city raid of Occupy camps “was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.”
From (the disreputable) Examiner.com:
Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.
The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.
According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.
Is that true? Maybe. But given that this information came from Examiner.com, the proper response is “citation needed.” Why? Because Examiner.com is Fox News light. From Media Matters:
If you like what Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing billionaire behind Fox News and the New York Post, has done for the national discourse, you’ll love what Philip Anschutz is trying to do in your hometown.
Anschutz built his fortune — his $8 billion net worth is good for 36th place on the Forbes 400, ahead of better-known Murdoch and Steve Jobs — in the oil and gas industry, augmented with railroad and telecommunications holdings, as well as Regal Cinemas and the production company behind The Chronicles of Narnia films.
The far-right American Spectator describes Anschutz as “a committed conservative” who “gives lots of money to the Republican National Committee and to GOP candidates” and is “friendly with fellow oilman George W. Bush.”
But Anschutz’s publications certainly do reflect his conservative views.
Earlier this year, Media Matters’ Terry Krepel detailed the right-wing tilt to the Washington Examiner’s staff, including alums of the National Review, The Washington Times, NewsBusters, Robert Novak’s newsletter, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.
And those kinds of staffing decisions lead to headlines like these, all featured on the front of the Washington Examiner’s web page Wednesday afternoon:
Are Democrats exiting the sinking ship?
Inside the numbers: How Obama has fallen
Global warming industry becomes too big to fail
Youngest voters spurn Obamacare
Damn the deficit: Full speed ahead on health care
Then there’s the Opinion section, which features such gems as:
Gene Healy: Obamacare is unconstitutional
Grace-Marie Turner: Ten reasons public won’t buy Senate health care plan
Dr. David Gratzer: Medicine isn’t perfect, Obamacare is even less perfect
Ken Blackwell: Obama’s indecision is hurting foreign alliances
Sounds reputable, dontcha think? Here’s more from the Examiner article:
The FBI has so far failed to respond to requests for an official response, and of the 14 local police agencies contacted in the past 24 hours, all have declined to respond to questions on this issue.
But in a recent interview with the BBC,” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan mentioned she was on a conference call just before the recent wave of crackdowns began.
“I was recently on a conference call of 18 cities who had the same situation, where what had started as a political movement and a political encampment ended up being an encampment that was no longer in control of the people who started them.”
At the time this story was updated, Mayor Quan’s office had declined to discuss her comments.
Sounds pretty damning — if not for the fact that the mayors have denied colluding on the crackdown:
Eleven mayors participated in a conference call last week about “Occupy” protests in their cities, but they deny their talk was a strategy session to coordinate the sweeping of demonstrators’ encampments.
“It was more like a therapy session,” Amy Ruiz, spokesman for Portland, Ore., Mayor Sam Adams, told msnbc.com on Tuesday about the Nov. 10 call.
Portland was one of at least five cities where over the next four days after the call police moved in on anti-Wall Street camps. Others included Denver, Salt Lake City, Oakland and New York.
The call was organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which said 11 mayors participated but the records of who called were not immediately available.
Another “conversation” about Occupy Wall Street was held in early October, the Denver mayor’s office told NBC station KUSA.
“The conversation was focused on general information-sharing and best practices surrounding the challenges and opportunities this unique situation presents to every city,” Amber Miller told KUSA.
On Tuesday, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s acknowledgement of talks brought charges of anti-Occupy collusion among mayors from a variety of watchdogs, including broadcaster RT and progressive blog Firedoglake.
Look, I don’t know what’s going on — partly because I had a glass of Benmorach Peat smoke (and it was delicious) — but I guess we better uncritically cite bullshit newspapers and go ahead and freak out in advance — just in case.
It’s the progressive way.