If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and the owners of the press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.
On Jan 1, 2014, public records activist Drew Hendricks, published a chain of e-mails about a coordinated effort between Bank of America, Washington State Patrol, the Olympia Police Department, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Washington State Fusion Center to track and monitor a peaceful protest that occurred on November 5, 2013.
The protest was organized by the Olympia chapter of the hacktivist group Anonymous as part of a nation-wide “Million Mask March.” Before the march on the Washington Capitol, the 75-100 participants held teach-ins and rallies to protest “the use and expansion of the FBI, DHS, NSA, and other government agencies for the sole purpose of silencing free speech,” and to raise awareness about “the billionaires who own banks and corporations who corrupt politicians” among other things.
Despite acknowledgement by Washington State Patrol (WSP) that the group called for a “peaceful protest” and “no property damage, injuries, or arrests” occurred, WSP employed multiple undercover agents and took 48 minutes of video footage (including close-ups on the faces of the participants). According to an after-action report, WSP spent a total of $28,707 on direct costs and dedicated 602 hours to this three hour protest. State Patrol also hired two Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) units for crowd control, a bus in case of mass arrests, and a fixed-wing Cessna 206 airplane to conduct aerial surveillance of the march.
Documents received under the Public Records Act reveal that Kim Triplett-Kolerich, Bank of America’s senior intelligence analyst for the Western Region of the US, tipped off Washington State Patrol on September 23, 2013, almost six weeks before the protest on November 5, 2013. Triplett-Kolerich, who retired from WSP in 2012 wrote in an email…
“From time to time I will see items that I believe will be of use to my friends at WSP—especially during session. May Day I will pick your brain for intel and I will give you a lot also – the Public-Private Partnership worked great last year… if you find any intel on anarchists or occupy protesters let me know.”
In the same email, Triplett-Kolerich boasted about Bank of America’s online surveillance unit, “social media trolling is not what WSP does best. Bank of America has a team of 20 people and that’s all they do all day then pass it to us around the country!!”
On October 30, 2013, Triplett-Kolerich referred to online social media as “open-source” intelligence and mentioned that she was in contact with the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) about the protest. The JTTF is a collection of local law enforcement agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Fusion centers, are multi-jurisdictional information sharing networks created by DHS to track and monitor terrorist threats and criminal activity. Their website states that their aim is “to support the public safety and homeland security missions of federal, state, local, tribal agencies and private sector entities.” On September 2, 2011, Bank of America intelligence analyst Tripplet-Kolerich became a Fusion Liaison Officer (FLO) for the Washington State Fusion Center while working for WSP.
According to an interview conducted by writers at the Stranger Blog in Seattle, WSP claimed that the counter-terrorist surveillance was out of concern that “outside agitators,” and “non-peaceful individuals” might join the protest. This disproportionate overreaction to an avowed non-violent protest shares uncanny similarities to the protocol used by WSP and other state agencies from 2006-2009 during the port protests in Olympia and Tacoma.
From March 2007 until July 2009, a man named John Towery posing as an anarchist was later revealed to be a spy and military intelligence analyst for the US Army, working with the Washington State Fusion Center to collect intelligence on the anti-war movement . Towery and others are currently being sued in federal court by protesters who suffered a targeted pattern of false arrests, citations, imprisonment, excessive force, and harassment as a result of intelligence gathered on them by the Army.
According to an article written for the New York Times in June 2013 about this federal civil suit, Chris Adamson of the Pierce County Sheriffs Office and a Director of regional intelligence groups for the Washington State Fusion Center helped coordinate Mr. Towery’s spying efforts and listed at least four protesters in a “national domestic terrorist database with pictures, and identifying personal information along with false claims alleging a propensity for violence,” the lawsuit said. Lawrence A. Hildes, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the database was controlled by the Washington State Patrol. “They have taken upon themselves to say, ‘We don’t like this person, therefore he’s a domestic terrorist,’” Mr. Hildes said. “It’s not only illegal—it’s absolutely chilling.”
Given this disturbing history of targeting those who engage in peaceful activism and re-branding them terrorists, there is good reason to question this revolving door relationship between a conglomeration of state agencies and a senior intelligence analyst at Bank of America.
Those who followed the heavily coordinated crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement, may recall a Guardian expose in December 2012 that discussed declassified FBI documents which revealed “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” In this article, Naomi Wolf describes “a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council.” A brochure from the Domestic Security Alliance Council’s website described it as “a strategic partnership between the US private sector and the FBI…preventing, detecting and investigating those matters which affect interstate commerce, while advancing the ability of the US private sector to protect it’s employees, assets, and proprietary information.”
The publication of e-mails between Bank of America and the Washington State Patrol detail how this relationship goes both ways and highlights how we are hurtling towards a hegemonic dystopia at break-neck speeds, a unified axis of government and corporate power whose interests are inexorably intertwined and inextricably linked. The implications of this for the future of humanity are grave. As Naomi Wolf states in her Guardian piece, “people’s income streams and financial records—[are] now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.” She goes on to highlight the danger of this merging of state power and corporate privilege opining that the “crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a ‘terrorist organization’ and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.”
As these declassified documents as well as Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing reveal, those in power have access to a sprawling surveillance apparatus that eclipses any totalitarian regime in world history. Corporations have the full cooperation and might of militarized police forces to protect their interests and in turn, they corrupt elections, buy off politicians, and push for legislation that criminalizes dissent, entrenching their power further under the guise of national security. This merger of public and private interests is poignantly represented by the establishment of Fusion Centers which operate ostensibly to distribute information on terrorist activity between law enforcement agencies, but now incorporate military intelligence supplied by spies like John Towery as well as corporate intelligence from security analysts like Kim Tripplet-Kolerich who abuse their tremendous power to monitor, target, and neutralize those engaged in legally-protected first amendment activity. This corporate-state collusion is broadly indicative of late stage capitalism. Seeing its own contradictions play out, and understanding it’s inevitable failure on the horizon, it seeks total power to arrest the development of alternative ideas, stubbornly refusing to let a different future be born.
Paul French (known as the hip hop artist, Strife) has brought a civil suit against the Olympia Police Department for a frame up and false arrest that happened in 2010. His trial is set for March 11, 2014 at the Federal Courthouse in Tacoma at 9 am. For news and updates on the case and the upcoming trial of the military spy John Towery in June 2014, please visit the support blog, “We Are All Suspects Now” at http://strife-101-life.tumblr.com/
[Ed. note: The public records mentioned in this article that were posted by Drew Hendrick can be viewed on Drew’s scribd site: http://www.scribd.com/andrew_hendricks_2.]