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The Progressive

Think the IRS Was Bad? Try the Spying on Occupy Activists

With all the hullabaloo over the IRS’s special scrutiny of Tea Party groups, a far worse case of political meddling and governmental overreach has been going on: The spying on leftwing activists in the Occupy movement.

Thousands of documents obtained by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy show how Homeland Security and local law enforcement were obsessed with the Occupy movement and other activists.

They treated Occupy activists as potential terrorists.

They infiltrated Occupy meetings.

They tracked Occupy activists online.

They kept an eye on the Rev. Jesse Jackson when he visited an Occupy protest in Phoenix.

They also monitored the protests against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

And they shared information and coordinated planning with some of the very financial institutions that Occupy was protesting.

Based on these documents, I wrote the cover story for the June issue of The Progressive, “Spying on Occupy Activists: How Cops and Homeland Security Help Wall Street.”

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, you have to wonder why Homeland Security and law enforcement were focusing so much attention on Occupy and ALEC activists rather than on those who presented a real risk of terrorism in the United States.

Michael Isikoff of NBC News notes that law enforcement in Boston were tracking Occupy protesters at the same time they were not following up on Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The pursuit of Occupy activists was not a mere bureaucratic foul-up, as occurred in the IRS office in Cincinnati. It was a systematic effort by Homeland Security and law enforcement offices around the country to monitor leftwing activists who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights.

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild

Matthew Rothschild is senior editor of The Progressive magazine.

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