Notes on Occupy Activists May Come to Light

     (CN) – The FBI may still have to disclose records about its monitoring of Occupy activists after a federal judge partly favored the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the ACLU.
     Though the FBI provided some documents based on their Freedom of Information Act request, the newspaper and civil liberties group said the search for Occupy-related records was inadequate.
     “It is imperative that the public gain a full and complete understand of the scope of FBI surveillance of Occupy movements in Northern California – where some of the country’s most brutal police crackdowns have occurred – and whether FBI activities in connection with Occupy comport with legal and ethical guidelines,” according to their July 2012 federal complaint against the FBI.
     The groups claimed that the FBI has a well-documented history of monitoring political activists, and “there are concrete reasons to believe that the FBI has been surveilling the Occupy movement.”
     “The agency issued an unclassified intelligence bulletin on September 14, 2011, just days before the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protest on September 17, 2011, depicting the now-iconic Occupy Wall Street poster with the caption ‘Propaganda poster … to endorse the ‘Days of Rage’ protest,'” according to the complaint (ellipsis in original).
     U.S. District Judge Susan Illston sided largely with the plaintiffs last week after both sides moved for summary judgment.
     Among other things, Illston found the FBI was not specific about how a document related to a “classified intelligence source” could harm national security.
     “This failure is particularly striking because the FBI claims exemptions for investigative techniques or confidential sources in almost every withheld document, but it asserts a national security exemption only for this document,” the judge wrote.
     The FBI was also vague in its explanation for withholding certain documents that were related to “crimes” and “federal laws,” according to the ruling.
     “The Ninth Circuit is clear that generalized investigatory power is not enough, and the government must cite the specific law it is enforcing and the specific criminal activity suspected,” Illston wrote. “The FBI in the instant case has not even done this much.”
     Illston denied the FBI’s motion for summary judgment, and ordered the bureau to flesh out its declaration with more information about why it withheld documents.

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