In our ongoing look at the conflation of environmental activism and terrorism, recent FOIA revelations by Earth Island Journal provide an updated window into FBI practices and FBI-corporate cooperation.
In January, I reported on FOIA documents obtained by Bold Nebraska and anti-Keystone activists from Oklahoma that exposed extensive cooperation between the FBI and Transcanada, the corporation that is building the Keystone pipeline. Documents showed that Transcanada engaged with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the Midwest and South and explicitly advocated for charging nonviolent protesters with terrorism-related offenses, and that police had infiltrated at least one meeting of anti-pipeline activists. These latest revelations show that the FBI initiated strategic engagement with Transcanada as far back as 2012.
One strategy meeting was attended by 30 FBI agents from several states, as well as representatives of local and state law enforcement representatives and the Department of Homeland Security. Significantly, Earth Island quoted former Cushing, OK, Police Chief, Terry Brannon, remarking that, “The biggest concerns raised at the meeting were opposition to the pipeline as well as terrorism and environmental activism.”
More than 75,000 people have signed up to participate in civil disobedience to protest the Keystone pipeline in anticipation of the upcoming decision by the Obama Administration on the ultimate fate of Keystone XL. Many have already made good on their pledge with 200 people engaging in civil disobedience in one recent action in Washington, D.C. alone. While this action was a model of good protest-police coordination, we are concerned that protests along the route of the pipeline itself will not be handled so well by local police, given that activists are facing terror charges for unfurling a banner in Oklahoma City.
That said, one upcoming event that will no doubt be under scrutiny is the Cowboys and Indians Alliance, coming to Washington DC to send an anti-pipeline message to President Obama April 22 to 27. The FBI has never been a friend to Native Americans and given the FBI’s longstanding assertion that environmental activism is the ‘greatest threat to national security’ I am counting on a big surveillance effort by the feds for this event and intensifying as Obama’s decision deadline approaches. Heads up!