DHS Denied Louisiana Fusion Center Request for Federal Intelligence on OWS

Baton Rouge-based Toby Coates of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) submitted a Support Request Form to the DHS on October 17, according to hundreds of pages of documents released to Truthout Wednesday morning under the Freedom of Informaton Act (FOIA).

Coates requested: “Any DHS products identifying and/or describing criminal activities and/or potential civil disobedience associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests nationwide. How many arrests have been made, type and number of weapons confiscated, communication used to plan these crimes, etc?”

The Louisiana Fusion Center receives “tips about potential terrorism, crime and suspicious activity from the public and local police agencies, some of which they turn over to the FBI or other federal agencies.” Coates’ intended recipient is listed on the request form as “A federal partner of the Fusion Center at LA.”

Read More: “Homeland Security: The Occupy Files”

The request was rejected on grounds that, “After reviewing the nature and scope of this request, we have determined this request does not fall within the scope of I&A mission,” since, “Arrests being made at these protests are a criminal matter and the protesters are engaged in constitutionally protected activity.” Coates should have expected the rejection, given the Support Request Form’s opening warning that, “reasonable belief must exist that the request relates to an actual or potential terrorist or Homeland security threat.”

Christopher Martin, an analytic coordination team lead at the I&A Support Branch of DHS’s External Operations Division, reported in an email the next day that: “We spoke to the Mr. Coates and closed out the request. He asked us to pass along the following questions that [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] submitted to the Fusion Centers so you will have a better idea of what they are looking for.”

ATF’s questions: “Has there been any violence perpetrated against Law Enforcement? Has Law Enforcement been mentioned as a potential target of protestors? Instances of violent rhetoric directed toward others? Have any conventional (firearms, knives) or unconventional (Molotov cocktails, bricks, stakes, chains) weapons been used and or confiscated from OWS protestors? If there have been weapons such as firearms or incendiary used or confiscated have the possessors been identified by Law Enforcement?”

The response coming from J. Scott Matthews, CIPP, a senior privacy analyst for Intelligence at DHS’s Privacy Office, maintained that “the vast majority of activities occurring as part of these protests is protected.”