New Documents Reveal FBI Spying on Keystone Pipeline Protesters

by Will Potter on May 27, 2015

in Government Priorities,Surveillance

fbi-spying-keystone-protestersThe FBI broke its own rules when it spied on environmentalists in Texas protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, according to newly released documents.

The internal agency documents were obtained by Adam Federman of Earth Island Journal and Paul Lewis at the Guardian.

I spoke with VICE News for their story about the FBI spying:

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it was only conducting an “assessment” of a potential threat to existing infrastructure and closed the book on the matter after deciding no threat was posed. But that’s little comfort for advocates who say the top US law enforcement agency is wasting its time snooping on peaceful protesters.

“This is really business as usual for the FBI,” Will Potter, whose book Green is the New Reddocuments federal probes into environmental groups, told VICE News…

Potter said the FBI’s interest in environmental activists has undergone a “seismic shift” since the 1990s, when movement radicals claimed responsibility for the burning of a ski lodge in Vail, Colorado and fires and sabotage at car dealerships and construction sites in other states. Even after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, when much of the bureau’s resources shifted toward fighting terrorism, the bureau has kept an eye on the greens.

“At first, the assessment investigations were justified based on the specter of causing a loss of human life, that eco-terrorists were somehow going to kill innocent people,” Potter told VICE News. “That’s never happened. Then the justification became more and more that the FBI was investigating potential property destruction, and increasingly that doesn’t happen either.”

Now, with environmentalism much more mainstream, the FBI says it’s trying to prevent economic damage. But activists “aren’t threatening lives and property, they’re threatening money,” Potter said.

In 2003, an inspector-general’s report urged the bureau to leave probes of environmental and animal-rights activists to its criminal division. But Potter said the FBI never made the recommended changes, even when it was urged to pursue “more credible and dangerous” threats after 9/11.

“What started as a corporate-driven agenda to label protesters as eco-terrorists has become institutionalized,” he said. “This has really become standard operating procedure, and I think that’s what’s most disturbing about this.”


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