By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 15, 2020 ~
Without any Congressional hearings on the matter, the USA Patriot Act in 2001 bestowed on the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks domestic policing powers. While the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. is deemed an “independent federal agency,” with its Chair and Governors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the 12 regional Fed banks are private corporations owned by the member banks in their region. As settled law under John L. Lewis v. United States confirms: “Each Federal Reserve Bank is a separate corporation owned by commercial banks in its region.”
In the case of the New York Fed, which is located in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, its largest shareowners are behemoth multinational banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. So what the USA Patriot Act effectively did was to give multinational corporations domestic policing powers in New York City via the New York Fed.
Section 364 of the USA Patriot Act reads as follows:
“Law enforcement officers designated or authorized by the Board or a reserve bank under paragraph (1) or (2) are authorized while on duty to carry firearms and make arrests without warrants for any offense against the United States committed in their presence…Such officers shall have access to law enforcement information that may be necessary for the protection of the property or personnel of the Board or a reserve bank.”
The Fed’s police officers are technically known as FRLEO, short for Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Officer. The system has its own police academies for training, their own patch and badges, uniforms, pistols, rifles, police cars and the power to arrest coast to coast without a warrant. They have ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and a recruitment ad campaign with the slogan: “It’s about respect and recognition from your peers. It’s you.” We found current job openings for the St. Louis Fed, the San Francisco Fed, and the Dallas Fed.
According to a former St. Louis Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Training Instructor, the officers are trained on pistol, rifle, auto-rifle, sub-gun and shotgun.
A previous recruitment ad for the Richmond Fed indicated that their police would have access to the nation’s criminal databases: “The Law Enforcement Unit has an immediate opening for a Communications Center Operator, reporting to the Center leadership team in Richmond, Virginia…[the officer will query] “information from a variety of law enforcement data bases for information, wants/warrants, intelligence, driver’s license and vehicle information, etc.”
Having access to the nation’s criminal databases is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the New York Fed, which has its own brass name plate and staffer located inside one of the most sophisticated surveillance centers in the U.S., sitting alongside New York City police (NYPD) personnel and the New York Fed’s largest owners: there are also brass name plates for staffers from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and the New York Stock Exchange. Never mind that JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup have plead guilty to felonies and Goldman Sachs is currently attempting to negotiate its way out of a felony count. (More on this below.)
The surveillance facility quietly resides in downtown Manhattan and is called the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. More than 8,000 surveillance cameras owned by the city as well as by private corporations feed images of the comings and goings of law-abiding citizens onto the monitoring screens in the center on a 24/7 basis. It is known that the center deploys video analytics which can, for example, track a person based on the color of their hat or jacket as well as live feeds from license plate readers. The Brennan Center for Justice has compiled a list of other highly sophisticated surveillance systems deployed by the NYPD. It is not known to what extent these are being used at the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center.
According to documents unearthed by Wall Street On Parade in government archives, the origins of the Center date back to 2005. At the time, Goldman Sachs was in the process of extracting concessions from New York City in exchange for remaining in lower Manhattan and constructing its new headquarters building at 200 West Street, adjacent to the World Financial Center. According to the 2005 documents, Goldman’s deal included $1.65 billion in Liberty Bonds, up to $160 million in sales tax abatements for construction materials and tenant furnishings, and the requirement that a security plan that gave it a seat at the NYPD’s Coordination Center would be in place by no later than December 31, 2009.
The documents indicate that NYPD Commissioner at the time, Raymond Kelly, promised Edward Forst, a Goldman Sachs’ Executive Vice President, that the NYPD “is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan for Lower Manhattan…One component of the plan will be a centralized coordination center that will provide space for full-time, on site representation from Goldman Sachs and other stakeholders.”
During the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in the fall of 2011, following the serially corrupt activities of mega banks like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, which led to almost 10 million home foreclosures, millions of job losses, and the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center played an active role in spying on the peaceful protesters and sharing information with federal intelligence agencies.
The coordination of spying on the Occupy Wall Street movement, a movement which spread from lower Manhattan to cities across the United States, included the involvement of the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Fusion Centers funded by DHS for sharing of intelligence information with local police. We know this from the email distribution lists released in 2014 by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) along with thousands of other documents it had obtained under Freedom of Information Act requests. The PCJF said the documents illustrated “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
Naomi Wolf, writing in The Guardian, said this about what the PCJF documents revealed:
“Why the huge push for counterterrorism ‘fusion centers,’ the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about ‘the terrorists.’ It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens…”
The slogan of Occupy Wall Street was “The banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” Little did Occupy members know at the time that the very banks that got bailed out with $29 trillion in money created out of thin air by the New York Fed, were sitting cozily together with the NYPD in the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, spying on Occupy members’ every move and viewing them as the enemy to be dealt with.
One document uncovered by the PCJF revealed that The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Virginia) was engaging in surveillance on Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace. The Richmond Fed was then passing the information on the Occupy activities back to the Richmond FBI. The PCJF says the Richmond FBI “categorized OWS [Occupy Wall Street] activities under its ‘domestic terrorism’ unit. The largest shareowner of the Richmond Fed is Bank of America. Its retail brokerage firm and investment bank, Merrill Lynch, received almost $2 trillion in secret revolving bailout loans during the financial crisis – monies also created out of thin air by the New York Fed. That information was eventually revealed by an audit conducted by the General Accountability Office.
The real domestic terrorists were, of course, the Wall Street banks that had looted the federally-insured deposits they held, used the funds to pay obscene salaries and bonuses to their executives, make wild derivative bets that failed, and manufacture hundreds of billions in subprime mortgage securitizations that their own internal whistleblowers had told them were a house of cards and destined to fail. (See here and here.) But not one of these executives went to jail for their crimes or were beat up by the cops.
In contrast, this video shows how the peaceful protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement were brutalized by the NYPD, whose officers were also allowed to work second jobs, in NYPD uniforms, for these same Wall Street banks. The video was submitted in a court case, Rodriguez vs Winski.
JPMorgan Chase is today a three-count felon and under a new criminal investigation for allowing its precious metals trading desk to be turned into a racketeering enterprise. It pleaded guilty in 2014 to two felony counts for its role in managing the business bank account in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. It pleaded guilty in 2015 as one of the banks that rigged foreign exchange trading. Citigroup is a one-count felon for its role in the foreign exchange rigging matter. Goldman Sachs is currently attempting to negotiate its way out of a guilty plea to a felony charge in a scandal involving looting and embezzlement of a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB. The New York Fed is the supervisor as well as the perpetual bailout money spigot for these serial predators. The New York Fed’s latest multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street banks began on September 17, 2019, months before the first COVID-19 case appeared anywhere in the world.
While the real domestic terrorists sipped coffee with the NYPD at the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, on November 15, 2011 the NYPD staged a brutal destruction of Occupy Wall Street’s camp in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan and beat anyone who got in their way.
The conduct of the police at the November 15 eviction from Zuccotti Park was so aggressive to City Council Members and the media that U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler sent a letter on December 6, 2011 to Attorney General Eric Holder at the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that an investigation be initiated into NYPD conduct. Nadler wrote:
“In addition to my concerns about police misconduct with respect to OWS protesters, I am especially troubled that during and after the November 15th eviction from Zuccotti Park, the NYPD aggressively blocked journalists from reporting on the incident, and in some cases, targeted journalists for mistreatment. Individuals without press credentials were also blocked from filming events, and were, in some instances, arrested apparently for taking pictures. According to news reports, and a letter from the major daily newspapers and other major news outlets and organizations representing journalists, at least ten reporters and photographers were arrested while trying to report on the incidents at Zuccotti Park. The NYPD forced journalists to leave Zuccotti Park, prevented members of the credentialed press from being present during the eviction, and used intimidation and physical force to prevent reporters and photographers from carrying out their journalistic functions. Many of those arrested were not charged with any offenses. Additionally, the City reportedly closed the airspace above the area in order to prevent news helicopters from recording the actions.”
Kalle Lasn and Micah White, at the time the editor in chief and senior editor, respectively, of Adbusters magazine, credited with providing the original spark for the Occupy movement, described the raid in an OpEd for the Washington Post:
“Bloomberg’s raid was carried out with military precision. The surprise attack began at 1 a.m. with a media blackout. The encampment was surrounded by riot police, credentialed mainstream journalists who tried to enter were pushed back or arrested, and the airspace was closed to news helicopters. What happened next was a blur of tear gas; a bulldozer; confiscation or destruction of everything in the park, including 5,000 books; upward of 150 arrests; and the deployment of a Long Range Acoustic Device, the infamous ‘sound cannon’ best known for its military use in Iraq…”
Bloomberg, of course, was the billionaire Mayor of New York City at the time, whose wealth derives from leasing thousands of market data terminals to global banks around the world, including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and even the New York Fed, which has its own trading floor.
On November 21, 2011, George Freeman, Assistant General Counsel of the New York Times, wrote to the NYPD on behalf of The Times, the New York Post, New York Daily News, National Press Photographers Association, Associated Press, NBC, WABC TV, New York Press Photographers Association, Dow Jones, WCBS TV, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Freeman described attacks on mainstream media that were more reminiscent of a military junta than a municipal police force.
Freeman wrote: “…credentialed media were identified, segregated and kept away from viewing, reporting on and photographing vital matters of public concern. A press pen was set up blocks away and those kept there were further prevented from seeing what was occurring by the strategic placement of police buses around the perimeter. Moreover, there have been numerous instances where police officers struck or otherwise intentionally impeded photographers as they were taking photos, keeping them from doing their job and from documenting instances of seeming police aggression.”
Freeman cited specific examples of police brutality to working media: during the November 15 eviction raid on Zuccotti Park, an NYPD “Community Affairs member grabbed one newspaper photographer and dragged him from the park. At the same time this Community Affairs officer also threatened to arrest another credentialed photographer for being inside the park.” Two days later, on November 17, a female photographer with clearly visible press credentials, was advised by the NYPD to move to the sidewalk. “As she moved towards the sidewalk, another officer told her to move to the sidewalk on the other side of the road. A short time later, before she got to any sidewalk, she was grabbed by a third officer and thrown to the ground, hitting her head on the pavement.”
On the same day, November 17, Freeman relates how a female reporter was standing with a group of photographers “when a group of police officers moved towards them and started pushing the group back. One officer, described by the reporter as very tall (approximately 6’5?), shoved the reporter with both his arms, forcing the reporter to fall backwards, landing on her right elbow, and resulting in her yelling in pain. The reporter said the officer then proceeded to pick her up by the collar while yelling ‘stop pretending.’ The reporter went to Bellevue Hospital for treatment of her injuries.”
Another incident reported by Freeman involved a male photographer who was photographing a man the police were carrying out of Zuccotti Park who was covered in blood. “As he raised his camera to take a picture, two other police officers came running toward him, grabbed a metal barrier and forcefully lunged at him striking the photographer in the chest, knees and shin. As they did that they screamed that he was not permitted to be taking pictures on the sidewalk — the most traditionally recognized public forum aside from a park.”
Wall Street banks are hoping and praying that their crimes this time around don’t see the light of day in the press and fuel a resurgence of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Thus far, Fed Chairman Powell’s press conferences and TV appearances telling the public that these serial predator banks are “well capitalized” and “a source of strength” in this crisis, seem to be distracting mainstream media from what’s really going on.
Unfortunately for Wall Street, the first major crack in that p.r. campaign has now occurred. Former Wall Street veteran turned law professor, Frank Partnoy, has penned an article for The Atlantic, titled: “The Looming Bank Collapse.” In the article Partnoy reveals the big lie that these banks are “well capitalized” and exposes how the banks are back to their same old dirty tricks with the same type of complex instruments that blew up the financial system the last time around.