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Naomi Wolf Versus Joshua Holland: Was There a Coordinated Federal Crackdown on Occupy Wall Street?

Naomi Wolf responds to Joshua Holland's criticisms of her piece alleging a coordinated federal crackdown on Occupy Wall Street.

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Critics generally have attacked my argument as a "conspiracy theory" – that I am referring to a "shadowy elite" that wishes to suppress dissent. I am doing no such thing. I am referring to the elite in the light of day. There is nothing mysterious, opaque or even new about the nature of the self-interest I am describing; nor is my argument new. I first made the case that a small group of military contractors benefited financially from a hyped "war on terror" and the suppression of liberties in the US, in 2007, in my book The End of America, and backed it up with hundreds of footnotes: the argument, which spent five months on the New York Times bestseller list, has never been debunked. My recent blog merely updates the argument to address the "cui bono?" post Citizens United, in suppressing dissent – a "cui bono?" that may well now include Congress itself.

What evidence do I have that congresspeople overseeing and funding DHS would be influenced by the wishes of their colleagues regarding their own financial benefits and freedom from oversight of their own financial transactions? I am frankly astounded that critics would find this assertion surprising; but less surprised that many of these critics are writing from outside the Beltway. I have not just covered politics as a journalist, but also participated in it as a political consultant, both formal and informal, to two presidential campaigns. (For Gore 2000, I was a formal campaign adviser: contrary to RNC mythology, my brief was not "wardrobe", but rather policy on women's issues, and messaging. I was also married to a Clinton speechwriter, and observed the message decision-making process from the perspective of a spouse.) As a professional courtesy, and also because I signed a nondisclosure agreement, I have not previously written about my campaign experience. But the general lessons I learned from it about how the system works on the Hill are disclosable.

Holland thinks it risible that I am certain that congresspeople overseeing an executive branch agency would affect it, and be affected by their own colleagues' interests. But Holland is mistaken when he objects to my analysis, saying:

"DHS is a cabinet-level executive branch agency. It does not 'report' to Homeland Security Chair Peter King in some kind of chain-of-command – in fact, it doesn't 'report' to Congress at all except for a handful of official reports required by law. King can hold hearings and call DHS officials to testify before his committee, but he has nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the agency."

This is entirely misleading since congressional subcommittees don't just hold hearings,  they also draft legislation : "Subcommittees hold hearings, take testimony, and prepare the initial draft of legislation before submitting the bill for approval, revision, or rejection by the full committee." Indeed, the  Department of Homeland Security website itself , as you can see in the link, proudly shows day-to-day and, indeed, hour-by-hour congressional involvement with DHS intelligence reports, messaging and draft legislation.

Holland may find it hard to believe, but from the experience of 14 months I spent in total as a formal and informal political adviser, it is  unquestionable to me that Representative Peter King and others on the subcommittee overseeing DHS would be influenced by their own, and by their colleagues', wishes for avoiding the financial transparency posed by OWS demands. It is also obvious to me that the White House would be influenced by Congress' wishes on these issues, even though DHS is, indeed, part of the executive branch. This network of influence is simply how the system works.

 
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