DSAC, the Secret Alliance Between Corporations and the FBI to Monitor Activists
The Domestic Security Alliance Council is a partnership of professionals connecting major U.S. companies with the FBI and DHS to help protect businesses, the economy, and national security.
The Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) is a strategic partnership that formed in December 2005 between the U.S. government and the U.S. private industry, seeking to bridge the information divide between America’s private and public sectors. Most notably, it conducted surveillance on the non-violent Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.
In November 2005, by corporate request, the FBI hosted a steering committee composed of Chief Security Officers (CSOs) for major American companies including Citibank, Coca-Cola and Federal Express. This committee ultimately founded the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) the following month.
According to their website, the goal of DSAC is to advance the FBI’s mission of detecting, preventing, and deterring criminal acts by facilitating strong, enduring relationships among its private sector member companies, FBI affiliates, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Headquarters and Fusion Centers, and other federal government entities.
DSAC also expands the U.S. private sector’s ability to protect its employees, assets, and information by providing ongoing access to security information and a network of security experts. DSAC allows the FBI to more easily detect and prevent criminal activity involving interstate commerce. It is also supervised by the Department of Homeland Security, which joined DSAC in 2008.
The DSAC program has grown to include more than 509 member companies representing almost every critical sector and over 50 unique business industries. DSAC member companies account for greater than 50 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and employ more than 20 million people.
Working with both member company CSOs and Special Agents in Charge of local FBI field offices, DSAC hosts regular executive-level meetings and encourages greater collaboration, understanding, and alignment of local, state, and national security priorities.
The most high-profile case of DSAC’s work was revealed in 2012. Following successful freedom of information requests by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, the FBI released redacted documents in December 2012 showing that the FBI had spied on Occupy Wall Street (OWS) organizers and passed OWS information to financial firms via DSAC before the first OWS protests in Zuccotti Park in New York City.
FBI officials met with New York Stock Exchange representatives on August 19, 2011, notifying them of planned peaceful protests that appeared a month later.
The DSAC would go on to observe and report on OWS protests throughout the entire country, for the remainder of its movement that persisted significantly throughout that year.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a non-profit, said that espionage facilitated by DSAC treated “protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity,” and said that DSAC was “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and corporate America.”
Naomi Wolf wrote in The Guardian that surveillance of OWS by the FBI was conducted with the knowledge of the Obama Administration.
“We believe [the documents were] just the tip of the iceberg—a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of PCJF, regarding the OWS investigations.
The documents released to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund show a nationwide effort coordinated between university campus police, big banks, branches of the Federal Reserve, the FBI and private corporate security all to monitor and shut down the Occupy Movement.
The coordination between police and the FBI and the private sector is chilling in its Orwellian monitoring of civilian activist groups. As The Guardian reported, “in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a ‘Bank Fraud Working Group’ met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activists back to the Richmond FBI.
“The Jackson, Mississippi ‘joint terrorism task force’ was issuing a ‘counterterrorism preparedness alert’ about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Mississippi, the FBI and the ‘Bank Security Group’ – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to ‘National Bad Bank Sit-in Day,” The Guardian report continued.
DSAC has maintained a relatively low profile in the media, and the full extent to which it is still coordinating efforts between the private sector and the FBI to monitor activist groups is unknown. There is a DSAC newsletter promoted on their website as containing a review of their 2016 activities, but it is only accessible via a login. There are other documents about DSAC available on their website, which you can visit here.