Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day11

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Meet the “Lower Manhattan Security Initiative”

Wall Street Firms Spy on Protesters In Tax-Funded Center

by PAM MARTENS

A CounterPunch Exclusive

Wall Street’s audacity to corrupt knows no bounds and the cooptation of government by the 1 per cent knows no limits.  How else to explain $150 million of taxpayer money going to equip a government facility in lower Manhattan where Wall Street firms, serially charged with corruption, get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law abiding citizens.

According to newly unearthed documents, the planning for this high tech facility on lower Broadway dates back six years.   In correspondence from   2005 that rests quietly in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s archives, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised Edward Forst, a  Goldman Sachs’ Executive Vice President at the time, 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.”

At the time, Goldman Sachs was in the process of extracting concessions from New York City just short of the Mayor’s first born in exchange for constructing its new headquarters building at 200 West Street, adjacent to the World Financial Center and in the general area of where the new World Trade Center complex would be built. 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 deal-breaker 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 surveillance plan became known as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and the facility was eventually dubbed the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. It operates round-the-clock.  Under the imprimatur of the largest police department in the United States,  2,000 private spy cameras owned by Wall Street firms, together with approximately 1,000 more owned by the NYPD, are relaying live video feeds of people on the streets in lower Manhattan to the center.  Once at the center, they can be integrated for analysis.  At least 700 cameras scour the midtown area and also relay their live feeds into the downtown center where low-wage NYPD, MTA and Port Authority crime stoppers sit alongside  high-wage personnel from Wall Street firms that are currently under at least 51 Federal and state corruption probes for mortgage securitization fraud and other matters.

In addition to video analytics which can, for example, track a person based on the color of their hat or jacket, insiders say the NYPD either has or is working on face recognition software which could track individuals based on facial features.  The center is also equipped with live feeds from license plate readers.

According to one person who has toured the center, there are three rows of computer workstations, with approximately two-thirds operated by non-NYPD personnel.  The Chief-Leader, the weekly civil service newspaper,  identified some of the outside entities that share the space: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, the Federal Reserve, the New York Stock Exchange.  Others say most of the major Wall Street firms have an on-site representative.   Two calls and an email to Paul Browne, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, seeking the names of the other Wall Street firms at the center were not returned.  An email seeking the same information to City Council Member, Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, was not returned.

In a press release dated October 4, 2009 announcing the expansion of the surveillance territory, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly had this to say:

“The Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative will add additional cameras and license plate readers installed at key locations between 30th and 60th Streets from river to river. It will also identify additional private organizations who will work alongside NYPD personnel in the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, where corporate and other security representatives from Lower Manhattan have been co-located with police since June 2009. The Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center is the central hub for both initiatives, where all the collected data are analyzed.”  [Italic emphasis added.]

The project has been funded by New York City taxpayers as well as all U.S. taxpayers through grants from the Federal Department of Homeland Security.  On March 26, 2009, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) wrote a letter to Commissioner Kelly, noting that even though the system involves “massive expenditures of public money, there have been no public hearings about any aspect of the system…we reject the Department’s assertion of ‘plenary power’ over all matters touching on public safety…the Department is of course subject to the laws and Constitution of the United States and of the State of New York as well as to regulation by the New York City Council.”

The NYCLU also noted in its letter that it rejected the privacy guidelines  for the surveillance operation that the NYPD had posted on its web site for public comment, since there had been no public hearings to formulate these guidelines.  It noted further that “the guidelines do not limit police surveillance and databases to suspicious activity…there is no independent oversight or monitoring of compliance with the guidelines.”

According to Commissioner Kelly in public remarks, the privacy guidelines were written by Jessica Tisch, the Director of Counterterrorism Policy and Planning for the NYPD who has played a significant role in   developing the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center.  In 2006, Tisch was 25 years old and still working on her law degree and MBA at Harvard, according to a wedding announcement in the New York Times.   Tisch is a friend to the Mayor’s daughter, Emma; her mother, Meryl, is a family friend to the Mayor.

Tisch is the granddaughter and one of the heirs to the now-deceased billionaire Laurence Tisch who built the Loews Corporation.  Her father, James Tisch, is now the CEO of the Loews Corporation and was elected by Wall Street banks to sit on the Federal Reserve Bank of  New York until 2013 representing the public’s interest. (Clearly, the 1 per cent think they know what’s best for the 99 per cent.)

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the entity which doled out the bulk of the $16 trillion in bailout loans to the U.S. and foreign financial community.  Members of Tisch’s family work for Wall Street firms or hedge funds which have prime broker relationships with them.  A division of Loews Corporation has a banking relationship with Citigroup.

The Tisch family stands to directly benefit from the surveillance program.  In June of this year, Continental Casualty Company, the primary unit of the giant CNA Financial which is owned by Loew’s Corp., signed a 19-year lease for 81,296  square feet at 125 Broad Street – an area under surveillance by the downtown surveillance center.

Loews Corporation also owns the Loew’s Regency Hotel on Park Avenue in midtown, an area which is also now under round-the-clock surveillance on the taxpayer’s dime.

Wall Street is infamous for perverting everything it touches: from the Nasdaq stock market, to stock research issued to the public, to auction rate securities, mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, credit default swaps with AIG, and mortgage securitizations.  Had a public hearing been held on this massive surveillance sweep of Manhattan by potential felons, hopefully someone might have pondered  what was to prevent Wall Street from tracking its employee whistleblowers heading off to the FBI offices or meeting with a reporter.

One puzzle has at least been solved.  Wall Street’s criminals have not been indicted or sent to jail because they have effectively become the police.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years. She spent the last decade of her career advocating against Wall Street’s private justice system, which keeps its crimes shielded from public courtrooms.  She has been writing on public interest issues for CounterPunch since retiring in 2006.   She has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article.  She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com

See Related Article:

Financial Giants Put New York City Cops On Their Payroll

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/10/financial-giants-put-new-york-city-cops-on-their-payroll/

 

Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch

One of the Greatest Descriptions of Farm Work Ever Written— Don’t miss Frank Bardacke’s marvelous account from the California fields. ALSO Linn Washington Jr. on the “Black Backlash Against Obama.”

Order your subscription today and get
CounterPunch by email for only $35 per year.