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US/CT- Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPD

Released on 2012-03-02 01:00 GMT

Email-ID 1576594
Date 2011-10-16 15:47:24
email archive is available here:

Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPD
By Adrian Chen
Oct 15, 2011 4:47 PM

The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on for a month. And it
seems the FBI and NYPD have had help tracking protesters' moves thanks to
a conservative computer security expert who gained access to one of the
group's internal mailing lists, and then handed over information on the
group's plans to authorities and corporations targeted by protesters.

Since the Occupy Wall Street protest began on September 17, New York
security consultant Thomas Ryan has been waging a campaign to infiltrate
and discredit the movement. Ryan says he's done contract work for the U.S.
Army and he brags on his blog that he leads "a team called Black Cell, a
team of the most-highly trained and capable physical, threat and cyber
security professionals in the world." But over the past few weeks, he and
his computer security buddies have been spending time covertly attending
Occupy Wall Street meetings, monitoring organizers' social media accounts,
and hanging out with protesters in Lower Manhattan.

Full size
As part of their intelligence-gathering operation, the group gained access
to a listserv used by Occupy Wall Street organizers called
September17discuss. On September17discuss, organizers hash out tactics and
plan events, conduct post-mortems of media appearances, and trade the
latest protest gossip. On Friday, Ryan leaked thousands of
September17discuss emails to conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is
now using them to try to smear Occupy Wall Street as an anarchist
conspiracy to disrupt global markets.

What may much more alarming to Occupy Wall Street organizers is that while
Ryan was monitoring September17discuss, he was forwarding interesting
email threads to contacts at the NYPD and FBI, including special agent
Jordan T. Loyd, a member of the FBI's New York-based cyber security team.

Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPDOn
September 18th, the day after the protest's start, Ryan forwarded an email
exchange between Occupy Wall Street organizers to Loyd. The email exchange
is harmless: Organizers discuss how they need to increase union
participation in the protest. "We need more outreach to workers. The best
way to do that is by showing solidarity with them," writes organizer
Jackie DiSalvo in the thread. She then lists a group of potential unions
to work with.

Another organizer named Conor responds: "+1,000,000 to Jackie's proposal
on working people/union struggles outreach and solidarity. Also, why not
invite people to protest Troy Davis's execution date at Liberty Plaza this

Five minutes after Conor sent his email, Ryan forwarded the thread-with no
additional comment-to Loyd's FBI email address. "Thanks!" Loyd responded.
He cc'd his colleague named Ilhwan Yum, a fellow cybersecurity expert at
the agency, on the reply.

Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPDOn
September 26th, Ryan forwarded another email thread to Agent Loyd. But
this time he clued in the NYPD as well, sending the email to Dennis
Dragos, a detective with the NYPD Computer Crimes Squad.

The NYPD might have been very grateful he did so, since it involved a
proposed demonstration outside NYPD headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. In the
thread, organizers debated whether to crash an upcoming press conference
planned by marijuana advocates to celebrate NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly
ordering officers to halt arrests over possession of small amounts of

"Should we bring some folks from Liberty Plaza to chant "SHAME" for the
NYPD's recent brutalities on Thursday night for the Troy Davis and
Saturday for the Occupy Wall Street march?" asked one person in the email
thread. (That past Saturday, the video of NYPD officer Anthony Bologna
pepper-spraying a protester had gone viral.) Ryan promptly forwarded the
email thread to Loyd at the FBI and Dragos at the NYPD.

Interestingly, it was Ryan who revealed himself as a snitch. We learned of
these emails from the archive Ryan leaked yesterday in the hopes of
undermining the Occupy Wall Street movement. In assembling the archive of
September17discuss emails, it appears he accidentally included some of his
own forwarded emails indicating he was ratting out organizers.

"I don't know, I just put everything I had into one big package," Ryan
said when asked how the emails ended up in the file posted to Andrew
Breitbart's blog. Some security expert.

Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPDBut
Ryan didn't just tip off the authorities. He was also giving information
to companies as well. When protesters discussed demonstrating in front of
morning shows like Today and Good Morning America, Ryan quickly forwarded
the thread to Mark Farrell, the chief security officer at Comcast, the
parent company of NBC Universal.

Ryan wrote:

Since you are the CSO, I am not sure of your role in NBC since COMCAST
owns them.
There is a huge protest in New York call "Occupy Wall Street". Here is
an email of stunts that they will try to pull on the TODAY show.

We have been heavily monitoring Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous.

"Thanks Tom," Farrell responded. "I'll pass this to my counterpart at

Did the FBI and/or NYPD ask him to monitor Occupy Wall Street? Was he just
forwarding the emails on out of the goodness of his heart? In a phone
interview with us, Ryan denied being an informant. "I do not work with the
FBI," he said.

Ryan said he knows Loyd through their mutual involvement in the Open Web
Application Security Project, a non-profit computer security group of
which Ryan is a board member. Ryan said he sent the emails to Loyd
unsolicited simply because "everyone's curious" about Occupy Wall Street,
and he had a ground-eye view. "Jordan never asked me for anything."

Was he sending every email he got to the authorities? Ryan said he
couldn't remember how many he'd passed on to the FBI or NYPD, or other
third parties. Later he said that he only forwarded the two emails we
noticed, detailed above.

Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPDBut
even if he'd been sending them on regularly, they were probably of limited
use to the authorities. Most of the real organizing at Occupy Wall Street
happens face-to-face, according to David Graeber, who was one of the
earliest organizers. "We did some practical work on [the email list] at
first-I think that's where I first proposed the "we are the 99%" motto-but
mainly it's just an expressive forum," he wrote in an email. "No one would
seriously discuss a plan to do something covert or dangerous on such a

But regardless of how many emails Ryan sent-or whether Loyd ever asked
Ryan to spy on Occupy Wall Street-Loyd was almost certainly interested in
the emails he received. Loyd has helped hunt down members of the
hacktivist collective Anonymous, and he and his colleagues in the FBI's
cyber security squad have been monitoring their involvement in Occupy Wall

Meet the Guy Who Snitched on Occupy Wall Street to the FBI and NYPDAt a
New York cyber security conference one day before the protest began, Loyd
cited Occupy Wall Street as an example of a "newly emerging threat to U.S.
information systems." (In the lead-up to Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous had
issued threats against the New York Stock Exchange.) He told the assembled
crowd the FBI has been "monitoring the event on cyberspace and are
preparing to meet it with physical security," according to a New York
Institute of Technology press release.

We contacted Loyd to ask about his relationship with Ryan and if any of
the information Ryan passed along was of any use to the agency. He
declined to answer questions and referred us to the FBI's press office.
We'll post an update if we hear back from them.

We asked Ryan again this morning about how closely he was working with the
authorities. Again, he claimed it was only these two emails, which is
unlikely given he forwarded them to the FBI and NYPD without providing any
context or explaining where he'd gotten them.

And he detailed his rationale for assisting the NYPD:

My respect for FDNY & NYPD stems from them risking their lives to save
mine when my house was on fire in sunset park when I was 8 yrs old. Also,
for them risking their lives and saving many family and friends during

Don't you find it Ironic that out of all the NYPD involved with the
protest, [protesters] have only targeted the ones with Black Ribbons,
given to them for their bravery during 9/11?

I am sorry if we see things differently, I try to look at everything
as a whole and in patterns. Everything we do in life and happens in life,
there is a pattern behind it.

Sean Noonan

Tactical Analyst

Office: +1 512-279-9479

Mobile: +1 512-758-5967

Strategic Forecasting, Inc.