People Freaking Out Over FBI Surveillance of Burning Man

Image: Beverly & Pack/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Beverly & Pack/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Earlier in the year, VICE news published a story When the DEA Went to Burning Man, Shit Got Redacted about the DEA’s activities at Burning Man, based on a heavily redacted FOIA response.

When we discussed the story in April, we also published the results of a FOIA request made by “Inkoo Kang” in 2012 (responded to after much chasing in Feb 2013). This provided documented proof that the FBI have been active at Burning Man.

For some reason, this story has hit the mainstream media this week. Here’s some of the coverage:

FBI Infiltrates Burning Man Festival, Collects Intelligence, Documents Show – CBS News

Undercover FBI agents spy on Burning Man Festival – Daily Mail

FBI kepts tabs on Burning Man Festival – NY Post

Burning Man Testing Ground For Free Speech, Drugs and New Spy Gear – Slashdot

The FBI are far from the only agency operating there.

Agencies Spotted at Burning Man

  • 200+ police; BLM and sheriff’s combined patrols, integrated teams
  • Night vision goggles, sniffer dogs, drones
  • Run by Special Agent Dan Love – Bundy Ranch standoff
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Department of the Interior senior management
  • Pershing County Sheriff’s Office
  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office – ATAC (All Threats All Crimes)
  • Nevada Highway Patrol
  • Paiute Indian Reservation Police
  • DEA
  • FBI
  • Centers for Disease Control
  •  Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Public Safety (Investigation Division)
  • US Forest Service
  • US Customs & Border Patrol
  • Nevada State Board of Health

Not to mention Google’s prototyping of new technologies, such as Google Earth. Another technology prototyped at Burning Man, Firechat, played a big role in the Hong Kong protests a month after its Playa debut.

The festival takes place on a former military site that is still used for space launches. It is very close to Naval Air Station Fallon, and every year there are fly-overs. There are also all kinds of elite military personnel at the festival, plugged directly into reconnaissance satellites.

Blackhawk at Burning Man. Image: Chris Olewnik

Blackhawk hovers low over Burning Man. Image: Chris Olewnik, Facebook

Military aircraft that have been spotted at Burning Man include:

  • Blackhawk
  • Chinook
  • Apache
  • F-18
  • F-22
  • F-14
  • F-16
  • C-130
  • V-22 Osprey tiltrotor

Recently Alex Jones’ show did a special on Burning Man’s bugs, asking if they also could be tied to government agency activities.

In Operation Chaos and COINTELPRO the FBI and CIA infiltrated the counter-culture of the 1960’s. History is repeating itself…perhaps by accident, or perhaps by design.


23 comments on “People Freaking Out Over FBI Surveillance of Burning Man

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  4. Meh. This is a non-issue. The same agencies are at Super Bowls, Indy 500, Rose Bowls, World Cup, Olympics… Burning Man had become a big enough event to catch the attention of the Feds. That’s all. Want them to go away? Make it smaller and less hi-profile.

  5. If the FBI is only investigating participant activities, then they’re really cheating themselves out of promotions from catching the grade A money laundering and tax evasion schemes that are happening with the BMOrginaires Club.

    • I heard that the pigs try to only go after people that cant afford legal counsel. Someone said law enforcement is more profitable that way.

      Over the years there has always been some amount of spectating by the federales. In the early days they thought we were a threat to national security and now its mostly about research into the drug culture.

      • > “I heard that the pigs try to only go after people that cant afford legal counsel. Someone said law enforcement is more profitable that way.”

        It looks that way….
        And it is the same in the default world as it is at BM (aka hedonism in the desert), LEOs go after profitable low hanging fruit.

        They want poor people who wont take much of the system’s time while giving the system mioney. People who can afford real attorneys clog up the system with actual trials, so mostly LEOs go after people who will be represented by a public defender, will likely agree a plead deal and actually serve time in a operated for profit prison.

        Everyone agree the war on drugs is farce and who knows this the best?
        The Colombian drug lords. They know exactly how much of their drugs are basically freely flowing into the U.S. and they are laughing their asses off at how stupid the people in the U.S. are to allow this farce to continue.

        Those drug lords know the exact situation. They know who is getting paid off and how much money is being paid. The drug business is almost as profitable as the oil business.

        Of course they only go after poor people on drugs…
        A perfect example is Charlie Sheen who goes on TV and openly admits to having cases of drugs delivered to his house and smoking huge rocks in one hit. AND have you ever heard one single solitary example of any law enforcement agency going after him? Nope, on the contrary, you hear of him getting police escorts to his shows.

        It is all a very sad prank. A huge money making prank. A huge lie.

  6. I never get the impression that the Borg does anything to reduce the incredible amount of surveillance, visible and invisible. And then there are all the undercovers doing entrapment. It’s getting so you are afraid to get friendly with people cause you are worrying about whether they are narcs. To me trust was a basic element of Burning Man and it’s being eroded. I remember the 60″s and the FBI didn’t just watch, the worked to destroy and often rather successfuly.

    • what… the…. FK?!?!

      The douche-bags recording and posting that deserve a baseball bat smash to the knee caps, then let them hobble around and think about it. Fcuk those idiots.

        • It does not show her approach, I am betting they got lewd with her as she simply walked by.

          it seems like these losers are camping by the porta potties with the main intent to harass people as they come and go, which is total BS. They most likely picked that spot purposely for the porta pottie foot traffic, so they can harass people and then post their stupid fking videos online.

    • After watching a few youtube videos by these cretins I can’t help but wonder what the fuck ‘our culture’ means and how in any meaningful way it is different than the ‘outside reality’. Despite the pretensions of those profiting from the work and free labor of others the event has become nothing more than a microcosm of a corrupt and morally bankrupt society.

      Maybe technology will save us! What a laugh.

    • The Chive crowd comes to Burning Man. Fucking meathead assholes with entitlement issues. Same type that ruins anything good.

  7. The 2015 theme is indiciative of the BORG’s speech/actions of late. The Man neon this year reminds me of Two-Face and The Joker.

  8. The FBI crew needed at Burning Man is not the Special Events Unit, it is the Civil Rights Department, purposed to watch the watchmen.

    The FBI report is of 2010. The prior Pershing County Sheriff requested the FBI at Burning Man for crowd control in due of his rubbish concerns of civil unrest at Burning Man. The 2010 Burning Man Afterburn Report states

    ‘2010 was the second year that Pershing County, under Sheriff Ron Skinner, has chosen to attempt to manage the Burning Man event without outside counsel or assistance. The result continued to produce unsatisfactory results. The problem that had existed before, such as inadequate training, lack of experience of the sub-contracted individual LEOs, and lack of understanding of the Burning Man infrastructure (e.g., the Black Rock Rangers), as well as to how to utilize that infrastructure, continued.’

    ‘It all began with a scheme by the PCSO to utilize horseback mounted patrols in Black Rock City. Their basic rationale was to be able to “move a crowd” during a riot. The fact that there has been nothing even resembling the smell of a riot in the 25-year history of Burning Man did not deter them from this position. A very strong set of objections then arose from Burning Man as well as other cooperating agencies such as the Nevada State Department of Health. Issues were horse poop on the playa, participant safety issues, and even safety issues for the horses themselves.’

    ‘Because of these pressures, PCSO withdrew their intent to “test drive” the concept in Black Rock City early in the week, still insisting that they would keep the horses in reserve (they had already delivered them to a small farm close to the event). Then, evidently angered or embarrassed by this episode, PCSO, for the rest of the week, refused to attend the 3:15 Daily Cooperators Meeting attended by all of the agencies and law enforcement groups working the event. This created considerable communication and coordination problems. However, in fairness to the PCSO contingent, the Burning Man LEAL Team Manager was able to communicate with PCSO by journeying to the Law Enforcement compound and finding the PCSO personnel on duty.’

  9. “Military aircraft that have been spotted at Burning Man include:…”

    And how many were not diverted there by pilot request to try to catch a look at the naked chicks! However, don’t see how much you can see from a F-18, F-22, F-14, or F-16, covert surveillance or otherwise.

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