Hal Turner: Allegedly Inciting Violence for FBI from 2002 to 2007

Hal Turner’s lawyer revealed his strategy today for getting Turner off on charges that he incited violence. Basically, he’s going to argue that he was paid to do just that by the FBI from 2002 to 2007, that he learned where "the line" was between legal and illegal incitement, and his recent comments have not crossed over that line.

In asking Gold to allow Orozco to represent Turner, Turner’s Connecticut lawyer, Matthew R. Potter, said Orozco has a long-term legal relationship with Turner, plans to bring a complicated First Amendment defense and is familiar with Turner’s background as an FBI informant.

That role as an informant for the FBI is a key part of the defense, Orozco said outside court.

Orozco said Turner was trained by the FBI as "an agent provocateur."


Orozco said Turner worked for the FBI from roughly 2002 to 2007.

"His job was basically to publish information which would cause other parties to act in a manner that would cause their arrest," Orozco said.

His lawyer claims he left the FBI on his own. 

Wow. This could go one of many places. We might see a graymail defense, in which the FBI prevents Turner from testifying about what the fuck he was doing, if he indeed was. But the thing is, we know that FBI really hasn’t targeted the kind of nutters that Turner incites.

And I do wonder–who Turner is being funded by right now.

66 replies
  1. ghostof911 says:

    The FBI has a history of hiring such honorable types. Jack Ruby received a small cash allowance from E. Howard Hunt on 11/21/63 for two small assignments (Tippit and Oswald). All for a good cause.

    Support the Berkeley protesters.

      • Jkat says:

        aha !! .. sorta like the “267 rules ” governing hearsay evidence .. i’m sure ..

        i don’t see where .. even if true .. having been previously employed as an agent provocateur … would extend any form of permission to continue such activity once the cloak of immunity has been removed by termination of the “sheltered employment” .. [ if such a thing is even possible then .. unless the party is “officially commissioned” as an LEO ]

        and yes .. we all know the bushys were probably involved with baiting right-whingers into illegal acts so the bushys could then bust them .. eh ..

        sure .. and somewhere in the hills of east tennessee they say there’s a pig that can whistle “dixie” … too .. also .. you betcha.. /s

        • scribe says:

          The point of his defense, as I understand it, is this:

          1. The FBI needed an agent provocateur to flush out the wingnut crazies, and they brought me on board to be one.

          2. To make me effective, and have the cases I’d be making be effective (i.e., “stand up”) in court, the FBI had to avoid entrapment of the wingnut crazies I would be flushing out. IF it was entrapment, then the wingnut crazies would get off.

          3. To avoid entrapment, my conduct in flushing out the wingnut crazies would have to be legal. The wingnut crazies would have to carry themselves across the line between legal and illegal.

          4. So I would know what was and was not legal, the FBI gave me training.

          5. Everything I did was on the legal side of the line as told to me by the FBI in my training.

          6. At some point, I quit working for the FBI. (NB I think he quit after he was outed by a bunch of hackers, maybe from 4chan, who posted on the web some of his email to the FBI about who he was flushing out.)

          7. What I did that I was charged for was no different than what I did when I was working for the FBI.

          8. I am not guilty (a) because what I did was legal and, alternatively (b) because the FBI charged me in retaliation for quitting and/or getting outed.

          I hope for his sake he kept tapes or something of his training sessions.

        • emptywheel says:

          But here’s the thing.

          When has the FBI EVER prosecuted any wingnut for going over the line after being provoked by Turner?

          So why did they train him, if they were never going to prosecute the right wing crazies?

        • Rayne says:

          Which makes one wonder why Turner was fomenting trouble in our own backyard in 2007…certainly looked like pressure being mounted on citizens to support vigilantism or increased law enforcement.

          Also puzzling in the case of K’zoo that the nascent fusion center apparatus didn’t keep local police apprised of FBI informants causing a ruckus in their jurisdiction.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          I’m going to go with the theory that the story he’s spouting is a crock. I’ll take it more seriously when I either see an FBI class registration or an FBI employment voucher or a check that can be traced back to the FBI.

          I seriously doubt the FBI would be using an agent as described against Bush voters. ACORN and such, sure.

          I think this is going to be followed by extensive, wildly generic discovery requests on the part of the defense that the FBI will never allow.

          Boxturtle (Still, it should be interesting)

        • scribe says:

          So why train him if they never prosecute?

          Because he would inspire someone to do something stupid and violent, and that would redound to the benefit of the Bureau by giving them an opening to ask for and get more statutory authority to do more things. Just like they were able to get AEDPA in 1996 after pointing out all the “holes” in their authority through which that wily Tim McVeigh slid on his way to Oklahoma City.

          I look at this from the bureaucratic perspective: What is it that the FBI can do to further protect and enhance it’s budget and authority? That’s an agency-level application of the Bureaucrat’s Prime Directive: “Always act in a way which ensures the continued existence of your job.” First Corollary: “When and if possible, expand your budget and authority.”

          The last thing the FBI wants is for the wingnut crazies to go away. They would be out a prime bogeyman if they did. Prosecuting and incarcerating a few would shut up most of them.

        • Jkat says:

          thank you scribe .. i have an understanding of the issue … somewhat ..but in a different vein ..

          many many moons ago i was once employed by the texas department of public safety .. [specifically the highway patrol] .. and for a period of time my job was to [1] get stopped by probational officers undergoing their OJT stints fresh out of the academy ..and [2] do everything possible [within the legal limits of such behavior] to provoke the probationary officer into blowing his cool and stepping over the applicable line .. and yes .. i too was trained what those limits were.. and was encouraged to push the line as far as possible] .. [i’d also add here ..that the training officers doing duty with the probationary officers were aware i was a an agent-provocateur plant {the vehicle was inconspicuously marked} and a sworn officer of the patrol division .. so i wasn’t really in any danger ..so to speak .. if things got out of hand .. ]

          and while i understand the mechanics of the ploy .. i don’t see the merit of the position ..

          because .. as turner has actually been charged .. someone amongst the powers-which-be apparently believes mr. turner has indeed stepped over that line he claims to have been behind when he threw the ball towards some of his down-field receivers and has let fly the yellow flag on the play .. [ turner is certainly no brett faav-ray .. eh ??]

          [and thank you again .. i am still somewhat edge-u-katable .. if somewhat incorrigible }

          how’bout them cardinals ..eh ??

        • bmaz says:

          You talking about Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals I assume? Cause LaRussa’s bird brains aren’t going anywhere….

          John Smoltz isn’t enough oomph to get them over the top.

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    Two embarrassing admissions. First, I did not know who Hal Turner was. Second, I initially read the first line of this post as:

    Nat Turner’s lawyer revealed his strategy today for getting Turner off on charges that he incited violence

    That would have been a great story.

    • prostratedragon says:

      It can take a while to come up with these things.

      As for Hal Turner, I think I’m hoping they try, if only for the spectacle.

        • LabDancer says:

          Historically, this acquisition sets a new standard for the Norske’s Menzoda Line, definitely below its previous one, located somewhere in Jeff George-Joe Kapp Territory.

          Hysterically, we can’t disregard the possibility this is an integral part of the federal Stim package for the state, in this instance including throwing a lifeline to the Uptake for daily coverage of the Mauve-and-Mustard’s new soap opera [complete with a an innovative Aroma-Theatricality button] in effort to ease the adverse impact on its watcher numbers [and hence its ad revenue] from the sudden, largely inexplicable* forfeiture of the Norm Coleman Seat by its Rightful Occupant, smack dab in the middle of the Extended Version of the vote-counting process [at the same time, throwing the entire state into immediate economic panic on realizing now they had neither bread NOR circuses].

          [*according to the Wall Street Journal’s ongoing close coverage & periodic inciteful analysis]

          Histrionically … well, we’ve got that covered, for now at least.

  3. beguiner says:

    From WHOM was Hal Turner inciting violence on behalf of the FBI? Violence from lefties or violence from wingnuts?

    In other words, is he admitting to his listening audience that he was working to entrap them?

      • JimWhite says:

        My, my, my. From Rayne’s link:

        a paid informant for the FBI field office in Newark, N.J.

        Is there any chance the FBI was working with or at least informed the local US Attorney there, a Mr. Chris Christie?

        • Rayne says:

          Here’s another tidbit to stew on…

          Kalamazoo is in former USA-WMi Margaret Chiara’s district. Any chance there’s a correlation between locations where Turner was stirring up shit and the terminated USAs’ districts?

      • scribe says:

        There were some hackers who hacked Turner’s email and put up his communications to the FBI. They outed him. I think the story was on Raw Story a couple months before he was busted.

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Love to see those emails, especially whom on the FBI end was receiving them. I still suspect we’ll find he was not offically employed with the FBI.

          Boxturtle (He would likely have been treated as an informant for pay purposes, if paid)

        • scribe says:

          If you read the article in the Michigan Messenger (Rayne @15), you’d see that the Southern Poverty Law Center is taking Turner’s status as a paid FBI informant as “fact”.

          They’re a careful organization and would not go that far without backing it up.

  4. beguiner says:

    So I read the Michigan Messenger article from March 08 about Hal Turner. It seems that he denied that he was an FBI informant for a number of months. He was trying to bolster his White Power cred by conducting more extreme provocation. Then he gets indicted and turns the tables, claiming the whole damn thing was on the FBIs behalf.

    What a poor sad man. No more friends or employment.

    • scribe says:

      They had him indicted because he was no longer useful to them. By indicting him, they get to create their own reality “no, he’s not an informant. He’s just a nut.” and go on using provacateurs like him.

  5. beguiner says:

    And from the Michigan Messenger article, I got this link from the SLPC:


    It seems believable. I just have a hard time thinking that the FBI would be cool with their agents provocateur targeting federal judges.

  6. Garrett says:

    Yikes this is ugly stuff.

    A Southern Poverty Law Center post about Turner.

    Assuming the hacker shit is true, an example of how it worked (from Turner, to FBI):

    > From: Hal Turner
    > Sent: Sun 7/1/2007 4:53 PM
    > To: [email protected]; First Last
    > Subject: Threat to Kill Senator Feingold of Wisconsin on July 4
    > Guys:
    > I wrote an opinion piece on my site today in which I opine about
    > 46 US Senators who I believe should be removed from office on
    > July 4 for betraying their constituents and this nation.
    > An anonymous person, posting on the outside, third-party visitor
    > comments area of my web site wrote:
    > “im going to kill senator feingold on july 4th. may thomas
    > paine smile upon me and alexander hamilton bless my cause.
    > praise the lord and pass the ammunition.”
    > As you are probably aware, Feingold is from Wisconsin.
    > The posting was made today, July 1, 2007 at 4:34 PM EST from IP
    > address 123.456.768.901 which comes back to the University of
    > Wisconsin.
    > The posting can be viewed by the general public at:
    > http://www.haloscan.com/commen…..46/#236927
    > Once again, my fierce rhetoric has served to flush out a
    > possible crazy.

    Bonus insanity email content: Turner tells the FBI how he single-handledly stopped an immigration bill. GWB was not pleased.

    • scribe says:

      Yes, it is ugly. But, stranger things have happened.

      And, FWIW, how is this guy supposed to have gotten an FBI agent’s email address? They don’t go around giving them out.

      • bmaz says:

        A LOT stranger things have happened. I can buy he had some amorphous relationship with them; the better question is what was it and was most of it in his head? That will certainly be the play I think.

        • Garrett says:

          As an alternate possibility about the “amorphous relationship”, as initial impression from a quick descent to an ugly place:

          Hal Turner, on his own, posts scurrilous inflammatory stuff on a website, with awareness of what the legal line is. Commenters sometimes post death treats. Turner’s “informant” relationship is, he sends the FBI the posts and the IP addresses.

          This is different than the “agent provocateur” relationship the lawyer is claiming.

  7. WilliamOckham says:

    I think the likely scenario is the FBI (or the local police) caught Turner doing something illegal in 2001 or 2002 and he offered to rat out his friends in the white supremacy movement. Turner seems just the type to hype that into an agent provocateur gig. What the FBI saw as teaching him to stay on appropriate side of the first amendment, he saw as learning to incite. The problem with that story is that he clearly already knew how to incite violence before his FBI gig.

  8. bmaz says:

    No, he doesn’t like the outdoors frozen tundra any more; he is ready to excel on the carpet of those domes up there. Watch out Kitties!

  9. Slothrop says:

    Well, Sara Jane Moore was an FBI informant. You know, back in the 70’s — pulled a gun on President Ford. Who else? Oh yeah, there’s that Donald “Cinque” DeFreeze, the Patty Hearst kidnapper, probably FBI informant, definitely working for LAPD’s “Public Disorder Intelligence Unit.” Remember how they had to burn that house down? No prisoners?

    Then, there was that guy in New Orleans in the summer of 1963, picking fights with Anti-Castro Cubans, getting himself arrested…and then asking for an FBI agent to come to his jail cell. What was his name? I can never remember.

  10. fatster says:

    bmaz, what is all this about?

    Activist Who Staged Gun Interview At Obama Event Was Prominent Defender Of ’90s Militia
    By Justin Elliott – August 18, 2009, 6:47PM

    “Ernest Hancock, the online radio host who staged an interview with an assault rifle-wielding cohort at the Obama event in Arizona yesterday — and was himself armed with a 9 millimeter pistol — was a vocal supporter and friend of right-wing anti-government militia members who were convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges in the 90s.”


    • bmaz says:

      Ernie Hancock is nuttier than a shipping container full of fruitcakes. And then there are the even dumber people that follow him and his groups. That act has been running for a long time here.

      • fatster says:

        Thnx. He’s even claiming he worked with the Phoenix PD on the matter:

        “”Oh, it’s more planned than you think,” Hancock responded. He then let loose with a string of details, including how Hancock contacted the Phoenix police department days before the event”


        This kind of overlap is disturbing.

        • PJEvans says:

          Letting them know his buddies were going to be carrying, I gather. But probably not telling them much else.

          That picture of Hancock at TPM is not flattering to him. He looks like another overfed Southerner with high blood pressure and a collar that’s two sizes too small.

    • fatster says:

      I’m supposed to be there, but I’m under the weather today. Couple of friends are going, though. Interesting to see what Dan’ll do. Be cool (she advised with the temperature at 97).

  11. BlueSun says:

    During the Vietnam war, I worked as a staffer for the Philadelphia chapter of a venerable pacifist peace group called the Committee for NonViolent Action (CNVA). Our meetings were open to all comers and, one day, a new volunteer appeared. He was a young man with long red hair that some suspected of being a wig, and shiny black tie-up shoes (another anomaly from our somewhat hippyish younger members.

    For a period of months, as the group discussed peaceful protest demonstrations involving nothing more dangerous than leaflets, signs, and street speakers, this individual kept trying to sell us the idea that the war was so bad that we couldn’t afford time to educate others about its folly, and he came up with a number of illegal, sometimes violent, plans – all of which our primarily Quaker membership rejected out of hand. One thing he was always passionately harping about was breaking into a local draft board and burning all of the records.

    Several months later, another anti-war group in the general area did, in fact, break into a suburban draft board and destroy records. They were identified and arrested almost immediately, thanks to information from an FBI agent who had infiltrated the group. In the news photos during the trial, there was our red-haired phony, now without his wig, testifying against the group. No doubt, he was finally able to find a group he could talk into committing an illegal act – and then arrest them.

Comments are closed.