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."

[snip]

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.

CIFA Lives?

Remember CIFA? That’s the military’s domestic spying program that used to spy on Quakers and bloggers like Jesus’ General. In April 2008, the Pentagon announced it was shutting down the program.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sounds like they didn’t shut down the program.

A group of peace activists have confirmed that spies from a defense program have infiltrated their group. (h/t EC)

Peace activists in Washington state have revealed an informant posing as an anarchist has spied on them while working under the US military. The activists are members of the group Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance, which protests military shipments bound for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before his true identity was revealed, the informant was known as “John Jacob,” an active member of antiwar groups in the towns of Olympia and Tacoma. But using documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, the activists learned that “John Jacob” is in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at the nearby Fort Lewis military base.

The activists claim Towery has admitted to them he shared information with an intelligence network that stretches from local and state police to several federal agencies, to the US military. They also say he confirmed the existence of other government spies but wouldn’t reveal their identity.

Read the whole Democracy Now piece–it descrbes that Towery, the spy, got himself appointed a Listserv moderator with access to all the email subscribers of this group.

GUILTY – The Fort Dix Five Convicted

The panel of jurors deliberating the Fort Dix Five terrorism trial has found all five defendants guilty of plotting to attack the military base and kill soldiers. The foreign-born Muslims from Cherry Hill Pennsylvania, were charged with conspiracy to kill military personnel, attempted murder and weapons charges. There does not appear to be date set for sentencing, but the men could be sentenced to up to life in prison.

From The Guardian:

The defence called the case against the Fort Dix, New Jersey defendants a big mistake, one that came to court only because of zealous investigators and sleazy FBI informants.

The prosecution said that the defendants were linked by their common belief in radical Islam and a desire to kill American soldiers, and that investigators stepped in before their plot could come to fruition.

"The government was mistaken about these men’s intentions," defence attorney Michael Huff told jurors yesterday. "You have the opportunity to correct that mistake."

In his rebuttal, Deputy US Attorney William Fitzpatrick said the defendants’ words and actions "cry out for guilty verdicts".

Defendant Mohamad Shnewer, for instance, drove to several military bases with an FBI informant, who was recording their conversation. Prosecutors called their trips "surveillance".

"All he’s talking about is picking targets, killing people," he said. "And the defence counsel wants you to believe he doesn’t mean it; he’s a flake." The defence did paint Shnewer, the lead defendant, as an overweight outsider and a screw-up, the butt of his friends’ jokes.

Mike Riley, the attorney for defendant Shain Duka, said the case was built on "the mouth of Mohamad Shnewer and the computer of Mohamad Shnewer".

In addition to his many inflammatory statements about killing soldiers, Shnewer downloaded more than 100 jihadist videos to his laptop, including some created by al-Sahab, the media wing of al-Qaida.

The Guardian article provides a good background on the matter and the different arguments presented by both the prosecution and defense.

It is hard to know the validity of prosecutions like this one with the tattered reputation of the Bush Department of Justice. The habitual practice of oppressive and deceptive prosecutions, and flat out dishonesty, especially on terrorism cases, leaves even jury verdicts open to question. January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough.

In Minneapolis, Vegan = Terrorist

How does one equate vegan potlucks with this restriction on permissible terrorist investigations?

Mere speculation that force or violence might occur during the course of an otherwise peaceable demonstration is not sufficient grounds for initiation of an investigation under this Subpart, but where facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that a group or enterprise has engaged or aims to engage in activities involving force or violence or other criminal conduct described in paragraph (1)(a) in a demonstration, an investigation may be initiated in conformity with the standards of that paragraph. [my emphasis]

I ask because apparently, Minneapolis’ Joint Terrorist Task Force is recruiting people to infiltrate vegan potlucks to look for potential–what?–tahini enthusiasts?–in advance of the RNC convention this fall.

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

[snip]

When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered. [my emphasis]

Now, maybe the vegans we’ve got here in Michigan are dramatically different from those infesting Minnesota. But where I’m from, vegans tend to be fairly peaceful people. Read more

Get Caught in a Sting, Get Thrown Out of the USA, Get Gagged about It

I suggested last month that the Liberty City Seven indictment looks more and more like a made for TV event, particularly after a mistrial was declared and one of the Seven, Lyglenson Lemorin, was acquitted of all charges. Well, now Lemorin is undergoing his own little Orwellian hell.

On the day of his acquittal, the judge in the case issued an oral gag order pertaining to the upcoming retrial of the remaining six defendants.

A federal judge on Friday aired serious concerns about the possibility of jury tampering in the upcoming retrial of an alleged homegrown terrorism group and ordered that Miami-Dade jurors be selected anonymously for the high-profile case.

[snip]

Her order — an edict normally seen in organized crime or major drug cases — means that potentially hundreds of Miami-Dade voters who receive jury summonses for the retrial in January will be referred to by number, not by name. Jurors’ names were known to both sides in the first trial.

The judge also ordered U.S. marshals to provide criminal background checks on all prospective jurors for both sides, and to escort those chosen for the 12-member panel to and from the courthouse in downtown Miami.

”I do find there is a strong reason to believe the jury needs protection,” Lenard said. “Here we have defendants accused of being members of a terrorist cell.”

No such precautions were taken during the first trial, which ended Dec. 13 in a mistrial for six defendants of the so-called Liberty City 7.

Read more

“Aspirational Terrorism” Won’t Send You to Jail, But It’ll Lead the News

The St. Petersburg Times has a good review not just of the mistrial for the Liberty City Seven, but of the larger context of failed terrorist prosecutions.

Another highly touted federal terrorism case ended in a mistrial Thursday.

After listening to more than two months of testimony and deliberating for nine days, a Miami jury deadlocked on charges against six men accused of pledging allegiance to al-Qaida in a plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. A seventh man was acquitted.

[snip]

With no guilty verdicts, the Liberty City Seven join about a dozen other terrorism defendants around the country who have been prosecuted since the Sept. 11 attacks in costly cases that resulted in acquittals and mistrials.

Joshua Dratel asks what I consider the money question: is this really the way we should be spending our time? Read more

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