July 2, 2022 / by 

 

FBI’s Lies about Anti-War Surveillance Also Protected CIFA

Let me spoil the ending of this series on the IG Report on FBI Investigations of First Amendment Activity. I suspect there are ties between the FBI’s investigations of anti-war activists and CIFA, the DOD program that collected information on anti-war activists in the Talon database. I’ll say more about this in a later post or three. But for now, I just wanted to point out the close tie between the FBI reporting on the Pittsburgh anti-war group Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) and an entry in a leaked fragment of the CIFA database.

The following are the anti-war POG activities known to be recorded by the government (note, the names of the alleged POG members are pseudonyms invented by the IG Report):

January 8, 2004: Electronic Communication (EC) opens domestic terrorism preliminary investigation into “Nicholas Herman” for being a leading POG member.

February 4, 2004: EC opens domestic terrorism preliminary investigation into “Arnold Philips” and “Terry Waterman” for “doing business as” POG and planning a March 20, 2004 “Global Day of Action against War and Occupation.”

February 24, 2004: Two FBI agents meet with Pittsburgh law enforcement to plan for security for March 20, 2004 event; the EC from the meeting notes that Thomas Merton Center had obtained parade permit for event.

March 20, 2004: Two FBI agents monitor the protest to “verify the participation” of Herman, Philips, and Waterman. The EC notes that no “actionable criminal activities” except trespass on university property took place.

April 19, 2004: EC notes the arrest for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse of Philips and five others protesting George Bush speech in Pittsburgh.

June 3, 2004: Two FBI agents conduct drive-by surveillance of 11 residences, businesses, and organizations frequented by POG members, including TMC.

July 2004, unknown date: Miami FBI field division informs Pittsburgh (and NY) FBI that at meeting in Pittsburgh, POG members planned protest for during the RNC Convention in August-September of that year.

July 9, 2004: FBI obtains 180-day extension for preliminary inquiry into Herman.

July 30, 2004: FBI obtains 180-day extension for preliminary inquiry into Philips and Waterman.

August-September 2004: FBI notes that Waterman had no criminal history and local law enforcement officials in Pittsburgh had never run into Waterman during their investigations of anarchists, though Chicago’s law enforcement said he had ties to anarchists there.

October 29, 2004: Confidential source report–ostensibly tied to the Herman investigation–on organizing meeting at TMC for later anti-war protest. Describes, “meeting and discussion was primarily anti anything supported by the main stream American.”

Unknown 2004: At least one more confidential source report on POG.

November 2004: FBI notes Pittsburgh police arrest of Philips, on disorderly conduct charges, for trying to prevent an officer from arresting another protester burning an American flag.

January 20, 2005: FBI closes preliminary investigation into Herman.

January 26, 2005: FBI closes preliminary investigation into Philips and Waterman.

January 28, 2005: EC reflecting internet article alleging that two FBI agents entered “two … normally locked doors” at Philips’ apartment (where a TMC intern and staffer lived) to leave a note for Philips to call the FBI; the FBI agent claimed they only entered the unlocked outside door and left a note on the apartment door.

February 15, 2005: Confidential source report on POG that includes TMC.

March 1, 2005: Confidential source report on POG that includes TMC.

March 19, 2005: Confidential source report that must have covered the protest marking the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.

April 27, 2005: Talon database entry (see PDF 7) describing POG anti-recruitment event targeted at Carnegie Mellon.

Unknown date (probably January) 2006: Chief Division Counsel tells agent to close the apparently still active source.

The IG Report makes it clear that for the fifteen months leading up to the event recorded in the Talon database entry, the FBI had been investigating POG and other Pittsburgh anti-war groups based only on the trumped up claim that members of the groups might commit a crime in the future. The FBI used a confidential informant (as I explain here, the informant was the FBI agent’s son’s friend who had gotten into legal trouble himself) to continue reporting on POG and the anti-war community for two months after the FBI had formally ended the investigation that purportedly justified the infiltration. Apparently, that source remained active for over a year after the investigation was closed (ACLU’s FOIA only covered records mentioning TMC before May 18, 2005, and the IG Report makes no claim to describe all the confidential informant reports on POG).

And surprise, surprise! The very subject of those ongoing investigations–Pittsburgh’s anti-war activism–ends up in DOD’s database.

Note that DOD destroyed this database (though the records were reportedly saved) in June 2006, precisely the month that ACLU sued to get DOD to comply with its FOIA for Talon records including those on POG, so DOD did not turn over those records on POG.

So we don’t know who generated the Talon report on the April 27, 2005 POG effort. But we do know that a number of the Talon reports on anti-war activists came from “Federal law enforcement personnel.” And we know that Talon database entries were routinely shared with local Joint Terrorism Task Forces which, as we’ve seen repeatedly in the IG Report, were the ones investigating Pittsburgh’s anti-war community.

The FBI invented a number of stories to explain away their systematic, long-term investigation of Pittsburgh’s anti-war community, not to mention to explain away the lies FBI told Congress in response to inquiries about that surveillance. But to the extent that surveillance was systematic, those lies served to protect not only FBI, but the CIFA program as well.


The Six FBI Reports Treating Merton Center Anti-War Activism as Terrorism

Glenn Fine–DOJ’s Inspector General–is usually one of the most credible agents of oversight in the federal government. But his last report–examining whether the FBI investigated the First Amendment activities of lefty groups as terrorism–is a masterpiece of obfuscation. It manages to look at three different investigative efforts of the Thomas Merton Center’s anti-war activism, all treated as terrorism, and declare them unconnected and therefore not evidence that during the Bush Administration anti-war activism was investigated as terrorism.

The coverage of the report has largely focused on Robert Mueller’s reportedly unintentional lies to Congress explaining why an anti-war event sponsored by Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center was investigated in the guise of international terrorism. For good examples, see Charlie Savage and Jeff Stein’s versions of the story.

The short version of Meuller’s misinformation to Congress the report offers is that 1) a rookie FBI officer was sent out as make-work to improperly surveil a peace protest, 2) after that became clear through FOIA, his boss and a lawyer in the office and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division tried to retroactively invent reasons for the surveillance, 3) largely through the bureaucratic game of telephone that resulted, Robert Mueller (and in more significant ways, a response to a Patrick Leahy Question For the Record) provided false information to Congress.

One cornerstone to this rather credulous narrative is the way the IG Report treats the surveillance of Pittsburgh’s Thomas Merton Center. Rather than treat all the surveillance of the center together–which would reveal an obvious pattern and much better reason to lie to Congress–the report treats  several different iterations of surveillance separately. As a result, Fine was able to look at at least six reports treating Merton Center anti-war activism as terrorism (and ignore one more FBI investigative effort) and declare each of them acceptable.

The Chronology of FBI’s Thomas Merton Center Surveillance

Let’s start with the timeline (note all the names, except that of Farooq Hussaini, are pseudonyms chosen by DOJ IG, as reflected by the quotation marks) which shows fairly sustained surveillance of the Center over the course of three years:

November 29, 2002: Supervisory Special Agent “Susan Crosetti” sends rookie FBI officer “Mark Berry” to surveil people associated with the Thomas Merton Center distributing leaflets opposing the Iraq War. Berry takes photos of some participants. The report recording the surveillance is placed in the “international terrorism” file.

January 2003: Secret Service agent visits Merton Center to discuss upcoming protest in Pittsburgh.

February 26, 2003: Pittsburgh office produces Letterhead Memorandum, titled “International Terrorism Matters,” describing a vigil the Merton Center was planning for when the Iraq War started, as well as local events that had taken place on February 15, 2003 in association with the NY-based United for Peace and Justice sponsored protest.

April 4, 2003: FBI produces EC on Pittsburgh organizational meeting at the Merton Center in advance of Miami FTAA.

July 8, 2003: FBI EC describes threats that FTAA protesters would use puppets to attack riot police and Molotov cocktails.

July 10, 2003: First document recording ties between Person B (alleged to have pro-Palestinian feelings) and the Merton Center (note, this document must have been withheld from the FOIA).

July 21, 2003: Miami Field Office opens domestic terrorism investigation in relation to the FTAA protests.

July 25, 2003: Miami Field Office sends EC to Pittsburgh Field Office on August 29-31 planning meeting for FTAA including Merton Center.

July 26, 2003: FBI designates FTAA a Special Event worthy of heightened surveillance.

August 29-31, 2003: FBI conducts research on FTAA planning meeting at Merton Center in Pittsburgh.

October 29 (?), 2004: First report from confidential source mentioning the Merton Center (all these reports were faxed on July 8, 2005 and declassified on January 4, 2006). The source was apparently the friend of an agent’s son, and included reporting on planning for an anti-war march the Merton Center was planning. The source was purportedly recruited for an investigation into several alleged members of the Pittsburgh Organizing Group; that investigation was a terrorism investigation.

February 25, 2005: Second report from confidential source on the Merton Center.

March 1, 2005: Third report from confidential source on the Merton Center.

March 19, 2005: Fourth report from confidential source on the Merton Center.

Unknown date (before May 18, 2005): FBI agent visits Merton Center intern at intern’s residence asking for information about Merton Center activities.

May 18, 2005: ACLU PA FOIAs FBI documents referencing the Thomas Merton Center (among others).

Unknown date, 2006: Pittsburgh’s Chief Division Counsel reviews the source reporting (and two earlier anti-war reports) and tells agent to close the source.

January 23, 2006: “Carl Fritsch,” a member of Pittsburgh FBI’s legal staff, and Crosetti, both search FBI databases on Farooq Hussaini’s name.

February 1, 2006: National ACLU files FOIA.

February 8, 2006: FBI Field Division Attorney “Stanley Kempler” sends Record Management Division a routing slip, written by “Carl Fritsch,” indicating that the November 29, 2002 surveillance had been directed at Farooq Hussaini and alleging that Hussaini was associated with “Person B” who was the subject of a different investigation. This routing slip was–in the IG Report’s judgment–the first attempt to invent a cover story for the November 2002 surveillance. The same slip provided background on the February 26, 2003 and urged RMD not to release it.

March 14, 2006: ACLU releases FOIA documents, focusing on November 29, 2002 report; FBI issues a press release see PDF 205) inventing a public rationale for the surveillance and purporting to address the February 26, 2003 report.

March 22, 2006: FBI Director’s Research Group writes document “ACLU Allegations of Spying.”

May 2, 2006: Patrick Leahy asks Robert Mueller why FBI was surveilling anti-war demonstrators.

“Soon after” hearing: Leahy asks several Questions For the Record, including for any “earlier investigative memos” that served as the basis for the November 2002 surveillance.

May 16, 2006: Counterterrorism Division’s Executive Staff tasks “Clarence Parkman,” from their Iraq Unit, to draft a response to Leahy. Minutes earlier, Parkman had done a database search on Thomas Merton Center. Two analytical employees in the Iraq section emailed Kempler (cc’ing Berry) for more information. Kempler forwarded the request to Crosetti.

June 5, 2006: Iraq Unit of Counterterrorism Division provides 3-paragraph response to Leahy’s question about November 2002 anti-war rally newly claiming that Person B was the subject of the surveillance. The response also claims–contrary to the description in the original EC but corresponding to story Berry first told to IG–that Berry took pictures of just one, female, protester.

The IG presents this series of surveillance actions directed at the Merton Center as discrete events. It attempts to find an explanation for each incident of surveillance in isolation, and as such, is able to describe each as legally permissible, leaving only the attempt to retroactively invent an explanation for the November 2002 surveillance as really problematic.

But examining the other reports makes it clear that there was a pattern of investigating the Merton Center’s anti-war activities under the guise of terrorism.

The February 26, 2003 Letterhead Report

Whereas the IG Report provides clear evidence that FBI was trying to retroactively justify its November 2002 surveillance, it could offer no explanation whatsoever for a February 26, 2003 Letterhead memo which also labeled Merton Center anti-war efforts as terrorism.

We were unable to determine the origins and author of the February 2003 LHM. We were also unable to determine to whom the LHM was sent, or whether it was distributed outside the Pittsburgh Field Division. The LHM bears no signature, initials, or routing information. It did not have a file number assigned to it. The LHM was on an FBI form used to disseminate information to other law enforcement agencies, but it did not identify intended recipients.

It goes on to describe the February 8, 2006 routing slip–the same routing slip that developed the first retroactive justification for the November 2002 surveillance–strongly urging the Records Management Division people responding to the FOIA not to release the document because it did not appear to be an agency record. The IG Report quotes from the routing slip:

The source of this document appeared on a stenographer’s computer hard drive. The Pittsburgh Division was unable to identify the author of this document. Attempts to locate a file associated with this document were negative. The Pittsburgh Division believes that this document could possibly have been a draft that was never approved for filing.

Here’s how that was translated for a response to a Leahy QFR on the report.

In response to the FOIA request the FBI conducted a manual search beyond its record system for all information responsive to the request. The 2/26/03 document was discovered during the search of stenographer’s computer hard drive for responsive information. This document identifies no author or file number and contains no markings indicating supervisory approval for entering into any FBI record keeping system. The Pittsburgh Division where the document was located was unable to identify the actual author or locate a file associated with this document. The document could possibly have been a draft that was never approved for filing. As a loose document it could be retrieved only by someone with access to the computer on which it had been saved.

The IG Report goes on to explain that the stenographer’s logs from the period indicated a particular Special Agent had authored the LHM, but that she had no independent memory of that agent being  the author. The agent in question denied he was the author.

And even though Susan Crosetti, the woman who played a central role in inventing two different explanations for the November 2002 surveillance, was that agent’s supervisor, the IG Report concluded “we found no indication that the 2 documents were related or part of a coordinated focus on the Merton Center.”

The FBI’s Agent’s Son’s Friend’s Confidential Source Reporting on the Merton Center and POG

Then the IG Report discusses the investigation of several people associated with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which it describes as an anarchist group. After the Pittsburgh FBI extended its investigation of these men (though they had no evidence of criminal activity), one of the agents involved recruited what appears to be a friend of his son who was in legal trouble to act as a confidential informant on the POG members.

At the time the source was recruited, he had charges pending against him for [redacted]. In one e-mail from the source to the case agent during the time he was acting as a source, the source described his efforts to obtain an extension on “my court date,” and asked if the case agent had contacted a particular officer connected to the case.

[snip]

[T]he agent recruited a friend of his son and gave him surveillance assignments with at best thin relevance to any open investigation or to preventing terrorism.

Though the predicate for this source reporting was the investigation into the three alleged POG members, much of the reporting actually pertained to the Merton Center.

In fact, the first source report filed in the Herman preliminary inquiry contained virtually no information other than information about First Amendment expressions of participants in a political discussion group at the Merton Center. This report had no apparent connection to any actual or potential crime and focused solely on the identity of the participants and the content of their speech.

[snip]

The first source report was limited to identifying information about the participants in a political discussion together with characterizations of the content of the speech of the participants. No information remotely relevant to actual or potential criminal activity was collected. We do not believe that any of the information recorded in the report regarding the Merton Center political discussion was pertinent to the Herman preliminary inquiry or any other authorized law enforcement activity.

[snip]

Three reports related to planning meetings held at the Merton Center for an anti-war protest, as well as a report on the protest itself.

[snip]

The FBI established a confidential source to attend political meetings and protests and collect information that was almost exclusively focused on the First Amendment activities of persons who were not the subject of any investigation.

Now, the document here deserves mention. The source reports released to ACLU in 2006 must be reports from this confidential source because the IG Report does not deal with them anywhere else. Indeed, the first report (chronologically) appears to be the report the IG Report describes as the sources first report on PDF 91. (Though there appears to be at least one more report from 2004 not released to ACLU in FOIA, which therefore must not mention the Merton Center; the original FOIA did not name POG.) Yet the IG Report treats these primarily as surveillance of the three alleged POG members, and not surveillance of the Merton Center. In at least one place (see the third redaction on PDF 91), the IG Report rather inexplicably redacts what must be a reference to the Merton Center. And the source reports mention the Merton Center on at least two more occasions that the IG Report either redacts or neglects to mention entirely.

The two investigative actions the IG Report doesn’t mention

We’ve seen that the FBI investigated the Merton Center’s anti-war activities in November 2002, February 2003, and late 2004 through 2005. All of these investigative actions were classified as terrorism investigations.

But that leaves out at least two more investigative actions, revealed in the original FOIA.

The Thomas Merton Center (the “Merton Center”) is a 501(c)(3) entity, incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1972 with its principal place of business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Merton Center is a peace and justice resource and organizing center that is actively involved in organizing non-violent resistance to war, racial and economic justice. Among other things the Merton Center is involved with organizing protests and consults with various groups concerning social change. In addition, the Merton Center works with local mosques to address the detention of Arabs and Muslims in the greater Pittsburgh area. Prior to various protests in the Pittsburgh area, the Merton Center has received visits from the Secret Service. For example, in January 2003, a Secret Service agent visited the office to discuss an upcoming protest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition, an intern at the Merton Center was visited by an FBI agent at his residence and asked to provide information about various activities at the Merton Center. [my emphasis]

In 2003–a month before the LHR included in the IG Report–the secret service questioned the Merton Center about an upcoming protest. The protest in question was almost certainly an anti-war protest, as that’s all that was listed on its site at the time. And then, at some point before the ACLU filed this FOIA, the FBI was questioning a Merton Center intern at home.

DOJ’s IG’s jurisdiction is limited to DOJ, so it is understandable that the report makes no mention of the Secret Service interview. But there is clearly at least one more FBI action pertaining to the Merton Center that the report doesn’t mention. The absence of any discussion of it is all the more inexcusable since this FOIA was what ultimately led to this report.

The three year investigation of the Merton Center’s anti-war activities as terrorism

Ultimately, the story the IG Report tells is something like this: An FBI supervisor trying to make work for a new agent in 2002  sent him to surveil a Merton Center anti-war event that he labeled as terrorism in his report, but that was just make-work and all other problems can be blamed on the agent’s inexperience. Three months later, someone reporting to that same FBI supervisor wrote a report on the Merton Center’s anti-war actions and again labeled it international terrorism, but since the IG was unable to pinpoint who wrote it and why, we can’t conclude anything about that. Then, the following year, an agent trying to help his son’s friend beat some kind of legal trouble recruited him as an informant and just because of timing had him report on the planning and implementation of an anti-war protest organized by the Merton Center. The underlying premise for that surveillance was also terrorism. But since the agent was just trying to meet his FBI quota for informant work, we don’t have to worry that he used the investigation of POG to once again investigation the Merton Center’s anti-war activities.

And all that leaves aside the FTAA-related surveillance, as well as two more investigative actions that likely pertain to peace activism as well.

So it’s all the result of misguided but relatively harmless chance, the IG wants you to conclude.

Except that looked at more closely, it’s clear that Pittsburgh’s FBI office persistently investigated the Merton Center’s anti-war activism as terrorism.


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. If they’re unwilling to steal a bee’s honey, I figure, they’re going to be unwilling to use force to make their point. So I’m really curious how this operation got beyond the "mere speculation that force or violence might occur" that the US Attorney’s own guidelines demands. And if you’re really intent on infiltrating groups of vegans in anticipation of a bunch of violence-loving Republicans coming to town, why use the JTTF? Last I heard, we were so threatened by terrorists that we had to give up all our phone data to AT&T. But now we’ve got time to infiltrate vegans.

I can only think of one explanation for this. Somehow, Rachel Paulose escaped the cubbyhole they’ve assigned her to in DC and returned to Minneapolis to continue doing absurd things with Minnesota’s federal law enforcement efforts.


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.

That’s a problem for Lemorin for two reasons: Judge Lenard extended the gag order to include him, and immediately upon being acquitted (as his objection to the gag order describes),

Lemorin was spirited away from FDC, Miami and transferred to the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA, by unknown government agents in the dead of night under secretive circumstances.

Apparently, the government has put Lemorin into deportation proceedings and has asserted in public documents, submitted after the gag order, that "Lemorin has liaility in uncharged criminal conduct." That claim presumably makes Lemorin subject to a PATRIOT Act provision that provides the government broad leeway in deporting those with terrorist ties. 

Lemorin is a legal US resident who grew up in the US, is married, and has two kids.

Now, as it turns out, the government wants the gag to extend to include Lemorin’s wife, who spoke with reporters for a January 31 article on Lemorin’s fate.

Lemorin, 32, a lawful U.S. resident, remains behind bars — far from his Miami family — in the tiny town of Lumpkin, Ga., a deportation center 150 miles south of Atlanta.

On Thursday, Lemorin’s wife learned from The Miami Herald that federal authorities have charged her husband with unspecified ”administrative immigration violations” and that he has been placed in ”removal proceedings” that could lead to his deportation to his native Haiti.

”He has kids here, and we really need him home,” said Lemorin’s wife, Charlene Mingo Lemorin. “He can’t do anything for us in Haiti. Everything was settled by the jury. He was found not guilty. It’s like the nightmare is not over.”

[snip]

Lemorin got to know the group’s ringleader, Narseal Batiste, by working odd jobs at his construction company and participating in his religious group, the Moorish Science Temple, which combines Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Batiste began talking about terrorism plans with an FBI informant, who posed as al Qaeda representative. With promises of money, the informant led Batiste and his followers deep into a terrorism plot, including taking loyalty oaths to al Qaeda in March 2006.

But Lemorin had serious reservations, later telling the FBI that he knew ”nothing good would come from this.” Indeed, in April, he moved with his future wife and two children to Atlanta to start over. He and Charlene married the following month.

`A BETTER PLACE’

Charlene said her husband got a job as a stock clerk with Abercrombie & Fitch, and she worked as a hair stylist.

”He wanted to distance himself from the group, and we wanted to pursue our business careers and a better place for our children,” said Charlene, adding that her husband wrote rap songs and wanted to break into the record business.

Their hopes were shattered when the FBI arrested him amid much publicity. ”I was very shocked,” she said.

Charlene Lemorin appears to have said almost nothing about that would not otherwise be available in public court docuements–aside from her concerns that the government is preparing to deport Lemorin to Haiti. But the government has asked the judge to chastise her even for these comments.

Gosh, you think the government doesn’t want us to know that they’re still trying to press charges from their little teevee event? 


“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?

New York criminal defense attorney Joshua Dratel … said repeated mistrials in terrorism cases raise questions about how FBI agents and prosecutors are spending their time: "Shouldn’t they be finding terrorists instead of creating them?" he asked.

Dratel said that jurors in the Liberty City Seven case were "obviously conflicted over whether the defendants were created and cultivated by an informant."

Though the question presumes the intent behind terrorism prosecutions is to combat terrorism. If, however, the intent of terrorism prosecutions–particularly of such pathetic wannabes–is to distract attention from larger issues, then it seems to be doing just the trick. As RawStory pointed out just after the indictments, the indictment of the Liberty City Seven served as a pre-packaged media event, tailor made to distract from other news.

Rameau says that the Liberty City Seven coverage has upstaged other important news. In a conversation with RAW STORY earlier this week, he said that on the day of the Liberty City arrests, “a former director of the right-wing Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) admitted to planning terrorist acts against Cuba.”

Yet this “failed either to draw national attention or merit ‘above the fold’ coverage on the front page of the Miami Herald,” said Rameau.

The CANF conspirators were charged and acquitted by a Puerto Rican jury in 1997, after a federal judge threw out one of the defendants’ self-incriminating statements. No charges have ever been brought against the individuals on the U.S. mainland.

Rameau notes that while the government has taken action against "men with little to no demonstrable capacity to advance their plans beyond the discussion stage,” it has refused to extradite – or prosecute – Luis Posada, suspected mastermind of the bombing of a Cuban airliner “full of human beings” in 1976.

The arrests also came at a time when reports of a covert U.S. program to search bank records of citizens have created blowback for the Administration.

The government’s actions, Rameau claims, exhibit “a double standard in the war on terror, characterized by the selective prosecution of groups with minimal social and political value.”

Rameau further notes that the raid “was timed to happen at the exact same time that FBI Director Robert Mueller was on the Larry King Show. It was a made-for-TV event.”

Somehow, these made-for-TV indictments only seem to end up in prosecutions if the government has destroyed evidence, as they did with Padilla.

Copyright © 2022 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/informants/page/10/