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Lessons from a Criminal Complaint

What follows are my observations on the criminal complaint, case number 206-MJ-0021, filed by the FBI in the case of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. ERIC McDAVID, LAUREN WEINER, and ZACHARY JENSON. I believe my observations my be salient to many dissidents engaged in legal protest activities. They may be salient to others as well.

Lessons from a Criminal Complaint

Author: Stephen DeVoy

What follows are my observations on the criminal complaint, case number 206-MJ-0021, filed by the FBI in the case of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. ERIC McDAVID, LAUREN WEINER, and ZACHARY JENSON. I believe my observations my be salient to many dissidents engaged in legal protest activities. They may be salient to others as well.

I too was placed under surveillance by the U.S. Government.  I was not engaged in any illegal activities.  The purpose of the "investigation" against me was to harass and silence me in the spirit of the COINTELPRO operations that were made illegal in the 1980s.  Like Eric McDavid, Lauren Weiner, and Zachary Jenson, I was placed under surveillance by the Bush Regime.  Upon reading the "evidence" against the defendants in the case under discussion here, many statements concerning the infiltrator denoted as "Anna" paralleled my observations about an individual that I believed infiltrated my protest activities.

The observations herein, however, will focus almost exclusively upon the activities of "Anna," though my focus upon them has been inspired by my own personal experiences as a subject of COINTELPRO.  What I hope to accomplish is to alert dissidents of the techniques attributed to "Anna" in the criminal complaint.  Even if "Anna" did a good job at concealing these techniques, dissidents under surveillance by COINTELPRO should be able to exploit this information to make it impossible for other infiltrators to repeat these same techniques undiscovered.

I have never met any of the defendant in this case.  I have not attended any of the events described in the complaint.  I have never communicated with anyone involved in the case.  I have no comment on their activities, goals, or motivations.  My only intent is to alert lawful dissidents to what they might learn from the criminal complaint as worded by the FBI so that they can apply it to make FBI interference and harassment of their legal political activities more difficult.

Most probably, some readers do know the defendants.  I encourage them NOT to post anything in response to this article.  If you have something to say that you believe may help them, you should not post that information online.  You should contact the attorneys of the defendants.  Anything you post in response to this article might be used by the FBI against them.

Let us begin with the infiltrator referred to in the document as "Anna."  On page 3, line 15, the complaint reads: "S/he has worked for no other agencies and has no criminal history. The (sic) s/he has provided information that has been utilized in at least twelve separate anarchist cases."  In my personal opinion, this is a large number of cases.  Clearly, the FBI has used her in targeting anarchists in particular.  There must be a reason for this.  On line 11 of the same page, the document states: "The CS receives compensation for his/her work with the FBI."  This implies that she is paid for her "services."  I find it difficult to believe that a real anarchist would turn around and begin selling her comrades for money.  Therefore, I think it is unlikely that she is a turncoat.  Moreover, on line 10 of the same page, the document states: "S/he has worked for no other agencies and has no criminal history."  This appears to rule out the possibility that she was engaged in criminal activity and agreed to cooperate in exchange for leniency.  Therefore, it would appear that she was hired from the beginning to infiltrate anarchist organizations, cells, groups, or networks.  She is, it seems, purely a spy.

We should assume that she is close in age to the defendants.  Eric McDavid is 28 years old.  Zachary Jenson is 20 years old.  Lauren Weiner is 20 years old.  All three defendants are white.  Given that "Anna" appears to have behaved as though she were a helper to Eric McDavid and that she was cast for that role, assuming the FBI would find a fit congruent with social expectations, I believe we can assume that "Anna" is younger than Eric McDavid.  I would assume that she is between 20 and 26 years old.  I would also assume that she is white.  Why, you might ask?  Well, a white female anarchist tagging along with three white anarchists is much less likely to be remembered than a non white anarchist tagging along with three white anarchists.  Since we have seen no photos of her posted yet, I think we can assume that she blended right in.  In fact, if, as the FBI claims, she has been used in twelve previous anarchist cases (which are not connected), we can assume that she has never been exposed as an infiltrator before, despite a very recent serial infiltration spree.

It seems likely that there are twelve sets of anarchists out there that either suspect they had been infiltrated or know that they had been infiltrated.  One would think that at least a few of those sets would both know that they had been infiltrated and know who infiltrated them.  Yet, despite this, she has never been exposed.  How is this possible?

One of the nearly ubiquitously accepted rules of activist culture is that one should never accuse someone of being an infiltrator unless one is 100% certain.  Therefore, I think it is likely that several activists took this rule to heart and by their silence allowed "Anna" to ply her trade undetected until finally she was able to destroy the lives of at least three anarchists.  Indeed, it seems to me that Eric McDavid himself suspected that "Anna" just may be an infiltrator and chose to remain silent.  On page 7, line 8 the document states: "Shortly after the event, McDavid spoke with the CS about his plans to engage in criminal activity in support of his political beliefs. He prefaced the disclosure of his plans by warning that if the CS were working with law enforcement, he would kill him/her."  Now, if this statement by the FBI is to be believed (remember, there is a long history of the FBI lying to win convictions), then Eric McDavid seems to have believed that it was possible that "Anna" was an infiltrator.  Since, as the document shows, "Anna" was able to continue accompanying Eric for an extended period of time, we must assume that he decided to trust her, despite his first intuitions.

I too had similar intuitions about someone who I believe was an infiltrator in an extended (several months) protest action and I chose to allow that person to continue working with me.  I kept my beliefs about him secret until long after the action stopped and I believed the evidence was overwhelming.  However, during that period in between, this person did many things that run in exact parallel with the things that "Anna" is reported to have done.  Had I confronted my intuitions in the beginning, I might have avoided a lot of grief.  Had Eric confronted his intuitions, he may have avoided a great deal of grief for himself and his alleged associates.  If there is a lesson to be learned in this it is to listen to your intuitions and investigate fully anyone who provokes your intuition.  At some point, as I pointed out above, "Anna" must have suddenly appeared on the scene with no history.  It is a pity that no one searched back far enough, if they searched at all, to verify that she was who she claimed to be.

The next significant set of items in the document is the claim that the defendants voluntarily allowed many of their allegedly incriminating activities to be video recorded.  On page 12, line 3, the document states: "In conversations conducted in the presence of the CS, and observed by agents via consensual video and audio monitoring, the subjects planned a trip to San Francisco, CA for the following day."  What does this mean?  Did the suspects agree to be monitored by video?  The document states that the two males were highly security conscious.  Why would they allow themselves to be monitored by video?  My guess is that this is another clue about "Anna's" modus operandi.  Somehow, "Anna" was able to quickly join up with Eric and convince him to allow her to tag along with him.  He suspected from the onset that she might be an infiltrator.  What made him think that?  In light of the fact that we now have reason to believe that "Anna" had video recording equipment and that she used this video equipment to record the suspects discussing, among other things, alleged plans to to "acquire materials for a [explosive] device... Materials mentioned were potassium chloride, a hot plate, and a car battery."(page 12, line 10), we should suspect that "Anna" was posing as some kind of documentary film maker.  If this suspicion is correct, it may explain how she was able to drop in on the lives of 12 networks of anarchists and then disappear without anyone suspecting she was an infiltrator.  The person I believe to have infiltrated my group also had video equipment and claimed that documenting what we were doing was one of his primary goals.  In each case, he asked for our consent.

Other references to these video recordings are also made.  On page 13, line 13 the document reads: "While in the cabin, and in the presence of the CS, agents observed via consensual audio and video recording, the subjects as they discussed targets."  Again, this is exactly the kind of thing a documentary maker might wish to record.

Along the way, "Anna" needed to keep in contact with her handlers at the FBI.  The document in several places makes it clear that text messaging was the primary means of communicating with "Anna" during her surveillance activities.  Occasionally, "Anna" would separate from the group and meet with FBI agents.  In my own experience, the person I expect to have been an infiltrator frequently used his cell phone's text messaging.  He frequently separated from us and at times was observed suddenly meeting previous acquaintances, upon which times he would separate from us and talk with these individuals without introducing them to us.  Many of these individuals did not match the demographic of his fellow protesters in any way (in terms of dress or class).  What I take away from the description of "Anna" is that one should be suspicious of comrades that disappear without good explanation while activities are being planned or are underway.  Moreover, "Anna" seems to have been much better equipped in terms of technology than her primitivist or green comrades.  That difference should have been obvious within the group.

It is possible that "Anna" hid her cell phone and/or text messaging device from her comrades.  However, if security were at all important to the group, one would think that they would have discovered that she had the means to communicate outside of the group while secret activities were in play and that she was in fact doing just that.

The document frequently mentions the fact that agents were following the group from place to place.  There are procedures available to make it difficult for someone to follow undetected.  Perhaps more effort needs to be placed in detecting government stalkers.

Finally, two members of the group maintained a presence on the Internet and made statements online which were conjoined with actual events and then presented in the document as evidence against the group.  This is a major security flaw.

Before I move on, I would like to point out that there is another possible interpretation of the words "observed via consensual audio and video recording."  From a legal point of view, "consent" might refer to the knowledge of the infiltrator that monitoring is underway.  Under this scenario, only the infiltrator would be aware of monitoring.  If this is true, then another question needs to be addressed.  Why didn't the defendants take steps to ensure that they were not being monitored while making plans?  Why didn't they sweep their meeting places for monitoring devices?  Why didn't they constrain their planning to locations where such surveillance is more difficult?  Why didn't they ensure that no person within their group was wearing a wire?

Finally, the document indicates that "Anna" was authorized to break the law when assisting with alleged crimes.  On page 3, line 22 the document states: "On December 22, 2005, the CS was granted authority to participate in Tier 1 Otherwise Illegal Activity as part of his/her involved in the investigation..."

On the day of the arrest, she is alleged to have assisted the defendants in purchasing bomb making materials at a Kmart.  On page 14, line 11, the document states: "The agents observed the subjects, not the CS, carry bags of items from the Kmart to the CS's car."  This is stated explicitly.  The FBI wishes readers of the document to believe that the CS did not place bags of bomb making materials into the suspect's car, but that the suspects did this themselves.  This is an important item to note.  We must assume that "Anna" was instructed to not place the evidence in the car.  If one believes one is being set up for a crime, an apparent test is to have the suspected infiltrator transfer the contraband and/or maintain possession of it.

Many of the observations I have made are nothing more than educated guesses.  Nevertheless, I believe there is much that dissidents engaged in legal protest can learn from this document released by the FBI.

 

 
 


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