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.
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
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.