James Comey's living legacy, and the permanent institutional stain on the FBI more generally, is that we cannot take the Bureau's claims as truthful. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
In the past few days, news reports have alerted us to an FBI claim that a militia group was planning to kidnap the governor of Michigan. The Detroit Free Press wrote:
"Thirteen members of an anti-government group bent on igniting a civil war are charged in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who the group targeted in a possible commando raid on the state capitol, according to newly unsealed court records.
"Authorities said Thursday that the Wolverine Watchmen group planned on storming either the capitol or Whitmer's vacation home as part of a broader mission to instigate a civil war."
Half of the country does not believe the FBI. Is it possible that the militia story is another contrived, anti-Trump, smear job by elements within the FBI? If the FBI headquarters can run a coup against the president, can Michigan FBI agents phony-up some charges against fringe characters with sketchy criminal information?
It would not be the first time. Back on March 29, 2010, the Department of Justice announced the following:
"Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade and FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena announced today."
The 2010 Michigan militia group called themselves the "Hutarees." The case did not end well for the FBI. Charges were dropped. Others from the Hutarees faced lesser charges. Some of the Hutarees ended up suing the government over the investigation and prosecution. It seems the FBI went too far on too little.
"Militia" is a news media certified code-word for Trump-supporter. FBI-doubters know the bureau launched a sophisticated operation against the Trump campaign, Trump transition, and finally the Trump administration. Even the New York Times admits it. It was a soft coup. The entire criminal conspiracy is being documented now in movies.
The FBI's reputation has been destroyed through blatant politicization. Here are the corrupt political police: Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Clinesmith, Pientka, Brower, Baker, et al. That is a collection of various dirty cops, oath-breakers, coup-plotters, and persons "lacking candor" in FBI parlance. Those are just some of the FBI "headliners" -- no Justice Department names on that list.
Current FBI Director Christopher Wray hardly engenders confidence as a strong leader bent on cleaning house and reforming a corrupt agency that attempted a soft coup against the presidency. Wray is all about damage control and institutional preservation. When it comes to honesty, Wray does not have a tough act to follow. That is why he is comfortable making the demonstrably false claim that Antifa is more of an ideology than a group.
Now we are dealing with reports of the "Wolverine Watchmen." Here is the interesting part of one of the news reports where we should pay close attention. (It is also the operational part of the FBI's activities wherein things have a tendency to legally fall apart):
"Members of the group bought weapons, conducted surveillance and held training and planning meetings, but they were foiled in part because the FBI infiltrated the group with informants, according to a criminal complaint. Six were charged with federal kidnapping offenses, and at least seven others face state charges." [Emphasis added]
Also pay attention to this excerpt from the news report:
"The FBI used confidential informants as part of the investigation and has paid one of them more than $14,000 and paid $8,600 to another, according to the affidavit."
While the anti-Trump media codeword "militia" is used to describe the alleged plotters -- video evidence from Twitter and YouTube reveals that one of the leaders is an anarchist, certainly not a "right wing Trumpster."
This is a video of Brandon Caserta, one of the ringleaders of the group of men arrested for a plot where the group planned to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Caserta has an anarchist flag behind him and in YouTube videos trashes police. He's not a Republican, he's an anarchist. pic.twitter.com/J1vE2qGYL7— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 8, 2020
Likewise, more questions are raised about the plotters, their affiliations, and motives with this news report:
"One of alleged plotters, 23-year-old Daniel Harris, attended a Black Lives Matter protest in June, telling the Oakland County Times he was upset about the killing of George Floyd and police violence."
Perhaps the FBI's case is 100% true? Perhaps the kidnapping story is legitimate? Perhaps this is not a piece of agitation propaganda? Would a governor cooperate or be complicit in the phony smear? Would the news media blow the anti-Trump dog whistle and blame the president for a kidnapping that never actually happened?
Of course, the presumption of innocence is foundational to our system of justice. Comey's living legacy, and the permanent institutional stain on the FBI more generally, is that we cannot take the Bureau's claims as truthful. We used to give due credence to sworn Special Agents of the FBI. No more.
Chris Farrell is a former counterintelligence case officer. For the past 20 years, he has served as the Director of Investigations & Research for Judicial Watch. The views expressed are the author's alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.