NRA Spy Infiltrates Gun Control Groups

Did the NRA have a spy on $4,500/month retainer inside gun control groups like the Brady Campaign, and the Million Mom March? Mother Jones says deliciously-named activist Mary McFate was leading a double life:

McFate's (now former) colleagues note that she was well-positioned for many years to provide the NRA—or any other gun rights groups—the plans, secrets, and inside gossip of practically the entire gun violence prevention movement. "She had access to all the legislative strategy for every major issue for years," says [legislative director of the Violence Policy Center Kristen] Rand.

You've got to admire her dedication to her craft:

The 62-year-old former flight attendant and sex counselor from Sarasota, Fla., is not new to the world of informants.

She infiltrated an animal-rights group in the late 1980s at the request of U.S. Surgical, and befriended an activist who was later convicted in a pipe bomb attack against the medical-supply business, U.S. Surgical acknowledged in news reports at the time. U.S. Surgical had come under fire for using dogs for research and training.

What McFate did is probably not illegal: "Under some circumstances, it could be trespass," said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a former prosecutor. But "if they're open meetings, it may be underhanded and sneaky; it may not be illegal." Which raises the question: Why doesn't this happen more often, or—if it does—why don't more people get caught?

More on dubious NRA practices here. More on espionage here.

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  • Fluffy||

    This oughta be good.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Fire with fire! I like it! Reminds of that Collateral Damage quote, "I fight terror with terror".

  • Abdul||

    Which reason commenter is actually a committed marxist spying on the rest of us?

    Reinmoose, j'accuse!

  • Elemenope||

    Huh. As anon pithily pointed out on another thread, being evil isn't illegal. (His/her language was more colorful.) And I'm not entirely of the mind that espionage of this sort is even evil, per se.

    It is douchey, though, without a doubt.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Abdul,

    You just gave me a crazy thought. If someone were to infiltrate a police union meeting would it be okay to snitch to the police . . . on the police?

  • ||

    And the reenactment of "Monsters are Due on Maple Street" begins...

    Of course no one will mention that if we had a commie spy amaong us, it would almost be an honor that we're considered a threat.

  • ||

    I dunno, groups dedicated to willfully misreading the Constitution gets teabagged by the NRA. Boo-hoo.

    I like it. Hell, I might join the NRA now. Who knew member dues were actually paying spies.

  • Fluffy||

    And I'm not entirely of the mind that espionage of this sort is even evil, per se.

    I'm definitely not of that mindset.

    After all, think of the situation in reverse. What would we be saying if the Brady Campaign was employing loyalty oaths, and in order to attend one of their meetings or get on a mailing list you had to sign an oath of fealty to various principles, and a confidentiality agreement? Most people would shake their heads and think that was creepy.

    If it's creepy to have the level of control created by organizational loyalty oaths, then it should be the reverse of creepy to not have that control and have people attend your meetings who disagree with you.

  • Episiarch||

    Which reason commenter is actually a committed marxist spying on the rest of us?

    You got me. The state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat!

  • ||

    If you've ever hung out with Libertarians, you can tell who isn't *REALLY* a Libertarian after a handful of conversations. The Drug War thing comes up and someone reflexively mentions The Children... or slips and says "there oughta be a law" one too many times. There are Libertarian ways to disagree about such things as immigration, sure... but there are arguments that are not used by Libertarians (on either side of the debate).

    You can sniff these out.

    Now, imagine someone really, really pro-woman's right to control her own sexual destiny trying to infiltrate, say, Operation Rescue. Imagine showing up to meetings. Imagine having the conversation about the little babies every time you show up. Imagine talking about selfish women who don't want to give up their babies for adoption.

    Now imagine having this conversation every friggin' day.

    You know how libertarians have the drug war conversation every five minutes when they hang out? Well, I reckon the Operation Rescue people talk about abortion every five minutes.

    Now, imagine that you're someone who cares enough about the issue of abortion in infiltrate Operation Rescue.

    How long do you think you'd last in that conversation?

    That's why I think that this stuff doesn't happen that often. It's like pretending to be a true believer in anything. "Real" true believers can tell.

  • ||

    Do the guncontrol nuts also have infiltrants in the NRA? I'm fairly certain they do.

  • ||

    I thought the NRA was a secret cover for gun control groups.

  • ||

    Jaybird - I get that feeling at Ron Paul meetups. I am a true Ron Paul supporter, but I am most definitely and assuredly NOT a Troofer nor any sort of conspiracist. I'm always running across people who look at me like I'm an infiltrator from the Fed.

  • ||

    If it's creepy to have the level of control created by organizational loyalty oaths, then it should be the reverse of creepy to not have that control and have people attend your meetings who disagree with you.

    Lying about it makes it creepy.

    There's nothing wrong with a Buchananite scamming on a hippie chick, but if he pretends to be a socialist vegan to get her into bed, that's pretty scummy.

  • Jesse Walker||

    During his brief employment at Liberty, after my internship there and before I returned to join the staff full-time, Bill Moulton (r.i.p.) told a colleague: "I don't think I want to work with that Jesse Walker person. Tell me the truth: Don't you think he's a Marxist?"

  • Fluffy||

    By the way, to anyone reading this thread, if there are job openings available in the "Spy on Activist Group" area, I am interested. Email me at fluffygreycat4@yahoo.com with the details.

    I will spy on any non-libertarian group and completely betray them without batting an eyelash. Oh, and we can negotiate agent provocateur work as well, but that will take some bonus money.

  • Fluffy||

    There's nothing wrong with a Buchananite scamming on a hippie chick, but if he pretends to be a socialist vegan to get her into bed, that's pretty scummy male.

    Fixed that for you.

  • Episiarch||

    "I don't think I want to work with that Jesse Walker person. Tell me the truth: Don't you think he's a Marxist?"

    That's weird. Are you sure he didn't say "Martian", Mr. "Mendelsohn"?

  • ||

    Euphemism of the week:

    gun violence prevention movement

  • Episiarch||

    OK, Fluffy, I will give you 100 Linden Dollars if you infiltrate Feministing. You would have to become a contributor, of course, and get your picture on the site. Think Tootsie with a heaping of bitterness.

  • ||

    @Jaybird: "Real" true believers can tell."

    No, they are more likely to be deceived. During my agitator days in college, I worked with a group that did abortion clinic defenses. One of our tactics was to infiltrate the religious groups so we could figure out what clinic to defend. The groups were amazingly easy to penetrate and get intel from. As long as you can keep your act together, you're golden.

  • shecky||

    How much is the NRA is in the business of slaying it's own straw men? Or in this case, woman. You have the NRA spy infiltrating a group, whipping up sentiment, so the NRA can point to her and say, "Look what these anti gun nuts mean to do to us! We need your support!"

  • Elemenope||

    I'm definitely not of that mindset.

    After all, think of the situation in reverse.


    I am definitely of the mindset that simply because one action is evil it does not follow that the inverse action is necessarily good. Loyalty oaths and spying are both odious. Much like terrorism and oppression are both odious.

    That's why I think that this stuff doesn't happen that often. It's like pretending to be a true believer in anything. "Real" true believers can tell.

    You'd be utterly shocked how many acquaintances of mine thought I was a Christian until they bothered to ask. (This may not sound like much, but the crowd I run with talks theology the way many talk football.)

  • Matt Moore||

    Reminds me of one of the current plotlines of Weeds. In order to ensure the success of his new coyote business, Doug infiltrates the Minutemen and then helps Mexicans get over the section of border he's supposed to be monitoring.

  • ||

    You've got a point there, Fluffy.

    How about, pretending to be a socialist vegan at the bar, to hook up that night, is one thing; spending 6 months hiding the ground beef and WSJ, and making Marxist small talk with her mom at Thanksgiving, in order to keep getting laid, is scummy.

    If you want to drop in on some group and keep quite and pass, that's one thing; but if you're actually developing relationships with people, lying to them to gain their trust over a period of time, it's quite another.

  • short, fat bastard||

    If you want to drop in on some group and keep quite and pass, that's one thing; but if you're actually developing relationships with people, lying to them to gain their trust over a period of time, it's quite another.

    How else am I supposed to deal with the in-laws?

  • ||

    As a member of the NRA and a proud member of the GOA, the lady deserves a medal.
    Second amendment will, unfortunately, be the most important amendment if Obama wins.

    NRA, god bless it.

    MOLON LABE

  • ||

    Come on... it's Mother Jones. What would their lives be like without the latest conspiracy theory du jour?

  • Other Matt||

    There's nothing wrong with a Buchananite scamming on a hippie chick, but if he pretends to be a socialist vegan to get her into bed, that's pretty scummy male.

    Fixed that for you.


    I'm reminded of a comedian on Sirius who I heard saying "Show me a guy who's a vegetarian, and I'll show you a guy who's trying to fuck a vegetarian"

    That's why I think that this stuff doesn't happen that often. It's like pretending to be a true believer in anything. "Real" true believers can tell.

    I would agree with that, but the number of times that the Brady group has outright knowingly lied leads me to believe their entire organization is founded on deception. Paradoxically, getting feelings that someone was being less than truthful might actually help one infiltrate there. Remember, this is the group that openly admitted and encouraged confusion on semi automatic vs fully automatic firearms.

  • ||

    Why would you care if someone infiltrated your meetings unless you were planning to lie? Really. If you are honest about your intentions, why should you care if the other side knows what you are doing. It is only when you are trying to fool people into a radical position like say I don't know, gun confiscation, by offering seemingly reasonable steps down the slipery slope that you have anything to worry about. You know?

  • ||

    Why would you care if someone infiltrated your meetings unless you were planning to lie?

    Why doesn't the RNC send out a press release about what ad campaigns, featuring which themes, it's going to run in which districts over the next six months?

    Because it's really stupid and harmful for the opposition to know your strategy.

  • ||

    How different is this from what undercover investigative reporters do? Does the fact that the NRA mole relayed the information only to very select audience rather than a large one make that big of a difference?

    Honestly, just throwing it out there ...

  • The Extispicator||

    Because the RNC has no idea what it plans to do six days from now, much less six months.

  • Guy Montag||

    Maybe Hertz should make some car rental commercials along these lines.

  • shecky||

    Considering her involvement, it seems to me that the NRA's existence benefited from helping create a foe that's more powerful than it would otherwise be. Basically, the NRA is playing it's members for chumps. The analogy wouldn't be that of an undercover investigative reporter, but rather a undercover instigative reporter. It's as if undercover cops infiltrate subversive groups only to make the groups more notorious than they would otherwise be. An activity aimed more at self preservation than principle.

  • ||

    How different is this from what undercover investigative reporters do? Does the fact that the NRA mole relayed the information only to very select audience rather than a large one make that big of a difference?

    It's not. If somebody wants to infiltrate any political organization I don't have a real problem with it. Burglary and wiretapping are out of bounds, but getting yourself invited to policy meetings and reporting back are completely legit tactics.

  • Other Matt||

    How different is this from what undercover investigative reporters do? Does the fact that the NRA mole relayed the information only to very select audience rather than a large one make that big of a difference?

    It's not. If somebody wants to infiltrate any political organization I don't have a real problem with it. Burglary and wiretapping are out of bounds, but getting yourself invited to policy meetings and reporting back are completely legit tactics.


    Funny you should mention that...

  • ||

    You know, there wouldn't even be an NRA if the ACLU was a real civil-rights outfit.

    Do the guncontrol nuts also have infiltrants in the NRA? I'm fairly certain they do.

    It's also well documented that they have a bunch of astroturf outfits with things like "responsible" or "reasonable" in their names or mission statements. Even Obama claims to support "reasonable" gun rights. The anti-gunners are hardly as open as they proclaim.

    http://guncite.com/gun_control_gcnobody.html

    There's nothing wrong with a Buchananite scamming on a hippie chick, but if he pretends to be a socialist vegan to get her into bed, that's pretty scummy.

    I don't know how your parents met, but isn't that where baby Libertarians come from?

  • ||

    Joe-3:16 pm

    Tough tofu for the vegan chick.

  • ||

    SuoerMike-

    A fact: The ACLU filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Heller.

  • Other Matt||

    It's as if undercover cops infiltrate subversive groups only to make the groups more notorious than they would otherwise be. An activity aimed more at self preservation than principle.

    There are a number who believe the NRA is doing just that, and is more committed to the status quo than actual change. I dropped my membership simply because I spoke to the state lobbyist and realized they weren't doing anything with my money that couldn't be done better by others. I don't particularly believe that they're trying to create the Bradybunch to be more than they are, but I do subscribe to a slant in their policies towards self preservation.

    It would be nice if they really weren't needed. Unfortunately, I don't see that being a reality any time soon.

    A fact: The ACLU filed an amicus brief in support of Mr. Heller.

    It's interesting to see how strongly the ACLU chapers disagree on the issue, primarily based on geographic location.

  • Other Matt||

    BTW, here's ACLU national position on Heller, per their website:

    "The ACLU disagrees with the Supreme Court's conclusion about the nature of the right protected by the Second Amendment. We do not, however, take a position on gun control itself. In our view, neither the possession of guns nor the regulation of guns raises a civil liberties issue."

    They still are hung on "collective right".

  • Guy Montag||

    libertymike,

    Interesting. Did it detract from this much?


    Updated: 7/8/2008
    The Second Amendment provides: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    ACLU POSITION
    Given the reference to "a well regulated Militia" and "the security of a free State," the ACLU has long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right. For seven decades, the Supreme Court's 1939 decision in United States v. Miller was widely understood to have endorsed that view.

    The Supreme Court has now ruled otherwise. In striking down Washington D.C.'s handgun ban by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in D.C. v. Heller held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms, whether or not associated with a state militia.

    The ACLU disagrees with the Supreme Court's conclusion about the nature of the right protected by the Second Amendment. We do not, however, take a position on gun control itself. In our view, neither the possession of guns nor the regulation of guns raises a civil liberties issue.

    ANALYSIS
    Although ACLU policy cites the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Miller as support for our position on the Second Amendment, our policy was never dependent on Miller. Rather, like all ACLU policies, it reflects the ACLU's own understanding of the Constitution and civil liberties.

    Heller takes a different approach than the ACLU has advocated. At the same time, it leaves many unresolved questions, including what firearms are protected by the Second Amendment, what regulations (short of an outright ban) may be upheld, and how that determination will be made.

    Those questions will, presumably, be answered over time.


    Emphasis mine.

  • ||

    It's also well documented that they have a bunch of astroturf outfits with things like "responsible" or "reasonable" in their names or mission statements.

    Anyone who knows anything about contemporary political discourse knows that the words "responsible" and "reason....". Er, nevermind.

  • ||

    Jaybird,

    Funny you should use that example. I got pregnant with my second child while attending college at UT Austin. Over the summer, we had an arm of Operation Rescue set up in town. I went to their meetings and reported back to a couple of women's groups on campus about when and where the OR weenies were going to be protesting so they were continually met by counter-protestors and escorts for the women going to the clinics.

    OR did not want me coming to the protests since I was pregnant and there was a chance that I or my unborn child could be injured. It worked like a charm. They never caught on and we were eventually able to drive them out of town.

    I probably had an unfair advantage over most of my pro-choice friends. In addition to being pregnant, I was raised Southern Baptist.

  • Ken Hagler||

    It sounds to me like the NRA got scammed out of a lot of money. It's not like there's any secret to the goals or strategies of gun-control organizations...

  • ||

    A Libertarian National Committee member, Matt Monroe, obtained some info under the Freedom of Information Act in the 1980s that clearly revealed the FBI had an informant on the LNC.

  • ||

    I don't know what the person discussed here did or did not do, but no one should be confident that this kind of conduct doesn't expose someone to criminal liability. Describing what you see at meetings open to the public is one thing, and I don't see how that wouldn't be legal. However, taking copies of documents an organization considers confidential in order to provide them to an interested third party may well be a species of theft. Making false statements in order to obtain access to those documents might be another kind of crime, or might be an element of a different charge of theft.

  • ||

    Other Matt and Guy-

    My mistake, my bad. After Heller, I skimmed at least a dozen of the amicus briefs and one of them was submitted by the American Civil Rights Union, not the American Civil Liberties Union.

    My brain truly farted. My apologies.

  • Robert Goodman||

    Why am I the only one mentioning that spying is fun?

  • Geotpf||

    Robert Goodman | August 6, 2008, 5:37pm | #

    Why am I the only one mentioning that spying is fun?


    Yeah, but it's really annoying when an enemy spy keeps sapping your sentry and dispenser.

    /video game humor

  • Jordan||

    Considering her involvement, it seems to me that the NRA's existence benefited from helping create a foe that's more powerful than it would otherwise be. Basically, the NRA is playing it's members for chumps.



    How does gathering information about a foe amount to "creat[ing] a foe that's more powerful..."? If the New England Patriots get ahold of their opponents' playbooks, does that make their opponents more powerful on the field?

  • Observationalist||

    Or stealing your Great People.

    *****

    Yeah, but it's really annoying when an enemy spy keeps sapping your sentry and dispenser.

    /video game humor

  • Paul||

    If you send someone into an open meeting or have them join a public group, are they spying?

    Do the guncontrol nuts also have infiltrants in the NRA? I'm fairly certain they do.

    Do we care? Does it matter? I've got a secret strategy to protect the first amendment, but I can't show it to you. You might be spying.

  • Paul||

    but if he pretends to be a socialist vegan to get her into bed, that's pretty scummy.

    Especially when he convinces her to go carnivore in an intimate moment. And uh, just curious, why do we assume the Buchananite is a 'he' and the socialist vegan is a 'she'?

  • ||

    I smell a Hollywood agent trying to drum up interest for an option contract. Sixty-two years old, been doing weird shit all her life and *all of a sudden* she's making news on a monthly basis. Go figure.

    http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2008-07-03/news/florida-s-last-sexual-surrogate/2

    Why do I know this? I don't know. But let me just say, I called the JT Leroy scam when "he" first showed up, I knew that was some bullshit. My only mistake was that I thought it was a team of out-of-work screenwriters, not just one broke writer with some help.

  • Paul||

    [...] but if you're actually developing relationships with people, lying to them to gain their trust over a period of time, it's quite another.

    Kind of like when a woman marries 'up' only to end up demanding a divorce and slashing and burning the estate she married into. Naw, man, I'm with ya all the way. Scummy as hell.

  • Jon||

    As David Codrea of a gun blog said:

    "Any chair in a bar fight"

    I hate the NRA and think they would trade away my rights for their political gain. Still I think this is hilarious.

  • JB||

    Screw the Brady Bunch. Damn fascists want to see everyone disarmed.

  • ||

    I wonder what the Brady group is so scared of?

  • Other Matt||

    Other Matt and Guy-

    My mistake, my bad. After Heller, I skimmed at least a dozen of the amicus briefs and one of them was submitted by the American Civil Rights Union, not the American Civil Liberties Union.

    My brain truly farted. My apologies.


    No worries, I just figured some local chapter from TX had filed or something, and you just weren't aware of the ACLU National position. Glad we got that clarified.

  • Other Matt||

    I wonder what the Brady group is so scared of?

    Perhaps...truth?

  • ||

    Uh...TMI there, Paul.

    But, yeah, it would be sort of like that, except instead of "ending up," that would be the plan from the beginning.

  • ||

    What McFate did is probably not illegal: "Under some circumstances, it could be trespass,"

    Only if the meetings were held on the organization's own property, were closed to the public, and she made material misrepresentations in order to gain admission.

    And, as noted above, if that's trespass, so is investigative reporting in the same circumstances. Not to mention nearly any police undercover operation where they go onto private property without a warrant.

  • ||

    The anti-gun organizations crying foul over the McFate incident is a hilarious example of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the anti-gun Violence Policy Center has a federal license to sell guns (that would be license number 1-54-000-01-8C-00725 for those of you interested in checking at the BATFE's FFL EZ Check online system.

    And one single spy from the NRA is nothing compared to the anti-gun people's attempts to start entire false-flag operations to try to deceive gun owners. The most current attempt would be the American Hunters and Shooters Association, who's entire board of directors is made up of notable anti-gun activists.

    Maybe Mother Jones should do an expose on the AHSA?

  • ||

    *taps microphone*

    Hello? Is this thing on?

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