FBI

FBI Spent Years Infiltrating Patriots Movement, Completely Missed Timothy McVeigh

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Terrorist or criminal?

Foreign Policy has a fascinating piece up by J.M. Buerger detailing the FBI's years-long infiltration of the "Patriots Movement" more than two decades ago:

Starting in April 1991, three FBI agents posed as members of an invented racist militia group called the Veterans Aryan Movement. According to their cover story, VAM members robbed armored cars, using the proceeds to buy weapons and support racist extremism. The lead agent was a Vietnam veteran with a background in narcotics, using the alias Dave Rossi.

Code-named PATCON, for "Patriot-conspiracy," the investigation would last more than two years, crossing state and organizational lines in search of intelligence on the so-called Patriot movement, the label applied to a wildly diverse collection of racist, ultra-libertarian, right-wing and/or pro-gun activists and extremists who, over the years, have found common cause in their suspicion and fear of the federal government.

The undercover agents met some of the most infamous names in the movement, but their work never led to a single arrest. When [Oklahoma City bomber Timothy] McVeigh walked through the middle of the investigation in 1993, he went unnoticed.

The only criminal charges filed in relation to the "Patriot-conspiracy" investigation, in fact, were for the theft of Army night vision goggles, a crime that had been initially uncovered during the FBI investigation but was subsequently pursued by U.S. Army investigators separately.  

Buerger uncovered many of the details about the FBI's infiltration of the Patriot Movement through FOIA requests and the whole thing is worth a read, especially given today's similar attempts to infiltrate entire Muslim communities. And for some historical context, here's a Reason review from 1996 of two books that came out on the militia movement in the aftermath of Oklahoma City.

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48 responses to “FBI Spent Years Infiltrating Patriots Movement, Completely Missed Timothy McVeigh

  1. ultra-libertarian

    I’d like to know what he thinks this means, because I seriously doubt it means anything coherent.

    1. libertarian : ultralibertarian :: man : ultraman

      I’m pretty sure they’re calling him a hero or something.

    2. I’d think ultra-libertarian would rule out being racist.

      1. You’d think. But he wouldn’t.

      2. Tell that to Lew Rockwell. *zing*

  2. I’m not generally a conspiracy theorists, per se, however, that whole thing smelled extraordinarily fishy to me. Have we ever seen anyone executed so swiftly?

    1. It was at his request.

      1. Yeah, I remember that. But it seemed odd that it was honored. Maybe it happens frequently in lesser profile cases.

        1. It happens, but rarely.

          I think McVeigh thought he would go to Valhalla.

          Instead, he is spending eternity in a Vauxhall.

          1. …listening only to Morrissey’s solo albums

    2. well he coulda been shot while resisting.

    3. The guy who tried to assassinate FDR in Miami in the 30s (and killed the Mayor of Chicago by accident) was executed 20-something days after the assassination. He plead guilty and asked to be executed swiftly.

      1. ah, but those were simpler times!

      2. Gary Gilmore seemed to take forever.

  3. “the so-called Patriot movement, the label applied to a wildly diverse collection of racist, ultra-libertarian, right-wing and/or pro-gun activists and extremists who, over the years, have found common cause in their suspicion and fear of the federal government.”

    If the government was infiltrating their organization, I would think their suspicion had merit.

  4. The feds could do this a lot easier, if they just did these simple, SPLC-approved tasks:

    1. Arrest everyone who either voted for, or supports, any non-Republican/Democrat candidate (this must include Green Party support, but Team Blue would have a net gain in getting rid of their enemies, all non-liberals)

    2. Roadblocks to round up people displaying FairTax, Gadsen flag, or “I’m proud to homeschool my child” bumper stickers

    3. Internet dragnets to target everyone who has ever said anything even as mild as “I disagree with the current administration”

    Then again… if they did that, what would they do all day? No domestic insurgents left, eventually, so DHS and the FBI would have to find NEW enemies of the state…

    1. You forgot the Sovereign Citizens.

      1. He forgot the stident anti pasteurization milk crazies. And uh, EVERYONE who comments on this message board……except me! Listen FBI, TSA, NSA, SEC, HHS, TIT, IRS and VAG – I welcome your overlordiness!

        1. The funny part is, those alphabet soup of gov’t agencies only have jurisdiction over D.C., the ten mile square that was given them in the Constitution.

          1. I also left out fans of jury nullification, people who openly mock Keynesian economic theory, users of The Male Gaze, members of NORML, and many others.

            I’m not the SPLC here, guys. I can’t type out every domestic terrorism practitioner category.

  5. The only criminal charges filed in relation to the “Patriot- conspiracy” investigation, in fact, were for the theft of Army night vision goggles…

    Do you have any idea how much those things cost?

    Holy shit, now I can’t post because “Your comment contains a word that is too long.”

    Come on Reason, I knew libertarians were anti-intellectual, but this is going too far.

    1. Honorificabilitudinitatibus?

  6. If OBL had taken an apartment across the street from the Hoover Building, he’d still be alive today.

  7. FOIA documents show that the FBI had an informant on the Libertarian National Committee in the 1980s. They redacted those portions that would have revealed just who the spy was.

    1. Was Donderooooooo ever on the LNC?

    2. No doubt someone who was spouting off all kinds of stupid in effort to instigate or entrap.

      1. Remember “Terry” and his “libertarian militia”? There was also some schmuck posting some crap here like “I’m a 14 year old boy, and I’d like to learn more about libertarian philosophy from a fat middle aged man”. This was back when joe from lowell used to post here – he called the agent out.

        1. I’d like to think that if there is, hypothetically speaking, an underground violent libertarian organization they’d be smart enough to not brag about it on public forums.

          1. So you’re not bragging about being in an underground organization. Hmmnm.

        2. Cops make obvious trolls.

          1. Hi, I’m only 13 and would like to meet you in your cobwebbed basement to discuss politics. Please message me. /sarcasm

            1. Hey, you want to blow up the police station? I can help you make a bomb! Please message me. /sarcasm

  8. What a waste – I would be investigating the danger Columbian escorts pose to the POTUS – and I wouldn’t stop till I got to their bottoms…

    1. If Bill Clinton was still President he would get to the bottom of this story.

      1. It’s not about fatties.

  9. It really is a shocking lack of investigatory zeal that Reason has not delved into the enormous threat to liberty that SS agents and Columbian prostitutes…or hookers, …or escorts pose to the country. Not to mention the opportunity for MILLIONS of double ententres….

    1. Ignoring it prevents the SS from stopping in while marching down Conn. avenue on the way to the Royal Palace.

  10. Somewhat strange that none of the DEA employees went to work at the Murrah building on the day of the bombing.

  11. I wonder if it was an FBI guy who rigged the truck for McVeigh. Making a bomb that big that actually works takes a little skill. I don’t remmber any revelations about McVeigh’s practice bombs.

    1. I believe he picked up those skills as a soldier.

      1. Wasn’t he just a gunner on a Bradley? (Wiki seems to think so.) I don’t recall that the Army taught your basic soldier/Bradley crewman, the in’s and out’s of advanced demolitions work. I didn’t remember reading that he had taken any of the Army’s demolitions schools. And a ~5000 lb improvised bomb of ANFO, nitromethane, powdered aluminum and whatever else they jammed in there, is not something you’re likely to get working right the first time. As we’ve seen with many homegrown jihadis who’ve gotten their explosives knowledge from the media.

        Unlike johnl, I don’t think the FBI built his bomb (though I wonder just how in touch with McVeigh before the bombing the FBI was), but I definitely think he had some help from someone/some group that knew what they were doing.

        1. Google “McVeigh test bomb”.

          1. …if you want to meet an FBI agent in real life.

            1. …if you want to meet an FBI agent in real life.

              LOL.

              sarc, I’ve read some of the publicly available descriptions of the bomb, and I’m aware he tested a gallon jug pilot model, but the full-scale device really seemed like something he & Nichols needed help with. Scale-up often equals screw-up. How was he to know that his primaries wouldn’t just scatter the fertilizer for a few 10s of feet, instead of initiating a successful detonation? Maybe I’m just a pessimist?

              Also, where did he get the Tevex (sp?) gel-explosives that were the primaries for the device? I can see buying a pallet of fertilizer, back in those more innocent days; I can see buying a buttload of drag racing fuel for your hobbyist drag racer; but where does an ordinary guy get (IIRC) 325 pounds of what was, essentially, dynamite?

              Again, not saying the FBI built the damned thing for him, or even gave him some of the materials, but getting a device like that to work right the first time seemed like the sort of thing beyond the capabilities of a bunch of skinhead bank robbers, veterans or not.

    2. Wasn’t there a flurry of arrests with a Georgia militia back then? If I am not mixing stories, the FBI infiltrator taught the group how to make pipe bombs before anybody mentioned wanting to make any bombs. Why doesn’t that count in this set?

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