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Threat Level Midnight
Another FBI caper.
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On October 8, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stood before a podium looking exactly like Lord Farquaad’s twin sister and announced, with all the solemnity and seriousness of a funeral home director and the contrived regality of someone who plainly aspires to hold higher office, that the FBI and Michigan State Police had arrested six Michigan militia members who called themselves the “Wolverine Watchmen.”
She wasted no time in pinning the blame on then-President Donald Trump, with whom Whitmer had engaged in a very public, vigorous, multiform cat fight throughout 2020 over pandemic lockdowns.
According to Whitmer, Trump fueled the rage of alleged white supremacists and right-wing militias responsible for the dastardly abduction plot. “When our leaders meet with, encourage, or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions,” Whitmer said in a televised speech. “And they are complicit.”
This claim has not aged well.
Welp, I said it back in July, folks, and now the spazzes are a-spazzin’.
A few days ago, one of the most high profile “domestic terrorism” trials ever came to a conclusion, and that conclusion was a slap in the face for self-righteous, tribalistic, myopic January-6th-was-worse-than-9/11-and-lockdown-protestors-are-WHITE SUPREMACIST-DOMESTIC TERRORISTS-and-TRUMP-IS-HITLER-and-if-you-disagree-with-any-of-this-or-question-anything-our-noble-overlords-and-MSM-luminaries-spoon-feed-us-then-you-are-a-NAZI! sheep everywhere, so much so that a great many of them were, unprecedentedly, rendered temporarily speechless.
This is a case I've followed closely from the start. I'm originally from Michigan, not too far from where the accused live, and so I was naturally curious about the depraved, rifle-toting white supremacists whom Trump1 had apparently legitimized by way of encouragement and fraternization.
“Forsooth!” I said to myself. “Whomst art thou ursine whoresons that bethought to snatch my liege? I shall unseam ye from the nave to the chaps and fix thy heads upon the battlements!”
I submit that the timing of this deserves contemplation—when the FBI announced they’d once again successfully foiled a domestic terrorism plot in spectacular fashion, only this time they’d thwarted — gasp! — the nation’s gravest homeland security threat per FBI Director Christopher Wray: Right-wing Extremist White (heterosexual, cisgender, male) Supremacists!
This had a ripple effect reaching far beyond the confines of the courtroom. October 8, 2020 was right about when the presidential election was rapidly reaching its crescendo. And this presidential election was different. It was as heated and contentious as any of its predecessors, including the elections of 1860 and 1864, if not more so, but that's what happens when one political party collegiately operates in unison with the mainstream media, Big Tech, and leaders of seminal cultural institutions to reframe an election as a Threat Level Midnight existential crisis — the end of America and democracy itself if the incumbent president wins — and propagates a whatever-it-takes politick in conjunction with the-means-justify-the-ends rhetoric to turn abhorrent agitprop into something more palatable.
The Whitmer kidnapping case played right into the prevailing narrative at the time. Our pantheon of pundits — moral guidon bearers all, to be sure — initiated another round of orgiastic but not-at-all-exaggerated news coverage that was very much needed considering the BLM riots — apologies, so silly of me; not riots, but protests, albeit with a $2 billion price tag billed to American taxpayers — seemed to be upsetting some (obviously racist) voters.
The case provided even more fodder in service to the imminent Threat Level Midnight existential crisis narrative that was used to usher in, under the pretext of pandemic measures and with the help of round-the-clock “public health and safety” and an “abundance of caution” sound bites, the usurpation of state rights and federalization of the election—quite literally our Founding Fathers’ worst nightmare, metaphorically equivalent to setting the U.S. Constitution down on a remote back road in Ukraine during peak mud season and doing a little tap dance on it.
The FBI Leaves Much To Be Desired
You should be apprised up front that your writer finds himself saddled with a growing distrust of all things Federal Bureau of Investigation.
I believe it's an organization that’s corruptly partisan at the highest levels, one that has engineered multiple political psyops since the advent of Trump.
Important to mention here that my views re the FBI are not synonymous with my views on law enforcement in general (or any other entity for that matter); while it’s common to lump everyone who carries a gun and a badge under the same category and simply refer to them all as “cops,” in reality the FBI isn't a police organization. Q.v. — The FBI's own website:
Key word here is federal, folks. We all know the significance of that word, that adjective in contemporary America. It means not subject to oversight. Ostensibly beholden to Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice, the attorney general, and the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI has in all actuality been able to do more or less whatever it wants, without consequence, since 9/11. Fear is a potent weapon when deftly wielded.
I can provide you with a laundry list of links to eminently readable articles and stories such as this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this for starters, each of which provides an in-depth account of the Bureau doing sketchy, slimy things to American citizens. Saying that the FBI is full of scumbags is probably a little too harsh. I'm going to say it anyways, though: The FBI is full of scumbags.2
One of the Bureau's favorite less-than-honorable activities is creating — cultivating — domestic terrorists through elaborate sting operations that often last months and months and then “catching” these domestic terrorists as soon as informants (well-renumerated ex-cons) can get the marks to cross the line drawn by the FBI delineating domestic terrorist from private citizen, which is very thin indeed.
Stirring up fear of terrorism is about the desire for ever-increasing authority and ever-increasing funding, and it explains how the Bureau has managed to transform itself from a reactive national security agency to a proactive counterterrorism organization with a $9.7 billion annual budget that excels at trapping hapless individuals in contrived terrorist plots.
In a nutshell, the FBI's modus operandi could be described thusly: Find someone fitting a certain physical description (i.e. - Muslims, especially in the early aughts) who's deeply impoverished, gullible, lonely, vulnerable, uneducated, and sometimes even mentally ill; pay an informant (usually cash, cars, houses, family favors, etc.) to befriend the designated individual; have the paid informant spend months and months “working” the mark, providing money, food, a place to live, a car, clothes, etc. etc. — things that the mark is usually desperately in need of — while coaxing him into becoming psychologically receptive to a criminal act fitting the FBI’s description of “domestic terrorism”; have the paid informant convince the mark to participate in the criminal act (i.e. - plan to blow up an empty church) in exchange for continued enticements; and have the paid informant take the mark to a location predetermined by the FBI where they’re supposed to commit the crime, at which point the FBI will jump out of unmarked cars and secure the arrest.
There always follows a big, nationally televised presser where they announce that agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation have once again managed to protect the American people by preventing an act of domestic terrorism, saving an untold number of innocent lives, and oh my goodness aren’t they just the greatest, those wily FBI bastards!?
Threat Level Midnight
The Whitmer kidnapping case, an audacious plot that sounds like something straight out of Hollywood, has been bandied about as a supposed precursor to the U.S. Capitol festivities on January 6. The case has also been sensationalized by those propping up the radically imbecilic notion that homegrown terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists — a term stretched so far that it's become little more than a pejorative spat at folks with the gall to vote any other way than Blue, and so we’re talking like half the country here — is a Threat Level Midnight situation not to be trifled with, and that by God, if we don't prevent Republicans from taking power you can kiss America and democracy as we know it goodbye.
A group of unpleasant-looking right-wing extremist white men plotting to kidnap a high-profile Democrat publicly feuding with Trump!?
It was a perfect fit for the prevailing media narrative at the time that Trump was fomenting violence as part of his reelection campaign. Brian Stelter probably soiled himself, so sphincter-loosening was this development—just think of all the fact-free rhetoric that could be distilled into easily digested talking points for audiences tuned in with unmitigated glee!
Bit of a problem popped up on Friday, though, when the verdicts were announced at the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building in Grand Rapids. After more than four days of deliberations and 13 days of testimony, we learned that the prosecution managed zero convictions.
The jury acquitted Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta after 18 months in prison. A unanimous decision wasn’t made for Adam Fox, the alleged ringleader, and Barry Croft, Jr., resulting in a mistrial. Also up in the air is the fate of eight men charged by Michigan’s Attorney General for providing “material support to terrorism” for their role in the alleged plot, but seeing as the very existence of a plot has not yet been proven despite the prosecution's titanic leverage in the courtroom and successful muzzling of the defense, I'd say it's highly unlikely that they'll be able to convince another jury that the FBI didn’t maybe sorta kinda yeah engineer the entire thing from start to finish.
It’s details from the trial itself, the machinations of the prosecution, that make the verdict all the more interesting.
To make their case, federal prosecutors presented a trove of evidence: hundreds of text messages and audio clips and videos, many of which show the defendants describing violent things they’d like to do to Gov. Whitmer (what Trump would call “locker room talk”); testimony from a confidential informant paid $60,000 by the Bureau for his involvement (Nota Bene - the FBI used more than 12 (!) confidential informants—that should tell you something); testimony from two undercover FBI agents; and testimony from two of the defendants who agreed to cooperate after pleading guilty.3 In sum, the prosecution team had at its disposal all the shit you'd imagine the FBI would have after orchestrating a kidnapping plot from June to October 2020.
It’s therefore ironic that the prosecution team, in an attempt to restrict anything that might undermine the government's leverage, purportedly spent more time persuading the judge to limit what evidence the defense could use than it did convincing the jury that the defendants were guilty. Thanks to a judge more than willing to kowtow to the feds, they largely succeeded in getting key evidence and witnesses excluded. The prosecution, meanwhile, was allowed to proceed with impunity.
Imagine the prosecution team yelling “objection!” over and over again and an obsequious judge responding “sustained” with robotic regularity. As reported in BuzzFeed News by Ken Bensinger, that’s basically what happened each time the defense moved to provide context for some of the more unflattering sound bites and texts shown to jurors (according to the judge, such material “risked confusing them.”)
If that seems ridiculously unfair, that's because it is, particularly in light of the fact that we’re talking about life in prison here. It's even worse considering the case’s many twists and turns and revelations were ruled inadmissible even though all these twists and turns and revelations concerned FBI agents heavily involved in the kidnapping's “coordinated disruption.”
Still, thanks to media coverage, the drip-drip-drip of misconduct leaks most definitely muddled things for the Bureau. The case’s three lead agents had to be removed from the government witness list after one was accused of committing perjury in a prior case, the second was arrested in a drunken stupor after beating his wife and almost killing her because she didn’t want to cuck him at a swingers party, and the third was discovered operating a private intelligence company that was seeking a multi-million dollar contract with the federal government to consult on domestic terror cases, a clear conflict of interest.
And then there were gems unearthed by the defense, like the strings of texts between agents and informants showing how the former would instruct the latter to delete exchanged messages about things that could compromise the FBI in court. No big deal; definitely not suppressing evidence and obstructing justice.
In the end, the defense team might as well have been banned from using the preponderance of evidence, leaving them with precious little to balance the jury's mental ledger relative to the prosecution’s claims. The defendants could only hope the jurors would recognize the FBI's reprehensible smoke and mirrors act for what it was without having seen crucial evidence exposing it as such.
By all accounts, that’s exactly what happened. A jury presented with a heavily lopsided trial in favor of a prosecution team equipped with the bottomless resources and influence that only the federal government can provide faced off against a woefully overmatched defense team forced to contend with a narrative sanctioned as truth by the most powerful actors in the country, and that jury did not like the Kool-Aid the FBI was trying to force down its collective maw, at all.
This Is A Big Deal
It’s rare to see someone who’s up for a life sentence walk out of the courtroom free; it’s virtually unheard of for such a thing to happen when the defendants are unable to afford big-time lawyers and find themselves in the crosshairs of a prosecution team that is for all intents and purposes the federal government, the biggest juggernaut you could possibly go up against in the court of law; and the defendants have to deal with the albatross that is the mainstream media, a conglomerate of outlets staffed by insulated and manicured elites completely detached from the concerns and interests of ordinary people and more than okay with assuming someone's guilty until proven innocent and slanting coverage accordingly if doing so reifies a certain narrative and/or furthers the interests of the Democratic party.
Let me be blunt as I try to drive this point home: The accused are all deeply impoverished heterosexual cisgender white men with a love for assault rifles and American flags and cheap beer and probably yes okay the infamous Tucker Carlson, each blessed with a penchant for what could perhaps best be described as regrettable bouts of uncouth interlocutions interspersed with the occasional avalanche of invective or a fairly graphic description of violence in retaliation for an overbearing government along with anything else they could possibly talk about that does not at all resonate with liberal pieties and your garden variety Democrat, the most incriminating examples of the interlocutions doubtless shared by the prosecution in the most uncharitable ways possible—these guys are exactly the sort of dudes who probably attacked poor Jussie Smollett at approx. 0200 in mid-winter Chicago as he walked, alone, to get himself a delectable and likely toasted Subway sandwich. They're like MAGA country made flesh.
Think back, if you can, to when this brouhaha was announced; recall the certitude of Whitmer, of the bobbleheads on TV, of Biden, of more or less every single Democrat. They took it as an article of faith that the FBI had this in the bag. The word “acquittal” wasn’t even in their lexical toolbox at the time, so remote was the possibility in their minds. It makes the verdict all the more extraordinary. Chances are that partisans, with the help of the media, will spin and twist and bend this any which way they can to hang on to certain ideological fairy tales, but this is a stunning defeat for the U.S. Department of Justice and, to put it mildly, a stern rebuke of partisan hubris.
No FBI, No Plot
Look, there's no question that the accused said and posted things on social media that might qualify as “anti-government extremism.”4 Nor is there any question that they talked about kidnapping Whitmer and putting her on trial and killing her and starting a second civil war and a long list of other stupid shit that other people might understandably be alarmed by. But that is not a crime. What constitutes a death threat is different in each state, but if anything they said is an actual crime, then at least 20% of social media users are guilty of a lot worse every single day, and death threats online are often sent to the actual individual about whom the threat is made.
Defense attorneys in both the state and federal cases contended, in a series of court filings and pretrial hearings, that their clients may have been loudmouths, or even anti-government cranks, but they never actually intended to hurt anyone — and couldn’t have pulled off a kidnapping to save their own lives. Fox, the lawyers noted, was so hapless he lived in the basement of a vacuum cleaner store and was forced to go to the Mexican restaurant next door when he needed to use the bathroom. Croft, for his part, ranted about shooting down airships, cutting down every tree on the border between Ohio and Michigan, and setting off electromagnetic pulse weapons that his lawyer, Joshua Blanchard, characterized at trial as “movie stuff.” — BuzzFeed News
I wrote a long post in July of last year arguing why this whole thing was an entrapment scheme, and how the federal government framed the accused under the guise of thwarting domestic terrorism. I still wholeheartedly believe that there never would've been a kidnapping conspiracy to begin with if the FBI hadn't been involved. They DID NOT just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects; the FBI had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. As but one of many examples: Chappel, the central FBI informant, texted Fox at least 1,000 times between June and early October, trying to befriend someone who literally had no friends and no work colleagues; on at least five separate occasions, Chappel offered Fox a $5,000 credit card (which Fox, to his credit, refused). A $5,000 credit card? Really? Does that not strongly suggest malfeasance?
In the government’s telling, the most critical moment in the alleged plot took place late on Sept. 12, 2020, when Fox, Croft, and others piled into three trucks and headed out to conduct nighttime surveillance of Whitmer’s lakeside cottage. It was not a great success. For one thing, their companions that night included two confidential informants and two undercover agents. Some 10 additional FBI agents followed them en route, and stationary cameras mounted at strategic spots tracked their progress. — BuzzFeed News
There are some serious questions that need answering.
Why, as confirmed in sworn testimony during the trial and other court hearings, did the FBI have the blessing of higher-ups in Washington, D.C. to do this? Why was this “investigation” so big—not in the number of suspects but in FBI manpower and resources? (Drones and airplanes were used to collect evidence against the defendants, assets that required a “multi-layer” approval process at the highest echelons.)
Why were undercover agents and informants from multiple FBI field offices across the eastern half of the country involved in the case when, before the FBI started scheming, the original “concern” expressed to the FBI (by a single individual) was about a few poor white guys from small town Michigan — not even criminals for God’s sake — posting some incendiary shit on social media and talking foolish whilst shooting guns in someone's backyard?
Why did the FBI announce this charade a month before the election? Hundreds of hours of secret recordings and thousands of texts failed to prove what the FBI claimed when it dramatically announced the plot; there was no evidence to support the claim that the defendants wanted to “kidnap” Whitmer before Election Day. If an actual kidnapping plan was only introduced because of FBI involvement, then it stands to reason there was never a NLT date specified by the accused, does it not?
Why was Michael D’Antuono, the agent who oversaw the Detroit FBI Field Office during the case, promoted to the FBI’s Washington D.C. office, and why was he put in charge of the investigation of the January 6 Capitol Hill festivities that, coincidentally, involved FBI informants as well—involvement we still don't know the full extent of because they refuse to disclose it?
Interesting tidbit: Most of the accused are not Trump supporters, but hardcore libertarians who detest all things big government and government control of society. One of the dudes is even a whole planetary system away from MAGA folks: He’s a left-wing Anarchist.
Ty Garbin, one of the two who pleaded guilty, was sentenced last summer to 75 months (!), while the other guy, Kaleb Franks, changed his plea in February and is still awaiting sentencing. But imagine being sentenced to more than 6 years in prison after cooperating (and rolling on your friends), only to see your friends walk free.
Something that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention is why these guys were so pissed off at the government to begin with: lockdowns. Michigan, under Gov. Whitmer, had some of the strictest “public health and safety” measures in the entire country, at least in the first few months; that’s why she and Trump were having a cat fight. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, but I was keenly attuned to how hated she was. She murdered the economy in record time. Michigan’s a very blue-collar state for the most part, and people want to be left alone by the government. So when Whitmer’s pandemic bullshit started costing people their jobs/leaving them unable to feed their families, yeah, they flipped out. Many (including the accused) showed up in the state capitol with assault rifles demanding to be let into the building while the legislature voted on more pandemic restrictions.