Report on FBI visit
by Jon Roland
On July 23, 1998, at approximately 10:56, I was visited at my apartment in Sacramento, California, by Special Agent Steve Moore (SM) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Sergeant Chris Kuntz (CK) of the Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Sacramento Police Department. We engaged in a cordial conversation for approximately 30 minutes. Some of the key remarks of each participant are paraphrased below, not necessarily in the same order in which they occurred. I also show some of my unvoiced thoughts during the session in square brackets.
Each showed his ID and identified himself.
[SM is young, mid- to late-twenties. CK is older, perhaps mid-fifties. SM reminds me of a similarly young and earnest FBI agent I taught martial arts to in Washington, DC, back in 1971.]
SM: May we come in?
JR: There is no place to sit down. We can talk out here.
[Sit? There is hardly a place to stand. Except for paths from my office desk to the front door, refrigerator, bathroom, and the air mattress I sleep on, the entire floor is covered by piles of stuff being rearranged, culled, and refiled.]
We proceeded to talk outside my front door.
SM: Contrary to what a lot of people think, we don't know everything that is happening. We've come to ask your help in reporting any persons who might pose a threat of violence.
JR: I have a duty to report crimes to appropriate law enforcement agencies, but in most cases that will be to local or state agencies [facing CK] rather than to federal. You [facing SM] don't have jurisdiction [for such offenses on state territory].
SM: We are particularly concerned about Don Rudolph [San Joaquin County Militia] ... and his threats of violence regarding COSCO and the facility they propose to lease in Long Beach.
[This visit may have been prompted by the email exchange between Don Rudolph and me, quoted in an article by Rich Azar, "Long Beach Tea Party" Threatened, in the July, 1998, issue of Media Bypass]
JR: Despite his rhetoric, I do not think it likely that Rudolph or anyone else involved in this protest will engage in any act of criminal violence. But we have people who are alert to the possibility, and who will act to prevent it if that becomes necessary. [Unless your colleagues do something to provoke violence.]
JR: Unfortunately, we now live in a media environment in which activists must sometimes resort to violent rhetoric to get attention to their concerns.
Both SM and CK seemed surprised by this remark, as though it was a new idea.
[The people you really need to identify are not the ones who invest a great deal of their resources in building public organizations that would be discredited by unjustified and illegal acts. You may want to avoid criticism for failing to investigate persons using violent rhetoric, in the event they do commit violent acts, but the serious threats have a different profile.]
JR: In the militia movement we try to channel the anger of people into constructive action, not only organizing, training, and equipping them to defend the community from the things that might threaten it, such as foreign invasion, riots, crime, or disasters, but also electioneering, litigation, and public education. We can't salvage everyone, but we do salvage most, and provide counseling and support to victims of abuse. Some, of course, can't be salvaged, and have to be rejected. But the movement has probably prevented a great many acts of violence that might otherwise have occurred.
Expressions of surprise by both men.
CK: Have you personally helped a lot of people that way?
JR: I hope my efforts have done some good that way.
I proceeded to further develop various elements of political activism today.
JR: Our duty as citizens is not just to obey the law but to help enforce it. If we encounter someone committing a crime, we won't wait to report it, but if we can, we will make the arrest ourselves.
CK: You have the right to make a citizen's arrest.
JR: Don't be too surprised if we haul an offender in and tell you to book him. We will observe all standards of proper law enforcement, including respecting the rights of the accused, and protection of evidence and the chain of custody of it.
SM: There are a lot of our guys who used to fight communism, and who are also concerned about something like COSCO getting a port facility.
[Dissention within the FBI? But are they being allowed to conduct a proper investigation, or is it left to us civilians to do the job you should be doing?]
SM: Are you concerned the Chinese might use the facility to smuggle guns?
JR: The Chinese have other port facilities and other ways of getting people and things into this country. We have a concern about what they could only do with a deep water port. Guns don't concern us so much as narcotics, chemical or biological warfare agents, or docking a ship filled with a nuclear device that could be used to blackmail a timid White House. [Or station a high-tech listening post to intercept most electronic message traffic in the Southwestern US.]
CK referred to my Web site, presumably the CS site.
[Have you guys actually read any of the materials on that site? We are covering a lot of ground that you could get more easily by browsing the Internet.]
SM briefly probed about the membership of the Constitution Society, but didn't pursue it.
JR: You were able to find me ....
CK: We found you through your van.
CK nodded in the direction of my parking space.
[I have done nothing to draw official attention to my van, so either they had an APB out on it, followed it from a meeting, or planted a tracking device. They possibly took down the license plate at the February, 1998, meeting in Reno. This may be related to the 3 patrol vehicles of the Sacramento Sheriff's Department I spotted cruising my apartment complex on or about July 3. Might have been followed from a meeting of the Eugene Byrd for Sheriff campaign, participants in which have now been targeted by the winning candidate and his cronies. This seems to be a waste of the taxpayers' money, considering all they had to do is call the phone number on the Constitution Society Web site to make an appointment. They are possibly trying to play a head game, judging my reaction to their sudden appearance.]
SM: We don't tap people's phones without a court order.
JR: Of course you do. You have tapped mine. I've caught some of your guys doing it.
[There was no court order. Investigation works both ways.]
SM repeated his request for my help in warning them of possibly violent persons, and stated that the KKK was active in the Sacramento area.
JR: Bigots are unwelcome in the militia movement. Racist groups and the militia detest one another.
SM: But these groups may try to recruit people at militia meetings.
JR: They used to, and we sometimes cross paths, but they have mostly given up on doing that.
[They would have better luck recruiting at an ACLU or NAACP meeting.]
JR: There was a time in the early '50s when the KKK could put 3 million demonstrators on the streets. Today they would be lucky to get 30,000. We need to ask what happened to the others. The good news is that most of them have reformed, and there are few people more anti-bigoted as reformed bigots. The bad news is that too many of the ones who didn't reform have gone into law enforcement, something the militia movement revealed in its expose of the annual Good 'Ol Boys Roundup of law enforcement officials in Eastern Tennessee. The fact that higher ups did more to try to suppress the revelations than to correct the problem of racism in law enforcement is indicative.
[It is the militia movement, more than the FBI or other federal law enforcement organizations, that is actively fighting racism and hate.]
CK: What is your role in the militia movement?
JR: You obviously haven't been well-briefed about me. There are some who regard me as a founder of the modern militia movement. That is an exaggeration. I usually bill myself as an "activator".
Expressions of surprise on both men at the use of that term.
[They are either good actors or they really haven't been briefed well enough for an assignment of this kind. Possibly a training exercise for SM.]
SM: What is the militia? How many people are members?
JR: The militia is the entire population of an area in its capacity as defenders of the state, except for those whose official duties take precedence over their militia duties [or who are unfit and would be a liability]. It is based on the main duty arising from the social contract, the duty to do one's part in mutual defense. That means we not only have the duty to obey the law, but to help enforce it. Unfortunately, not all statutes on the books are constitutional, and the enforcement of those that are not is likely to be a crime itself, obliging one to make an arrest of the person trying to enforce it.
Long pause at the two men think about that.
JR: You may honestly think you are enforcing a constitutional statute, but you have a duty that cannot be delegated to your superiors, legal advisers, or the courts, to make an independent determination of the constitutionality of any statute you may be asked to enforce.
SM: Could I join the militia?
JR: You could become active in the militia, provided it did not conflict with your official duties. [But given your position, you would need to fully disclose it and report any such conflicts to your militia unit.]
JR: For example, if a soldier were on guard duty, that duty would probably take precedence over intervening to make an arrest in an armed robbery at a convenience store across the street. But when he was off-duty, his militia duty would take precedence, and he would be obliged to intervene, in his capacity as a militiaman. He could not be ordered to do so, because that would make it an official act, and a violation of the posse comitatus act, but as a citizen he can so act.
JR: It is important to understand that there is no minimum size to a militia unit. If you go to the aid of a victim of a crime, or defend yourself from criminal attack, what you are doing is issuing a militia call-up and responding to it yourself, comprising a militia unit of one. If a bystander joins you, it is a militia unit of two.
SM: But can we get your help in reporting on anyone who might pose a threat?
CK: We are trying to be proactive.
[In cop-speak, "being pro-active" is a code phrase for framing innocent persons they don't like to get a headline and make themselves look good.]
JR: There is a fine line between reporting a crime in preparation and becoming an informer.
Expressions of protest by both men that they don't want me to become an informer.
JR: To be a conspiracy there must be a criminal plan with a definite timetable and steps taken to carry it out.
[Preparing for a contingent "Red Dawn" scenario that may never happen doesn't count. You must consider that any such preparation may be for a future eventuality in which such action would be justified by almost anyone's standards. I'm not going to help you frame someone you think might be dangerous, for its PR value and to support a larger annual appropriation.]
SM: We want to find some Timothy McVeigh before he hurts innocent people.
JR: So do we, and we will if we can. But we would be more likely to work with agencies like the FBI if they did a better job of investigating the Oklahoma City bombing, including the leads, such as evidence of bombs planted on the supporting columns of the building, that indicate it was an inside job, and that while McVeigh might have been involved in a minor capacity, such as driving the truck, he is almost certainly was not one of the principals, who we suspect may be your colleagues.
SM: Every organization has a few bad apples.
[Has it occurred to you that you work for an organization that has a long, well-documented history of criminal wrongdoing and a systemic failure to investigate or prosecute such wrongdoing, that the American people are not going to find out about such wrongdoing, discuss it among themselves, and remember it when you ask for assistance? Do you think that there is not a price to be paid for destroying the reputation of your organization and public confidence in its integrity?
The FBI might have a better chance of getting my assistance in a case if you were to compensate me for the approximately $4200 replacement cost, plus interest at prevailing market rates, of the notebook computer your people stole from my San Antonio, Texas, office on or about April 13, 1994, publicly admit to the theft, apologize for it, prosecute the persons involved, and take effective measures to make sure nothing like it occurs again.
So, unless it is a case that clearly and exclusively falls within FBI jurisdiction and competence, I will only report crimes or impending crimes to local law enforcement. We don't have a problem with the FBI conducting a proper investigation. Anyone can investigate a crime, including FBI agents (if they don't mishandle the evidence or witnesses), and anyone, including FBI agents, can make a legitimate arrest. The problem arises when you prosecute the accused under an unconstitutional federal statute instead of under a state statute that probably covers the same basic offense, unless the offense occurred on territory over which the federal government has constitutional jurisdiction, that is, territory ceded to the exclusive legislative jurisdiction of Congress by act of a state legislature.]
They both asked what I did for a living. I replied that I was a computer consultant. They asked what kind. I said I developed software under contract.
[Are they really so underprepared and unbriefed? All anyone has to do to find out what I do and what I have said is search for my name on the WWW and newsgroups.]
SM: May we stay in touch?
JR: Sure. You can call me any time.
SM: What is your phone number?
[They are either good actors or severely underprepared. They know about the CS Web site, yet don't have my phone number, which is prominently presented on the home page?]
I give them my local phone number, and each of them wrote it down on his notepad.
Each gave me one of his cards, and left.
Almost everything we discussed could have been covered more efficiently and at lower cost to the taxpayer by just reading the materials on or linked to the Constitution Society Web site, visiting my commercial site, or searching the WWW and dejanews.com. Of course, one of the purposes of the visit might have been to confirm that I really am the author of the materials on the CS site, by testing my ability to discuss the ideas they present as only the author could. If so these men are good actors, giving a convincing portrayal of lack of preparedness for the assignment. If not then I recommend that they receive further training in personally doing the kind of basic background research that such an assignment requires, not depending on briefings or briefing documents they may be provided.
It was clear from this conversation that the FBI did not then have anything on Don Rudolph, but that they had targeted him for prosecution on anything they could find, or invent, because he was a plausible and an easy target who would probably not defend himself effectively in court. I had never actually spoken to Rudolph face to face, although we had attended a conference in Reno the previous February, a fact they surely knew since they undoubtedly had agents present. Our only contacts had been by email. My take on him was that he was an angry guy, but the anger I perceived was always focused on official corruption and abuse, things that would justify anger by any citizen who loves his country and doesn't want its government taken over by criminals and traitors. He had been diagnosed as having a psychological disorder, presumably the cause of much of his hostility, but he was being successfully treated for the condition with drugs. His was a medical problem, not a criminal problem.
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