Recent inquiries about whether FBI operatives were mixed in among the protesters and intruders who broke into the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 will more likely uncover the presence of FBI informants rather than undercover agents, according to Marc Ruskin, a 27-year FBI veteran and former undercover agent who is also an Epoch Times contributor.
Before he left the bureau in 2012, there were only about 100 undercover FBI agents in the whole country, Ruskin told the Epoch Times. Deployment of each requires a lengthy, “very resource-intensive” operation that needs to be approved on several levels. Even if there was a top-down operation run by the headquarters underway on Jan. 6, it would have been unlikely that any significant number of undercover agents were present, he said.
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Informants, on the other hand, would have been much more convenient, needing only some vetting and an assigned handling agent. The bureau uses them regularly and they’re not necessarily aware of each other even if they collect information on the same target, Ruskin said.
He said that during his tenure he hadn’t seen the FBI use informants as de facto “agents provocateur” to incite crimes at a political event, but that he has watched the bureau getting politicized by its leadership and, particularly in recent years, repeatedly breaking its own rules.
Recent reports by Revolver News and other right-leaning outlets have presented a list of clues that raise questions about the FBI’s involvement in the events of Jan. 6, when intruders at the Capitol caused a several-hour delay in the certification of the 2020 presidential election by Congress.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has since run a “shock and awe” operation against the intruders, slapping them with charges that threaten decades in prison. Many have been held behind bars without bail, even placed in solitary confinement. Yet the indictments show that a number of people that seem to have engaged in similar actions on Jan. 6 have somehow escaped prosecution. It’s not clear why, since it doesn’t appear to be a consequence of lacking evidence or plea negotiations, based on the Revolver investigation.
Furthermore, the three organizations that the DOJ alleges played leading roles in planning illegal activity on Jan. 6 are known to have had FBI informants in their ranks. Several members of the Three Percenter militia group, which interprets the Constitution as a license to defy most current federal authorities, were arrested last year for allegedly planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. It turned out FBI informants and undercover agents played key roles in the alleged plot. One of the alleged culprits was also a member of Oath Keepers, a militia group that believes military and law enforcement should defy federal government where it has overstepped its constitutional mandate. Finally, pro-Western men’s club Proud Boys, whose members are known to engage in street fights with adherents of the anarcho-communist Antifa network, has in the past few years been led by Enrique Tarrio, who was recently revealed as a past FBI informant.
Such groups in general have been portrayed by the bureau for years as grave potential domestic terrorism threats.
Jeremy Brown, a former Green Beret and new member of Oath Keepers, recorded a December conversation with two men who said they worked with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The men indicated during the talk that the agency would be interested in Brown becoming an informant.
“I can’t make any promises but, like, if you provide information that prevents something big, the government pays for that,” one of the men told Brown.
Brown said others have contacted him with similar stories after he went public with his story.
The FBI special agent that oversaw the Whitmer kidnapping operation was transferred to the FBI’s District of Columbia office last year, where he is overseeing the Jan. 6 investigations.
As part of its anti-terrorism efforts, especially after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI has been known to target individuals in sting operations where its operatives played key roles. Critics have argued that without the FBI’s involvement, there would never have been a plot to investigate in the first place.
FBI informants and undercover agents can be authorized to conduct some illegal activities as part of their assignments, according to Ruskin.
A Senate investigation into the Capitol intrusion concluded that a number of failures in the intelligence apparatus caused the Capitol Police to be unprepared for what took place. Given the numerous warnings and assurances of preparedness made before the event, how could this have happened?
“What would be shocking and strange is not if the FBI had embedded informants and other infiltrators in the groups planning the January 6 Capitol riot,” commented journalist Glenn Greenwald, who’s been extensively documenting various questionable activities of the national security apparatus, in a recent op-ed. “What would be shocking and strange—bizarre and inexplicable—is if the FBI did not have those groups under tight control.”
Some lawyers and former FBI officials have argued that FBI informants wouldn’t be identified in charging documents as “unindicted co-conspirators” because they would lack the criminal intent requisite for a conspiracy charge. However, there are several problems with this argument.
While some individuals that have escaped prosecution were identified as “unindicted co-conspirators,” some were identified generically as “Person 1,” “Person 2,” etc.
In some cases, the circumstances could be more complicated, according to Ruskin. It’s happened in the past, for example, that an informant was the one inciting the criminal activity he was supposed to monitor. After all, informants are paid for their services.