I’ve got the FBI on my case.
Three weeks ago The Progressive published my story on InfraGard, a secretive but large group of business executives that works hand in glove with the FBI.
The article was called “The FBI Deputizes Business.” and we posted it February 8 on our website, and then on the cover of The Progressive’s March issue.
In the story, I reported on a whistleblower, himself a member of InfraGard, who told me that InfraGard members had been given permission by the FBI and Homeland Security to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.
Well, on February 15, the FBI issued a press release denouncing the article.
The FBI’s Cyber Division Assistant Director Shawn Henry said, “The article’s claims are patently false.”
First, Henry nitpicked the headline of the article, saying: “The title, however catchy, is a complete fabrication.” Is it really? FBI Director Mueller himself called InfraGard members “partners in our mission to protect America,” adding that they were his “first line of defense.”
As to the most serious claim, Henry said that “InfraGard members have no extraordinary powers and have no greater right to ‘shoot to kill’ than other civilians.”
“No greater right”? That’s odd language, isn’t it?
And it reminded me of a quote from my article from Curt Haugen, CEO of S’Curo Group, and a proud InfraGard member. When I asked him about whether the FBI or Homeland Security agents had told InfraGard members they could use lethal force in an emergency, he said: “That much I cannot comment on. But as a private citizen, you have the right to use force if you feel threatened.”
Note that the FBI did not deny that it ever told InfraGard members that they could “shoot to kill.” All that Henry said was that InfraGard members “have no greater right.” That doesn’t exactly blow a hole in my story.
The FBI seemed put out that I did not give enough information about the meeting the whistleblower attended. “Unfortunately, the author of the Progressive article refused even to identify when or where the claimed ‘small meeting’ occurred in which issues of martial law were discussed,” Henry said in the press release. “If we get that information, the FBI certainly will follow up and clarify any possible misunderstandings.”
The reason I didn’t identify where or when the meeting took place is obvious: I didn’t want to reveal anything that would expose my whistleblower.
The press release fails to mention, however, that I received confirmation about discussions of “lethal force” from another member of InfraGard, whom I did name.
Nor did the press release dispute any other facts in the article, such as that InfraGard members (more than 23,000 of them) “receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials.”
Nor did it deny that FBI Director Mueller said that InfraGard members could contact the FBI about “disgruntled employees.”
Nor did it respond to the ACLU’s concern that InfraGard “may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private sector corporations . . . into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI.”
Nor did it dispel another ACLU concern that InfraGard members have special numbers to call and easier access to telecommunications than other citizens in times of an emergency. “There’s no ‘business class’ in law enforcement,” said the ACLU’s Jay Stanley in the original story. “This bears a disturbing resemblance to the FBI’s handing out ‘goodies’ to corporations in return for folding them into its domestic surveillance machinery.”
I stick by every single word of my story. And I call on Congress to investigate InfraGard and to inspect the plans that the FBI may have in store not only for InfraGard but for all of us in times of an emergency.
(Note to researchers and other concerned citizens: The official InfraGard website is at www.infragard.net. But also go to www.infragardmembers.org, and click on “Chapters,” and you can find out who is the private sector president of your local chapter, and who the FBI agent assigned to that chapter is.)