FBI Targets Good Ole Boys Too

I Mean Old: All Are Collecting Social Security.

Old Terrorist
"How's the terror plot coming along sweetheart?"
Photo: iStockphoto.
While the "tough guys" disseminate the government's press release propaganda, and the lamestream media get yet another headline to justify the homeland security state, this part stood out:
From June through November 2011, Thomas and Roberts met with the undercover agent and negotiated the purchase of a silencer for a rifle and conversion parts to make a fully automatic rifle, as well as explosives. The complaints allege that Thomas confirmed to the agent that he planned to use the silencer that he was purchasing, and described how he would clean the rifle and use rubber gloves when he handled it so he wouldn’t leave his fingerprints on it during its use. Ultimately, Thomas agreed to purchase the silencer and conversion parts in exchange for providing the undercover agent with another gun owned by Thomas, while Thomas and Roberts allegedly agreed to split the $1,000 cost for the explosives. Thomas and Roberts later expressed concerns that the undercover agent was a “cop,” but wanted to go forward with the transaction anyway.
Not too bright, these guys. And five months to trade one gun for a silencer and some other rifle parts? They must have haggled for a senior discount. For the explosives, do you think the FBI offered to take lay-away payments?

What will be cited again and again in headlines and at trial is "ricin." Even though the old fogies are white, and might show up at trial in a wheelchair, can they get a fair shake in our criminal justice system? Doubtful. Yet Conor Friedersdorf ends his at least questioning post, Grumpy Old Terrorists? The FBI Says 4 Seniors Plotted Bio Attack, with this:
Also worth remarking upon is the last line of the government's press release. "Members of the public are reminded that the criminal complaints contain only allegations," it states. "A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial." Isn't it welcome and unexpected to see federal officials stressing the guarantee of due process while discussing an accused terrorist?
My, you actually read the last line in the press release. Aren't you a hard charger? Stop the press. Please.

The key issue is easily seen even in the limited reporting that's been done so far - what was the role of the "cooperating" informant and the FBI undercover agent. Was it entrapment? Not practically: I'm sure that these guys wouldn't have accomplished anything without the FBI running the operation. But legally: can the defense get the men acquitted by proving entrapment. That will be very hard. It hasn't happened in a terrorism case yet. But if there are any defendants that have a chance, these duffers are it.

A few quotes from news sources after the jump.

Greg Bluestein, Ricin terror plot: Four in Ga. accused of planning attacks, Associated Press, November 2, 2011:
[Thomas] and Adams also arranged to buy what they thought was an explosive device and a silencer from an undercover agent. The men were arrested days after a lab test confirmed they had trace amounts of ricin in their possession, authorities said.
It's not clear from the court documents exactly how the men obtained the trace amounts of ricin.

An informant who met Adams' at his home in October saw lab equipment and a glass beaker, and a bean obtained by the informant was later tested by state officials as positive for ricin.
I thought that a pinhead of ricin could kill you, but I'm sure the G-men have an explanation for why the men and the informant didn't die.

TalkingPointsMemo has the best coverage I've seen so far. Ryan J. Reilly, Feds: Four Members Of Georgia ‘Fringe Militia Group’ Plotted Biological Attack On Citizens, Government Officials:
Adams used to work as a lab technician at the Department of Agriculture while Crump was a contractor who used to do maintenance for the Center for Disease Control. Thomas, according to a Red State profile which matches his profile, is a Vietnam vet who worked as an aerospace communications systems Engineer and held “top secret security clearance for nearly 50 years.” Roberts sued a number of local officials and a newspaper in federal court in relation to a 2004 “Southern Heritage” event he organized at a middle school that featured the Confederate flag. According to the lawsuit, he “co-sponsored and assisted in flag rallies organized by the Southern Rights Association [hereafter SRA]. He is widely known in the area as a flag supporter.”

While the FBI says it has plenty of recorded material implicating the defendants, there’s one issue in the affidavits that could provide fodder for defense attorneys. One of the cooperating sources, out of bond on pending felony state charges, gave “less than truthful” responses during an FBI polygraph test about the investigation of the militia group.
And Meet The Senior Citizen Militia Members Arrested In Georgia Bio Attack Plot.
Frederick Thomas, Cleveland, GA, 73:
Meeting with an undercover FBI agent, Thomas allegedly explained that his “covert group” was planning to carry out the actions of the main characters from the book “Absolved,” written by right-wing blogger and former militia man Mike Vanderboegh. He allegedly said he considered himself expendable because of his age.
Dan Roberts, Toccoa, GA, 67:
Roberts drives a 1990 Red Ford Ranger pickup and lives in a yellow-sided home on a 1.8 acre plot of land. Roberts allegedly said he knew people in Habersham County who “had a substance that could kill people with a very small amount.” He claimed he’d been talking to a former Army soldier living in Stephens County whom he descibed as a “loose cannon” who manufactured ricin. Roberts said he personally saw the ricin in powder form.
Ray H. Adams, Toccoa, 65:
A retired Department of Agriculture employee, Adams lives in “a single story shelter constructed of wood plants and a metal roof.” The rear of the shelter, according to an FBI affidavit, “is a travel trailer used for its kitchen facilities and storage.” It’s located on 17.21 acres.

Adams allegedly showed off plaques from his career regarding his certifications and training and said that he worked in the horticultural field. The USDA confirmed he worked for the Agricultural Research Service as a lab technician. Adams thought his experience gave him a leg up.

“Well I’ve never done it (made ricin) but I have laboratory experience, and once you extract that stuff enough just splashing it on your skin can kill ya,” he allegedly said.
Terrorist on MotorcycleThis one is priceless. Samuel J. Crump, Toccoa, 68:
Crump, pictured above in a photo posted on MySpace and Facebook, lived in a mobile that sat on .27 acres. The Centers for Disease Control told the FBI he worked as a contractor for the agency doing “maintenance type services.”

Nice, huh? Couldn't they find somebody besides Michael Jackson to be the singer? Doesn't seem to fit the demographic. Here's a peek into how sophisticated these guys were:
Crump was seen as the arrested group’s expert on ricin.

“Ya got, ya can’t let none of it get on your skin,” he allegedly said. “Got to be a closed environment when it’s made. No wind. If it gets up your nose… there’s no cure.”

He also had some recommendations for how the group could launch their attack.

“You take a pound of that (unintelligible), get upwind, up around Washington, DC, get about 20,000 feet (in an airplane), and turn that shit loose, it’d cover the whole (unintelligible) of Washington,” he allegedly said. Alternatively, he suggested releasing the ricin out of a car on the highway.

“Just think, put all that shit out, and it starts goin’ towards Washington, peoples starts kicking the bucket like that, you’re talking about a red flag buddy,” Crump allegedly said.
He said there can be no wind around the ricin, yet this mastermind wants to dump it out of an airplane or car. If only all terrorists were this smart.