FBI viewed intel provided by ultra-right radio host Hal Turner as ‘irreplaceable’: report
By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, November 29th, 2009 -- 9:23 pm
Ultra right-wing radio talk show host Hal Turner provided intelligence to the FBI that agents considered "irreplaceable," according to emails reviewed for a lengthy investigative report published Sunday.
Writing for NorthJersey.com, reporters Mike Kelly and Peter J. Sampson reveal that the bureau once even used Turner as an undercover intelligence operative in Brazil, where he informed on white supremacist group American National Alliance and met with a representative of the Brazilian Arab Society who sought to provide support to Iraqi fighters.
According to documents reviewed for the report, Turner's FBI codename was "Valhalla," which he sometimes wrote on the memo line of the checks the agency sent him.
Turner's famously vile, racist broadcasts began in 2002, though the one-time Pat Buchanan campaign coordinator did not begin his relationship with the FBI until 2003, when he was recruited to attend a National Alliance meeting in West Virginia. When he finally stopped broadcasting in 2008, he was being investigated for making death threats against judges he disagreed with.
Turner's laywer, Michael Orozco, gave a different timeline than the North Jersey report, claiming in August that Turner's relationship with the FBI began in 2002.
At least several times during his status as an FBI informant, agents admonished Turner for his increasingly dangerous, threatening rhetoric. While Turner even once severed his relationship with the bureau in 2007, he was back on payroll within months. Once finally arrested, allegedly by the very agents who recruited him, the right-wing talker expressed dismay and surprise at being reeled in.
"I was not some street snitch," he said during a jail interview, according to the North Jersey report. "I was a deep undercover intelligence operative."
Indeed, according to an e-mail disclosed by the North Jersey report, Special Agent Stephen Haug wrote that "[Turner's] value outweighs the discomfort associated with source's rhetoric. Source's unique access provides important intelligence which, if lost, would be irreplaceable."
An FBI memo cited by the reporters added that Turner "has proven highly reliable and is in a unique position to provide vital information on multiple subversive domestic organizations," elaborating that he identified over 100 possible extremists and prevented "over 10 acts of violence". Though it does not specify how many people saw the inside of a jail cell because of Turner, it does note that "multiple subjects" were arrested.
Turner's trial for making threats against three judges begins this week. In an surprising twist, Orozco reportedly plans to subpoena New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie. He hopes to find out if Christie advised the FBI about Turner as a U.S. Attorney in Newark.
Turner was first outed as an FBI informant in July, 2008, when unknown hackers broke into the racist agent provocateur's e-mail and discovered a message to a bureau handler discussing an alleged plot to kill Sen. Russ Feingold.
Orozco has moved for the court to dismiss the case against Turner on the grounds that the government engaged in "outrageous conduct" by sponsoring Turner's racist rhetoric, then arresting him for going too far.