The Federal Bureau of Investigation employs leftist activist organizations to spy on Americans, most recently resulting in Project Megiddo — which targets “right-wing” Christian-oriented groups and characterizes many as potential terrorists — according to a national expert on political fringe groups.
The Project Megiddo report, which bears a striking resemblance to a similar report by the Anti-Defamation League, has been distributed to law enforcement agencies nationwide to alert police to the supposed dangers posed during the millennium transition by various religious and political groups, almost all of which are on the political right.
Named after the biblical location in Israel of the prophesied Battle of Armageddon, Project Megiddo warns of the dangers presented by certain “extremist” Christian groups whose objective it is to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The report claims that these groups may commit acts of terrorism within the United States.
Laird Wilcox, author of two comprehensive books on extremist groups on both the left and the right, as well as “American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansmen, Communists & Others,” charges that the FBI, in the process of infiltrating potentially dangerous organizations, gets infiltrated itself.
“The most troubling aspect of watchdog opportunism is their infiltration of law enforcement,” Wilcox told WorldNetDaily. “Watchdog organizations feed law enforcement agencies information in order to prompt them to go after their enemies, real or imagined. By alleging ‘dangerousness’ on the basis of mere assumed values, opinions and beliefs, they put entirely innocent citizens at risk from law enforcement error and misconduct.” Wilcox authored “The Watchdogs: A close look at Anti-Racist ‘Watchdog’ Groups,” to document this phenomenon.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation readily admits it makes extensive use of information provided by political organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Militia Watchdog, according to FBI special agent in charge of the Denver office Greg Rampton.
“The FBI obtains information from public sources, such as the ones you mentioned,” Rampton told WorldNetDaily. “We have individual citizens who have information which they think is of importance to us, and they provide that information. We have our own sources of information — individuals that we work with regularly that we task sometimes to obtain information. Some of these individuals may be members of some of the organizations that might advocate or might be engaged in violent activity. So we obtain our information from a variety of sources,” Rampton said.
‘Things could get worse fast’
Rampton denied that the Anti-Defamation League wrote the FBI version of the report.
“It was not written by the ADL. The truth of the matter is that it was an effort by FBI agents and analysts. The information they used in order to prepare the report came from a variety of sources. Some of those sources of information could have been militia groups themselves. There could have been, and probably were, ADL literature. We gather information from a variety of sources, and we have to evaluate and weigh that information. The authors of that report are FBI employees,” explained Rampton.
Wilcox claims this is partially true, but that the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center had significant roles in the completion of Project Megiddo. Although those groups did not write the final draft of the document, information they provided to the FBI was compiled and essentially rewritten to create the report, he said.
“Project Megiddo has been around for a long time, but didn’t have that name and it wasn’t organized in a formal way,” said Wilcox.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have extensive networks of hundreds of people who spy on unsuspecting U.S. citizens who they consider to be their enemies, Wilcox charged. The groups maintain the information they gather in a huge database until the FBI needs it, he said, adding that watchdog groups have the luxury of being able to go beyond the laws to which the FBI must adhere when gathering intelligence information or conducting an investigation.
“The ADL is not as principled as their publications would lead you to think. They’re very much into real politics,” said Wilcox, who founded one of the world’s largest collections of research documents on extremist political groups at the University of Kansas.
“They’re not going to quibble about the niceties of civil liberties, procedural things or issues of presumed innocence or anything like that. To them everything is survival,” explained Wilcox.
“So don’t imagine for a minute that the ADL holds to any particular high standard of morality or practice in this thing. It is absolutely pragmatic,” he added.
The underlying purpose of Project Megiddo and Anti-Defamation League documents, said Wilcox, is to condition law enforcement officials to view certain “conservative, right-wing Christian” groups and individuals as dangerous. It is an effort to make opinions a crime and create a form of thought police, warned Wilcox.
“This is a scary time we’re up against,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens around Y2K. If not much happens and they don’t arrest too many people, this might kind of blow over. If somebody’s stupid enough to stage a high-profile crime — a bombing, for example — or if the ADL manages to bait somebody to attack them physically, then things could get worse fast,” Wilcox predicted.
Rampton disagrees, insisting the fact the ADL and FBI documents are so similar in wording and topics is coincidence. Both groups examined the same subject and came to the same conclusions, he said.
Project Megiddo specifically targets what most would consider right-wing groups. There are no groups expressing left-wing views on the list of organizations that law enforcement agencies are asked to monitor. Rampton agreed, and tried to explain why.
“It has to do with why Project Megiddo was undertaken in the first place,” he said in an interview with WorldNetDaily on a live radio broadcast of the American Freedom Network. “It deals with the potential for extremist activity in the United States by groups who profess an apocalyptic view of the Millennium or attach special significance to the Year 2000. I don’t think you’re seeing much of that coming from the left-wing groups. … ”
Although Rampton agreed that left-leaning groups might be inclined to violence, he disagreed that they should be added to the FBI list.
“As far as leftist groups that have some of those same beliefs, there very well may be some out there. I’m not personally aware of any,” said Rampton.
When asked if he considered groups that admit to being Marxist, Social-Marxists, or Communists to be dangerous, Rampton replied the FBI does not care about the beliefs expressed by an individual or group.
“Our mission is to investigate crimes that are committed that are a violation of federal law, so while people espouse certain ideologies which may give pause to the general populace, that’s not necessarily cause for an FBI investigation or an FBI concern. We personally might be concerned about something someone says or does, but as an institution or as an agency the FBI doesn’t express that concern in terms of action, unless it has a reasonable indication that someone has been, or will commit a federal crime.”
Just because a person may express concern about the formation of a one-world government does not qualify him as an extremist in the Project Megiddo document, said Rampton.
“All I can say is that we are only investigating groups where we have some sort of reasonable indication that they’re involved in some violation of federal law. I can’t comment on any investigations that we are or aren’t conducting,” he said.
Some current employees of the Anti-Defamation League are former FBI agents, according to published reports. One such agent who is given credit for the ADL report is Neil Herman. Rampton said he did not know him and was unaware of any former FBI agents working for ADL. Herman reportedly resigned from the FBI’s counter-terrorism division and went to work for the ADL.
Despite the warnings in Project Megiddo about the dangers of militia groups, Rampton admitted the actual danger is very minimal.
“I don’t think that the FBI considers them to be dangerous. Only a small segment of the militias actually commit acts of violence to advance their political goals and beliefs. Some, such as the Michigan Militia, have gone to lengths to rid themselves of radical members that are inclined to violence. So I don’t think that the FBI considers the militias dangerous per se. I think that the FBI has identified individuals on the fringes of some of these militias that may take some of these beliefs to an extreme and commit acts of violence,” said Rampton.
He cited convicted Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols as an example of a dangerous militia fringe participant. People who want to incite race wars and other acts of violence are attracted to militias and try to use them for their own agenda, he said.
Wilcox claims watchdog groups have hundreds of people in major cities throughout the country who monitor editorials, observe who attends certain meetings, and actively create lists of people they consider to be offensive.
Rampton admits the FBI uses such information from watchdog groups, but insists that people who write letters to the editor or attend gun shows and preparedness shows are not under surveillance and that no records are being kept about them by the FBI.
Wilcox rejoins that the FBI doesn’t have to keep such files — because the watchdog groups do it for them until the information is needed.
“The Privacy Act of 1974 regulates what information a government agency can collect,” said Rampton. “It provides that a government agency ‘shall maintain no record describing how any individual exercises his rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained, or unless pertinent to or within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity.’ So if the information that’s sent to us doesn’t fall within that scope then we are not permitted to retain it,” said Rampton.
“We operate under what we term the Attorney General Guidelines, which became effective back in 1983,” he explained. “In terms of domestic security investigations, or domestic terrorism investigations,” he said, quoting from the guidelines, ‘such an investigation may be initiated when the facts or circumstances reasonably indicate two or more persons are engaged in an enterprise for the purpose of furthering political or social goals wholly or in part through activities that involve for or violence and a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S.'”
Rampton added, “If you’re not engaged in that, then you’re not a target of investigation.”
Wilcox disputes that claim, insisting that watchdog groups are paid millions of dollars by the Department of Justice to develop intelligence files on thousands of Americans. Those files are never provided to the FBI until they are needed.
“Following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Southern Poverty Law Center gave the FBI a list of several thousand alleged members of militias and ‘hate groups’ culled from its files. None of them had anything to do with the bombing. These names came from letters to newspapers expressing right-wing political views, lists of ‘members’ supplied by informants, names from license plate numbers collected outside public meetings, pilfered mailing lists, and so on,” explained Wilcox.
The Anti-Defamation League also provided extensive information to the FBI about the Branch Davidians prior to the raid in Waco, he added.
Wilcox complained that, were the watchdog groups to conduct surveillance of black organizations there would be a public uproar, but because the groups are predominantly white, conservative, and Christian there is little concern in the press.
Although the law enables citizens to obtain copies of their FBI files, Wilcox said it would do them no good in many instances — since the FBI doesn’t have the file yet. It is most likely still in the possession of one or more of the watchdog groups being paid with tax dollars to spy on unsuspecting Americans, he said.
Rampton claims the FBI is free from political influence, pointing to recent public disagreements between the FBI director, attorney general, and president as evidence the FBI doesn’t cave to political pressure.
“Decisions to investigate or not investigate … so far as I’ve been involved, have been free of outside influences,” he said.
Rampton noted that the FBI is working to rebuild its public image, which has been tarnished and decreases agents’ ability to work with the public on investigations. He has seen that level of trust steadily decrease for 28 years, he added.
“We’re very concerned on how the public perceives us, because we rely heavily on public support in individual and larger settings in order to fulfill our mission. I think with regard to Ruby Ridge, Waco, and some of the other controversial incidents that have occurred recently, I think the FBI is ready, willing and able to stand a full examination of those things. I think the recent congressional committee that has been impaneled to review Waco will provide a very unbiased and truthful examination of what occurred there. I think that the result will be favorable to the FBI, but that remains to be seen,” he said.
“We realize that we’re accountable to the American public. We are ready to be held accountable. So we welcome these kinds of reviews of what we’ve done, so that in the end the public will come away with more confidence in the FBI than less,” explained Rampton.
WorldNetDaily contacted the Anti-Defamation League for its reaction. Spokesman Todd Gutnick said that even though he is a public relations spokesman, he could not comment, and said he would attempt to arrange an interview with one of the authors of the ADL report. After several weeks of attempts by WorldNetDaily, the Anti-Defamation League has not granted the interview.