All posts by Sacramento Prisoner Support / edited by Slingshot collective

Domestic FBI spying EXPOSED – blow-by-blow account of Eric McDavid’s trial

As Slingshot goes to press, our comrade Eric McDavid — framed by an undercover agent provocateur on conspiracy charges for an alleged “eco-arson” action that never happened — is on trial in a Sacramento Federal Court. We will go to the printing press before we know the outcome of his trial. Regardless of the outcome, Eric needs support — political, financial, and if convicted, prison support.

During the course of the trial, the government’s star witness — an undercover FBI agent known as “Anna” — testified extensively about her infiltration of radical circles in the United States. Her testimony provides a rare window into the way the FBI has monitored radicals since September 11.

We know the FBI and law enforcement are spying on our organizations and on our protests — from harmless candlelight vigils to militant actions at meetings of the G8. What is unusual about this case is that the FBI’s agent went beyond just spying — she engineered the “conspiracy” by providing the plans, the inspiration, the funding, the housing and the transportation for her victims, while using the lure of romantic involvement between her and Eric to keep him interested.

Members of Sacramento Prisoner Support (SPS) and many of Eric’s supporters have attended every day of his trial. SPS has sent out fascinating blow-by-blow accounts of the testimony. Sadly, they are far too long for us to publish in their entirety. Instead, below we’ve published exerpts to give folks a flavor of the trial testimony and how far the government will go. The point of publishing this isn’t to make us scared and unable to resist corporations, the government, and their attacks on the earth and its inhabitants. The point is that we need to understand the government’s tactics. If someone seems just a little too anxious to encourage illegal discussions and actions, remember Eric McDavid. Don’t be afraid — but don’t be reckless — figure out how to fight for the earth!

Case summary

Eric McDavid, Lauren Weiner and Zachary Jenson were arrested January 13, 2006 and charged with conspiracy to destroy property. Although the group never carried out any action, Eric faces up to 20 years if convicted. Weiner and Jenson took plea deals and testified against Eric. The following shortened, edited notes on the trial — written by SPS — demonstrate how Anna infiltrated the radical scene and entrapped Eric, Lauren and Zach. For info, see www.supporteric.org.

Direct examination of Anna

. . . Anna said she was a 17 year old sophomore at a junior college in Florida who wanted to impress her political science professor with an extra credit project. She heard in the news about the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas] protests in Miami and decided to infiltrate it for her project. She says that the first day she when to the protests people were suspicious of her efforts because of her appearance. She then “went to the Goodwill to find the rattiest clothes possible, something the protesters might like”. She said she was accepted once she began imitating the protesters aesthetic and was able to infiltrate some kind of group that was planning for the FTAA protest. . . .

Anna stated that she presented the paper on her undercover operation to her political science class and they liked it. Apparently there was someone from the Florida investigators office enrolled in the class who was very taken by her work and approached her to ask if he could share it with his supervisor. Apparently his supervisor liked it and it went up the chain of command. At that point the Miami police department called to interview her along with the FBI. After the completion of that interview she was offered work with the FBI. At the request of the FBI, 17 year old Anna went to the G8 in Georgia, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Boston and the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York City to surveil the protesters.

She said that she was asked to give the FBI “real time” cell phone reports on illegal activities at the protests. Her examples were giving “breakaway march” locations or “if there was a rumor that there was a black bloc”. She said that at the G8 she was working undercover at the Independent Media Center. After the G8 she traveled to Boston before the DNC “to meet the organizers and listen to their plans”. She says that they had no plans for illegal actions. None the less, she came to Boston for the DNC and met with the organizers again. In Boston she says that the illegal activities that she advised the FBI on was a banner drop and a paper mache molotov cocktail.

She claims that she met someone at DNC who invited her to the CrimethInc convergence in Des Moines, which she described as a very exclusive event. She says that she met Eric at CrimethInc in Des Moines and “at the time I thought he was inconsequential”. When asked by the US Attorney (USA) if she reported on Eric she said “I mentioned he was there.” When asked by the USA if that was common she said “I reported on lots of people”. Anna stated that after CrimethInc she received a reimbursement for her expenses and a lump sum payment which she claims was totally unexpected. She says that her deal with the FBI was only for reimbursements and that the payments (there was more than one) were always a surprise. . . . She states that she was asked by the Miami FBI, at the suggestion of the secret service, to attend the protests against President Bush’s inauguration in 2005. She states that she was asked to give reports on anyone dangerous there, but that “nothing happened”. She was then asked by the Philadelphia FBI to attend the biotech protests in 2005.

She claims that she had not kept in touch with Eric after CrimethInc and heard from him sporadically. She wanted to meet up with him in Philly because as she said “I was going to use him to gain access to protesters there, enhance my credibility and gain access to the convergence center”. She met with Eric and Jenson in Philadelphia, where they all stayed at Lauren Weiner’s apartment (this was the first time Anna and Weiner had met). Anna claims that at this point Eric seemed “radicalized” since the time she had seen him in Des Moines. . .

Anna claims that at the Bio protests, Eric told her he had missed her and had things to tell her but that there were “too many ears around.” She reported this back to the Philadelphia FBI who then did a background check and Eric came up on a FBI “persons of interest list” from Sacramento. Apparently this was due to an investigation of a friend of Eric’s named Ryan Lewis who was accused of participating in property destruction in Auburn, CA. The FBI told Anna to pursue Eric at this point to try to find out about illegal activities in California. Anna next went to the CrimethInc convergence in Bloomington, IN, after picking Eric up in West Virginia. She reported that this convergence was much larger than the last, with a wider range of skill shares and workshops. Upon her arrival in Bloomington she found time to sneak away and meet with the FBI, who were particularly interested in her reporting to them on any possible illegal protests surrounding the construction of the I-69 highway. During this CrimethInc convergence, Anna claims that Eric took her to a prison support workshop, where he told her he had a buddy looking at 40 years (which she claims was a reference to Ryan Lewis).

After the CrimethInc convergence, Anna drove Eric to Chicago. During this car ride, Anna claims that she asked Eric about what he had said in Philadelphia about “something big.” She also asked him about Lewis. . . . Anna alleges that at this point Eric asked her to join him in a bombing campaign in the winter, in her role as medic. [This conversation was not recorded.] Anna saw Eric again in August 2005, very briefly, outside of Weiner’s apartment. At this time Anna told Eric that she was interested in joining him, and he allegedly asked her to find him a chemical equivalency list. She agreed. Anna did not see Eric again until November of 05, and claims to have had sporadic email contact with him during this time period.

The FBI wanted her to gather more information and find out where he was at the time. In November, the FBI became “concerned” that Eric hadn’t made contact, so they “formulated” a plan to get the group to the west coast where Eric was. Anna made contact with the members of the group and asked if they could meet and discuss their plans. At this point she began insisting on flying Weiner to California. Upon her arrival in California in November, Anna met with the Sacramento FBI, who told her to attend the meeting, listen to any mention of targets and tactics, and to keep her safety in mind. They also allegedly gave her further instructions as to what her role in the group should be – specifically that she should never suggest, don’t be a leader, and not to give info unless she was asked for it.

Anna picked Weiner and Jenson up in Sacramento then drove them Eric’s family’s home, where the 4 were meeting. Eric allegedly gave the group copies of an interview with Derrick Jensen, which she claims was the basis for much of his thought. During the evening the group sat around a fire pit on the back porch, where they allegedly talked about their “plot” . . . .

During the weekend, the group decided to meet after Christmas. Anna volunteered to procure a cabin for them (which she had been instructed to do by the FBI – allegedly for her safety). . . .

In January, Anna drove Jenson and Weiner from the east coast (DC) to the cabin in Dutch Flat, CA. At this point Anna introduced the “Burn Book” to the group, telling them that they should record any recipes, plans, shopping lists, etc. Much of the first part of the book is taken up with recipes that Anna wrote in. . . .

On the 11th of January, the group traveled to San Francisco to visit chemical supply stores, to do research, and to allow Jenson to sell some of his writings. None of the chemical supply stores were open to the public, so the group stopped at a Wal-Mart in Sacramento on their return to Dutch Flat, where they allegedly purchased materials to construct an explosive device. . . .

After another shopping trip, the group returned to the cabin where Anna claims Eric began “tearing into” the salt substitute and “mixing in earnest.” She also claims that he began emptying the powder from shotgun shells and testing fuses. Anna claims that Weiner and Jenson were reluctant to participate at first, but then began to actively participate. This was after the government played a tape of Anna berating Lauren and Zach for not being involved After heating the mixture, the glass bowl they were using busted and their days work was lost.

Anna claims that harsh words were exchanged the night of the 12th. They had an argument about people’s level of involvement, and Anna said the argument escalated until she no longer felt comfortable in the group. . . .

She says she left the cabin to go for a walk and be alone. (At this point the government played a recording of the argument.) During her walk to be alone, Anna met with the FBI agents and told them that she didn’t feel as if she could continue much longer. When she left the meeting with them, she knew that the other three would be arrested the next day. . . .

The USA concluded his direct examination of Anna by going back over her compensation from the FBI. She said she received approximately $65,000 over two years. $35,000 was for reimbursable expenses (gas, food, hotel, flights) and that $31,000 (plus change) was given to her in lump sums, sporadically throughout her work.

Trial Day 3: Cross-Examination of Anna

The morning began with [Eric's defense attorney Mark Reichel's] cross examination of Anna. . . .

[Anna testified that] she went to the Democratic National Convention, where she had adopted the persona of a medic because she knew that protesters needed medics and perceived them to be people in a responsible role. Anna has had no formal medical training. When Mark asked her how she handled this, she told him that she wore the attire, but if someone approached her for help she would “pass them off” to someone else. Next she went to Des Moines CrimethInc, where she met Zach and Eric. She affirmed again that her role involved A LOT of lying.

She spent 3 days in Des Moines with Zach and Eric, sleeping upstairs in a farmhouse with them. She said she couldn’t recall whether Eric slept right next to her. She stated that at this time, she viewed Eric as non-threatening, inconsequential, and that he looked “gentler” than the other people there. Because of this she buddied up with him. Despite viewing Eric as “inconsequential” she nonetheless reported back to the FBI about him. She exchanged emails with Eric and they agreed to see each other in New York for the RNC. At the RNC she reunited with Eric and Zach and spent just as much time, if not more, with them. She claimed that during the RNC Eric made comments about illegal activities, which she reported, but after the RNC she did not report him as someone that needed to be followed. She then claims to have had no contact with Eric until June 19 of 05.

Mark then asked her why she would have written people in May asking about him. (He had an email from someone whom she had emailed in May asking Eric’s where abouts) She responded that, at the request of the FBI, she was attempting to use old contacts to get back into protest circles. In the email Mark was referencing, she had written about the Halliburton protest and said, “I’d love to have a party, if you know what I mean” “You gonna’ come play with me, then?” In the same email string she wrote “Do you guys need anything? Supplies, paint, chains, nails, pipe, anything? Tar and Feathers? Like I said, disposable income, so ask around all your contacts. It’d be safer to bring from outside as well. So what are we gonna do? :)”

Mark referred back to the guide lines she mentioned in her previous testimony and asked if this was a “suggestion.” Anna responded that it was a “question about what supplies they might need.” Mark asked if Eric had written her love letters, to which she responded that he had indicated his interest in her between August and May. Anna told Weiner in January of 06 that Eric had written her three love letters. Mark then asked her about a meeting on Weiner’s balcony during the bio conference in Philly. She said that she did have an interaction with him on the balcony, just the two of them. She affirmed that he had written her a love email on October 26, so she was aware of his feelings for her in October of 05. Anna said she couldn’t recall if he had written her previously. As a CS, she was supposed to give the FBI any important communications, so Mark pressed her about where the other 2 love letters had ended up. She said she couldn’t recall. . . .

The cross then moved to the meeting in November of 05. Mark questioned her on conversations that she had with Weiner about the meeting. She said that Weiner initially expressed reluctance about coming out to California due to money problems. . . . Since the FBI wanted her on the West Coast, Anna volunteered to pay for Weiner’s plane ticket with the understanding that Weiner would pay her back for it. But Anna even went so far as to pay for Weiner’s cab fare. She said she didn’t recall that, but in an email she clearly states that she will. In one email she states “I’m taking care of everything. Trust me.” On November 4, Anna sent Weiner an email stating that she had an “awesome, devious” plan to get them all to California. . . .

In December of 05 she was granted Otherwise Illegal Activity authorization (OIA), which gave her approval to participate in criminal activity. She claimed she had not engaged in any criminal activity prior to this, but then admitted she had sat down in the street at G8 at one point. . . .

Mark then returned to the meeting on the balcony at Bio. She said that Eric had expressed romantic feelings for her at Bio. In a conversation between Anna and Weiner, Anna says “I kinda’ called him on how much he had changed. And he said, yeah well, I had a lot of big influences. I asked him “like what?” And he goes, “you for one” I about near fell over and died. ‘I knew you for a week!’ So…” at which point Weiner stated, “cause he loves you…” . . .

When Mark asked Anna who paid for the group’s supplies – who physically reached in to their pockets and paid, she responded that she did. After an immediate objection from the AUSA, and a nervous glance in the AUSA’s direction, she changed her answer and responded that the money came from Eric and Weiner’s pockets. She claimed that the group had a jar for money and shared costs. . . .

She claimed that she never had any romantic relationship with Eric, and that she had discussed how to handle his advances towards her with the FBI. The FBI had her fill out a behavioral analysis of Eric and returned to her a series of responses she could give for his advances. . . .

She said she got training on how to handle Eric’s advances in November of 05 – this was after Bloomington, after the event in Philly, and after Eric’s email to her in October. She said the email is what made her seek out advice. She said she was still working for the FBI when she lost the other two love letters. She affirmed that she did have to report anything significant from Eric to the FBI. . . .

For the end of her testimony, the government played a tape of Eric and Anna in the car, which she characterized as a record of Eric coming on to her and her putting him off. The tape was a conversation with Eric asking about the mixed signals Anna was sending him and her continuing to lead him on. At one point she says:

A: I definitely, I don’t not like you. I don’t really like you- I definitely like being around you- our energies really mesh well together

E: mm

A: what you said at bio I thought was nice, and appropriate

E: mhm

A: twin souls . . . [Later on]

A: we’re just. All of us are just friends and all of us aren’t to together and all of us, I mean one of us doesn’t like the other person, we all just love each other

E: yeah

A: and I like that

E: yeah

A: and I’m not sure if I’m ready to add that kind of relationship, sexual dynamics that kinda’…..to screw it up

E: ok

A: I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that yet

E: no I totally hear that

While the tape was playing Anna stared at Eric and grinned, almost to the point of laughing. She said “I was instructed to placate him the best I could without shooting him down.” Then Anna stepped down.

Government Examination of Ricardo Torres

FBI special agent Ricardo Raphael Torres was the next to testify. He was Anna’s handler at the Philadelphia FBI. He testified that he put out a call to the FBI for informants to use at the Biotech protest in Philly. He said that they did this because “people associated with anarchists, the ALF and the ELF engaged in violent actions” at the biotech protests in San Francisco, such as riding their bikes through traffic. The Miami FBI responded to his request with Anna. Torres said that she was “tasked to work within the anarchist elements of the protesters” and to “get out there and see who was going to do bad things to the city”. Torres said she was “extremely helpful”.

. . . .

Torres testified that [] the FBI ordered [Anna] to get Eric, Lauren and Zach together to “set the stage for a meeting of the conspirators”. Torres testified that Eric wanted bomb recipes from Anna. Torres testified that he and Anna looked at “open source” information on explosives on the internet” and then met with Philly FBI bomb experts to create a recipe for something that was just an initiator, meaning that it will create a small flash that would only work if it were next to a large amount of explosives.