FBI confidential informant also said to be provocateur
Jennifer Van Bergen
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Thursday June 8, 2006
According to activists from Des Moines, Philadelphia, Miami, Sacramento, and other locations, a young woman named "Anna" allegedly infiltrated peace and justice rallies and anarchist meetings, and even attempted to join protests against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of the DNC's national convention last year as a paid FBI confidential "informant." Activists say that she has tried to provoke conflict at various advocacy events and violent incidents with police to get people arrested. In other words, Anna is not just an informant, she may be a provocateur.
Although she is known among activist groups as either Anna Davies or Anna Davidson, others know her as Grai Damiani. She focuses her efforts largely on "anarchist" groups.
The McDavid Case
In January 2006, Eric McDavid, Lauren Weiner, and Zachary Jenson were arrested in California and charged with knowingly conspiring to use fire or explosives to damage property. Their arrest was the direct result of work by Anna, who was "deeply embedded within the subjects' cell," according to FBI documents.
The FBI affidavit in support of the complaint against the three defendants states that they planned on their own to engage in "direct action" – which the FBI agent equated with criminal activity – apparently without Anna's input or guidance. The direct action involved bombing one or several locations in California.
However, McDavid's attorney, Mark Reichel, states that Anna was always pushing McDavid to do something criminal, taught the three how to make the bombs, supervised their activities, and repeatedly threatened to leave them if they didn't start doing "something."
McDavid allegedly wanted to target banks, commercial trucks, mountaintop removal projects in West Virginia, Communist party office, and the U.S. Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics in California, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit, which was written by FBI Special Agent Nasson Walker, shows that the agency has identified the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) as "a recognized eco-terrorist group," which Walker states has been involved in over $200 million dollars worth of damage since 1997. Walker further notes that: "Environmental extremists under the ELF banner have been known to use arson and/or explosives to damage or destroy or attempt to damage or destroy government, commercial, and residential facilities." Walker also states that "ELF adherents share a strong philosophical connection to the anarchist movement," which he notes "seeks to end the current system of government, economy and replace them with systems characterized by a lack of authoritarian/hierarchical relationships." Walker states that all three of the defendants are anarchists.
The FBI claims that Anna has "provided information that has been utilized in at least twelve separate anarchist cases" and that her "information has proved accurate and reliable."
But just who is Anna and what makes her reliable?
Organization of American States (OAS) Protests
In June of last year, according to witnesses, Anna showed up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for an anti-OAS protest which drew approximately 1200 people. Wearing a shirt with a red cross on it and carrying a bag with the same logo, she appeared on the day the protests began and identified herself as a "medic" from California.
One protester who had become ill during the event was treated by Anna. "She was pushy," said Barbara Collins, a retired Miami resident who says Anna gave her Gatorade with water and then left. "She gave me that drink that made me sick, but later on she didn't seem that interested in treating me. She wanted to get back to the others." Collins was subsequently hospitalized for heat stroke.
Linda Belgrave, a sociology professor at University of Miami, who assisted Collins that day, had to go find Anna again when Barbara got worse. According to Belgrave, Anna told her she was "busy." Belgrave did not see Anna attending to any other person in need of medical attention. She was simply "hanging out" with the "kids."
Indeed, Anna was busy, according to other protesters at the OAS rally.
During the march to the rally where Collins fell ill, one Miami resident, who asked that her name not be used, heard people talking about doing a sit-in. Since the coalition had decided against sit-ins and had negotiated carefully with the police about routes and activities, she warned people individually not to participate in the sit-in. Most did not, but Ray Del Papa from Ft. Lauderdale subsequently saw Anna directing young people to sit down on the street directly in front of a line of police in riot gear. In describing what he saw, Del Papa motions with his arms to show how Anna instructed individuals to sit here and there. Del Papa felt that it was a "set-up," a "trap, similar to what the police did during the protests against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) in Miami in 2003."
The fences penned the protesters in completely except where the riot police were, which was exactly where Anna instructed the young people to do their sit-in, according to Del Papa.
"She knew they could get their heads bashed in," notes Mark Reichel, based on conversations with the activists. "If you saw their faces as well, you would understand that these people were not lying."
Under the Attorney General's Guidelines, the FBI and prosecutors are required to keep secret the identity of a confidential informant. However, Anna was seemingly "outed" last year by activists who recognized what they saw as disruptive and provocative tactics and posted pictures of her on the internet.
The allegations were later confirmed by Reichel, who identified the unnamed FBI confidential source cited in the January 2006 complaint affidavit for the McDavid case as Anna.
Reichel also viewed hundreds of hours of surveillance tapes of Anna and McDavid and his cohorts. He notes that Anna's forte is identifying "radical" young men and women and "getting them" to fall in love with her.
The FBI will not discuss Anna's status or the specifics of her training or operations but denies that informants are trained to provoke. In response to RAW STORY's queries about Anna, FBI media representative Karen Ernst said that "Sources are admonished not to provoke criminal activity,"
"Sources operated by the FBI are closely monitored and the information received from them is corroborated through other investigative techniques."
Additionally, Ernst explains that the FBI corroborates information obtained from an informant "before charges are brought" against an individual. "Charges are brought when the totality of the evidence is sufficient for either a criminal complaint or indictment. Information from a source would never be the only evidence used to bring charges; other evidence would include recordings, surveillance video, results of witness testimony, etc.," adds Ernst.
Despite being outed, Anna continues to infiltrate groups and presently is living in a collective home with some young people in Iowa, according to Reichel.
Criminal Activity Plus Salary
According to the "Attorney General's Guidelines Regarding the Use of Confidential Informants" (AG Guidelines), a "Confidential Informant" or "CI" is "any individual who provides useful and credible information to [the FBI] regarding felonious criminal activities, and from whom the [FBI] expects or intends to obtain additional useful and credible information regarding such activities in the future."
The FBI conducts a "suitability determination" for each informant, which includes consideration of the candidate's age, affiliations, motivations, reliability, truthfulness, and criminal and drug history.
Every informant receives and must acknowledge her understanding of a written set of instructions, which are reviewed by an agent with the CI. The CI is not allowed to engage in criminal activity without authorization. A CI who is authorized to engage in "Tier 1 Otherwise Illegal Activity" – which includes involvement with violent activities by other persons, corrupt conduct by officials, and trafficking of controlled substances – becomes a "High Level Confidential Informant."
Given Anna's involvement in the McDavid case, where she was involved in allegedly planning violent activities, she became a High Level CI.
According to Ernst, all sources are operated in accordance with the Attorney General's Guidelines. Sources are required to meet on a regular basis with an agent who provides them guidance and instructions.
Yet in a scathing report released by the Department of Justice in September of last year, DOJ inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, found "that FBI agents violated procedures in 87 percent of the cases, including some in which informants allegedly engaged in illegal activity without proper oversight or permission."
As for Anna, she receives about $37,500 a year, plus expenses, for her work. In the McDavid case, for example, in addition to her salary, the FBI paid for Anna to rent a house in California, paid for helicopter surveillance at her behest, and ostensibly also paid for the audio and video surveillance rigged in the rental house.
Are there other Annas?
Although the FBI states that it does not target lawful activity or activity protected by the First Amendment, in Florida alone, groups advocating against the invasion of Iraq, the PATRIOT Act, the OAS, and the FTAA have all been infiltrated, according to participants -- who cannot prove that the suspicious persons were infiltrators or informants. But documents released last year show that a counter-recruitment meeting at the Quaker House in Lake Worth, Florida was infiltrated by the Department of Defense. And the revelations about Anna, who participated in at least two of the major protests in Florida, further confirm activists' fears.
While officials have claimed that anarchists advocate violence, Fred Frost, President of the Florida AFL-CIO, stated in 2004 at public hearings after the FTAA demonstrations that anarchists "may look different from you and me, but they are some of the nicest, most peaceful people I've ever met, helping everyone – I have a great deal of respect for them."
None of the above-mentioned peace and justice groups advocates violence; all advocate using peaceful and lawful means of expression.
Jennifer Van Bergen is a freelance journalist with a law degree. Her book "The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America" is available on Amazon. Her book "Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious" will be out next year. She can be reached at [email protected].