Lest We Forget–Records show feds used White Supremacist radio host Hal Turner for years
ed note–those who don’t consider the possibility/likelihood of Mike Delaney & co being compromised moles for ADL/SPLC/FBI should reconsider this position in light of what we know about the infamous Hal Turner.
For more than five years, Hal Turner of North Bergen lived a double life.
The public knew him as an ultra-right-wing radio talk show host and Internet blogger with an audience of neo-Nazis and white supremacists attracted to his scorched-earth racism and bare-knuckles bashing of public figures. But to the FBI, and its expanding domestic counter-terror intelligence operations in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Turner was “Valhalla” — his code name as an informant who spied on his own controversial followers.
Turner’s clandestine past was confirmed this past summer when he was jailed on charges that he made threats on his blog against three federal judges in Chicago. In court after his arrest, federal prosecutors acknowledged Turner’s FBI ties but downplayed his importance and even described him as “unproductive.”
But an investigation by The Record — based on government documents, e-mails, court records and almost 20 hours of jailhouse interviews with Turner — shows that federal authorities made frequent use of Turner in its battle against domestic terrorism.
As Turner took to his radio show and blog to say that those who opposed his extremist views deserve to die, he received thousands of dollars from the FBI to report on such groups as the Aryan Nations and the white supremacist National Alliance, and even a member of the Blue Eyed Devils skinhead punk band. Later, he was sent undercover to Brazil where he reported a plot to send non-military supplies to anti-American Iraqi resistance fighters. Sometimes he signed “Valhalla” on his FBI payment receipts instead of his own name.
His dual life of shock jock and informant offers a window into the murky realm of domestic intelligence in the years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks — in particular, the difficult choices for the FBI in penetrating controversial fringe groups with equally controversial informants.
In interviews, conducted before Turner was released on bail, he said the FBI coached him to make racist, anti-Semitic and other threatening statements and now he feels double-crossed by the bureau after his arrest. The documents reviewed by The Record, however, show repeated instances of federal agents admonishing Turner for his extremism.
Federal prosecutors in Newark and Chicago declined to respond to Turner’s claims, as did FBI officials. “We do not comment on matters before the courts and will not address Mr. Turner’s allegations in the press,” said the FBI’s Weysan Dun, who runs the bureau’s Newark field office.
Turner’s “Valhalla” life will likely be on display this week when he is scheduled to go on trial for his alleged blog threats against three federal appeals court judges in Chicago who upheld a law banning handguns. The trial, originally set for Chicago, was switched to Brooklyn, with a judge flying in from Louisiana.
The trial may have its share of political intrigue. Turner’s defense attorney, Michael Orozco, said he plans to subpoena Governor-elect Chris Christie to testify about whether he advised the FBI about Turner while Christie was U.S. attorney in Newark. On Friday, Orozco filed a motion to dismiss the case, accusing the government of “outrageous conduct.”
But the center of the court battle will likely be the story of Hal Turner and his FBI connections, which began in 2003 with the Newark-based Joint Terrorism Task Force, and continued on and off until this year.
Rumors of Turner’s FBI work surfaced two years ago after unknown Internet hackers electronically broke into his Web site and found e-mails between Turner and an FBI agent. Turner never acknowledged his FBI role until after his arrest in June — and then with a mix of anger and chagrin.
“Imagine my surprise,” he wrote in one of several letters from jail to The Record, “when agents from the very FBI that trained and paid me came to my house to arrest me.”
In a memo only two years earlier, the FBI said Turner “has proven highly reliable and is in a unique position to provide vital information on multiple subversive domestic organizations.” The memo went on to say that Turner’s “statistical accomplishments include over 100 subjects identified, over 10 acts of violence prevented and multiple subjects arrested.”
“I was not some street snitch,” Turner said in one of several lengthy interviews at the Hudson County Jail, where he was kept until the terms of his bail were worked out in October — terms that prevented him from talking to reporters after his release. “I was a deep undercover intelligence operative.”
Misgivings on both sides
Whatever his role, one thing is clear: The relationship between Turner and the FBI often was rocky, with both sides cutting ties several times.
In March 2005, Turner abruptly quit. In a letter to his FBI handlers, he cited a “complete failure” by the agency “to achieve the goals for which I began the relationship,” the “dismal lack of arrests,” the failure to track down a “threat to kill me and my family” and “exploitation” by the FBI “to interfere with content of my Internet Web site.”