A ultra-right-wing blogger and radio talk show host will go on trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn tomorrow, accused of making death threats against three federal judges who refused to overturn handgun bans in Chicago. But defendant Hal Turner claims that since 2003, he has been working undercover for the FBI, which paid him thousands of dollars to inform on neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups. Turner says the FBI even coached him to make racist, anti-Semitic and other threatening statements.
The FBI has sought to downplay their connection with Turner, but a huge exposé published yesterday in The Record of Bergen County draws from government documents, e-mails, court records and interviews with Turner, and shows that the Joint Terrorism Task Force used Turner frequently to investigate domestic terrorism. The records show that federal agents criticized Turner for his inflammatory statements, but one internal FBI memo praised Turner as "highly reliable and in a unique position to provide vital information on multiple subversive domestic organizations... [Turner's] statistical accomplishments include over 100 subjects identified, over 10 acts of violence prevented and multiple subjects arrested."
Turner's ties to the FBI were severed by both sides on multiple occasions, according to the report. In February 2008, federal investigators became alarmed when Turner threatened then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama on his now-defunct blog: "I'm starting to come to the realization that it may be up to a sole person, acting alone, to make certain this guy is never allowed to hold the most powerful office in the world." Turner subsequently reached out to his FBI contacts to say that he had heard of a possible assassination plot by white supremacists against the president-elect, The Record reports.
Hackers infiltrated Turner's computers and e-mails two years ago and exposed e-mails between Turner and an FBI agent. But Turner did not admit to working with the FBI until after his arrest in June, when he sent a letter from jail to The Record saying, "Imagine my surprise when agents from the very FBI that trained and paid me came to my house to arrest me." In court, federal prosecutors have acknowledged Turner's FBI ties but described him as "unproductive." The trial scheduled to start tomorrow is expected to be something of a sensation; Turner's lawyer has even subpoenaed Christopher J. Christie, the former United States attorney for New Jersey and the state’s governor-elect.