Robert Merritt and the Scandal That Dare Not Speak Its Name
By Jim Hougan
Nearly 40 years after the Watergate arrests, a former police spy has published a book in which he makes extraordinary claims about the FBI’s COINTEL program and, just as sensationally, the supposed dismantling of the Nixon Administration by a Pentagon spy-ring.
Watergate Exposed is the biography of a “Confidential Informant” named Robert Merritt, as told to one of the lawyers for the Watergate burglars. It is not a very good book, or even a very reliable one. But it may be a mistake to ignore it. Among other things, Merritt claims to have tipped off the police in advance of the June 17th Watergate break-in, to have participated with police and Pentagon agents in the drugging, kidnapping and blackmailing of a senior CIA lawyer, while also having a hand in the poisoning of more than 100 antiwar demonstrators.
The story begins in the tradition of the bildungsroman, with the young Merritt leaving an unhappy home in West Virginia, only to wash up at a Trailways bus station in the nation’s capital. A good-looking kid with few, if any, moral inhibitions, it was apparently only a matter of minutes before he concluded a sex-for-hospitality arrangement with an employee at the bus station. With his domestic situation efficiently sorted, Merritt then went looking for more gainful employment, and soon found it as a post-mortem technician in a local hospital. His job? Removing the hearts from the cadavers of children for use in a government study.
The work seems not to have bothered him overly much. He toiled at it for two years before he found what became his life’s calling. In January, 1970, while cruising the city’s “artsy” Dupont Circle neighborhood, Merritt attracted the attention of an undercover police detective named Carl Shoffler.
No ordinary cop, Shoffler was a born conspirator, forever setting traps for the wicked. Affable and very intelligent, he was a veteran of the Army Security Agency and its “listening post” at the Vint Hill Farm station in Northern Virginia. Working closely with the National Security Agency (NSA), Vint Hill was an antennae farm whose classified mission was to intercept Soviet Bloc radio transmissions - as well as communications among antiwar organizations, radical groups and left-wing think-tanks headquartered in the capital.
To an undercover cop like Shoffler, whose official responsibilities shifted between Vice and Intelligence, Merritt was quite the prize.
To read the rest of the article go to:
Allegations regarding "Butch" Merritt, Watergate, Intelligence Agencies and "Crimson Rose," Vol. XXVI
By Kris Millegan
I’ve seen the needle
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone …
… the point is, once you cross that line, from the straight society to the drug society – marijuana, then speed, then it’s LSD, then it’s heroin, etc. Then you’re done.
If you have your own country but not your own government, nothing you own is secure.
On June 17, 1971, Richard Nixon first used the term “War on Drugs,” declaring, “Public enemy number one is drug abuse.” This was four days after the New York Times had published the Pentagon Papers, and exactly one year before the infamous Watergate “third-rate burglary.” Our country would never be the same
Both Watergate and the War on Drugs have changed the course of our republic, and neither for the good. Watergate weakened the Office of the President, helped destroy Americans’ faith in their governmental institutions, and almost empowered a completely unelected federal office-holder to serve as President of the US.
The War on Drugs compromises our Constitution, leaving our valiantly secured rights degraded. This “War” has created a militarized police force, a huge prison population and massive corruption. Drug money is laundered by our banks and used as off-the-books funding by our intelligence/military apparatus, allowing forces in the shadows to menace the integrity of our system.
The Drug War has been unsuccessful by any social measure. But then maybe it’s not about protecting our children or our community: maybe it’s about keeping a black market in place. Without prohibition, there are no gargantuan profits. We are given reasons of geopolitics and intelligence gathering, but at the end the day it all appears to be simply about money and power.
As it was with Watergate, an orchestrated scandal conducted from the shadows. Butch Merritt and Douglas Caddy offer us a different view of Watergate with Watergate Exposed now available through bookstores and in e-format from Amazon, Apple and other retailers.
to be continued…
It's all relative. Peace, Kris Millegan
Black Eagle Trust Fund
Few people are aware of the huge Black Eagle Trust fund, let alone its critical relation to the 9/11 attacks. A brilliant summary of excellent information regarding this covert fund compiled by meticulous researcher E.P. Heidner ties together many previously unexplained threads in the 9/11 mystery in ways that are most compelling. Heidner presents volumes of solid evidence to support his thesis that one of the main reasons for the attacks was to cover up the laundering of over $200 billion in bonds from this secretive fund that were to come due the day after 9/11.
Serious 9/11 researchers will likely be most grateful for the revealing connections in this careful research made between seemingly unconnected parts of the 9/11 story and the many people and organizations involved. Those less familiar with the 9/11 cover-up will almost certainly appreciate the broad overview given and the hidden history behind it all. If we follow the money, a lot of unexplained things begin to make sense.
Below are key excerpts from this remarkable paper with highlighting provided for those with limited time. If you do have time, the many diagrams, photos, and charts available in the original 58-page essay are most helpful. The full document also includes 232 footnotes for verification filling 17 pages worth of text. In the concise summary below, I've kept the original footnote numbers, so you will find they skip quite a bit. See the full essay to explore these informative footnotes. For the entire original paper with footnotes, click here.
Some readers may feel upset or overwhelmed with this material, yet the fact that you are reading this and that this powerful information is awakening many as it spreads around the Internet shows that we are making a difference. Others may be excited to finally see the bigger picture. See our "what you can do" section at the end of the article for ideas on how you can help spread the word and build a brighter future. Thanks for caring.
Note: For what may be the most powerful single piece of evidence corroborating this theory, click here to read the Reuters news service article on the massive volume of electronic financial transactions conducted from inside the WTC just before the towers collapsed. Yet the investigation results are being kept secret.
The September 11th attacks were likely meant as a cover-up for financial crimes being investigated by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), whose offices in the Pentagon were destroyed on September 11th.  The attacks ... were intended to cover-up the clearing of $240 billion dollars in securities covertly created in September 1991 to fund a covert economic war against the Soviet Union, during which ‘unknown’ western investors bought up much of the Soviet industry, with a focus on oil and gas.
The 9/11 attacks also served to derail multiple Federal investigations of crimes associated with the 1991 covert operation. Hundreds of billions of dollars of government securities had to be destroyed. A critical mass of brokers from the major government security brokerages in the Twin Towers had to be eliminated to create chaos in the government securities market. A situation needed to be created wherein $240 billion dollars of covert securities could be electronically “cleared” without anyone asking questions – which happened when the Federal Reserve declared an emergency and invoked its “emergency powers” that very afternoon. 
There were three major securities brokers in the World Trade Center: Cantor Fitzgerald, Eurobrokers and Garbon Inter Capital. Cantor Fitzgerald was the largest securities dealer in the US  and arguably the primary target.  41% of the fatalities in the Twin Towers came from Cantor Fitzgerald and Eurobrokers.  31% of the 125 fatalities in the Pentagon were from the Naval Command Center that housed the Office of Naval Intelligence. 39 of 40 Office of Naval Intelligence employees died. The Naval Command Center had been moved into that newly opened section of the Pentagon only a month earlier.  And in the vaults beneath the World Trade Center Towers, any certificates for bonds were destroyed. 
On that fateful day, the Securities and Exchange Commission declared a national emergency, and for the first time in U.S. history, invoked its emergency powers under Securities Exchange Act Section 12(k) easing regulatory restrictions for clearing and settling security trades for the next 15 days. These changes would allow an estimated $240 billion in covert government securities to be cleared upon maturity without the standard regulatory controls around identification of ownership. 
The Origins of the World Trade Center Attack
Emboldened by the lack of consequences for subverting the U.S. constitution and breaking international law during the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, a Bush administration group known as “the Vulcans” planned a bigger drive to crush Communism once and for all. They waged war against the Soviet Union and Iraq under George H.W. Bush, and against Iraq and Afghanistan under George W. Bush. Belonging to this group were Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, and Condoleezza Rice. 
The Vulcan’s drive to bring an end to the Cold War was fueled by a covert war chest invisible to congressional oversight.  This war chest would be known by several names: Black Eagle Trust, the Marcos gold, Yamashita’s Gold, the Golden Lily Treasure, the Durham Trust or Project Hammer.  The program also seems to have lined the pockets of the individuals that executed this policy. This was done to the tune of a staggering $240 billion dollars in covert and allegedly illegal bonds, which appear to have been replaced with Treasury notes backed by U.S. taxpayers in the aftermath of September 11.
The covert securities used to accomplish the national security objective of ending the Cold War ended up in the vaults of the brokers in the World Trade Center, and were destroyed on September 11, 2001.  They came due for settlement and clearing on September 12. The federal Agency investigating these bonds – The Office of Naval Intelligence – was in the section of the Pentagon that was destroyed on 9/11. 
To this key group of senior National Security officials called the Vulcans, who had participated in the victory of the economic cold war in 1991, the WTC, the Pentagon, the four airliners and their occupants would became ‘collateral’ damage in the ending of the Cold War. Their deaths were required to hide the existence of the Black Eagle Trust, and the covert activities it had funded for over 50 years. The destruction of these lives and buildings constituted a cover-up of continued lawlessness by a fraternity or brotherhood of businessmen and criminals often referred to as ‘the Enterprise’ in the 1980s, though it has remained in the shadows since.
Numerous sources have documented that at the end of WWII, the treasury of the Japanese Empire was discovered in the Philippines by a staff member of General Charles Willoughby, [Edward Lansdale], who was General MacArthur’s chief of Intelligence. Then known as the Golden Lily Treasure, this mass of wealth had been accumulated by the Japanese through over fifty years of pillaging by its army in Southeast Asia and China. It was deposited in the Philippines due to the U.S. submarine blockade of Japan. Reports vary, butdocuments in the public domain suggest the recovered treasure was in excess of 280,000 metric tonnes of gold, not including jewels and diamonds.  After the War [Lansdale] tortured Major Kojima Kashii – General Yamashita Tomoyuki’s driver – until he revealed and created a map of the gold sites. 
Lansdale briefed Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy about the findings, and a U.S. Cabinet level decision was made to confiscate the gold and cover-up its discovery. The gold would be added to the Black Eagle Trust fund. It was McCloy, along with Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson who created the Black Eagle Trust. 
John McCloy, who had shared a box at the 1936 Olympics with Adolph Hitler, went on to become President of the World Bank. Robert Anderson would go on to operate the Commercial Exchange Bank in the British West Indies, be convicted of running illegal banking operations and tax evasion, and be sentenced to prison.  A fourth member of that group – William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan – would go on to found the CIA and distribute the gold to key banks represented by his staffers.
The trust they created takes its name from the Nazi Black Eagle stamped on the gold bars of the Third Reich. Gold bullion confiscated from the Reich and not returned to its rightful owners and their heirs was the original source of funding for this trust.  Over the years, the significance of the Nazi gold would pale in comparison to the confiscated Japanese treasure.
The men responsible for initiating and executing the confiscation of Nazi and Japanese treasury gold represented the most senior Intelligence officers in the U.S. and Britain at the end of World War II, and the Cabinet of the President of the United States. The financial institutions represented by these individuals would become the major financial banks in the world, along with the Swiss-German banks they hid their gold in. The Yamashita gold would become the cornerstone of the Black Eagle Fund, from which many covert operations of the U.S. intelligence would be funded. 
Lansdale’s operation in the Philippines gave birth to most of the common features of modern covert operations for U.S. Intelligence: bribery, theft, torture, and false flag operations. It would be Lansdale who would initiate a bond between the US intelligence organizations and Israeli intelligence. It would be Lansdale that would set precedents for the Intelligence community to retain the services of organized crime on U.S. soil. Lansdale would hire American Mafia family heads Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante, Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano in the U.S. war against Fidel Castro in 1961.
It would be Lansdale’s team that would propose and justify sacrificing innocent U.S. civilians in order to rally the American citizenry to support an invasion of foreign soil. This was done under a program run by Brigadier General William H. Craig, who reported to Lansdale for the Cuba project.  This project was called Operation Northwoods. Documents for this project would be accidentally released from the files of Robert McNamara into the public domain some 40 years later, exposing the degree to which Lansdale’s operatives would go to wage war.  These declassified documents revealed secret plans of the U.S. military to wage a fabricated “terror” campaign against US citizens as a pretext to justify a second invasion of Cuba.
Barrick Gold would become an investment for nearly every gold bullion bank associated with the Marcos gold recovery. These banks would loan gold to Barrick, which would then sell the borrowed gold as derivatives, with the promise of replacing the borrowed gold with their gold mining operation. The records of many of those transactions disappeared when Enron collapsed and the trading operation and all its records were taken over by UBS, another major recipient of Marcos gold. The FBI was reportedly conducting an investigation into those transactions, and the investigation files were kept on the 23rd floor of the North Tower of the WTC. A review of the personal accounts of September 11 now suggests that office was deliberately targeted with explosives prior to the collapse of the WTC towers. 
In November 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected to the White House. Sixty-nine days after the inauguration, John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan. Eight days prior to that attempt, there were a series of unprecedented policy changes that put George Bush in charge of Foreign Policy and National Security. That conferred new roles and powers on Bush, including "unprecedented powers for a vice president."  Vice President George Bush was named the leader of the United States "crisis management'' staff, as a part of the National Security Council system.  Then, on March 30, 1981, just eight days after these powers were conferred on Bush, President Reagan was shot.
The father of the assassin that put Bush in power was John (a.k.a. Jack) Hinckley, Sr., the owner of Vanderbilt Oil. Hinckley had been giving maximum donations every year to George H.W. Bush since he started running for Congress. In The Black Hole of Guyana: The Untold Story of the Jonestown Massacre, John Judge painstakingly documents that Jonestown was a CIA operation for converting dispossessed and lonely refugeesinto assassins. In an operation that was falling under Congressional investigation, the evidence had to be eliminated – and nearly all the inhabitants were murdered to prevent disclosure. 
A key player in the Marcos gold would be Banker’s Trust, which was taken over by Alex Brown & Sons, after Banker’s Trust floundered financially on its Russian loans in the mid 1990s. These Russian loans were facilitated by Enron, starting in August of 1993, and very possibly were part of the Project Hammer takeover of Soviet industry. Alex Brown‘s involvement would bring to the forefront the names of three names of individuals who would play multiple roles in this mystery: Buzz Krongard, Mayo Shattuck, and J Carter Beese.
Buzz Krongard is reported as the mentor of Beese and Shattuck from their years together at Alex Brown. Additionally, he managed the merger between Bankers Trust and Deutschebank Alex Brown. Bankers Trust, Zurich was a key Marcos gold holder. Krongard would move on to become Chairman of the investment bank A.B. Brown, Vice Chairman of Banker's Trust, and Executive Director of the CIA at the time of September 11.
Mayo Shattuck would be reported to be the personal banker for Adnan Khashoggi and Edgar Bronfmann during their partnership at Barrick Gold.  He would move on to become the CEO of Deutschebank who would resign for unexplained reasons the day after September 11, and would not be at the WTC office that day when the tower collapsed. It was his bank that was identified as the source of the illegal stock options that indicated there was insider trading taking advantage of the September 11 tragedy.
What happened to the Marcos gold after it was confiscated by U.S. agents in 1986 has never been reported, but throughout the early 1990s, the world gold market would be befuddled by the mysterious appearance of thousands of tonnes of gold which appeared to suppress the price of gold.
In preparation for their war against Communism, and in the years leading up to the failed – or faux – coup of 1991 which initiated the last days of Gorbachev and the rise of Yeltsin, Bush and a cadre of rogue KGB officials built a complex international network of banks and holding companies that would be used to take over ownership of the Soviet economy. Over 300 of these KGB turncoats who supported this operation would later be re-located to the US in the early 1990s and pensioned.  Periodic CIA reports to Congress would review KGB and organized crime complicity in the takeover of Russia by criminal elements, but all mention of the formidable role of the U.S. would be expunged from Congressional oversight and the public record. 
In the first phase of the economic attack on the Soviet Union, George Bush authorized Leo Wanta and others to destabilize the ruble and facilitate the theft of the Soviet/Russian treasury. This would result in draining the Russian treasury of between 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of gold bullion, ($35 billion at the time).  The gold was ‘stolen’ in March of 1991, facilitated by Leo Wanta and signed off by Boris Yeltsin’s right hand man. The majority of the leaked reports from the CIA and FBI suggest the theft of the Russian treasury was a KGB and Communist party operation, but what those reports omitted was the extensive involvement of Boris Yeltsin, the U.S. banking industry and the CIA.
In the second phase, Wanta, George Soros and a group of Bush appointees would begin to destabilize the ruble. There were two major operations: the largest was coordinated by Alan Greenspan and Oliver North, and implemented by Leo Wanta.
The 9/11 Cover-up and the Black Eagle Trust
With an understanding of the economic war being waged on the Soviet Union, the focus needs to turn to reports that on September 11, 1991, President George Bush was responsible for issuing $240 billion dollars in secretive bonds as a part of this attack on the Russian ruble. There are six lines of evidence from eight sources that suggest this was indeed the case. Many of these instances are corroborated with documents available on the Internet, presented by those making the claims. 
The bonds sat for ten years, like a ticking time bomb. They had to be settled – or cashed in by September 12, 2001. The two firms in the U.S. most likely to be handling them would be Cantor Fitzgerald and Eurobrokers – the two largest government securities firms in the U.S. The federal agency mostly involved in investigating those transactions was the Office of Naval Intelligence. On 9/11, those same three organizations: the two largest government securities brokers and the Office of Naval Intelligence in the US took direct hits.
What happened inside the buildings of the World Trade on September 11 is difficult, but not impossible to discern. The government has put a seal on the testimony gathered by the investigating 911 Commission, and instructed government employees to not speak on the matter or suffer severe penalties, but there are a number of personal testimonies posted on the Internet as to what happened in those buildings that day.
Careful reconstruction from those testimonies indicates the deliberate destruction of evidence not only by a targeted assault on the buildings, but also by targeted fires and explosions. In the event that either the hijacking failed, or the buildings were not brought down, the evidence would be destroyed by fires. In addition to the investigative evidence being destroyed, the Federal Register reported that the physical securities held by the brokers in their vaults had been destroyed.
What would be even more revealing would be the actions of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission on that day, and in the immediate aftermath. As one of many coincidences on 9/11, the Federal Reserve Bank was operating its information system from its remote back-up site rather than it’s downtown headquarters. The SEC and Federal Reserve system remained unfazed by the attack. All of their systems continued to operate. The two major security trading firms had their trade data backed up on remote systems. Nevertheless, the Commission for the first time invoked its emergency powers under Securities Exchange Act Section 12(k) and issued several orders to ease certain regulatory restrictions temporarily.
The Federal Reserve Suspends the Rules
On the first day of the crisis, the SEC lifted “Rule 15c3-3: Customer Protection – Reserves and Custody of Securities.” Thus GSCC [Government Securities Clearing Corporation] was thus allowed to substitute other securities for the physical securities destroyed during the attack. “…collateral substitutions can and should be made with regard to immediately maturing collateral.”  At this point in time, the Federal Reserve and its GSCC had created a settlement environment totally void of controls and reporting – where it could substitute valid, new government securities for the mature, illegal securities, and not have to record where the original bad securities had come from, or where the new securities went – all because the paper for the primary brokers for US securities had been eliminated.
A review of the explanations for the actions of the Federal Reserve after September 11th exposes an amazingly complex web of analysis and speculation. The reports published by the Federal Reserve argue that the Federal Reserve’s actions increasing the monetary supply by over $300 billion were justified to overcome operational difficulties in the financial sector. While impressive as the reports are, what is noted by the casual reader is that all of the Federal Reserve analysis is speculative and suggestive, using phraseology such as “may have,” “likely,” “presumably,” or “should have.” There are few – if any – definitive statements about root cause and the appropriateness of the Federal Reserve response.
While the Fed was reporting outstanding account balances of over $100 billion per day (while not identifying the banks involved), the Wall Street Journal reported that at one point during the week after 9/11, BoNY was publicly reported to be overdue on $100 billion in payments.  The Deutschebank, which sat inside the WTC and was totally decimated, reported no such account balance increase, and JP Morgan, the other of only two clearing banks which uses the same traders and communications hub, reported no such increase in its account balance. No one has publicly asked: why is it that these other two banks were not seriously disrupted, while the Bank of New York – which had no structural damage – seemed unable to operate?
Certain key unknown figures in the Federal Reserve may have ‘conspired’ with key unknown figures at the Bank of New York to create a situation where $240 billion in off balance sheet securities created in 1991 as part of an official covert operation to overthrow the Soviet Union, could be cleared without publicly acknowledging their existence. These securities, originally managed by Cantor Fitzgerald, were cleared and settled in the aftermath of September 11th through the BoNY. The $100 billion account balance bubble reported by the Wall Street Journal as being experienced in the BoNY was tip of a three day operation, when these securities were moved from off-balance-sheet to the balance sheet.
[As reported on page 12 of a Federal Reserve document] “In the absence of complete information on deliveries into and out of its account at BoNY on September 11, and as a result of its assumption of settlement fails on the starting legs of blind-brokered RPs, GSCC recorded (after the close of business on September 11) $266 billion in transactions that apparently failed to settle.… Continuing connectivity problems prevented GSCC from giving BoNY delivery instructions after the close of business on September 11 and prevented it from acquiring information on activity in its account at BoNY during the day on September 12. Consequently, GSCC recorded $440 billion in settlement fails as of the close of business on September 12.” 
What appears to be the case is that the Federal Reserve imbalances reported on three consecutive days in the aftermath were largely concentrated at the Bank of New York, which is reported to represent over 90% of the imbalance, suggesting the Bank had been the recipient of massive fund transfers, and unable to send out transfers. Overall transactions for the day of 9/11 were seemingly down even more significantly than volume, but the transactions that came in after closing were extremely large, averaging in size in packages of $35 million or more. This would be consistent with a hypothesis that $240 billion of securities were being pushed surreptitiously into the money supply.
The Federal Reserve, without providing the detail required to substantiate it’s claims, would have the public believe that there were widespread liquidity issues, when in fact the issues were very concentrated primarily, if not singularly, in the BoNY, which has been the subject of an ongoing majormoney-laundering investigation for many years. These account balance issues resulted in the defacto expansion of the monetary supply, details of which are no longer reported by the Federal Reserve.
The reported cause of this market malfunction is seemingly suspect. By comparison, the Deutschebank which sat inside the World Trade Center reported no such account balance increase, and JP Morgan, the other of two clearing banks which uses the same traders and communications hub, reported no such increase in account balance. Additionally, while problems were being documented between the BoNY and GCSS, no other institution had those problems.
There is a contention that at the core of the September 11th attack, someone was planning to cover the 1991 issuance of $240 billion in covert securities used to finance the collapse the Soviet Union. The facts surrounding the financial aftermath of September 11 suggest this is not only possible, but that reports describing the aftermath have deliberately been misleading.
This is not a ‘proof’ that $240 billion was laundered, but it provides probable cause for paying serious attention.
History has many interpretations, and this report has been just one of many – an interpretation pieced together from the bold admissions and revelations of insiders, whose stories have been ignored and suppressed by the major media organizations. It is an interpretation of history that suggests a few determined men strove to change the world in defense of Western capitalism in ways which they felt needed to be hidden from the public. Whatever emotion or logic that was adequate to cause them to hide their actions from the public was not strong enough to prevent them from committing the acts.
Author’s Note: This is the condensed version of this story. The author cannot vouch for the accuracy of the source materials, although efforts have been made to validate the consistency of the story line with as many references as possible. There is no single fact or reference that this story is dependent on. The author expects some details to be disputed, and possibly disproved, but contends that the story line will hold true regardless.
Note from Fred: Though I doubt this was the only reason for 9/11, it was likely one of the main motivators. For what may be the most powerful single piece of evidence corroborating this theory, click here to read the Reuters news service article on the massive volume of electronic financial transactions conducted from inside the WTC just before the buildings collapsed. Yet the investigation results are being kept secret.
Allegations regarding "Butch" Merritt, Watergate, Intelligence Agencies and "Crimson Rose," Vol. XXIV
By Kris Millegan
Splitting Hares – Part Four
Confidential informants, within certain boundaries run their own show – outside the law – similar to blackmailers. So it was an interesting twist of history that set a lowly CI on a course to “interact” with President Richard Nixon.
Since Watergate the use of informants has ballooned. The War on Drugs, what a success!
From, Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice, by Alexandra Natapoff (highly recommended, very well written and researched):
A Tale of Three Snitches
Ninety-two-year-old Kathryn Johnston was dead, which meant big trouble for Officers Smith and Junier.
Three hours earlier, everything had looked so promising. Atlanta police had busted Fabian Sheats for the third time in four months, and the local drug dealer-turned-informant had tipped them off to a major stash at 933 Neal Street- an entire kilo of cocaine. Sheats wasn't one of their registered informants so they couldn't use him to get a warrant, but Smith and Junier applied for a warrant anyway by inventing an imaginary snitch. They called him a "reliable confidential informant" and told the magistrate judge that this nonexistent snitch had bought crack cocaine at the Neal Street address. The fabrication wouldn't matter in the end, after they got the warrant, busted in, and grabbed the kilo. It would be a major victory. But nothing went the way it was supposed to. Sheats's tip was bad – there was no kilo at that address. Once inside the house, the officers opened fire. Now Mrs. Johnston was lying at their feet riddled with police bullets with no cocaine anywhere to be found. So Smith and Junier turned to one of their regular informants, yet another snitch named Alex White. They offered him $130 to say that he'd bought drugs at Mrs. Johnston's Neal Street home and to corroborate their false warrant application. It wouldn't bring Mrs. Johnston back, but at least no one would learn that they'd gambled everything on a weak lead from a bad snitch and that the informant in the warrant didn't exist.1
To Catch a Thief
The Legal Rules of Snitching
Courts have countenanced the use of informers from time immemorial in cases of conspiracy, or in other cases when the crime consists of pre paring for another crime, it is usually necessary to rely on them or upon accomplices because the criminals will almost certainly proceed covertly. – Judge Learned Hand1
FROM THE 0UTSIDE, informant use often looks like a game without rules in which everything is negotiable and no law is sacrosanct. This state of affairs is a direct function of what I will call "informant law": that body of laws and court doctrines that define the legal parameters of the relationship between informants and the government. "Informant law" is centrally characterized by official discretion and flexibility, the inapplicability of many traditional criminal procedure constraints} and the overt toleration of criminal behavior and secrecy. In other words, the official rules of the informant game are that the usual rules do not apply.
The legal rules governing criminal informants fall roughly into four categories. One set covers police and prosecutorial authority to create and reward informants, to persuade offenders to become informants, and to let them off the hook when they cooperate. Another set governs the way informants may be deployed as investigative tools against third parties. A third set defines the procedural protections and information to which defendants are entitled when faced with evidence obtained from an informant. And finally, a narrow group of rules sets limits, telling the government what it cannot do in connection with or to its informants.
Each of these arenas has its own laws regarding record keeping and disclosure. Taken together, the informational rules regarding snitching have such a potent effect on the rest of the criminal system that chapter 4 is separately devoted to them.
I. Creating and Rewarding Criminal Informants
Police and prosecutors have vast discretion to create and reward informants. Central to this discretion is the authority to tolerate or authorize crimes committed by those informants. There are few legal limits on the extent to which government officials can reduce a criminal's potential liability or punishment in exchange for information, or, conversely, to increase liability when a defendant refuses to cooperate.
As described in chapter I, police, detectives, and investigative agents are the main officials who typically create and manage informants. It is initially up to them to decide whether to arrest or flip a suspect, to evaluate the potential usefulness of a source, and to convey information about the informant to the prosecutor. An informant and his law enforcement handler may maintain a relationship over many years, with the informant providing ongoing information in exchange for his handler's help in evading criminalliability.2
When an officer first confronts a potential informant, prior to an arrest or formal criminal charge, there are very few legal constraints. For example, a suspect's right to receive Miranda warnings is triggered only if he is in custody, so if the suspect has not yet been taken into custody or arrested, his unwarned statements to police can potentially be used against him.3 Similarly, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel applies only once a suspect has been formally charged with a crime, so police can legally – and often do – negotiate directly with uncharged suspects without a lawyer.4 As a result, police have wide latitude to confront, threaten, and negotiate with potential informants without the presence of defense counselor other witnesses.
Police can legally reward informants in a variety of ways. They can refrain from arresting him in the first place, thereby' permitting the informant to remain at liberty without creating an arrest or other record of the suspected offense. If they do arrest the informant, police can limit the initial description of the crimes or omit other information. For example, in United States v. White, the court described how Officer Mike Weaver manipulated the report writing process as part of his negotiations with a suspect:
Weaver stated that if defendant cooperated with the questioning, Weaver would write the police report to reflect only a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, and that if defendant did not cooperate, he would send the glass pipe [containing methamphetamines to the crime lab and charge defendant with felony drug possession. These matters were entirely within Weaver's control, and in fact he fulfilled the promise: after defendant made the statements, Weaver wrote the police report to reflect only a misdemeanor charge.5
This discretionary police power translates into the practical ability to forgive informant crimes, simply by declining to arrest informants or by failing to record their conduct. This authority is rooted in constitutional law: the Supreme Court has held that no one can force police to arrest a criminal offender.6
Police also have the power to permit informants to commit new crimes, and police departments each handle this thorny question differently. Some agencies deny that active informants are permitted to commit crimes at all. For example, the police department in Eureka, California, along with several other California police departments, maintains a standard written policy stating that "criminal activity by informants shall not be condoned.”7 The Las Vegas Police Department informant guidelines state that "[c]riminal law shall not be violated in gathering of information," even though those same guidelines provide procedures for the purchase 'Of "evidence" such as illegal drugs.8
By contrast, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued several sets of comprehensive guidelines governing the way the FBI and other federal investigative agencies handle informants. These guidelines designate "Tier 1" and "Tier 2 Otherwise Illegal Activity" that can be authorized by the handler. Tier 1 Otherwise Illegal Activity includes violent crimes committed by someone other than the informant, official corruption, theft, and the manufacture or distribution of drugs, including the provision of drugs with no expectation of recovering them. Tier 2 activity includes all other criminal offenses. The guidelines state that informants may never be authorized to participate in an act of violence except in self-defense, to obstruct justice, to commit illegal acts that would be unlawful if committed by a law enforcement official, such as breaking and entering, or to initiate a plan to commit a criminal offense. The guidelines also provide that illegal activity by confidential informants must be authorized in advance, in writing, and for a specific period of time, and that the authorizing agent must make a determination that "the benefits outweigh the risks.”9
Police and investigative agents do not have the legal authority to bind prosecutors. This means that police cannot confer so-called immunity, i.e., they cannot promise informants that they will not be prosecuted for a crime they did or will commit.10 But courts occasionally give weight to such promises anyway, on the theory that it is unfair to informants who reasonably believed that they would not be prosecuted for crimes they committed in order to provide the government with information. For example, in United States v. Abcasis, the defendants claimed that government agents authorized their heroin importation scheme. The court reasoned that
[i]f a drug enforcement agent solicits a defendant to engage in otherwise criminal conduct as a confidential informant, or effectively communicates an assurance that the defendant, is acting under authorization, and the defendant, relying thereon, commits forbidden acts in the mistaken but reasonable, good faith belief that he has in fact been authorized to do so as an aid to law enforcement, then estoppel bars conviction.11
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure even have a special provision governing cases where defendants allege that they committed their crimes with "public authority," meaning that the government authorized them to do it.12
If police do arrest an informant, file a complaint, or otherwise initiate criminal proceedings, then a prosecutor becomes in charge of t hat informant's case. At this stage, the defendant acquires the right to counsel, which means that police and prosecutor alike are not supposed to try to elicit further incriminating information without the Iawyer's presence.13 For this reason, charged defendants constitute an important subgroup of criminal informants because they are represented by counsel and therefore tend to cooperate in more formal, better-documented ways.
Prosecutors have near-absolute discretion over charging decisions.14 'I his means they can add, drop, or alter criminal charges in exchange 1m cooperation from a defendant.15 Prosecutors can also confer formal or statutory immunity from prosecution pursuant to various immunity statutes, or confer informal immunity by entering into written agreements in which they promise not to pursue certain charges in exchange for a witness's testimony. Statutory immunity agreements are binding on prosecutors in other jurisdictions as well, although informal negotiated immunity grants may not be binding.16 In practice, prosecutors are often willing to drop or reduce charges against someone who is cooperating with law enforcement in other jurisdictions, although this may depend on the seriousness of the new offense.
Prosecutors can also charge third parties, such as family members, in order to pressure a defendant to cooperate. This is sometimes referred to as a "wired plea" because the outcome of the family member's case is attached or "wired" to the defendant's cooperation.17
In deciding whether to turn a defendant into an informant, prosecutors may negotiate with defense counsel over a defendant's cooperation, potential charges, and sentencing concessions. They may also seek more information from the defendant before they decide.18
Often the prosecutor and the defense will agree to postpone the case while the defendant tries to "work off" his charges by obtaining more information or generating new suspects.19
If a defendant does not want to cooperate, prosecutors can charge him with more serious offenses in order to induce a plea or cooperation. If the defendant remains uncooperative, the Supreme Court has held that the government can seek and a court can impose harsher punishment. 20
In an example that became nationally infamous, Kemba Smith was charged with drug conspiracy in order to pressure her to testify against her boyfriend, a suspected drug dealer. Because she did not cooperate, she received a 24-year sentence even though she had no prior record and had never handled or sold any drugs herself. She served six years before her sentence was commuted by President William Clinton in 2000.21
Prosecutorial charging decisions are unreviewable by courts. The only exception is where there is clear evidence that a prosecutor has charged someone on an impermissible basis such as race, vindictiveness, or to punish the defendant for exercising his constitutional rights.22 In the context of negotiating with informants, prosecutors have near-complete latitude.
C. Sentencing and the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines
Once a defendant has been convicted – typically as a result of pleading guilty – he can seek a lower sentence from the court for having cooperated with the government. The general theory is that a defendant who has been helpful to the government has mitigated his crime and shown some remorse, and therefore should be punished less harshly. Judges routinely impose lower sentences on defendants who have cooperated. In some jurisdictions, judges may do so however they see fit as a matter of sentencing discretion.23 In other jurisdictions, notably in federal court, sentencing is governed by "guidelines" that tell judges what kinds of sentences they should impose. Such guidelines typically have special provisions authorizing judges to award lower sentences to cooperating defendants.24 In Virginia, for example, the fact that a defendant "cooperated with authorities" is the reason most often given by courts in justifying the reduction of a sentence.25
Twenty years ago, Congress created special sentencing statutes and the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which have strongly influenced the law and culture of federal cooperation. First, as part of the war on drugs, Congress established high mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that can only be avoided through cooperation. It also created sentencing guidelines to guide all federal judges. The guidelines set presumptive sentences as well as a system of "departures" through which courts can impose higher or lower sentences than those contemplated by the guidelines. Because these provisions make cooperation central to a defendant's ability to get a lower sentence, they turned cooperation into a dominant feature of federal plea bargaining and sentencing' ensuring that a large percentage of federal defendants become informants of one kind or another.26 More federal defendants receive departures, namely, reduced sentences, on the basis of their cooperation than for any other reason, and they do so in every category of federal offense, including child pornography and murder, although drug offenders constitute the largest class of cooperators, with one-quarter of all drug offenders receiving lower sentences.27 Moreover, many more defendants cooperate and never receive public credit at all.28
The first way in which the federal system promotes cooperation is by permitting courts to impose sentences below the minimum sentence prescribed by statute if the government files a motion stating that a defendant has provided "substantial assistance:' The statute reads,
Upon motion of the Government, the court shall have the authority to impose a sentence below a level established by statute as a minimum sentence so as to reflect a defendant's substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense.29
This provision is crucial because the statutory minimum sentences contained in the U.S. criminal code – especially for drug sentences – can be extremely high. For example, an offender charged with manufacturing five grams of crack cocaine (less than the weight of two sugar packets) faces a mandatory sentence of at least five years.30 The only way such an offender can obtain a lower sentence for that offense is by providing the government with "substantial assistance.31
Separate and apart from these statutory requirements) the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines have a specific provision governing cooperation rewards. The provision is referred to as section 5K1.1 and it reads) "Upon motion of the government stating that the defendant has provided substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense) the court may depart from the guidelines."32 Typically, when the government is satisfied with a defendant's cooperation) the prosecutor will file a motion – often referred to as a "5K" motion – acknowledging the defendant's substantial assistance. The judge will then consider the motion in deciding whether to reduce a defendant's sentence below the range recommended by the guidelines.
Under old Supreme Court case law) courts had very little discretion to depart below the guidelines. Moreover) courts could not depart based on a defendant's cooperation unless the prosecution filed a tnotion.33 This made cooperation one of the only ways in which a defendant could obtain a lower sentence. But the Court recently decided three cases that upended many aspects of guideline sentencing- United States v. Booker) Gall v. United States) and Kimbrough v. United States.34 These cases held that courts may not increase sentences based on facts that have not been decided by a jury) a central feature of guideline sentencing. As a result) the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines were rendered merely advisory and no longer constrain federal judges as they used to. In particular) sentencing courts may consider a wide range of factors that they previously could not) such as a defendant's personal history or the proportionality of the punishment to the defendant's culpability. While sentencing courts must still calculate guideline sentences and use them as a "starting point and the initial benchmark/' courts are free to impose sentences above or below the guidelines as long as they are adequately explained and justified.35
It is too early to tell what the full impact of these new cases will be on federal cooperation and sentencing. On the one hand) because courts can now impose lower sentences on any basis) cooperation is no longer the only realistic way in which a defendant can obtain a below-the-guidelines sentence. But cooperation remains powerful in many ways. First and foremost) sentencing departures are not the only benefits available to cooperators: their charges may be dropped or reduced before they ever get to sentencing. Federal defendants must also cooperate if they want a sentence below the statutory mandatory minimum. Moreover) even after Gall and Kimbrough) Judges must still calculate the guidelines in setting sentences and so cooperation will remain a valuable commodity in persuading judges 10 impose lower sentences and in justifying those sentences. Interestingly, cooperating defendants can now circumvent the prosecution and bring evidence of their cooperation directly to the judge) even if the government does not file a 5K motion. As a result) courts are likely to playa greater role in evaluating and rewarding defendant cooperation.36
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure contain an additional provision that makes defendant cooperation even more valuable. Rule 35 is entitled "Correcting or Reducing a Sentence/' and it permits courts to reduce sentences after they have been set) sometimes years after) as a reward for a defendant's further cooperation. Rule 35 reads in part,
(1) In General. Upon the government's motion made within one year of sentencing) the court may reduce a sentence if the defendant) after sentencing) provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.
(2) Later Motion. Upon the government's motion made more than one year after sentencing) the court may reduce a sentence if the defendant's substantial assistance involved: (A) information not known to the defendant until one year or more after sentencing;
(B) Information provided by the defendant to the government within one year of sentencing) but which did not become useful to the government until more than one year after sentencing; or
(C) Information the usefulness of which could not reasonably have been anticipated by the defendant until more than one year after sentencing and which was promptly provided to the government after its usefulness was reasonably apparent to the defendant
Rule 35 thus permits a sentenced defendant to continue to try to provide information to the government, even while he is incarcerated, in an effort to reduce his sentence. Some judges have publicly complained of the dangers inherent in this arrangement, pointing out that it encourages jailhouse snitches to fabricate information.37
In sum, the use of informants plays a powerful role during sentencing, and at least in the federal system, this is true by legislative design. Defendants, lawyers, and judges alike all recognize that the defendant's eventual sentence may depend heavily on whether he provides information to the government. This realization influences investigations, plea negotiations, legal strategies, disclosure rules, and all sorts of other decisions that shape sentencing and beyond.
D. Additional Benefits: Money and Drugs
Informants often work for money. The FBI and DEA have budgets of millions of dollars for paying informants – in 1993, federal agencies paid informants approximately $100 million.38 Informants can also receive up to $500,000 or 25 percent of the take in a drug bust or seizures of other property or cash, whichever is less, though the rules of forfeiture.39 For example, Rob Roy was facing up to eighty years' imprisonment for cocaine distribution in Philadelphia. Instead, as a result of his substantial cooperation with the FBI over four years, he eventually received a sentence of five years' probation, a $100,000 lump sum payment, and $84,424.77 to cover expenses.40 Local police departments typically pay small-time informants through vouchers or in cash.41
Police also give drugs directly to informants, legally as well as illegally. The legal justification for doing so is to give informants the ability to set up deals. But some police admit that informants "skim" drugs from buys, or that police give small amounts of cash to addict-informants knowing that the money will be used for drugs. Sometimes police even give addict-informants drugs directly in exchange for information.42
to be continued…