Recent inquiries about whether FBI operatives were mixed in among the protesters and intruders who broke into the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 will more likely uncover the presence of FBI informants rather than undercover agents, according to Marc Ruskin, a 27-year FBI veteran and former undercover agent who is also an Epoch Times contributor.
Before he left the bureau in 2012, there were only about 100 undercover FBI agents in the whole country, Ruskin told the Epoch Times. Deployment of each requires a lengthy, “very resource-intensive” operation that needs to be approved on several levels. Even if there was a top-down operation run by the headquarters underway on Jan. 6, it would have been unlikely that any significant number of undercover agents were present, he said.
Informants, on the other hand, would have been much more convenient, needing only some vetting and an assigned handling agent. The bureau uses them regularly and they’re not necessarily aware of each other even if they collect information on the same target, Ruskin said.
He said that during his tenure he hadn’t seen the FBI use informants as de facto “agents provocateur” to incite crimes at a political event, but that he has watched the bureau getting politicized by its leadership and, particularly in recent years, repeatedly breaking its own rules.
Recent reports by Revolver News and other right-leaning outlets have presented a list of clues that raise questions about the FBI’s involvement in the events of Jan. 6, when intruders at the Capitol caused a several-hour delay in the certification of the 2020 presidential election by Congress.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has since run a “shock and awe” operation against the intruders, slapping them with charges that threaten decades in prison. Many have been held behind bars without bail, even placed in solitary confinement. Yet the indictments show that a number of people that seem to have engaged in similar actions on Jan. 6 have somehow escaped prosecution. It’s not clear why, since it doesn’t appear to be a consequence of lacking evidence or plea negotiations, based on the Revolver investigation.
As part of its anti-terrorism efforts, especially after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI has been known to target individuals in sting operations where its operatives played key roles. Critics have argued that without the FBI’s involvement, there would never have been a plot to investigate in the first place.
FBI informants and undercover agents can be authorized to conduct some illegal activities as part of their assignments, according to Ruskin.
A Senate investigation into the Capitol intrusion concluded that a number of failures in the intelligence apparatus caused the Capitol Police to be unprepared for what took place. Given the numerous warnings and assurances of preparedness made before the event, how could this have happened?
“What would be shocking and strange is not if the FBI had embedded informants and other infiltrators in the groups planning the January 6 Capitol riot,” commented journalist Glenn Greenwald, who’s been extensively documenting various questionable activities of the national security apparatus, in a recent op-ed. “What would be shocking and strange—bizarre and inexplicable—is if the FBI did not have those groups under tight control.”
Some lawyers and former FBI officials have argued that FBI informants wouldn’t be identified in charging documents as “unindicted co-conspirators” because they would lack the criminal intent requisite for a conspiracy charge. However, there are several problems with this argument.
While some individuals that have escaped prosecution were identified as “unindicted co-conspirators,” some were identified generically as “Person 1,” “Person 2,” etc.
In some cases, the circumstances could be more complicated, according to Ruskin. It’s happened in the past, for example, that an informant was the one inciting the criminal activity he was supposed to monitor. After all, informants are paid for their services.
Also, potential agents or informants aren’t necessarily mentioned in the court documents at all.
Independent journalist Bobby Powell caught on camera two individuals that appeared to engage in illegal activity by the eastern entrance to the Capitol on Jan. 6. One of them was showing people inside the building through an open door, Powell said. The other tore a damaged pane out of a Capitol window and asked Powell why he wouldn’t enter the building through the broken window. The man also physically intimidated a protester who tried to push him away from the window. Both individuals Powell pointed to wore face coverings and some tactical gear. Powell provided his footage to the FBI, but never heard back. It appears the FBI didn’t even put out photos of the men to ask the public for help with identification, even though it did so with hundreds of others. It appears neither individual has been charged.
The FBI had no comment. When contacted, it referred The Epoch Times to the bureau’s previous testimony to Congress regarding Jan. 6.
The FBI and DOJ have in the past been known to play fast and loose with facts when dealing with perceived political enemies of its leadership. Notoriously, officials of both repeatedly pushed falsehoods to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, resulting in illegal spying on the Trump campaign in 2017 as part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
BY PETR SVAB