Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

FBI in Spokane — Informant posed as The Valley Herald journalist

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 29, 2007

Given the illegal conduct of the U.S. government in the global-war on “terrorism”, the lawlessness of the Bush Administration and the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney-General Alberto Gonzalez, and the current showdown between the Spokane Police Department and the citizens of Spokane, it is important for all of us to understand the role and nature of the FBI and its history in Spokane.

Spokane is a relatively isolated, back-water town. It is the largest city at this longitude between Seattle and Minneapolis-St.Paul. At the same time, for a variety of reasons, Spokane has experienced a number of nationally-significant events which present an interesting opportunity to study FBI activities. Among those reasons are 1) the history of domestic terrorism in Spokane (two of the 17 domestic terrorism incidents in the US between 1990 and 1996 occurred in Spokane); 2) the presence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Aryan Nations; 3) major serial killer cases (Kevin Coe and Robert Lee Gates); 4) the Ruby Ridge case; and, as we now know, 5) the central role of Spokane in the development of torture techniques for the U.S. war on Islam.

The example below — FBI use of an informant posing as a journalist — comes from that 1990-1996 period of white Christian supremicist/white Christian separatist terrorism.

Anyone involved in any form of activism in Spokane today should clearly understand and keep in mind that the FBI, the Spokane Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies have our activities under surveillance and have infiltrated our organizations with informants.

To believe and act differently is to demonstrate ignorance and lack of understanding of the nature of J. Edgar’s legacy.


Journalists complain to FBI over informant posing as reporter


WASHINGTON–A former publisher of a weekly Spokane newspaper and the Society of Professional Journalists complained to the FBI in early August for allowing an agency informant to pose as a reporter during the investigation of a case in late 1995.

According to articles in The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review, David Elton III posed as a reporter from The (Spokane) Valley Herald while he was interviewing James Marks, a local leader of a Gypsy community, for the FBI. Marks was being investigated by the FBI for intimidating witnesses that sided with the city of Spokane in a civil rights case concerning a 1986 police raid of Marks’ home. Elton tape recorded his conversations with Marks and gave them to the agency.

U.S. Attorney Jim Connelly confirmed the FBI used Elton in the Marks case, according to the Spokesman-Review. The FBI has not made an official statement as to whether the agency knew Elton was posing as a journalist. Roberta Burroughs, an FBI spokesperson, said the FBI refused to comment on the incident, but added, “We do not direct FBI informants or agents to act as the media.”

Under Attorney General guidelines established in 1992, FBI agents can be authorized to pose as journalists under limited circumstances and with prior approval from supervisors. Attorney General Janet Reno told the American Society of Newspaper Editors in early 1995 that she was considering a request to create guidelines barring FBI and other federal agents from posing as journalists, according to an Editor & Publisher article. However, no action has been taken since then, according to the Justice Department.

Clark Hager, publisher of The Valley Herald at the time Elton posed as a journalist, wrote a letter to the FBI demanding an apology for allowing an informant to say he was a reporter from Hager’s paper. Hager stated that he was “highly incensed” by the FBI’s use of The Valley Herald and its reputation during an investigation.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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