Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Hal Turner Pleads Not Guilty, Denied Bond In Chicago; Also Claims He Was An Federal Informant Who Help Uncover Plot Against Barack Obama
Accused "hate" blogger Hal Turner appeared in court on July 28th, 2009. He appeared briefly before U.S. Magistrate Martin Ashman to enter a plea of not guilty on Federal charges of threatening the lives of three Chicago-based Federal appeals judges. If convicted, Turner could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Specifically, Turner is accused of calling for appellate judges Frank Easterbrook, William Bauer and Richard Posner to be killed on his now-dormant TurnerRadioNetwork website after they affirmed a lower court decision June 2 to dismiss challenges to Chicago's handgun ban. U.S. District Judge Donald Walter, who was brought in from Louisiana after all Chicago-based Federal judges recused themselves from the case in advance, had previously set October 5th for the trial.
But it was during the bond hearing that Turner's lawyer, Michael Orozco, dropped the bombshell. Orozco claimed that Turner prevented military equipment from being sold on the Internet and even tipped off the U.S. Marshal Service to a threat against President Barack Obama. Orozco also claimed that the FBI told Turner what he could and couldn't say about the incident to avoid prosecution. Judge Ashman was skeptical, sarcastically asking, "So you're saying he's an American hero?".
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan acknowledged that Turner may have had some contact with the FBI as an informant but that it was quite some time ago. He said he had no idea about any action Turner supposedly took to thwart an attack on the president.
Judge Martin Ashman gave Turner 10 days to subpoena an FBI agent who Turner contends acted as his handler as he supplied the government with information. He also ordered Turner held in custody pending the outcome of an August 10th continuation of the bond hearing. After court, Orozco said that Judge Ashman was correct that he had no independent knowledge of what Turner had told Federal marshals. But he said he would try to subpoena Turner's FBI "handler" for the August 10th hearing. Orozco also added that Turner had stopped taking medicine for an unspecified emotional condition some time ago because he doesn't need it, but could not specify for what reason Turner was taking the medication.
A good Associated Press story summarizing all these events can be found on the KSL Channel 5 website.
Hal Turner had previously denied any relationship with the Federal government repeatedly and vociferously. However, hackers had posted a copy of an alleged July 2nd, 2007 e-mail from Turner claiming an informant relationship with the Federal government on the Web. This was further discussed in the SPLC's Hatewatch blog on January 11th, 2008. But up until now, Turner had denied the allegations.
It looks like the Feds are throwing Turner under the bus.
Turner has been a controversial figure within the white nationalist community for quite some time now. He put off many by some of his hysteric stories about burying bodies in the Continental Shelf and burying dynamite in earthquake faults in Peru. However, when Turner was first arrested, many were willing to overlook these eccentricities and close ranks behind him simply because of the threat to free speech.
Thus it appears inexplicable that Turner would risk alienating his core constituency by openly admitting to being a Federal informant. Snitches are considered an anathema within the white nationalist community - almost as much as race-mixers. But a visit to the Free-Hal-Turner blog may give us a clue as to why he chose to risk his core constituency on this Hail Mary play. The donation widget indicates that out of a goal of $45,000 in donations, he's received only $1,370 to date.
Consequently, Hal Turner may have decided that he's squeezed all he can out of gullible white nationalists, and can afford to throw us under the bus now in an effort to get out of jail. And predictably, negative WN reaction is already surfacing on the Vanguard News Network Forum and on Stormfront.
What we have to decide now is whether or not we should contribute to an admitted snitch for the sake of defending First Amendment rights. The idea of sending money to a snitch leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though.