According to recent court documents, the FBI allegedly paid a white supremacist publisher more than $140,000 over 16 years to serve as a confidential informant in an ongoing domestic extremism case.
As reported by the Epoch Times, these allegations were made by Kaleb Cole, an accused member of the white supremacist grouip Atomwaffen. Cole was arrested in February of 2020 for allegedly participating in an intimidation campaign against Jewish people and minority journalists.
On August 13, Cole filed a motion to suppress evidence seized during the FBI’s search of his Texas home. He argued that the FBI failed to disclose the background of one of its confidential informants - specifically, their criminal history.
“The CI is a convicted felon and currently owns and operates a publishing company that distributes white supremacist writings,” Cole said in his filing. “The CI began his long career as a professional informant in exchange for consideration regarding his sentence on a federal conviction for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and an unregistered silencer. He has continued this work for pay.”
Cole’s attorney argued that the FBI’s failure to disclose this information violated requirements for law enforcement to disclose whether their informants have financial or other motives for providing information.
“The failure to include the information about the CI’s incentives is made more egregious by the fact that the warrant application incriminated Mr. Cole based almost solely on the alleged observations of the CI.”
The Department of Justice admitted the failure, however said the search warrant was obtained legally.
“Although the defense is correct that certain potential impeachment information about the informant was not included in the affidavit, that omission is hardly fatal,” the DOJ said. “The omitted information was limited to the fact that the informant was well compensated by the FBI over a 16-year period, and was convicted of a firearms crime over 15 years ago.”
Prosecutors say the FBI didn’t include the information because they believed that probable cause wasn’t dependent on the informant’s credibility, and did not believe that including the informant’s criminal history would have changed the judge’s decision to issue the search warrant.
“It is far-fetched to suggest that a single 15-year-old firearms conviction would have caused the magistrate judge to refuse to sign off on the warrant,” the DOJ said. “And finally, as the affidavit outlined in great detail, the agents were able to corroborate the information the informant had relayed about the plot.”