"FBI agents pose as photographers during Aryan Nation trial" - Louis Rolfes - News Media and the Law

"FBI agents pose as photographers during Aryan Nation trial" - Louis Rolfes - News Media and the Law

In an effort to blend in with reporters, seven undercover federal agents used press credentials and posed as photographers during a civil trial against Aryan Nation activist Richard Butler. The sheriff's department later revoked the false credentials after reporters complained.

by: Louis Rolfes | publication date: October 30, 2000 | Publication: News Media and The Law | volume: 24 | journal issue: 4 | pages: 11

Dozens of reporters descended on the small town of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to cover the trial in August. In all, more than 60 journalists including reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio requested credentials.The few protesters who appeared were demonstrating against the Southern Poverty Law Center's civil suit against the Aryan Nation and Butler on behalf of a mother and son who were assaulted by armed guards after driving past the group's compound. They said their car backfired, and the guards, thinking they had been shot at, chased them. Two guards were sentenced to prison for the attack.Capt. Ben Wolfinger, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, granted seven press passes to FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents monitoring protestors outside the courtroom.Tom Clouse, a reporter for The Spokesman-Review, uncovered the plan and wrote about it for the newspaper. Clouse suspected the motive was to allow undercover agents to photograph suspected Aryan Nations members. Clouse said Wolfinger, not the county sheriff, suggested the FBI use media credentials to blend in.During the first day of the trial, Clouse said the large number of journalists made it difficult to spot the imposters. However, as the trial moved into the second and third day, journalists began taking notice of some photographers' strange behavior.

A report on the FBI agents who posed as journalists during a trial of a white supremacist in Idaho.

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