FBI Terrorism Sting Nets Paranoid Schizophrenic Previously Found Incompetent By A State Court

from the FBI-Darwinism dept

It looks like the FBI has secured another anti-terrorism “win.” Once again, the agency controlled the terrorism sting from beginning to end, ensuring the suspect communicated with no one but confidential informants and undercover agents. And, once again, the FBI has utilized the sort of person who probably poses more harm to themselves than others.

The FBI has arrested an Oklahoma man on charges that he tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb, acting out of a hatred for the U.S. government and an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy Mc­Veigh, according to court papers.

Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested shortly after an attempt early Saturday morning to detonate a fake bomb packed into what he believed was a stolen cargo van outside a bank in Oklahoma City, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. He was charged with attempted destruction of a building by means of an explosive.

This is taken from the FBI’s statements and criminal complaint [PDF]. There’s another side to the story — some of which can be sussed out from the complaint itself. Varnell’s family, however, has stepped up to offer their side of the story — one that involves Varnell’s paranoid schizophrenia, which goes unmentioned in the government’s filings.

We as a family are extremely distraught about this situation with our son Jerry Drake Varnell, but what the public must understand is that he is a paranoid schizophrenic and is extremely susceptible to different types of ideology that normal people would deem immoral. Underneath his condition, he is a sweet-hearted person and we are extremely shocked that this event has happened. However, what truly has us flabbergasted is the fact that the FBI knew he was schizophrenic. The State of Oklahoma found him mentally incompetent and we, his parents have legal guardianship over him by the Court. These documents are sealed from the public, which is why no news media outlet has been able to obtain them. The FBI clearly knew that he was schizophrenic because they have gathered every ounce of information on him.

If true, this prosecution will make the FBI’s counterterrorist operations look even worse. This isn’t the first time the FBI has exploited the weakest of humans to rack up terrorist busts. This includes the prosecution of a man agents referred to as a “retarded fool” and the dumping of an 18-year-old with a 51 IQ into the lap of local prosecutors. Now we have the FBI steering a paranoid schizophrenic into a self-destructive path, utilizing a confidential informant who apparently made several misrepresentations during his work with the FBI.

The CI claimed to have seen a “bunker” at Varnell’s home (where he lived with his parents because he is mentally unable to live on his own). The Varnells claim the “bunker” is nothing more than a partially-buried storage container, meant to be used as a storm shelter. Adding to its un-bunkerlike aspects are the fact that it locks from the outside and contains no food, water, or source of electricity.

From the criminal complaint, other facts emerge. Varnell lived with his parents and only had access to the full residence occasionally. Varnell talked about bombing US government buildings but was unable to secure a vehicle to house the explosives. (He told the undercover agent he might be able to “borrow” a vehicle from some relatives.) The affidavit says the undercover agent supplied everything needed to build the explosive device — not a single element came from the alleged terrorist. The undercover agent also supplied the vehicle.

So, in the end, the FBI got its man: Jerry Drake Varnell, lifelong schizophrenic with the inability to obtain a vehicle, much less build his own bomb. Varnell talked a lot about sending a message to the government using violent means, but it’s unclear how much he actually would have done if he hadn’t been nudged towards self-destruction by an overly-helpful CI and FBI undercover agent.

According to the Varnells, this may never have gone this far if the FBI’s informant had simply done what he’d been told. The Varnells claim Jerry Varnell’s father kicked the CI off the property and told him he’d be arrested for trespassing if he came back. This was due to apparent drug abuse by the CI. And yet, the CI returned, presumably at the behest of the FBI, which was willing to overlook the CI’s drug use if it could keep its terrorism sting on track.

Varnell’s lawyer has asked for a hearing [PDF] to determine whether Varnell is competent to stand trial. Based on Varnell’s long history of mental illness, it would seem apparent the man can’t be expected to stand trial, much less carry out an attack on a federal building… at least not without a lot of outside help from the feds themselves.

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Comments on “FBI Terrorism Sting Nets Paranoid Schizophrenic Previously Found Incompetent By A State Court”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Isn't putting someone at risk in harms way a felony?

A friend of mine, a father of 3, was just getting off the train in Jersey City as he began his work day. A guy off his meds walked up behind him and stabbed him multiple times. He died.

Just cause someone is crazy doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you. I don’t care if the dude was sick, someone like him shouldn’t have been walking around. Maybe those sick fucks should be off the street.

If you disagree, I can introduce you to his kids and they can tell you how they feel.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Isn't putting someone at risk in harms way a felony?

Just cause someone is crazy doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you.

But it DOES mean that the most appropriate way to deal with them is different from the way you deal with criminals or (genuine) terrorists.

And – in the end – getting the most appropriate treatment is the best way to prevent tragedies like the one you describe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Isn't putting someone at risk in harms way a felony?

The societal attitude of the USA as perceived by those outside is that it is more important to have the latest military equipment to use on nations outside of the USA territories than it is to spend that money on the health care of the citizens of the nation.

The factors that led this person to be off their meds and the follow on consequences of a man dying and then children no longer having a father need to be seriously looked at. When your police forces get military grade hardware which has a significant cost indicates that your society (from government to citizens) really doesn’t give a damn about actually building the society in ways that will improve everyone’s lot.

The term cowboy is used in a negative context and it aptly applies to your entire society. You have such an incredible basis in your constitution but you don’t appreciate it, you don’t respect it and you certainly don’t regard it as important enough to actually do anything about.

Somewhere along the line, you lost your way and have been stumbling around like deaf, dumb and blind men looking for a way out of a complicated maze.

You want your rights and privileges but don’t want the attendant responsibilities. Bad things do happen but you cannot just react you have to look at the basic causes. Cowardice and fear seem to be the prevailing attributes that rule societies today.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Isn't putting someone at risk in harms way a felony?

Yeah well, all countries have their problems. Maybe if the US didn’t spend so much on our military, other countries would increase their military spending instead of spending it on society. Course, if they didn’t, then France would begin their pattern of surrender again, the USSR would still exist, East Germany would have annexed West Germany, and more.

Other countries have their problems, as they can’t seem to keep people who want them dead out and now they get to deal with shootings, people driving into crowds and other fun stuff.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Isn't putting someone at risk in harms way a felony?

If the United States was more committed to properly funding mental health treatment and de-stigmatizing mental illnesses, maybe that man would have received the proper treatment he needed to keep him from becoming a killer.

But the US gives more of a damn about making sure cops have all the latest quasi-military gear than it does about treating mental health issues as a legitimate public health crisis. We would rather imprison mentally ill people than hospitalize them—private prisons probably make more money than public hospitals, and that kind of money can fund many a political campaign based on “law and order” messaging.

And really, which sounds like the better political soundbite: “helping the mentally ill” or “tough on crime”?

Anonymous Coward says:

In the recent past, idk .. several decades ago, we as a society provided care for those with diminished mental capabilities.

iirc, many were let out of institutions due to a lack of funding and these people were simply dumped upon the streets.

Now, apparently we take advantage of them in order to promote propaganda.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Re:

The “care” we often provided in the past was horrible. There is good reason why insane asylums often show up in horror films and games. Government here is just recently starting to pay restitution to people they sterilized back in the 60s and 70s.

It still isn’t great. Mental illness is misunderstood and heavily stigmatized. This needs to change and we need to start dedicating real resources to understanding and treating these illnesses. Often these people are treated like garbage when all they need is some help.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Does a knife count?

The agent cautioned Hester that once he decided to proceed there was “no turning back.” He also told Hester that under no circumstances was he to do conduct any sort of operation on his own. The agent, referred to in the complaint as UC-2, then “threatened to come back and find HESTER if he learned that HESTER reneged on the promise. For emphasis, and for the purpose of mitigating the security threat posed by HESTER, UC-2 displayed a knife and reminded HESTER that UC-2 knew where HESTER and his family lived, among other forceful words.

Anonymous Coward says:

To play prosecutor's advocate

The family said, in part:

what the public must understand is that he is a paranoid schizophrenic and is extremely susceptible to different types of ideology that normal people would deem immoral.

So while on the defense side it seems astonishingly unlikely that the accused ever would have committed this crime unaided, the family also indicates that he is susceptible to being shaped by people (such as, in this case, the FBI) who can commit the crime and gave every appearance of intending to do so. That suggests the accused could be used as a weapon to spare the actual perpetrators the risk of physically attending to the crime. What mass-murdering terrorist would not jump at the opportunity to employ the accused as a suicide bomber? If the accused can be used as such a weapon, then we do need him removed from society – though obviously prison is horrible vehicle for implementing that removal. Thus, the FBI is at least slightly serving a public safety function with this bust (unlike many of their other manufactured crimes), accidental and poorly implemented though it may have been.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: To play prosecutor's advocate

“What mass-murdering terrorist would not jump at the opportunity to employ the accused as a suicide bomber? If the accused can be used as such a weapon, then we do need him removed from society”

No….. What we need is to remove the “mass-murdering terrorist”. Although really, what in the fucking hell is this country doing? Land of the brave? We are jumping at our own shadows and locking up mentally challenged people while wasting billions of dollars to do what? Seriously, your more likely to die driving to work than in a terrorist attack yet you don’t see us tossing billions of dollars at making cars safer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: To play prosecutor's advocate

Removing the mass-murderers is far more effort though, so it’s entirely unsurprising that law enforcement goes for the easy fake busts instead of the truly useful real busts.

However, even if we somehow eliminated all the mass-murderers (and for this purpose, incarcerating them counts as eliminating them), there are plenty of other crimes that a suggestible patsy might also aid. Grandparent’s point is that, however misguided the FBI’s plans in this particular bust, they managed to do something very slightly useful by depriving real criminals of an easily manipulated accomplice. It’d be better if they eliminated the accomplice by getting him the mental health care he needs, but incarcerating him serves a (tiny) public safety purpose.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: To play prosecutor's advocate

Terrorist is a funny profession. It’s the only job in the world where you can miss your target 100% of the time and be 100% successful.

The people a terrorist kills aren’t his targets, they’re collateral damage. The targets of a terrorist attack are the people who aren’t killed, who become so terrified that they might be next that they alter their behavior accordingly.

When a terrorist attacks a free country to scare that country into changing behavior the terrorist dislikes, you ‘win’ against him by continuing to act in the way he hates. If you alter your behavior to eliminate what he hates, then he wins even if you kill him.

As an example, Osama bin Laden was willing to die to accomplish about half a dozen things. The 9/11 attacks caused lots of collateral damage but completely missed his targets, as is the case with all successful terrorist attacks. All we had to do to defeat him forever was to continue to be ourselves. Instead, we stampeded in our zeal to give him every single thing he wanted. Yeah, our troops killed him eventually, but…so what? He was willing to die to win, and we gave him every single objective he had on a silver platter except one. And we’re arguably working on giving him that win too, posthumously.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes, questions are good, and I am pretty sure you will find educated and thoughtful people with real moral conviction at the FBI that could explain their rationale. Jeff Sessions, for example, I think he could explain their programs and their thinking, if asked. Would you like me to ask him, or are you just being rhetorical?

D3F1ANT says:

“Once again, the agency controlled the terrorism sting from beginning to end…”

Um…isn’t that a good thing? Who SHOULD control an FBI sting? The perps? LOL!

No matter the guys medical history…isn’t it good that they stopped him from exploding a 1,000 pound bomb? SERIOUSLY! What do you guys in the media WANT? It’s ludicrous after a while…

White Eagle says:


This is what happens when Law Enforcement blackmails people to rat on others or be put in jail. Like little oldsters and Housewives booked for prescription drug abuse will be stuck in jail unless they can manufacture something about their neighbors using dugs…then presto…based upon one person’s alligtions, that neighboring family gets a swatt team visit …their pet dog killed and kids terrorized, in the middle of night.
I’m all for law and order, but not by mishandled informants.

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