News

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
fbi, terrorism



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.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 11:57am

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

    Shouldn't federal agents be responsible for helping those with mental problems instead of using them to act out their terrorist scare mongering schemes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:40pm

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

      This would imply that mental health issues are health issues and not law enforcement issues, and law enforcement will be damned if you tell them they are not allowed to shoot the mentally ill without consequence.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:26pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:52pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 7:11pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2017 @ 6:44am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          tin-foil-hat, 21 Aug 2017 @ 7:34pm

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

          During the time the FBI was manipulating this guy he could have decided to stab someone on the subway because the voices ordered him to.Maybe he needed to be committed immediately rather than dragged along for the sake of some manufactured FBI plot.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 7:55pm

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

          Talk about a "sick fuck".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 9:48pm

          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”?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          DADTAXI, 21 Aug 2017 @ 11:52pm

          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."

          Just cause someone is crazy doesn't mean they WILL hurt you

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:48pm

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

      ...much like that woman that got jail time for telling her boyfriend to go ahead with his suicide.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:01pm

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

        ...much like that woman that got jail time for telling her boyfriend to go ahead with his suicide.

        Yeah, but she wasn't a cop. They're different.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:03pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      To be fair, the "care" that our society provided for the mentally ill was often worse than no treatment at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Machin Shin, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:51pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:37pm

        Re: Re:

        I didn't say it was good care,
        I was going for - they were not on the streets - sort of thing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:04pm

      Re:

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

      So that they could then be put into prisons instead. This was one of the great "achievements" of the Reagan administration.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:21pm

    What I want to know is just how far does the FBI need to go for it to be entrapment? Because the only way they could have tried harder to entrap this person would be to literally hold a gun to his head to get him to do what they wanted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:03pm

      Re:

      For entrapment? About one tenth as far as they did go.

      What I'd love to know is how much of the plot the FBI has to be responsible for before it becomes a conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 3:08pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:46pm

    The FBI

    has been a total failure since they were founded. Better yet, they have corrupt since the day they were founded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 12:56pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:10pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:38pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:08pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 11:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: To play prosecutor's advocate

          I would like to think that thoughtful and educated commentary about terrorists, like your commentary, is a potent weapon against those who would employ violence, or hatred, or censorship, to reshape people's thinking.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:07pm

    Incompetence

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

    Stories like this make me find the FBI to be incompetent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Radix (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:11pm

    Just to be clear:

    They took an actual Paranoid Schizophrenic and actually concocted a government conspiracy to have him arrested.

    Let that sink in a while, then tell me who the crazy party in this debacle really is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:20pm

    Diagnosis

    Given the FBI's recent history, couldn't they be collectively diagnosed as both paranoid and schizophrenic?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 2:38pm

    Spell-Check Grammar Fail?

    "...prosecution of a man agents referred to as a "retarded fool"...

    That may have been a grammatical error, correctable as:

    "...prosecution of a man by agents properly referred to as 'retarded fools'..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Aug 2017 @ 5:06pm

    Is it time to consider that the FBI is putting these things into motion, hoping one of them will finally do something to justify their budget?

    All of these cases the entire plan & support is all from the FBI. We should seriously be asking questions about how they so quickly create plots to harm citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2017 @ 11:40pm

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Moniker, 21 Aug 2017 @ 5:12pm

    It's almost

    It's almost like there are no real terrorists except those trained by the CIA/FBI/MI6/RAW/Mossad...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    D3F1ANT, 23 Aug 2017 @ 7:27am

    "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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 1:39pm

      Re:

      They didn't stop him from exploding anything. They talked to him and threatened him into agreeing to explode a bomb, then gave him a fake bomb and arrested him. The only one ever in any danger was the guy they arrested.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    White Eagle, 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:36pm

    Informents

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.