The Federal Bureau Of Intimidation In Big Sky Country

by Travis Mateer

I avoid some of the divisive national narratives as much as possible because I’m not in the places where national news is usually being made, like the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. I avoid these narratives because I don’t necessarily see the value in adding my opinion to topics that unhinge so many minds on both sides.

Thinking about Federal Agents, for most people, conjures movies scenes or characters from tv shows. Is that what Steve Friend was thinking about when he went to Quantico to join the Bureau?

Here is a quote from the Taibbi piece worth considering:

“I love my job,” he said, sighing. “I was living my best life as an FBI agent. I was coming home every day, and my kids were my biggest fan club. Like, ‘Daddy, did you put the bad guy in jail?’ And I thought, ‘Man, this is it.’” 

It’s not the tone of a disgruntled malcontent, but someone who made a reluctant journey to whistleblower status, beginning with a whirlwind series of events that brought him and his family out of the Midwest to north Florida less than two years ago. He worked a child pornography detail before being transferred to the assignment that would upend his life: investigating J6. The FBI not only took Friend off vital work chasing child predators to pursue questionable investigations of people maybe connected with the Capitol riots (often in some misdemeanor fashion), they used dubious bureaucratic methods he felt put him in an impossible spot.

Essentially, the FBI made Friend a supervisory agent in cases actually being run by the Washington field office, a trick replicated across the country that made domestic terrorism numbers appear to balloon overnight. Instead of one investigation run out of Washington, the Bureau now had hundreds of “terrorism” cases “opening” in every field office in the country. As a way to manipulate statistics, it was ingenious, but Friend could see it was also trouble.

As a member of a dying breed of agent raised to focus on making cases and securing convictions, Friend knew putting him nominally in charge of a case he wasn’t really running was a gift to any good defense attorney, should a J6 case ever get to trial.

The Taibbi piece raises the question of whether or not conventional criminal justice outcomes, like securing convictions of bad guys, is even the point anymore when it comes to politicized national narratives, or if the PROCESS ITSELF, and the damage it does to people, is the point.

Before we get to Big Sky Country, it seems January 6th is everywhere I look. A recent Tin Foil Hat podcast episode with documentary film maker, Jason Rink, gave me a fascinating peek into national narrative control with the infamous Q-Shaman.

In the episode, Rink discusses meetings with higher-ups at major media platforms, like Netflix, but the spin they wanted to put on the Q-Shaman story was NOT representative of who this guy actually was, so Rink stood his narrative ground and refused to sell out. That means when Q Sent Me comes out, it will be something worth watching, and not just propaganda.

Another organization that got caught up in the January 6th crosshairs is the Oath Keepers, and this is where we get to Big Sky Country. Here’s a Daily Beast article that Brad Binkley from The Propaganda Report mentioned a few days ago. This one definitely got my interest, considering the “cop-connected gun shop” is just south of town, in Hamilton.

Here’s how the DB article begins:

In the days before the Nov. 3 election, the far-right paramilitary group the Oath Keepers sent out an email warning: “No matter who wins, chaos is sure to follow.” Therefore, the missive said, die-hards should stock up on weapons and ammo at a cop-connected gun shop in Montana, which was offering a discount to members of the increasingly notorious militia group.

Further down in the article the owner of that gun shop, Greg McWhirter, is described like this:

The Oath Keepers openly recruit law enforcement and military types. According to an Atlantic report last year, the group’s internal membership logs revealed that “about two-thirds had a background in the military or law enforcement. About 10 percent of these members were active-duty.”

McWhirter has long been an open member of both worlds. In a 2016 video alongside the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, McWhirter described himself as an Oath Keepers board member. He also detailed a “call to action” for Oath Keepers to monitor polling locations during the 2016 presidential elections. Although he stressed that members should be unarmed and non-confrontational, he cautioned viewers to be on the lookout for “busloads” of suspicious voters and “someone walking around with stacks and stacks of mail-in ballots.”

Those motifs would reappear in 2020 when supporters of Donald Trump falsely blamed his re-election loss on fraud. Ahead of the election, Rhodes warned that Oath Keepers would be standing guard outside voting sites to prevent fraud, and warned of bloodthirsty battles in the streets against the left, during which the Secret Service would “run out of bullets” slaughtering 20,000 leftists who would attack the White House. Rhodes, who also lived in Montana as of a 2018 domestic abuse allegation by his wife, was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but does not appear to have entered the building. (Rhodes denies the domestic violence allegations, and his wife’s petition for a restraining order was denied.)

Elsewhere, McWhirter has presented himself as an agent of law-enforcement. A Reveal News report that first disclosed his Oath Keepers membership in 2019 described him as “a sheriff’s deputy at the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office in Montana.” And McWhirter’s biography on the conspiratorial radio show Coast to Coast describes him as “a sheriff’s deputy in Indiana and Montana.”

The article indicates the gun shop was going to be sold by McWhirter in 2021, but that didn’t happen. Why? Is it because the FBI sees value in having an informant stay open for business? From the NYT:

An F.B.I. informant who was embedded for months in the inner circle of Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, is likely to testify as a defense witness at the seditious conspiracy trial of Mr. Rhodes in connection with the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The informant, Greg McWhirter, served as the Oath Keepers’ vice president but was secretly reporting to the F.B.I. about the group’s activities in the weeks and months leading up to the Capitol attack, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Despite their relationship with Mr. McWhirter, federal prosecutors decided not to call him as a government witness at the trial of Mr. Rhodes and his four co-defendants, which is now unfolding in Federal District Court in Washington. The prosecution rested its case last week without calling other key cooperating witnesses, including three members of the Oath Keepers who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges.

Mr. McWhirter, 40 and a former sheriff’s deputy in Montana, was expected to appear at the trial on Tuesday as a witness for Mr. Rhodes — an unusual move that suggests Mr. Rhodes’s lawyers believe he has information that could help their case.

The interaction between Federal Agents and Montana Sheriffs is getting pretty interesting. There have been recent headlines about Constitutional Sheriffs, like this story from up north about the Cascade County Sheriff, Jesse Slaughter, giving Federal agents, along with Canadian ones, the boot. From the link:

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter on Saturday broke up an investigation carried out in apparent coordination between federal and Canadian authorities at a Great Falls gun show, saying those agencies had not contacted his office beforehand.

Although state law does not require federal investigators to obtain approval from local law enforcement to conduct operations, the agents left the fairgrounds “reluctantly” and without issue. Slaughter has positioned himself as a “constitutional sheriff,” which theorizes sheriffs are the ultimate authority in their county — above local, state and federal officials — raising questions in this incident about possible friction between layers of law enforcement.

According to a Sept. 24 report compiled by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Slaughter and a deputy responded to a complaint that a man at the Montana Expo Park was acting suspiciously by taking photographs of vehicles. According to the fairgrounds director, the man was driving around the property in a black SUV with Canadian license plates, but never entered the show.

Closer to home I know the FBI is involved, in some capacity, with the Rebekah Barsotti case, but where that involvement might lead is anyone’s guess. Since it appears Rebekah’s estranged husband, David Barsotti, likes to pal around with REAL white supremacists, I hope the FBI is taking this case seriously.

I also hope there isn’t something going on PREVIOUS to the disappearance and “river accident” death of Rebekah Barsotti. Something that might involve stuff like guns, Russians, and trafficking corridors.

One thing I do know is this: the priorities of law enforcement, from local jurisdictions to the Feds, CANNOT be assumed.

In terms of narrative control, the troubled history of the FBI–from the days of COINTELPRO to present day terrorism cases that smack of entrapment–is being overshadowed by fictionalized depictions in popular culture. I’m thinking specifically of the show Mindhunter on Netflix.

On the ground, it’s a different story. And that’s the one I’m chasing.

If you’d like to help my independent journalistic efforts, you can find the donation button at my about page.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to The Federal Bureau Of Intimidation In Big Sky Country

  1. webdoodle says:

    Operation Mockingbird is the other half of the COINTELPRO population control agenda. COINTELPRO tried to intimidate, diffuse, infiltrate, and ultimately breakup or usurp the grassroots political activists. Death threats, blackmail, constant surveillance, etc. Anyone considered a threat too the state or it’s rich patrons, were the target.

    Mockingbird swayed the public through white and black propaganda. Due to restrictions from the Smith-Mundt Act, the CIA and Military were barred from using propaganda on U.S. citizens (at home or abroad), so they infiltrated the media (TV, Radio, Newspapers). E.g. Our local Missoulian, may have been infiltrated by a previous publisher, Talbot. They used there ability to control the narrative to further enrich there already filthy rich patrons, but also serve the state by deflating or misdirecting or outright ignoring stories of protests or political activists.

    Hand and glove COINTELPRO and Operation Mockingbird worked together. Exactly like they do today. Special Agent Friend didn’t expose anything new or surprising, what he did was stand up. Something more of us need to do.

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