The most obvious question about the FBI and the Whitmer kidnapping plot

The most obvious question about the FBI and the Whitmer kidnapping plot
Michigan's Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer (Image: Detroit Free Press video screen grab)

A great deal has been written already about FBI involvement in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  Rather than rehash the particulars of the case – which include one of the FBI agents involved being arrested for violent domestic abuse (see here as well) – I commend to readers several of the excellent treatments done by other sources; e.g., here, here, here, here, and here.

I want to make one brief observation about the kidnapping plot, because I haven’t seen it emphasized (or even really mentioned) elsewhere.

Other writings have focused mainly on the point that the FBI arguably went too far in basically orchestrating the plot to see if its non-FBI participants would do something they could be arrested and indicted for.

Some have made the point that, as former counterterrorism official Matthew Braun puts it at The Federalist, “The FBI’s New Counterterrorism Target Is You.”

I understand the point he’s making, although I think it would be harder for the FBI to target me in this way, since I don’t hang out on militia websites or respond to solicitations (have never even received one) to attend anti-government planning meetings.  I imagine most readers can say the same.

The point Braun is getting at, though, is a valid one for critical observation and debate.  The FBI, in at least some cases, seems to think garden-variety conservatives – even just people who might ask skeptical questions about the media narrative du jour selling us a moral-fable version of what’s going on in our world – could be governor-kidnapping plots waiting to happen.

We know evidence was manufactured to spy on Carter Page and the Trump campaign team.  Maybe FBI policy-makers aren’t much more than a half-step away from trying to make plots happen, as the FBI appears to have done in this case, so a lot of people can be arrested.

As a refresher, Braun summarizes features of the kidnapping plot this way:

As Revolver has noted, the five people who seem to be the FBI informants were also the people who seemed to have all the kidnapping ideas and access to all the equipment needed for a paramilitary assault on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vacation home. At one point, the leadership of the conspiracy met, and three of the five people in that discussion were FBI.

Wochit News video, YouTube

Braun outlines ways in which this is similar to FBI penetration of Islamist terror and sedition plots:

The suspects start out by talking about jihad or revolution or overthrowing the government, and someone in their chat group decides he should tell the FBI.

The people the FBI sends in to look at the chats or communicate with the suspects aren’t just a fly on the wall. They offer to help. They offer bombs. They offer direction. They suggest targets.

They tell the suspects they need money for the cause. They ask them when they can fly to Syria or Iraq or wherever.

And he concludes:

The problem is we are starting to understand this is standard procedure for counterterrorism. This is a 20-year-old charade the FBI brass has been pulling.


The difference is that the government has begun to use the tools that were developed to fight a credible foreign threat now to fight against the political opponents of Democrats.

We can discuss at length another time where the line is for entrapment, and how much the tools described by Braun are used to fight opponents of the Democrats.

The point I want to make is a simple one.  If we look at how the Whitmer kidnapping plot came about, it’s apparent that it wouldn’t have developed without introductions, proposals, and resource offers injected by agents of and informants for the FBI.

The point is not that some people in Michigan with fantasies of anti-government action were set up.  It’s that we’re being led by the federal government and the media to believe these people are a lot more than they are.  It doesn’t appear that the idea of kidnapping Whitmer really originated with the non-FBI participants in the plot.  Sure, the non-FBI contingent was interested in doing something; they weren’t good guys.  That’s certainly not the point.

But they’re hardly a grave, clear and present danger to American national security.  They’re a bunch of morons.  It took the FBI to turn their online-forum-fantasies into an active plot.

Moreover – pay close attention here – since the FBI was in on the plot from the very beginning, there was never any possibility of it actually being carried out.  Plots the FBI is monitoring from the get-go are not America’s big national security problem.

To the extent anti-government agitators or “white supremacists” are a threat – and some are; we’ve seen them perpetrate mass shootings as at the church in Charleston and the synagogue in Pittsburgh – I’d much rather law enforcement keep closer tabs on known wolves who are buying guns than prod random dingbats to join in super-fun kidnapping plots so they can be arrested for being idiots.

The question we’re left with is this: if the Whitmer kidnapping plot is a poster-child example of the far-right security threat, what kind of show is the federal government running here?  Is this the kind of evidence we’re supposed to accept that “white supremacist terrorism” is the biggest threat to our nation?  Plots that could never come to fruition because they were orchestrated and monitored the entire time by the FBI?

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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