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BROOKLYN - Lawyers for ultra-right wing shock jock and one-time FBI informant Hal Turner rested their defense Monday after calling an agent from the FBI’s counter-terrorism unit about whether Turner had any intent to harm judges.
Daniel Brunner, who is assigned to the FBI’s CT-4 domestic counter-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction squad in Newark, said he took part in the arrest of Turner at his North Bergen home last June for allegedly posting a threat against three Chicago judges on his radio show Internet blog.
Reviewing FBI reports in Turner’s confidential informant file, Brunner testified that he had no information to suggest that Turner was a leader of an extremist organization or had any followers.
Prior to Turner’s arrest, Brunner said the controversial talk-show host told agents, “I would not kill or harm the judges myself.”
In his blog, Turner wrote that three 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges “deserved to be killed” for upholding a local handgun law in Chicago and a suburb.
On cross-examination, Brunner said that Turner acknowledged that he understood he could be criminally culpable if someone were to harm the judges based on what he wrote in his blog.
The agent said Turner then added, “It is not my intention to ever have someone harmed or killed. I use crude political hyperbole to blow off steam over issues that aggravate me.”
The government then put on one final witness before resting its case. FBI agent Joseph Raschke said Turner was closed as an informant in late March 2005 after postings relating to the murder of a Chicago judge’s mother and husband. Turner warned judges not to “screw around with pro-white groups because some of us are willing to kill and you can be gotten too.”
But Raschke conceded on cross that until this case, Turner was never charged with any crime for any statements he made, including comments on his blog and on national television shows that the Chicago judge was “worthy of death.”
Referring to an FBI memo from this period, defense lawyer Nishay Sanan asked the agent, “When it says the CI [confidential informant] operated within the guidelines of a privileged CI, that means the CI didn’t break any laws?”
U.S. Distict Judge Donald E. Walter interjected, “The document speaks for itself.”
During his on-again, off-again role as an FBI informant between 2003 and 2007, Turner provided intelligence on extremist white-power groups, including the Aryan Nation and the National Alliance. He was regarded as a valuable source, but ultimately closed as an informant because of “serious control” problems.
Closing arguments in the case will be delivered this afternoon.