Freedom of the Press #1 – Meeting with the FBI
by Gary Hunt
January 7, 2017
On the morning of January 5, 2017, I received a phone call from Special Agent Matthew Catalano, out of the Chico, California, FBI Office. I recognized the name from my research. It appears that he has been assigned to do Internet investigations on Gary Hunt. His research included articles in Mainstream Media that mentioned my name, and my own articles. However, I do know that he has been reading the “Burns Chronicles” series, as most of the earlier ones are in evidence in the Ammon Bundy, et al, trial discovery.
Back to the phone call. He told me that he had a letter from Portland that he wanted to deliver to me. He asked if I was going to be in Chico, which is about 25 miles away, and I seldom go there. I told him no. He then offered to meet me at the local Sheriff’s Office. That is about 15 miles from me, so I said that I would be glad to meet him in a restaurant, here in Los Molinos. That was agreed to. I then asked him if he had a warrant. He said that there was no warrant, only the letter. We then arranged the meeting, and he then informed that he was bringing a fellow agent along with him.
As arranged, we met at the restaurant just before noon. We sat in the front booth, my back toward the window and daylight in their faces. There was an older man in the booth immediately behind them, and once he heard the words “F B I”, he turned towards us and listened, intently. Apparently, FBI presence in Los Molinos (population about 1200 and rural) is not quite an everyday occurrence.
After introductions, they ordered coffee and me, iced tea. Then, he handed me the Letter. I asked the agent what statute that bound me to the Cease and Desist portion of the letter. He answered that he didn’t know. When I asked him what he thought of the verdict in the Portland Group One trial, he answered that he was surprised by it and by the election results (Presidential). I had the distinct impression that he was pleased with the election results. We discussed the Roviaro decision (See “Informants – What to do About Them #2“) and I wondered, aloud, why the government chose to intentionally out Mark McConnell when Oregon State Police (OSP) Officer Beckert testified. He seemed somewhat surprised that the government outed McConnell, so it appeared that he had not followed the trial.
I told him that no informants had received any serious threats, though McConnell, and his girlfriend, Shannon Vita, had displayed weapons when they went to a restaurant where Jon and some friends were eating. (See “Informant Mark McConnell Receives Surprise Christmas Gift From Activist Jon Ritzheimer“)
I explained to Catalano that for over twenty years, I have always had respect for the FBI, as they have always been courteous and respectful (I know that many will disagree with this), with the exception of the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). I explained to him about how the HRT overrode the regular negotiators in Waco, resulting in the deaths of over 80 people. He said that he was only 4-years old at that time, making him about 31 years old, now.
In discussing the HRT, I pointed out that the HRT had fired two shots prior to the OSP murdering LaVoy Finicum, and then tampered with evidence by removing their shell casings and failing to report that they had fired shots at the incident. He seemed somewhat surprised, so he may not have known about that incident. Then, I explained that the FBI was investigating the FBI, and they still haven’t concluded that investigation — in nearly a year.
When the conversation turned back to the letter, he asked if I was going to turn over my files. I told him, absolutely not. I asked him if he recognized me as press. He responded, after starting and stopping, that he thought I worked in a gray area. I asked him if the FBI wasn’t also working in a gray area when they placed 15 informants in the Refuge or other aspects of the occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
He then asked if I was would tell him where I got the documents. I told him “Absolutely not”, and that I had no intention of doing so. I then explained to him that the FBI had gone into my private email list account and my private (shared only with a few) Dropbox account, and that they didn’t even notify me that they had done so. I had to find that out on my own. I then explained that I was open with the government and stated, in my first informant article, that I had received copies of the discovery documents. At least I was open about what I had done, unlike the government.
Then, we ventured into the Fourth Amendment. I asked him what “secure in their papers” meant. He said that it meant “digital documents, too.” So, again, I pointed out that they accessed my digital documents from my private mail list and my private Dropbox account, and that they had never served me with a warrant. I contended that the FBI actions were far more egregious than mine. Though not responding to what I had said, he went back to the “Protective Order” (pages 2 & 3 of the Letter), relying on what the Court said, without regard to the Constitution. Well, heck, my Constitution is supposed to afford me the same protection.
He then said that they informants were “witnesses”, and that to divulge that information is a violation of the Court Order. However, if they are “witnesses”, as he said, then when the Sixth Amendment says that the defendant has a right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him”, how can you confront someone whose name is not given?
As the conversation began to wind down, he pointed out that the purpose of this meeting was to compel me to comply with the letter. I told him that I had no intention to do so, though I would probably call Pamela Holsinger and inquire as to the specific statute that gives the Court such authority over me.
When I asked him if he was going to pick up the tab, since he had an expense account, he said that he doesn’t get an expense account. I told him I found it rather curious that the informants have expense accounts, but the agents do not.
Thus ended my half hour discussion with FBI SA Catalano.
The following day, I called him and explained that I was not going to call Holsinger. Instead, I wanted to look into my legal rights. Just a few hours later, near the end of the day (Friday), the US Attorney’s Office filed their Motions seeking a Court Order to compel me to comply with what was requested (i.e. demanded) in the Letter. This will be discussed in Part #3.