FBI surveillance of my son
My son's account of being relentlessly dogged by the FBI and local law enforcement agents. He and his friend, Kyle, built a model rocket out of boredom one day, as they had learned to do a middle school class years earlier.
Eli endured extreme mental distress during the period of surveillance, as did Kyle. We feel the stress contributed to Kyle's suicide on 7/2/06.
In 2005 my residence was entered by two Federal Bureau of Investigations agents and a North Bend [Oregon] Police Officer. Federal Agent William Soulle and FBI Bomb Technician John Hallock, accompanied by Officer Jeff Bohannen, entered my residence and seized several computers, books, papers, scraps of plastic, paint, glue and other miscellaneous items which were related to what they called an "imminent terrorist threat" and would be used to "determine the intent" of the device I will mention in a moment. This would be the beginning of a five-month long investigation which would include FBI tails, line-taps, surveillance, and in one scenario, being stopped early one morning at an improvised roadblock on a rural road.
So, what did I do to earn the scorn of the Federal Bureau of Investigations?
My friend and I, out of boredom, constructed a device to launch a model rocket. A model-rocket-launcher if you will. According to the FBI, however, we had constructed a lethal and highly-illegal device similar to what was being produced by insurgents in Iraq. News of our "Improvised Anti-Personnel Weapon" (IAW), we would find out, would make it all the way to Washington D.C., to both an anti-terrorist task force at the Pentagon as well as to the desk of the President of the United States of America.
It quickly became apparent that we were in a situation with the U.S. Government that had the potential to be highly-volatile, that could end in arrest and detention in undisclosed locations, or worse.
But, how did it get to this point?
The day Kyle and I finished the device, we decided to test-fire it in what we perceived to be a safe location in the nearby area. The location was ideal. It was on a dirt lot away from any property or timber that could be damaged, an area I had practiced target shooting with my bow years prior. It was an area that a lot of local kids, like I had done, visited frequently to light off firecrackers and shoot slingshots without getting into huge trouble or burning something down.
Kyle and I put the launcher into the cab of my Ford Ranger and, followed by my father (who decided to come along to take pictures), headed to the area which was located just down the road from our house. As we pulled into the lot, the ignition switch was touched somehow and the rocket ignited in the truck, filling the cab with smoke, resembling a particular scene from a Cheech & Chong movie. No damage done. At that exact moment, however, a squad car pulled in behind us and turned his lights on.
My truck was searched, the launcher was seized and given over to the State Police. From there, it was handed over to the FBI in Salem. Little did we know, the property I had been visiting for years was newly-acquired airport property. Now it was a matter of National Security, a matter which would produce search warrants and affidavits issued by the U.S. Department of State, and would begin long and far-reaching federal investigations against all three of us.
During that time I was tailed everywhere I went, my phones were tapped, my mother's phones were tapped, Kyle's phones were tapped and my father's phones were tapped. I was followed in the local area, tailed by unmarked cars as well as police, and even followed on several trips to a location three hours south of my hometown. My email accounts were being obviously monitored and about once a day emails would go missing and reappear, or I would be unable to login to any of my accounts during short periods of time throughout the day. The FBI was not making any attempt to conceal their surveillance measures. I almost completely stopped using phones and e-mail, and rarely strayed from preset courses when traveling in an attempt to identify surveillance vehicles. A word of advice to anyone under investigation...everything is surveillance. Fear ruled my life. I stopped sleeping, I stopped talking, I stopped traveling. I started listening, watching and making note of everything--trusting nothing and nobody. If it looked like a trick, it was...and there was nothing I could do to stop it, so I just had to live with it.
Since that time I've been afraid to say anything at all. I know that within the borders of this country, if you are intelligent and eloquent, you are to be considered extremely dangerous.
It is after much consideration that I've decided to start this blog in hope of sharing things which are of interest to me with others and creating an open forum where these things can be discussed and where our ideas can be shared.
Eli's blog is at http://guerrilla-redneck.blogspot.com/