Tony Brown's Journal - FBI/Y2K - long... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

[First two or three minutes missing, during which Tony Brown introduced guest Tyrone Powers as a former FBI special agent, who had worked under cover, and that he is the author of a new book, _Eyes to My Soul: The Rise or Decline of a Black FBI Agent_, Majority Press, 1996.]

POWERS: [speaking of his informant within the FBI] ... and he mentioned to me that they had set up case scenarios and response scenarios to each of those cases. The first case scenario was what they considered a brown-out. This is a temporary loss of power, a temporary loss of some of the amenities due to the Y2K computer problem. And then they thought that this would be temporary, wouldn't be much cause for alarm, people would accept it, power would go out as if it goes out in a storm. The second case scenario they called a black-out. In this case power would go out for a little longer. People would begin to get bothered, but it wouldn't cause chaos in the city or in the streets. And the third scenario is what they considered, or what they called, "Mad Max". They expected in this case scenario people would begin to riot and loot, and specifically they believed this would happen in urban areas, among black citizens. And in this case they had set up a scenario where they would respond, by first of all having the President declare martial law. And they had written up a plan for this. And once he declared martial law then these agencies, along with the HRT team, which is the FBI's Hostage Recovery Team, it's the name of it, which is a kind of SWAT force, would go in to restore order in these particular places by mounting operations in urban areas, in the city, to what they said was calm down the looting and bring back stability to the urban areas.

BROWN: Now, first of all, if the intelligence agencies were not planning for a potential riot, or a potential breakdown [or] civil disturbance if there is a Y2K widespread disaster, they really wouldn't be doing their jobs, would they?

POWERS: Correct. That is the normal ...

BROWN: Right. I mean that... What you've just described is just routine.

POWERS: Exactly, except for ... the planning is routine, except, for the type of response they are planning, is not really routine, in this particular instance. For instance, the HRT team, the FBI's Hostage Recovery Team, do not usually respond to urban riots and looting. They're the group that was used in the case in Waco, or the case upon Ruby Ridge, dealing with those organizations. So their involvement in this, their response to this kind of a scenario is different, than it would be in any other case.

BROWN: Is that right?

POWERS: Yes, sir.

BROWN: Alright. Now ... we do know now ... that the FBI has ... somebody admitted ... that there were members of the Delta Team, at Waco.

POWERS: Correct.

BROWN: They say that they were only observers, ...

POWERS: Correct.

BROWN: ... but who knows? The other point I that want to raise is, how could a handful[1] ... what do you call it ... HRT?


BROWN: Hostage Rescue Team. What impact could they possibly have? In New York, for example, you have three million black people. What possibly could .... in Chicago, these very populous areas where you've got [a] million, two million blacks, and we haven't gotten to hispanics, yet, and I'm sure they're in this scenario somewhere, too.

POWERS: Correct.

BROWN: What could possibly a Hostage Rescue Team do if people in those areas were out en masse?

POWERS: Well, let me say, ... let me start with this. The Hostage Recovery Team is a very nice name for that particular team in the FBI, because it's very acceptable to the public. No one could get angry about a group called the "Hostage Recovery Team", whose job is to recover hostages. Essentially, they're not trained to recover hostages, though. They're trained to do other things, and we saw that at Waco and at Ruby Ridge. They're trained to go in and restore order, by any means necessary[2]. But they can't actually call them anything but the "Hostage Recovery Team" and have them [be] acceptable. But the plans they're laying down, working with other organizations, working with some local organizations, the National Guard, the other intelligence agencies, and intelligence members in the community, in our community. The FBI has a category, which they continue to have, and this is what almost amazed me to an extent, during my stay in the FBI, during the 1980s and into the 1990s, that many of the organizations, or many of the operations, that they had during the '60s, that we thought were bygone, are still in place. I mean they still have FOBs, which are "friends of the Bureau", which are people they have in media, and other organizations, which provide them with intelligence information, on a regular basis. They have "reliable sources", which I talked about earlier. They have the witness ... they have ... what they call "co-operating witnesses", and these are people who are not informants, they don't talk about a specific crime to the FBI, but they may report on what a specific person is doing. Say if you were doing something in journalism, they might say, "This is what Tony Brown does on a regular basis." These kind of tentacles are still in the community. During the time I was with the FBI, working in the FBI, one of the supervisors said to me, as I began to look at this paperwork, which is so similar to the counterintelligence operations of the '60s, I said, "They're continuing this, this is continuing to go on?" I was relatively new to the FBI. I said, "Why would they continue this?" And his question to me was, "It was so effective, why would we stop it?" The name has changed. It's a new name, to the same operation. So now, if you file under the Freedom of Information Act, to get information on the COINTELPRO program, there's no program that exists. So you now would have to get information on each individual ... one by one, it could take you 20 or 30 years.

BROWN: ... Freedom of information, ... the second book I wrote, I wrote a number of these agencies, to ask them if they had a file on me. And they all wrote back and said, "No. But we do now, and here's your number." [Laughter] Now, do you think that they knew that I would be the type of journalist who would interview you?

POWERS: Oh, probably. They probably... they knew that.... The intelligence in that organization, and this is where you could call it a double-edged sword. [The] intelligence in that organization is really good. They have expert intelligence. In other words, when they decide to look at you, and it may not even.... And see, people say, "Why would they look at me? It would have to be a massive investigation." But not really, because of the "confidential witnesses", and the sources they have in place, throughout the different communities. It doesn't take much to find out what Tony Brown does on a regular basis, on a regular day. And so they can promptly[?] follow you, promptly[?] get information on you. And we knew things, during the time I was in the FBI, about when people got up, when they went to bed, who were their mistresses, what restaurants they eat at, ....

BROWN: What's wrong with that? Their job is to protect the domestic security. There's really nothing wrong with doing that unless they violate my rights or your rights or somebody's rights, is it?

POWERS: But the question is, the problem is, why would they be looking at Tony Brown? Are you... aren't they violating your rights?

BROWN: It looks to me they're wasting their time, and they're paranoid.[3]

POWERS: It may be so, but the fact of the matter is, that's an intelligence operation. This is what we have to do when we think about the FBI. We think about criminal matters, and intelligence matters. If I want information, intelligence information on you, for.... Let's say something is going to happen during Y2K, and in their plan for Y2K, they say, this might entail the rounding up of "dissidents" in the community[4], which they will define as who is[?] "dissidents" to calm things down and stabilize them. Then they can constantly gather intelligence information on you in ways that you may think totally illegal or unconstitutional. For instance, during the time I was there we had no problem with bugging hotel rooms, or putting microphones in hotel rooms. Now, you say, "Well, you can't use that against me. That's unconstitutional. You don't have a search warrant." But intelligence matters are not concerned about taking it to court. So I'm not concerned about the constitutionality of that, because in my mind you'll never know, they'll never be a trial. I just want to have that information on that basis. So I can mount these intelligence operations on a regular basis, and I do it based on what I see as a threat.

BROWN: But, now, let's get back to these three scenarios. Scenario one, is a ...

POWERS: Brownout.

BROWN: ...brownout. Scenario two, the long term...

POWERS: Blackout.

BROWN: ...the blackout. Scenario three, is one of their contingencies, .... is that we will have massive rioting, looting, upheaval.

POWERS: Exactly.

BROWN: If that happens, and it mostly, based on what your informant told you, they're mostly concerned about urban areas.

POWERS: Exactly.

BROWN: If that happens, what is their plan to do something about it?

POWERS: Well, first of all they intend to go in, and they have.... Let me say this, as far back as the time I was with the state police, we had what they called "urban assault vehicles", or urban tanks. And this came about right after the riots of the late 1960s. And so they've created plans to go in and re-create stability by going out and doing mass arrests and moving people from one location to the other. When you tell people this, except for the agents in the FBI and the people I talked to who are familiar with intelligence operations, they say, "Oh, that's amazing!" But it's really not amazing. It is what intelligence agencies and nations do across this world. They are prepared to go in and, and ... and control... the public in mass[?] numbers, to move them to certain locations[5], and they have that plan in effect. They've been training for years to do that. We trained during the time that I was in the FBI, of going in [to] these communities. The problem that the Y2K problem presents... it presents a problem and an opportunity[6]. It presents a problem because, if in fact you lose electricity, and you don't have lights and things, now you're talking about making movements under the cover of darkness. Movements that don't occur during the day, have to occur at night, under the cover of darkness. And they realize they have an acceptable loss rate. He told me about that, which is still not a surprise if you know intelligence organizations. That in these movements during night there may be some innocent people who are harmed, and shot, but that's acceptable[7].

BROWN: Now, movements on whose part?

POWERS: In terms of the agencies that would go in ... to regain stability, or re-create stability.

BROWN: What would they do at night? What would they do at night?

POWERS: They believe that this is when the mass, ... the most part of the looting would occur, ... the breaking in and the looting will occur, after dark. It's pitch dark, you don't have street lights any more. This is when people will go out. So this is when they're prepared to go in, under the cover of darkness, to arrest these people, or to move them to certain locations, or maybe, if they have to, use deadly force.

BROWN: And they have an acceptable death rate?

POWERS: An "acceptable loss" rate.

BROWN: "Loss" rate.

POWERS: It's no different than any other battle or war. They have an "acceptable loss" rate where they say, "Well, this'll probably be what'll happen. Because we have this operation, because it occurs under the cover of darkness, because of all these scenarios, because of the history of these operations, because of the training we've done in urban areas, knowing[?] what we can see, what we can't see, we've practiced for, this is how many people we'll probably lose. However, we need to prepare to be able to justify that, have the proper people in place, whether they're black or white, to come out and say, 'This was a necessary [maneuver?]...'"[8]

BROWN: Where does race come in? Where does race come into all this?

POWERS: The planning ... they expect... Let me say this. Let me go back and say this. During the time I was in the FBI, working intelligence issues, a report came across my desk, and it was in regards to going out and talking to African-Americans, interviewing them about intelligence issues, or crimes, and things of that sort, and a document came out of the Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico, Virginia, and it said that African-Americans, or blacks in America, were an emotional people, but not an intellectual people.[9] And there's nothing wrong with being emotional. We should be emotional. But what they were saying is this, that an issue will come up. They may get angry about it, they may protest, they might hold vigils, they may hold marches, but then they will go away, without there being any logical conclusion to it[10]. But based on this analysis, you have to understand this report that comes out goes to almost all the intelligence agencies, to the police intelligence agencies. This is the way you deal with African-Americans, this is the way you deal with them, whether you're conducting an interview, or any other kind of investigation. Or if they're holding a protest, or if there's a police brutality shooting. Sure, they'll protest for a while, but let them have their protest, and they'll go away. Understanding that, and using that same kind of philosophy, that analysis, that comes out of the Behavioral Science Unit, their expectation is, that because we are emotional, blacks may prepare for the Y2K problem, but they won't prepare long-term[11]. So if it goes beyond the second scenario, the blackout, which is a little longer event, into a much longer event, then they will not be prepared, and, as not being prepared, their emotions will take over, and this is how they will respond.

BROWN: And they, meaning the intelligence community, would respond with "Operation Mad Max".

POWERS: "Operation Mad Max."

BROWN: Explain, what "Operation Mad Max" [means].

POWERS: "Mad Max" ... they took the term "Mad Max" from the futuristic movie about total chaos, when everything goes wrong, and they have to regain control[12]. And in this particular instance they believe that everything will go wrong, there will be looting and chaos, or ... let me say this, this is the perception they are putting out to every member of the intelligence community. Saying that, I digress to say this, when you go to these particular meetings, which I have attended, not everyone who go in to these meetings have all the intelligence information that the agents that are specifically involved in that operation have. But the FBI give them that. So if I give you the perception... you have the statistics that blacks are preparing more than whites, but if I give you the statistics that this is what blacks are going to do, and this is what they intend to do when this "Mad Max" hits, that's what you respond to. You don't care what else the statistics say[13]. "We had the meeting at Langley, Virginia, these are the intelligence agencies, and despite what the journalists say about preparation, I'm telling you they are not prepared, and this is what you are going to have to do. This is the plan. This is how we are going to handle it. And we have, in and outside, the White House, the members of Congress, who will apply martial law, and allow us to do this." And, again, this is not paranoia. It's even... not even a surprise if you understand the intelligence community.

BROWN: What is "Mad Max"? What would "Mad Max" consist of? What did your informant tell you?

POWERS: Oh, "Mad Max" would consist of them going in, restoring order by means of using military force, by use of the National Guard[14], by using HRT intelligence. And the intelligence gathering operations, to me, ... again, and I have to give these organizations credit for their expertise in this area, details ... that means that the intelligence gathering has to begin maybe a year in advance, or two years in advance. I want to know where the possible dissidents are. I want to know who's preparing for what, where they are, at what time[s], and how they're preparing. Where are they likely to be sleeping. Are the churches preparing? Are the laws[?] preparing?

BROWN: Okay, what is "dissident"? Is that somebody who would wait for Y2K, create some type of military maneuver, ... what would they consider to be a "dissident"?

POWERS: People who have had long-term disagreements with the way the government operates[4]. Now, you would think, using that scenario, and that philosophy, that would have nothing to with what may happen at Y2K, because people may respond out of good common sense rather than just being a dissident with the government, but the government believes it is these people who could actually either calm the situation, or create more chaos, as the government moves in. So, in other words, if the government decides that we're going to move in, because of the chaos created by Y2K, into this community, and if people in that community who are saying, that this is what I've been telling you about all along, the government is moving[?] with us, we've got to remove these people, who might give that indication, as we move, to restore order.

BROWN: If you're saying this, then it follows... and I don't know what your informant told you, of course, but it follows then, that they have to have a real network of operatives already in these communities, that they have to have a number of blacks in place, who are working with them now.

POWERS: No doubt about it. And this is what ... and ... to me it is not surprising, ... maybe it is not surprising because of my nine to ten years of FBI experience, but the operations, the ability to get informants in the black community and organizations has never stopped from the 60s, and again, as the FBI supervisor said, "Why would you stop such an effective program? What action, what divine intervention that happened between the 60s and the 1990s, that would make us stop this? The public revelations? That doesn't stop an operation that is successful."[15] And so, and it is not difficult... as I talk across the country people say, "Well, how do you get these informants?" It's really not difficult. You have to understand that the FBI has unlimited resources in terms of paying informants. I could go out, during the time I was with the FBI, and pay an informant whatever it takes to get him to do what I want him to do[16]. If I wanted a young man to tell on his mother, that his mother had committed a crime, all I had to do was find his price, and pay him with your money, as a taxpayer[17]. And so the system of getting informants is not difficult. So to have all these tentacles in the black community[18] is not a difficult thing. In fact, every FBI agent is required to have a number of informants in the community. If they don't, then they're rated low, or they may end up at a location they don't want to be, or they may end up unemployed. That's the requirement.

BROWN: What type of person does the FBI want as an informant? Do they want a person who will create chaos? I remember back in the 60s and the 70s, we would have a meeting, and talking about helping ourselves, and all that kind of stuff, and it was always some guy in the room who wanted us to do something crazy.

POWERS: Exactly.

BROWN: And we always said, now that has to be an infiltrator. Is that... for the most part... they try to move a group toward more radical behavior?

POWERS: In some cases. In some cases they're very quiet. Again, they call them "cooperating witnesses", people in a position to know, people in a position of power, who just furnish simple information. They are not agent provocateurs, which is what they used to do when they sent people out to start up, to start up reaction that they know would result in chaos. But they still use agent provocateurs in certain meetings. The amazing thing is, and this is amazing to me, is that even with all that knowledge we have, of all those operations, all the books that have been written, the same kind of operations are effective today. People still come into our organizations, African-American organizations, bring us information, and we never ask them, "How did you obtain that information?" In other words, I come to you and say that that gentleman over there is an informant, watch out for him. Now he may not be the informant, but you begin to look at him like he's the informant, without questioning me about how I know that he's the informant.

BROWN: ... out of one group in the black community, and they put out a list, and they put every black person who could potentially help the black community on the list, and they circulate the list, as the list of people who are working, in some conspiracy, to hurt it. So in my opinion, I'm pretty sure, they worked for somebody, because the guy who was leading it has a background in security somewhere. All of a sudden, he doesn't have a job, but he has money, and all the rest. So he comes on the suspect list. I want to say two things, one of which is, there are some good people in the FBI.

POWERS: Oh, no doubt about it.[19]

BROWN: Some very good people.

POWERS: No doubt about it.

BROWN: I know a few. Number two. What about your personal safety?

POWERS: You know, that's asked a great deal, ... when I first came out. You know, I had a family, and things of that sort. And we had the threats and all. The good thing about it is that I realized I understand the, ... I understand the organization very well, having worked intelligence matters as well as undercover matters, I understand the organization. In most cases when I travel, when people ask me that question, I try not even to respond to it, because the FBI has a very good psychological trick. In other words, they'll put me out... I'm on television or I'm on the street somewhere, and I'm saying, "They're out to get me. They're doing this to me, They're doing that to me."

BROWN: And so you scare the rest of us.

POWERS: And there's a young man sitting there who's saying, ,,, he was about to stand up saying, "Well, if they did that to you, what... why... you make..." So, I understand the reverse psychology.

BROWN: There's a reality, though.

POWERS: There is a reality of that. However, I was convinced from the time I got in there, from the time I started revealing the information, my relationship with Coleman Young, when they had the operations against him in Detroit. Coleman Young, for instance, the FBI followed that man for twenty years. They infiltrated his inner circle, his mayoral circle, and then they told him he was infiltrated, so that he didn't know who was the infiltrator. That kind of psychological problem ... that they were doing to different people in the community... but I decided a long time ago, when I began to speak up on these issues, even as I was in the FBI, that that was a possibility, but if you are in earnest, you are willing to suffer the consequences.

BROWN: I want to ask you a question. The people that we traditionally call black leaders, how infiltrated is that group?

POWERS: Well, those organizations are certainly infiltrated. I won't say that all those people we call black leaders are not doing some very positive and progressive things. But their organizations have to be infiltrated. In fact, that is the task or, the charge of the FBI. You have to get into every single organization[20]. One of the young men who I was speaking [to] in Detroit one time, he said, "Well, I wanted to join the FBI. Should I join the FBI?" I said, "Yeah, we need conscientious people, ... we need to be everywhere. We need conscientious black people, or conscientious people, in every organization across the nation." And that philosophy is the same philosophy [as that] of the FBI. You may think you have the most radical organization, and they'll send one of their people to join your organization, because you have to be inside to really know what is going on[21]. If... I can stand outside of your residence and throw rocks at your window, ... but unless I'm inside, it's the only way I'm going to have that information. So... and you're right, not every FBI agent is bad. And in fact many of them, since I've come out and begun speaking out, have said "You're absolutely right. We're glad you're bringing this information forward. We hope it [will] change the people and change the organization." Hopefully, it will. Most importantly though, I just can't... it just bothers me that we think that everything that happened during the 60s up until now has changed. The organization still has some of the same goals and activities going on.

BROWN: Well, let us all put out this word. They know me, and they know that I will say, let us be careful in our community, and not do anything foolish. Let us avoid violence, and let us not play into the hands of people who might harm us, because they can entrap us. And Dr. Powers, I thank you so much, and the best to you and your book. The author of _Eyes to My Soul: The Rise or Decline of a Black FBI Agent_. Thank you for being with us.

POWERS: Thank you.



[1] The HRT numbers only a few hundred, many of whom are support personnel.

[2] Including, it would seem, terminating everyone who does not bow to their authority.

[3] But paranoids with power, and such persons are disposed to do terrible things.

[4] Those they consider "dissidents" may include of the persons reading this document.

[5] Presumably move them to detention camps. But nothing is said about how long they would be detained, or whether they would be released or returned, or in what condition. In a chaotic scenario this could easily devolve into ethnic cleansing or a "final solution", even if that were not planned.

[6] An opportunity to do what? Eliminate dissidents, permanently?

[7] Also called "collateral damage". The question is, how many deaths and injuries would it take to become "unacceptable", including casualties among the government forces being used.

[8] Or perhaps even deny the missing ever existed.

[9] It would be useful to have a copy of this document. Sounds like the kind of thing a racist hate group would publish.

[10] In other words, they are not connected, and don't have real political influence, or know how to use it. It is likely that other reform groups are viewed in the same way, with some justification.

[11] Persons accustomed to living under marginal conditions are likely to be better prepared, at least psychologically, than affluent suburbanites.

[12] Actually, the movie is about the aftermath of a total loss of control, and the loss of most of the population.

[13] Such "statistics" are, of course, only the speculations of paranoids, who then indoctrinate the troops to do what may have little if anything to do with the reality that unfolds.

[14] The National Guard is not prepared or trained for such scenarios, or for round ups of dissidents. Neither is the regular military. If sent out to perform such a mission, the casualties on both sides could be catastrophic.

[15] There were laws adopted to restrain such operations, which are not being enforced, since it is the FBI itself that is the only agency charged with enforcement of them.

[16] Including getting him to lie. There may be some controls to prevent agents from pocketing the money themselves, but what will prevent the subornation of perjury?

[17] This suggests that an agent could, on his own initiative, get someone convicted of a crime he didn't commit, without the knowledge or consent of his colleagues or supervisors, and without the U.S. Attorney knowing or caring that the witness was lying.

[18] Also in non-black communities.

[19] Except that, if they know about such wrongdoing, and don't disclose it, and arrest the perpetrators, then they are accomplices and co-conspirators.

[20] Again, not just black organizations. Every organization of any significance, especially political.

[21] That means dissidents need to infiltrate government operations.


-- Ed (, November 19, 1999


BROWNOUT. It is unfortunate that an ex FBI agent redefines this technical term to mean a "short outage". It has so far been understood to mean a (deliberate) reduction in voltage in order to reduce current drawn from the grid, i.e. an undervoltage that can persist a long time.

-- WFK (, November 19, 1999. it's entirety.....would, infact, be.... an extremely large......pile of bull shi..........t

-- Ima Shovelin' (, November 19, 1999.

Shovelin sh*t...time for you to *wake* up or pack it in.

Brown's guest is not only a Ph.D and author, he is also a former FBI agent, which in most people's books would qualify him to speak on the agency's policies and agenda.

Like it or not, this information is most definitely not bullsh*t.

-- OR (, November 19, 1999.

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