Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
EXCLUSIVE: Suspected FBI informant on video at the University of Iowa
As the Des Moines Register reported yesterday, anti-war activists in Iowa City were spied on by at least two law enforcement sources in the lead-up to the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.: a female undercover officer from the Ramsey County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Department, and a confidential FBI informant.
The Register could not confirm the FBI informant’s identity, but the paper quotes activists who say that they believe it was a man named “Jason.” I can confirm now that the man suspected by activists of informing to the FBI is Jason Munford, who gave a fairly sincere-sounding presentation early last year at the University of Iowa about becoming a conscientious objector.
The Iowa Independent’s Adam Burke interviewed Munford on camera at the time:
In January of this year, Munford contacted the Iowa Independent via a YouTube message. Citing threats that he considered serious, he asked us to take down the video. (We declined.) Munford also firmly denied the allegations that he was an FBI informant:
A few months ago, I was falsely accused of giving sensitive information from an anarchist group to the FBI, that resulted in charges against members. Because of the threats I received and such due to those claims, I’ve been forced to move and I’m changing my name and taking other steps to protect myself. In the comments on the video from my talk, a lot of people have reconnected the claims against me to a video record of my appearance.
In the Register’s story, activists say that Munford admitted to them that he had informed to the FBI — a fact that the paper could not confirm. Here’s the relevant reporting from that story:
Political activists [Robert "Ajax"] Ehl and [David] Goodner said they believe they know the identity of the FBI informant who spied on the Iowa City protesters.
They say it was a young man from Michigan named “Jason” who claimed he was a U.S. military conscientious objector. He told people he had been discharged from the Air Force after he objected to being deployed to Iraq.
The man hung out with Iowa City activists for months, sharing beers and meals with them while expressing solidarity with their political beliefs.
Goodner and Ehl said “Jason” later admitted that he provided information to the FBI in exchange for money.
“It is my understanding that he just took money because he was unemployed,” Ehl said.
Looking back, the surveillance in Iowa City may have begun as early as the fall of 2007, Goodner said. He and three others from Iowa City traveled to St. Paul for a meeting with the RNC Welcoming Committee. A few weeks later, “Jason” started coming to their meetings in Iowa City.
If Munford was an informant, it remains unclear whether information he provided led to arrests or disrupted protests. The Iowa City activists told the Register that only one member of their group had been arrested in connection with protests in St. Paul, and that the charges against that person were subsequently dropped.