They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
"I always warn these guys, watch out for these women, man," longtime racist organizer Tom Metzger told TPM last week. "They'll get it out of a man before a man could get it out of a man."
The caution comes after federal investigators used the informant to get two of Metzger's longtime friends, a pair of white supremacist bombing suspects in Arizona, to brag about serial bombings and shootings supposedly dating back to the early 1980s.
Those friends, twin brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon, are now on trial in federal court in Phoenix, facing charges that they sent a bomb in 2004 to the city office of diversity in Scottsdale, Ariz. The bombing seriously injured the office's director and two of his employees.
Metzger runs an organization formerly known as White Aryan Resistance, or WAR, which produces racist propaganda and so-called survivalist manuals. The group has since changed its name to The Insurgent, but its message essentially remains the same.
Metzger is a proponent of "lone wolf" tactics, encouraging his followers to carry on the struggle by themselves or in small cells to avoid exposing the rest of the movement to law enforcement. The Southern Poverty Law Center puts him in the same category as David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who once held elected office in Louisiana.
Metzger spoke by phone from his home in Warsaw, Ind. He said he supports the Mahon brothers and doesn't believe they were involved in the Arizona bombing. In part, he said, that's because he and his followers have moved beyond small battles. They are looking forward to a bigger war.
"We've long ago left that street type activity," he said. "We're interested in bringing the whole goddamn thing down."
When asked what he meant by that, Metzger said just two words: "The federal."
"I feel like an insurgent," he said later. "I don't feel connected to the federal government at all."
Metzger emphasized that he doesn't see himself as a member of the radical right. The right wing is too filled with informants and "Looney Toons," he said. And he has no respect for anyone in the Republican Party.
"I've moved more to the left," said Metzger. "I support the Occupy movement."
When quizzed about issues of taxes and social programs, however, Metzger said he still opposes those things. Even less surprisingly, he also said he's no fan of the nation's first black president.
"We see Obama as just another corporate shill," he said. "He doesn't care any more about the black people than anybody else."
As for the Mahon brothers, he declared their innocence several times during the interview, saying he has no evidence that they built or sent the bomb to the Scottsdale office.
"I hope they didn't do it," Metzger said. "I counseled them all the time to stay away from that kind of stuff."
Search warrant affidavits filed in court by investigators with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tell a different story. Agents searched Metzger's home the same day they arrested the Mahon brothers in 2009.
One affidavit said Metzger earned part of his living by distributing guides "on the manufacture and use of explosives, improvised explosive devices, and weapons of mass destruction." The books carried titles like "The Lone Wolf Cookbook" and "Tom's White Urban Survival Guide."
Metzger also hosts an internet radio show, which the affidavit said he uses to spur listeners to violence by encouraging them to set off explosives at civil rights marches and attack federal judges with intent to kill.
"Although at times during these shows Metzger tells his listeners not to act violently," the affidavit said, "Metzger and his guests often contradict themselves by telling the followers the opposite."
The agents seized notebooks, financial records and computers during the raid on Metzger's home. He wasn't arrested, but his organization was hobbled. In a message he left on his organization's hotline afterwards, he said the ability to access his website and radio show had been knocked out. It didn't take long for him to return.
Metzger's history in the extremist movement was only part of what prompted authorities to investigate him in connection to the Arizona bombing. Court records show that a couple weeks before the explosion, he was in the Scottsdale area, staying just 10 miles outside of the city, for a national gathering of white supremacists and neo Nazis. The records said he met with Dennis Mahon at the rally and talked extensively on the phone with him in the weeks that followed.
Now, Metzger said he plans to keep track of the brothers' trial from a distance. He briefly considered traveling to Phoenix to attend the trial and support his friends. (On his website, he lists Dennis Mahon as a "POW" and encourages sympathizers to send the inmate letters and money.) But ultimately he decided against it.
"I think I would probably hurt them more than help them," he said. "Some people might think they're probably all in stuff together."