FBI looking for vegan potluck terrorists

A BB reader says: "FBI tries to convince man to infiltrate vegan potluck events to look for terrorists in Minneapolis/St. Paul, site for the 2008 Republican National Committee Convention this summer."
[University of Minnesota sophomore Paul] Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for [U of M Police Sgt. Erik] Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality–they kept saying I was friendly and personable–for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant–someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.

“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.



  1. Damn vegan hippies.

    I’ve actually been to a few vegan potlucks in my day (vegan girlfriend) and politics are usually the last thing discussed. More often it’s “what’d you put in the apple sage sausage to make it taste so good?”

  2. Great. Informants on commission, stalking people having dinner together. Which probably falls under the “definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines”, unless meat is served. A bonus will be paid if they are observed making signs or castille soap deodorant.

  3. They’ll pay him if and only if his hours and hours of schmoozing results in an arrest?! That’s almost as bad as spying on scary vegans. I realize the FBI is probably exempt from the Wage and Hour Act, at least as far as its informers are concerned, but why exactly did they think he’d jump at the chance to work for probably nothing?

    And have you BEEN to a vegan potluck? Not for amateurs, man. Let your guard down for half a second and you’ll find yourself in the crossfire between a cadre of raw foodists and a macrobiotic gang.

  4. Also note the heavy incentive to make up stuff about the vegans. After all, you don’t get paid unless they have a reason to arrest someone…


    Now if they were smart they’d disrupt the vegan protesters by throwing raw hamburger at them..like in that scene from ‘P.C.U.’


  6. and they were looking for… republican terrorists? That RVTF (Republican Vegan Terrorist Front) is pretty scary stuff…

  7. GODFATHERSOUL – I’d guess they weren’t looking for Republicans. Sounds like they were looking for Democrats who might be picketing at the Republican Convention.

  8. “…the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

    Well there you have it, “current Attorney General Guidelines”– which means there’s probably no investigation into “Operation Rescue” or similar right-wing groups (just like the “faith-based initiatives” generally don’t apply to Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist community groups.)

    If Obama or Hillary get elected, how soon before they are assassinated? Is Vegas giving odds yet?

  9. Believe it or not there is a long history of this sort of thing…

    “In a guest lecture at the University of Texas School of Law on Wednesday, FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent G. Charles Rasner listed Indymedia, Food Not Bombs, and the Communist Party of Texas as “Terrorist Watch” cause groups in Austin.”


    Food Not Bombs chapters have been harassed and investigated by authorities for ‘terrorist connections’ frequently over the years. Just ask Keith McHenry, one of the co-founders of the movement, who has endured hell and all for trying to feed the homeless. It’s inane really, and a complete waste of time and money.

  10. I attend vegan potlucks regularly, and it’s true that the conversation mostly sounds like, “I can’t believe these pancakes are gluten-free!” and “Who made the coconut chocolate chip muffins?! I must have the recipe!” and so on. I think the most political statement I’ve heard was something along the lines of, “I registered to vote today.”

  11. Hrm, I wonder if I could write a book called “A Gestapo Darkly” and not get sued …

  12. Agent provocateurs have a long history. Governments have been using them for generations. Do you still really believe that WWI was started by a lone assassin?

    Silly FBI, little do they know we plan on unleashing weaponized Lutefisk on the convention, Ha!

  13. Vegetarianism is, in many cases, driven by a desire to rebel. As evidenced by the multitude of tweens who go veggie for a few years in school.

    Many of the suffragettes were vegetarians.

    Extremism and vegetarianism are correlated.

    The idea of the government spying on civilians based on dietary choices is disgusting, but there is a seed of logic in the insanity that lead to this decision

  14. Vegan terr’ists?

    They’ll wind up in the Stir!

    They’ll be given the Chair!

    They’ll be Stir-Fried Veggies!

  15. Lutefisk is by nature a weapon. That’s like saying “Weaponized napalm.”

    Sounds like the FBI is looking for college boy bounty hunters. I’m in, I have one or two disliked people that are vegans and should disappear into the depths of Gitmo for their very detailed plan to poison McCain with tofu.

  16. here is a seed of logic in the insanity that lead to this decision

    That, and Democrats are more likely to be vegans.

  17. #24: The seeds of dissent grow more readily than soy beans in the minds of the repressed.

    Not to say that their minds aren’t *also* growing soy beans.

  18. where Dissidents == non-Republicans.

    There are some things I won’t do for money. One of those things is Vegan Potlucks.

  19. Stuff like this really makes me sad, I live in a country where the powers that be see certain choices of diet as a threat to national security.

    I was personally interrogated not too long ago by the FBI over a SHAC incident that I had never even heard of. They kept assuring me that my personal beliefs were not in question, they were only looking for leads.

    By the end of this 90 minute ordeal which should have ended very simply with “no, I have no $@#*! clue”, I had a very sure feeling that my completely nonviolent point of view on food and animals did not sit well with them. I made very clear from the get-go that I didn’t agree with the SHAC bombings, but in their eyes I was no different, I was someone to be watched.

  20. “Special Agent Mazzola” is investigating vegan terrists? Shouldn’t she be on the deep-fried beat?

  21. @11: Methinks they weren’t looking for Dems. They’re trying to get concrete plans out of Unconventional Action and the RNC Welcoming Committee. They could probably be considered terrorists, especially considering their plan to arm protesters with tasers.

    Also, I’m not a vegan but all y’all haters have clearly never been to a vegan potluck. Delicious!

  22. Commenting on this article may result in you being added to the Terrorist Watch or No-Fly list.

    But we can’t tell you.

    For security reasons.

  23. Being “friendly and personable” should become a new profiling criteria! Damn dirty hippies, they hate our hamburger!

    And the clothes they wear…they don’t call it Tie DIE for nothing! Wearing hemp necklace or not, anyone using words like Peace and Love be arrested, as these are merely clever code words for Bomb and… well… Bigger Bomb…

    Wow… being a paranoid nutfook is easier than I thought!

  24. Aside from the FBI trying to recruit kids ( which is more prevelent than necessary ), the city is also closing down all of the collective/DIY spaces.

    It’s a sad state of affairs, but I am quite excited to see what goes down in September.

  25. “When I fed the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why are the poor hungry, they called me a communist.” –Dom Helder Camara (archbishop of São Paulo)

  26. I know it’s tradition to laugh at the incompetence and paranoia of the FBI, but ALF is very real, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have as much a presence at Vegan group events as they do at PETA meetings. Remember, not all terrorists are Muslim. We have our own home grown culture of loose nuts who like blowing things up.

  27. Paranoia has never made any government more secure. It doesn’t work in one’s personal life and it never works in the larger society. Only trust can make you safe. Someday maybe people will figure this out.

  28. Same here 33, I’m quite excited to be here.

    I wonder if they’ve already infiltrated my group, hmmmmmmmmm……..

  29. The FBI’s really paranoid of hippies. I noticed that after I joined the Green Party, my name was called and I was pulled aside EVERY time I flew for two years or so… pat-downs, luggage rummaged through, etc. I have no doubt that my name was flagged for “potential extremism”.

  30. They could probably be considered terrorists, especially considering their plan to arm protesters with tasers.

    Haha, that press release about the tasers is great!

    ““The RNC Welcoming Committee’s order of tasers has absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming Republican convention,” said Ann O’ Nymmity of the RNC-WC. “These deadly, yet humane, weapons are needed simply to protect the safety of members of our community on a day-to-day basis. The timing is purely a coincidence.””

  31. This was pretty stupid, even for the police. Clearly they hadn’t done too much background, since the person they picked not only turned them down, but went straight to the media. Presumably the person they approached had no training–what would happen to him if he gave the game away? Not much of a priority, what happens to him?

    Also, read ‘terrorism’ here as run of the mill demonstrators, like there are /every/ time there’s any kind of convention, who may or may not be armed with pies/eggs. There may or may not be anything more to it, but I have my suspicions. Remember, in Europe a few years back, before they were traded for the Muslims, Anarchists were the favourite scapegoat. There was even an article in the times recommending the WOMBLES be put on the list of terrorist organisations, whose members should be arrested on sight. Anybody who remembers the WOMBLES knows how ridiculous that was. Being able to put a protester away while making a big deal of it in the media, about the home grown terrorist threat and so on, was what these people lived for, and they weren’t above planting provocateurs. You would think after 9/11 introducing vegans as a threat as well would just confuse people, but you never know.

    They usually approach people who are outgrowing that kind of activist lifestyle, especially if they have kids/debts [something to use as leverage], and its a bit like drugs, because they will ask for something that doesn’t seem like it will hurt anyone, then gradually ask for more and more.

    And if its an undercover cop, for some reason, they’ll go as far as dousing themselves in urine–I’ve heard of the Met doing this for drug stakeouts–but they’ll usually have nice shoes/a nice watch. Don’t ask me why.

    I certainly don’t stand by violence, but I think the police approach to domestic dissent is abhorrent.

  32. Rashkae,

    sorry you commented while I was writing mine, but I have to point out that the ALF is an ideology, never an organisation. Somebody does an action, then claims it under ALF/ELF as a show of solidarity.

    Besides which, I know ALF/ELF actions have never been intended to hurt people, and I’m fairly confident they never have, while people get sent down for life for doing Fight Club style actions like the one at the car dealers, PLUS if rumours are true, the whole radical environmentalist/animal liberation movement has been infiltrated for /years/ now.

    I don’t know if people still talk about it in the Western US where it was always based, but my impression was ALF/ELF style actions were well and truly dead

  33. #20 {Vegetarianism is, in many cases, driven by a desire to rebel. As evidenced by the multitude of tweens who go veggie for a few years in school.}

    tell me about it… my eldest daughter decided to go veggie on us on Christmas day…

  34. If your daughter rebelled by becoming a vegetarian, you got off pretty easy. She could have come home with her new biker boyfriend’s named tattooed on her. Becoming vegetarian does seem very common in a certain age group. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a physiological basis for it.

  35. Why is the FBI and the political apparatus of the US stuck in a late-50s mentality? I’m surprised they don’t goof and say “beatniks” instead of terrorists when they’re recruiting informers. Anyone who doesn’t lead a robotic work-consume-watch tv lifestyle is a potential terrorist in their eyes.

  36. Merreborn, Rashkae, if the FBI were honestly investigating, they’d pay the kid whether or not his reports resulted in an arrest. “I’ve been going to these things for a year, and nobody there has said anything like that” is valid intelligence.

    If your informants are only given incentives if they return a certain answer, you’re not trying to get an accurate picture of what’s going on. You’re trying to get that answer.

  37. Teresa’s got the right of it.

    The Fibbies know what they want and they’re going to keep pushing people for it until someone plays along and says “Oh yeah, they’re planning on bombing the RNC” or somesuch. They don’t want “No, these people aren’t up to anything sinister”, so they’re certainly not going to pay for that information.

    Also, someone mentioned the ALF/ELF earlier. “Ecoterrorists” do seem to be a rather high priority for the feds even though the right-wing terror groups infesting this country have racked up a much higher body count. But, this is the same country where one man stockpiling sodium cyanide and a massive arsenal with plans to use them against civilians gets 11 years with possibility of parole while another man torches a car lot and gets 28 years with no parole. Interesting priorities, yes?

  38. 20 and 43: I think it just depends on the person. I went vegetarian when I was a teen, maintained that for five years, transitioned to vegan, and have been so ever since. My parents were upset initially and thought it was just a phase, but now that enough time has passed and I have impressed them with my cooking, they have learned to accept it. On the other hand I know people for whom it has been just a phase. If anything teens are predisposed to experimentation in an effort to figure out their identity, and going veggie is one of those ways. Some of the experiments will work for them and others won’t. Only time can tell.

    46: Thank you. 100% agree.

  39. Vegetarianism is often driven by a desire to rebel, eh? So what happens if a kid is raised in a vegan household and decides, shortly after puberty, to start eating hamburgers?

    If folks decided to take a different path than the mainstream, could it be because the mainstream path is something stupid or gross?

  40. i’m guessing that the hunt for potential terrorists in the ft.myers fl. Quakers must have panned out. go get those damn, dirty vegans!

  41. I stopped eating meat altogether in 1994 (age 34) but stopped calling myself a vegetarian some time ago. People hear that word and it’s so loaded with a lot of other people’s politics and ethics that I don’t want to drag into my personal relationships. Just like everyone else, I’d prefer if everyone else acted as I do but I have no interest in winning converts.

  42. oh, I was veggie and then vegan for years. First it was sort of a way to ease into secularism while staying Kosher–I’m really obsessive neurotic, so I /do/ sweat the small stuff. Then it was animals and the environment, then, well, I was just too thin, and meat too tasty. I managed to make the transition without any less respect for wildlife/the environment, and I don’t think you can argue that being vegetarian or vegan actually does nature any favours.

    Still haven’t worked my way up to pork, though.

  43. Although I hope what Theresa says is the standard FBI operating procedure, I was horrified for days by this article in Elle (of all places) where they used an untrained girl to infiltrate a group of kids for years, one fell in love with her, and some sketchy details follow . . .

    PDF scan available here:

  44. Gods I hate the fascist assholes that are in charge right now. I’m hoping the Obama Administration will a) let the Patriot act quietly die and b) dismantle DHS, but it’s a forlorn hope.

    Scottfree 52: actually you can argue that being vegetarian is good for nature. Probably not as good as eating locally, veggie or not, though. It’s about carbon footprint.

    But you know what? I just realized I’m not up to presenting this whole case. Think about it and decide if you think vegetarians in general have a lower carbon footprint than meat eaters. Just something to think about.

  45. “what’d you put in the apple sage sausage to make it taste so good?”


  46. xopher,

    well, you say it’s about carbon footprint, and for me it was at a certain point, but surely your carbon footprint isn’t the difference between Eden and Atlantis, if you see what I mean. I’m all for change, and I think there will come a time it will be a necessity, but until I start seeing some structural changes at the economic level, I’m still hoping back and forth across the Atlantic on relatively cheap flights and chowing down on soya-grown-on-devastated-rainforest-land fed cattle. It’s admittedly horrible, and it goes against what you learn as a kid, but on this, and in other things, I just don’t think individual acts matter particularly. Not to the environment, at least.

  47. Hmm, I forgot about that too. Is my mention sufficiently relevant to the main entry? I might have said “the next President,” I suppose.

  48. ScottFree, I buy a carbon offset when I fly. I don’t think we’re going to come to agreement on the ethics of individual action on massive problems.

    I wish beef cattle were extinct.

  49. I know plenty of vegans, but none of them are hippies, and none of them are too thin.
    I attended a vegan thanksgiving potluck once, and the worst that came of it was I lost some money playing poker. I suck at poker.

  50. Vegans talk about bowel movements and seeds more than most people,if my sister and her friends are any indication. And I’ve seen a vegan shout curses at the owner of a tiny crowded Vietnamese sandwich place in NY for putting mayonnaise on his vegan burger. You bet vegans are capable of terrorism. Of the feces throwing kind. Just go anywhere where they might be served an animal product by mistake.

  51. #63 posted by anthony

    I attended a vegan thanksgiving potluck once, and the worst that came of it was I lost some money playing poker.

    WHOOP! WHOOP! Illegal activity detected!! Can I has money from FBI naw?

  52. This activity, clearly, is an attempt to redefine legitimate social/political activity as “terrorism”. This sort of semantic co-opting of constitutionally protected rights reminds one more of the Communist Chinese Party’s tactics than it does America.

    IMHO, there is something wrong in America and it will not change until some defining moment takes place that finally wakes up the average American.

  53. I’m going to be in Minneapolis this summer. How do I get in on the vegan potluck action?

  54. Still haven’t worked my way up to pork, though.

    Dude, Scottfree, I have one word for you: Bacon.

    Pork is on the fork in this house.

  55. I’m going to be in Minneapolis this summer. How do I get in on the vegan potluck action?

    Learn to make vegan hotdish?

  56. how do intelligent,thoughtful people who became FBI agents reconcile this with their original intention to fight real evil? Is it hard for them to be a part of this? Any agents/employees reading are invited to reply.

  57. It’s like my thoughts on being a politician. I’d imagine they bear with the stupidity in hopes of getting something real done.

  58. I’d imagine they bear with the stupidity in hopes of getting something real done.

    That’s generous of you.

  59. Well, that’s not including the ones that assimilate and lose their identity.

    I’d like to be a politician but I’d be snarly about abandoning any of my beliefs for the sake of actually getting in office and pressing the others. I’m thinking of trying to speech write for a politician though or be a high level advisor. I don’t know how I’d get in on that (and if I’m on THE LIST I might get arrested for trying! O_O;;)

  60. I’m thinking of trying to speech write for a politician

    Ah, the Ben Stein route. That’s going to require you to host a game show at some point.

  61. Guys, don’t worry about the election references. So far, they’ve all been relevant. The rule is there to keep commenters (especially the never-before-seen sort) from tossing tendentious remarks about candidates into completely unrelated discussions.

    That’s the retail version. I dislike the wholesale version even more. A close friend of mine is the moderator of a major national news site, and he’s getting waves of comment spam where a couple of dozen e-mail accounts will simultaneously register to use the site, post one agenda-pushing comment about a candidate in an irrelevant comment thread, then disappear and never be heard from again.

    I don’t want to see that happen here.

  62. Aloha!

    Seriously, lutfisk is not that bad. It’s basically dried (and processed) fish that is rehydrated.

    If you really want to go eco-terrorist fishstyle, what you want is surströmming (fermented herring):


    “In April 2006, several major airlines (such as Air France and British Airways) banned the fish citing that the pressurized cans of fish are potentially explosive.

    The sale of the fish was subsequently discontinued in Stockholm’s international airport. Those who produce the fish have called the airline’s decision “culturally illiterate,” claiming that it is a “myth that the tinned fish can explode.”

    And, it is debatable that the fish is in fact still meat, or if it has turned veggie, making it usable as potluck-ammo…


  63. Dear FBI:

    People who may be interested in protesting at the RNC are not automatically terrorists. In fact, you could say that they are, in fact, patriots who care deeply about their country and would like to call attention to the GOP’s efforts to destroy everything that generations of Americans were raised to believe made America a wonderful country.

    In fact, a lot of those Americans died to defend the very rights to assemble and protest that you are trying to take away when you do things like this.

    Terrorists kill as many people as they can. Terrorists terrify as many people as they can.

    Patriots defend their country. Patriots in America protect and fight for their Constitution.

    Maybe you should spend some time reading and understanding the Constitution, FBI, instead of hiring and paying informants to undermine and infiltrate groups of people who are so horrified by the GOP’s attempts to render it worthless.

    There are some really bad people in the world, FBI. Really, really bad.

    A bunch of vegans who are considering protests at the RNC? Probably not nearly as bad as you think they are.

    Thanks for listening, FBI.

    Your pal,

    Wil Wheaton

  64. “It’s always those evil communist nazi peace loving vegans, I tell you!” said Prez Shrubbery “Furthermore, I demand that they cut down a tree…with, a Herring!” At which point an advisor told him that he was on the wrong script again, and besides, it was time for his medication…

  65. Well, Wil, from your keyboard to their screen, but since they’re part of DHS…well, I doubt anyone there is listening.

    Excellent letter though. With slight modifications (to explicitly mention this news article) it might be a good thing to send to the FBI directly. But then you’d be on The List, wouldn’t you? So maybe not.

  66. I don’t know a whole lot about the mindset of your average FBI agent, but if it’s anything like the local law enforcement officers I’ve met in the DC area… well, veganism *is* pretty radical to them. They have no experience whatsoever interacting with this particular demographic, and therefore they conflate all ‘pro-animal’ groups with ALF.

    I mean, how many vegan police officers do you know?

  67. But then, how many vampire police detectives do you know? Yet there have been at least TWO series about them on TV, so they seem familiar, while vegans do not.

  68. Yes, and also to get into a vegan party you just have to eat vegan food. To get into a vampire party…

  69. I’ve sucked a few necks in my time. I’d be willing to do it again, as long as vampirism comes with a keen sense of Gothic fashion.

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