Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 30, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE MATA HARI OF FIREARMS....Isn't "Mary McFate" a great name for a spy? I think so. So it's only fitting that Mary McFate is, indeed, a spy. For the NRA. For the last decade, it turns out, she's been busily infiltrating gun control groups until being outed by a team of reporters at Mother Jones:

Informed of McFate's true identity, her friends and associates in the gun control community expressed shock and anger. "That astounds me," says Barbara Hohlt. Of McFate's ability to maintain her cover, she adds, "She was very, very good. Everybody knew her for years and trusted her." Brian Malte, director of state legislation at the Brady Campaign, says, "Oh my...Of all the people." Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, remarks, "This is totally bizarre." And she adds, "I would find it hardest to believe this about her. She comes across as kind of dense — or she's putting on a good act."

McFate's (now former) colleagues note that she was well-positioned for many years to provide the NRA — or any other gun rights groups — the plans, secrets, and inside gossip of practically the entire gun violence prevention movement. "She had access to all the legislative strategy for every major issue for years," says Rand.

Fascinating, no? The Sierra Club better watch its back.

Kevin Drum 12:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

The Sierra Club better watch its back.

Duh.

Posted by: Boronx on July 30, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

So what, if any legal action can be taken against McFate and the NRA? I would imagine the legal issues are little different than when one corporation spies on another. Perhaps there is a lawyer out there who could comment on this.

Posted by: Dave Brown on July 30, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

The Sierra Club better watch its back.

If they are innocent, what does the Sierra Club have to fear from the FBI?

Posted by: Jim Ramsey on July 30, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Next thing you know were going to find out Kevin Drum really works for the Heritage Foundation.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 30, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, lacking a willing private citizen for performing such a job LaPierre would just task someone from the CIA/NSA/FBI to do it. If you're in a prominent, progressive/left/liberal/Democratic advocacy group your communications and intentions are monitored by the government including infiltration by spies. Bank on it.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 30, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

So what, if any legal action can be taken against McFate and the NRA?
Take her out back and shoot her. We are at war, after all.

Posted by: AJB on July 30, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, various special interest groups infiltrate and monitor each other?

I'm SHOCKED. Simply shocked.


Posted by: Buford on July 30, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

A thirty-year employee of [REDACTED] once told me that they employed local college girls in Austin to help close deals, on occasion. They didn't hire prostitutes, they hired coeds to make themselves available (in the same way that SMU paid some of its female students to screw football recruits).

But here's why the story stuck with me: the draw for the girls wasn't just the money. They were supposed to meet innocently (near the hotel) and "fall" for the guy ... quickly, with the possibility that they'd just landed a hu$band.

Get it?

So, with that story almost twenty years in the background, there's nothing that surprises me about the Mother Jones story.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 30, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Buford's comment above

It actually never occurred to me that a special interest group would go so far as to infiltrate its opposition. Has this happened before? It is not that i feel some special moral outrage, I just never thought of it.

Posted by: Matthew K on July 30, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"So what, if any legal action can be taken against McFate and the NRA? I would imagine the legal issues are little different than when one corporation spies on another. Perhaps there is a lawyer out there who could comment on this."

I was thinking the same thing.

Posted by: Tlaloc on July 30, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

How would knowing your opponent's legislative strategy or inside gossip possibly advance your own cause? What difference does it make?

Posted by: Grumpy on July 30, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

That's funny; what I take away from that is...why bother? The groups she infiltrated are tiny organizations with total operating budgets smaller than Wayne La Pierre's petty cash drawer. Their budgets are dwindling, they've largely lost the battle for public opinion on the RKBA as an individual right...

...and all that's happened without any benefit from any subterfuge from what I glean from the article. The anti gun groups are so small relatively speaking...I'm not sure what they gained by doing this.

But hey, I'm sure this door swings both ways. I wonder if NRA employees are going to be asked about their loyalty fearing a backlash effort.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 30, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'd be surprised if various gun control advocacy groups did not have people "undercover" at the NRA. I'd be surprised and I would also question their organizational competence.

Posted by: thersites on July 30, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

What is Legalize La? *right over there ------->*

Posted by: Kerri on July 30, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine what the legal grounds to sue anybody would be. It's interesting that the gun controllers are worried.

When I was in college, we infiltrated the UCLA card stunt designers so we could put a fake "USC" stunt right in the middle of their card stunt at the game. It made the center fold of Sports Illustrated Fall 1957. That was far more important than this story.

Posted by: Mike K on July 30, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Citizen Ruth or The Informer?

Posted by: Brojo on July 30, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if NRA employees...

Ant-gun advocates do not have to infiltrate the NRA. All that is required to disrupt the NRA is to make them think some of their operatives might be spies. Plant some anti-gun paraphenalia on NRA executives and the NRA will murder them.

Posted by: Brojo on July 30, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "The Sierra Club better watch its back."

The federal government and various industry groups have been infiltrating environmental and animal rights groups for years. This is nothing new.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 30, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, wow. Lib priorities. We have been literally overrun with Chinese spies because of chamberpot and illegal immigration, and virtually all of the top neocons who got us into war have been investigated for spying for Israel, and libs get upset over this trivia.

Posted by: Luther on July 30, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Upset? Nah, bemused.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 30, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's funny that the main reaction seems to be that McFate seemed so stupid that they can't believe she was smart enough to be a spy.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 30, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly I think I'm more upset than the antigunners are: if you ask me, the money spent on this lady would have been better spent somewhere else.

What did she learn? Ceasefire and the Brady Bunch are anti gun? They're going after pro-RKBA politicians and pushing anti-gun legislation?

Shocker!

Duh. I could have told them that for a lot less than $80K a year.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 30, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Luther is a fed.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 30, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

It made the center fold of Sports Illustrated Fall 1957.

Gayest magazine evah!
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 30, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Sierra Club better watch its back.

I guess you missed this article:

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/04/firm-spied-on-environmental-groups.html

Posted by: DR on July 30, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K wrote... When I was in college, we infiltrated the UCLA card stunt designers so we could put a fake "USC" stunt right in the middle of their card stunt at the game. It made the center fold of Sports Illustrated Fall 1957. That was far more important than this story.

You're right, that was far more important than this story.

So tell me... what happened? Did USC succeed???

Posted by: pencarrow on July 30, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

That's funny; what I take away from that is...why bother?

Note the gunloons coming out of the woodwork to demand we look away.

Obviously, the NRA was willing to pay money--so one should ask them. I'd also suggest McFate/Sapone probably isn't the only one getting paid. There are a number of bloggers also getting NRA largesse.

Posted by: Jadegold on July 30, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Oh goody, Jadedouche (aka Guy Cabot), the infamous serial troll shows up at Washington Monthly.

Who's saying look away? Look all ya want.

Meantime, how do you sign up for some of that NRA largesse? I'd love to have a boat and a Ferrari.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 30, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Fascists get a big boner from playing secret agent man (or woman) - it must have something to do with the secretiveness born of sexual repression. I find this story to be both pathetic and revealing of the conservative mindset. Can you imagine the psyche of a pathetic, self-doubting worm of an individual who might want to eavesdrop on a conversation of say, Mrs. James Brady, who only wants to prevent some future innocent victim from sharing her husband's fate? Mrs. Brady helped form Handgun Control, Inc. This McFate bitch is one sick puppy.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 30, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

That's kinda the point--no need to eavesdrop on her. What she wants is right out in the open, and having met her and talked to her personally, I can assure you she ain't some sweet little old lady trying to save the children. She's quite the fascist (and a Republican to boot).

Funny how that gets glossed over.

Did you know she and Wayne La Pierre have lunch weekly and are quite friendly?

As Johnny Rotten once asked, "ever get the feeling you've been had?"

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 30, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

See what happens when you privatize? It's not like the good old days when the FBI had an informer on the National Board of the ACLU. Or Tommy the Traveler, the CIA's man in the anti-war movement. Pikers! Amatuers! Once again the NRA proves itself to be dangerous but inept.

Posted by: Martin on July 30, 2008 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Mata Hari herself was an interesting person. Pampered kid, then suddenly poor kid, abused wife, circus performer, stripper, double agent. During her stripper period, she stripped to a jeweled bra and some bracelets, bare below the rib cage. This was contrary to a more usual practice of baring the breasts and covering the lower naughty bits. This was because she was very sensitive about her tiny tits.

Posted by: anandine on July 30, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, didn't I read on this blog last year about how cute it was when a leftie got himself on the NRO cruise and caused some mischief? What's the big deal about this, were the anti-gun folks afraid of their true behind-closed-door positions coming out? I don't think so.

Posted by: loki on July 30, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Martin: Inept? Seems like she got away with it a lot longer than she should have been able to. And heck...she was freelance.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 30, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Fascists get a big boner from playing secret agent man (or woman) - it must have something to do with the secretiveness born of sexual repression. I find this story to be both pathetic and revealing of the conservative mindset. Can you imagine the psyche of a pathetic, self-doubting worm of an individual who might want to eavesdrop on a conversation of say, Mrs. James Brady, who only wants to prevent some future innocent victim from sharing her husband's fate? Mrs. Brady helped form Handgun Control, Inc. This McFate bitch is one sick puppy.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 30, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the repeat post - my Treo hiccupped!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 30, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Next thing you know were going to find out Kevin Drum really works for the Heritage Foundation.

There are plenty of ostensibly liberal blogs that take it as established that he does, or at least guilelessly does their dirtywork. I don't believe it myself, but then I'm actually a summer intern for the National Review.

Posted by: Matt on July 30, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm

Itz called "rat fuc*ing" & it has been around since there were two apes (and probably longer) so get over your faux rage & grow up.

Sheesh, no wonder the fascists run things.

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Posted by: daCascadian on July 30, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

>How would knowing your opponent's legislative strategy or inside gossip possibly advance your own cause? What difference does it make?

Yeah, you know that the amount of scut-work she no doubt had to do to keep her cover probably did way more for the "infiltrated" organization than the info she passed on hurt.

I mean every Judea's People's Front could always use a financially independent volunteer to handle all the crap that people with day-jobs cannot get done.

Posted by: doesn't matter on July 30, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

I recall some decades ago where a fellow infiltrated the KKK, became an officer and rose to the level of Grand Klaxen or some-such.

He was black. Pretty rich.

Posted by: SteveM on July 30, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious as to what the anti-freedom forces have that is so imperative that they hide from public view. I mean, they act like this is a matter of national security or something.

Maybe they're contemplating another name change to mislead the public about their agenda goals? Perhaps they're making up another "study"? Perhaps they're inventing more inaccurate catch phrases (like "gun show loophole" and "unlicensed dealer") to obfuscate the issues.

Michael Moore is a life member of the NRA. He gets to vote in board member elections and can attend board meetings. Anyone with $35 can become a member and you don't even have to join to attend many of their functions. Doesn't seem to me like the NRA is overly worried about being "penetrated".

Maybe because freedom advocates have nothing to hide?

I'm one of those bloggers that Guy Cabot accuses of being paid by the NRA. Wanna see my tax returns? Methinks Guy suffers from projection. The anti-freedom lobby is nothing but a small group of astro-turfers supported solely by a couple of deep pocketed, statist, power grubbers and foundations. The NRA doesn't HAVE to pay me. I'm perfectly willing to fight for my rights on my own time and at my own expense...unlike people like Guy. Heck I pay the NRA for membership...not the other way around. And I don't even agree with them half the time. I think they compromise too much.

But I digress. The anti-freedom lobby doesn't care about preventing people from getting hurt. If they did, they'd pay more attention to the RESULTS of their policies rather than pursue them regardless of how many innocent victims they create. Gun bans have done wonders for saving innocents in DC, New York, Chicago, Columbine, Virginia Tech, NIU...now haven't they? For the anti-freedom lobby, It's not about saving lives, it's not about victims, it's not even about guns. It's about control.

Here's a hint for you Guy: Don't lie, scheme and swindle and you won't have to scurry away from the light like a bunch of cockroaches.

Posted by: Sailorcurt on July 31, 2008 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

"...she was freelance."

An odd way for Sebastian Sassi, Congressional candidate and Muay Thai expert, to define "freelance." Unless, you can define "freelance" as being paid $80K by the National Rifle Association.

I'm rather amused by Sailorcurt's diatribe; he demands to know "what the anti-freedom forces have that is so imperative that they hide from public view." Given the fact the NRA is unwilling to divulge its membership rolls--indeed, they seem unwilling to even accurately number their membership--SailorCurt's little rant is even more silly.

Posted by: Jadegold on July 31, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Unless, you can define "freelance" as being paid $80K by the National Rifle Association.

Oh really?

Billing records obtained by Mother Jones indicate that between May 1999 and April 2000, the NRA paid BBI nearly $80,000 for various services.[emphasis added]

I know you're truth challenged and all but you seem to be unable to read the very article that started this whole brouhaha.

$80k paid to a consulting firm for "various services" (including event security) hardly constitutes an $80k payment directly to a subcontractor of that consulting firm. Oh...except in the wild and whacky world of the anti-freedom lobby, which just makes crap up whenever they find it more convenient than that little thing normal people call "the truth".

Given the fact the NRA is unwilling to divulge its membership rolls--indeed, they seem unwilling to even accurately number their membership--SailorCurt's little rant is even more silly.

That's funny right there. Please point out to me the club, organization or special interest group that DOES freely publish its member lists. Does the Brady Campaign? The VPC? FSA? Heck, your groups could probably publish such a list on a single page. Double spaced. 24 point font.

Membership numbers and rolls are what the anti-freedom lobby is so desperate to keep secret? The NRA is hiding something by respecting the privacy of its members? Surely you jest.

If that's the best you can do it's no wonder we're winning.

Posted by: Sailorcurt on July 31, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and by the way... I didn't "demand" anything...I just noted my curiosity.

That whole "truth" thing again.

Keep trying, you may figure it out eventually.

But I won't be holding my breath...

Posted by: Sailorcurt on July 31, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

She was freelance you dipshit...as in, not actually employed by the NRA but instead a contractor who could sell her services elsewhere.

Ah well...Guy Cabot of Fort Washington, MD continues to troll here. Funny.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 31, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

I see your confusion, Curt. Apparently, you've chosen to believe an organization whose hand just got caught in the proverbial cookie jar.

There is a way to positively identify what services were provided for what costs, though. Why doesn't the NRA release a copy of its contract with BBI? After all, why would the NRA hide such things from public view?

Regardless, your own cite(s) militate against your credibility. The word "freelance" does not mean subcontractor. It does not mean providing services for a fee. As a contractor, you should know this. You probably do but are content to prevaricate.

Stoney, I notice you deflect the issue about membership. As a board member of these organizations, Sapone/McFate would have had access to such info. Apparently, you believe privacy is for you, not others.

Posted by: Jadegold on July 31, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Ahhh, the Muay Thai expert and Congressional candidate has arrived.

Sassi, Curt Stone can explain this to you as he's in the same kind of business as McFate/Sapone. Both he and she are contractors. That means an organization hires a contracting firm to provide services or goods to that organization. As such, that contracting outfit becomes an agent or representative of that organization. That you apparently believe an organization hires a contracting company and allows that contracting company to do whatever it wishes is, well, pathetic--even by your low standards.

Posted by: Jadegold on July 31, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Sir Dipshit Guy of Cabot,

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freelance

Go there sometime. You'll see this part: "a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer".

So anyway...enough on the semantics. Seriously. Much like this story...who fucking cares? And tell Janet I said hi...she loves watching me do my stretching exercises before those boxing workouts.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on July 31, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I see your confusion, Sebastian Sassi. You seem to believe that because McFate/Sapone didn't work for the NRA for some long-term period--it was if she never worked for them at all.

You're into boxing, too? My, my. Muay Thai expert, Okinawan Jiu-Jitsu master *and* boxing champ? Whew. You'd think all those disciplines would have provided you with a body that doesn't resemble one of you dad's water pitchers. Oh well, maybe that explains your failed marriage.

Posted by: Jadegold on July 31, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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