This should confirm many allegations that have been circulating concerning the role of Montgomery McFate as a spy, who in part traded on her credentials as an anthropologist. It should serve, on the other hand, as a wake-up call to those anthropologists who, perhaps a little young and naive, are not quite aware of what they are dealing with when dealing with McFate, who has made a career as a spy and recently puts on sockpuppet performances as her own best friend on blogs, calling herself “Dee,” the former “Pentagon Diva” with her anonymous blog that was pulled down as soon as news of the identity of the author was circulated more widely. I want to especially thank an anonymous reader of this blog for directing my attention to a published report in Mother Jones, titled “There’s something about Mary: Unmasking a gun lobby mole,” published yesterday, July 30, 2008, and authored by James Ridgeway, Daniel Schulman, and David Corn. Most of the article is about Montgomery McFate’s mother in-law, Mary Lou Sapone/Mary McFate, who for many years has practiced as an intelligence gathering agent for the gun rights lobby and various corporations, infiltrating activist groups in favour of gun control and animal rights, acting as an agent provocateur in one instance. It is very interesting reading on its own, but it becomes even more interesting when the article introduces a certain “Montgomery Sapone” and her husband, “Sean Sapone” both of whom were in this instance using the maiden name of Montgomery’s mother in-law. Here are the relevant sections of that article, quoted in full:
In the 1990s-while working within the gun control community as McFate-Sapone formed her own intelligence-gathering business. And she enlisted family members for its operations. “In our business, it’s my daughter-in-law, Montgomery Sapone [who] does all the analytic reports, forecasting, and white papers,” Sapone wrote to a client in an August 1999 email obtained by Mother Jones. “She produces a very professional product.” Sapone continued, “We are warning our clients that activist groups are moving towards ballot initiatives…And it’s easy for groups like Greenpeace to emotionally shape a looming crisis in a 10 second TV spot 2 days before a referenda election. My daughter Shelley specializes in that aspect of our business. We are doing a lot of work now to help clients in the 2000 election.”
A resume that Montgomery Sapone used around 1999 describes her role within Mary Lou’s business: “Collect and analyze intelligence on European activities of major international environmental organization for a company specializing in domestic and internal opposition research, special investigations, issues management and threat assessment. Write weekly intelligence update on European animal rights and eco-terrorist activity. Assist in confidential litigation support research.” Sapone’s son Sean, a Brown- and Harvard-educated paratrooper who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, was managing director of this firm, which at one point was called Strategic Solutions Group LLC and maintained an office in Washington, DC. According to a Strategic Solutions Group invoice sent to BBI in November 2000, Montgomery Sapone-a Harvard law school grad and Yale-trained anthropologist-once billed the security firm $400 for four hours of her time, which included a “visit to target’s office.”
Sapone made her gun control work a family affair as well. Around 2003, Montgomery volunteered at the Brady Campaign, according to Becca Knox, the group’s research director. Occasionally, Montgomery would also sit in for her mother-in-law at Washington strategy meetings attended by officials of the gun control movement, according to the Violence Policy Center’s Kristen Rand. And Sean Sapone once offered to help Rand’s group on a campaign against the civilian use of .50 caliber rifles, Rand recalls. But after attending one meeting, Sean Sapone never followed through.
These days, Sean and Montgomery Sapone are better known as Sean and Montgomery McFate, a successful Washington couple whose current bios make no mention of any past intelligence-gathering or opposition-research work. Sean is currently the program director of the national security initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank boasting an advisory board composed of four former Senate majority leaders: Howard Baker, Bob Dole, George Mitchell, and Tom Daschle. An expert on military affairs, he previously worked for Amnesty International and for military contractor DynCorp. According to an online biography, he helped to organize “the first major legal arms shipment to Liberia in 15 years.” Montgomery has made a name for herself as one of the primary architects of the US military’s human terrain program, which teams social scientists with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan to help soldiers better understand the local culture. (The controversial program has been sharply criticized by the American Anthropological Association, which fears it may cross an ethical line, and has been described by detractors as “mercenary anthropology.”) Now a top Pentagon adviser, Montgomery also contributed to the Army’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual drafted under the guidance of General David Petraeus.
Montgomery McFate did not respond to an email request for comment. Nor did Mary Lou Sapone’s daughter, Shelley McGonnigal. During a brief phone call, Sean McFate told Mother Jones, “I’m familiar with what you are doing. But I don’t want to talk to the media.” Asked to explain his mother’s double life as Mary McFate and Mary Lou Sapone, he said, “You have to talk to Mary Lou.” Then he hung up.
Once again, a published report, made widely available, without contradiction from McFate.
Beware of who you cozy up to online, when jonesing for that position, for that publication, for an interview for your research, to be let in to her club.
The Mother Jones report is currently spreading from outlet to outlet online, gaining quite some traction. Here are just a few links I have gathered in the past few minutes:
Paul Hemke, The Huffington Post, July 31, 2008
“The NRA’s Dirty Tricks“
MarketWatch, July 30, 2008
“Investigative Report Reveals Gun Control Activist Leads Double Life as Gun Lobby Informant“
Bruce Sterling, Wired, July 30, 2008
“Private Spooks in American Politics“
Knute Berger, Crosscut, July 30, 2008
“Spying in Defense of Liberty“