Project Megiddo (Friday FOIA Fun)

In late 1998 or early 1999, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undertook an examination of potential domestic terrorism associated with millennial conspiracy theories and “Y2K”. A report from that project – called “Project Megiddo” – was released in late 1999, and upset a lot of the civil-libertarian types with its implications that, among other things, militias and religious cults might have violent inclinations.

Yeah, yeah. Everything old is new again.

Well, Y2K came and went with minimal disruption, of course, and Project Megiddo mostly faded away into the mists of history. For the most part, the only people who remember the project anymore are those who’ve read the report in question (PDF!) because they want “proof” the government is (still) “persecuting” those infamous “right-wing extremists”… or people who deal with domestic extremism in a professional capacity.

Less than two years after the Y2K hoopla fizzled out, of course, 9/11 happened, and for the most part “domestic terrorism” ever since has been synonymous with “brown people”. (A mistake I’ve written about before, of course.)

Thus, you know, most of the Wikipedia page on Project Megiddo talks about nothing more than all the activist groups who complained about the report and its slights, perceived or otherwise.

Nobody likes being called an extremist, obviously. But there was a lot more to Project Megiddo than simple persecution of religious groups of varying degrees of “extremism”.

What the hysteria about “Islamic terrorism” of recent years has tended to overlook is that basically all the groups and movements and ideologies which were potentially dangerous back in 1999 are still alive and kicking in one form or another here in 2010.

The issue was never whether militia extremists, say, or white supremacists are potentially dangerous and capable of committing acts of terrorism. Capability was never at doubt; what was was whether any of the groups in question would be spurred to action by Y2K. (I believe a major concern was the law and order implications if multiple extremist groups went berzerk at the same time – naked religious zealots running around and firebombing abortion clinics, while white supremacists decide to begin a race war and militia groups start killing anyone who doesn’t look quite redneck enough, could be quite the awkward situation, no?)

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I was able to acquire a video of a briefing on Project Megiddo an extremely inarticulate FBI analyst gave at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Virginia in July 1999. With militias and other forms of domestic extremism on the rise in this country, and increasingly in the news, this video provides an interesting look at some of the concerns surrounding these groups. Sure, it’s eleven years old, and it ostensibly concentrates on violence connected to Y2K, but Y2K was never more than a potential trigger for most of these groups.

The first third of the (one hour, twelve minute) video is largely background on the extremist groups in question; most of them are still around, though some of the individuals involved have changed. The second third largely involves trends and tactics of extremist groups – things that were then mildly novel, like “leaderless resistance” and, yikes, something called a “web site” – which is still largely relevant. The third part is a question-and-answer session, which is perhaps the most interesting bit of the whole thing, in my opinion.

Anyway, if you’re interested in domestic extremism and terrorism, this is a very interesting video that you’ll want to see.

In addition to the streaming video below, I’ve made the video available for download in a couple of formats and via a couple of methods. There’s only one video; you don’t need to download all these files…

(Small portions of videos are blurred, to protect the identities of certain individuals, and a few brief pieces of audio have been excised to protect random other sensitive things. Most of the shorter pauses, though, are just the speaker, um… losing his… what’s it called… train… of thought. Not trying to be mean; I’m sure he’s good at something, but public speaking isn’t it.)

(You’ll probably want to do the right-click, save-as thing for all these files, rather than trying to stream them in your browser.)

480p single file:
HTTP download or FTP download

597MB AVI file (Xvid video + MP3 audio); CRC hash 01ABD370

480p divided file:
135-156MB per part, broken up by (arbitrary) “chapters” as authored by the FBI.

Part 1: via HTTP or via FTP (152MB; CRC hash ADFE84F5)

Part 2: via HTTP or via FTP (155MB; CRC hash 092C2E52)

Part 3: via HTTP or via FTP (154MB; CRC hash 5F404881)

Part 4: via HTTP or via FTP (134MB; CRC hash C2AB0D83)

Also an AVI file (Xvid video + MP3 audio).

320×240 MP4 single file

HTTP download or via FTP download (CRC hash A1A43F2C)

92MB MP4 file (DivX video + AAC audio).


There were torrents here. They were trackerless. They’re gone now, since nobody used ’em and I don’t want to continue paying for the seedbox to host ’em. Sorry.

Please do NOT link to these downloads directly, as the links are subject to change without notice as bandwidth gets exceeded, or other issues arise. Note that right now:

The HTTP downloads are hosted in Germany, and should be reasonably fast for people in the EU;
The FTP downloads are hosted in California, and should be faster for people in west or central North America.

Bandwidth – and FOIA requests – cost money; if you find this interesting/educational/informative/inflammatory/defamatory, please consider, however briefly, clicking on an ad or donating a buck or two via PayPal. (A link is on the front page of the site.) Hosting these files so far has cost me about $30…

So, anyway… enjoy.

(Note 22 May: 480p divided downloads fixed. Sorry!)

Published in: General, History, Security | on May 21st, 2010| Comments Off on Project Megiddo (Friday FOIA Fun)

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