Arrested Homeland Security Analyst Had History of Anti-Government Opinions

  • by:
    • Mark Pitcavage
  • June 22, 2016



An analyst with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis was arrested after a June 9 incident at DHS headquarters in Washington, D.C., when security personnel performing random security checks allegedly discovered that Jonathan Wienke was carrying a concealed handgun, as well as a knife, pepper spray, handcuffs, and other items. Wienke was charged with carrying a pistol without a license.

However, according to news reports, subsequently filed court documents indicate that investigators believe that Wienke may have been “conspiring with another to commit workplace violence, and more particularly may have been conspiring or planning to commit violence against senior DHS officials in the building.” Wienke’s residence has been searched and an investigation is ongoing.

Wienke has worked as a “management & program analyst” for DHS since 2010; prior to that, he served in the U.S. Army as well as the U.S. Air Force, and worked as a programmer and network administrator. His hobbies and interests have included photography, radios, electronics, cryptography and, perhaps more than anything else, firearms.

A self-described “gun nut,” Wienke not only collected and shot firearms, but built, customized and re-built guns as well, offering advice on the subject on the many gun-related Internet discussion forums he belonged to. In February 2016, Wienke claimed to have built “a double-digit number of AR-15s” from parts.

Wienke’s attachment to firearms over the past 20+ years seems to have led him at times to some fairly hostile attitudes towards the federal government—ironic, considering his history of employment. In the 1990s, Wienke was a prolific poster to the Cypherpunks mailing list, which contained a number of anti-government extremists (many of them so-called “crypto-anarchists,” angry at 1990s-era government restrictions on cryptography), including James Bell, the sovereign citizen and tax-protester author of the infamous essay “Assassination Politics,” about killing government employees.

On the Cypherpunks mailing list, Wienke frequently equated gun control measures with tyranny and totalitarianism and seemed to sympathize with at least some anti-government conspiracy theories. In 1996, he repeated a fabricated quotation purportedly from Hitler about “full gun registration” being achieved in Nazi Germany in 1935 and asked “1935 Germany = 1996 U.S.?” In 1997, Wienke referenced Shirley Allen, an elderly woman from Illinois who became a cause célèbre for the militia movement in the 1990s for her standoff with local law enforcement who came to escort her to a court-ordered mental evaluation. Wienke claimed that people who opposed the government could be subjected to what he called “psychiatric imbalance allegation” attacks. In January 2000, Wienke urged others to watch the movie “Waco: Rules of Engagement,” a conspiratorial documentary about the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff that puts forth the theory that the federal government deliberately massacred the Davidians.

When one Cypherpunk list subscriber asked in 1998 why so many people on the list focused on guns, Wienke replied in terms of using violence against the government:

InfoWar has always been a critical component of MeatWar. Knowing who your enemy is and where he is at makes it much easier to do something about him. Intelligence (in the military sense) and the tools to deny it to your enemy (strong crypto) are of equal importance to weapons. If you know that a homicidal Postal Service employee is standing outside your front door and is preparing to blast it off its hinges and then kill you, this intelligence will do nothing but raise your blood pressure if you have no weapons with which to deal with the situation. (Calling 911 isn't going to help you much.) If you own several "assault weapons", but are asleep in the living room when the door comes crashing down, the lack of intel will greatly reduce the effectiveness of said weapons.

I have an equation for this: Effectiveness = Intelligence * Force * Will. I define force as the theoretical ability to inflict damage on an opponent, whether via bad PR, propaganda, lethal or nonlethal weapons, or any other means. Force has 2 components: Materiel and Skill. Thus, Force = Materiel * Skill. (Example: If I own a riot shotgun and appropriate ammunition, and have taken it to the range and familiarized myself with its use, I have the theoretical ability to shoot the aforementioned Homicidal Postal Employee, but mere ownership of the weapon and skill in its use does not guarantee that outcome.) Will is simply the will to fight if necessary.

Although government will always have a higher Force factor than an individual or "the cypherpunks" or a militia, it can be possible to achieve a higher Effectiveness score via higher Intelligence and/or Will factors. This is how we lost the war in Vietnam. We had a much higher Force level than the VC, comparable Intelligence levels, but a much lower Will ratio (at least at the upper decision-making levels). Because of this, our Force assets were bound under all sorts of bizarre restrictions which hampered their usefulness, and we ultimately left in defeat.

In 1997, Wienke counseled another Cypherpunk against provoking a confrontation with the “JBT’s” (“Jack Booted Thugs,” a reference to law enforcement), because the government could use such incidents against activists. On the other hand, Wienke wrote, if one has never threatened anyone before “and several armed individuals kick in your door and you shoot them, you can look much more righteous in the media than if you are constantly calling for the deaths of thousands.” But if the situation were not avoidable, Wienke added, “then ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ (In either case, pass the ammo.)”

In a similar post, Wienke noted that “the people can still protect themselves from jack-booted thugs if they are sufficiently well-armed. This means owning assault weapons. Get them while you can, they’re going fast…and LOTS of ammunition.”

Some of Wienke’s posts to the Cypherpunks list also spoke about using violence against “gang members” and “welfare leeches,” phrases that may have been racist euphemisms about non-whites. Many years later, in 2013, Wienke made a post to Facebook defending George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin and claiming that the “real tragedy” was a “rush to judgment” by the media “and the professional instigators of racial discord,” by which Wienke meant people such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, referring to them as “racial hatemongers” who stoked something “just as ugly and vile as any cross burned in a front yard.”

More from this Section