Are Raniere’s Claims that BOP Blocks Access and Spies On His Attorney-Client Communications True?

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel.

SCOTUS underscored the importance of this many times, perhaps most famously in Strickland v. Washington.

Access to counsel’s skill and knowledge is necessary to grant a defendant or prisoner the opportunity to petition the courts and secure all legal rights to which they are entitled.

Ministry of Peace

Due process and opportunity to be heard begin and end with the right to access counsel.

According to Keith Raniere, access to counsel is one of the choke points the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have used to frustrate his ability to prove his “actual innocence.”

Raniere’s right to counsel is constitutionally protected. But what about his access to counsel while in BOP custody?

Does Raniere actually have regular, confidential communications with his lawyers while a resident of the USP-Tucson SHU?

A handwritten missive from Keith Raniere was included in court filings on February 24, 2023.
A handwritten missive from Keith Raniere was included in court filings on February 24, 2023.

In his recently-released missive, the Vanguard had this to say:

I am innocent of these charges: I believe the legal term is “actually innocent.” Please see this link to a press conference by Alan Dershowitz and other bipartisan credible sources:
As noted in the press conference, these charges were brought against me using an unprecedented, historical, level of government malfeasance and outright crime.
I am concerned that as a prisoner, my words may not be considered reliable. Please consider what I say. I will try to provide ways of obtaining corroboration.
Shipping me from USP Tucson, away from my attorneys, in a physically painful, potentially torturous process, into another potentially more dangerous environment foreign to me, is what is traditionally done by B.O.P. to silence and/or punish inmates. Please do not let me be silenced or shipped.
When one is held in the S.H.U., as I am now, it is supposed to be substantially similar to being in general population (GP).
Certainly, this would mean my attorney visits, and even personal visitation, would be virtually identical to being in GP. This is absolutely not the case. Simple questioning of B.O.P. officials, and my attorneys, along with B.O.P. video footage, will establish what I say.
My unit team informed me my transfer is because of too much legal activities: calls and visits. I average less than 1 visit (2-3 hours) and 1 call (1 to 2 hours) per week.

Raniere claims he is “actually innocent,” but because he’s a prisoner, no one believes what he says. The inability to confer confidentially with counsel would hinder Raniere from relaying crucial information that may secure his release or a new trial.

Monitored communications and institutional safety protocols are preventing Raniere from receiving legal representation’s full benefits, and this, he claims, is part of his persecution at the hands of the DOJ and BOP.

Keith Raniere sits with his lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, as India Oxenberg gives a victim impact statement at his sentencing hearing. Outside the courtroom, lawyer-prisoner interaction is severely limited for prisoners in custody.

We will analyze whether Keith Raniere has meaningful access to his lawyers while in BOP custody to prove his “actual innocence.”

Email Communications

The first email was sent in 1971, making the technology roughly fifty years old. Most BOP prisoners can send emails on a limited, monitored system called TRULINCS. This system allows electronic correspondence between inmates and BOP-approved contacts.

To participate in TRULINCS, the prisoner waives attorney-client privilege and consents to monitoring all messages, including those to and from their attorneys.

The absence of privileged email exchanges deters clients from sharing sensitive but crucial information with their attorneys, preventing them from receiving the full benefits of legal representation.

TRULINCS means - Trust Fund Limited Inmate Communication System
TRULINCS means – Trust Fund Limited Inmate Communication System

Keith Raniere cannot have confidential email communications with counsel through the BOP TRULINCS system for several reasons.

First, Raniere is a sex offender. As such, he cannot use the TRULINCS email system because of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

The Adam Walsh Act prevents sex offenders from accessing such electronic communications because they may improperly contact minors or other vulnerable persons.

There is no cure for pedophilia, and the CHOMOs (prison slang for child molesters) should be as far away as possible from emails.

I saw these degenerates firsthand while I was away.

Second, assuming Raniere had TRULINCS privileges, he usually would not have access to the system while in the SHU.

The SHU ranges are not equipped with computers.

BOP inmates have limited use of computers and no access to the Internet.

Assuming Raniere had access to a TRULINCS station, all prisoner communications are monitored. Raniere can be assured that the FBI, Assistant US Attorneys, and BOP staff will view anything he writes to his lawyers.

The DOJ has not invested in a workaround to sort out attorney-client communications from all others, even in a post-Covid world where face-to-face visits are often eliminated.

The BOP rolled out TRULINCS in 2006. The system has not been updated with the times. Fifteen years ago, the technology to filter out privileged emails from the rest of prisoners’ emails may have been cost-prohibitive. Feasible technical solutions can now be implemented in months, costing less than half a million dollars. But the courts have been reluctant to compel the DOJ and BOP to modernize to protect the Constitution.

After all, there is nothing in the US Constitution about the Internet.

While our political branches regularly send billions to defend foreign nations overseas, the government can’t spend half a million to permit prisoners, many of whom are pretrial and “innocent” until proven guilty, to communicate with their defense attorneys.

The Orwellian-named Department of Justice is quick to do the hard part – speak about its commitment to due process, but when it comes to the easy part – a little practical application of due process principles – it leaves that to the unseen future.

Ministry of Plenty

While every DOJ press release is sure to state how a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the DOJ cannot make the slightest effort to permit these “innocents” to email attorneys to help provide a proper defense.

The US Attorney’s Office is not shy about their spying. They tell you they are doing it.

The House of Representatives tried to fix the inmate-attorney communications issue in 2021. The bipartisan Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act passed by an overwhelming vote of 414-11 in the House. It was an act that merely supported due process, as it would enable incarcerated individuals to communicate privately, safely, and efficiently with their lawyers.

The act prohibited the Bureau of Prisons from monitoring privileged electronic messages. But due process is not the goal. Talking about due process is the goal.

The bill stalled in the Senate and is all but dead in the Judiciary Committee.

But the point is moot for Raniere, as TRULINCS communications with his lawyers or anyone else is out.

Telephone Calls

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell became the first to obtain a U.S. Patent for an “apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.” Telephone calls began. Prisoners are entitled to use this 150-year-old technology to contact their lawyers, subject to a host of restrictions.

First and foremost, standard BOP phone calls are monitored and recorded. To speak to your lawyer on a non-monitored, non-recorded line, you must get your attorney to request a special prison legal call.

One of BOP Correctional Counselors’ regular duties is as a gatekeeper for prisoner legal calls. Only an attorney may request a legal call.

After that, a Correctional Counselor investigates the attorney. Once clearance occurs (which could take minutes, hours, days, or weeks), the prisoner’s legal call is prioritized or delayed by various factors (many subjective, pretextual, or illusory), including institutional safety and security, staffing, facility availability, demand among the inmate population, current conditions within the institution (e.g., COVID-19 measures, security threats, lockdown, etc.) how much the Correctional Officers likes a prisoner or, in a special instance, when a prisoner might be innocent and has a chance at proving it. The latter often ensures delays and difficulties in regular communications.

This making it difficult for prisoners to speak on the phone to attorneys is another tip of the hat to Orwell, who taught us all that a government institution that names itself after the opposite of what it is really all about will fool most people.

Truth in advertising would require the Department of Justice to change its name to the Department of Prosecution.

Keith Raniere's phone calls in prison are not like those in days of old.
Keith Raniere’s phone calls in prison are not like those in days of old.

But it gets better.

When a legal call is finally scheduled, the prisoner reports to the Correctional Counselor’s office at an appointed time. If, for whatever reason, there is a problem and either the prisoner or the Correctional Counselor is not there at the appointed time, the call is rescheduled (days or weeks) later.

Correctional Counselors often are absent when a critical legal call is scheduled. This is great for discouraging lawyers trying to represent prisoners.

Prisoner legal calls take place in a staff office. If the call goes off, the counselor facilitates the call. The staff member leaves the office and “visually monitors” (glares at, intimidates, shows annoyance, impatience, or may distract) the inmate from outside the room.

Department of Justice Bureau of Prisons Logo

Once outside the room, the BOP claims the Correctional Counselor cannot hear the content of the telephone call with the inmate and the lawyer.

But the BOP and DOJ never represented that there are no listening or recording devices in Correctional Counselors’ offices.

The lack of candor about surveillance of lawyer-client privileged calls is perhaps justified to maintain “institutional safety and security.”

“The Thing,” also known as the Great Seal bug, was one of the first covert listening devices (or “bugs”) to use passive techniques to transmit an audio signal. It was concealed inside a gift given by the Soviet Union to W. Averell Harriman, the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, on August 4, 1945.

great seal bug listening device
The “Great Seal Bug” listening device was planted at the US Embassy by the Soviets in 1945.

In the past seventy-five years, the US Government has perfected listening devices. Today, they may even be shaped like a fly on the wall. Are the BOP and the DOJ involved in spycraft on inmates?

The bulk of how Keith Raniere speaks with his lawyers is through prison legal calls. And these calls, he says, are part of why he may be getting shipped to a Communications Management Unit (CMU).

Face-to-Face Lawyer Meetings

At the time of the Constitutional Ratification in 1788, lawyers met with clients face-to-face.

Prisoners are given the right to meet face-to-face with counsel the way the constitutional framers intended it 235  years ago but subject to the same “slight” gatekeeping restrictions as telephone calls.

The BOP and DOJ have never stated whether “bugs” – a technology commonly used by the DOJ and the FBI – are present in the attorney-client meeting rooms in their institutions.

Raniere complains he must endure pain and torture to see his lawyers in person. He must have his hands and ankles shackled for hours on end. The result is bruises, swelling, cuts, and bloodied ankles for weeks.

Keith Raniere must meet his lawyers while in shackles.
Keith Raniere must meet his lawyers while in shackles.

The lawyers also have to endure significant inconveniences. They are subject to long waits and enhanced security screenings when they arrive at BOP facilities. A single-hour meeting with a client may require four or five hours of attorney time. It is a wholly inefficient use of time, maybe intentionally so.

What contact with counsel Raniere has garnered is curtailed by his placement in the USP-Tucson SHU and will be further curtailed if he is placed in a CMU.

Face-to-face meetings are available to Raniere, but they are physically demanding.

The Verdict

Prison email and messaging services, as well as the recording of phone calls, threaten the attorney-client privilege in the US. Even though the right to have confidential conversations with an attorney is supposed to be a core principle of American justice, the right is probably illusory in federal prisons.

Raniere is effectively denied the right to counsel while incarcerated in the SHU. But Raniere is not alone. The DOJ and the BOP have derogated the attorney-client relationship, which is becoming less sacrosanct as Government encroachments have become more invasive and widespread.

Ministry of Love

Raniere’s access to counsel strikes as below minimum Constitutional standards. He can meet with lawyers, but the experience is, in his words, a “physically painful, potentially torturous process.” Attorneys cannot be expected to zealously represent a client when both the lawyer and the inmate-client have to go “through the ringer” before the first word is said.

More importantly, are the right words being said? Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, where Keith Raniere was prosecuted, regularly search for incriminating evidence by reading emails between defendants and their attorneys.

A Federal Court upheld the practice.

The court observed that inmates are provided with sufficient alternative means to engage in privileged communications with lawyers by phone calls, mail, and in-person visits. But a shackled, cuffed, cut, and bloodied experience just to see a lawyer is not “sufficient” in Raniere’s case, when it smacks as part of a pattern of retaliation and torture.

The court’s decision and others like it fail to appreciate that, especially post-Covid, email communication is the most efficient and viable form of communication used by lawyers in the twenty-first century. This is especially true for inmates like Raniere seeking access to lawyers for post-conviction matters.

The BOP and DOJ’s encroachment on attorney-client communications hamstrings crucial communication and makes effective representation a pipe dream.

Former Assistant US Attorney Moira Kim Penza

But more than access to counsel, the issue is fundamental fairness. Raniere’s Prosecutrix, Moira Kim Penza, probably knew everything Raniere’s lawyers were thinking and saying. After all, Raniere was captured in Mexico and delivered directly to federal custody. He has been in BOP facilities ever since. He didn’t meet his criminal defense attorneys until after his arrest. Everything Keith Raniere told his lawyers was known to the prosecutors.

Did Moira “tailor” her case strategy and trial presentation accordingly? Of course.

Isn’t this cheating? It might have been done for “the right reasons.” But that’s not what we tell our children. We tell them, “cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.”

We tell our children that the American government is committed to due process, like attorney-client confidentiality, innocent until proven guilty, and the right to a fair trial.

While due process can help the guilty, it also protects the innocent. Since due process is supposed to prevent the Government from deciding in advance who is guilty [i.e., everyone they choose to prosecute], due process makes the prosecution’s job more difficult since innocent defendants are supposed to have a shot at acquittal.

Something the Orwellian-named Department of Justice would abhor.

When the New England Patriots got caught stealing messages and signals from opposing coaches in Spygate, everyone judged it was wrong because it belittled the integrity of the game.

The NFL fined the team and the coach, Bill Belichick. It is fundamentally unfair if one team knows what play the other team is going to call before the snap.

But when the Goverment cheats, the people Orwell envisioned – with the jackboot of government eventually on their necks forever -are too absorbed with hating the prisoner that they cannot work up the intellectual acumen to distinguish between the defendant Raniere and the next defendant who may be innocent.

It is not up to the Department of Prosecution to decide who is innocent, but with their neat Orwellian name, the Department of Justice, there are some who, whatever they do, is to live up to their name, and their shit streaks don’t stink.

The DOJ and BOP’s current practices undermine the due process of law, and if the sheeple ever grew a brain, it should erode confidence in convictions.

In the same way, the Patriot teams of the 2000s will always be looked at askance compared to the great NFL teams of all time who won honestly. So too, do numerous convictions, including Raniere’s, remain open to question, and will for years to come.

If Raniere is such a nasty dude, why did the Government have to cheat to put him away?

Americans do not tolerate cheaters except when the cheaters are Federal Prosecutors.

Ministry of Truth

We question the ethics of mayors and senators, even presidents. We scrutinize business leaders and charities because we know people are self-interested and that power corrupts.

We even question the police.

But somehow, Americans never think that one of the most powerful positions of all, with the right to take someone’s freedom away, should ever be questioned.

The apathy and ignorance will have to stop, so our Orwellian named Criminal Justice System retains some semblance of moral legitimacy and fundamental fairness. Or, out of truth in advertising, it could be called our Criminalizing Injustice System.

About the author

Richard Luthmann

Richard Luthmann is a writer, commentator, satirist, and investigative journalist with degrees from Columbia University and the University of Miami. Once a fixture in New York City and State politics, Luthmann is a recovering attorney who lives in Southwest Florida and a proud member of the National Writers Union. 

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  • In reading over the countless correspondences from Raniere in prison, there is absolutely no indication that these letters are being written (language and handwriting) by a person with a high IQ, or even by a person that has a community college associate degree. The letters sound like they are being written by an adolescent who is far from articulate and lacks any apparent intelligence and or knowledge of drafting an effective pleading, to say the least.

    • Raniere is not particularly bright nor well read. He’s a bullshit artist pure and simple.

      I think it’s hilarious that his moronic followers believed he’s a genius.

  • Concerning the great seal bug

    It was invented by a Russian musician/inventor/ and electrical engineer named Leon Theremin.

    Theremin not only invented the theremin, an electronic instrument used in the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations and in the Sci Fi movie “Forbidden Planet” Leon Theremin also invented the Great Seal Bug

    Theremin also worked as a spy for the Soviet KGB.
    Theremin died in the early 1190s.

    Here is a documentary made a few years before Leon Theremin died.
    Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey full music documentary 1993 Leon Theremin Brian Wilson Rockmore Moog
    A documentary about the inventor of the first electronic synthesizer instrument and his subsequent life after he was abducted by the KGB as well as a history of his instrument. IMDB. Featuring: Robert Moog Lydia Kavina
    (Theremin’s Great Niece) Todd Rundgren Nicolas Slonimsky Vladimir Lenin Paul Shure Henry Solomonoff Suki Bader Beryl Campbell and others.

  • Thanks for another insightful article. I knew it was bad, but unaware of the nuances that allow prisoners to be oppressed at every turn.

    It’s evident why they disbarred you. Too smart, too bold. Journalism with your law expertise is a much safer, effective route which is of greater benefit to the public than a case by case approach in a rigged system.

  • Firstly, I would point out, like many other commenters have already done, that Raniere has had sufficient access to counsel throughout – 3-4 hours per week would seem perfectly adequate. He can hardly complain that his “words may not be considered reliable” when he has spent his entire life misleading and lying to just about everyone he has ever known or come into contact with. And of course he is now a convicted felon serving 120 years. You don’t get that for jaywalking. Of course he claims he’s innocent – the man’s a pathological liar.

    You claim that the “inability to confer confidentially with counsel would hinder Raniere from relaying crucial information that may secure his release or a new trial.” This does sound more than a little strange when you take into account that he had a 6 week trial to do just that. It also begs the question as to what ‘crucial information’ would that be? Why wasn’t this ‘crucial information’ presented at his trial?

    Your analysis on whether Keith Raniere had meaningful access to his lawyers while in BOP custody to prove his ‘actual innocence’ is telling, though perhaps not in the way you intended. Firstly, you readily acknowledge that he’s not allowed to have confidential email communication because he’s a sex offender, but then make the following statement:

    “While our political branches regularly send billions to defend foreign nations overseas, the government can’t spend half a million to permit prisoners, many of whom are pretrial and “innocent” until proven guilty, to communicate with their defense attorneys.”

    No, Richard, government spends billions defending foreign nations because it’s in their interests to do so. It’s not like some charitable donation. I’m sure you are familiar with the term “realpolitik”? It’s a bit like a game of chess, only between hegemonies. It’s how nations secure access to markets, raw materials, trade routes and influence in other countries. Sometimes you have to spend a little to make a little, or even a lot. Nations don’t have friends or enemies, only interests. That’s just the way the world works and how it’s always worked. Right now the Ukrainians are fighting for their country, only they’re paying in blood, not dollars. If Putin won in Ukraine, he wouldn’t stop there, and that’s what could easily lead to WW3. Money well spent I say. It’s really diddly-squat in any case compared with your annual defence budget.

    It is interesting that you talk about the Orwellian overreach in the Criminal Justice System. You say you’re also a big fan of Ron DeSantis, a man who has played no small part in imposing rightwing dogma on teaching in schools and universities in Florida, threatening educators with legal sanction should they dare to cover such subjects as critical race theory. His intention is clear: if kids are not taught about institutional racism and the white supremacy it upholds, they won’t question it later when they are voters. As Orwell knew, historical revisionism is always a project for the future, and how we view the past can determine that future. There is nothing more authoritarian than denying people their right to vote, or women their fundamental human rights.

    When “Raniere complains he must endure pain and torture to see his lawyers in person…bruises, swelling, cuts, and bloodied ankles for weeks”, one might imagine he was dragging a ball and chain around with him following a session on the rack. A pair of handcuffs is nothing compared with the real pain and torture he had inflicted on the women of DOS. If a Federal Court upheld the practice of reading prisoners’ emails, Raniere is getting the same treatment as everyone else.

    At the end of the day Moira Penza just did her job. And she did it well. Unlike Raniere, she played by the rules. If you don’t like the rules, why don’t you lobby Ron DeSantis to change them? Good luck with that – that would be like going to the goat’s house for wool.

      • yer man, Peter, provides an engaged and straightforward critique of your article and your response is “Triggered!” ?

        Thats seems quite brittle and vain, imo.

        • Ok, If you want me to get political, I will.

          But first an foremost, Peter misses the point. You can’t analyze Raniere’s actions with respect to his lawyer-client communications while he in an unconstitutional set of conditions. It’s like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The constitutional violation affects the whole system. We can never know what the result would be in a constitutional environment.

          With respect to the “realpolitik,” the most telling political document is a budget. If you pay ten soldiers $50,000, ten BOP guards $50,000, five FBI Special Agents $100,000, or one Defense Contractor $500,000 for a newfangled eavesdropping device, you have made a decision to value that expenditure over compliance with constitutional mandates that affect MILLIONS. The cost is small. It may be in our interests to be in the Ukraine, or Syria, or Southeast Asia, or any multitude of other places. But I believe it’s of greater interest to be true to our constitutional principles. If not, are we any different than the enemies of civilization? Are we are only willing to pay lip-service to our fundamental values, are we any different than the Nazis, or any other scum of humanity?

          With respect to DeSantis, I would agree to disagree. Your entire characterization is false and misleading. Critical race theory is laden with fiction. The reason for the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony or Roanoke was not so that the white people on those boats could subjugate African slaves. If we allow children to be indoctrinated with lies in education, we are no different than North Korea. How long until the government leadership become infallible gods?

          • Hi Richard,

            I teach American History in a New York City high school. Critical race theory is not taught at the high school level. My colleagues, who have taught US History much longer than I have, do not teach that “the reason for the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony or Ranoke was so that white people on those boats could subjugate African slaves.” All of us are on the progressive side of the political spectrum.

            We do teach that the election was not stolen and that our country’s values are derived from the Constitution.

            Long time Frank Report follower here. The Frank Report helped inform me while I was teaching the cult unit of the psychology elective this past summer.

            Normally would not respond since off topic, but since this comment came from the OP I had the urge to.

          • This is why I don’t like to get into politics.

            Critical race theory puts ideology before historical accuracy, plain and simple. It is Marxism at its core. To “succeed” it requires at least a brand of “soft” authoritarianism. The goal isn’t the search for historical truth. Rather, it is the search for a “useful” narrative. But then the question must be asked – useful to whom?

            Any claim can be advanced in this type of system and elevated to “gospel truth” or “party line.” Like Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, if we are allowed to revise history, ignore facts, and produce narratives, we are finished as a society. The truth of our shared history no longer unites us.

            Critical race theory comes from critical theory, a Marxist critique developed by lawyers and legal scholars. It is basically a way to delegitimize those in power by saying the institution itself is racist, sexist, or otherwise biased. It’s no one’s fault. It’s an institutional problem. But that’s the same argument made when the BOP tortures someone by deliberate indifference. We followed our rules, but they weren’t good enough. No one is to blame, but we must fix the system. These types of arguments destroy personal responsibility and create a society of victims. Imagine what Robert Jackson would have said at Nuremburg in response to a Nazi killer’s argument that it wasn’t his fault because the Third Reich was systemically racist.

            Truth is uniting. That is one of its very fundamental characteristics. Critical race theory divides – essentially because it is untrue. Not everything is based on race, gender, or power differentials. Marx was wrong. For Marx and Marxists, history is merely another tool. The facts don’t matter, and they aren’t set in stone. Truth is malleable.

            You said no one teaches “the reason for the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony or Roanoke was so that white people on those boats could subjugate African slaves.” Does it really matter what gets taught if it isn’t the truth? If anything can be taught, then anything is true. Why couldn’t the history of the colonies be taught the way I stated it? For critical race theory, my argument is just as valid as any other because the core “truth” of slavery being the driving force of American History is present. It passes the “party line” test and will receive the stamp of approval at the Ministry of Truth.

            Frank Parlato and the Frank Report say: “The truth is always fair.” Not if the facts don’t matter.

            I’ll ask a simple question and then stop talking about politics. What are you telling your children about January 6th now there is new video evidence that turns the narrative we were fed for two years on its head? Has this issue even been addressed? Or are we all waiting for the Ministry of Truth to deliver the “new and improved” approved narrative?

          • Thank you for your response. I would just make some observations.

            Like it or not, black people are significantly disadvantaged compared to whites: whether you look at healthcare cover, average earnings, academic achievement, jobs, housing, poverty, police shootings or the relative ratio of the prison population, the metrics are all very much skewed against them, and like everything else, much of this is borne out of history.

            It’s undeniable that there’s a major social problem, and in my view important for kids to be made aware of it. After all, they are the future voters who must decide how to fix things, and if they grow up not being made aware of the problems, they are less likely to want to fix them.

            There is no doubt in my mind that racism is part of our DNA, a form of tribalism from our ancient past where resources were scarce and aggressive group self-identification may have provided evolutionary advantage. You see it everywhere, from sports hooliganism to class warfare, to us and them. If children become aware of that from an earlier age, I think there is far more chance that they may more rationally come to terms with it as adults. It’s not about being negative about your country’s history, it’s more about being positive about its future, and that IS a useful narrative.

            Every nation has its share of cupboard skeletons – Britain was perhaps the most shameless colonial empire of all time. Owning up to your mistakes is the most powerful thing a country, or indeed an individual, can ever do. It is actually the culmination of personal responsibility. And by doing so, systems CAN be put in place to address imbalances and reshape people’s behaviour. This self-evident truth underscores nearly all sociological, economic and political theories from the far right to the far left, and everything in between.

            However, education should be left to the experts, and outside the remit of politicians, especially those with extreme views. What strikes me about the new laws is their vagueness, which I believe is deliberate: firstly it makes them difficult to interpret, which leads those targeted (from teachers to principals) to be extra cautious. Secondly, the vagueness provides deniability, both to the courts and to more moderate supporters. In fact, the primary goal may well not be for the state to censor teachers and schools, but for them to censor themselves. The result is the same.

        • I responded to Peter’s post. I saw it as a political post. Politics takes away from the importance of the criminal justice issues at stake. You can love Trump, DeSantis, Hillary, Bernie, or Biden, that doesn’t mean we can’t find common ground to say torture is wrong or the sanctity of the attorney client privilege should be protected. If the responses degenerate into political name calling, the are not productive or interesting.

          • I agree. Man is a political animal. But I find talking politics distracts from talking about other issues. I like to think about philosophical and practical solutions. Political solutions are often very easy or very difficult, sometimes all at once.

      • “I’ll ask a simple question and then stop talking about politics. What are you telling your children about January 6th now there is new video evidence that turns the narrative we were fed for two years on its head? Has this issue even been addressed? Or are we all waiting for the Ministry of Truth to deliver the “new and improved” approved narrative?”

        New video evidence? What in heaven’s name are you talking about? I honestly hope you are not reffering to Traitor Carlsson’s special selection,

        I’ll ask you a simple question too:
        .I’ve recently seen footage of a happy Kennedy talking to journalists, seated in the rear of his presidential Lincoln, his wife Jacky next to him, on november 22nd 1963. Please tell me Richard, can we now draw the conclusion that Kennedy is still alive? That these images turn he narrative that we were fed for 60 years on it’s head?

        150 Capitol policemen were injured. Doors were breached by an angry mob. Windows were shattered. Somebody was shot (rightfully so). The vice-president and members of congress had to run for their lives. during the certification of the votes of a presidential election..January 6th wasn’t a regular tourist visit/demonstration Richard. It was a violent insurrection, led by Donald Trump, who couldn’t accept the fact that he’d lost a free and fair election. Those are the facts. That is the truth. That’s what I’ll tell my children..

        • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that footage released by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives?

          I agree. If some internet loon released it, there would be credibility issues. But this is coming from a government official. And not just any government official but the person second in line to the presidency.

          Don’t we have an obligation to examine that evidence if facts matter and we are searching for the truth?

          And shouldn’t we know what the truth is before we teach it to kids?

          • LOL. So there’s a video of me murdering my family? I can prove I didn’t do it! There’s another clip where I’m being nice to them!

          • You are absolutely correct. The speaker of the House provided this footage. To a media-outlet who lied to the public about -non-existing- election fraud. That’s what their tv-hosts said privately, as is proven by their e-mails that recently surfaced in the Dominion civil case.

            The speaker of the House is indeed the third powerful person in the country., That doesn’t say anything about his integrity or credibility. As we all know, Trump, as president, tried to end democracy in America. So their position is not automatically proof of their integrity.

            McCarthy is not doing this in search of the truth: He has bad intent, History will judge them harshly. Don’t take my word for it. That’s what Pence said recently.

    • Raniere’s tales of abuse are based on nothing other than Raniere’s word. I put zero faith in what he claims, so…

      Raniere has been whining about his plight since day one. Hell, he was whining when he was sitting pretty with his cult and his harem. His girlfriends were too fat, whine, whine.

      He has always claimed people were out to kill him. That predates prison. Yet he’s still here, worse luck.

      Raniere perpetually feels sorry for himself, and he thinks everyone else should too.

      Pardon me if I’m skeptical.

      He claims that he’s being tortured in prison. Twelve streaks and whatnot. He dislikes his cell mate; the feeling is mutual I’m sure.

      Raniere claims he’s to be transferred to a CMU. Let’s see if he actually is or not.
      After all, he claimed years ago back in MDC Brooklyn that he was marked for assassination, and he’s still breathing and complaining.

      I tend to disregard what Raniere claims.

  • Great article –
    Innocent until proven guilty is a joke.

    The phrasing of it alone begets what’s to come — until: up to the point in time or the event mentioned

    We’re all waiting for the guilty verdict. It’s just a matter of time… through oppression, deprivation, threat, and coercion – your guilt is predetermined.

    Make it easy and they’ll go lightly. Fight it and you’ll be in the SHU indefinitely with Toni Fly – subjected to daily mental torture.

    Glad you’re bringing out what any one of us could be subjected to.

  • Joe Biden has just presided over the largest Bank Run since 1929!
    The Silicon Valley Bank
    Tucker Carlson: This is the largest bank failure since 2008

    • Yes Shadow – maybe you remember Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act following the ’29 crash? The Act that prevented the financial sector from recklessly gambling with investor’s money, which caused the crash in the first place?

      And it was under Reagan that many of its regulations were deregulated, though Clinton finished off the job in 1999. No surprise then that a few short years later we get the 2008 crash – same ol same ol…

      So yeah, Obama makes the taxpayers dig them out, not that he had a lot of choice – no one else was gonna do it. But he did introduce the Dodd-Frank regulations, a watered down version of Glass-Steagall, better than nothing.

      Problem was Trump then rolled back the Dodd-Frank regulations when he signed a 2018 bill that reduced scrutiny of regional banks and the requirement for stress testing on smaller banks like Sillicon Valley.

      So you see, Shadow, when it comes to the Orange Ape, it’s just like your man Carlson said, there really is no upside to him!

  • “Raniere claims” pretty much says it all. Raniere has claimed lots of stuff. That he was a judo champ, that he’s a genius, that his awesome brain sets off radar detectors…

    Fact is Raniere is a con man who struggled to earn a bachelor’s degree from a third rate college. His awesome Nxivm tech was purloined from an assortment of other self improvement scams.

    Raniere is a liar. So I’m going to need some proof before I believe any of his claims of the government plotting against him and depriving him of his Constitutional rights.

    Raniere’s current claim, that he is being deprived of his right to contact his attorneys, is contradicted by his own written statement that he speaks with them by phone or in person 3-5 hours per week. It’s also contradicted by the blizzard of writs, motions, lawsuits and appeals he somehow manages to issue.

    So much for what Raniere claims. The man’s a liar and not a very clever one.

    Instead of his claims, I look at the facts. Raniere is a racketeer and a sex trafficker, facts proven by voluminous evidence and testimony in the course of a six-week trial where the miscreant was represented by a high powered legal team. The trial was held in open court where the defendant had the opportunity to confront his accusers, dispute the evidence, and present his case. An independent jury of his peers found him guilty on all 7 counts of the indictment.

    Raniere appealed the verdict, as is his right. He lost.

    This is the end of the road for Keith Raniere. It seems he is unable to accept this fact, the simple fact that he got caught, and will have to spend the remainder of his life in prison. So instead of accepting the inevitable and making peace with his fate, Raniere squirms and thrashes. He concocts wild theories of plots against him and prosecutorial malfeasance. He’s not in prison because he was blackmailing women and having his initials branded on their nethers, oh no. It was a plot. Extending to the highest levels of the Federal government.

    Uh-huh. Sure. The government was so eager to “get” Raniere that they left him and his little cult alone for what, a couple of decades? In their little compound in Nowhere, upstate NY? The Feds only took notice when a story appeared on the front page of The NY Times, a (true) story of women being branded with a cult leader’s initials. Multiple women, willing to testify about coercion and blackmail and abuse.

    It’s kinda hard to see what Raniere was up to in his little suburban cult compound as anything other than a racket. A criminal racket.

    What he was doing also fit the legal definition of sex trafficking. The jury certainly thought so. All twelve of them.

    Those are the facts. Which leaves Raniere pissing into the wind.

    I can kinda feel sorry for Raniere. Despite the fact that he brought all this upon himself. He’s in prison for the remainder of his life and that can’t be very pleasant. Despair inducing, in fact. His life sucks now.

    Still, justice must be served. He’s in Tucson, a modern Federal prison where he is housed, clothed, and fed three meals a day. Many people around the world aren’t so lucky.

    He needs to quit raging against the inevitable. The quicker Keith Raniere accepts that he’s never getting out of prison, the better life will be for Keith Raniere. When he was playing Philosopher King of Flintlock Lane, Raniere preached a derivative kind of Stoicism, telling people there were no victims and life was what you make of it. Stoicism is an Ancient Greek philosophy which Raniere neither truly embraced nor really knew, but it could stand him in good stead now. Now that he got caught and convicted of his crimes, now that his arrogance and cruelty finally landed him in prison where he belongs. The Wheel of Fate has dumped his ass in USP Tucson, where he can choose to make the best of it or kick and scream impotently and drive himself crazy.

    • The issue is bigger than Raniere.

      The “opinion letter” by the EDNY US Attorney legitimizing spying on attorney-client communications smacks of George W. Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez’s “opinion letter” justifying torture.

      Lawyers can use the law to justify just about anything. In this country, it was used to justify race-based slavery for a long time. It is still used to justify some outright barbaric practices.

      The real question should not be “can we?” but “ought we?”.

      • — The issue is bigger than Raniere.

        No it’s not.

        You sound like a deadender. In fact, you sound a lot like Raniere, whose modus operandi in such situations and more tries to make it about bigger than himself when it’s ALWAYS just about himself. Nothing is bigger than the self in a narcissist’s purview. He just wants others to see it that way because he’s a morally repugnant individual and no one except a few dumb deadenders give a shit.

        • So no one should give a shit if the government wrongs you. It’s not a big deal. Good to know.

          Equal Justice Under Law

          It’s written on the front of the US Supreme Court building.

          The law’s protections apply to you, Raniere, and everyone else equally. Whether you like it or not.

          • Stop talking like there is real proof that the government wronged Raniere. That is not even a point of contention, but simply your opinion.

          • Actually, the Government’s “opinion letter” about attorney-client spying is merit enough. It smacks of the torture at Abu Ghraib, also covered by “legal opinion.”

            Our Government has a pretty shit record on civil liberties in the 20+ years since the Patriot Act.

          • “…It smacks of the torture at Abu Ghraib, also covered by “legal opinion.”

            How refreshing! Now you’re defending the Muslim fundamentalist terrorists you so recently denigrated. Incongruous thought patterns? You definitely sound like a dead-ender.

          • No. I’m aghast that the US Government regularly engages in unconstitutional and inhuman practices and uses pliant lawyers to cover for them. How I feel about who the prisoner is has nothing to do with that person’s right to Equal Justice Under Law or, if they are not American, beaten, tortured, and murdered at the hands of a corrupt element in the US Government.

          • Way I see it is Raniere got what was comin to him. That was equal justice. Found guilty by a jury on ALL counts, never showing no remorse, never admitting his guilt, forcing so many women to be retraumatized reliving what happened to em in a public court room, showing their naked photographs. Coulda taken a plea but became a victim of his own sick hubris. Now thats what I call JUSTICE!

    • Excellent piece, Aristotle. Nobody says it better, and there’s nothing to disagree with. Raniere just has to practise what he preaches, stoically of course!

  • — If Raniere is such a nasty dude, why did the Government have to cheat to put him away?

    Because it didn’t. If the government is such a corrupt entity, why did its individuals acting in its authority give Raniere, et all, access to exact duplicates of alleged to be planted data and tampered with data on the questioned devices? It doesn’t take a technical genius to figure out if these things occurred on them. Why did they admit to minor COC errors during their investigation?

    Raniere claiming innocence is utterly faux laughable — it’s a Joaquin Phoenix acting as Arthur the “comedian”, ridiculous joke. Anyone who has actually dealt with this manipulative, narcissistic clown at a personal level and has been burned by him knows he’s a perpetual liar, gaslighter, and blame shifter.

    He’s about as innocent of these charges as he is innocent of lying about being a Judo champion, concert-level pianist, problem solving genius, celibate, who was just trying to make the world a better place.

    • All of this may be true. But the rules are the Government’s own rules, and they continually break them.

      If the Government has no penalty when it breaks the rules, how are penalties for others legitimate?

      • There are penalties. You can sue them or you can vote them out. Individuals can also be criminally indicted (Hit the road, Jack!)

  • “If Raniere is such a nasty dude, why did the Government have to cheat to put him away?”

    That is quite an accusation you make here. Please provide legitimate proof to this statement.
    In my book he got a fair trial with the best lawyers Clare’s money can buy as his counsel. An incredible advantage over defendants that can’t afford a million dollar on legal representation.

    You say:
    “Raniere is effectively denied the right to counsel while incarcerated in the SHU.”

    Keith says (while in the SHU):
    “I’m having one legal visit (2-3 hours) and one legal call (1-2) hours per week”.

    For once, I believe Keith. Common sense tells us he is NOT denied right to counsel with these frequent (weekly) visits and calls. Quite the opposite. He is putting to much strain on the resources of the facility. He’s not the only prisoner there. It’s not sustainable.

    • Argument in a nutshell:

      The Government stole KR’s lawyers’ playbook. It was cheating for the New England Patriots. It is cheating for the Department of (In)Justice.

      Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.

      Because the DOJ cheated, they should not be credited with the win over Raniere. It raises too many questions about fundamental fairness and authoritarian, Orwellian overreach in the Criminal Justice System, and the United States Government loses all moral authority if the regular practice of cheating – here spying on attorney-client communications – continues.

  • Does anyone know how and why Keith and Cami’s text messages are available from 8+ years ago? Did He or she save them? Did the phone company give them up? I read all those texts the other day and I’ve been wondering this. Anyone know??

    • Far as I know the texts were retrieved from Raniere’s phone and put into a Word file to be submitted as evidence, Since Word files can of course be edited, Raniere’s followers have always maintained that they were doctored/made up. Personally I believe them to be genuine, and Cami stands over them; certainly they have that ring of authenticity, and very much match Raniere’s MO. I’m not sure where the original phone is now.

    • Because the world’s smartest man saved the messages himself. Cami was a living representation that he could keep and sleep with a minor right under her family’s nose and get away with it. He wanted a trophy from his greatest con. I could not get through reading all of the texts, between his word salad spiritual bullshit and the open discussion of recruiting a new underage replacement for Cami after the Robbie incident; I have not one drop of sympathy for him. Not one.

  • “But more than access to counsel, the issue is fundamental fairness. Raniere’s Prosecutrix, Moira Kim Penza, probably knew everything Raniere’s lawyers were thinking and saying.”

    This is where you really lost me. How would she know everything they were thinking and saying?

    • If Moira was privy to the lawyers’ communications with Raniere (which she was because we know Raniere used the phones and the TRULINCS at MDC-Brooklyn), and she used this information (which she did because it is common practice for prosecutors in the EDNY), then Moira knew everything Keith’s lawyers knew.

      The EDNY US Attorneys are not shy about their spying. They tell you they are doing it.

      I’m not entirely convinced that there aren’t listening devices in the Brooklyn-MDC lawyer rooms. The US Attorney’s Office across the street from the courthouse is all wired up. They probably catch defense lawyers saying all sorts of crap in the hallway while they wait to be let in. I know because I was up there representing clients. My legal mentor told me never to say anything in those hallways because they are wired up. The MDC-Brooklyn is also a federal facility, why would it be any different?

      And remember, Keith Raniere was taken from Mexico into federal custody. He was in the BOP before he ever me any of his criminal defense lawyers. The BOP, DOJ, and US Attorneys presumably heard everything said between him and his lawyers.

      Would a football game be fair if only one team knew all the plays the other team called?

      • It seems unlikely that Raniere’s lawyers laid out the entirety of all they were thinking over Trulincs and phone calls, not just due to time constraints but also knowing it’s not privileged. And I’m sure you aren’t the only one to suspect potential bugging, whether that is true or not. I find it hard to believe his lawyers laid it all out in those contexts.

        • True, but there were bits that were more than breadcrumbs. When a client gives a lawyer new information not previously known, it should be protected from the Government’s knowledge. As it stands now, the prosecutors all know what is said and FBI agents are all over it.

          Great example: The lawyer is under the assumption defendant was wearing a red shirt. All the videos have him wearing a red shirt. The Government’s theory, even the indictment have him wearing a red shirt.

          Defendant tells lawyer that not only was he not wearing a red shirt, but a blue shirt. He can check the security cams in a certain area and see. He can also get the blue shirt from an FBI Agent’s house because he left it there when he was shacking up with his wife.

          If the system were fair, the Defense Attorney has his private investigators develop these facts, get video, get statements, find the shirt and the broad, etc.

          As it stands now, once there is an indictment, the Government will never pull it back. They will lie and cheat before they admit fault. They pick up this tidbit – which if left uncaught, would have been a broadside to the credibility of the Government’s case – and send out their FBI Special Agents to gather and “lose” evidence, and intimidate witnesses they would never have known about.

          There’s no fruit from the poisonous tree here. The Government views all this information as fair game. And even if the information is attorney-client privileged, the Government’s view is that it is merely evidentiary. The evidence can’t be offered by the Government, but it can be used in rebuttal. But more importantly, the Government can independently investigate and develop their own evidence based on things they never would have known if they hadn’t cheated in the first place.

          One hell of a system, right? That’s YOUR Criminal (In) Justice System.

  • Great point when you say that all Boston teams are cheaters.

    Lets not forget that Fat Sloppy was a Twins reject until he fell into the steroid invested clubhouse in Fenway. The Red Sox teams of the 2000s will always be looked at askance compared to the great MLB teams of all time who won honestly. Then 2018 came along and another tainted title. The blatant cheating from the Red Sox hit record levels.

    To circle back to the Patriots, let’s make sure we remind everyone how deflategate helped the cheaters have less fumbles than any other team for a 5 year period. Pretty nice advantage Belicheat had – knowing what play the other team is about to run, and knowing your team is going to fumble less than the other team. Add a goat for a QB and a cheating dynasty was born.

    Thank you, Richard, for reminding us of the cheating chowds.

        • I’ll take it. I used to play a version of it growing up.

          Prior to you, Niceguy was the biggest FR sports enthusiast. His claim to fame is periodically getting comped tickets to the Red Sox, showing up in the 4th inning, and hightailing it for the exit the second he’s done bellowing along to Sweat Caroline.

  • He had a fair trial. He was found guilty. It is a bit late for him now to think about these issues – he had his chance. You don’t get two bites of the cherry.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083