New Book Reveals Inner Psychology Of An FBI Secret Police Agent

What kind of neurotic person takes it upon themselves to spy on citizens exercising their rights in the name of fighting terrorism?

A new memoir by a retired Arizona cop later promoted to FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force officer Mattson Browning, The Hate Next Door: Undercover Within The Face of White Supremacy, gives us a glimpse into the mentality of a proud member of the American secret police.

Browning’s career of chasing “Nazis” began as a Mesa Police Department detective hungry for glory and purpose. As one of the few white officers in the East Valley city’s gang unit, Browning was frustrated over being forced to work cases in a purely logistical capacity while minority officers got to play more active roles as infiltrators due to the fact that the area’s investigative targets were Mexican and black organized crime. Most active during the days of heightened anger over the open border and SB1070 in the 2000s and early 2010s, the ambitious police officer decided to search far and wide for white criminals with any possible link to the rising anti-immigration movement.

He catches a big break after a violent confrontation with a white ex-con, who has “white supremacist” tattoos. Following the incident, he parlays the thin soup into permission from his superiors to open up investigations into local skinheads in the Maricopa County area.

Browning is proud of his flagrant disregard for basic ethics and rights. At the start of his investigation, he is able to obtain leads about pro-white groups in the area by impersonating a New York Times journalist and approaching a skinhead leader to conduct a bogus interview, a highly controversial East Germany-like strategy deployed by federal agents that has faced legal scrutiny in recent years.  In another callback to the Stasi, the officer arrives at a music venue to spy on “racist” rock bands dressed in Doctor Martens boots and suspenders, with hopes of ingratiating himself with the young white people there.

Eventually, his fishing expedition pays off and he begins sliding down the civil liberty’s slippery slope. What began as a legitimate investigation into a white prison gang engaging in criminal activity turns into an odyssey fueled almost entirely by political prejudices rather than public safety concerns. Browning ends up penetrating the local law-abiding National Alliance chapter, spying on a wide array of anti-immigration and pro-border groups, and even came out to collect intelligence on supporters of Donald Trump at the 2020 Stop The Steal rally outside the Arizona State Capitol.

Browning is repeatedly subjected to criticism from black and Mexican police colleagues, who make fun of him for burning up law enforcement resources harassing white groups engaging in low-level or no criminal activity while most of the area’s violent criminal activity came from minority groups.  One memorable instance was when he reports a volunteer border militia for stopping illegal alien traffickers on the border to the Mexican federales, only for them to respond with confusion about what these white “vigilantes” are even doing wrong. Despite encountering resistance from the very non-white people he is saving from evil racist white terrorists in his own mind, he finally finds allies in the Anti-Defamation League and FBI to get political, media and financial backing for his anti-white crusade.

The rising star grows more and more prolific, using Mesa PD and FBI resources to investigate everyone with white skin, creating scores of profiles and intelligence reports on local nationalist activists in the process. He complains that many of these reports were being dismissed and ignored by much of law enforcement, likely due to lack of evidence of any crime. Throughout the book, Browning is eager to spin run-of-the-mill white gang activity, where the murders he describes having helped solve are overwhelmingly white-on-white disputes (sometimes within the same family) over money or drugs, as having a “domestic terrorism” nexus, which lowers the bar for launching investigations and can thus unlock the ability to spy and entrap people for merely using their First Amendment rights to criticize immigration or politically organize white people.

Throughout his intelligence gathering activity, the officer admits that many of the informants that law enforcement cultivates give faulty or false intelligence in order to get paid, which brings into the question the value of the Confidential Human Source (CHS) program in actually stopping “domestic terrorism.” The accuracy of Browning’s own intelligence reports should also be questioned, as the book — released by an imprint of Penguin Random House — features laughable editorial oversights, such as claiming the 2017 Unite The Right rally occurred in Charleston, South Carolina (page 28 in the e-book), rather than the commonly known actual location of Charlottesville, Virginia. One can’t help but imagine the types of wild goose chases he must’ve sent the feds on during his extensive reporting on pro-white activity in his hey-day.

Another common theme throughout his story is his struggle with mental illness. Browning is consumed by the subjects of his investigation to the point of obsession and paranoia. Soon after infiltrating the skinheads, when Browning invites a construction crew over to work on his house and swears they many of them have Hammerskin (a skinhead group) tattoos. In another bizarre ocurrence, this time while on vacation in Europe, he randomly spots a bulldog tattoo on a middle-aged Englishmen minding his own business enjoying a tour with his kids and creepily photographs him in order to send the image with British intelligence. He also claims that somebody stole a goat from his property and killed it to send him a message, though the culprit was never found. While training new police hires, Browning singles out a young officer for his extensive knowledge of skinhead symbols and has him removed from the academy on the brink of graduation, suspecting that only a “white supremacist” could know so much.

Eventually, Browning snaps and has a mental breakdown that causes him to be checked into a mental hospital. He recalls, with great guilt, feeling distrust towards his Jewish psychiatrist during this stint after years of absorbing political rhetoric about Jewish power. He has said that were it not for his highly sheltered and privileged Mormon upbringing, as well as oversight from his wife Tawani (who he would bring along with him to flirt with skinheads in spying missions), he could’ve wound up persuaded by the perspectives he was hearing in his undercover capacity.

There are occasional shades of pettiness in the book as well. Reports and studies on Stasi, KGB, and other notorious secret police agents have at times examined personality characteristics required to spy on one’s fellow citizens for political reasons. In some cases, for those who are not true believers in defending the status quo ideology (Browning does not appear to be an ideological leftist), they will search for personal grievances to help rationalize behavior they know deep down is immoral.

We can see this manifested in his fight with Jason Todd “JT” Ready, a highly successful anti-immigration activist who outed him as a spy. In what seems like anger over getting caught, Browning publishes hearsay claiming that Ready, during his patrols on the Southern border, would steal some of the drugs he took from cartel traffickers for personal use and resale, though he does not provide a shred of evidence for this. He also strongly implies that Ready had murdered illegal immigrants in the desert, another unsubstantiated allegation. During the second half of the book, the FBI operative obsessively fixates on Ready by setting up targeted traffic stops and invasive examinations of his car as Ready waged a successful media war discrediting his police work. Browning claims that Ready outsmarting him could only be possible due to being an informant for the ATF, which if true, likely occurred towards the end of his life when a man in his group named Jeffrey Harbin (whose father controlled the local National Alliance chapter) was arrested for building explosives. Ready was a thorn in the side of the political establishment and border traffickers until he died in 2012 after killing his whole family and then himself in an incident that has attracted speculative conspiracy theories about it being a retaliatory hit ordered by the Mexican cartel that the federal government helped cover up. If Ready was indeed a federal informant, he butchered his whole family on Uncle Sam’s dime.

By the end of the book, Browning’s metamorphosis from gang unit beat cop solving real crimes (including by white gangs) to secret police fed chasing after political opponents is complete. He no longer seems satisfied with solving murders or busting drug dealers, and settles into the role of “destroying hate groups in our community.” Towards the end, he even brags that the paranoia inflicted on the 100-member strong Arizona National Alliance chapter after he was outed as an undercover cop caused the group to implode. Safe to say, the US Constitution is supposed to prevent police officers and federal agents from acting on this type of motive.

This story feels more like a dramatized ad for his private “hate group” consulting company than a totally accurate account. At best, Browning is highly misguided, and at worst, a money and attention-seeking sociopath. While he keeps his own beliefs hidden during the book, it’s obvious from his inferences that he probably votes Republican. And yet still, he has zero qualms collecting information on people with similar beliefs to him in conservative militias and Donald Trump rallies on behalf of people who loath him just as much as they hate any “Nazi.”