FBI agents intimidate Baltimore book store
interrupt distribution of Luna book
Posted January 18, 2005 -- Yardbird Books recently received
a phone call from a Baltimore book store requesting that we remove our
latest title, The Midnight Ride of Jonathan Luna, from sale at the store.
The book seller sounded strangely nervous, and intimidated.
The book’s author, Bill Keisling, went to the store. Keisling learned that the booksellers had been rattled by repeated, disruptive and suspicious visits by FBI agents at the book store.
"One came in wearing a black trench coat," a book seller recounted. "He was an FBI agent. He came in saying, 'I'm told I'm in the book and I want a copy (of The Midnight Ride of Jonathan Luna.)' Shortly after he left the store, another one came in and bought another copy of the book. After a while I looked outside the store, and saw the two standing together and walking around in front of the store."
From the descriptions of the men, Keisling recognized the book store visitors as members of the Baltimore field office of the FBI's "Safe Streets Task Force." The task force, which includes FBI-deputized members of the Baltimore city police department, supposedly is charged with investigating Baltimore’s legions of heroin dealers, not casing book stores. There later was a third reported visit by FBI personnel, who bought multiple copies of the book.
Slain federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna spent the last hours of his life covering up the misadventures of the FBI's "Safe Street Task Force," and the bureau's carte blanche handling of paid FBI informant and heroin dealer Warren Grace. At the time of Luna’s death, several congressional committees were holding hearings on the FBI's mishandling of its secret informants. Keisling wrote at length in his new book of the problems within the Baltimore FBI field office, and the bureau’s ongoing failure to properly investigate Luna's death.
Luna disappeared from his desk in the Baltimore federal courthouse in December 2003, and was found hours later drowned in an icy stream, having been stabbed thirty-six times — once for every thousand dollars missing from a courthouse safe. The FBI has been trying unsuccessfully to close the case, floating the improbable theory that Luna's grisly death was a suicide.
"It's one thing to see your characters walk off the page," Keisling reflects. "It's another thing to see them walk into a book store and intimidate book store employees."
Yardbird Books supports and defends the right of all Americans to write, speak and think as we chose, without government interference or coercion. We as well defend the right of all Americans to read, buy and sell books of our choosing, without government interference or coercion. These are fundamental American rights. An informed citizenry is essential to any healthy democracy. Pennsylvanians and Marylanders moreover inherit a rich tradition of literary and intellectual freedom which must, and will, be defended.
The Midnight Ride of Jonathan Luna, meanwhile, is moving into its second printing.