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NREL: What secret gov’t agencies do when its employees threaten to kill reporters

By   /   April 23, 2014  /   No Comments

WHO IS THE VICTIM?: Crosby launched an attack on Watchdog reporters.

WHO IS THE VICTIM?: Crosby launched an attack on Watchdog reporters.

 

By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org

GOLDEN, Colo. — A secret government energy lab here went on heightened alert after one of its employees used Twitter to threaten mass murder against Watchdog reporters, according to internal memos and emails received under the Freedom of Information Act.

But the added security measures utilized by the National Renewable Energy Lab weren’t to isolate and chastise staffer Kerrilee Crosby, who used Twitter in late 2012 to advocate what she called “a murderous rampage.”

Instead, the lab was concerned because an unidentified individual sent Crosby an email labeled “Because you deserve to die” — the same words Crosby used in her threat against Watchdog.

Crosby, then 34, hit Twitter after a Watchdog.org report exposed the million-dollar salary of NREL’s top executive.

“Have you ever felt like going on a murderous rampage? Start at @WatchdogCO’s offices,” Crosby tweeted while on the job at NREL. “They perpetuate lies like this.”

She went on to call Watchdog.org “f***ing retarded” and the “Fox News of blogs” before saying she made the death threat “because you deserve to die.”

Watchdog.org reported her statements in a Dec. 12, 2012, story. The next day, in a memo labeled “high” importance, NREL’s Security and Emergency Preparedness Office detailed a “possible threat” — not to Watchdog.org, but to Crosby:

“Details are still being assembled and the likelihood of making contact remains low.

A person named (redacted) has made a veiled threat against NREL employee Kerry Crosby.

Should we come into contact with (redacted) we are to call 911 immediately… Keep in mind, we cannot be sure this is the right name. Be very suspicious of anyone unexpected looking for Kerry Crosby.

Jeffco is already engaged in this issue.”

The last sentence refers to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the same agency that refused to take a police report by Watchdog.org concerning Crosby’s threats. The sheriff’s department opened a case when it appeared that Crosby was the recipient of a similar threat, and a detective made a visit to the NREL campus to investigate, a staff email revealed.

A second memo, also from NREL security, revealed that Crosby received the offending missive at her NREL.gov email address on the day the Watchdog.org story appeared. It referenced her threatening tweets to Watchdog.org, and the email writer said he or she had conducted a background check on Crosby. The author also said he or she would be “stopping by in the next day or two so we can further discuss our mutual love of the Second Amendment” and asked to meet her parents.

The emails were part of a 2,000-page package of documents obtained by Judicial Watch for Watchdog.org in a Freedom of Information Act request that was reviewed last week. NREL is a laboratory run by the Department of Energy and searches for green alternatives to traditional energy. Its yearly budget is approximately $350 million.

In its memos, NREL security staff appeared unconcerned about the threats Crosby made while working in her clerical job and portrayed NREL as the victim. The security office offered a four-step response:

  1. Be aware of an increase in anger at NREL and our mission
  2. NREL Security will step up vehicle searches
  3. Be prepared for an increase in press inquiries and amateur information seekers
  4. Understand that this story may inspire others to be angry toward NREL, government spending, green energy, people who make threats, etc.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE EMAIL

As for Crosby, NREL said she was in violation of the government’s social media standards. By the end of the year she was no longer an employee. It is unknown if she was terminated or resigned.

Contact Tori Richards at tori@watchdog.org and on twitter @newswriter2. 

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Tori Richards is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter who has covered some of the biggest news in the world during her 25 years in the business. She has also won a dozen national and local writing awards for her coverage of the judicial system. Richards has worked for CBS News, Bloomberg, Reuters. Agence-France Presse, the NY Post, the NY Times and The Daily among others. Her work has also appeared on CNN.com, FoxNews.com and US News & World Report. Some of her biggest stories included the cases of OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, the Aryan Brotherhood and the Night Stalker.