In reading the news report today that nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges in an alleged plot to ignite an anti-government uprising, I could only hope prosecutors played it straight.
Any faith I have in a fair Justice Department prosecution was tainted after watching Scott Pelly's interview with Nada Prouty, aka Jihad Jane, last night on CBS's "60 Minutes."
This is sensitive stuff so let me address it one point at a time.
I have always been skeptical of federal prosecutions because the weight of their authority occasionally is tilted towards individual personal political ambitions by members of the U.S. Attorney's staff. Let me illustrate that by example. Casper Weinberger, one of President Reagan's top aids, was cleared after his name was dragged to the bottom of the barrel in a government witch hunt. Former Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted on kickback charges in which the prosecutors were later reprimanded for unprofessional conduct.
These come from personal recall. A Google search could find hundreds more.
I put Jihad Jane in that same category whether she was telling the truth in her 60 Minutes interview that she never committed espionage as an FBI or CIA agent. Prouty, unquestionably one of the most skilled interrogators in the CIA, was accused as an illegal immigrant committing espionage in a FBI press release but not in court. You can judge for yourself by watching the video link.
The nine charged in today's indictments spring from the same Detroit office of the FBI that tarnished and ended Prouty's career either right or shamefully wrong. I must confess I have a built-in intolerance for people who hide between the cloak of religion to disparage, maim or murder others.
According to the New York Times:
. The defendants were identified as members of Hutaree, described by federal prosecutors as an anti-government extremist organization based in Lenawee County, Michigan, and which advocates violence against local, state and federal law enforcement. The group saw local and state police as “foot soldiers” for the federal government, which it viewed as its enemy, along with participants in what they deemed to be a “New World Order,” according to the indictment. “This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society,” Andrew Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge in Detroit, said in a statement. “The F.B.I. takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States.”
The Times then quotes from the group's Web site:
The Web site, which describes the group as “preparing for the end times,” featured video clips of people running through woods in camouflage gear and firing assault rifles, along with links to gun stores and far-right media. It also features an elaborate system of military ranks for its members. The site says it coined the term Hutaree, intended to mean Christian warrior.
“Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment,” the Web site says, adding, “The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it.”
And from the indictment:
The indictment charged that between August 2008 and the present, the defendants — led by David Brian Stone, 45, who also used the name “Captain Hutaree” — developed a conspiracy that they hoped would result in a war against the United States government. They allegedly decided they would kill a local law enforcement officer, and then bomb the funeral caravan. The killings “would intimidate and demoralize law enforcement diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective,” it said.
Afterward, the indictment said, Hutaree members would retreat to several “rally points” and wage war against the government, using prepared fighting positions as well as “trip-wired and command-detonated” bombs.
“It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the government,” the indictment said.
A major flaw in our justice system is the ability of defendants to afford the best lawyers available even by pro bono. Jihad Jane did not and chose to take her lumps.Whether the Huraree group can afford high-profile and expensive defense counsel remains to be seen. Even the best legal counsel fails to get their clients off the hook. Weinberger did and his reputation was never restored in the public mind. Stevens did and all it got him was a slap on the prosecutors' wrists. Timothy James McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, got the best defense lawyer in the country pro bono and still was convicted and executed. There is a reason for this. The feds usually have air-tight cases before going to court if they can't intimidate a defendant to plead guilty to initial or reduced charges.
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