Skip to comments.Remember Ruby Ridge: Ten years later, there are still important lessons.
Posted on 08/21/2002 7:35:39 AM PDT by xsysmgr
"Ruby Ridge" used to refer to a geographical location in the state of Idaho, but after an incident that took place there ten years ago today, the phrase has come to refer to a scandalous series of events that opened the eyes of many people to the inner workings of the federal government, including the vaunted Federal Bureau of Investigation. Now that ten years have passed, the feds will accelerate their ongoing effort to "move forward" and have the scandal declared "ancient history." But the Ruby Ridge episode should not be soon forgotten.
On August 21, 1992 a paramilitary unit of the U.S. Marshals Service ventured onto the 20-acre property known as Ruby Ridge. A man named Randy Weaver owned the land and he lived there with his wife, children, and a family friend, Kevin Harris. There was an outstanding warrant for Weaver's arrest for a firearms offense and the marshals were surveilling the premises. When the family dog noticed the marshals sneaking around in the woods, it began to bark wildly. Weaver's 14-year-old boy, Sammy, and Kevin Harris proceeded to grab their rifles because they thought the dog had come upon a wild animal.
A firefight erupted when a marshal shot and killed the dog. Enraged that the family pet had been cut down for no good reason, Sammy shot into the woods at the unidentified trespasser. Within a few minutes, two human beings were shot dead: Sammy Weaver and a marshal. Harris and the Weaver family retreated to their cabin and the marshals retreated from the mountain and called the FBI for assistance.
During the night, FBI snipers took positions around the Weaver cabin. There is no dispute about the fact that the snipers were given illegal "shoot to kill" orders. Under the law, police agents can use deadly force to defend themselves and others from imminent attack, but these snipers were instructed to shoot any adult who was armed and outside the cabin, regardless of whether the adult posed a threat or not. The next morning, an FBI agent shot and wounded Randy Weaver. A few moments later, the same agent shot Weaver's wife in the head as she was standing in the doorway of her home holding a baby in her arms. The FBI snipers had not yet announced their presence and had not given the Weavers an opportunity to peacefully surrender.
After an eleven-day standoff, Weaver agreed to surrender. The FBI told the world that it had apprehended a band of dangerous racists. The New York Times was duped into describing a family (two parents, three children) and one adult friend as "an armed separatist brigade." The Department of Justice proceeded to take over the case, charging Weaver and Harris with conspiracy to commit "murder." Federal prosecutors asked an Idaho jury to impose the death penalty. Instead, the jury acquitted Weaver and Harris of all of the serious criminal charges. Embarrassed by the outcome, FBI officials told the world that there would be a thorough review of the case, but the Bureau closed ranks and covered up the mess. FBI director Louis Freeh went so far as to promote one of the agents involved, Larry Potts, to the Bureau's number-two position.
When Weaver sued the federal government for the wrongful death of his wife and son, the government that had tried to kill him twice now sought an out-of-court settlement. In August 1995 the U.S. government paid the Weaver family $3.1 million. On the condition that his name not be used in an article, one Department of Justice official told the Washington Post that if Weaver's suit had gone to trial in Idaho, he probably would have been awarded $200 million.
With the intervening events at Waco, more and more people began to question the veracity of Department of Justice and FBI accounts and whether the federal government had the capacity to hold its own agents accountable for criminal misconduct. Like the Watergate scandal, however, the response to the initial illegality turned out to be even more shocking and disturbing.
When an FBI supervisor, Michael Kahoe, admitted to destroying evidence and obstructing justice, he was eventually prosecuted but only after being kept on the FBI payroll until his 50th birthday so that he would be eligible for his retirement pension. And when Larry Potts was finally forced into retirement, FBI officials flew into Washington from around the country for his going-away bash. Those officials claimed to be on "official business" so they billed the taxpayers for the trip. After the fraud was leaked to the press by some anonymous and apparently sickened FBI agent, the merry band of partygoers were not discharged from service. Instead, a letter was placed in their personnel file, chiding them for "inattention to detail."
An Idaho prosecutor did bring manslaughter charges against the FBI sniper who shot Vicki Weaver. That move really outraged the feds because they insisted that they were capable of policing their own so long as they did not have any outside "interference."
The Department of Justice was so disturbed by the indictment of its agent that they dispatched the solicitor general to a federal appellate court to argue that the charges should be dismissed. (The solicitor general ordinarily only makes oral argument to the Supreme Court). The solicitor general told the judicial panel that even if the evidence supported the charges, the case should be thrown out because "federal law enforcement agents are privileged to do what would otherwise be unlawful if done by a private citizen." The appeals court rejected that sweeping argument for a license to kill, but by the time that ruling came down last June, a new local prosecutor was in office in Boundary County, Idaho, and he announced that it was time to put this whole unpleasant episode behind us and to "move on." Thus, the criminal case against the sniper was dropped.
A new generation of young people who have never heard of Ruby Ridge are now emerging from the public-school system and are heading off to college and will thereafter begin their careers in business, education, journalism, government, and other fields. This generation will find it hard to fathom that the federal government could have killed a boy and an unarmed woman and then tried to deceive everyone about what had actually occurred and, in some instances, rationalize what did occur. That is why it is important to remember Ruby Ridge. Someone needs to remind the young people (and everyone else) that it really did happen and that it will happen again if the government is not kept on a short leash. No one will learn about the incident when they tour the FBI facility in Washington. It goes unmentioned for some reason.
Timothy Lynch is director of the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice.
The "solicitor general" told the judicial panel that even if the evidence supported the charges, the case should be thrown out because "federal law enforcement agents are privileged to do what would otherwise be unlawful if done by a private citizen."
Nothing of substance to add here either?
Indeed, and if you want to join us I suggest you read our official KOOK document. It is full of insidious language and revolutionary words that actually assert the preposterous idea that the government exists by the consent of the people. You know, words like "unalienable rights," "liberty," "due process," "unreasonable search and seizure," and "limited government." It's called the Constitution of the United States of America.
I suggest that you read it.
Peace and love, George.
No worries, mate.
Run along Johnny. I'm sure your government needs your services elsewhere.
And too, those of us in the military loyal to our oaths to support the Constitution of the United States, not the government when it becomes one of the enemies of that constitution.
But we're already on the alert....
I'll try to reply to your about me in a sane fassion....Simply because my comment was inflamatory. But, it's my honest opinion, just so you know.....
I let a LOT of this Ruby Ridge and Waco stuff pass simply because this is not my site. But, every once in a while I voice my opinion....
I am no disruptor....I have voted straight ticket Republican for 20 years and I don't see that ever changing. I am just tired of being associated with what I call "Whacked-Out Kooks". Or, anyone who supports the likes of the FREAKS at Waco (David Koresh and his Jim Jones Kool-Aid Drinking Death Cult Members) and Ruby Ridge.
I truely believe that if the dead people in these cases (Or in this case Randy Weaver) would have NOT been "Whacked-Out Kooks", they would be alive today. Therefore, it is THEIR fault that things turned-out badly for them. NOT the big bad mean government.
And believe me....Any "Disruptor" WOULDN'T come here and bash Weaver and Koresh fans. Simply becuse those kind of people both embarrass and hurt Republicans/Conservatives. Just like supporters of Cynthia McKinney hurt Democrats/Liberals because of their EXTREME views.
I hold these WHACKED-OUT KOOOKS in the same contempt that I do Cynthia McKinney. I am a Republican (More of a Republican than a Conservative, to be honest) and I am TIRED of being grouped with these people so once in a while, I speak up. There you have it.....Believe me or not....
Mr. Weaver never was an "activist", any more than he was a "white separatist para-military".
He lost his wife and a son: Who could blame him for fearing the same things could happen again, when the same folks still work at the FBI, and nobody there was punished in any way?
There is part of your problem. Not every "R" is honorable and deserving of your vote.
"I am just tired of being associated with what I call "Whacked-Out Kooks". Or, anyone who supports the likes of the FREAKS at Waco (David Koresh and his Jim Jones Kool-Aid Drinking Death Cult Members) and Ruby Ridge."
Have you ever heard the statement: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? We advocate freedom on this site (well, some of us), and we are not out to kill those who are different. We are allowed to be KOOKS in this country as long as we do not hurt anyone else. Who was Weaver hurting? Also, this is the first time I've seen Jim Jones lumped in with the others. Jones group killed themselves. Kooks, and delusional for sure, but they killed themselves. It wasn't the government.
"I truely believe that if the dead people in these cases (Or in this case Randy Weaver) would have NOT been "Whacked-Out Kooks", they would be alive today. Therefore, it is THEIR fault that things turned-out badly for them. NOT the big bad mean government."
So if all just conform to little Johnny Shear's standards, we can all live happily ever after? You are the KOOK if you think that this is what this country is all about.
Now, either conform to the idea that it is okay to be different or go somewhere where everyone walks in lockstep. You will not find that here.
Sorry, Johnny, but if that's the best attempt you can make at a "sane" reply, you'd better give up.
I'm sure the Dimocrats have got a site where you'd be much happier. Or you could sit and wait for the UFO to come take you away...
In the meantime, you could see if you can find a book on grammar and spelling, and while away a few peaceful hours with it.
I have two objections to the settlement that he did get. One, it wasn't large enough and two, it should have come from the pockets of the officials that ordered and and agents that carried out the assault and not the taxpayers.
Yes, entrapment, having your family shot to pieces and your life destroyed is all appropriate if you don't think like Johnny Shear does.
The best response to you is, ESAD troll!
In fact, several posters took the time to give you a courteous debate.
You responded by shouting even more mindless invective and now you're on this thread doing likewise.
Be a sport and let the adults discuss the article in a civilized fashion.
All IMO, of course.
I watched even the most liberal senators and congressman dismay over the actions of the FBI and how they acted and covered up unconstitutional events for acts of a few loose canons that should be in jail today. Congress apaologized to Randy Weaver and his family for what the FBI did to him and his family. They chastised him for failing to work with the county court and sherrif to resolve the issue through the normal legal channals for the entrapment issue on the shotgun with BATF. But remember his mindset as an innocent man being targeted by illegal activity to begin with by the U.S. Government represenatives who started the mess. So why should he trust other governement people that may be in on the whole system out to jail an innocent man? He was faulted for not playing along with government in hopes that somewhere along the line honest government people would put an end to the activity of the corrupt ones. Look at the results as this article points out! Weaver was right all along as the corrupt government officiols and the shooter Horiouchi are still free men even though they broke the law more agregiously than what he was falsely accused of. The powerful have protected themselves and even Congress did not follow through on correcting and going after the bad people that caused this travesty.
Sorry, you're wrong. Barrel length (min. 18" for shotguns) and overall length (min. 26") are measured in the "assembled" condition, not folded!
What else would you expect from a William F. Buckley publication? He's a bircher from Yale I tell ya!
You don't know much about what happened at either Ruby Ridge ro Waco, do you? Kind of hard to cooperate politely when truckloads of ATF stormtroopers are shooting up your home. Why didn't ATF arrest Koresh when he went jogging alone (nearly every day) or when he went into town for ice cream (again, something he did regularly)? Why conduct a risky raid in a building full of children, when he could have easily been taken unarmed, by himself?
Nobody ever displayed so much as a badge, let alone a warrant. Those to FedGov idiots had shot Mr. Weavers dog, and murdered his son with a taxpayer paid volley of automatic weapons fire in the back. Just for good measure, they cranked off a full magazine in the direction of his house and wounded a family friend for Gods sake.
Then boneheads like you want to fault Mr. Weaver for not leaving the cabin with his hands up! Hell, the only reason I would have left that cabin would be to pick the ***holes who had just murdered my son off one by one until they were out of rifle range.
Noone demanded that Weaver surrender until hours later when the FBI began rolling armored vehicles onto his property. Even then, noone bothered to inform him that there was a warrant out for his arrest. But, hey why sweat the details eh?
I mean the Feds had just stored up oodles of goodwill in their dealings with Mr. Weaver, hadn't they? Geez, they frigging lied to him every step of the way.
And once again, just for you Johny boy, a duly constituted Jury had the opportunity to convict Mr. Weaver of Capital Murder as well as multiple counts of conspiracy, and firearms violations. The Jury declined to do so on all counts, ruling that the killing of that Federal Goon Marshall was in fact a justifiable killing and that Mr. Weaver was not guilty of any, (that means none, zip, zilch, nada) responsibility in the death.
Now, you deal with that.
Federal Officials acting outside the law under false color of authority are fair game for killing by private citizens. The Supreme Court has already said so. See U.S. v. Cruikshank if you doubt me.
Now, you don't have to like it, but that's the way it is. The law on the matter is already settled.
Mr. Weavers political views are irrelevant to the situation.
There's also the small matter of the settlement paid to Mr. Weaver by Janet Renos Justice Department in order to settle a wrongful death suit. The Federal Government paid Mr. Weaver something on the order of 3 million dollars, without admitting any wrongdoing of course.
Now, you don't have to like Mr. Weavers political views. I don't like them either. That doesn't change the fact that that particular U.S. Marshall, on that particular day was legally responsible for his own death and had in fact murdered an innocent 12 year old boy.
Mr. Weaver would have been perfectly within his rights under Idaho law to hunt everyone involved down and kill them while they remained on his property.
Had the same thing happened to me and my family on my property under similar circumstances I assure you not one of them would have left my property alive while I was drawing breath.
You may be willing to tolerate unlawful behavior by Federal authorities including murder because you don't like the victims political views, but I am not.
Marshall Dugan is dead because on that particular day he was acting in not only an unlawful manner, but a particularly stupid unlawful manner.
Randy Weaver and his family weren't doing a damn thing wrong that day. The Federal Government was.
Deal with that.
You mislead by omitting the fact that Weaver was given the wrong date to appear in court --- the court did not politely cooperate with Weaver.