Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-10-2021, 02:12 PM   #21 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,273
Default




Timeline: 1992

Ruby Ridge (August 21 - 31, 1992)

Era: Twentieth Century
Year: 1992
Campaign: n/a
Conflict: n/a
Country: USA
Region: Idaho
Combatants: The Weaver family, US Marshals, FBI, ATF
Commander(s): Randy Weaver; Deputy US Marshals Art Roderick, Larry Cooper, Bill Degan, USMS Associate Director of Operations Duke Nukem sorry Smith, FBI SAC Eugene Glenn, SWAT Team Leader Gregory Sexton
Reason: Refusal by Weaver to appear in court on firearms charges; fears he and his family were stockpiling weapons
Objective: Disarm the family and deliver Randy Weaver into custody
Casualties (approx): 3 (plus one dog)
Objective Achieved? Yes
Victor: US Government forces
Legacy: Further distrust of FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, the inexorable rise of domestic terrorism in America

Hands Off My Weapons: The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” - Second Amendment to the US Constitution, December 15 1791

The meaning of the above has been argued and debated, and not only by scholars but ordinary people, for over two hundred years now, and there’s still disagreement. Some maintain the Second Amendment refers only to arms for militias, others contend it confers a god-given (or at least, founding-fathers-given) right upon them to amass as many deadly weapons as they see fit to possess. Republican politicians and lawmakers, judges and associations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA, not to be confused with the IRA!) continue to fight and lobby fiercely to protect the rights of the citizens to bear arms, while deaths from shootings in America continue to climb, and mass shootings are becoming more and more a regular occurrence.

The debate is too hotly contested on both sides and has too much political capital to ever be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction, but for an ignorant Irishman like me I think it’s vital to look into the reason why the Amendment was written, what it was supposed to mean, and how it has been often misinterpreted or even abused in the United States, especially most recently.

Written, as you can see above if you’re not an American and know this already, in 1791, only fourteen years after the American colony declared its independence and eight after that independence was finally won and recognised by Great Britain, the Amendment seems to have been couched in terms that would allow states to raise armed militias to defend themselves against what is termed “oppressive governments”. Quite how you define that is very much open to interpretation: surely the administration led by Donald Trump from 2017 to 2020 was an oppressive government, and just as surely, those on the red side of the nation see the government of his successor in the same way? Surely indeed, for did not Trump supporters, QAnon members and other assorted paramilitary crazies descend on the Capitol building on January 6, intent on wresting power from the lawmakers in a coup d’etat?

To my own, completely uninformed mind, the idea of even including such a phrase in the Constitution sounds like it was a bad one, as it was obviously going to be abused and cited as reason for various acts of violence, as it was indeed in the case of Miller vs Texas, 1889, when Franklin Miller, charged in the shooting death of a Texas cop with an illegal firearm, protested that his Second Amendment rights had been violated (never mind that he had committed murder!) - obviously he got nowhere and was sentenced to death. Or that of Presser v Illinois, in which Herman Presser, having paraded his paramilitary group through the streets argued that his arrest was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. He actually won his case. The landmark District of Columbia vs Heller decision as recently as 2008 ratified for the first time the right of private citizens to own weapons, whether or not they were connected with any militia, and overturned the state’s ban on handguns.

In general, it seems, the tide of public opinion may flow this way and that, rising whenever a new outrage such as the all-too-familiar school shooting, or a mass killing of any kind occurs, then receding quietly, is almost almost shouted down by those in whose interests it is to keep the possession and use of guns legal and a basic American right. I believe the US is the only country in the world to have such a right enshrined in its laws. It isn’t too hard to understand why any challenge to restrict the sale or possession of guns is doomed to fail, particularly with the Supreme Court now so right-leaning, but mostly because of the revenue such sales bring in for major corporations, the work of their lobbyists on the Hill, and in the end, the fact that once people have got used to having something - and having a right to it - it’s incredibly difficult to dispossess them of it.

But it should be remembered that the Amendment, like the very Constitution itself, was written at a time when the USA had just won its first war, and its independence, and so was set down with a view to preventing the loss of that freedom by way of another war, whether from without or within. As time passed, apart from actual times of war, it should probably have been taken note of that the need - not the desire, but the need - for weapons to be possessed by individuals had passed, and with the merging of the Western frontier with the rest of America, the ending of the Civil War should have negated that right. But I say this as a non-American, and I expect many of you are burning effigies of me as I write, and you’re probably correct: I know nothing of American life, your traditions and your entitlements, though I am learning about your history. What I say is a mere comment, passed most likely in ignorance, and not to be taken as any sort of commentary on the use of guns in America.

What can’t be denied though, other than all the mass shootings that have taken place over the last fifty years or so, is that some major incidents have occurred where the government has literally tried to - and in some cases, succeeded in doing so - disarm people they believed were stockpiling weapons for use against them, or against their people. We all know of the siege at Waco, but there is another one, just before that, which this article is concerned with, and the above is more a preface to try to frame the narrative that will now follow.

Repent! For the End is Nigh! Randy Get Your Gun

When his wife Vicki began having visions of the coming end of the world in 1978, Iowa factory worker Randy Weaver moved his family to an isolated plot of land he had purchased at Ruby Ridge, Naples, Idaho, intending to live a survivalist existence there and cutting themselves off from the “wicked” world. Randy and his wife built a cabin where they lived with their four children and dog. One year after moving there, the Weavers had a dispute over land with a local man, Terry Kinnison, who lost the court case and was ordered to pay reparations to Randy. He then got in touch with the FBI and Secret Service, and the county sheriff, claiming the Weavers had a cache of automatic weapons on their land and that Randy had threatened to kill President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and the Governor of Idaho. The feds investigated these claims, interviewed Weaver but found no evidence to support them. However he was now on their radar.

The Secret Service had been told that Weaver was a member of the white supremacist organisation Aryan Nations, a charge he denied, though he was seen attending rallies and one of his associates did belong to a Christian white supermacist group, The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. Weaver filed an affidavit claiming he was being set up, that his enemies (presumably Kinnison) were trying to create conditions which would force or encourage the FBI to storm their compound, Waco-like, and kill them. They also wrote to Reagan, saying that if he got any threatening letters purporting to be from the Weavers, they had not sent them. This proved to be a bad move, as the letter was used as evidence later in their trial.

The ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - got involved in 1986, when Weaver attended his first Aryan Nations Congress, and became linked with a man who later turned out to be an informant for the ATF, and after dealing with him over the next three years, sold him a sawn-off shotgun. It’s odd, but it appears both the ATF and the FBI had CIs (Confidential Informants) working undercover at Aryan Nations, and the FBI mole, perhaps in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the leaders and throw suspicion off himself, or perhaps as yet another example of the often fierce rivalry between the two agencies, warned Weaver he was dealing with an ATF spy. Weaver was arrested and charged with possession of the guns, but the ATF could not make a charge of selling them stick. Indicted by a Grand Jury, Weaver was arrested by stealth, the ATF believing it would be too dangerous to approach him on his home turf, and he was advised of the charges and released on bail.

Oops! A Catalogue of Errors: Justice Goes Off the Rails

From here on in, you can make up your own mind whether the ATF and the courts manipulated the circumstances to ensure Weaver missed his court date, whether they were incompetent and there was a lack of communication, or whether it was just bad luck, but whatever the case, the trial date was changed due to a federal holiday. Weaver’s attorney was advised but not the accused himself, and the attorney spent some time trying to get in touch with him, but as Weaver had not given him a phone number (given their reluctance to trust even electricity, it’s doubtful whether he even had one) he was unable to contact him. A letter was sent to Weaver, but in an absolutely incredible piece of oversight or laziness, the date was shown as March, not February 20. When the February trial date arrived, Weaver of course did not show. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

The judge doesn’t seem to have considered the possibility that Weaver, having received - or at least, having been sent - a letter with the wrong date might have been waiting till then to show up. I mean, given his relationship with the ATF he probably had no intention of attending at all, but nevertheless, everyone except the judge seems to have allowed for the possibility. He refused to rescind the arrest warrant, and so events were set in motion that could not be stopped.

The US Marshals, perhaps exercising a bit more commonsense and no doubt worried about kicking off an armed confrontation if they went to arrest the guy and it turned out all to have been a misunderstanding, delayed executing the arrest warrant until the date on Weaver’s letter, March 20. However in another case of classic incompetence or lack of communication - or maybe a rush to judgement - the US Attorneys Office called a grand jury on March 14, apparently unaware that the date for Weaver to turn up had been extended, and issued an indictment for failure to appear. The US Marshals now had no choice but to execute the warrant, and we’ll never know if Weaver intended to turn up six days later, though as I say it seems doubtful.

Nevertheless, that was not the end of the dark comedy of errors. Back before he had been arrested, the ATF had tried to turn Weaver by using the threat of a prosecution against him for the weapons he had sold their informant, but he had told them where to stick it. This information was not passed on to the USMS by the ATF, and further, his attorney had made a major blunder by warning him that if he lost his case, he would also lose his land and his children. I mean, it wasn’t the kind of thing to encourage a man who was already deeply suspicious of the government, and the world at large, to turn up and have his fate decided by twelve good men and true, now was it? You can see where the conspiracy theories begin. Did they want to kill the guy?

It might seem like I’m on Weaver’s side, as if I have sympathy for him. I’m not. From what I read about him, he wasn’t a particularly nice guy, and if he was into white supremacist groups he’s not someone I would want to know. However, every man and woman in America deserves justice and due process of law, and should be assured of a fair trial, and here I just don’t think that was the case with Weaver. As far as I can see, the ATF got miffed when he refused to be a snitch for them, and started building the strongest case they could against him. When that failed to pass as they would have liked, either there was an amazing string of ****-ups and bad coincidences, as detailed above, or there was a concerted effort to deny him justice, and to increase the severity of the charges against him. From being tried for a relatively simple infringement of gun laws, he was now considered a fugitive, and, given the information received by ATF, armed and dangerous. It was all building towards something that would take on a life of its own, and take three lives before it was spent.

As Weaver refused to come quietly, barricaded into his cabin with his family, the US Marshals tried to negotiate with him, to get him to surrender without bloodshed. From March 5 till March 12 1991 they talked to him through intermediaries, but on March 12 negotiations ceased, on the orders of the DAO, and the US Marshals began making plans to take him by force. They set up surveillance on the Ridge and watched the family; Weaver surely knew he was under watch and viewed all people and vehicles that approached with suspicion and hostility, the former at least not unfounded.

Four years later, the role of the USMS, the ATF and the FBI would come under severe criticism by the Department of Justice, which maintained that there were many inconsistencies in the profile put together about Randy Weaver and the supposed threat he posed, and that the people used to talk to him were as radical as he was said to be, if not more so, and therefore had a vested interest in responding with hostility to any suggestions of a peaceful end to the crisis. In short, they probably were rooting for Randy, and wanted him to go out in a blaze of glory, whether that was his own intention or not. A report in 1995 stated that “The assumptions of federal and some state and local law enforcement personnel about Weaver—that he was a Green Beret, that he would shoot on sight anyone who attempted to arrest him, that he had collected certain types of arms, that he had "booby-trapped" and tunneled his property—exaggerated the threat he posed.”

Things quickly began to fall apart. A helicopter that flew over Weaver’s land - not a military or police one, but one owned by a news network which handled the talk show host Geraldo Rivera’s television programme - was said to have been fired on by Randy, though this was later disputed by everyone including the US Marshals AND the pilot. Nevertheless, with absolutely zero evidence that any shots had been fired, and with the testimony of the pilot completely to the contrary, the charge was entered in Randy Weaver’s indictment that he had fired on the helicopter. Operations were suspended for three months, but it was only delaying the tragic inevitable.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 02:39 PM   #22 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,273
Default


Tragedy Strikes: Dog Day Afternoon

Having been spooked by US Deputy Marshals sent in August to scout out the area and recon places they believed Weaver could be arrested, the Weavers’ dogs came out with Randy’s 14-year old son Sammy and his (Randy’s) friend Kevin Harris. One of the dogs, Striker, was shot and killed by the deputies and a firefight erupted. In running from the lawmen, Sammy was struck in the back and died on the spot. Harris killed one of them, DUSM Bill Degan.

And here let’s stop and consider. Sure, it’s always easier with hindsight, but did this have to happen? We now have a dead kid, a dead dog and a dead deputy (I resist the urge to write Deputy Dawg - oh no wait, I don’t!) and a chain of events that inevitably led from one to the other. Had the dog not been shot and killed, is it likely Sammy Weaver would have started shooting? Well, maybe he would have, or maybe Harris would have and he would have backed him up, but let’s consider two things here before we go any further. One: the kid’s dog had been shot. Now, whatever you or I may think of the Weavers, a boy’s dog is precious, and he wasn’t even a threat, like a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler, that the men could have been in fear of. Striker was a golden labrador, one of the most gentle dogs there is, and while he might have been excited, it’s unlikely that he was actually attacking.

If he was, and the men feared him, why not throw something at the dog, or just wound him? Surely big bad US Deputy Marshals have faced worse in their career than a family dog bounding at them? Yes, the two men (man and a boy) were armed, and they probably had to take that into consideration, but all things being equal, what’s more likely to kick off gunfire than shooting the family pet? So was it just a bad decision, something done in the heat of the moment that escalated the situation, or was it even done deliberately, to try to provoke the two and allow the deputies the chance and give them the excuse they needed to start firing at them? Consider the bullets fired. On the part of the DUSM, a total of fifteen, with a third of that from Harris and Weaver, five shots in all. So who was firing more wildly, and doing the bulk of the shooting? Trained lawmen with two M16s and a submachine-gun against a kid with a rifle and another guy with a rifle. Was gunplay necessary?

Second, Sammy fired after his dog had been killed by the deputies, most likely in rage and grief. Knowing they had killed his pet, should the deputies not have pulled back, realising they had perhaps fucked up and made the situation even more volatile? And if they had to shoot, considering Sammy was shot in the back and therefore retreating, what kind of arsehole shoots a fourteen-year-old kid in the fucking back? Whether Harris fired after Sammy had been killed or before is unknown, but if the former, then he was certainly driven by anger and a need to revenge a kid he had surely grown up with, or at least spent a lot of time with, being the family friend. Finally, the deputies outnumbered the two of them to their three, and were better armed. There was no order to shoot or kill anyone - this was supposed to be an arrest, not an execution. So why did they fire, exacerbating an already volatile situation and turning it into a bloodbath? Even if the dog was killed in a sort of bad reaction or even panic, couldn’t they have withdrawn? But they decided to push things, and I personally think that after months of frustration they were spoiling for a fight.

It’s probably no surprise that the two versions differ wildly, with each group trying to exonerate themselves and blaming the other for firing the first shot. Sammy, of course, was dead and could not confirm, but Deputies Roderick and Cooper contended that Striker ran out of the woods with the two men behind him. They say Degan identified himself as a Deputy US Marshal and that Harris shot and killed him before he could get off a shot. Roderick shot Striker, then Sammy shot at him, and Roderick returned fire. Oddly, Cooper says he saw Sammy run off (kind of hard to do, when you’ve been shot dead but however) and that Harris was hit, and possibly thought killed or at least wounded.

In the version related to the Weavers by Harris, it went like this: coming out of the woods, Striker went first to Cooper, then to Roderick, who shot him out of hand. Sammy, furious, shot at Roderick. Degan came out of the woods and shot at Sammy, wounding him in the arm. Harris turned and shot Degan dead. Cooper then shot at him, and he dived for cover, while Cooper shot Sammy dead. According to Harris, it was only moments later that Cooper identified himself as a Deputy US Marshal. Finding Sammy dead, Harris broke cover and ran back for the cabin.

Of course everyone will want to paint themselves in the best light, but there are some pretty big inconsistencies in both stories I feel, so let’s look at them both.

First, the Deputies’ story. They affirm that Degan announced who and what he was and then Harris shot him. This is possible, though I doubt likely, as Harris would have known they were outnumbered. I’m not sure what Sammy’s level of expertise with a rifle was, but he was fourteen years old and most likely had never shot at anyone, much less killed anyone. By starting the shooting - even in response to the killing of the dog - Harris would have known that not only would he have been putting his buddy’s kid in danger, but that he stood a good chance of being wounded or killed himself. In essence, you don’t run out of the woods with a kid by your side and start shooting at heavily-armed USMS men. So I think that part of the story that the Deputies tell is at best dubious.

Not only that, but Harris would have known that no court (assuming he made it to stand before one) would look kindly on a man who shot an agent of the government who had clearly identified himself as one. Finally, if Degan had identified himself - and assuming the Deputies were in the usual USMS gear, why would he have had to? - Harris would have known he was dealing with some badasses, not just local cops, and might, surely would, have been reluctant to take them on. Again, we’re talking basically three to one, if you discount the kid.

Cooper testified that he saw Sammy run away, but Sammy was shot down and killed, so how could that be right? Given that it was more or less accepted that it was his bullet that killed Sammy, Is he saying that he saw him running away and still shot him? Shot him in the back, while he was no longer a threat? If not, how does he explain who shot Sammy and how? Is he placing the blame on his partner, Roderick? Degan was already dead by now, so that only leaves him out of the party. Either way, that looks bad for Cooper. Either he admitted to shooting a suspect who was fleeing the scene - and killing him - or he is intimating that his partner did. Not a good look, either way.

As for the account given by the Weavers later after speaking to Harris, that’s got holes in it, too.

Is it really likely that Striker would have come to Cooper, then gone to Roderick, who shot him? Why would a dog do that? It would have known neither of these men, and in all likelihood should, with a dog’s instincts, have realised they were hostile to its master. I doubt any dog in that situation would approach such a person, unless attacking him, but Harris does not make this claim, merely says the dog went to Cooper first, then Roderick, who shot it. Why would the Deputy do that? There’s no explanation, no reason. When I first read this, I thought it was that Striker had run out of the woods and gone for the DUSMs, and Roderick had fired in response to that, thinking he was under attack and perhaps in fear of his life. But no, not according to Harris. The dog, he says, approached the other deputy (he doesn’t reference any hostile or violent behaviour by Striker) and then Roderick. Of course, he would be striving to place the dog in the best light possible, to make it seem that he was shot without provocation, but the facts look a little shaky.

I would imagine, using pure logic, the dog went for one or other of the deputies, and Roderick shot it. That’s the only way it makes sense, and for a dog to be “on the hunt” as it were, this would be a natural attempt to protect its master, typical behaviour, perhaps not the kind of act you might expect from a lab, but still, when push comes to shove and its owner is in danger…

On the face of it, Harris’s version of events regarding the death of Deputy Degan sounds more plausible than that advanced by the USMS. Although this guy was a gun nut, a survivalist and an anti-government guy, I still feel he would have known how all but suicidal it would be to shoot a Deputy US Marshal. For one thing, with the charges (against Randy) not what you would call absolutely mega-serious at that time, ramping them up to murder (and by association, against Randy now too as an accessory) seems little short of insane. There is no good reason why a level-headed person who did not want to go to jail or be shot would kill a fed without due cause. But if he was threatened, he might see no way out. And if the dog had been killed and then Sammy shot, well, a red mist might have descended all right. But I’d have to say, on the balance of the evidence and taking human nature as it is, only after Sammy and/or the dog had been shot.

As with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but it really didn’t matter, as now the ante had been upped. Lives had been taken on both sides, and there was unlikely to be any quarter given now.

The Siege Begins

With the death of a Deputy US Marshal (never mind the death of a fourteen-year old kid, nobody cared about that!) the full force of the US Government swung into action at Ruby Ridge. The sheriff’s office, the Idaho State police, SWAT, the Marshals Service Operations Group, The FBI, even the National Guard all descended on the place. The FBI sent a Hostage Rescue Team. Why I don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out. I mean, unless the area they surrounded was bigger than Weaver’s twenty acre plot, who did they think was liable to have been taken hostage? There should only have been that family and Harris. Deadly force was authorised if anyone was seen in the compound or around it bearing a weapon, and this authorisation extended to dogs too.

The rather stark order was greeted with some dismay by most of the SWAT teams, as it departed strongly from the standard FBI Rules of Engagement, which states that “Agents are not to use deadly force against any person except as necessary in self-defense or the defense of another, when they have reason to believe that they or another are in danger of death or grievous bodily harm. Whenever feasible, verbal warnings should be given before deadly force is applied.” Reacting to the new rules, one of the SWAT members (unnamed) responded with “You’ve got to be kidding.” The snipers did not seem too bothered, and took the rules as a green light to shoot on sight. By now there were hundreds of federal agents at Ruby Ridge, and a maximum of three adults and four children in the cabin. Overkill much?

Overkill, surely. Kill, definitely. Next to die was Vicki Weaver, who was shot as a sniper wounded Randy as he visited the dead body of his son in the shed where they had lain it, and Vicki, standing behind the door, was killed. She was holding their ten-month old baby at the time. None of them were reported to be armed, and when Randy was shot the second time (the bullet that took his wife’s life) he was, again, running away, and so was clearly an unarmed man in full retreat, and therefore no threat. This didn’t stop the sniper, who fired anyway. There was, a senate judiciary committee later found, no order to surrender, and no chance given to the targets to do so, and so this amounted to an execution, summary justice meted out at the barrel of a federal agent’s sniper rifle.

Surprisingly, or not, the FBI continued to try to negotiate the surrender of a man whose son and wife had both been killed (and his dog) and who deeply distrusted them. On August 24 the ROE was changed to the proper, normal FBI one, a little late at this stage. Harris, wounded badly, finally surrendered and Weaver allowed a helicopter to airlift him to hospital, also allowing the removal of his wife’s body. After all the ham-fisted efforts of the so-called professional FBI hostage negotiators, it was a civilian one who convinced Weaver first to allow Harris to leave and shortly afterwards to surrender himself.

Listen to this though. Even after all the carnage they had caused, two deaths and with only Weaver and his daughters remaining in the cabin; after it must surely have become clear that the FBI had completely ballsed up this thing and that it would be a public relations disaster for the bureau and a stain on their already-tarnished reputation, the agent in charge warned that if Weaver did not surrender by the next day he would send in the troops and take them out. I mean, for fuck’s sake! Was this guy living in a cowboy movie or what? He still wanted to kill Weaver, and he was perfectly willing to take down two teenage girls at the same time?

In the event, Weaver did surrender, and he and one of his daughters were arrested. The FBI must have known their case was shaky as a man with Parkinson’s, and they lost big. Put on trial in April 1993, Randy Weaver was acquitted of all charges other than missing his court date and violating bail, which bought him sixteen months in prison. Harris was acquitted of all charges and walked free. Five years later the USMS tried to get him again for the murder of their Deputy, but under the double jeopardy rule they failed, and he remains a free man.

But things were only starting to heat up for the FBI.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 03:14 PM   #23 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,273
Default

Aftermath: Hearings and Charges

Randy Weaver brought a civil suit against the them for the unlawful killing of his wife and son, and settled out of court for just over three million dollars. Harris also settled his suit to the tune of just under half a million dollars. The Ruby Ridge Task Force, set up to investigate the circumstances behind the handling of the siege, returned a report in June 1994 that was highly critical of the usage of the extreme deadly force order issued by the FBI which resulted in the death of Vicki. Lon Horiuchi, the sniper who had killed her, was charged with manslaughter in 1997 but the case was dropped when it transferred to a federal court, and Horiuchi was said to have been acting in the line of duty. In 2001 that decision was overturned by the Circuit Court, but the new prosecutor in the county, unwilling to rock the boat and make enemies, and pleading the old line of “healing for the country” (the dead can’t heal, Mr. Prosecutor, didn’t you know?) again dismissed and dropped the case.

Hard questions remain about Ruby Ridge and how it was handled. Firstly, why did the ATF give credence to testimony given by known opponents of Weaver, who clearly had an axe to grind, and believe they had stockpiled weapons? Secondly, why did they take the word of known radicals, and believe that there was no way Randy was surrendering peacefully? Also, what in the name of blue Hell was an HRT doing there? Who were the hostages? Weaver’s kids? And if this was believed to be the case, why was one of those kids gunned down and the HRT prepared to possibly kill the others in a tactical assault if Weaver did not surrender? If the ATF and the FBI had checked the records they would surely have known that the Weavers moved to Ruby Ridge in 1982, unwilling to be around other people, and with few if any friends. Nobody was forced to move or held there against their will, so could the reason for the HRT being there have been simply to escalate the perceived threat, and thus requisition more men, material and also justify a shoot-to-kill policy? Tension always goes up in a hostage situation, so perhaps the feds wanted to manufacture one in order to be able to take the action they wished to.

Where was the cache of weapons spoken of, and which made, apparently, besieging the cabin so necessary? If the Weavers had had automatic weapons in abundance, would they not have used them? But the only weapons fired on their side seem to have been two rifles. Randy did not fire any weapon - it’s doubtful he even had one. Why was the story about them shooting at the helicopter so readily believed when it was easily discounted and contradicted, and why then did this end up in the indictment against Randy Weaver? How was a sniper allowed to fire at a target with no warning and no demand for that target to yield?

Why was the judge so completely obdurate, refusing to rescind or even delay the arrest warrant, when it was pretty clear that Randy’s failure to appear could have been due to an administrative screw-up on the part of the court? Why were shoot-to-kill orders issued by the FBI, when they vastly outnumbered and outgunned the Weavers and could have brought about a peaceful conclusion of the siege?

Ruby Ridge finally came to a tragic end - though perhaps not as tragic as it could have been, at least there were survivors - on August 31 1992. Less than eight months later, the mistakes and miscommunications and usage of unnecessary lethal force that characterised the siege would again be played out in Waco, Texas. Short memories, these FBI agents.

Why will this conflict be remembered?

The kind of sad thing is it really isn’t. If only for the greater tragedy of Waco coming so soon afterwards, or the change in administration, nobody outside of the USA - and probably many within it - remember or know too much about Ruby Ridge. Before I started researching it I knew the barest details, and while surely it’s remembered by survivalists, white supremacists and anti-government types, in general I believe most people have forgotten it, which is a pity, as it’s a fascinating and horrifying story, and a true indictment of the heavy-handed and impatient nature of the federal law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI.

When I began researching this, as I say, I knew nothing much about it, and I expected, perhaps naively, to learn of a right-wing gun nut who holed up in his cabin and took on the FBI and lost. After making myself familiar with the story, I have a far different view of it now. While there’s probably little doubt that Randy Weaver was a gun nut, and a racist, and that he sold two sawn-off shotguns, he paid a high price, one that was completely disproportionate to his crime. I’m irresistibly drawn to the tale of Jean Valjean, from Victor Hugo’s classic masterpiece Les Miserables, who goes to jail for the least of crimes and keeps getting into deeper trouble, extending his jail sentence through mostly no fault of his own, but a broken and corrupt and unforgiving and uncaring legal system. Weaver may have deserved to be punished for his crimes, but this spiralled out of control and became a farce, a deadly one, in which the FBI come out, to my mind, looking like the bad guys.

It certainly must have served as a rallying call to others and a vindication of the belief held among many that the government could not be trusted. It led to further incidents, Waco as already mentioned but a few years later the Oklahoma City bombing, which culprit Timothy McVeigh claimed was in retaliation for the events at Ruby Ridge, and fed the growth of anti-government feeling and the rise of right-wing militias and domestic terrorism. It again showed the USA in a bad light to the world, and while it would be nice and simple to be able to blame the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan, he was gone when Waco happened and a Democrat was in the White House. Bill Clinton didn’t do any better, so if nothing else that must prove that stupidity, arrogance and gung-ho heavy-handedness is bipartisan, and probably eternal too.

It’s also easy to see, as I mentioned earlier, how conspiracy theories sprang up as to how Randy Weaver was scapegoated and used as a way for the FBI to make an example of someone who dared stand up to them, in an almost totalitarian crackdown the likes of which we had been used to seeing only in the Soviet Union or its many satellite independent states. I have some sympathy for Weaver, despite what I said before, and while he should have paid for his crime, every man and woman deserves a fair trial and deserves justice, and I don’t think it can be said that Randy Weaver got either, or that the US Government intended to do so. Perhaps it was easier for them if he was shot in the siege - save them the cost of a trial. Witness the HRT commander’s threat to end the siege by force if Bo Gritz, the civilian negotiator who finally did what the FBI should have been doing, did not get the Weavers to surrender before his deadline. Could he have been ordered to do all he could to ensure none of the family got out alive to testify? And what about Vicki and Sammy? What crimes had they committed, yet they were shot as if they were as "dangerous" targets as Randy was believed to be. Accidentally, in Vicki's case, yes, but no accountability was accepted by the FBI, nor was anyone charged with any crime in the shooting of an innocent woman.

Yes, conspiracy theories are usually just that, theories with often little to no substance in them. But if it wasn’t a conspiracy, it was certainly one of the worst-handled (until Waco, of course) sieges and so-called hostage negotiations - again, who were the hostages? None were ever identified - in the recent history of the FBI, and their abject failure to bring the siege to a peaceful conclusion was not helped by the incompetence or compliance in the conspiracy of the court, from the letter with the wrong date to the judge’s refusal to rescind the arrest warrant, and even Weaver’s defence attorney’s wild warnings of what he faced if he lost the case. Everything seems, on the face of it, to have been arranged to ensure Randy did not dare turn up to court, necessitating a manhunt which turned into a siege and ended in tragedy.

As a post-script, this memo was sent by the FBI Assistant Director, two days after Vicki Weaver had been shot dead with her baby in her arms. It kind of underlines the overall stupidity of the course the feds took, if two days too late:

Something to Consider
1. Charge against Weaver is Bull S___.
2. No one saw Weaver do any shooting.
3. Vicki has no charges against her.
4. Weaver's defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was barking at. Some guys in camys [camouflage] shot his dog. Started shooting at him. Killed his son. Harris did the shooting. He is in pretty strong legal position.


He was, and the government paid a heavy price.
But not as heavy as Randy Weaver did, losing his wife and young son.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 03:31 PM   #24 (permalink)
Zum Henker Defätist!!
 
The Batlord's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Beating GNR at DDR and keying Axl's new car
Posts: 46,094
Default

I mean dogs are dumb happy boys who love making new friends and run all over the place when they're excited so I can totally see one running up to a pi- I mean cop and then running off to greet the second one. And cops shoot dogs all the time. It's a thing we do not like about them.

Good stuff though.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
The Batlord is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 03:44 PM   #25 (permalink)
Zum Henker Defätist!!
 
The Batlord's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Beating GNR at DDR and keying Axl's new car
Posts: 46,094
Default

Oh and you should look up Bill Cooper as he's connected to a lot of this stuff in a general way, McVeigh as well, and ended similarly. Fascinating guy who was like the Alex Jones of his day except he hated Alex Jones and thought he was a fraud.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
The Batlord is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 09:26 PM   #26 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,273
Default

Nah I've had enough of white supremacists and the FBI for now. I'm off back to before the time of Christ... wait a minute. Did you actually compliment me???
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 10:12 PM   #27 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
LEGALISE DRUGS AND MURDER's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 82
Default

Shall not be infringed tbh
LEGALISE DRUGS AND MURDER is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2021, 06:37 AM   #28 (permalink)
Zum Henker Defätist!!
 
The Batlord's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Beating GNR at DDR and keying Axl's new car
Posts: 46,094
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Nah I've had enough of white supremacists and the FBI for now. I'm off back to before the time of Christ... wait a minute. Did you actually compliment me???
I don't know that Bill Cooper is a white nationalist. Just a crazy guy who hates the government.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power-stations; I hope that, encouraged now as ‘patriotism’, may remain a habit! But it won’t do any good, if it is not universal.
The Batlord is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2021, 10:15 AM   #29 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,273
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by LEGALISE DRUGS AND MURDER View Post
Shall not be infringed tbh
Um, yeah, that's what it says. Your point?
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2021, 08:12 AM   #30 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,273
Default



Spartacus's Slave Revolt

Timeline: 73 BC

Era: First Century B.C.
Year: 73 – 71 BC
Campaign: The Third Servile War
Conflict: The Servile Wars
Country: Italy
Region: Various
Combatants: Slaves and Gladiators, Roman Empire
Commander(s): (Slaves) Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus, Oenomaus, Castus; (Rome) Marcus Licinius Crassus, Pompey, Lucius Gellius, Quintus Marcius Rufus, Publius Varinius, Gaius Claudius Glaber, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Gnaeus Manlius, Marcus Lucullus, Biggus Dickus (just kidding on that last one!)
Reason: Revolt against Rome for freedom from slavery
Objective: Get the fuck out of Italy and captivity; possible attack on Rome
Casualties (approx): 61,000
Objective Achieved? No
Victor: Rome
Legacy: The end of any further slave revolts; made the political career of Crassus and Pompey, led – eventually – to slightly better treatment for slaves

We all know the story of Spartacus, if only from old Biblical movies or even references in Monty Python's Life of Brian, but what we know about the gladiator slave leader is really only his ending. The fact is that the revolt he led was part of an entire series of wars, three in fact, called above The Servile Wars, for I hope obvious reasons. Although I don't intend to go into the entire series of wars, a quick recap might help.

The First Servile War took place in 135 BC and ran to 132, when Eunus, a Syrian slave who claimed to be a prophet, actually took the island city of Enna in Sicily and held it with a small army of four hundred slaves. Emboldened by this, another slave leader, Cleon, took Tauromenium and then joined up with Eunus, who had proclaimed himself king. The revolt then moved east, pulling in more rebel slave armies, and held out until an army commanded by Publius Rupilius managed to breach the walls of Tauromenium thanks to that reliable standby, traitors and turncoats. Cleon was killed repelling the assault while Eunus died in captivity, awaiting his fate. The deaths of the two slave leaders were of course insufficient retribution for Rome, and Rupilius is said to have crucified about 20,000 rebels.

The Second Servile War began thirty years later, in 104 BC, and was the result of a somewhat hamfisted attempt by Rome to free slaves from countries they were allied with (or were part of the empire) so that those now-freed men could be conscripted into the Roman legions. It backfired though, and when the consul, Publius Licinius Nerva, in obedience to orders freed slaves in Sicily (again with Sicily, huh?) it had two unexpected and unwelcome consequences. First, the slaves from other nations who had not been freed began to wonder why, and unrest fomented. Second, the plantation owners (sure doesn't your heart go out to them?) whined that their slaves were being freed and leaving them without unpaid labour. What: were they supposed to pay for workers? Outrageous! Living up to his surname, Nerva got nervous and reversed the order, re-enslaving the freed slaves, who got together and said “Oh no you don't son. We're not going back there!”

And so began the Second Servile War.

This too lasted four years, and its commanders were Salvius (who I'm tempted to misspell but I won't) and Athenion. When Salvius heard that the annoyingly-named praetor Lucius Licinius Lucullus was on the way with 17,000 men and a strongly-worded letter of complaint from the emperor maybe, he not surprisingly wanted to retreat inside his stronghold and hope they'd go away, but his general, Athenion, said “fuck that! Let those Roman bastards come! We'll slaughter them all!” These may not have been his actual words, but the upshot is that he convinced his leader to meet the Romans in open battle, which was a serious mistake. You never met the Romans in open battle. The Romans were shit hot in open battle, in fact I have it on good authority that they had the Latin phrase Nosums Caloric Excretus inscribed on their shields, which literally translates to “We're shit hot in open battle.” If you wanted to take on the Roman Empire, you did so by subterfuge, siege, using the territory to your advantage, tricking them into narrow defiles and so on. You did not, Braveheart like, wave your arse at them and tell them to come and have a go.

To be fair, the odds were on the slaves' side, outnumbering Lucius's lads by at least two to one, but if there was one thing the Romans had learned about slaves by now it was that they were not born soldiers, and usually the only thing keeping them fighting was belief in their leader. Once Athenion fell, they all said to each other “fuck this! I'd rather be a live slave than a dead soldier!” and ran headlong. That of course did not save them, and half of Athenion's army was killed before night fell. Athenion was not dead, but his men thought he was, and so did his boss, Salvius, seeing the mad charge and realising that it had all gone tits-up, roared “Wait for me you bastards! I'm your king!”

Well, his actual words are not recorded, as in the panic and heat of full retreat his scribe, who should have been immortalising the king's speeches for posterity, had decided discretion was the greater part of sticking around to have various parts of you hacked off by Roman legionnaires, and was but a rapidly-vanishing dot in the distance. I don't know: scribes these days. One little massacre and they're away on their toes. Or, I guess I should say, on their horse's toes. Anyway Salvius, emulating the action of his soon-to-be-sacked scribe (by which I mean they would seal him up in a sack with several live and not very happy animals and throw it into the river) retreated with them as they were chased back to their stronghold in Triocala.

Here's where it gets, not so much weird but kind of ironic. Lucius arrived at a leisurely pace at Triocola, kicking slave butt as he went, and got out plans for his big siege engines, but on arrival a carrier pigeon (or whatever the fuck they used for transmitting news in ancient Rome – slave with a message maybe? Imperial telegram? Mobile phone Rome-ing? Sorry) gave him the news that he had been replaced, and he then snapped “Tear it all down lads, we're going home.” Leaving the city desperately un-sieged, he fucked off back home and grinned as he considered how the fuck who was replacing him was going to explain that one! Talk about biting your nose off to spite your own face.

His spiteful tactics worked. In 102 BC, his successor, Gaius Servilius the Augur (what a tool – sorry) had the living shit kicked out of him when Athenion, now in command since Salvius had gone to the Great Slave Compound in the Sky, attacked his camp and sent him running. A year later the consul Gaius Marius called his boy Manius Aquillius to him and said “those bastards in Sicily are really getting on my wick. Those two useless fucktards couldn't even take a fucking small city from a bunch of slaves and gladiators, but I bet you can, can't you, eh? You're my man, ain't ya?”

And Aquillius was. He took a shitload of crack troops to the rebel city, and when his troops weren't on crack they were shit hot, and as much as slaughtered the slaves once they got to the gates, possibly without having to use the old Roman ploy of pretending to be taking a survey in order to get in. Aquillius is said to have growled “take that you cunt,” as he killed Athenion himself, and then they took a thousand prisoners back and threw them to the lions. Literally: they were sent to fight in the arena, not against men but against beasts. But spite reared its head again, and in a sort of caricature of the guy who stabbed himself rather than have his skin be used as a canoe in the old joke, they killed each other instead, the last one falling on his own sword, no doubt while the animals looked on in surprise and bewilderment, and wondered if they would be paid anyway for their appearance as per their contract?

And so, with, it seems, uncharacteristically for the empire, a total absence of crucifixions this time, Rome had once again shown the slaves who was boss, and were confident there would not be a repeat of this, um, repeat.

The Third Servile War

But of course we know there was, and it became one of the most famous of them all, and it was the first to threaten the Roman capital, indeed the first to take place on the Italian mainland. The First and Second Servile Wars had not really been considered wars at all by Rome, more revolts and civil disturbances that, though they took time to be put down, were no real threat to the empire. They also took place on the island of Sicily, therefore would have been seen as more provincial uprisings that the people in Rome would frown at but never expect to be dealing with directly themselves.

But even if those first two had been, in the end, unsuccessful (as would this one be, though more effective) they certainly planted the idea in the minds of slaves that a) they could rebel against their masters and b) Rome was not invulnerable. It had taken a total of eight years for the first two outbreaks to be put down. This single, third one would stretch out over almost as long. With the air of disaffection and the idea of freedom in the air, the time was right for a proper rebellion, and this time, they didn't need any pretext to kick it off. Other than wanting out, of course.

In ancient Rome, as you may, and probably do know, the fighting men known as gladiators came from two classes of people: criminals and slaves. Life was tough for gladiators, a large percentage of whom died in training, but for those who made it to the actual games, the chances of survival were slim. Even if they did really well and survived several matches, their increasing fame would only bring more challengers their way, eager to take them down. Being slaves, they were of course not paid for their efforts and reaped no reward from it, so it's not at all surprising that in one of the gladiatorial schools in Capua, just outside Naples, a bunch of them got together and decided on a jailbreak.

Whenever there's a plot there's almost always someone willing to run and tell the authorities against whom that plot is set, and this was no exception, but even betrayed as they were, the gladiators went ahead with their breakout. Well, they had little choice really, as surely only death awaited them if they stepped back? Only seventy of the original two hundred made it out, fighting their way out with kitchen knives and other implements (love the idea of a gladiator holding off a legionnaire with a rolling pin or a whisk!) and though a force was sent after them they easily defeated it. As in other slave revolts, more joined them as they made their way through Capua, and then they literally headed for the hills, making their base on Mount Vesuvius, which would become well known to all inhabitants of Pompeii. Perhaps there was an unspoken hint there?

Rome was not impressed. This was not backwater Sicily, an island few Romans cared about back then, removed from the centre of power. Campania , the region in which the revolt began, was a holiday spot for the well-to-do, maybe an equivalent of the Hamptons or something, a place where rich people (the only kind who counted) came to relax and kick back. The last thing these wealthy folk expected was to be overrun by thousands of “common slaves” thirsty for their blood. One simply does not have such things happen in Campania, darling! So the Empire had to do something about it.

The slaves had picked three men from out of their ranks to be their leaders: Crixus, Oneomaus and Spartacus. It was this latter who outfoxed the Romans on Mount Vesuvius, breaking a siege laid by Gaius Claudius Glaber, by fashioning rope ladders out of vines and trees which enabled them to rappel down the side of the mountain and circle around, taking Gaius Claudius by surprise, and winning the day. A second commander sent against them, Publius Varanius, was also defeated, his weapons and equipment appropriated by the rebels. This of course led to their ranks swelling, and at its height the army now commanded more or less by Spartacus, with Oneomaus having fallen at the siege of Vesuvius, numbered about seventy thousand. In addition to slaves, shepherds and herdsmen also flocked to Spartacus's banner.

With no further attempts by the Romans to dislodge them – they surely already smarting from the embarrassment of a rag-tag army of former gladiators and probably what they characterised as scum having beaten their mighty forces – Spartacus and his army remained on Mount Vesuvius through the winter, as 73 BC turned to 72 BC, training and equipping their new recruits, and venturing out to take other towns, adding Nola, Nuceria, Thurii and Metapontum.

Given both that this was seven decades before the birth of Christ, and that the rebellion failed and all its leaders were executed, it's become very difficult to know what exactly the goal of the uprising was, other than getting the fuck out of Dodge. There are theories of factions developing within the slave army, with those under Spartacus wishing to hightail it over the Alps to freedom, while the remaining leader, Crixus, seems to have been more focused on revenge and kicking shit out of Romans. Nobody can say if this was the case, but as historians do, they argue about this and we'll consider it as a plausible occurrence in a movement which began as a simple escape attempt and whose leaders suddenly find they have an army at their command. The question “what now?” probably occurred to both the army and its two leaders, and each had different responses, maybe.

As for some romantic idea of ending slavery in Rome – mostly put about by Kirk Douglas in the fictionalised version in the movie of the same name? Nah. Those debating historians don't debate about that. As far as those who are far more in the know about this than I am are concerned, neither of the leaders gave a rat's ass for helping their brothers in bondage. They would probably have been crazier than a Christian to have tried it: slavery had existed in the empire for thousands of years, and was not likely to crumble just because less than a hundred thousand slaves said “Guys let's think about this. Is this really fair? Is this really the face Rome wants to present to the world?” Neither Spartacus nor Crixus seem to have been prepared to lay down their lives for other slaves, and I think the general feeling prevalent was “We're free. Fuck them. Let's haul ass out of here.”

But while the Romans may have been temporarily thwarted by the slaves, they weren't about to give up. Bad enough the empire being defeated by a foreign army, but an army of fucking slaves? Over their crucified bodies, pal! Crixus fell at the Battle of Mons Garganus, a victim to a force led by Gnaeus Cornelius; the Senate had finally started to take the slave revolt seriously as it piled up victory upon victory and took town after town. Now proper legions were sent against the escapees, and with the death of Crixus, Spartacus was left in sole command of the rebels. However he was so pissed at the death of his friend that he had three hundred Roman captives fight each other in gladiatorial-like games, turning the tables on his hated oppressors as they were forced to fight to the death. He then headed north, to Cisalpine Gaul, where he planned to reprovision his troops.

Shadowed by Lucius Gellius behind him and Lentulus Clodanius ahead, he nevertheless managed to defeat both forces and sent them scuttling for cover. These stunning victories brought even more recruits to the cause of Spartacus, increasing his army to almost 120,000 as it marched directly to the heart of Roman power, Rome itself. Gellius and Clondanius had already legged it back home, and while they awaited the arrival of the slave army reinforced their troops and prepared to meet it on their home turf. Then Lucius Gellius turned to his fellow consul and said “Dude, I have a gnarly idea! Instead of just, you know, waiting for this most heinous army to get to our gates, let's go out and attack them, yeah? We'll be heroes, man!” And Clondanius grinned in agreement. “Sweet,” spake he. “Let's do this thing, brother!”

They both had occasion to regret this, as once again Spartacus's army, now even bigger and more organised than when they had first met, kicked the living crap out of them again and sent them once more howling for home, no doubt moaning “No way man! He totally beat us again!” And he had. Nor would they be the last, as several more armies sent out to deal with the mighty slave general met with the same fate. Spartacus, for his part, had second thoughts. He knew his army was big, compared to what it had been when he and his buddies had broken out of gladiatorial school in the ultimate expression of truancy, but he also knew that within Rome was hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of Roman soldiers; it was their base, their headquarters, their supply point and the centre of their power. He would be riding into the lion's den, or, I guess we should say, the eagle's aerie. He wasn't quite ready to do that yet.

So he turned around on possibly the eve of victory, and headed back south, where he prepared for the next confrontation. We'll never know, but it may have been the first time he had misjudged the situation, though he would not get the chance to reflect on that. Rome, released from the pressure of an imminent attack, began to sow the seeds of his destruction. And it all began when Lucius Gellius and Clondanius were dismissed and replaced by this man.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2022 Advameg, Inc.