Lloyd Billingsley, The struggle against FBI violence is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
As Sen. Ted Cruz recently noted, the FBI is portraying patriotic Americans as violent extremists, a description that could be fairly applied to the FBI itself, particularly the bureau’s leadership. Should that be doubted, consider a case that marks 30 years this month.
Army veteran Randy Weaver believed the world had become corrupt and dangerous, so he chose to be survivalist. In 1983, Weaver built a cabin in the remote Ruby Ridge area of northern Idaho and lived there with his wife Vicky, daughters Sara and Elisheba, son Samuel, and family friend Kevin Harris.
Weaver held anti-government views but was not a member of the Aryan Nations. The federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms sought to make Weaver an informant among the group and when Weaver refused he was arrested. This led to a standoff in which U.S. Marshall William Degan and Weaver’s son Samuel, 14, were both killed.
This brought in the FBI, which deployed some 400 heavily armed agents, helicopters, and armored personnel carriers against a single family. The rules of engagement allowed deadly force against any family member seen with a firearm, but in effect it was shoot on sight. Randy Weaver passed away at 74 on May 11, but his 1995 Senate testimony stands the test of time.
“On August 21, 1992,” Randy Weaver testified, “federal marshals shot my son Samuel in the back and killed him. He was running home to me. His last words were, ‘I’m coming, Dad.’ They shot his little arm almost off and they killed him by shooting him in the back with a 9-millimeter submachine gun. The gun had a silencer on it. He was not wanted for any crime. He did not commit any crime. The marshals killed his dog right at his feet. He only tried to defend himself and his dog.
“Sammy was just 14 years old. He did not yet weigh 80 pounds. He was not yet 5 feet tall. The marshals who killed Sammy were grown men. They were in combat gear. They had their faces painted with camouflage. They were wearing full camouflage suits with black ninja-type hoods. They were carrying machineguns and large caliber semiautomatic pistols. They were trained to kill. Two of them were hiding behind trees and rocks in the woods where they could not be seen. The third was around a bend in the trail in thick forest. They were under direct orders from Washington to do nothing to injure the children. They were to have no contact or confrontation with me or my family. They killed him anyway in violation of their orders.”
One day later, Vicki Weaver was holding infant daughter Elisheba in the cabin doorway when FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot the unarmed mother in the face, killing her instantly. Snipers are trained carefully “to acquire” the target, so there is little chance the shooting was accidental.
“On August 22, 1992,” Randy Weaver testified, “completely without warning of any kind, an FBI sniper shot and killed my wife Vicki. He was using a .308 caliber sniper rifle with a specially weighted barrel and 10-power scope. He was using match grade ammunition. He had years of training to kill. I heard him testify at the trial that he wanted to kill. He shot my wife in the head and killed her. She was not wanted for any crime. There were no warrants for her arrest. At the time she was gunned down, she was helpless. She was standing in the doorway of her home. She was holding the door open for me and Sara and for Kevin Harris. She was holding Elisheba, our 10-month-old baby girl, in her arms. As the bullet crashed through her head, she slumped to her knees, holding Elisheba so she would not drop her. We took the baby from her as she lay dead and bleeding on our kitchen floor.”
Louis Freeh, the Clinton pick for FBI boss, expressed “regret and sorrow for Mrs. Weaver’s death,” which was “tragic but accidental.” For Freeh, a former federal judge, the sniper’s second shot was “constitutional.” Freeh also referred to the “murder” of marshal Degan, which was inaccurate given the 1993 trial that acquitted Weaver and Harris on that charge.
Freeh testified that “serious mistakes occurred with regard to the Ruby Ridge incident,” some of them by Larry Potts, the agent in charge. After Potts was censured, Freeh promoted him to deputy director of the FBI, a position for which, Freeh said, he was “superbly qualified.” Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno approved the appointment.
At the time of the siege, Attorney General William Barr spent two weeks organizing former attorney generals to defend FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, whose kill-shot on Vicki Weaver was “constitutional,” and also an “accident” and one of the many “mistakes” that could have been avoided but weren’t.
FBI snipers also wounded Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris, who was near death when he finally surrendered. In the aftermath, Randy Weaver filed a lawsuit that paid more than $3 million to the family. A federal jury also acquitted Weaver on the firearms charge that launched the events.
Democrat senators Herb Kohl and Patrick Leahy sympathized with the Weaver family, but as the San Francisco Examiner reported, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein “dealt sternly with Weaver, asking whether his children wore Nazi armbands and shouted Nazi slogans at neighbors.” That marked an escalation from early media descriptions of the Weavers as “white separatists.”
Since the 2020 election, those less than worshipful of Joe Biden are branded “white supremacists.” The FBI smears patriotic Americans as violent extremists and parents who protest the racist indoctrination of their children become domestic terrorists. FBI boss Christopher Wray, who strenuously denied any FBI spying on Trump, is down with all of it, and so is Attorney General Merrick Garland.
As the 30th anniversary of Ruby Ridge approaches, the FBI functions as a Geheime Staatspolizei, an American Gestapo making summary arrests in the dead of night, with a show of overwhelming force. The FBI is also the American Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, a KGB involved in stagecraft such as the Whitmer kidnap plot. The FBI lost in court but agent Steven D’Antuono, in charge of the entrapment operation, was promoted to assistant director of the Washington DC field office. In the style of Larry Potts, a botched operation leads to promotion.
Some two months after the Ruby Ridge milestone come the midterms. Should the same massive irregularities of 2020 accompany those elections, embattled Americans might launch major pushback. And 2024 is just down the road.
“If the next presidential election is curated by the usual suspects, Soros, Zuckerberg, and the Democratic National Committee,” Roger Kimball explains, a few million people might begin “acting like Black Lives Matter during the summer of 2020.” As Kimball wonders, “what then?” If Ruby Ridge is any indication, the FBI would martial massive military force, including snipers like Lon Horiuchi. He was also present at Waco in 1993, where 76 perished, including 28 children.
“Desire to wage war on ordinary Americans—to disadvantage them and even to kill them—had long been bubbling in the ruling class’s basements,” wrote the late Angelo Codevilla, citing documents such as Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1979-2008. This Department of Homeland Security study classified persons judged “suspicious of centralized federal authority” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right wing terrorists.”
For Codevilla, “the countless, nearly identical pronouncements from on high in recent days can be taken as an announcement that the ruling class has raised them into its forceful mainstream.” Moving forward in America, the struggle against FBI violence is the struggle of memory against forgetting.