Saturday, July 12, 2014

Law Enforcement's Acceptance of Military-Type Tactics

Stephen Jones is an extremely bright, historically savvy criminal defense attorney from Enid. He has defended unpopular criminals, including Timothy McVeigh, with his unwavering belief that every United States citizen should be provided his constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty. Stephen is often wrongly tagged as 'liberal.' His only liberalism is his inherent belief in individual rights and freedom from government intrusion. He used to be President Richard Nixon's personal researcher, and to this day believes Nixon to be one of the most misunderstand Presidents of the modern era. I have read Stephen's book Others Unknown: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy and found it compelling. The second edition is better than the first because Jones was able to use Timothy McVeigh's own words in the latter.  Before his death by execution, McVeigh broke the bond of attorney/client privilege by giving disparaging remarks against his former attorney, opening the door legally for Stephen Jones to reveal what Timothy McVeigh told his attorneys in private.

Though there are many striking revelations about the United States government in Jones' book, there is one particular bit of information that gave me pause; and after reflection, a growing concern over our government's use of its formidable military might against United States' citizens.

I have known for a long time that McVeigh's confessed motivation for bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was retaliation for the 1992 Ruby Ridge Incident and the 1993 Waco Siege where government officials used deadly force and killed U.S. citizens. McVeigh thought himself a 'patriot' and a 'freedom soldier' by striking back against the government, similar to the way 18th century American patriots used force against the government of England.  Attorney Stephen Jones, however, personally and verbally scorched his client by reminding McVeigh that no patriot or freedom soldier would ever take the lives of innocent women and children

Stephen Jones is right.

Yet many Americans either do not know or have forgotten that women and children also died at Ruby Ridge and Waco, shot and killed by government officials. Stephen Jones quotes from a report put together by two Congressional oversight committees that investigated the assaults on the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco. Congress wrote:
"Many citizens no doubt would be surprised and concerned to learn that components of the same forces the United States used in Operation Desert Storm, Somalia, and Bosnia [i.e., the Texas National Guard], also can be used against them in the United States. The Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents epitomize civilian law enforcement's growing acceptance and use of military-type tactics... When ATF faced the option of conducting a regulatory inspection or a tactical operation, it chose the tactical operation. When ATF had to decide between arresting away from the Branch Davidian residence or a direct confrontation, it chose direct confrontation. ATF also decided to conduct a dynamic entry as opposed to a siege."
A 'dynamic entry' is government speak for 'an assault.'  Congress, in essence, is saying that Americans would be shocked to realize that our local civilian police departments are becoming more and more comfortable using military armaments, tactics, and even personnel (combat troops)--unique elements of war that have been historically reserved exclusively for combat in foreign countries--against our United States citizens living on American soil.

That's scary.

On April 18, 1995 I spent the night in Prescott, Arizona, in a hotel right next to the Internal Revenue Building. I was in Prescott speaking on behalf of the Franklin Graham Organization, helping local pastors prepare for its upcoming Franklin Graham Festival. It was only after reading Jones' book that I realized Michael Fortier's and Timothy McVeigh's first choice for a building to bomb was the IRS building in Prescott. Just another reminder to me that there is but a 'step between life and death' for all of us.

I took a very early morning flight out of Phoenix on April 19th, arriving at Will Roger's Airport in OKC at 8:30 am. I was driving by downtown OKC when the bombing occurred. The shock wave actually shook my car. For the next three days I spent time at the temporary morgue, set up in the basement of First Methodist Church, and would make trips to First Christian Church north of downtown to console family members of victims who had gathered there, waiting for news of their loved ones who were in the building.

I know first-hand the destruction and havoc Timothy McVeigh caused. He deserved the death penalty for his actions, and he received it. But McVeigh's attorney has done all Americans a good service by reminding us that acts of terror against United States citizens are wrong, whether they come from terrorists like Timothy McVeigh or from police organizations designed to protect the rights, liberty and peace of all American citizens.


Stan said...
Scary words in this article too: Back in May, Indiana Police Sergeant Dan Downing admitted that the militarization of domestic law enforcement was partly to deal with returning veterans who are now seen as a homegrown terror threat. A local Fox affiliate reported that the cops were now “armed for war” against such threats."

Rex Ray said...

Sometimes the ‘Good Guys’ can be the worst.


These words came from a police medic referring to my twin brother, Hez, who’d chosen to die rather than scream like the police wanted him to do. He’d been in a restraining device for hours that had him pulled into a ‘ball’.

Every so often they’d taunt him: “Have you learned your lesson yet? He never said a word.

The tendons in his knees were torn so bad he couldn't work for three months. That pain wasn't killing him but he was choking to death because his head was pulled against his chest so tight.

In 1985, Hez was chairman of the deacons and made an appointment with the owner of a newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado about their pornography. While waiting in the lobby, the editor that wrote the pornography walked by. Hez asked to talk with him. After a discussion in his office, the editor shook hands and told him to come back anytime. Hez never told who he was; just a private citizen that was concerned. In his work cloths, he was mistaken for a bum. Hez went back to the waiting room. The editor told him he could not talk with his boss and for him to leave or he would call the police.

Two city cops arrived. One went in the editor’s office and one sat down by Hez. Hez explained the situation and started telling him about a project in Alaska he called “The Big Dipper”. (He wrote a book about it which was published this month.)

The cop had never said a word. In the middle of the Big Dipper story, the cop said, “I’m taking you down those stairs!”

“Why don’t you wait until your partner decides what to do?”

The huge guy’s face turned red and he grabbed Hez by his jacket and threw him over a railing. He would have fallen 16 feet if he hadn’t grabbed the rail. There were about 15 people in the room and some women screamed. The cop lost his balance and fell on a table breaking a lamp. Hez hung on the rail until he climbed back over. The other cop came running. It looked like Hez had knocked the big cop down. Hez held up his hands and said, “There’s no trouble here.”

They put him face down on the floor, and the big one kept jerking his head back and forth; pulling out handfuls of hair. (Someone mailed his hair to him.)

While handcuffed, Hez grabbed the staircase railing yelling, “Let go of me! I’ll walk down, but you’re going to push me and say I fell!”

That’s all he remembered as he was knocked unconscious. He woke up in a hot police car with blood running down a window. He heard a police lieutenant yelling at the big cop, “How many times do I have to tell you to stop hitting people when you arrest them! Take him to the hospital; you've got him bleeding like a stuck hog!”

“Awe, he’s not hurt. He’s a tough guy.”

“OK, take him to the county police.”

Rex Ray said...

They told him to sit down in the back of the county police station while they gave their report. They left.

“Come on down here. We hear you’re a tuff fighter.”

“I’m not a fighter. Those cops are the fighters.”

“Well we are going to see how tough you are. You and me are going to have a fight.”

“That wouldn't be a fight; I outweigh you 50 pounds.”

“He doesn't understand; I've never lost a fight yet; have I boys? Get him!”

Five other cops held him down while the small cop worked him over with a blackjack. Hez saw a ‘civilian’ walking by and yelled for help.

“Help? They don’t need help. They've doing a good job.” He laughed at his joke. He was the chief of police.

Hez woke up being drug down a hallway. He was locked in a cell and ‘cranked’ up in a restraining device. It had a large belt with a crank that pulled your feet and head together. Hez said the device made everything else feel like a picnic. When they took the device off, he started breathing so fast he almost passed out. He wasn't allowed a phone call but was locked up with other prisoners.

When he didn't come home his wife called the newspaper. She traced him to the County Police, but they had no record of him. It was near midnight when a doctor let him use his phone. She couldn't get bail money until the next day.

A neighbor told him he wouldn't have recognized him if he hadn't been with his wife. A local doctor said, “When I saw the depth of the bruises, I thought you’d have several broken bones, but I was wrong. You've been worked over by an expert.”

After investigating, a lawyer told him he didn't have a chance of winning a lawsuit because a jury wouldn't take his word against five policemen.

When I learned what happened three months later, I couldn't sleep for two days.

The church people told him if the police thought he could get them fired, he would just disappear and never be seen again. Their constant warnings got so bad they moved from Colorado.

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right about the militarization of state and local police departments across the country. It is odd that most of the commentary from the very far right, paranoid types centers on the fear of the US Government. You got that wrong. It will be state and locals, equipped with the latest equipment provided that will come for you if the need arises. On a second note, as a federal employee living in Oklahoma, my opinion is their is an unnatural hatred for the federal government in Oklahoma. You hear it everywhere, including opening sessions in Sunday School and from the Pulpit. That is somewhat odd to me, being that Oklahoma is host to the second worse case of terrorism in US history and that attack was directed at the federal government exclusively (carried out by Army veterans). Seems like the folks here would be a little less demeaning toward everything federal. With the exception of the energy industry, the feds pretty much take care of most of Oklahoma through direct government programs and huge federal installations in the state. It seems like we are not even Americans anymore is this state.

Anonymous said...

Not so sure the government was at fault in Waco. Perhaps there are two sides to this story.

Wade Burleson said...


I think the point of the post is for peace officers to exercise caution when it comes to United States citizens.

Ramesh said...

My reading of what has transpired in the past 35 years in US, since the MOVE disaster in Philly, Waco, 9/11, militarization of police, use of tasers for no reason, mass surveillance is simply that ALL this is self inflicted by people who are running this country who are clueless as to what the american revolution was all about and some.

One reaps what one sows.

Another perspective of McVeigh is ... Vanity Fair [Gore Vidal] Sept, 2001 > The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh

One may not agree with Vidal what he wrote, but the mass media not looking at the elephants/dinosaurs of their making by politicians in their midst is truly mind boggling. But again this is may be expected in US where we are all being manipulated to see only delusions so that the masses do not rebel.

Ramesh said...

For Timothy McVeigh, [Waco and Ruby Ridge] became the symbol of [federal] oppression and murder. Since he was now suffering from an exaggerated sense of justice, not a common American trait, he went to war pretty much on his own and ended up slaughtering more innocents than the Feds had at Waco. Did he know what he was doing when he blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City because it contained the hated [Feds]? McVeigh remained silent throughout his trial. Finally, as he was about to be sentenced, the court asked him if he would like to speak. He did. He rose and said, “I wish to use the words of Justice Brandeis dissenting in Olmstead to speak for me. He wrote, ‘Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.’” Then McVeigh was sentenced to death by the government.

Those present were deeply confused by McVeigh’s quotation. How could the Devil quote so saintly a justice? I suspect that he did it in the same spirit that Iago answered Othello when asked why he had done what he had done: “Demand me nothing, what you know you know, from this time forth I never will speak word.” Now we know, too: or as my grandfather used to say back in Oklahoma, “Every pancake has two sides.”

Rex Ray said...

If I remember right, authorities could have arrested David Koresh on the street about anytime they wanted to. But their actions started out as a training exercise.

Maybe some of these actions are caused by the reasoning of Elayne Boosler who said, “When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.”

Last week my 20 year-old grandson was spending the night with me. I live in the country a half a mile from a large highway. A county sheriff woke me at 3 AM. Said they’d arrested a man in my back yard and was looking for another they’d tried to stop for speeding. They’d been going 120 miles an hour but had turned off on a dirt road. They had abandoned their car at a wash-out bridge.

I didn’t know a few minutes earlier my grandson heard them arresting the man and had gone outside to see what was going on. He heard, “PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!”

Our youth director’s job is training dogs at the prison to track run-away prisoners. We could hear his dogs barking but they lost the trail when someone gave the driver a ride. He took him to a hospital because he was hurt from jumping in a deep creek. The hospital thought he was in a car-wreck and notified the police who arrested him.

Next day, the passenger came back and found his glasses by my fence. Said he had gone down my free 40 foot slide two years ago.

A couple of days later, three policemen went down…makes a total of 571. One of them uses my lake dam for a shooting backstop for classes for school teachers to have a gun in school. It’s a shame our country has deteriorated to this need.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex Ray and Thy Peace,

As always, keen perceptions from both of you.

Anonymous said...

About 1% of the general population has a psychopath/sociopath personality disorder. They seek positions that give them power over other people. A good many are in law enforcement and some become politicians. There are even some in the clergy.

ScottShaver said...

We might be surprised at the number of times the miltary arm of the US has fired upon its own citizenry.

Five Points Draft Riots, New York City during Civil War.

Following WWI a tent city of veterans (some with their families) set near Washington DC as a protest, asking for the promises of their war wages to be fulfilled.

If I'm not mistaken two soldiers named MacArthur and Patton led the bloody assault.

Kent State, Ohio.

The unimaginable can and sometimes does happen.

rixshep said...

"There's a reason you separate the military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state and the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."
-William Adama (From the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica, Adama played by James Olmos)

Sometimes sf gets something right.


Wade Burleson said...


Tremendous quote.- really, really good.