Thursday, March 31, 2005


I must be a member of the Culture of Death, because I find myself relieved that Terri Schiavo finally passed away this morning.

But largely because it prevents folks like Bo Gritz and Norm Olson and the Michigan Militia from "rescuing" her:
Norm Olson, senior adviser to the Michigan militia and pastor of a strong right-to-life church in Wolverine, said Tuesday he had put together an unarmed coalition of state militias that were prepared to storm the Florida hospice where Terri Schiavo has been left to die, and take her to a safe house.

Olson said he needed only the OK from Schiavo's father, Robert Schindler, either directly or through his attorney David Gibbs, to put the plan, called "Operation Resurrection," into action on Sunday.

But Olson said Gibbs contacted the FBI instead of passing his message on to Schindler.

Olson said the FBI had been monitoring e-mails within militia groups and on Tuesday, March 29, sent an agent from Traverse City to his home in Alanson and other agents to militia leaders in the South to question them about the plan.

The FBI was unavailable for comment.

Olson said that last Thursday he phoned Gibbs' secretary with a message that he had organized 1,500 to 2,000 militia members from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Michigan, who were ready to remove Schiavo from the hospice and take her in a convoy to a safe house.

Olson said he never was able to speak directly to the Schindlers or Gibbs.

"Gibbs probably told the Schindlers not to get the militia involved. That's why Schindler came out with statement that he did not want any civil disobedience. Now they're begging for someone to do something, but it's too late," Olson said.

Olson said the militias needed time to arrange for an ambulance, medical support staff and a safe house before the plan could be put into action.

"We would have overwhelmed the local law enforcement," Olson said, adding the militias would not have been armed.

The story also includes a rundown of Olson's e-mails to his supporters:
Wednesday, March 23:

"Are there militia in Florida who are willing to go rescue Terri?

"How about Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana?

"I've got some very angry Michigan militia folks chomping at the bit ..."

"Shall we save Terri Schiavo?

"The Courts say NO

"The Law Makers say NO

"The Executives say NO

"It's time for us to say: 'Let's Roll!'

Thursday, March 24:

"Florida Militia: Please contact me. We're going to need several hundred willing to storm the building. I suspect that hundreds of 'civilians' may go with us. There is very little time, but I've got people ready to roll tonight."

"Failure is very probable, but not to try is to fail already."

"Too small of a force will mean total failure. It is a 'Bridge Too Far' but with enough people it may work.

"It isn't a commando raid or sneak attack. It is a mass saturation of people able to overwhelm the minimal forces there at this time."

"A large scale military assault need not be bloody. As much as we might like to, care must be taken to avoid inflicting injury on the bad guys."

Reality check: I met Olson at the Freemen standoff in Montana. He, like about 99 percent of all militiamen, is a loudmouthed fantasist whose chief combat capabilities involve scratching their posteriors. Olson has no significant remaining influence within the Patriot movement. If he actually gave such a call, it would be ignored. The only thing Olson seems capable of doing anymore is attracting attention to himself and pretending to represent a large movement, when in fact his supporters probably number in the low double digits --if that high.

But it is well worth noting just how avidly the Schiavo cause was adopted by right-wing extremists. Bill Berkowitz at Media Transparency has already detailed the far-right money trail in this brouhaha, especially the prominent role of the noxious Randall Terry, who earned special notice for accusing Michael Schiavo of adultery, a point on which Terry himself lives in something of aglass house. Terry, along with his cohort Matthew Trewhella, was one of the first public advocates of forming militias, back in 1994.

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