Thursday, March 10, 2005

New feathers for old hats

Seems we've had a spate of bad pennies cropping back up around Seattle lately. First it was Keith Gilbert getting busted.

Now John L., Kirk -- who shook out a few nickels with a "common law court" operation back in the 1990s, before he was busted for building pipe bombs for the Washington State Militia -- is back in the news with a fresh scam: taking advantage of the naivete of young girls and grieving widows.

You see, back in 2003, a police officer named Patrick Maher was slain with his own gun when it was taken from him by a teenager during an altercation in Federal Way, a suburban city midway between Seattle and Tacoma, an incident that left a deep mark on the community.

So when it came time to name a new middle school being built in Federal Way, a 13-year-old named Kara Dameron decided naming it after Maher was a good idea. And it probably was.

Problem is, the school district has a policy to name its middle schools only after "peoples, places or events from Native American literature." Maher was Irish.

So she went to work and collected signatures for a petition and appeared before the school board, hoping to overcome their objections. So far, there's no indication her pleas have come to any avail.

So far, so good. As Robert Jamieson put it in a laudatory column for the P-I:
I'm in the kid's corner. She's smart. She has moxie.

But then there was this:
And now, she's got a whole other kind of support.

An Indian tribe calling itself the Sovereign Government of Little Shell Pembina has rallied to Kara's side. The tribe -- with North Dakota roots and composed of Pembina Chippewa Native Americans -- is not federally recognized. But that didn't stop a tribal representative from bestowing a posthumous honor on Maher, a Certificate of Adoption.

Actually, the "tribe" has not "rallied to Kara's side." Rather, her cause has been taken up by the aforementioned John L., Kirk. (That's how he insisted on punctuating his name when he ran the "Justus Township" of King County. It's a Patriot thing.)

A recent KOMO TV report had a little more on this, though it too was oblivious to the nature of the "tribe" which had ostensibly adopted Maher:
A Chippewa tribe from North Dakota is adopting Officer Maher.

"We honor Patrick Maher as a great warrior," said John Kirk of The Little Shell Pembina Band Tribe.

"It's really overwhelming," said Renee Maher, Patrick's wife. "I think Patrick would be so proud and so honored to be part of the tribe."

The adoption could be critical because Federal Way School Board policy says middle schools can only be named for a person, place or event in Native American literature.

"And if that is one of the stumbling blocks to the school's policy that has now been eliminated, officially and on the record," Kirk said.

First, a little bit about the "Little Shell Pembina Band". It is not a real tribe; rather, it is a right-wing activist group with a history of issuing bogus license plates and other antigovernment activity associated with white supremacists.

The "band," which appears all over the Web, seems to originate from a group of con artists who organized around one or more former (and discredited) tribal judges from a legitimate Pembina tribe. They are known to sell spurious tribal "memberships" and associated paperwork at Ramada Inn-type seminars -- the kind at which we saw militias organized in the 1990s -- and tell their customers these papers enable them to assert "immunity" from legitimate court prosecutions, traffic citations, foreclosures, and tax judgments, all on the grounds that the "tribal" courts have exclusive jurisdiction.

It's apparently quite popular in North Texas, having drawn many present and former Republic of Texas members as customers. (I'm told that some arrests were just made recently in Tarrant County based on "retaliation" charges, but I don't have details.)

The group that appears closest to being a legitimate representative of the tribe, such as it is, completely disavows these con artists:

We urge all that are members to use your common sense and see what is going on for what it really is; a scam, prepetuated by a few that want power and your money. You are not helping the Tribe or yourself.

For those who have been victimized through the mail we urge you to contact the United States postal authorities at the following Web Site.

What is going on here is an interesting permutation of the kind of right-wing scams we saw occurring in the 1990s, which themselves were kind of fresh takes on old right-wing monetary scams of the 1970s and '80s. It's the Freemen go Native.

Those who've read In God's Country are familiar with the milieu: Cobbling together a string of legal gobbledygook and odd citations from a bizarre range of sources, the scam artists will tell their angry, so-suspicious-they're-gullible taxpaying customers that they have figured out a way to place themselves above the "phony" laws of the mainstream -- namely, by becoming a "sovereign citizen." Once so anointed, you're no longer obligated to bother with such mortal nuisances as taxes, insurance, foreclosure laws, speed limits, traffic tickets, or library fines.

The Montana Freemen kind of perfected this scam in the '90s, though many others perpetrated a version of it and continue to operate freely. The "Little Shell Pembina Band" scam is an original take on this: By becoming a member of the tribe, one can claim such "sovereign citizenship." And just think: No more worries about gold-fringed flags, either!

John L., Kirk, as it happens, was one of these men. He didn't operate altogether freely, though -- not after he was arrested in 1996 and eventually convicted of felony bomb-building.

I attended his first trial. It was quite an experience.

Kirk, you see, has a long history of both unsavory behavior and right-wing extremism. He was one of eight men arrested and charged with conspiring to build bombs intended to be used, among other things, against federal agents at the Jordan, Montana, standoff involving the Freemen. He was one of the four clearly convicted by that original jury in the first trial, and got one of the stiffest sentences. For good reason.

As I explained in Chapter 11 of In God's Country, he was closely associated with another of the four self-proclaimed "Seattle Freemen" arrested, a shadowy fellow named William Smith who claimed a close friendship with Montana Freemen leader LeRoy Schweitzer:
While Smith was the man with the ideas, it was John Kirk who made them reality. Kirk, who had pleaded guilty in 1980 to molesting his daughters, met Smith through the same gatherings as Gene Goosman. This community was the remnant of the old McCarthyite anti-communist groups of the 1950s and 1960s that had floated about Seattle's fringes; Goosman had been been an official of Homer Brand's old Duck Club, the Seattle constitutionalist group whose paranoid style had convinced David Rice in 1986 that the entire Goldmark family was comprised of Communist conspirators, which in turn inspired Rice to hideously murder David and Annie Goldmark and their two children in their Madrona home on Christmas Eve that year. Since that incident, the radical right in Seattle kept an extremely low profile, and appeared to have drifted into virtual non-existence -- until, that is, John Kirk and the Freemen came along.

Kirk, who told his friends he had been in Special Forces in the Army, used to have work as a television repairman for J.C. Penney but had been out of a job since the 1980s; the couple got by on Judy's income from her job at Boeing as a data technician. John had taken to wearing a beard under his chin and talking about the big government conspiracy, and had become an active member in Goosman's community of Christian Patriots.

Kirk first made a splash as the co-founder of a Justus Township in rural Snohomish County, in the town of Sultan. With Bill Hardisty and another Patriot named Clayton McFarlan, they filed papers in Snohomish County declaring themselves "sovereign citizens" and establishing their township. The trio also turned up at a common-law court training session in Boise on December 14, 1995, convened by Gary DeMott's Idaho Sovereignty Association. Kirk told the gathering he intended to announce the court's formation the old-fashioned way -- by having a crier announce it from the steps of the post office. If such a crier actually did so, his appearance went unreported.

As Bill Hardisty later explained it, the "Justus Township" they had created was meant to encompass the entire "Washington republic," with all of that title's implications for the court system as well. He described it as "a geographical and political township that covers Washington state and a hell of a lot more." Evidently, the township also incorporated a common-law court.

Two weeks later, Kirk -- who actually lived with his wife, Judy, in the southern Seattle suburb of Tukwila -- presided as the "Referee/Magistrate" of the first recorded session of "our one supreme court Common Law, Washington republic." According to the document itself, the court was convened on Mercer Island at the home of James Gutschmidt, a Patriot who was attempting to stave off foreclosure on his property, who claimed in the document he was "not a Fourteenth Amendment citizen or subject ... not a resident, but a Citizen as described in the Holy Bible and in the Constitution prior to the Fourteenth Amendment."

The genuinely distasteful aspect of this is that Kirk is now championing the posthumous cause of a law-enforcement officer. But he was convicted of building bombs that were intended, at least originally, as part of an armament for dealing with federal agents in Jordan had that situation erupted into "another Waco" (it did not). He and his mates in the militia often expressed an eagerness to gun down law-enforcement officers themselves, as in the day they all went target shooting, and an informant named Ed Mauerer happened to have a tape recorder rolling:
The following week [after their first meeting], the training for the Seattle Freemen began in earnest. Six of them -- Kirk, Smith, Burton, Rice, Ross Tylor and another man who was never identified -- drove up from Seattle to meet Marlin Mack and Ed Mauerer for some target practice. They arrived an hour late; Smith was apologetic, explaining that it was his fault.

... The group drove out to a gun range and set up targets. Marlin Mack and Mauerer started explaining weaponry and how to use it -- which types of guns were most effective, and the conditions for using pistols as opposed to rifles or shotguns. Then they began firing away at human silhouette targets with the letters "ATF" printed on them. After awhile, Mauerer pulled down one of the chewed-up targets and joked about it with the Freeman who wouldn't give his name.

"That poor ATF guy's already dead a couple of times,’’ he laughed. "Been hit in the head, the nuts, the gut."

The Freeman had a better idea: "Should bring a couple of real ones and hang 'em up there."

The most chilling moment in the trial came, though, when prosecutors showed the videotape from the day that John Kirk showed up at Ed Mauerer's place and proceeded to build him a pipe bomb in his garage. Outside in the back yard -- with just a thin wall between them and the pipe bomb -- a group of young girls, gathered for a birthday party, squealed and played. An undercover FBI agent was present as well.
Finally, on June 14, all the pieces fell into place. It was a sunny day. Mauerer and German had agreed to rendezvous with the Freemen at a gas station on the edge of town, ostensibly to go up to test out some "toys" Kirk said he had for them. The Freemen were late, as usual, which gave Mauerer a chance to create some cover. When Kirk and Richard Burton arrived an hour after the anointed hour, Mauerer went to a phone and pretended to call the owner on whose land they were going to conduct the practice. He went back to the group and said they couldn't go up there now, because the owner's disapproving wife had returned from a shopping trip. Instead, Mauerer invited them over to his house.

When they arrived there, a birthday party for Mauerer's young daughter was under way in the back yard. The four men went to Mauerer's garage, where he had a workbench, to take a look at the "surprises" Kirk had for them in his bag. When they closed the door, Kirk set the bag down on the bench and pulled out some pipe bombs.

There were two completed pipe bombs, constructed of short, wide pieces of pipe and end caps with a fuse; Kirk also had the components to build another one, and the makings of a couple of pill-bottle bombs. When Kirk pulled them out, [undercover FBI agent Mike] German instinctively walked to the window to place himself between the bombs and the girls playing outside, whose squeals and laughs could be heard through the thin pane of glass separating them from the garage's interior. He stayed there for most of the demonstration.

Kirk himself scarcely blinked an eye. He proceeded to go through the steps of putting the bomb together, from selecting the right powder and tamping it down properly, placing the detonator squarely, to ensuring that no powder remained on the threads. If they weren't properly brushed out, Kirk warned the men, then even tiny amounts of powder could ignite in tiny flashes as the caps were being screwed on and set off the explosive inside: "You're holding a bomb," Kirk said, "and believe me, it'll take your head clean off." German shifted his position nearer the window.

It was clear Kirk expected one of the two "students" to learn bomb-making in a hands-on way; he asked the men which of them was going to do it. German was palpably reluctant -- "Ummmmmm...," he said -- and Mauerer was less than eager, but the informant quickly realized that German couldn't be in the position of building a bomb, so he stepped forward. He brushed out the threads some more and screwed the cap on slowly. The sound of laughing girls continued to filter through the window. When he was done, Mauerer let out a gasp and set the bomb down.

When the lesson was over, they packed the bombs into a box. The four men went back in the house and talked further. Kirk told German he had another bomb at home just like the one they had built, and could get that to them as well. German said he could come down the next morning and pick it up.

"Let me do this, Rock," Kirk said, "I'm not going to be there, but my wife is."


"So I'll tell her you're coming and I'll put this in a bag."

The next morning, German and Mauerer made the two-hour drive south to Tukwila. On the way down, German called Mack and told him he had a buyer. They made arrangements to meet that night.

When the two men arrived at the Kirks', no one answered the door, but it was open. They walked around to the back yard and found Judy playing there with a couple of her grandchildren, who were playing in the yard on a broken-down playset. "Rock" [German's nom de plume] introduced himself and they exchanged pleasantries. Judy Kirk went over to the barbecue grill, opened it, and pulled out a brown paper sack with the bomb inside.

"This was to keep little hands off it," Judy said, pointing to the grill and to the nearby children.

... When FBI agents later examined the bombs Mack and Kirk had made, their experts decided the militiamen had been extremely lucky. All the bombs had traces of powder in their threads; all could have gone off in their makers' hands, or even as they were being transferred. Twice, it had happened with children nearby.

None of this, of course, should reflect badly on poor Kara Dameron. She's clearly a sincere and well-meaning middle-schooler who's trying to do a good and right thing. Frankly, the district's policy sounds foolish, especially in the face of the kind of community support she's mustered.

But she has been snookered by a very skilled and adept con man with a truly vile track record, and no sign of having changed an iota: the current scam is just an update on the old one. What does he get out of scamming Kara Dameron? Legitimacy for his scam, which relies on drawing people into a belief system and then soaking them for large sums when they achieve True Believer status.

If the School Board has any wisdom at all, it will go ahead and name that new middle school after the heroic Officer Maher. But it will decline to do so on the basis that he has Native American affiliation. He does not. And the people trying to claim they can give it to him should receive some attention from genuine Native Americans.

Lefkow killings: Not terrorism

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a suicide in Wisconsin may have uncovered the identity of the person who killed Judge Lefkow's husband and mother -- and that person is not connected at all to the World Church of the Creator or any other white-supremacist movement:
Investigators today said a Chicago man who shot himself in the head during a traffic stop Wednesday evening in Wisconsin had a suicide note claiming responsibility for the slayings of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother last week.

Sources also said they recovered a stocking cap and coveralls from the van belonging to Bart Ross, possibly linking him to the sketch of the older of two suspicious individuals witnesses saw near the judge's Chicago home the day of the slayings.

"It was simply a suspicious vehicle. It turned out there could be much more involved here," West Allis Police Chief Dean Puschnig said at a news conference this morning in the Milwaukee suburb.

Separately, court documents show that in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Chicago, Ross blamed doctors for a medical procedure allegedly gone awry and lawyers and the courts for failing to give him relief. Lefkow dismissed the suit last September.

Other court records show Cook County sheriff's deputies attempted to serve Ross notice of eviction from his Northwest Side home on Feb. 28 -- the day someone shot execution-style Lefkow's husband and mother.

Given the abundance of other evidence at the scene, it seems highly likely this is indeed the killer. His note describes details only the killer could have known. Apparently he comes close to matching the elder of the two suspects police were seeking, taken from composite drawings.

The note also says he acted alone, and there's no suggestion he had an accomplice, either. The drawing of the older man was taken from a witness who saw someone lurking near the Lefkows' yard. The drawing of the younger man was taken from a witness who saw two men hanging out in a car in the neighborhood; that witness could only provide a composite for one of the two men.

So I think it's clear that, contrary to my speculation (and that of many others), this was not a case of domestic terrorism. The speculation was well-grounded and reasonable, but until we had more facts, it was always mere speculation.

What remains an interesting question, however, was the response on the extremist right, which amounted to reveling in the murders, not only as a "comeuppance," but also as a lever against other judges. It was a form of terroristic extortion: "Nice family you got there, judge. Be a shame to see anything happen to it."

I'll have more on that point soon.

UPDATE: Ross's DNA matches that found on the cigarette butt in the Lefkow home. That should seal it; the only potential remaining question is whether he acted alone, and there's no indication he didn't.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Hate reverberates

Has anyone else noticed how silent the right side of the pundit class -- ncluding the blogosphere -- is about the nasty remarks about liberals made by Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons of Nevada last week? I've been scanning them and haven't seen a word, either of approval or disapproval.

Which is kind of funny, considering the way they jumped all over Howard Dean for saying: "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for." Jeff Jacoby's response was typical:
Intense political passions are nothing new in American politics, and they are not limited to one side of the aisle. Plenty of Republicans despise Democrats. Some conservative authors and radio hosts sully themselves by resorting to insults and invective when talking about liberals. But the willingness of so many Democrats to openly call themselves "haters," to make contempt for the other party their stock-in-trade -- that is something we haven't seen before. No doubt there is a kind of crude pleasure in hating so uninhibitedly, but it's no way to rebuild a Democratic majority.

Why not? After all, it's worked perfectly well for Republicans.

Because as the Gibbons episode rather fully illustrates, naked hatred of the opposition has in fact been the stock-in-trade of the conservative movement for some time now.

As Atrios has pointed out, it turns out that Gibbons' speech was lifted whole from a copyrighted speech first delivered back in 2002:
ELKO - The speech delivered by U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., during Friday night's Lincoln Day Dinner in Elko was largely plagiarized from a copyrighted speech by Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman.

Chapman told the Elko Daily Free Press this morning Gibbons had not requested permission to use her speech, which she said she delivered Feb. 2, 2003, at a Stand Up for America rally in Alabama.

... Gibbons is under fire from Nevada Democrats for his speech in general and particularly the lines: "I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock stocking wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else."

Those words, with the exception of "I say," were taken verbatim from Chapman's speech.

Since then, Gibbons has only dug his hole deeper. It's a gift, I guess.

As Atrios suggests, the incident raises obvious issues regarding Gibbons' apparent plagiarism. But it also points to a deeper, more systemic issue.

It's disturbing enough that Gibbons, a congressman with actual power on Capitol Hill, would utter such hateful remarks. It's even more disturbing -- but really emblematic of the state of conservative discourse -- that there's nothing new to them.

Chapman's speech, titled "Stand Up For America," in fact seems to enjoy a great deal of popularity with the conservative crowd. (How Gibbons thought he could get away with using it without giving credit is a question only he can answer.) She copyrighted it because of its enormous spread among the right-wing Internet set.

But this kind of talk, in fact, well precedes 2002 (though, as we pointed out at the time, it certainly spread deep and wide among conservatives back then). Certainly, the 1990s were rife with examples, particularly if you were to go back through old transcripts of cable-TV talk shows and Rush Limbaugh radio broadcasts, because overt hatred of liberals was the raw fuel of the conservative movement in that decade, particularly during the runup to the Clinton impeachment fiasco.

It goes back even farther, though. It was not uncommon to hear it even back in the 1980s, when conservatives were first rising to consolidate their control of the Republican Party behind Ronald Reagan.

A recent Washington Post piece about Jack Abramoff, which discussed his long association with conservative-movement leaders Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, mentioned this:
While at the College Republicans, Abramoff, Norquist and Reed quickly earned reputations as zealots. Abramoff wrote in the 1983 annual report: "It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently." The group's recruits were required to memorize a speech that included the lines: "Democrats are the enemy. Wade into them! Spill their blood!"

This is, of course, the same Jack Abramoff who is now at the center of a fundraising scandal implicating House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. (See the Arizona Republic report for more details.)

Norquist has a history of similar propensities,, along with many other current conservative figures. Norquist, of course, is also embroiled in the current scandal.

In fact, Abramoff, Norquist, and DeLay are emblematic of a clear trend with the Republican hatemongers: Behind the nasty rhetoric is a nasty operative with no sense of ethics, people who are willing to say and do anything in order to win. People like that also have a tendency to indulge in all kinds of bad behavior when they think no one's looking. These three are only the recent examples; the conservative landscape is littered with such figures. Think of Rush "Oxycontin" Limbaugh, Bob "What hookers?" Livingston, Henry "Youthful indiscretions" Hyde, Newt "I believe in the instutition of marriage so much I've done it three times" Gingrich. And that's scratching the list.

But more significant has been the effect of their hatefulness on the national discourse over the past twenty years and more. It has grown nastier, more hateful, more degraded, precisely because of deliberate efforts by conservatives to make it so. When liberals have responded with temperate, reasoned answers, they have been brushed aside as weaklings. It's been like reasoning with the schoolyard bully after he takes your lunch money.

I actually don't think hatefulness is a constructive way to respond. But punching back, at some point, becomes necessary. Because sometimes, that's the only way to make bullies stop.

So it's kind of amusing that when liberals finally develop enough spine to respond in kind, these bullies cry foul. It's hard to have any sympathy for them -- unless, of course, you're a conservative.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Get us out, indeed

Now that that great supporter of the United Nations, John Bolton, has been named the American U.N. ambassador, I'd like to humbly suggest an excellent hire for the position of assistant ambassador, if there is such a job. (And if there isn't, they ought to create one.)

And I think President Bush should nominate John Trochmann of the Militia of Montana.

After all, this is a president who, as I've noted previously, has expressed nostalgia for those old John Birch Society billboards that shouted, "Get Us Out of the U.N.!" I think that when it comes to dealing realistically with the U.N., he'll find Trochmann right up his alley too, maybe even more so than Bolton.

Here's a brief excerpt from Chapter 4 of In God's Country, on Trochmann and M.O.M.:
He detailed for me the various troop and tank sightings that led him to believe that foreign troops were massing on, or in some cases within, our borders, preparing for a United Nations invasion of the U.S. Their ultimate intent: "A business takeover of America," he said.

What, I asked, like a corporate takeover? Multinational corporations?

"Correct. A financial investment. America has become a multi-trillion-dollar business to these people. And they believe that people like you and I are wasting their natural resources at much too rapid a pace. And we must be culled back.

"The investors, according to the information we have in print from the United Nations, will guarantee them up to 990 percent per year return on their investment, which is a pretty good incentive, especially for the politicians that are voting against the people. It's obvious where their love lies."

You're talking about a military action, aren't you?

"Yes," he said. "A military coup, if you like. Using foreign troops and foreign equipment."

Trochmann told me that Ruby Ridge and Waco were mere harbingers, test runs for what they intended to start doing to average citizens. Street-gang members from the Bloods and Crips, he said, were being trained in Spokane right then for house-to-house-search-and-seizure techniques. When the big crackdown came, they'd round people up, ship them off to concentration camps (which he said were already being built), and then "liquidate" them until the population was stabilized.

Obviously, Trochmann has many years' practical, on-the-ground experience in dealing with nefarious United Nations activity (which might make him qualified to be Homeland Security chief too, but I guess that job's been filled). Who better than a severe critic to keep an eye on this hopelessly corrupt operation?

I imagine Trochmann and Bolton would get along just great, don't you? Birds of a feather, as they say.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Carefully taught

Yeah, this sounds like just the kind of day-care center I'd want to drop my daughter off at:
State records call a recent inspection at a Sarasota child care home "routine," but some activities at the house are anything but typical.

The child care center, in a modest residential neighborhood, is also home to a self- professed white supremacist and neo-Nazi who hosts a well-known Web site and Internet radio show.

Michael Herbert Blevins, who calls himself "Von Bluvens," has been a leader in the white supremacist movement, according to national watchdog groups.

In interviews posted on various Web sites, Blevins, whose wife, Bernadette, operates the day care, has advocated shipping blacks back to Africa, deporting Mexicans and wholesale "extermination" of non- whites. He also has called for putting Jews to sleep and produced artwork of an apparent gas chamber with the title "Haulocost: This time it's for real."

A neighbor says she has seen a Nazi flag in a back bedroom of the home, down the hall from where young children spend the day.

Sarasota County officials, who regulate child care homes under a state contract, say they have no reason to close the day care. They stress they have found nothing that violates health and safety regulations, and they also must consider Blevins' constitutional right to free speech.

It's true that the Blevinses have every right to operate their business. But you have to wonder about any parent who knowingly subjected their child to that environment. It would border on abuse.


Here's an outtake from the transcript of the Friday, March 4, edition of Dateline NBC, dealing with the reaction to the Lefkow murders on the far right, including people like Hal Turner, whose activities in this case are already cause for concern:
[DENNIS] MURPHY: (Voiceover) There's no question that white supremacist Web sites and forums buzzed this week with the news of the Chicago murder. Bloggers like Hal Turner, writing his Web page form his house in New Jersey, put up a picture of Judge Lefkow with the caption, "Gotcha."

(Web pages; Hal Turner working at computer; Web page)

MURPHY: In the names of all things decent in civilization, where does that kind of sentiment come from?

Mr. HAL TURNER: Because it was factual.

MURPHY: You were happy that...


MURPHY: ...those people were murdered?

Mr. TURNER: No, not at all. "Gotcha" was more of a ribbing, a zing, a...

MURPHY: A ribbing? This..

Mr. TURNER: Yep. This judge chose to make rulings in--in a case against people that I know. It was almost as though she had gotten a comeuppance.

MURPHY: (Voiceover) Turner says he's been questioned by federal agent this is week about the murders of judge Lefkow's family. He denies any involvement. But Matt Hale vs. the judge has been regular fodder for Turner's rants, going back to 2002 when he had a shortwave radio show. He said then that while killing the judge might be illegal, it wouldn't be wrong.

(Turner; Lefkow home; Turner working at computer; photo of Turner wearing earphones; photo of Joan)

Mr. TURNER: I have rendered an opinion that what she did on the bench makes her worthy of being killed, yeah.

MURPHY: Do you still believe that?

Mr. TURNER: Yeah. Yep, that's my opinion.

Turner's sentiments, obviously, tell us all we need to know about these wretches. Even if the Lefkow killings turn out to be unrelated to the World Church of the Creator, people like Turner are clearly using the event to intimidate the judiciary. They're saying: "See? This is what happens when you don't rule in our favor." It's a form of terrorism.

If that isn't a crime, it ought to be.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Targeting judges

Far more interesting than the official reaction to the murders of Judge Lefkow's hudband and mother has been that of other white nationalists and even supposedly "mainstream" conservatives, like the fine folks at Free Republic. For the definitive rundown from a red-blooded point of view, Jesus' General has all the key posts, notably these:
This may be a blessing in disguise. Our country is grappling with judges who do not understand that there is a war, and issues about "torture", rights for enemy combatants and etc, these new threats may wake them up because for the first time in these judges lives, they are vulnerable and threaten. Survival is no longer an academic thing. Make a dumb ruling that undermines the police and military ability to fight criminals and terrorists have personal consequences.
17 posted on 03/05/2005 4:53:40 PM PST by Fee

They know who the left wing judges, reporters and university professors are.

It is simply a matter of each individuals 'activist' choosing a suitable target and then taking action.
5 posted on 03/05/2005 4:42:23 PM PST by BenLurkin

Those were merely anonymous posters in a mostly impotent right-wing forum. Hal Turner -- whose activities on this matter have been noted previously, including by law enforcement -- has not taken it another notch and begun specifically targeting more judges.

He was planning on doing this tonight, evidently, on Geraldo Rivera's Fox show, giving his plan a national kickoff. He outlined it, however, on his Web site.

Turner points out, correctly, that Matt Hale was actually given a favorable ruling by Judge Lefkow. [Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune has more on this: Hale in fact targeted Lefkow "simply because he believed she'd married a Jewish man (her husband is an active Episcopalian) and he believed there was a racially mixed marriage in her family."]

However, he then goes on to name, as the "real villains" in this scenario, three "certain judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals," giving their office addresses, and goes on to say:
With the federal judiciary in the spotlight over the Lefkow killings, it seems to me that much of the efforts of pro-whites to criticize Judge Lefkow were. . . . . . . misplaced. As such, I believe it is time to put the judges named above into the arena of public scrutiny.

Let them experience rousing public debate which they cannot control. Let them feel the pressure of public scorn which they cannot control. Let them see it and hear it at their courthouse, at their private homes, in their social circles and, of course, here on the internet.

Clearly the federal judiciary is not nearly as thick-skinned as they would have us believe. Given the Lefkow situation, federal judges are whining for more protection even though there is not one shred of evidence indicating the Lefkow killings are even related to the Judge's court docket!

In terms of public relations, - whether one is "for" or "against" - it is always best to "strike while the iron is hot." Given the media spectacle, public awareness, frayed nerves and serious concern over the Lefkow situation, the timing is perfect right now to stoke the fire of public opinion against these other Judges.

Now, as far as launching public pressure campaigns go, Turner may be demonstrating tremendous insensitivity by targeting three specific judges for such a campaign, but legally speaking, he is probably within his rights in doing so.

But he crosses the line in short order:
Needed immediately is: Home addresses of the aforementioned Judges. Background and Biographical info. Photos. Voting records, property ownership records. Info about any skeletons in their closets: alcoholism, drug use, homosexuality/lesbianism, race-mixed families . . . .You know, the whole nine yards. The full monty.

This strikes me as a manifest threat, particularly his plan to publicize their home addresses and gather private information about them. I imagine the Marshals Service and the FBI may see it the same way, but I could be wrong. (In the Sun-Times today, Turner says: "There is nothing on that page that should even remotely should be deemed as an illegal threat." I'm not so sure, particularly given this specific context, in which members of a judge's family were assassinated in their home.

Of course, he adds the non-sequitur at the end:
Please do not break any laws when undertaking your efforts.

Sure. Just like Matt Hale told Benjamin Smith [PDF file] not to break any laws.

The Sgrena scandal

There needs to be a full-fledged investigation of the attack on Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, and not just an in-house job by the White House.

That's the only conclusion I can reach after reading this:
"I remember only fire," she wrote in Il Manifesto, which fiercely opposed the war in Iraq. "At that point a rain of fire and bullets came at us, forever silencing the happy voices from a few minutes earlier."

Sgrena said the driver began shouting that they were Italian, then "Nicola Calipari dove on top of me to protect me and immediately, and I mean immediately, I felt his last breath as he died on me."

Suddenly, she said, she remembered her captors' words, when they warned her "to be careful because the Americans don’t want you to return."

Sgrena wrote that her captors warned her as she was about to be released not to signal her presence to anyone, because "the Americans might intervene." She said her captors blindfolded her and drove her to a location where she was turned over to agents and they set off for the airport.

Laura Flanders talked about the problem yesterday on her radio program (via Mark Crispin Miller):
While US military spokespeople allege that Calipari's car was speeding, unidentified, towards an Army checkpoint, Sgrena's life-partner, Pier Scolari, told Italian media that Calipari's car was a few hundred meters from the airport and already past all US checkpoints when the attack began.

Sermonti, who spoke with Scolari, says, further, that "Calipari was speaking in English with someone in the airport telling them to get ready [for Sgrena's arrival] when, just as they reached the airport, without any warning, the [US forces] opened fire."

"They're talking about 300 bullets from different weapons," said Sermonti. US military spokespeople say soldiers fired at the car's engine block. "With heavy weapons, bullets fly all over," responds Sermonti. "From the reconstruction of the events, it's a miracle everyone isn't dead."

In addition to the shrapnel in her shoulder, Sermonti told Air America Radio that Sgrena also sustained an injury to her lung.

According to Scolari, says Sermonti, Giuliana had been warned by her captives that "the Americans didn't want her to get out of Iraq."

At the time of her abduction, Giuliana was heading to an area of Baghdad where witnesses from Fallujah are staying to interview Fallujah refugees about the US assault on their city last year. Says Sermonti:

"She had some information about the use of illegal weapons by US forces in Fallujah that was very sensitive. A very hot topic. There were rumors of some use of chemicals and a number of weapons that are not legal -- like [napalm] and phosphorus."

The official account is becoming less convincing all the time:
"As you know, in a situation where there is a live combat zone, particularly this road to the airport, has been a notorious area for car bombs, that people are making split-second decisions, and it's critically important that we get the facts before we make judgments," [White House spokesman Dan] Bartlett said on CNN’s "Late Edition."

I agree that we need the facts first. But as Bartlett himself has demonstrated previously, the facts have never stopped this White House crew from lying through their teeth anyway.

In the meantime, I wonder if Eason Jordan is feeling a little vindicated today.