Jan. 14, 2008 | On a hot subtropical Sunday, deep in the humid brush bordering the Everglades west of Miami, Osiel Gonzalez squints down the worn barrel of an AK-47 rifle and squeezes the trigger. With a crack and kick the bullet whizzes over a field of neatly trimmed grass and hits a human silhouette on a paper target 40 yards away.
Gonzalez wipes the sweat off his brow and smiles. Perspiration stains the neck and armpits of his camouflage jacket. All around him are men in fatigues, some flat-bellied on the grass shooting rounds, others cleaning their weapons or picking through ammunition boxes. The air is thick with cigar smoke. At age 71, Gonzalez is still one of the best marksmen at this training camp for Alpha 66, the paramilitary Cuban exile group formed in 1961 "with the intention of making commando type attacks on Cuba," as the organization's Web site baldly puts it. Gonzalez hopes to put his skills to use when the second revolution comes, the one that will tear his homeland free from the grip of communist dictator Fidel Castro. At that point Gonzalez hopes to have a Cuban soldier in his sights, not a paper silhouette.
Plans to attack Cuba are constantly being hatched in South Florida. Over the years militant exiles have been linked to everything from downing airliners to hit-and-run commando raids on the Cuban coast to hotel bombings in Havana. They've killed Cuban diplomats and made numerous attempts on Castro's life.
But, other than an occasional federal gun charge, nothing much seems to happen to most of these would-be revolutionaries. They are allowed to train nearly unimpeded despite making explicit plans to violate the 70-year-old U.S. Neutrality Act and overthrow a sovereign country's government. Though separate anti-terror laws passed in 1994 and 1996 would seem to apply directly to their activities, no one has ever been charged for anti-Cuban terrorism under those laws. And 9/11 seems to have changed nothing. In the past few years in South Florida, a newly created local terrorism task force has investigated Jose Padilla and the hapless Seas of David cult, and juries have delivered mixed reviews, but no terrorism charges have been brought against anti-Castro militants. The federal government has even failed to extradite to other countries militants who are credibly accused of acts of murder. Among the most notorious is Luis Posada Carriles, wanted for bombing a Cuban jet in 1976 and Havana hotels in 1997. It is, perhaps, a testament to the power of South Florida's crucial Cuban-American voting bloc -- and the political allegiances of the current president.
In Greater Miami, home to the majority of the nation's 1.5 million Cuban-Americans, the presence of what could credibly be described as a terrorist training camp has become an accepted norm during the half-century of the anti-Castro Cuban diaspora. Alpha 66 and numerous other paramilitary groups -- Comandos F4, Brigade 2506, Accion Cubana -- are so common they've taken on the benign patina of Rotary Clubs with weapons.
But Alpha 66 members are eager to remind you that even if they are graying and prosperous they are not toothless old tigers. Their Web site boasts that "in recent years" they've sabotaged Cuba's tourist economy by attacking hotels in the beach resort of Caya Coco. At the group's headquarters in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, the walls are hung with the portraits of dozens of men who have died on Alpha 66 missions.
To reach Alpha 66's South Florida camp you have to drive to the farmlands west of Miami's sprawl, then wait for a guide. You follow the guide down a winding, pitted dirt road for a few miles until you get to a gate and a yellow watchtower hung with an old-fashioned school bell. Behind a wall of trees and shrubs is a compound that looks like a hunting lodge. A low-slung wood-plank bunker with a deck and awning provides refuge from the sun.
Before hitting the range, the men -- there are no women here today -- had done maneuvers, marching in double file around the field, while a short, barrel-chested former Cuban army officer named Ivan Ayala barked directions: "Columna izquierda!" Many of the aging, uniformed men laboring to make it around the field are veterans of the failed CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and alumni of Castro's jails. Some, like Osiel Gonzalez, even fought alongside Castro against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, before Castro's turn toward communism. Most, if you believe them, have a "commando" mission or two with Alpha under their belts -- landing on a remote beach and burning sugar cane fields, or strafing a shoreline with machine-gun fire. In other words, they've walked the walk of counterrevolutionary violence, even if it's now reduced to a shuffle.
They deny they have anything in common with the militants hiding in the caves of Afghanistan and Pakistan. "No, we are not terrorists," says Gonzalez, the second-in-command and a co-founder of the group who, when he is not donning fatigues and shouldering a rifle, is a financial consultant. "We don't want to kill civilians."
"Our goal is to free our country for our children and grandchildren," drawls Al Bacallao, who has already retreated to the porch's shade behind Gonzalez and the shooting range. The 61-year-old Bacallao was raised in Georgia after arriving from Cuba at age 8, and is the rare Cuban exile with a Southern twang. "The United States fought for its liberty, why can't we?"
But Alpha members may have a fluid definition of what a civilian is. Raking the coast with .50-caliber machine-gun fire certainly does not exclude civilian casualties, nor does attacking tourist spots. By his own admission, Bacallao, who joined Alpha 66 23 years ago, has gone on several missions to Cuba. In 1993 U.S. authorities arrested him and a boatload of other men setting out for the island.
"Our plan was to land and make a hit and run -- those are the best actions, you know," recounts Bacallao, as rifle shots punctuate the air. "And we had everything on board; a .50 caliber gun, hand grenades, AK-47s, plastic explosives. We had enough to blow up Florida, Georgia and Alabama!" He lands hard on the "bam" in Alabama. Then he laughs. "But we broke down. The motor started failing and the currents were strong. Eventually we were picked up."
"Let me tell you, we were treated like animals," he says. "And all we were trying to do was liberate our country."
But if he was treated like an animal, he is not in a cage. Federal prosecutors charged him and his companions with illegal weapons possession but a judge dismissed the case against most of the men, and a jury found the rest not guilty. Like other anti-Castro exiles before him, despite violent acts he is free to continue reporting to the training camp, and free to continue preparing for counter-revolution.
When it comes to South Florida and terror, the official line from current and former federal law enforcement officials is that the law is enforced without fear or favor. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, R. Alexander Acosta, declined comment for this story, but several of his predecessors insisted to Salon that the law is applied objectively and without regard to local or national politics.
"I don't think there has ever been or is presently a refusal to consider more aggressive charges if the evidence truly sustains them," asserts Kendall Coffey, who was the Southern District's U.S. attorney from 1993 to 1996 and is now a prominent defense lawyer. Coffey adds that he never experienced pressure from his bosses in Washington regarding Cuban militants. "Not at all," he says.
"The politics of a case simply do not come into play," states Guy Lewis, U.S. attorney in South Florida from 2000 to 2002.
Judy Orihuela, spokeswoman for the FBI's Miami office, insists the agency will investigate any group that intends to violate U.S. law and poses a violent threat. At the Department of Justice in Washington, Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the national security division, rejects the notion that federal law enforcement shows leniency toward exile militants. Boyd maintains the DOJ would never attempt to influence a local case for political reasons and is blind to community or political pressure. "We pursue charges based on the evidence, not on other considerations," he says.
"That's sheer bullshit," counters Wayne Smith, who was chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba under Presidents Carter and Reagan from 1979 to 1982, making him the de facto U.S. ambassador to Havana. Smith, who now runs the Cuba Program at the D.C.-based Center for International Policy, invokes the names of two of the most notorious Cuban exiles to argue that the U.S. does, in fact, play favorites. "We are certainly not applying these laws objectively in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, Orlando Bosch and a whole lot of others who have been involved in terrorist activities. We say that countries must take action against terrorists, but we're clearly not. And I think it's because we're sympathetic to their actions."
At the beginning of Castro's reign, the U.S. was more than sympathetic to the militant exiles. In the 1960s, the U.S. government actively encouraged and supported anti-Castro violence, including the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion. "Throughout most of the 1960s, rolling back the Cuban revolution through violent exile surrogates remained a top U.S. priority," says Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive and a specialist on U.S. policy toward Cuba. With exile involvement, the U.S. government made numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro between 1961 and 1975, though the number cited in the title of the British documentary "638 Ways to Kill Castro" may be an exaggeration. Many anti-Castro Cubans went to work for U.S. intelligence and compiled long résumés of covert activity. In the 1980s, some assisted with the Reagan administration's covert effort to arm the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
Cuban-American entanglement with the CIA eventually bled into U.S. politics; two of the five "plumbers" who broke into the Democratic Party's national headquarters at the Watergate in 1972 were Cuban-American. Tolerance for anti-Castro militancy, meanwhile, also had domestic consequences. Throughout the '60s and '70s and into the '80s, exiles carried out dozens of bombings and assassinations in Miami and other American cities, targeting people they deemed too accommodating to the Castro government.
Over time, as Kornbluh notes, the exiles seemed to change their approach somewhat as they aged and as they prospered economically -- and as the CIA backed away. By the 1980s, says Kornbluh, support for militancy "shifted from official funding to private backing from wealthy Cuban-Americans." Much of the anti-Castro activism among Cuban-Americans was directed by a Miami businessman named Jorge Mas Canosa, head of the Cuban American National Foundation. Cuban intelligence, and even anti-Castro militants, have linked CANF to violent plots targeting Cuba.
Still, however, the militants continued to train within the borders of the U.S., and to amass weaponry. Retired Army Col. Larry Wilkerson remembers attending briefings during Caribbean war game exercises from 1992 to 1997 where he learned of the exiles' capabilities. "We would always be fed this intelligence and I was astounded at how many suspected caches of arms they had access to not just in Florida, but in California, New Jersey and other places; light machine guns, grenades, C4, dynamite, all manner of side arms and long arms," recalls Wilkerson, who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff from 2002 to 2005. "It was a veritable terrorist haven. This is Hezbollah in Florida, if you're looking at it through Havana's eyes."
In general, it would be hard to deny that the U.S. government has at least created the appearance that it is willing to tolerate a great deal of legally questionable behavior. But to be fair, even if federal prosecutors want to be objective, they are part of a political culture where such decorous sentiments aren't always honored. Juries, judges -- even the prosecutor's families -- are liable to feel the tug of local anti-Castro feeling. "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Castro," Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami recently told a British documentary crew. Ros-Lehtinen, who has also publicly expressed support for famed militant Orlando Bosch, is married to Dexter Lehtinen, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Even outside South Florida, juries can balk at convicting anti-Castro exiles. In 1997, the U.S. Attorney in Puerto Rico charged seven Cuban exiles with attempted murder of a foreign official after authorities searched a boat in Puerto Rico and found sniper rifles and night vision goggles, and interviewed a defendant who revealed a plan to whack Castro in Venezuela. The defendants tried to get a change of venue to South Florida and failed, but still succeeded in finding a sympathetic panel. A Puerto Rican jury acquitted the men of the attempted murder charges.
In perhaps the highest-profile criminal case involving Cuban exiles, federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., were unable to keep suspects in the assassination of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier behind bars. Five Cuban-Americans were alleged to have played roles in the murder of Letelier and his American aide by car-bomb in D.C. in 1976. Three years later, Alvin Ross Diaz and Guillermo Novo Sampoll were convicted of murder and conspiracy to murder a foreign official and sentenced to life. Novo Sampoll's brother Ignacio was convicted on lesser charges.
Ross Diaz and Guillermo Novo Sampoll ended up serving less than five years, however, after winning a new trial and then acquittals. Ignacio Novo Sampoll, whose initial sentence was only three years, also had his conviction overturned on appeal. The last two defendants, Virgilio Paz Romero and Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, eluded capture for 15 years, and then cut deals allowing them to serve less than a dozen years apiece. After his release, Guillermo Novo Sampoll would be arrested in Panama for plotting to murder Fidel Castro.
Today, federal law enforcement's de facto approach toward militant exiles seems to be to infiltrate and monitor them and attempt to disrupt their "missions" as they're launched. The Cuban government would maintain that the U.S. does not show sufficient interest in this limited task.
In 1997, Cuban intelligence agents discovered an exile plot to blow up airplanes carrying tourists to and from Cuba, according to a report released by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, Havana's diplomatic post in the U.S. Castro himself wrote a letter to then-President Clinton asking for help investigating the plot, given the potential impact on both countries.
On June 15, 1998, a delegation of FBI agents went to Havana. The Cubans say they gave the agents documents, surveillance videos and samples from a defused bomb found in one of the hotels. The Cubans alleged the evidence led back to individuals in Miami. But when the FBI left, the Cubans claim they never heard anything more about the matter. Instead, three months after returning stateside, FBI agents arrested a network of 10 Cuban intelligence agents -- the source of much of the shared bombing information. Five of them pleaded guilty and received minimal sentences. Five others are serving terms ranging from 15 years to life. Havana has waged a prolonged propaganda campaign to free them.
One former law enforcement official dismisses the Cuban government's version of events. "They gave the FBI manila folders with a bunch of newspaper articles in them," the official scoffs, pointing out that the spy network had been under investigation for more than a year before the arrests.
When the feds do disrupt a mission and federal prosecutors do follow up criminally, they often charge the exiles with illegal weapons possession, a crime that carries a five-year prison sentence, rather than more serious offenses. Prosecutors have proven willing to accept lenient plea bargains and ask for lenient sentences. They have done so despite the fact that in 1994 and 1996, Congress passed laws that would give them far greater latitude to crack down on violent anti-Castro militants.
The 1994 Violent Crime and Control and Law Enforcement Act, an anti-terrorism measure passed after the first attack on New York's World Trade Center, made it illegal to knowingly provide material assistance for terrorist activity. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 was also intended to deter terrorism. The section titled "Conspiracy to Harm People and Property Overseas" states that anyone within the jurisdiction of the U.S. who conspires to commit "an act that would constitute the offense of murder, kidnapping, or maiming" abroad faces punishment up to life in prison.
During the Clinton administration, no anti-Castro militants were prosecuted under those laws. And then came the Bush administration, and 9/11.
In 2001, George Bush was inaugurated as president on the strength of Florida's 25 electoral votes. One reason he got close enough in the state's popular vote for the U.S. Supreme Court to hand him the victory was because Florida's Cuban voters supported him by a lopsided ratio of 4 to 1. His brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, had already established ties to the state's Cuban community, which had supported him by a similar margin in the gubernatorial election two years earlier. Jeb had also served as a campaign manager for Cuban-American Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 1988, and during that campaign had called his father, George, then the vice president and a candidate for president, to enlist his help in blocking the deportation of militant Orlando Bosch.
All three Bushes have relied on Cuban-American money and support to carry Florida. In 2004, President George W. Bush placed new restrictions on U.S. citizens and Cuban residents in the U.S. who want to visit relatives on the island, and increased enforcement of the embargo against Cuba. To date, his administration has not invoked the 1994 and 1996 anti-terror laws against any anti-Castro militants.
The support of unsavory characters simply because they were fighting our fight was more understandable when we were engaged in a global war on communism. But given the Bush administration's "war on terror," some experts think our government's approach to Cuban militants within our own borders harms our credibility. "There's always some discretion allowed prosecutors, but generally the goal is to apply the laws equitably," explains Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, who has written about anti-terrorist laws and formerly taught at St. Thomas University in Miami. "If you don't, you undermine the legitimacy not only of U.S. law, but our standing in the world. Governments in Latin America now profoundly distrust us because we don't apply the same rules when dealing with Cuba that we do to the Middle East."
Under Bush, the FBI continues to monitor Cuban groups, but Miami spokeswoman Judy Orihuela says the agency considers the militants to be of "diminished capacity." The administration has its own ideas about who is and isn't a terrorist.
In August 2007, less than 30 miles from the Alpha 66 training camp, a federal jury in downtown Miami convicted a Brooklyn-born Muslim convert named Jose Padilla of conspiracy to kidnap, maim or kill people abroad. His sentencing hearing began last Wednesday; he faces up to life in prison. Although the military originally alleged he planned to detonate a dirty bomb in the U.S., the criminal case finally brought against him charged he plotted overseas attacks and plotted to provide support to terrorists as part of a U.S.-based terrorist cell. Prosecutors used the 1996 terrorism law in this case.
In December 2007, a federal jury failed to convict any of seven adherents of the Seas of David group of terror-related charges. The members of the tiny religious sect, who were also charged under the 1996 law, had allegedly conspired to purchase weapons from an informant they believed to be a representative of al-Qaida, and were supposedly plotting to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and a federal building in Florida. When the FBI raided the group's headquarters, the most serious weapons agents found were three machetes and some handgun bullets. They never found any plans for a terrorist plot. The jury acquitted one man on all charges and could not agree on verdicts for the other six defendants. The judge declared a mistrial; the U.S. Attorney's office plans to retry the men in 2008.
The 1994 and 1996 anti-terror laws have been invoked more than 40 times since 9/11, but never against anti-Castro militants. If authorities in South Florida wanted to apply the same scrutiny to Cuban-Americans that they applied to Padilla, who is Puerto Rican, and the Seas of David group, which was largely Haitian-American, they could surely find some suspects who have both a training camp and more weaponry than machetes. Among the South Florida residents who might bear some scrutiny:
Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat -- Cuban authorities allege that Alvarez, a founder of Alpha 66 who is now a Miami developer, was on board a motorboat that strafed the shoreline of a Cuban fishing village in 1971 killing two men and wounding four others, including two young girls.
Alvarez is known to have provided financial and other material support to Luis Posada Carriles and other militants. In April of 2001 Cuban authorities reported capturing three Miami area residents after they clambered ashore with AK-47 assault rifles, an M-3 carbine fitted with a silencer and three semi-automatic Makarov pistols. While in custody, one of the men phoned Alvarez, while Cuban agents recorded the call. "The other day, when you told me about the Tropicana, do you want me to do something there?" Ihosvani Suris de la Torre asked, referring to a popular nightclub. Alvarez responded: "If you want to do that there, so much the better. Makes no difference to me." Cuba asked the FBI to do a voice analysis to prove it was Alvarez. The FBI has never acknowledged opening an investigation. The Cuban government released a transcript of the call to foreign journalists and broadcast audio of it on national television.
Through his lawyer, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida Kendall Coffey, Alvarez told Salon he was not involved in the operation and was only trying to help Suris; he knew the call was being recorded, and that Suris faced the firing squad, so he wanted to say something that would make Suris appear to be providing valuable assistance to his captors.
But Alvarez sounded supportive in a 2001 interview with the Miami New Times. "My first connection with them is that we all believe that in order to fight Castro we have to fight in Cuba," he said in a previously unpublished portion of the interview, adding, "We're not terrorists."
In 2005 federal agents searched an apartment Alvarez kept north of Miami in Broward County and found a store of military hardware including an M-11 A1 machine gun, two Colt AR-15 assault rifles, a silencer, and a Heckler & Koch grenade launcher. Agents arrested Alvarez and his assistant, Osvaldo Mitat.
According to Peter Margulies, prosecutors could have considered charging Alvarez with providing material support for terrorist activity, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life. Instead, they charged Alvarez and Mitat with seven counts of illegal weapons possession.
Both pleaded guilty to one of the counts. The judge sentenced Mitat to about three years and Alvarez to just under four years. "While I have always been passionately interested in a free and democratic Cuba, I recognize that any conduct of mine must occur within the bounds of the law," Alvarez stated at his sentencing. After the plea, Alvarez supporters, who were able to remain anonymous, brokered a deal with prosecutors through a lawyer. In exchange for even more weapons, including 200 pounds of dynamite, 14 pounds of C-4 explosives and 30 assault weapons, the judge further reduced Alvarez's sentence to 30 months.
"Alvarez and Mitat are the paradigm of Miami justice," Miguel Alvarez, chief advisor to Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba's National Assembly of the People's Power, says wryly. "They confiscate a cache of arms from them, they try them, and when they turn over another cache of arms, they reduce their sentences. It's amazing."
Wonders Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive: "What was all that hardware for? Why did they let him plea bargain without getting the story on what he planned to do with all those weapons?"
"You can bet your bottom dollar," says Jose Pertierra, the Washington, D.C., attorney hired by the Venezuelan government to press for the extradition of militant Luis Posada, "if their names were Mohammed they wouldn't be as lenient and they'd certainly be looking for the rest of the arms."
Gaspar Jimenez -- Jimenez was indicted in the 1976 car bombing of Cuban-American radio commentator and critic of exile violence Emilio Milian in Miami. The U.S. attorney dropped the charges. In 1977 Mexican authorities arrested Jimenez and two others for attempting to kidnap the Cuban consul and killing the consul's bodyguard. Jimenez escaped and was rearrested in Miami in 1978. He was deported to Mexico and served less than three years. In 2000, he was jailed in Panama for attempting to assassinate Castro, as were Guillermo Novo, Pedro Remon and Luis Posada Carriles. All four were pardoned by the Panamanian president in 2004.
Pedro Remon -- One of the four exiles arrested in Panama for the Castro assassination plot, Remon was also arrested in 1985 in the United States for a bombing at the Cuban mission to the United Nations in New York. He was indicted for the murder of Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia-Rodriguez in New York and the attempted murder of the Cuban ambassador. He was sentenced to 10 years on reduced charges.
And then there's Luis Posada Carriles. With Orlando Bosch, he is a suspect in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people. Posada is perhaps the most wanted of all of Miami's militants. "Certainly what Posada is accused of fits [the] standard [of the terrorism acts]," says Margulies.
"The Santiago and Posada cases create some real questions about whether we are applying the law in this matter in an objective manner. The premise of the anti-terrorism laws, including providing material support, is that people who are in this country shouldn't plan violence in another country, because 1) it is inherently wrong, particularly if it involves civilians, and 2) it can entangle the U.S. in complications, including war."
But the idea of indicting Posada as a terrorist would prompt laughter in many Cuban exile circles, if not a few bomb threats.
It's a warm night in Westchester, a largely Cuban suburb southwest of Miami. Shade trees sway outside the folksy Miami Havana restaurant; inside waiters pour sangria in the rear dining room, which is packed with heavily perfumed women draped in gold jewelry and men in starched guayaberas. Alpha 66 is hosting this fundraiser to repair storm damage at its training camp, but it is also a pep rally for "the struggle," la lucha.
Shortly after the American and Cuban national anthems play over a scratchy sound system but before the chicken and rice is served, an old man with neatly combed white hair enters through the French doors. He is barely visible behind a scrum of men who quickly surround him. Diners crane to see. They begin to whisper. Then clap. Soon there is a standing ovation. Luis Posada Carriles, the hero of the counter-revolution, is making his way to the head table.
"Bambi" Posada, 79, is wearing a light gray suit, white shirt and dark tie. As he sits down, the crowd asks him to speak. Talking publicly is not his strong suit after an assassination attempt in 1990 took out a chunk of his tongue. Nonetheless he mumbles a thanks to the crowd for their support, then sits down. During dinner a 9 mm Beretta pistol is raffled. The winner is a young mother.
The Cuban government has implicated Posada in a series of 1997 Havana hotel bombings, which killed an Italian tourist and injured 11 people. In 1998 Posada, a former CIA and Venezuelan intelligence operative, told the New York Times that he was responsible for the bombings. The Venezuelan government wants Posada for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, which killed 73 people. Although Havana-bound Cubana Flight 455 originated in Trinidad and Tobago, the plot was allegedly hatched by Posada in Caracas. Two men who worked for Posada admitted to the crime, but Posada has repeatedly denied any involvement in that attack.
Venezuelan authorities arrested Posada and Orlando Bosch in 1976 for planning the bombing. Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985, in an operation allegedly funded by Jorge Mas Canosa, and fled to El Salvador. He then began working for a CIA-led gun-running operation. Posada was paid $3,000 per month by Oliver North deputy Maj. Gen. Richard Secord to funnel guns to the Nicaraguan Contras. After the Iran-Contra debacle, he remained in Central America as an advisor to the Guatemalan government.
In 2000 Panamanian authorities arrested Posada and three Miami Cubans for a plot to bomb a Panamanian auditorium where Castro was scheduled to give a speech. Posada was in possession of a gym bag full of C4 explosives. The four men were convicted on related charges in 2004; one was a CANF employee, another was Pedro Remon. Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, a close U.S. ally, pardoned all four men that same year just before she left office. All of them returned to Miami except Posada.
In 2005 Posada entered the U.S illegally; he was later arrested with a false passport and jailed. He requested political asylum in April and the Venezuelan government requested his extradition in May. A U.S. immigration judge in Texas rejected Venezuela's request when prosecutors did not challenge Posada's assertion he'd be tortured if sent back. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said publicly in 2005 that the Cuban and Venezuelan charges against Posada "may be a completely manufactured issue." Posada was held by U.S. immigration authorities from May 2005 to April 2007, when he was released on bail. In May 2007, a U.S. district judge tossed out all charges of immigration fraud against him.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Castro ally, has vowed to do all he can to prosecute Posada. "They have wanted to stonewall the extradition by giving the appearance of criminal prosecution on lesser matters," says Jose Pertierra, Venezuela's Washington attorney. "They use that at diplomatic meetings. They tell government officials from Venezuela, 'We're taking care of the Posada matter. We have a criminal investigation going on.'"
Whatever authorities might be investigating, whether it is Posada's role in the Havana bombings or his fake passport, "doesn't even compare with an extradition involving 73 counts of first-degree murder," Pertierra says. "Can you imagine Osama bin Laden [entering] Pakistan on a camel," he adds, "and Pakistani immigration authorities telling the White House that they don't want to extradite Osama bin Laden for murder because they've got him on an immigration charge?"
Eduardo Soto, Posada's lawyer in the immigration case, asserts that the international convention against torture prohibits his client's extradition to Venezuela. "You could be a convicted mass murderer, you could be Adolf Hitler, it matters not, if there is a possibility that he would be tortured in countries that would [otherwise] be entitled to take him," Soto says. It helped Posada's case that federal prosecutors didn't contest this claim.
There is another option. "Either extradite him to the country that is demanding him, Venezuela, or try him as if the act, the bombing of the Cubana plane, had been committed in U.S. territory," says Cuba's Miguel Alvarez, citing agreements hammered out at the Montreal Convention of 1991 on explosives, one of a series of international conventions meant to spell out the obligations of national governments when terrorism occurs.
Back at the Miami Havana restaurant, Posada has been joined at the front table by an old comrade in arms. Sitting next to Posada is Pedro Remon, who shared a cell with Posada in Panama. Remon stands up to speak. "It's an honor to have gathered here tonight for a just cause," he tells the crowd. "To cooperate with an organization that has been the vanguard over so many years of struggle against communism in Cuba."
Remon's years behind bars give him, like Posada, a kind of elder statesman status among the exiles, and prison has hardly diminished his resolve. Athletic with a thick mustache, he still believes in groups like Alpha 66. "The organization has been strengthened," he tells Salon in an interview at the restaurant. "They have very good new people who are dedicated to the cause of Cuba." And he laments the absence at the fundraising dinner of comrade-in-arms Santiago Alvarez. "I'm very hopeful he'll be with us soon," he says.
Posada is less talkative with strangers. "I'm sorry, I still have a legal matter." After dessert he politely waves goodbye to his supporters and heads for the door escorted by Alpha 66's jefe militar Reinol Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, a towering man with white hair and mustache, returns to the dining room and stands with a group of men in a half-circle, including Al Bacallao, who back at the training camp talked about his 1993 arrest on a weapons-laden boat headed for Cuba. They've loosened their collars, rolled up their sleeves, and are talking hopefully about the hot summer in Havana and how the heat might fuel discontent. "We're waiting for the spark," Rodriguez says. "We're ready to go when the moment comes."
"We have what it takes," Bacallao adds, extending his hands as if he were holding a couple of melons. "Cojones."
They were taken to a hellhole called Bagram prison. Dilawar, who U.S. command later determined was innocent of any crime or intent, was hooded, handcuffed, chained to the ceiling and beaten so severely that his legs would have had to have been amputated, had he lived. He didn't. He was dead in five days. "Taxi to the Dark Side" (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature) is a methodically constructed, step-by-step detailing of how the Bush administration's policy of condoning torture trickled - flowed, really; poured - down the chain of command to inundate the largely untrained troops in the field, or, more to the point, in the detention centers. The film includes photos and grainy film clips from Abu Ghraib - where some of the Bagram guards were sent after the U.S. invasion - that are one step beyond horrifying. Let's just say that if you're familiar only with what was published in mainstream newspapers and magazines, you have no idea. But ... how can such things happen? (Or, perhaps, be?) Writer, director and eerily soft-spoken narrator Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room") begins the investigation by interviewing The Guys Who Did It. "You start looking at these people as less than human, and you start doing things that you could never dream of," says Sgt. Ken Davis. "You put people in crazy situations, they're going to do crazy things," says Pfc. Damien Corsetti. Then he works his way upstream, until: "That's very vague. What does that mean?" - President George W. Bush, on Article III of the Geneva Conventions ("There shall be no outrages to human dignity"). The men who carried out the torture, who were instructed by military intelligence to "soften up" detainees for interrogation, to "break" them, tell us that they were not trained in these methods. As, indeed, no one should be, not least because, as appalled former FBI interrogator Jack Clooney explains, they don't work. And certainly not least because, well, it's torture, by any reasonable interpretation of the hard and hard-to-look-at evidence the film presents. And the rule of law? The Constitution? "We have to work, though, sort of on the dark side," Vice President Cheney is shown explaining. "We've got to spend time in the shadows." And that's where this taxi has taken us. The fare, Gibney's film suggests, will be steep. Director: Alex Gibney. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. Rated R. 4 stars.
"Writing...is hard because you are giving yourself away, but if you love; you want to give yourself. You write as you are impelled to write, about man and his problems, his relation to God and his fellows…The sustained effort of writing, of putting [words down while] there are human beings [with] sickness, hunger, sorrow…I feel that I have done nothing well, but I did something."-Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day lived a diverse 83 years that culminated in 1980. She spent her youth amongst anarchists and bohemians, in bars and through unhappy love affairs. She ended life with an extensive FBI file and a paper trail that testifies that what she wrote, she believed, she did and lived.
As an unwed mother she shocked her progressive friends when she entered the Roman Catholic Church, and from the inside, she began to critique it. She called herself a journalist, but she was also like St. Francis of Assisi, a lone prophetic voice of wisdom that challenged the corruption of the gospel/good news by the church institution by holding steady to the facts of what Jesus said was non-negotiable for his follower's; you must forgive to be forgiven and you must love-even those who do not love back.
In a 1994 issue of The Progressive, Erwin Knoll reported "the day after the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor [was] a day when even the most committed pacifist might have been forgiven for maintaining a discreet silence…There was nothing discreet about Dorothy Day."
On the Sunday after Pearl Harbor, Day spoke out, "There is now all this patriotic indignation about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Japanese expansionism in Asia. Yet not a word about American and European colonialism in this same area. We, the British, the French, and others set up spheres of influence…control national states-against the expressed will of these states-and represent imperialism…We dictate to [all] …to where they can expand economically and politically, and we declare what policy they must observe. From our nationalistic and imperialistic point of view, we have every right to concentrate American military forces [Everywhere we chose]…But I waste rhetoric on international politics-the breeding grounds of war over the centuries. The balance of power and other empty slogans inspired by a false and flamboyant nationalism have bred conflict throughout 'civilized' history.
"And it has become too late in human history to tolerate wars which none can win. Nor dare we quibble about just wars…All wars are, by their very nature, evil and destructive. It has become too late for civilized people to accept this evil. We must take a stand. We must renounce war as an instrument of policy…Evil enough when the finest of our youth perish in conflict and even the causes of these conflicts were soon lost to memory. Even more horrible today when cities go up in flames and brilliant scientific minds are searching out ultimate weapons.
"War must cease. There are no victories. The world can bear the burden no longer. Yes, we must make a stand. Even as I speak to you, I may be guilty of what some men call treason. But we must reject war: Yes, we must now make a stand. War is murder, rape, ruin, death; war can end our civilization. I tell you that within a decade we will have weapons capable of ending this world as we have known it." [IBID]
Day's prophetic voice is also a friend of wisdom and "Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, agile, clear, unstained, and certain. Not baneful, but loving the good, keen, unhampered, beneficent, kind, firm, secure, all-seeing and pervading all spirits. Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion and SHE penetrates and pervades all things by reason. SHE is the aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of The Almighty. SHE is the refulgence of eternal Light, a spotless mirror of the power of God. And SHE who is one, can do all things and renews everything. And passing into holy souls from age to age, SHE produces friends of God and prophets." - WISDOM 7:22-8:1
Day took Jesus seriously and understood that for a Christian the higher law is God's not man's and for a Christian, God is love and "love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of cities. Love is not killing...Our Manifesto is the Sermon on The Mount, which means we will try to be peacemakers."
Day challenged church, state and corporate media via her publication The Catholic Worker, which gave voice to the voiceless and persists today. Everyday when I sit in front of my keyboard to write; to give myself away impelled by love in response to a sense of mission or is it duty? This need to write about man and his problems, his relation to God and his sisters and brothers, provokes me to daily wonder:
What would Dorothy Day Say about America today, our media, government and churches? What would she publish about Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, and the fact that 2008 is the 60th Anniversary of Israel, Nakba, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights upon which Israel's statehood was contingent upon upholding.
Might she have said:
For every misunderstanding, every condemning thought, every negative vibration, every tear torn from a heart, every time one grabbed and wouldn't let go, and they only did it because they did not know:
The Divine is within all creation and within all women and men.
And every tiny kindness you have ever done, every gentle word spoken, every time you held your tongue, every positive thought, every smile freely given, every helping hand that opens, helps bring in the kingdom. And the kingdom comes from above, and it comes from within.
Imagine a kingdom of sisterhood of all creatures and all men.
June 6, 2008 © Copyright Eileen Fleming, Reporter and Editor http://www.wearewideawake.org/ Author Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory, Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu." Permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media if this credit is attached and the title remains unchanged. Only in Solidarity do "we have it in our power to begin the world again."-Tom Paine
Gang Stalking = COINTELPRO = STASI decomposition
The FBI and all law enforcement agencies are currently using a psychological warfare protocol like "COINTELPRO" which is almost identical to the STASI "decomposition". This is what people are referring to as Gang Stalking.
The earliest forms of this that I know of are from Egypt, Greece and Rome. Each of these societies had pervasive spy/informant networks that were spying on each other as well as looking for spies inside of their own empires. Anyone who did not feel that their own respective empire was the most perfect society could be considered a traitor. In other words they were looking for anyone who had thoughts beliefs and attitudes that were not approved of by the state that could instigate revolt or subversive activity or otherwise make them a danger to the empire. This obviously created a snitch culture and there were bound to be abuses. If a person was not liked by another then it was easy to persuade others to make a complaint and get that person killed or exiled. No one dare say or do anything that was politically incorrect and thus the rulers were able to maintain power and control over the people. Blatant execution or exile is common in an empire but in a democracy it is not as easy to accomplish these punishments so modern psychological operations were developed to accomplish these goals and in this way an empire can masquerade as a democracy.
The STASI decomposition protocol is an excellent example of how these modern psychological operations work. The STASI decomposition is almost identical to the FBI’s COINTELPRO. Here is a link to a document that shows an overview of the STASI decomposition.
Law enforcement agencies in concert with government and corporations are using bribery, deception, coercion & blackmail to create an informant & saboteur network out of criminals of all kinds, extremist groups, cults, patriotic zealots, the poor, the homeless, friends, family, neighbors, repair men, fire men, police, military personnel and agents to target individuals and groups that have beliefs and attitudes (such as civil rights and animal rights.) that may cause them to commit acts of terrorism at some future time or motivate others to commit terrorist acts or incite revolt. This pre-crime approach has existed numerous times throughout American history but has reared its ugly head again due to 9/11.
Unfortunately, according to former FBI agent Mike German, many post 9/11 targeted individuals are nothing more than a training exercise.
Here is a lecture by Noam Chomsky that uncovers the root mindset in America that predicates the targeting of groups and individuals.
The real power behind gang stalking and many other terrible things is the minority of the opulent but the front group making all the policy changes these days is the neoconservatives. Neoconservatisim is a cult ideology that has been bankrolled and nurtured by the opulent just like all of the other cult ideologies created or co-opted by the opulent for their machinations.
Stalin and Hitler were fanatical leaders inspired by a gang mentality and by the concept of "historic mission." They believed that intolerance and large scale brutality were necessary ingredients of social order. Each of them was also supported by the “cult of personality.” The neocons are strikingly similar.
What are the components of gang mentality?
· Extreme concern with reputation both inside and outside of the ideology. Neocons are this way.
· Extreme concern with respect both inside and outside of the ideology. Neocons are this way.
· No challenge will go unanswered. It is so with the neocons as well.
What is the concept of “historic mission”?
In a well documented conversation, Adolf Hitler berated the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg and stated…
"That is what you say!...But I am telling you that I am going to solve the so-called Austrian problem one way or the other...I have a historic mission, and this mission I will fulfill because Providence has destined me to do so...I have only to give an order and all your ridiculous defense mechanisms will be blown to bits. You don't seriously believe you can stop me or even delay me for half an hour, do you?"
Prominent neocon Michael Ledeen stated…
“Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence—our existence, not our politics—threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”
What is the cult of personality?
The cult of personality is explained pretty well here…
The Straussian philosophy is a cult of personality and the neocons follow the Straussian philosophy
If you select 1 percent of a population (Whistle blowers, dissidents, artists, those that look funny, and act or dress funny) and punish them severely for little or nothing, then you will gain the compliance of the other 99 percent either through fear or because they’ve been conned by the COINTELPRO/STASI type propaganda in to believing that the TI’s must be removed from society for the common good. Then you can implement the social, political and financial changes you want on a grand scale in a relatively short period of time. I.E. advance your historic mission. This has been done enumerable times throughout history.
When the average person considers what the Nazis or Stalin did, they are naturally horrified. When a banker considers what the Nazis or Stalin did they have dollar signs in their eyes. MONEY is the real reason this is happening!!! The bankers know that a one world government is not possible. Empire building has been going on for centuries and a global empire has never been realized. But if you understand finance, history, politics and the military industrial complex, then it is clear to see that it is the EXERCISE of building empires and large scale wars that redistributes the wealth of nations into the hands of the banking elite and keeps the masses under control.
Unfortunately most human beings don't understand how their own minds work nor are they well educated in multiple disciplines. Most of the people that perpetrate these crimes against humanity aren't fully aware that there is such a big conspiracy going on. It’s just that most human beings have so many inherent psychological weaknesses and such a deep lack of education that if you alter the socioeconomic landscape in just the right way, you get what you see here in America today.
Here are a few very credible documentaries that will help you to understand what’s really going on and hopefully survive…
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they become TI’s is to attempt to create a counter spy network against those that are surveilling them. This is something that the neocons and the banking elite are OK with. A global spy counter spy network is much like the cold war and the cold war was extremely profitable for the banking elite not to mention a powerful pretext to control people. The global war on terror needs a global terrorist network and since there really is not one, many targets will be manipulated into acting out in ways that can classify them as terrorists thus creating the impetus for law enforcement agencies to demand more tax payer money to fight the war on terror. Targets are all better off contacting a civil rights group and explaining that they have reason to believe they have been placed on the terrorist watch list.
Do yourself a favor and learn as much about economics and finance as possible. It will help you survive. This is all the info you will need to be an educated investor. It’s not a get rich quick thing, just a solid economics and investing education.
Also, listen to as many lectures by Professor Noam Chomsky as possible. They are all over the internet. He is brilliant and has been exposing the machinations of the opulent (Rothschild, Rockefeller etc) for decades. His research is very credible and will help you to separate the facts from the propaganda and give you a measure of mental clarity and peace. Utilizing his research will also help you gain some of your credibility back with others.
Try to explain all of this to your friends and family. Usually when people see the mission statement of the neocons from their websites (PNAC & FPI) they start listening.
According to anti-communist author Ludwik Kowalski
“Mass murder occurs when brutal and sadistic criminals, to be found in every society, are promoted to positions of dominance, when propaganda is used to dehumanize the targeted population and when children are inoculated with intolerance and hatred. It occurs when victims ("inferior races" or "class enemies") are excluded from the norms of morality, when ideological totalitarianism is imposed and when freedom is suspended. Fear and violence, the preconditions of genocide, are likely to be found in societies with large numbers of thieves and informants.”
Here is some info on how to take care of your physical health.
Visit this YouTube channel and watch everything on it. You will gain a clear understanding of what’s really going on.
As part of MuckRock and Electronic Frontier Foundation’s ongoing Drone Census, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department received the same Freedom of Information request sent to agencies across the country.
Like many agencies, the Sheriff’s office responded that they had no documents relating to drones. But in this case, MuckRock discovered there were responsive documents — which were only released by a different city.
These documents detailing San Diego’s drone interest were received from the Seattle Police Department, which, while detailing its own aerial drone program, showed clear evidence of drone interest from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Seattle Police Department released more than 250 pages of emails, internal memos and contracts, including sales quotes from four manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A November 2011 email from a Datron World Communications sales manager to the Seattle Police contact included a sales quote prepared for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department earlier that year for a Scout UAV.
The Datron representative explained that a San Diego County Sheriff's team had “visited Datron's facility and experienced the [drone] system with all three cameras,” and that the team “left with a flashdrive full of personal footage and a new found [sic] purpose for submitting their wish-list early.”
He encouraged the Seattle Police Department to use the sales quote sent to San Diego County “as a reference point for configuring [its] system.”
The estimate is dated July 28, 2011 and addressed to a sergeant in the Special Investigations Division of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. Estimated costs total $131,087 for one Datron Scout UAV system, including a thermal imaging camera package and operator training for four students at Datron's facility in Vista, CA.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department was not on the list acquired by EFF of public agencies that had applied for Federal Aviation Administration authorization to fly drones in domestic airspace.
It was, however, among the agencies submitted by MuckRock users through the Drone Census page, and MuckRock sent a request to the San Diego County Sheriff for documents related to the department’s use, interest in and purchase of drone technology on July 12, 2012.
On July 19, 2012, a legal advisor from the San Diego County Sheriff's office indicated that it had no documents related to drones or UAVs. The email stated clearly that the department had “no records that are responsive [...] pertaining to aerial drones.”
Until the Seattle Police Department passed along its documents in late August, MuckRock had no reason to doubt the San Diego Sheriff's response.
On Sept. 4, MuckRock sent a follow-up email to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department seeking an explanation of the Datron sales quote, as well as confirmation that no further documents were available related to the Sheriff's interest in purchasing a drone.
The Sheriff's legal advisor sent a response by mail on September 13, indicating that the department “declines to comment on the sales quotation referenced in your September 4, 2012 letter.”
As is true in most states, California’s public records law provides that documents related to equipment purchases are matters of public record unless exempted by statute. Accordingly, the San Diego County Sheriff and other public agencies have the latitude to justify denial of public records requests, but not to “deny comment” when faced with such a request.
Upon an appeal to this effect, the San Diego County Sheriff confirmed that the department “does not maintain drones, nor are we in the process of acquiring them,” and that the department had chosen not to purchase drones following an “inquiry as to the type of drone equipment that is available to public safety agencies, the cost, and the expected performance.”
The Sheriff refuses, however, to release any communications related to the sales quote or test demonstration alluded to in the Datron emails to Seattle police. The Sheriff’s office says these records are exempt as part of the deliberative process, since the department “must be free to gather information and weigh alternatives in confidence before arriving at a course of action.”
The Sheriff’s legal advisor also says that “there is very little public benefit in the release of such records” since its inquiries into Datron’s drone unit did not result in purchasing any equipment.
But public records law puts the burden of evidence not on those who seek disclosure, but on those who would keep them from public view. Evidence Code section 1040 of California’s disclosure law, which the San Diego County Sheriff’s office has invoked as a basis for its denial, provides that public agencies may refuse to disclose official information in the case that such disclosure “is against the public interest because there is a necessity for preserving the confidentiality of the information that outweighs the necessity for disclosure in the interest of justice.”
The onus is on the Sheriff to demonstrate how releasing the documents sought by MuckRock would injure the public interest.
While the San Diego County Sheriff declined to purchase drones, other police departments have conducted similarly confidential inquiries and ended up acquiring UAVs without the benefit of public scrutiny. Police in Seattle, for instance, recently apologized for going ahead with drones purchases without adequately consulting the city council, much less the general public. The Alameda County Sheriff also faced vocal protest and concern when its plans to employ drones became public.
The public has a right to know when and how government agencies use potentially invasive technologies such as drones. The public also has a right to be consulted when agencies consider adopting the technology in the first place, and should have a say as to what restrictions are put in place to prevent its misuse.
Interested in using the power of the Freedom of Information Act to find out more about what your government is doing? MuckRock makes it easy for anyone to publicly request, receive and publish government documents under Freedom of Information law: Register today.
Following the death of Deputy Marshal Degan, the FBI assumed primary jurisdiction over the investigation of the events relating to his death. The FBI's handling of the investigation at Ruby Ridge has been criticized on several grounds: that the FBI's command and control of the crisis site was not handled properly in that insufficient emphasis was placed on negotiations to resolve the crisis; that the FBI failed to coordinate law enforcement components properly; and that false information was knowingly given to the media to cover up the cause of Sammy Weaver's death, Vicki Weaver's death, and Kevin Harris' and Randy Weaver's injuries.
Soon after learning on August 21, 1992 about the shooting incident at Ruby Ridge, U.S. Attorney Maurice Ellsworth authorized Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Howen to travel there to assist law enforcement personnel with legal matters. Howen arrived late in the evening of August 21st and spent the next ten days with law enforcement personnel who had responded to the crisis.
Questions have been raised as to whether it was appropriate for Howen to have been at Ruby Ridge and whether some of his activities were improper and conflicted with his role as the federal prosecutor in the case. Foremost among these allegations is that he was an active participant in tactical decisions, negotiations, and searches which transformed him into a witness in the investigation at Ruby Ridge.
When the personnel carriers were near the Weaver cabin delivering the initial announcement and installing telephone communications equipment, worsening weather conditions were reported on the hill. HRT Gold Team leader Love reported to HRT Sniper Coordinator Hazen that visibility was poor and getting worse and that optical equipment was beginning to fog. Several of the snipers were suffering from hypothermia. [FN771] Hazen recommended to HRT Commander Rogers that the sniper/observers be removed from their positions and return to the lower command post.[FN772]
Rogers and Special Agent in Charge Glenn agreed to withdraw the sniper/observers and establish an inner perimeter around the cabin area the following morning. Glenn concluded that the weather and poor visibility made it nearly impossible even for people with knowledge of the terrain, like the Weaver/Harris group, to move about without being detected. On the basis of the available intelligence, Glenn believed that the only way that Weaver and his group could leave the cabin area was by a road that passed through the FBI command post area. The sniper/observers were withdrawn after dark on Saturday evening, August 22.
During the night, Glenn deployed FBI SWAT teams around the command post and controlled access to the road leading to the Weaver compound. He was confident that these measures would prevent any of the Weaver group from fleeing.[FN774] According to Hazen, the sniper/observers were also withdrawn for debriefings on the tactical and geographic information they had gathered while observing the Weaver compound.[FN775]
Upon returning to the command post after the shooting, the HRT sniper/observers were debriefed and were instructed to document their actions and observations in FD-302 investigative reports. Glenn had reported the shooting incident to FBI Headquarters earlier in the evening.
The death of Deputy Marshal Degan entailed violations of federal criminal statutes that gave the FBI primary jurisdiction over the investigation.[FN776] Eugene Glenn, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City Division, was assigned primary responsibility for managing the federal law enforcement response to the crisis. He was initially assisted by William Gore, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Seattle Division. As of August 23, Glenn was also assisted by Robin Montgomery, Special Agent in Charge of the Portland Division.
In addition to intelligence gathering, the primary concerns of local and federal law enforcement were to rescue the surviving marshals, along with the body of Deputy Marshal Degan, apprehend the subjects without further loss of life, and prevent their reinforcement by sympathizers.
State and local officers and a few representatives of the Marshals Service and the border patrol were the first law enforcement officials on the scene. two FBI agents, Larry Wages and Thelma Campos, who were attending personal matters in the area, heard about the shooting and responded. Soon after, a group of interested citizens began to gather.
Following Deputy Marshal Hunt's calls for emergency assistance, in which he reported that a Deputy Marshall had been shot and that others were pinned down, local law enforcement agencies responded promptly and established a controlled access point at the bridge leading to the Weavers' cabin. Idaho State Police officers and a dispatcher arrived before their local commander, Captain E. Glen Schwartz arrived at 3:00 p.m. Captain Schwartz described the command structure as a "unified command" with each agency in charge of its own personnel.[FN777] On August 21, 1992, Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus declared a state of emergency in Boundary County, proclaiming that:
the nature of the disaster is the occurrence and the imminent threat of injury and loss of life and property arising out of the standoff situation in Boundary County.[FN778]
This proclamation allowed law enforcement agencies on the scene to use certain emergency services, such as Idaho National Guard resources.[FN779]
Although Deputy Marshal Hunt was viewed as having the predominant law enforcement interest because the case was his and he was responsible for the marshals on the mountain, local law enforcement leaders believed that Hunt's decision making capacity had diminished due to stress. They have asserted that they would not have permitted Hunt to make ill-advised decisions.[FN780]
Glenn arrived at the crisis site at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Friday, August 21, followed by Gore approximately one and a half hours later. They both arrived before the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (approximately 50 agents) and the Marshals Service Special Operations Group (approximately 58 agents). In Glenn's view, the Idaho State Police, commanded by Major Strickfaden, appeared to be coordinating the law enforcement response before his arrival. [FN781]
When Glenn arrived, the primary goal of the law enforcement effort was to rescue the marshals on the mountain and stabilize the situation until additional federal resources arrived. Glen ordered that a perimeter be established around the command post/staging area to ensure safety, to prevent Weaver and his associates from coming into the area during the night, and to contain a crowd of Weaver sympathizers and supporters.[FN782}
Glenn and Gore were unfamiliar with the crisis site. The command post/staging area was located in a flat area at the base of the mountain on which the Weaver cabin was located. Glenn and Gore directed FBI technical personnel to establish telephone communications at the command post.[FN783]
Once the command post was secure, Glenn and Gore set about gathering information about the Weaver group. When Richard Rogers, Commander of HRT, and Duke Smith, Associate Director of the U.S. Marshals service, arrived early Saturday morning, August 22, Glenn and Gore briefed them on the situation.[FN784]
The command post log entry for August 26 shows that power to the cabin was cut off on Saturday night, August 22. On Sunday morning, a 360 degree inner perimeter around the Weaver cabin site and a forward command post near the cabin were established, and they were maintained for the remainder of the crisis.[FN785]
On August 23, Special Agent in Charge Robin Montgomery from the FBI's Portland Division reported to the Ruby Ridge site and took charge of the forward command post near the cabin were established, and they were maintained for the remainder of the crisis.[FN785]
On August 23, Special Agent in Charge Robin Montgomery from the FBI's Portland Division reported to the Ruby Ridge site and took charge of the forward command post in alternating twelve-hour shifts with Gore. Rogers and the hostage negotiators were also in the forward command post with Gore and Montgomery. The forward command post was the central point for both tactical and negotiations efforts.[FN786]
Investigative and intelligence functions continued at the rear command post, but the establishment of the forward command brought about a change in the control of the massive resources gathered at Ruby Ridge. Glenn remained at the rear or lower command post to marshal the many law enforcement agencies, coordinate with the leaders of those agencies, and maintain liaison with FBI Headquarters and the press.[FN787]
Glenn retained ultimate approval authority for negotiation and tactical efforts proposed by his subordinates. If emergency tactical action were necessary, Glenn authorized Gore and Montgomery at the forward command post to act. A representative of the Marshals Service was also assigned to the forward command post to ensure immediate access to information gathered during the previous fugitive investigation that might assist in formulating negotiation strategies.[FN788]
On Sunday morning, August 23, Rogers, with Glenn and Gore's approval, took two teams of HRT personnel to the vicinity of the Weaver compound in armored personnel carriers. Using a bull horn, Rogers made repeated announcements to the Weaver cabin for about 30 minutes to convince the occupants to negotiate.[FN789]
FBI Hostage negotiator Frederick Lanceley asked to accompany Rogers, but Rogers told him that he was not needed.[FN790] As a consequence, Lanceley was not present during this attempt to communicate with those inside the cabin.[FN791]
According to Lanceley, on Sunday afternoon, after Rogers and his team returned, Rogers told Lanceley that he had "delivered an ultimatum to the effect that if they don't come out, [Rogers] would begin to knock down the outbuildings and then start knocking down their house."[FN792] Rogers asserted that he now had to knock down the buildings because he could not back down from the ultimatum. [FN793] Lanceley told Rogers that the destruction of the buildings would limit negotiations strategies.[FN794]
FBI hostage negotiator E. MacArthur Burke was astounded upon hearing that the outbuildings were to be removed because this might escalate the situation before negotiations had begun. Although he was aware of the tactical advantage to their removal, he agreed with Lanceley that it would be detrimental to the negotiations effort.[FN795]
On Sunday evening, August 23, with the approval of Glenn, Gore, and Montgomery, personnel carriers began to remove outbuildings, such as the birthing shed and the water tanks, near the Weaver cabin to protect tactical personnel, should it become necessary to mount an emergency assault on the Weaver cabin. Removal of the outbuildings would also tighten the inner perimeter around the cabin by removing visual and physical obstructions to HRT and SOG personnel.[FN796]
During the clearing of the birthing shed, the body of Sammy Weaver was discovered unexpectedly.[FN797] There is no evidence that law enforcement personnel knew of Sammy Weaver's death before this discovery.[FN798]
FBI negotiators reported to the FBI's Special Operations and Research Unit on the morning of August 24 that "the mood among the commanders and HRT appeared to be to mount an assault on the Weaver residence no later than the evening of 8/24".[FN799] The discovery of Sammy weaver's body brought about renewed efforts to negotiate with the Weaver group. The discovery also brought aggressive tactical actions, such as removal of the outbuildings, to an end. It was believed that the Weavers would break their silence to express their wishes for the handling of their son's body and funeral arrangements. However, there was no response from the Weaver cabin.[FN800]
On Wednesday, August 26 at 10:53 a.m. (PDT), the Rules of Engagement in effect since the arrival of the Hostage Rescue Team were revoked. At Glenn's direction, the FBI's standard policy became the guideline for the use of deadly force by law enforcement personnel deployed on the cabin perimeter.[FN801]
On Sunday evening, August 23, after Sammy Weaver's body had been discovered, Glenn began to reevaluate the intelligence he had received at the command post. The cabin's occupants had not acted aggressively since the apparent attempt to fire on the helicopter about 24 hours earlier. A personnel carrier had been to the front of the cabin and had not been challenged, and outbuildings had been demolished without fire from the cabin. An inner perimeter had been established, and booby traps had not been found. Glenn believed that law enforcement personnel on the scene were adequately protected. He concluded that those in the cabin were not as threatening as originally believed or that their resistance was weakening. He did not entirely dismiss their propensity for violence, but concluded that the threat had diminished by Sunday evening.[FN802]
For these reasons, Glenn changed the Rules of Engagement to the FBI's standard deadly force policy. He did not solicit Headquarter's advice on the change because it was not necessary. [FN803]
Glenn stated that he made the change some time around midday Monday, August 24. This contradicts the HRT sniper log, which shows that the change occurred on Wednesday, August 26. The Strategic Information and Operations Center ("SIOC") Log at FBI Headquarters reflects the change on August 26 at 12:30 p.m. EDT.
Within a day or two of the discovery of Sammy Weaver's body, Glenn told Gore that FBI agents assigned to the crime scene had reported that some of the early assumptions about the Degan shooting were in question and had not been substantiated by the crime spans. Glenn also told Gore that the debriefings of the marshals involved in the shooting and a review of the BATF case had raided other questions. According to Gore, the entire predicate of the federal effort was in question. Gore observed that the crisis situation had been stable for several days and that the Weaver group had not engaged in aggressive action. Glenn then decided to return to the FBI's standard policy on the use of deadly force. [FN804]
Robin Montgomery arrived at the crisis site on August 23 and learned of the Rules of Engagement. Montgomery believed that the Rules were close to an authorization to shoot on sight. He did not believe that the Rules supported the negotiation effort, and he discussed them with Glenn, Gore, Duke Smith of the Marshals Service, and possibly two other members of the Marshals Service. Shortly thereafter, the Rules of Engagement were changed. [FN805]
Rogers stated that by Wednesday the level of threat had diminished because the subjects had fired no shots since the original firefight and they had not committed any aggressive acts. HRT personnel had established well protected positions, completely surrounding the Weaver cabin. The subjects posed no immediate threat, and consequently the Rules of Engagement were changed to the FBI's standard deadly force policy. Rogers denied that the revocation of the Rules was related to the discovery of Sammy Weaver's body.[FN806]
According to an entry in the FBI SIOC Log at Headquarters, on Wednesday, August 26, 1992, at 12:30 p.m. (EDT), Potts and Glenn agreed to change the Rules of Engagement to FBI standard deadly force policy, effective 1:00 p.m. (EDT).[FN807] There is no record of the decision to change the Rules of Engagement in the FBI's command post log at Ruby Ridge. The HRT sniper/observer log shows that Rogers changed the Rules of Engagement to the FBI standard deadly force policy on Wednesday, August 26, at 10:53 a.m. and that each sniper/observer position acknowledged the change at 10:54 a.m.[FN808]
On Friday, August 28, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Bo Gritz, a nongovernmental negotiator, started a series of discussions that ultimately led to the resolution of the crisis without additional violence. Gritz was the first person to be told that Weaver's wife was dead and the first aside from those in the cabin to observe Vicki Weaver's body.
Law enforcement personnel state that the initial evidence that Vicki Weaver was dead came in the first few moments of the first conversation Gritz had with Randy Weaver on August 28. [G.J.]
[FN809] This conversation also confirmed that Harris had been wounded by HRT rifle shots on August 22. At the conclusion of the conversation, Gritz briefed Rogers and Glenn. Later that day, he also informed a group of sympathizers gathered near the crisis site.
The efforts of Gritz and Jack McLamb, another nongovernmental negotiator, were successful, and on Sunday, August 30, between mid-morning and noon, Harris agreed to surrender, an important development for several reasons, not the least of which was that for the first time Gritz talked face-to-face with Randy Weaver. When Gritz and McLamb met Harris at the rear door of the residence and helped hi down the stairs, the cabin door opened, exposing Weaver and the interior.
Later, Gritz saw Vicki Weaver's body on the kitchen floor, partially under a table.[FN810] A cloth had been placed over the top half of the body, leaving the lower half exposed. The feet were positioned near the front door, with the head and torso toward the interior. The manner in which the body was positioned was consistent with a backward fall from the front doorway. It appeared to Gritz that the body had not been moved after the shooting.
A review by the FBI of all audio and video tapes of the events at Ruby Ridge shows that no information had been received by the FBI or other law enforcement personnel about Vicki Weaver's death before Gritz' conversation with Randy Weaver on August 28. Interviews of personnel from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Idaho State Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and local agencies at the scene during the standoff do not reveal any earlier knowledge of Vicki Weaver's death. No notations concerning Vicki Weaver's death were found in any official log of the events or in any other records made during the standoff. [FN812]
On August 22, Glenn and Rogers focused much of their energy on the procurement and outfitting of two armored personnel carriers with a telephone and enough line to reach the command post from one Weaver compound, a distance of approximately one mile.
Glenn believed that resolution of the crisis through dialogue and negotiations was the most desirable and usually the safest outcome. He stressed that the FBI tried every proposed negotiation option from the beginning of the crisis.[FN813]
Gore also believed that the objective was peaceful resolution of the crisis. In his view, tactical personnel first had to establish a means to communicate with the Weaver group in the cabin, which did not have a telephone. The objective of the operations plan was to establish a perimeter for containment of the crisis site and to get close enough to establish communications. [FN814]
FBI senior hostage negotiator, Frederick Lanceley was notified of the situation at Ruby Ridge Friday afternoon, August 21. He traveled with the main group of HRT personnel from the Washington, D.C. area to Idaho, arriving early in the morning on Saturday, August 22. He received no request for consultation on negotiations until mid-afternoon Saturday, August 22, when he was called to the command post and asked to write a negotiations addendum to the proposed operations plan. He was not consulted before the submission of the initial plan, which FBI Headquarters rejected because it did not contain a negotiations component.[FN815]
Early in the crisis, Lanceley was not a party to the discussions among command personnel. Nevertheless, he believed that they intended to resolve the crisis tactically. He was unaware of discussions between Glenn and other command personnel concerning negotiations. He strongly criticized the tactical actions taken, and he regretted not being more aggressive in voicing his objections on Saturday, August 22, and again on Sunday evening, August 23, when he opposed removal of the outbuildings. [FN816]
The initial negotiations strategy was to approach the Weaver cabin, read a surrender statement over a loudspeaker, and attempt to resolve the crisis through the surrender of the Weaver group. The surrender announcement was to be read after tactical personnel had established a 360-degree perimeter around the Weaver compound. If the Weaver group did not surrender following the announcement, a hostage phone was to be delivered and telephone wire was to be laid down the mountain from the cabin to the command post.
Immediately after Horiuchi's shots, HRT Commander Richard Rogers decided to drive two armored personnel carriers to the cabin area to deliver a telephone and establish communications with those inside the cabin.[FN817] When the carriers were within 30 to 50 feet of the cabin, Lanceley made the following surrender announcement at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night:
Mr. Weaver, this is Fred Lanceley of the FBI. You should understand that we have warrants for the arrest of yourself and Mr. Harris. I would like you to accept a telephone so that we can talk and work out how you will come out of the house without further violence. I would like you or one of your children to come out of the house, unarmed, pick up the telephone and return to the house.[FN818]
There was no response to Lanceley's message. The telephone was placed approximately twenty yards from the cabin. Both carriers left, laying wire for the phone as they returned down the mountain. Continuous attempts to contact the Weaver group by ringing the telephone were made throughout the night. There was no response.
In mid-morning, Sunday, August 13, following the return of the HRT sniper/observers to their positions, Rogers took the two carriers back to the position near the Weaver cabin where they had been the previous night. The telephone was in the same position they had left it the night before. This required all communication with the cabin to be made by bullhorn or megaphone. Rogers spoke to the group in the cabin for approximately 30 minutes encouraging them "to come out, pick up the phone, establish dialogue, and let's move on with this and establish some kind of communications". [FN819] Rogers claims to have heard no response from the Weaver cabin.
Two assault teams were deployed from the carriers to establish a 360-degree cordon around the cabin. According to Rogers, the assault personnel could not be seen from the cabin. After this deployment, between 20 and 21 assault personnel were around the cabin continuously until the resolution of the crisis on August 31.[FN820]
The nature of Commander Rogers' message to the Weaver group on Sunday morning is at issue. According to Lanceley, before Rogers and his team ascended the mountain, Lanceley asked Rogers if Lanceley could accompany him to the cabin area. Rogers told Lanceley that he would not be needed.[FN821]
There was no response from the cabin.[FN823]
During Bo Gritz' discussions with the Weaver group later in the week, Weaver and his daughters told Gritz that they had developed an intense hatred for Lanceley because of remarks directed to Vicki Weaver and questions he asked about what they were having for breakfast. Weaver said these remarks "pissed them off" and strengthened their resolve in the cabin."[FN824]
On August 21, the HRT supervisors told behavioral scientists in the FBI's Special Operations and Research Unit about the HRT deployment and provided them with the limited information available. On August 23, the behavioral scientists were given incomplete additional information. When FBI Supervisory Special Agent Clint Van Zandt developed the profile, he was not aware that shots had been fired on August 22; that Vicki Weaver had been killed [FN825]; or that anyone had been wounded. He said that the shooting incident would affect the way in which the Weaver family perceived attempts by the government to negotiate.[FN826]
The behavioral scientists sent an assessment to the crisis site on August 24. This assessment included several observations and suggestions for dealing with the Weaver group: the Weavers will not trust negotiators connected to the federal government; Randy Weaver's resolve would be strengthened if he has contact with local supporters; third parties should be considered to assist the negotiations; the Weaver group, including Vicki Weaver, her children, and Harris, could be expected to meet any attempt to enter the residence with armed resistance; if Vicki Weaver believed that efforts to overwhelm them physically or otherwise drive the Weavers from their home would be successful, she could be expected to kill the children and commit suicide; as those inside the cabin became fatigued, the Weaver group could resort to a suicide attack directed against federal law enforcement officials, if they believed the perimeter was too close to the cabin.
On Tuesday, August 25, FBI negotiators continued their efforts, which included statements directed at Vicki Weaver and expressing concern for the family's welfare. The Weaver group was repeatedly asked to surrender, and they were assured that they would not be harmed. There was to response.[FN827] The command post log states that water to the cabin was cut off on August 25.
The first contact with Randy Weaver occurred on Wednesday, August 26. In mid-morning, Lanceley told Weaver that the personnel carrier would approach the cabin to transfer the telephone to the robot and that the robot would approach the cabin with the telephone to improve communications weaver was also told that the robot would try to push the telephone through a cabin window, breaking the cabin window in the process. Weaver shouted "Get the fuck out of here" and made other statements that could not be understood. In the afternoon, Weaver said that he would not take the telephone.
On Friday, August 28, Marnis Joy again unsuccessfully tried to establish contact with her brother. Later that day, Randy Weaver stated that he would talk to Bo Gritz.[FN831] Glenn approached Gritz, and he offered to assist in negotiating with Weaver. Gritz convinced Glenn that because Gritz and Weaver had a common background in the Special Forces, Gritz had a better chance of talking to Weaver than anyone else on site. After conferring with Rogers and Headquarters, Glenn agreed to Gritz' participation. [FN832]
On Friday afternoon, Gritz was briefed by Rogers and FBI negotiators. At dusk, he went up the mountain toward the Weaver cabin.[FN833] After trying unsuccessfully to communicate with Weaver using the robot and then a bullhorn from the personnel carrier, Gritz walked to the cabin. Through a window, he began to talk to Weaver. When Gritz asked if everyone was "OK," Weaver said, "No...My wife was shot and killed last Saturday."[FN834] At that time Gritz also learned that Weaver and Harris had been wounded. [FN835]
Law enforcement components at Ruby Ridge told us that they first learned that Weaver, Kevin Harris, and Vicki Weaver had been shot and that Vicki Weaver was dead from Gritz' conversation with Weaver on August 28.[FN836]
On Saturday morning, August 19, Gritz received permission to return to the Weaver residence with Jackie Brown, a friend of the Weaver family, and Chuck Sandelin, a local minister. Weaver yelled at Sandelin to get off the property. Sandelin left and was not used in negotiations again.[FN837]
Rogers tried to discourage Jackie Brown from approaching the cabin. According to Brown, Rogers told her that, if she did not come out of the Weaver cabin within a reasonable time, he would assume that she had joined the Weavers or had been taken hostage and that HRT may have to come in to rescue her.[FN838]
Gritz and Brown went to the cabin. Gritz spoke throughout the day with Weaver, his daughters, and Harris through the cabin wall. Gritz believed by the sound of Harris' voice that he was in need of medical attention. In addition to suggesting that Harris needed medical attention, Gritz conversed casually with Weaver about the military, spoke philosophically to him, and prayed with him. [FN839]
On Sunday morning, Gerald McLamb, a retired Phoenix police officer who was assisting Gritz in his campaign for President, began assisting Gritz in the negotiations. Both negotiators focused their conversations with Weaver and Harris on Harris' need for medical attention. In mid-morning, Harris decided to surrender.[FN840]
Gritz resumed conversations with Weaver, who agreed to the removal of Vicki Weaver's body from the cabin. When Gritz and Brown returned to the cabin with a body bag, Gritz wore a transmitting device that allowed the forward command post to monitor his conversation. For security reasons, Rogers insisted on this precaution. According to Mr. Gritz, Vicki Weaver's body was positioned in the location or very near the location where she fell at the time of her death. Brown and Gritz carried Vicki Weaver's body to the forward command post.[FN841]
After delivering the body, Gritz saw Brown return to the cabin with some water and begin cleaning blood from the floor. Brown reported that, at her request, she was given two five gallon buckets of water, three white bath towels, and a roll of paper towels. Brown said she cleaned Vicki Weaver's blood from the cabin floor because she did not want the Weaver girls to have "to deal with cleaning the blood of their mother."[FN842]
Gritz resumed speaking with Weaver and learned that the Weaver family was convinced that the law enforcement personnel wanted to kill each of them.[FN843] Weaver told Gritz that he wanted to surrender, but that his daughters would not let him. While in the cabin Gritz noted the armaments available to the Weavers and the configuration of the cabin structure. He relayed this information to Rogers.[FN844]
According to Gritz at some point on Sunday, Rogers told him that, regardless of the day's events, HRT was going to assault the residence on Monday and that the assault would involve blowing out the windows and doors. Gritz disagreed with this plan and was disturbed because he felt negotiations were going well and because he was concerned about the possibility of injuring those in the cabin. Gritz discussed strategy with Rogers that involved "physically taking down" Weaver and his daughters, if an assault was initiated, to protect them from injuries.[FN845] both Gritz and McLamb felt uncomfortable with the assault strategy, but agreed it was the only way to protect the Weavers from being "killed in a tactical assault by HRT."[FN846] At trial, Rogers testified that he vetoed an arrangement with Gritz and McLamb to overpower Weaver, if he did not surrender. [FN847]
On Monday, Gritz and McLamb returned to the Weaver residence. Gritz had the robot and the APC move away from the cabin. After contacting attorney Gerry Spence, Gritz told Randy Weaver that Spence would represent him. Gritz also carried a handwritten note from Assistant U.S. Attorney Howen to Weaver that agreed to allow Weaver to present his account of the situation to a grand jury. The Weaver family surrendered on August 31. [FN848]
In the afternoon of August 21, U.S. Marshal Michael Johnson informed U.S. Attorney Ellsworth about the shooting at Ruby Ridge.[FN849] Shortly thereafter, Ellsworth informed Howen, the Assistant U.S. attorney to whom the Weaver matter had been assigned, about the incident. The Marshals Service gave Ellsworth and Howen an additional briefing.[FN850] Based on this information, Ellsworth and Howen believed that a team of marshals had been involved in an undercover operation at Ruby Ridge, that there had been a confrontation in which Deputy Marshal Degan had been killed in an exchange of gunfire, and that several marshals were still "pinned down" at the scene of the shooting.[FN851]
After having been apprised of the crisis, Howen drafted an application for a search warrant with a supporting affidavit. [FN852] Howen soon realized that it would be difficult to draft this affidavit as well as subsequent applications in Boise when the supporting factual information was 400 miles away at Ruby Ridge. Howen suggested to Ellsworth that he travel to Ruby Ridge. Ellsworth agreed.[FN853]
Ellsworth envisioned that, at Ruby Ridge, Howen would assist in drafting applications for search warrants and supporting affidavits, as well as prepare applications for electronic surveillance. He did not intend that Howen play an investigative or tactical role.[FN854] Although Ellsworth did not recall giving Howen specific directives, he noted that the standing directive in his office was that assistants should not engage in activities that would make them a witness in a case.[FN855] Howen believed that his presence at the scene would allow him to see matters first hand and prepare his case. In addition, Howen considered himself to be the representative of the United States Attorney and as such responsible for reporting to him about events at the scene.[FN856]
At Ruby Ridge, Howen was involved in preparing criminal complaints, applications for arrest warrants, search warrants, and emergency electronic surveillance applications with supporting affidavits.[FN857] He denied that he assumed an investigative role or that he directed the activities of the FBI. Howen insisted that he did not conduct any interviews while at Ruby Ridge.[FN858] Nonetheless, Howen conceded that he was not a mute observer. For example, Howen was present at the Boundary County Sheriff's Office when Deputy Marshals Roderick and Cooper were interviewed. Other than asking a few questions, Howen stated that he was not an active participant in these interviews and he was unable to recall if he took notes.[FN859] Howen said that at these interview he "basically the marshals and asked question, but he did not consider these exchanges to be interviews.[FN861]
Howen denied being involved in formulating strategy or participating in negotiations between law enforcement personnel and Weaver. However, he did write one of the notes sent to Weaver during the negotiations.[FN862] FBI Agent Rampton told investigators that Howen was not involved in the negotiations process and that Howen told him that he should remain separated from that process. [FN863]
On August 24, Howen was present at the search of the Y. [FN864] Special Agent Venkus told investigators that he invited Howen to go on the search and that Howen did not find any evidence.[FN865] Howen also participated in the walk-throughs that occurred later in the week of August 24. With the exception of the walk-through with Deputy Marshal Norris, in which Howen participated completely, Howen believed that he only participated in parts of the walk-throughs. He could not recall if he took notes.[FN866] However, he conceded that he may have taken notes during the searches and walk-throughs when he heard something of interest.[FN867] Special Agent Wayne Manis recalled that Howen participated in the walk-through with Hunt and that Howen asked questions and took notes. Manis thought that Howen's conduct was appropriate.[FN868] Special Agent George Calley recalled Howen as a member of the grou that participated on an August 30 walk-
[[ PAGES 255-262 UNAVAILABLE ]]
Finally, the profile developed by the FBI's behavioral sciences personnel was based on incomplete information, thus leading to inappropriate negotiation strategy. Initially, the FBI Special Operations and Research Unit was not informed of the HRT rifle shots fired on August 22 or of the fact that Harris might have been wounded. According to the behavioral scientists who compiled the profile, the shooting incident would affect the way the Weaver family perceived negotiations. The scientists reported that their assessment would have been different, had they been told that shots had been fired and that someone might have been wounded. [FN901] This information was critical to the development of an accurate profile of Randy Weaver.
The failure of on-site supervisors to communicate accurate information appears to have had a negative impact on the attempt to resolve the crisis through negotiation.
(2) Balance of Tactical and Negotiation Strategies
In a crisis situation in which a deliberate assault option is considered a necessary part of overall strategy, a written operational plan for the assault must be submitted to the FBI Headquarters for approval. On the other hand, emergency tactical operation, whether or not they will contribute to the ultimate resolution of the crisis, are the responsibility of both the Special Agents in Charge and the HRT command structure at the crisis site.
FBI hostage negotiator Lanceley was critical of FBI crisis management at Ruby Ridge. When he attended Rogers' initial briefing, he was surprised and shocked by the Rules of Engagement and did not believe them to be consistent with the FBI's standard deadly force policy. They were the most severe rules he had seen in hundreds of prior crises. Lanceley described the situation:
[T]here was a barricaded subject at the top of a mountain, no hostages, family present and plenty of cover for perimeter personnel. The [Deputy Marshal] were no longer pinned down and the subject was barricaded at a location which had few of the problems inherent to crises that one would encounter in an urban setting. there had been on gunfire since the previous morning at the time of the firefight with the [Deputy Marshals].[FN902]
Lanceley told this inquiry that, when he heard Rogers tell the group that this would be "no long siege," Lanceley knew that Rogers did not intend to engage in negotiations. Following the briefing, Lanceley conveyed his perception to Rogers and told officer in the HRT command post. Rogers' response, "good," confirmed Lanceley's belief that there would be no negotiations.[FN903]
When he arrived at the command post, Lanceley told Special Agent in Charge Glenn that he was available and proceeded to work on intelligence gathering. Lanceley withdrew from the management structure and was not party to the discussions of command personnel, who he believed intended to resolve the crisis tactically. Lanceley is not aware of discussion among Glenn and other command personnel which considered a negotiations strategy because he was not consulted before the rejection of the operations plan.[FN904] After the plan had been rejected in mid-afternoon on August 22, Lanceley was called to the command post and asked to write an addendum. He understood FBI Headquarters had rejected the operations plan because it did not contain a negotiation component.
Lanceley strongly criticized the tactical actions taken, despite his absence from meetings in which command personnel discussed and approved strategy. Lanceley told this inquiry that he regretted not being more aggressive on August 22 and again on August 23, when he chose not to voice objections to Glenn about removing the outbuildings.[FN905]
Another FBI Hostage negotiator, E. MacArthur Burke, believed that it was Lanceley's responsibility, as senior FBI negotiator, to press the issue of negotiation. Burke concluded that negotiators and SWAT personnel are highly trained and Special Agents in Charge are not as well prepared to handle the often opposing forces weighing in favor of tactical or negotiated resolutions. Burke believed that the negotiation-free operations order showed that the negotiation and tactical elements of the Ruby Ridge response were considerably out of balance.[FN906]
In contrast to Burke, FBI negotiator Wilson Lima spoke of Glenn's commitment to establishing communications with the Weaver cabin from his arrival on the evening of August 21. The next morning, Glenn agreed that a phone should be given to the Weaver group.[FN907]
We are aware that the structure of the HRT and its impressive machinery may tend to overtake the negotiators' role in a crisis situation where an inexperienced commander is in charge. Such a charge has arisen in this case. The lack of balance between the negotiation and tactical efforts created an atmosphere supporting a tactical resolution from the very beginning.
The strong influence of the HRT management team at the scene is reflected in the way Bo Gritz' participation at the crisis site was finally authorized. According to Gritz, Glenn told him that before Glenn would authorize his participation, he would have to confer with Rogers and FBI Headquarters. There is no evidence that Lanceley was consulted before Gritz was permitted to join the effort to resolve the crisis.[FN908]
From the information gathered during this inquiry, it appears that no operations plan was ever approved throughout the entire siege. Unfortunately, FBI records provided during this inquiry do not contain all the operations plans. The records are so incomplete that we can not verify this conclusion.
In our opinion, the available records reflect insufficient consideration of negotiation strategy as compared to tactical approaches.[FN909] We have been told that the lack of a negotiation component in the initial operation plan did not reflect a lack of intent to negotiate, but the understanding that tactical personnel had to establish communications with the Weaver cabin before negotiations could begin. We have been told that the first objective of the operations plan was to establish a perimeter containing the crises site and to get close enough to establish communications.[FN910]google title for full story
Supported videos include:
Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.