Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 5 Num. 92

("Quid coniuratio est?")

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
[qtd. in Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, 08/27/95] [The following is an abbreviated version]

From the moment the story broke of the siege on Ruby Ridge, the
media played back, note for note, the official government score
of what had taken place. The official line was that Randy Weaver,
a neo-Nazi white supremacist and his fanatical family, with the
aid of a fervent follower, had ambushed and gunned down a U.S.
marshal trying to serve a warrant for Weaver's failing to appear
on federal weapons charges. The hapless marshals had been pinned
down by subsequent waves of gunfire from the remote mountaintop
compound, a fortress whose grounds were riddled with booby traps,
those holed up inside trained and ready to use an arsenal of
weapons, including rockets, in a long-hoped for deadly
confrontation with the demonic federal government loathed by
these militant extremists.

But time and trial slowly exposed a different story. The testimony and evidence presented at the trial of [Kevin Harris, a friend of the Weaver family] and Weaver and that contained in the still unreleased internal review by the Justice Department as well as interviews with Jackie Brown, her husband, Tony, and others close to the incident weave together sufficiently well to offer a far more plausible chain of events.

In the summer of 1989, while attending an Aryan Nations World Congress in Hayden Lake, Idaho, Weaver was introduced to Kenneth Fadeley, who, by the fall of that year, was talking with him about buying weapons, specifically sawed-off shotguns.

Fadeley was a paid informant for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. ATF officials believed that Weaver might be a conduit to Chuck Holworth, who had formed an Aryan Nations splinter group in Montana. He was not.

In October 1989, Weaver sold the informant two shotguns, the barrels of which he had shortened in accordance with specific instructions provided by Fadeley (who didn't tell his ATF handler that he had provided such instructions). Fadeley recorded all his conversations with Weaver -- with one glaring exception, the one in which Weaver allegedly made the offer to sell the weapons to the informant.

On May 21, 1990, the ATF asked the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boise to prosecute Weaver for selling the illegal shotgun. The very next month, two ATF agents approached Weaver outside a hotel in Sandpoint, Idaho, and told him about the charges and that he could help himself by agreeing to provide information about the Aryan Nations. Weaver refused, saying he wouldn't become a government "snitch." One agent gave Weaver his card and the agents left.

Incredibly, no one in the ATF told anyone in the U.S. Marshals Service that they had tried to solicit Weaver to work as an informant.

On Dec. 13, 1990, a full seven months after the ATF referred the case to the U.S. attorney's office, a federal grand jury indicted Weaver for manufacturing and possessing an unregistered firearm. On Jan. 17, 1991, he was arrested near his residence by ATF agents. Weaver was arraigned the next day. He posted a $10,000 bond, secured by his property on Ruby Ridge, was released and told by the court that his trial was set for Feb. 19, 1991.

Several weeks later, the court changed the trial date to Feb. 20. Two days later, a U.S. probation officer sent Weaver a letter in which he erroneously referred to the trial date as March 20. Yet when Weaver failed to appear for trial on Feb. 20, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. On March 14, 1991, still nearly a week before the trial date given Weaver, a federal grand jury indicted him for failure to appear for trial.

This further inflamed the suspicion in Weaver's mind that the government was conspiring against him. He made it clear in talks with friends, in at least one newspaper interview and in letters to the U.S. attorney's office in Boise, signed by Vicki Weaver, that "whether we live or die, we will not obey your lawless government... we will not bow to your evil commandments."

Nonetheless, Weaver did, through intermediaries, negotiate with the U.S. Marshals Service. On Oct. 12, 1991, the local Marshals Service office in Boise proposed offering formal surrender terms to Weaver and requested authorization from the U.S. attorney's office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Howen refused to authorize further negotiations with Weaver and declared that all further communication with him must be through his court-appointed attorney, with whom Weaver had repeatedly refused to speak. Howen would later be the lead prosecutor at the trial of Weaver and Harris.

So the stage for disaster was set. Weaver, an increasingly paranoid, radical ideologue convinced that the federal government was evil {1}, was cut off from negotiations that could defuse the situation. Weaver, although he had not left his home, was officially a federal fugitive.

The case was transferred to the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Marshals Service. It was given the code name "Operation Northern Exposure" and put under the guidance of Deputy Marshal Arthur Roderick.

In August 1992, Roderick assembled the team that was supposed to conduct the necessary surveillance to set up an approved undercover plan to arrest Weaver away from his family. On the team was Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan, commander of the Northeast Task Force in Boston, and a close friend of Roderick's.

The team met in Sandpoint, Idaho, on Aug. 17, 1992. Four days later, Degan would be dead.

About 10 a.m. Aug. 21, three of the six marshals on the team, including Roderick and Degan, crept close to the Weavers' cabin. None wore bullet-proof vests, although they were available.

Suddenly, the Weavers' dogs began to bark and Randy Weaver, Harris and several Weaver children ran out of the cabin. They were armed. The marshals retreated through the woods, pursued by the Weavers' dog Striker, Harris and Sammy Weaver.

The most likely scenario of what happened next is that one of the marshals (probably Roderick) shot Striker (the autopsy showed the dog was hit from behind). Sammy responded angrily and fired his .223 mini-14 rifle. His shots hit no one. He turned to run back to the cabin. One or more marshals, including perhaps Degan (whose gun was found to have been fired seven times), returned fire, hitting Sammy in the arm and the back, killing him. Harris then fired his 30-06 rifle and hit Degan in the chest with a single round, killing him.

Harris and Weaver returned to the cabin. At no point during the gun battle were any shots fired from the cabin. After the initial exchange of fire, no shots were fired from the cabin or any of its occupants throughout the ensuing seige.

Nonetheless, Jose Antonio Perez, chief of Enforcement Operations of the U.S. Marshals Service at headquarters, reported to the FBI that "the marshals were still on the mountain and were pinned down by gunfire" more than two hours after the firefight. (The marshalls involved in the shooting reported receiving 100 or more incoming rounds. But investigators recovered far fewer bullet casings.)

[ be continued...]

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- {1} "Weaver, an increasingly paranoid, radical ideologue convinced that the federal government was evil..."

       "paranoid" ---- "convinced that government was evil"
       "crazy" ---- "thinks that government is evil"
       "thinks that government is evil" -- "crazy"

TRANSLATION: "If you think the U.S. government is evil, you are 'crazy'."

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