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Sad anniversary — and nothing’s changed

Jim Bovard reminded me of an anniversary I thought I’d never forget: twenty years ago today, the federal government murdered Vicki Weaver.

Twenty years ago yesterday, federal marshals kicked off the Ruby Ridge seige by killing a boy and his dog.

I was already a freedomista before the Weaver monstrosity, but that was my radicalization. I knew from the moment I saw the fuzzy helicopter images of the Weavers’ cabin on the little antenna-driven TV I had then that something was rotten, foul, unspeakable, and more wrong than words could express.

While attending parts of the trial, I also got the chance to go up to the property with a friend of family and see what the prosecutors fought so hard (and successfully) to prevent the jury from seeing. The physical evidence at the site (and at that point, markers were still in place to show where cases had been found and various things had happened) showed clearly — and I mean blatantly obviously — that no one on the federal side could possibly have believed the story they were telling.

I cried — and I never believed a word uttered after that by a government agent or spokesthing.

So these days the feds don’t send hundreds of agents, including National Guard troops, to besiege harmless families.

No, that sort of publicly visible overkill is no more. Not after Ruby Ridge and Waco. Much, much too embarrassing to Our Glorious Leaders. TV overkill has been replaced by localized SWAT raids, wrong-house puppycides, taser killings, “surgical” drone strikes, terrorist tactics, and claims that angry people are mentally ill based (apparently) on their Facebook posts.

We live in a much better world today, don’t we?


  1. Woody
    Woody August 22, 2012 8:44 am

    I had friends that stopped associating with me after I expressed outrage at what happened at Ruby Ridge and Waco. After all “The government wouldn’t be going to all that trouble if they weren’t guilty of something. And besides, they’re all wackos anyway.”

    There are some friends I’m better off without. Sadly though, their attitude was all too prevalent among the proletariat. One person I spoke with while Mt Carmel was burning thought it was cool! There is no question in my mind that we are doomed as a country.

  2. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal August 22, 2012 8:54 am

    One thing has changed- now the feds can murder you with a drone so they don’t risk any tax-addicts’ lives.

    Somehow I missed the Ruby Ridge attack as it was happening, and only heard about it afterward; the Waco Massacre is what radicalized me. I watched it burn, live on TV, and told my young son that he was watching the government murder people, and that he should never forget that.

  3. Jim B.
    Jim B. August 22, 2012 9:00 am

    You’re right that the government doesn’t do this sort of thing openly or visible anymore. However what’s to stop them from doing it secretly and quietly?

    All they would have to do is train a surgical strike team with ninja-like methods.

  4. Matt, another
    Matt, another August 22, 2012 9:13 am

    The government still does this, they just do it overseas at the moment. Using Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan to perfect their techniques so they can import t hem back here.

    Since Waco at least, many of the groups that might be targeted went underground and the rest stopped bunching up.

  5. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard August 22, 2012 10:36 am

    Wow! I didn’t know that you attended the Randy Weaver/Kevin Harris trial. Neat that you were there witnessing history… With your insights and personal experiences, you might want to elaborate on this – either here or in a separate article elsewhere.

    When I started writing about Ruby Ridge, someone called up from Kansas (?) and offered me a full set of the trial transcripts. I was mightily interested, but his asking price ($9,000) proved a deal-killer.

  6. Claire
    Claire August 22, 2012 10:56 am


    I was at the trial for a few days at different stages. Didn’t see the whole thing but definitely got a taste of the amazing Gerry Spence fireworks, eventually met Randy, networked with supporters (got faxed reports from the trial on days I wasn’t there, thanks to some very diligent person), met some Weaver friends and family members, visited the cabin and the site of the catastrophe, saw the place where the protestors stood as the humvees rolled in, etc.

    And yeah on that trial transcript. I went to the court to try to get it. But they told me that since neither side was going to appeal the case there wouldn’t be a transcript — unless I had it done. I recall the price being somewhat less than $9k, but still well into the thousands. Maybe your guy was taking a markup!

    I still have three boxes of materials from that time, including letters from Randy in jail. The original plan was to write a book, but that fell through, and fell through in such a way that even now I have a hard time thinking about it.

    Should I ever get leisure time, I might write a novel based on the Weaver case.

  7. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit
    The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit August 22, 2012 1:25 pm

    Re: transcripts. It should be a court of record, and rather than asking for transcripts you should take a look at getting copies of the recordings. The disks sell for a couple bucks each in the circuit courts out here.

    You still might get hammered on transcribing the audio to written format, but it can be worth checking.

    That said, after all this time there may not be any useable recordings any more.

  8. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard August 22, 2012 2:08 pm

    Claire – I think you could do a great novel on Ruby Ridge. The characters of the feds came through very clearly during the trial, as far as I heard. Not just rascals, but officious rascals.

  9. Plug Nickel Outfit
    Plug Nickel Outfit August 22, 2012 2:19 pm

    Claire – your mention of Gerry Spence reminded me of events from a couple years before Ruby Ridge. He acted as pro bono counsel for Dave Foreman in the Arizona Five trial from the late 80s/early 90s. I followed that affair fairly closely from the first arrests to the final sentencing. It was where I first came to understand the tactics of agent provocateurs in the pay of the fedgov.

    Time sure flies…

  10. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard August 22, 2012 2:51 pm

    Actually, thinking about it some more, you could do a novel that was much better than the actual RR case. In the same way that the ‘V for Vendetta’ movie was far superior in plot & characterization to the original graphic novel, your RR novel could rise above.

  11. Claire
    Claire August 22, 2012 3:45 pm

    Oh, I kiss you, Jim Bovard. Thank you for being one of the rare birds to recognize that the “V for Vendetta” movie (for all its lack of anarchist “purity”) is a far superior to the sloppily constructed book it came from.

    That said, I don’t see any real-world evidence that I could write a novel that outdoes reality. But thanks for the vote of confidence.

  12. Claire
    Claire August 22, 2012 4:22 pm

    Plug Nickel Outfit — I didn’t know anything about that trial. I obviously have some research to do.

    Spence was amazing. All he had to do was walk into the courtroom and you could just feel his capital-P Presence. (He was friendly to the spectators, too, though I later had experience with him that showed what a shark he could be.) The prosecution would make what sounded to me like a formidable argument. I’d think, “How on earth is he going to answer that?” … and 30 seconds after he stood up to speak, the argument would be little ground-up bits under his cowboy boots.

  13. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth August 22, 2012 4:34 pm

    Woody, I am ashamed beyond measure to admit that when it was happening, I too watched the Waco disaster and figured the Davidians were culpable, toss-under-the-bus wackos. My “radicalization*” came afterwards, as I actually opened my eyes to what had been right in front of my face the whole time. (Thanks, Claire, for your part in that.)

    So, in a way, I’m a living example that not everyone who seems lost right now, is really hopeless. Let’s not lose sight of that in the midst of the obvious frustration of having to deal with those who are willfully committed to all the murderous mythology. Simply telling the truth is still enough for some people to move forward on their own instance of the journey, and if there’s any way I can now repay that on to someone else, I’ll be happy to do it.

    It was only after Waco, looking backward, that I “discovered” Ruby Ridge, and Ken Ballew, and Pine Ridge, and the MOVE raid, and so many others that fit the increasingly obvious pattern. And now, like others, I too pretty much reflexively dismiss any official story that I hear about anything, because it’s either going to be an outright lie or, at best, self-serving misdirection. (If a state agent starts insisting that the sun is going to rise in the east tomorrow morning, I’ll start to worry.)

    As to that, the thought that occurred to me yesterday, on observing the murders of Striker and Sammy and mentioning the subsequent attempt to murder Randy as he went to visit Sammy’s body, was this:

    “Perhaps the more recent “first, drone the principal, then drone the funeral” tactic has its official origins here?”

    Thoughts? Or maybe the practice was already established doctrine by this time?

    * I actually don’t much care for that word in this context. What is so radical about calling wanton slaughter what it is?

  14. Eric Oppen
    Eric Oppen August 22, 2012 7:46 pm

    I still have your article about “Lord Horiuchi of Ruby Ridge” archived on my HD.

  15. Another Anonymous
    Another Anonymous August 23, 2012 4:52 am

    I completely disagree with your comparison of V For Vendetta book versus movie, and would be interested in any justification you could provide πŸ™‚

  16. -s
    -s August 23, 2012 8:34 am

    “I don’t see any real-world evidence that I could write a novel that outdoes reality. ”

    I was just re-reading Rebelfire the other day. I know a teeny bit about the circumstances and handicaps that accompanied the production of that novel, which not only outdid reality, but predicted it.

    There’s your evidence.

  17. Claire
    Claire August 23, 2012 9:06 am

    tc — That is beyond nauseating. So Randy Weaver “escaped” with his family? You mean they stayed in their home? So Degan was on a “peaceful surveillance mission”? You mean Degan and the other marshals were on the Weaver property without a warrant AND they disobeyed orders not to approach the cabin? They snuck up to the boulders around the cabin and deliberately threw rocks at the house, knowing from multitudes of past surveillance that not only would three dogs come rushing out, but so would armed people. Wow. Bastards …

  18. Claire
    Claire August 23, 2012 9:07 am

    Thank you, -s. I appreciate that vote of confidence.

  19. kycolonel
    kycolonel August 23, 2012 9:12 am

    Thank you Claire for marking the anniversary of the Randy Weaver atrocity. I had the honor of meeting and conversing with Mr. Weaver a number of years ago. A gentleman and a true patriot.
    This event began my transformation and Waco changed forever my view of the federal government.

  20. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth August 23, 2012 10:16 am

    tc, thanks for pointing out that Pravda-worthy piece. Just – wow. Don’t you love how “the man who killed him” turns out to be Randy Weaver, after all this time? I suspect that Kevin Harris’ legal team might want to know about that…

  21. Claire
    Claire August 23, 2012 11:18 am

    Kevin — Oh yeah. I was so indignant I didn’t even notice that. At the trial, using the angle of a bullet hole through (I believe it was) a backpack Degan was wearing, Gerry Spence floated the notion that Degan might actually have been killed by his own team members’ “friendly fire.” Made it seem quite plausible, too.

    And Kevin, thanks for the link to your most excellent rant. Wish I’d seen that earlier.

  22. Claire
    Claire August 23, 2012 11:31 am

    Another Anon — Not one more time, thank you. Previous statements probably available elsewhere on the blog and at the Mental Militia Forums. I’m used to people exercising their freedom to disagree, so have at it. πŸ™‚

  23. Plug Nickel Outfit
    Plug Nickel Outfit August 23, 2012 12:37 pm

    Claire – here’s a thumbnail sketch of what I’d referred to yesterday:
    Operation Thermcon

  24. Claire
    Claire August 23, 2012 3:37 pm

    Thanks, PNO. The portions about the FBI agent have really got to go into the snitch booklet. We already make the point that “You can always tell the FBI agent; he’s the one who’s always trying to get you to bomb something.” But that makes the reality more vivid.

    Interesting on Spence and the Thermcon group. Spence always claimed never to have lost a case. I suppose plea bargains technically aren’t losing, but …

  25. Plug Nickel Outfit
    Plug Nickel Outfit August 23, 2012 11:24 pm

    During the trial evidence was submitted that the provocateur repeatedly tried to edge the small group towards criminal acts – much more so than was alluded to in the wiki-article. The sentencing was also curious. It was pretty apparent that Foreman’s defense was solid. Word had it that the prosecution threatened to throw the book at the other defendants unless he copped. The deferred sentence put a hold on any activism he might have intended for 5 years (iirc) and he pretty much skated at the end of that period. Foreman was a very effective public speaker and it was pretty evident by the end of the trial that it was a concerted effort to sideline him.

  26. Christine S.
    Christine S. August 24, 2012 5:35 pm

    I had been out of touch with both Ruby Ridge and Waco – except for taking the media “the holed whackos” story at its word. What can I say, I was young and trusting.

    I just watched a Discovery Channel documentary on Ruby Ridge, read between the lines on that little slanted piece – it brought me to tears thinking about what that family went through and how horribly they were wronged on every level.

    From entrapment, to stalking, to unprovoked violent attack – and then incarceration and intentional cover-up. My God, is there anything they didn’t do to the Weavers?

    I think it is time for me to educate myself on Waco now.

  27. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth August 25, 2012 12:22 pm

    “I think it is time for me to educate myself on Waco now.”

    My advice would be this: be prepared to pace yourself. The human gorge can only take so much at one sitting.

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