Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Hutaree Case: Next Time, They'll Just Send In The Drones

Exonerated Hutaree defendants leave court: Future "seditionists" probably won't get a trial.
Next time the Regime identifies a group of people as “domestic terrorists,” the result might be summary execution, or imprisonment in military custody, rather than a trial. This is one very plausible result of the dismissal of “seditious conspiracy” charges against members of Michigan’s Hutaree militia. 

Thanks to the legal environment created by the NDAA, the Feds won’t have to run the risk involved in submitting the next “domestic terrorism” case to the scrutiny of a court. Now that Attorney General Eric Hoder has helpfully clarified that “due process” and “judicial process” aren’t the same thing, it’s entirely possible that the next group of American dissidents identified by the SPLC or other self-appointed political watchdog groups as “terrorists” could be targeted by a drone-fired missile or a presidential strike team. 

When asked by Rep. Thomas Graves (R-Georgia) if such "targeted assassinations" could be conducted domestically as well as overseas, FBI Commissar Robert Mueller pointedly refused to rule out the possibility. This was probably welcome news to Leslie Larsen, the FBI Agent who presided over the Hutaree case. 

 "We haven't worked a year and a half on this investigation and risked [an undercover agent's] life to walk away from this with 3 arrests," groused the secret police investigator two years ago. At the time it appeared that the FBI wouldn’t be able to manufacture a criminal conspiracy out of a few trivial firearms violations and a surfeit of anti-government rhetoric. 

During the past decade, false flag operations targeting disaffected Muslims have become the FBI’s métier. The Hutaree was the first non-Muslim “domestic extremist” groups to be cast as the lead in one of the Bureau’s post-911 Homeland Security Theater productions. U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, who was able to see the plot holes in the FBI’s implausible script, had the character and good sense to dismiss the case with prejudice.

 In her order granting the defense motion for summary judgment, Roberts – who had previously expressed severe skepticism regarding the supposed merits of the case – lambasted the Feds for repeatedly venturing beyond "inference to pure speculation” and “attempting to formulate an alternative theory of criminal liability” when it became clear that they couldn’t provide tangible evidence of intent to commit an overt criminal act. This resulted in a theory of the case “based primarily on two conversations … the first on August 13, 2009, and the second on February 20, 2010.” 

Hutaree Crackdown: SWAT operators raid a church in Michigan.
 The Hutaree “militia” was a loosely organized group of obscure people united by their entirely commendable hostility toward the criminal clique calling itself the United States Government. They apparently shared a set of apocalyptic beliefs about the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and they engaged in survivalist training in anticipation of the End Times, when they might confront the necessity to use defensive force against government agents – whether foreign or domestic – in league with the enemy. 

It was in the context of this scenario that members of the Hutaree group supposedly plotted to murder a law enforcement officer and then follow up with opportunistic attacks on other LEOs who would attend the funeral. This repellent terrorist tactic should be familiar to the Feds who investigated the Hutaree group; after all, the government that employs them has made extensive use of it. A detailed report compiled by British and Pakistani journalists has documented that CIA drone-fired missile strikes have killed “dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or [who] were attending funerals” that resulted from earlier missile attacks.

In orchestrating its phony domestic terrorist plots, the Regime tends to use a script inspired by its own acts of state terrorism abroad. The Hutaree “plot” to assassinate a cop and then capitalize on the funeral may have been prompted by the federal informant who infiltrated the group and – acting as a provocateur– thoughtfully offered to teach them how to make improvised explosive devices. It may have been stitched together in  post-production by the FBI impresario presiding over this little melodrama. What we know for certain is that it was not conceived by the Hutaree activists, nor did they take ownership of it.

The original indictment – which Judge Roberts eviscerated in a preliminary ruling – accused the Michigan dissidents of making material preparations to carry out specific criminal acts. When it was shown that there was no evidence to support that charge, the Feds shifted their focus and charged them with “seditious conspiracy,” which consisted of expressing opinions about government corruption and making physical preparations to for self-defense against criminal violence perpetrated by government authorities. 

Citing a Supreme Court precedent (Russell v. United States, 1962) holding that the prosecution isn’t “free to roam at large – to shift its theory of criminality so as to take advantage of each passing vicissitude of the trial,” Roberts observed that the Feds were not free to “say that the alleged plan set forth [in the original indictment] is irrelevant.” Yet that’s precisely what they attempted to do.
Although the supposed police assassination plot was central to the case against the Hutaree, “the Government did not provide sufficient proof of the existence of a conspiracy at all,” ruled Judge Roberts. “The Government says it is not certain whether the Hutaree intended to initiate the conflict, or simply engage in it once it was initiated by others.” While Hutaree members frequently engaged in what were described as “diatribes” against law enforcement, “all of this speech is protected by the First Amendment,” Roberts observed. Expressing hatred for the government’s enforcement caste “is not the same as seditious conspiracy.”

Under the Government’s theory of the case, Roberts noted, one could be charged with “sedition” simply through his or her “mere presence at the scene” when a Hutaree activist spoke about “going to war and killing police.” 

One of the defendants, Tina Mae Stone, was described by the Feds as an “active, engaged and vocal member” of the purported conspiracy because she overheard two conversations – one regarding a planned trip to Kentucky by David Stone, Sr. and the federal informant, and a second that took place in an FBI-rented warehouse in which the provocateur “discussed explosives” with Mr. Stone. 

The latter conversation touched on the subject of using coffee cans and wine bottles to make improvised explosively formed projectiles (EFPs).  Ms. Stone joked that “she would take one for the team and drink more wine, presumably so that the bottles could be used to make explosives,” Roberts recounts. The Feds characterized that wisecrack as evidence that she had “played an active, unhesitant, and continuing role in obtaining materials to use in building EFPs” – despite the fact that she was present for only one meeting with the Hutaree co-defendants, and never provided them with anything. 

Unchained: Michael Meeks hugs his aunt after being set free.
 Following dismissal of the case, Hutaree defendant Michael Meeks, a 42-year-old former Marine, said that the salient lesson taught by the case was the need for Americans to “watch what you say. Even the most innocent of statements can be used against you.” 

Actually, the lesson is that anything said in your presence can be used against you -- and if a sufficiently incriminating remark isn't forthcoming from you or your friends, the Feds can always pay somebody to perform on cue, and on camera.

While the Feds didn’t succeed in imprisoning the Hutaree defendants for life, they were able to steal more than two years of their respective lives through pre-trial incarceration. 

Although U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade – the Madam DeFarge behind this case – wasn’t able to feed the defendants to the guillotine, she expressed a measure of vindictive satisfaction that the felony convictions mean “that these defendants will never be permitted to possess firearms again.” She also reiterated the Regime’s intent to continue “dismantling” militias and other dissident groups suspected of impermissible animosity toward their rulers. 

Once again, thanks to the NDAA – the Obama Regime’s “Law of Suspects” – the Feds will be able to use extra-judicial means to “dismantle” dissident groups in the future. 

 The original Law of Suspects was enacted by France’s revolutionary Jacobin government  on September 17, 1793 (as it happened, the sixth birthday of the U.S. Constitution). The decree permitted the wholesale imprisonment of several classes of people deemed enemies of the State:

*Those considered “partisans of tyranny” or “enemies of liberty” -- which in the Jacobin lexicon referred to defenders of the monarchy and traditional institutions;

*Individuals who had been denied “certificates of patriotism” issued by the revolutionary regime;

*Former “civil servants” who had been cashiered by the National Convention;

*Former nobles and emigres and their families, if they failed to provide suitable displays of “devotion to the Revolution”;

*Those who emigrated from France between July 1, 1789 and April 8, 1792.

 As David A. Bell of Johns Hopkins University points out in his study The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, the Law of Suspects -- the template for every modern totalitarian legal system, including the NDAA -- was the enabling act for the revolutionary Reign of Terror. As is the case with a contemporary American deemed an “enemy combatant,” any French citizen branded a Suspect had no right to appeal that designation. Protests of that kind were probably met with some variation of the sentiment recently expressed by Robespierre’s modern disciple, Sen. Lindsey Graham: “Shut up – you don’t get a lawyer!” 

The same concept was adopted by the Soviet Union’s Fundamental Principles of Penal Legislation, which identified the central mission of the state's law enforcement apparatus (chiefly the Ckeha secret police, which would later become the KGB) as that of identifying, and removing the threat of, "socially dangerous persons." That mission was enshrined in Article 58 of the Soviet penal code, which was the foundation of that government’s perpetual war of terror against dissent – and the antecedent to section 1031 of the NDAA.

 The law dealing with "socially dangerous persons," notes the authoritative Black Book of Communism, dealt with "any activity that, without directly aiming to overthrow or weaken the Soviet regime, was in itself `an attack on the political or economic achievements of the revolutionary proletariat.' The law thus not only punished intentional transgressions but also proscribed possible or unintentional acts” (emphasis added).

Additionally, the expression "socially dangerous persons" itself was based on "extremely elastic categories" that permitted the imprisonment of people in the gulag "even in the absence of guilt." This is because what the Soviet rulers were pleased to call "the law" specified that incarceration, exile, or execution could be employed as means of "social protection" against "anyone classified as a danger to society, either for a specific crime that has been committed or when, even if exonerated of a particular crime, the person is still reckoned to pose a threat to society." (Emphasis added.)

Soviet "law" discarded entirely with the idea of punishing overt acts, focusing instead on the supposed motivations of those deemed innately threatening to the regime. Note also that the Soviet system was rigged to nullify exculpatory verdicts. Soviet prosecutors, like Federal prosecutors today, considered themselves entitled to “shift the theory of criminality” as needed in order to justify detention of political offenders.

Detention of “socially dangerous persons” was the primary function of the Soviet penal apparatus. As Paul Gregory points out in his book Lenin's Brain, most of the prisoners consigned to the gulag were sent there not because of what they had done, but because of what the state suspected they could do; they were being isolated from the rest of society "because of actual or suspected opposition to the Soviet state” – that is to say, that they had a “general plan” to “oppose the authority” of the government,” as the U.S. “Justice” Department said of the Hutaree defendants. 

 During the Senate’s discussion of the NDAA’s martial law provisions, Sen. Graham warned that Americans suspected of terrorism –  another “elastic” category that can include practically any kind of organized dissent – should “know what will come your way – death; detention; prosecution.” 

Under the NDAA, the Regime has the luxury of ignoring the third option listed by Graham when courts refuse to ratify every conspiracy theory concocted by the Cheka (or, as it’s now know, the FBI).  Or the Feds could simply avoid the messiness associated with “judicial process” of any kind and implement the Obama administration’s policy of executive assassination.

Thank you so much!

I would like to offer earnest and emphatic thanks to everyone who has responded so generously to my recent appeal. This really means a great deal to me and my family. The first batch of personalized copies of Liberty in Eclipse will be shipped out tomorrow (March 30). Two cases arrived a couple of days ago, and I will continue to send out a copy of the book to anyone who donates $20 or more to Pro Libertate. For non-Pay Pal donations, or to send a mailing address, please contact me (WNGrigg [at] msn [dot] [com]). Once again, thank you, and God bless.

Be sure to check out Republic magazine.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trayvon Martin and the Cult of Government Supremacy (Update, March 24; Second Update, March 28; Third Update, April 20; Fourth Update, May 17)

Editorial note: There is a revised and expanded version of this essay at

Nineteen days before Trayvon Martin was gunned down by self-appointed block “captain” George Zimmerman, Manuel Loggins was murdered by an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy in the parking lot of San Clemente High School. Loggins, a deeply religious man, often visited the school to walk on the track and discuss the Bible with his daughters, who were with him on the morning he was murdered. 

According to the most recent of several official versions of the incident, the Deputy was concerned by Loggins’ “irrational” behavior, which involved crashing through a gate and attempting to leave the scene. Even this rendering of the episode, however, doesn’t explain why a Deputy would shoot an unarmed man behind the wheel of an SUV containing two young girls.
The Deputy initially insisted that he “felt threatened” by Loggins. Within a day or so of the story becoming public, the story had undergone a critical revision:  The Sheriff’s Office claimed that Loggins had to be shot in the interests of “the perceived safety of the children.” 

So zealous were the officers for the safety of two young girls who had just seen their father murdered in front of them that the department took them into custody held them incommunicado for thirteen hours while the official narrative was being worked out. In the words of the family’s attorney, “They just incarcerated them.” 

Sgt. Loggins was black; his killer, Deputy Darren Sandberg, is white – and he’s back on patrol duty, without facing criminal charges or administrative punishment of any kind. His union, displaying its customary gift for arrogant self-preoccupation, insists Loggins was entirely to blame.

“It is heartbreaking that Manuel Loggins created a situation that put his children in danger and ultimately cost him his life,” oozed police union spokesperson Tom Dominguez. "It is unfortunate that his actions put his own children into immediate danger and resulted in his death."

That smarmy, dismissive statement irresistibly reminds me of the radio exchange between U.S. troops involved in the Baghdad massacre documented in the “Collateral Murder” video.
Eleven Iraqis were massacred in the unprovoked attack, and several others – including two small children – were seriously wounded. 

“Well, it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle,” one of the murderers snarkily insisted when informed that small children were among the victims.
Loggins’s widow gave birth to another daughter at about the same time she buried her husband. 

Manuel Loggins and his future widow.
While this atrocity garnered a great deal of local attention, and a modest amount of national coverage, it didn’t receive the saturation coverage in which the Trayvon Martin killing has been immersed. 

Neither Louis Farrakhan nor Al Sharpton reached out to the Loggins family. As a gesture of solidarity with Trayvon, the Miami Heat basketball team was photographed wearing hooded sweatshirts, the “suspicious” attire the teenager was wearing when he was chased down and shot by George Zimmerman. The Sacramento Kings abstained from a similar symbolic display of sympathy for Manuel Loggins. 

Asked by a reporter to comment about the Trayvon Martin killing, Barack Obama pointed out that if he had a son, the young man might resemble Trayvon. The President has yet to be asked to comment about the murder of Manuel Loggins – who is one of two black Marines to be murdered by police within the space of three months.

Last November 19, 68-year-old retired Marine Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. was slaughtered by police at his apartment in White Plains, New York. Chamberlain, an elderly man who suffered from a heart condition and several other ailments, was not a criminal suspect. He had inadvertently triggered a medical alert, which resulted in a visit by paramedics.  The police, unfortunately, responded as well, and they quickly displayed their infallible gift for making matters worse.

Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. (center).
 Chamberlain ordered the police to leave. That was a lawful order the police are required to obey. They didn’t. Instead, the dozen officers who had formed a thugscrum outside Chamberlain’s door taunted and mocked the elderly man, eventually breaking down the door and invading his home. 

Once inside, the police were confronted by a terrified old man who – as documented in video recovered from a Taser – was clad in boxer shorts, with his hands at his side. This dreadful specter was enough to trigger the “Officer Safety” reflex – practically anything will – and the heroes in blue shot him with a Taser and a beanbag gun before gunning him down. 

The original story was that Chamberlain “came at the officers” with a butcher knife and – I’m not kidding – a hatchet. His son points out that his father’s heart was so weak that he couldn’t walk more than forty feet without resting. The initial account is difficult to reconcile with the footage captured by the Taser and security cameras. Furthermore, even if the old man had lunged at the cops, they had the duty to retreat: They had no legal or moral right to be in the home, and Chamberlain had the legal and moral right to evict them by force. 

Long after the incident, the police rationalized that the invasion was necessary because they weren’t sure whether “anybody else inside was in danger.” This is a matter that could have been cleared up through use of an obscure piece of technology called a telephone, a remarkable instrument that could have been used to contact either Mr. Chamberlain or his son, who didn’t live far away. But this would have deprived the armored adolescents on the police force of an opportunity to bust down a door and impose themselves on someone who couldn’t fight back. 

George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, appears to have perceived practically every black male – on one occasion, a child he described as “7-9 years old” – as suspicious

Predictably, Martin’s family believes that Zimmerman acted on bigoted motives. In the case of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., there is material evidence of racism at work: Recordings of the standoff captured racial epithets, including the “n-word,” hurled at the harmless old man by some of the officers involved in murdering him just a few minutes later.

Nevertheless, the Tolerance Police – for some reason -- haven’t made the slaughter of Kenneth Chamberlain a cause celebre.  

One much-remarked detail in the killing of Trayvon Martin is the fact that the supposedly suspicious teenager was “armed” with Skittles and a can of iced tea. This summons memories of Jordan Miles, an 18-year-old from Pittsburgh who was nearly beaten to death on the street near his grandmother’s house two years ago. 

His assailants claimed that Miles struck them as “suspicious” because he fled at their approach, and that they feared for their lives when he appeared to be armed. It turns out that his concealed “weapon” was a bottle of Mountain Dew, an admittedly toxic substance but one harmful only if taken internally. 

 Miles, who stands 5’6” and weighs about 160 pounds, was swarmed by three large adult males, who slugged him, kicked him, and beat him with a club improvised from a tree branch. 

The attackers were police officers, who weren’t prosecuted or subjected to administrative punishment.  As is customary whenever a Mundane is left bloody by the ministrations of the State’s high priests of coercion, Miles was charged with “aggravated assault,” which presumably took the form of flailing his arms while bleeding on his sanctified assailants.

 When those charges were dismissed, the police union – in a typical fit of corrupt petulance – conducted a mass “sick-out” as a protest. This had the unintended, if short-lived, effect of making Pittsburgh’s streets just a little safer. This crime was quickly forgotten, and Miles’s family recently received a trivial, tax-subsidized settlement from the City of Pittsburgh. Once again: This episode, which offers several strong points of similarity to the Trayvon Martin killing, didn’t ignite a nation-wide firestorm of media outrage.

Every week – perhaps every day – innocent young black men are beaten and killed by armed strangers who act with impunity, and often in circumstances quite similar to those in which Trayvon Martin was killed. The perpetrators of those assaults are police officers. George Zimmerman was a self-commissioned “captain” in a Neighborhood Watch program with which he had no formal affiliation.

For some reason the Sanford Police Department saw fit to treat him like a cop by granting him the kind of “qualified immunity” usually afforded only to fully accredited members of the exalted brotherhood of state-sanctioned violence. 

Civilian disarmament advocates have implicated Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law  in Trayvon Martin killing. The Sanford Police have refused to charge Zimmerman, insisting that “under the law, it had no call to bring charges,” reported the New York Times

Enacted in 2005, Florida’s “Justifiable Use of Force” statute (Title XLVI, Chapter 776) recognizes that an individual has the natural right to use deadly force when confronting the threat of “death or great bodily harm” from an intruder or an aggressor. This does not apply when “The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in … [a] dwelling, residence, or vehicle,” or if the individual who employed the defensive force “is engaged in an unlawful activity….”

 Martin, an unarmed teenager with no criminal record, was headed to his father’s home in the Miami Gardens gated community. Although he was described by Zimmerman to the police as a “suspicious individual,” Martin had an unqualified legal right to be where he was.
In his 911 call, Zimmerman told a police dispatcher that “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something…. These a**holes always get away.” Zimmerman actively pursued Martin, after being specifically instructed that this was unnecessary.

When Martin noticed Zimmerman, the teenager – who was speaking to a girlfriend via cellphone – made reference to being “hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him,” as summarized in an ABC News report.

“Why are you following me?” Martin asked Zimmerman. A few moments later, Zimmerman shot Martin with his 9 millimeter handgun. Several witnesses reported hearing the teenager cry for help before the shot was fired.

“They’re wrestling right in the back of my porch,” one witness told a police dispatcher. “The guy’s yelling help and I’m not going out.”

For some reason, police investigating the matter “corrected” one key witness, a local schoolteacher, by insisting that it was Zimmerman, not Martin, who had cried for help. This makes little sense: Zimmerman was armed and outweighed the frightened teenager by more than 100 pounds. (Again, one can’t help but be struck by the similarity between this incident and countless others involving actual police assaults on helpless victims.)

In addition to “correcting” one eyewitness, the Sanford PD pointedly ignored the testimony of Martin’s girlfriend, to whom the victim expressed his own fears about the unidentified man who was stalking him.

 Zimmerman’s original story, as summarized by the Miami Herald, was that “he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when [Martin] attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck.” Zimmerman claims that he shot Martin “because he feared for his life” – a conjuration uttered by every police officer who has ever gunned down a helpless person.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee – who has been compelled to resign – pronounced that he was satisfied with Zimmerman’s version of the incident, moving quickly to wrap up the case because “there is no evidence to dispute the shooter’s claim of self-defense.”  The police released him without testing him for drugs or alcohol.

Zimmerman, who was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer in 2005 – has called the police to report “suspicious” black males 46 times since January 2011. Neighbors have described him as “fixated on crime” and have complained about his “aggressive tactics.” 

An aggressor, of course, isn’t “standing his ground.” During the February 26 incident, Zimmerman pursued Martin, who had a legal right to be where he was. By creating the confrontation, Zimmerman was the aggressor. He had both the moral and legal duty to retreat, rather than to escalate the confrontation by employing force of any kind.

Florida’s self-defense law, like similar statutes elsewhere, makes an exception for law enforcement officers. Although he was not employed by a police department and not an official member of the volunteer neighborhood watch, Zimmerman clearly considered himself to be acting in a law enforcement capacity. For reasons yet to be made clear, the Sanford PD uncritically accepted Zimmerman’s self-characterization, granting him the kind of “professional courtesy” commonly extended to members of the privileged fraternity of official coercion. In doing so they went so far as to tamper with eyewitness testimony on his behalf.

 According to ABC News, “The Sanford Police Department says it stands by its investigation, and that it was not race or incompetence that prevented it from arresting Zimmerman but the law.” Under the terms of the Florida state statutes, however, Zimmerman committed an act of criminal homicide, not justified self-defense. Yet the civilian disarmament lobby – most likely working in collaboration with police unions – moved quickly to implicate the “Stand Your Ground” law in the killing.

 Police unions, the civilian disarmament lobby, and the state-centric media all subscribe to the idea that the government should have a monopoly on the use of force. This is why they oppose “stand your ground” and “castle doctrine” laws recognizing the individual right to armed self-defense. 

The opposition of police unions has become particularly acute in recent months as they have lobbied against “castle doctrine” laws in Minnesota and Indiana that explicitly recognize the natural right of citizens to use lethal force against police officers who unlawfully invade their property or threaten their lives.

Yes, the familiar cast of prejudice profiteers and racial ambulance chasers – who failed to be moved by the racially charged police murders of Manuel Loggins and Kenneth Chamberlain -- has helped turn the killing of Trayvon Martin into a public works project. But the ideology that has propelled this issue to the top of the media agenda isn’t a variant of racial collectivism: It is the even more murderous doctrine of government supremacism, under which Zimmerman’s lethal actions would be considered entirely appropriate if he had been swaddled in a State-issued costume. 

Within six months we should see a plethora of bills -- supported by a coalition that includes the Brady Campaign and police unions -- bearing Trayvon Martin's name, all of which will seek the repeal of "Castle Doctrine" and "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws.

 Update: It begins....

"Where is the outrage over every single one of the thousands of children and teens killed by guns?" fulminated totalitarian nanny statist Marian Wright Edleman of the so-called Children's Defense Fund on March 24. Edleman condemns what she calls  "gun slinging Americans unrestrained by common sense gun control laws" -- that is, laws that fail to provide a monopoly of violence to the most lethal segment of society, the State's enforcement caste. 

"As a nation, we must aspire and act to become the world leader in protecting children against guns rather than leading the world in child victims of guns," Edleman continues, reveling in the pureile fallacy that evil inheres in the inanimate object called a "gun," rather than the malevolent will of an individual who employs it to harm another. 

"We need a relentless, powerful citizens' voice to break the gun lobby's veto on common sense gun policy," Edleman declares, using the expression "common sense" as a functional synonym for "civilian disarmament."

Second Update: Where are Zimmerman's Injuries? 

"You fail to mention that Zimmerman had a bloodied nose and blood on the back of his head," complained an anonymous commenter below, reciting -- as if it were incontestable fact -- a second-hand assertion made on the shooter's behalf.

Surveillance video taken shortly after the shooting makes it clear that Zimmerman -- who was arrested, but not held, by the Sanford Police -- appeared to be uninjured. He sustained no physical trauma whatsoever -- unless the purported life-and-death struggle with Trayvon Martin is somehow to blame for the 28-year-old's male pattern baldness.

No wounds, no blood -- no evidence of a beating.

Eyewitness accounts establish that some kind of a physical struggle took place -- but the notion that Zimmerman was nearly beaten to death by Trayvon impossible to sustain. 

Third Update: Here they are ...

... in a photograph taken minutes after the shooting, before he was "cleaned up" by paramedics. Although the wounds clearly weren't life-threatening, they are garish and appear painful -- and clear evidence that Zimmerman was getting the worst of a fight he precipitated with an unarmed teenager he accosted without justification.
In a documented cell phone conversation with his girlfriend just before the shooting, Martin expressed concerns over being shadowed by Zimmerman, who pursued Martin on foot when the young man tried to flee. The girlfriend heard Zimmerman confront Martin, demanding to know who he was and what he was doing. In his account to the police, Zimmerman said that after talking to Martin, he reached for his cell phone, at which point he was "jumped" by the teenager. A Zimmerman family friend was told that when George reached for his phone, Martin saw the guy's gun -- and that this provoked the fight.

If this version is accurate, it was Martin -- not Zimmerman -- who acted in self-defense: He was an unarmed teenager confronted in the dark by a stranger with a gun, and was fighting for his life.
The investigating detective wanted to hold Zimmerman on suspicion of negligent homicide; this charge seems entirely justified. Second-degree murder, in my view, is not, and if I were on a jury presented with that charge I would vote to acquit. 

It's pretty clear that there was a fight...

... and Zimmerman was getting the worst of it.  We still don't know how it started, or which party was actually "standing his ground" in the face of a mortal threat. An eyewitness to the altercation who didn't see its beginning told the police that Martin was crying for help shortly before he was shot -- but the investigating detective insisted that she got that incredibly important detail wrong.

Another recent report claims that there were traces of marijuana in Martin's blood, which is interesting but entirely irrelevant to the question of self-defense. Zimmerman was never tested for alcohol or drugs.

A special -- and urgent -- appeal

Regular readers of Pro Libertate are aware that this blog has been my primary means of supporting my family since October 2006, when I lost my last "regular" job. In recent months I've been working full-time (and then some) for Republic magazine. While that engagement offers many compensations, a living wage is not found on that list. I am hopeful that this will eventually change for the better, but pending that happy day I still have a family of eight people for whom to provide. 
Our circumstances recently took a "sudden but inevitable" turn for the worse": For the second time in three years, our landlord has decided to allow the home in which we're living to go into foreclosure. He quite thoughtfully informed us about this four months after he stopped paying on the mortgage.

We could really use any help we can get -- and I'm willing to provide something in exchange for it.

I've recently received a case and a half of my most recent book, Liberty in Eclipse: The War on Terror and the Rise of the Homeland Security State, and I will send a personalized copy to every person who donates twenty dollars (or more). Please contact me (WNGrigg [at] msn [dot] [com]) with a mailing address.

Thank you so much, and God bless!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Dum spiro, pugno!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Meet Officer Michael Reichert: Professional Liar, Pride of the Collinsville PD

A liar at work: Officer Michael Reichert (back to camera) harasses Terrance Huff.

“Cops lie. Most of them lie a couple of times per shift, at least.”

This assessment was offered not by an embittered critic of the police, but by Norm Stamper, former Chief of the Seattle Police Department,in his 2005 memoir Breaking Rank (page 129, to be precise). Stamper supports the use of tactical dishonesty in dealing with certain kinds of violent suspects, but he has no tolerance for the casual mendacity that is ubiquitous in the profession of law enforcement. 

 Police consultant and former prosecutor Val Van Brocklin offers a similarly blunt perspective. “Police lie. It’s part of their job,” she wrote Val Van Brocklin in an essay entitled “Training Cops to Lie,” which was published in the November 16, 2009 edition of the online journal

 Habitual lying cost Officer Michael Reichert of the Collinsville, Illinois Police Department his job nearly a decade ago. With the help of the police union, he was able to get it back -- at which point he resumed his career of officially sanctioned perjury. In January 2011, Reichert, who is now assigned to K-9 patrol, was one of four Collinsville officers given the “Chief’s Award of Merit” for performance “exceptional in nature or above and beyond normal performance.” 

 In April, Reichert was singled out again for his exceptional work by being named “Officer of the Month.” The department lauded Reichert for reflecting “the proactive and innovative philosophy of law enforcement prescribed to [sic] by the Collinsville Police Department. He has demonstrated this by his aggressive approach to drug trafficking in the area.”
“Officer Reichert had 166 total incidents with 6 arrests and 7 citations in 13 working days,” continued the department’s report. “In addition to this he had 3 self initiated significant incidents that is very worthy of praise [sic.]”

Reichert (left) receiving "Award of Merit."
  To someone who doesn’t belong to the coercive caste, a total of 6 arrests out of 166 “total incidents” isn’t an impressive ratio. The concept of a “self-initiated significant incident” seems downright ominous. This is the portrait of a government-licensed bully bent on manufacturing cases, rather than a peace officer devoted to protection of persons and property. A brief examination of Reichert’s past supplies that portrait with additional detail.

In 2006, Reichert was fired by the Collinsville PD “after a federal judge ruled he lied during a drug trial,” reported the April 19, 2009 edition of “They also cited a conviction on federal charges that he sold knockoff designer sunglasses." Irrespective of the merits of the federal case, Reichart was consciously defrauding consumers. 

 With the help of his union, Reichert appealed that ruling, and was he was reinstated in March 2009. However, about a month later the Collinsville Police and Fire Board suspended him without pay after “federal prosecutors … raised new concerns against Reichert again questioning his trustworthiness.” 

Despite his track record as a proven perjurer and con artist, Reichert was re-hired by the Collinsville PD. He was promptly assigned to counter-narcotics duty once again – and he immediately resumed the same tactics that had resulted in his well-deserved but tragically temporary unemployment.

 Officer Reichert’s routine is described at length in a November 2005 ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan in the case U.S. v. Zambrana. The defendant was one of two suspects arrested on narcotics charges by Reichert during a traffic stop in 2002. Zambrana filed a motion to suppress the results of a canine-assisted narcotics search, insisting that Reichert didn’t have probable cause to conduct the search.

Judge Reagan keyed on “Reichert’s lack of credibility as a witness,” describing him as a “polished performer” – a term not intended as a compliment.

 “One reason this Court rejected Reichert’s testimony as not credible was because it was so rehearsed, coached and robotic as to be rote,” observed Judge Reagan. “It was a generic, almost default performance not dependent upon the facts of this case, but suitable for any case in which Reichert might testify to having found `reasonable suspicion. When questioning required him to temporarily stray from this rehearsed script, away from the security of his default testimony, he was caught off-guard.”

When required to deal with “objective verifiable facts” – events captured in audio or video recordings, for instance – Reichert was equivocal and self-contradictory. He was clear and emphatic, however, regarding matters that “were not objectively verifiable” – such as his “conclusions from reading body language `thrown off’ involuntarily from people `trafficking in narcotics.’” Judge Reagan astringently referred to this as Reichert’s conceit that he could behave as a “human polygraph” – an approach that “is wholly subjective and fraught with potential for guess, speculation, conjecture, and even deceit.”

“Reichert made clear that he understands what a Judge might find persuasive in making a reasonable suspicion determination,” Reagan continued, noting that “he teaches this principle in his classes.” That’s right: Reichert is not only a professional liar, he also tutors other police officers in his methods of mendacity. 

At this point, it’s useful to remember Ms. Van Brocklin’s observation: “Cops lie. It’s part of their job.”

 “By simply adding up `suspicious’ factors while ignoring non-suspicious or mitigating factors [in the Zambrana traffic stop], Reichert misused the `totality of circumstances’ principle as a sword to unjustly pierce Zambrana’s cloak of Fourth Amendment protection,” concluded Judge Reagan.

Reichert claimed that Zambrana came to his attention when he noticed the driver’s rental car – with out-of-state plates – “crossing the white divider line.” However, he also used the expression “hit” to describe this entirely trivial infraction. He claimed to have become suspicious when Zambrana “continued down the highway in a completely normal manner,” not bothering even to make eye contact with Reichert after the officer pulled alongside him in a police cruiser. This prompted him to pull Zambrana over.

 Once the pretext stop was made, Reichert claimed that Zambrana and his passenger appeared “nervous” – which is an entirely understandable reaction to the presence of an armed stranger who considers himself entitled to kill you at his discretion. He then barraged them with what Judge Reagan called a series of “rolling no” questions. This is a tactic designed to elicit permission to search the vehicle. After inquiring about drugs, weapons, or cash, and getting negative responses, the officer will pose some variation of this question:  “Hey, this will only take a minute – do you mind if I just take a look before letting you go?” 

 Regardless of Reichert’s perception “that Zambrana’s replies and lack of eye contact during this questioning were `suspicious,’ Reichert’s subsequent actions indicate that he knew that he still had no `reasonable suspicion’ to search Zambrana’s car,” notes Judge Reagan. “At that point, rather than simply informing Zambrana that he would be searching his car, Reichert requested Zambrana’s permission to conduct a search. Inexplicably (yet, not surprising to this Court, Reichert viewed Zambrana’s denial as `suspicious’ and advised Zambrana that he was detaining his car for a canine search.” 

Narcotics were found, and both Zambrana and his passenger, a man named Babar Shah, were maneuvered into a plea bargain. Despite Reichert’s obvious and documented dishonesty, those convictions stuck.

 Last December, Reichert followed exactly the same modus operandi in conducting a pretext stop – and illegal search – of a vehicle driven by Terrence Huff and John Seaton of Hamilton, Ohio. Huff and Seton had traveled to the St. Louis Science Center to attend a Star Trek exhibit. Their return trip, unfortunately, included a stretch along I-70 that was polluted by Officer Reichert, who was loitering in the median at taxpayer expense awaiting his next victim. The sight of two men in an SUV with out-of-state plates proved irresistible, so Reichert pulled out behind them and paced them for a few miles before pulling them over. 

Once the pretext stop was made, Reichert – following exactly the same script described by Judge Reagan – claimed to have noticed an otherwise undetectable traffic infraction. He obtained Huff’s driver’s license and asked the passenger for ID. When he ran Huff’s license, he found a record of a previous arrest (without conviction). 

“That mother****r,” sneered Reichert as he reviewed the information on his computer terminal. After calling for backup and resuming his pretense of professionalism, Reichert told Huff that he would let him off with a “warning” – and then began the “rolling no” routine. 

“This highway, we have a major problem with people running guns and drugs and illegal stuff up and down the highway,” Reichert told Huff. “You guys don’t have anything like that in your car, do you?

“No,” replied Huff, adding, “I could show you the photos we took at the Star Trek convention. We’re not drug runners. It’s my birthday.”

“There wouldn’t be any marijuana in there right now?” Reichert persisted.

“No,” Huff responded.

“No cocaine in there?”


“Any heroin?”


“Any guns in there?”


“How about any large amounts of U.S. currency?” Reichert probed, thereby revealing the true purpose of the stop: He was trawling for assets subject to confiscation in the name of “asset forfeiture.” If Huff or his friend had been carrying cash, Reichert – assisted by the second officer who had materialized during the questioning – would have stolen it, and most likely the car, as well.

When Huff pointed out that all he was carrying was a credit card, Reichert moved to close the deal:
“Would you have any objection to us searching the car real quick to make sure that there’s nothing illegal inside the car?”

Reichert had neither probable cause nor “reasonable suspicion” to conduct a search. If Huff and objected, however, Reichert would have arrested him – and then stolen his car. 

When Huff briefly hesitated, Reichert deployed yet another lie:

“Now, let me tell you something, OK? I’m not overly concerned about personal amounts or stuff like that. If you have a little bit … I’m not worried about that, OK?” 

Remember that line; we’ll revisit it shortly.

“There are no drugs in the car, and I’d just like to go on my way, if I could,” Huff said in the forlorn hope that he would be set free.

“Well, I don’t have a problem with that,” Reichert lied once again. “I’m just a little 
apprehensive about how your buddy’s acting, he’s a little bit nervous.”

“I’ve got a canine in the car,” Reichert continued. “What I’m going to do is detain the car long enough to run the dog around it.” He made that announcement in a tone intended to convey the impression that this was a mere formality – if not an actual favor he was doing on Huff’s behalf.

“That’s fine,” Huff – an unarmed man confronting two armed and thoroughly amoral strangers – conceded. 

“If the dog alerts, I will search your car,” Reichert admitted, now that Huff had been manipulated into consenting. “And anything illegal I find I will charge you with.”

“Anything” would include the “personal amounts of marijuana or cocaine” to which Reichert had referred so dismissively just seconds earlier.

When Huff pointed out that Reichert had lied about the reason for the traffic stop – a point he did not contest - -the uniformed liar abandoned the façade of professionalism: 

“I’m asking for your consent to search the car,” he told Huff. “If your answer is `no,’ I’m going to detain the car long enough to run the dog around it. I can get you a ride” – an invitation that, in context, has to be considered an ill-disguised threat to arrest Huff and his friend (vide the foregoing business about “personal amounts”).

“If I’m free to go, can I go?” Huff asked.

“Not in the car,” Reichert curtly replied.

In other words: Huff was under arrest. He was entirely at the mercy of a cynical, impenitent liar armed with a gun and clothed in impunity.

Reichert retrieved his dog, and – with the practiced guile of a veteran con artist – went through his charade, tapping and prompting the animal to “alert” as if the vehicle were containing contraband. Once at the front of Huff’s car – which concealed his actions from the dashcam – Reichert claimed that the dog had “indicated” that there was something in the vehicle. 

He informed Huff that the dog – which “is trained to smell marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and meth” – had “started scratching” at the front of the car. “I am going to search your car,” he continued. That search was utterly futile. Reichert, who appears to be a mucosal personality composed of unctuous malicet, emitted one last lie to cover up his criminal misconduct.

 “Inside your car, under your seat and under the back seat, there’s shake – marijuana shake,” lied Collinsville, Illinois’s April 2011 Officer of the Month. “A little bit all over the car. That’s probably what the dog’s alerting to.”

Of course, there was nothing of the sort to be found – in fact, Huff’s vehicle didn’t even have a back seat. 

Despite the devoted obstruction of the Collinsville PD, Huff -- who owns a small, independent film production company called T-Minus Entertainment-- obtained the dashcam video of the episode. He used it to produce "Breakfast in Collinsville," a brief and thoroughly infuriating documentary of Reichert’s attempted carjacking and extortion:

“I am usually rather suspicious of authority, and this was something of a reality check,” Huff told Pro Libertate in a telephone interview. “It’s pretty clear that what Reichert is doing is generating revenue for his department. This kind of thing is happening all over the place – federal, state, county, or city, they’re all using asset forfeiture to collect revenue.”

Although he has been contacted by lawyers and civil liberties activists who want to help him mount legal action against Reichert and his department, Huff simply wants to use the video to “expose this abuse and get people to look at what’s happening in this country.”  

 Huff is too busy doing work for paying clients to invest the time, money, and frustration that a legal battle with Reichert and the police union would require. Unless the officer’s superiors can be shamed into firing him permanently – an unlikely outcome, given previous performance – Officer Michael “Third” Reichert will continue to prey on the innocent and perjure himself, and teach the relevant skills to other cops. After all, as his awards and commendations attest, Reichert is the pride of the Collinsville PD. 

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