Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vester Lee Flanagan, Social Justice Avenger

A Communist is merely a socialist in a hurry. Vester Lee Flanagan, by his own description, was an impatient social justice warrior. The murderous means he employed to punish those he accused of bigotry made visible the latent lethal violence that resides in State policies oriented toward the same objective.

Flanagan, also known by the professional name Bryce Williams, was a promiscuous petitioner to the EEOC. After apparently growing weary of seeking to bureaucratize the violence he wanted to inflict on his former colleague, he chose a more direct approach, one we could call retail-level Leninism. As a representative of the "Who" -- presumptive victims of discrimination -- Flanagan exercised "power without limit" by killing two individuals numbered among the "Whom" -- those presumed to be motivated by prejudice. 

In calculating the moral price of the murders in Roanoke, psychologist James Garbarino of Loyola University – like most of the Custodians of Correct Opinion – gave the Social Justice Avenger an identity-based discount, and passed the costs on to others who don't belong to a specially protected category.

"The culture that we live in that supports and fosters violence that has such a strong theme of racism and homophobia all of that obviously was building up inside this man's head,” Garbarino pontificated.

Assuming that Garbarino intended to convey an intelligible argument, rather than leaving the air clotted with thought-stopping buzzwords, his statement actually ratified Flanagan's rampage as an understandable reaction to private bigotry. On this construction, the amorphous abstraction called “society” is implicated in Flanagan's consummately anti-social act – and his victims own at least a portion of the blame for the criminal violence that ended their lives.

A more reasonable assessment is that he was an apt pupil of the Regime – “the potent, the omnipresent teacher,” in the words of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Crime is contagious,” observed Brandeis in the Olmstead v. U.S. decision nearly a century ago, when the surveillance state was in its larval stage and wiretapping by police was looked upon with horror. “If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it invites every man to become a law unto himself.... To declare in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means – to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal – would bring terrible retribution.”

In the deranged outpouring that has inevitably been christened a “manifesto,” Flanagan name-checked prior mass murderers and claimed that “what sent me over the top” was the murder spree in Charleston by the similarly demented bigot Dylann Roof. Acknowledging that it is perilous to seek a thread of rationality in the tapestry of delusion woven by Flanagan, I would suggest that he clearly regarded the “nasty racist things” he supposedly experienced as a “gay black man” as offenses worthy of violent reprisal.

On those occasions when someone of Dylann Roof's persuasion – broadly defined – engages in an act of large-scale criminal violence, somebody in the State's stable of collectivist chin-pullers will issue an indictment against the “authoritarian personality,” which is supposedly found only on the rightward end of the political spectrum. Authoritarians are supposedly characterized by rigidity in thinking, deep distrust of diversity, and an irrepressible urge to punish those who deviate from traditional norms.

It's hardly a novel observation that many conservatives live down to that description – but any honest observer will admit that there is a plethora of punitive progressives, as well. One key distinction between authoritarian conservatives and their progressive counterparts is the fact that people in the latter category expect the targets of punitive intervention to be not only penitent, but grateful, for State-administered correction that can destroy reputations, ruin businesses, and rend families asunder.

Those refractory, incorrigible people who simply resist the chastening hand of progressive correction must be banished from “respectable” society. During the Obama Era, this familiar doctrine of totalitarian “tolerance” has expanded to include actual bloodshed – not yet of the official variety, at least domestically, but as part of a breathtakingly cynical political trade-off.
Divine dispenser of lethal violence: Obama at hate crimes bill signing.

In 2009 – as previously noted in this space – the Obama administration attached federal hate crimes legislation to a $680 billion military appropriation bill, thereby creating a remarkable hybrid – a measure that would authorize unremitting slaughter abroad and aggressive pursuit of thought criminals at home.

Chris Hedges, a political progressive burdened with a conscience and blessed with a gift for astringent honesty, dispelled the self-enraptured rhetoric of the “tolerance” coalition by describing how they had implicated themselves in the ultimate “hate crime”:

"It was a clever piece of marketing. It blunted debate about new funding for war. And behind the closed doors of the caucus rooms, the Democratic leadership told Blue Dog Democrats, who are squeamish about defending gays or lesbians from hate crimes, that they could justify the vote as support for the war. They told liberal Democrats, who are squeamish about unlimited funding for war, that they could defend the vote as a step forward in the battle for civil rights. Gender equality groups, by selfishly narrowing their concern to themselves, participated in the dirty game."

Yes, the war funding meant, as a moral certainty, that innocent “people of color” – including women and children – would suffer violent, unnecessary death or permanent disfigurement. This would, in turn, expand the recruiting pool for anti-American terrorists, given that every time a drone-fired missile kills a child it simultaneously creates several dozen potential suicide bombers. But of such broken eggs are policy omelets made.
Besides, they're not all that important, you know.

Among the groups who endorsed the legislation, thereby taking ownership of the slaughter, were the so-called Anti-Defamation League, the self-styled Human Rights Campaign, the fraudulently named Southern Poverty Law Center, and nearly every other foundation-funded, State-centered “watchdog” group. Because of their involvement, they enjoyed a huge windfall in fund-raising, enhanced stature in Obama's Washington, and expanded influence with domestic law enforcement and administrative agencies. 
Yes, brown people overseas would die horribly as a direct result of an arrangement endorsed by the self-anointed leaders of the Tolerance Industry – but this was a tragically unavoidable sacrifice in the service of the larger good. After all, there are racist, homophobic, and misogynist “micro-aggressions” to be dealt with, and surely the traumatized feelings of victims exposed to such cruelty are injuries worthier of immediate attention. 
No "micro-aggression" here.

Never forget: Bombs and drones break human bones, but only “hate speech” can truly hurt us. Besides, when indiscriminate drone strikes are carried out by a paladin of progressivism, they're acts of applied tolerance, not violence.

Some commentators, in an ill-advised riff on Barack Obama's familiar and equally wrong-headed observation about Trayvon Martin, have suggested that if Obama had a son, he might look like Vester Lee Flanagan. Much more importantly, if the alliance that created the 2009 federal hate crimes act – call it the Coalition for Progressive Mass Murder and Thought Control – had begotten a child, he would think and act the way Flanagan did. 

Dum spiro, pugno! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

License to Prey

On the hunt: Serial predator and Police Chief Butterfield.

Early one morning in July 2014, a woman in Myton, Utah was startled awake by an uninvited visitor named Thomas Wayne Butterfield.

“I'm a cop,” Butterfield explained to the intimidated woman when she asked how he had gotten into her bedroom. “They teach us how to do those things.”

When the woman moved into the living room, Butterfield followed her, placing his hand on her leg in a gesture at once proprietary and predatory. The unexpected arrival of the woman's father prevented what likely would have been a sexual assault – and Butterfield's firing as the tiny town's police chief ended a four-month campaign of harassment during which he forced his unwanted attentions on at least four women.

This behavior was not out of what passes for Butterfield's character: During a career that spans nearly two decades and roughly a half-dozen police agencies across Utah, he has routinely preyed upon women. This has led to numerous complaints, criminal charges, and a suspension – yet he remained employable in an occupation that selects for predators and tends to reward their misbehavior.

Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL reports that two days prior to Butterfield's July 2014 invasion of the unnamed woman's bedroom, the victim had called the police seeking “help getting her car, purse and other personal items back from her estranged husband.” After Butterfield arrived, the woman testified during a July 30 pre-trial hearing, the officer held her against her will for about two hours, driving her in his patrol car and making clumsy sexual overtures and ignoring her repeated pleas to be released.

He asked me if I ever thought about having sex with a cop,” the woman related in the courtroom. Acting on the assumption that the victim's reluctance reflected concerns about confidentiality, rather than her chromosome-level revulsion, Chief Butterfield assured her that “My car is like Vegas: What happens here, stays here.”

Trapped in the custody of an armed stranger with a state-issued license to use lethal force, the woman was concerned about not only her bodily integrity, but her physical survival – and she knew that his account of the incident would be considered definitive because of his position.

With him being in authority, he could make things a lot worse for me because he's a cop,” she observed during her testimony.

Although she escaped that encounter, Butterfield – displaying a heedless, clueless ardor reminiscent of the libidinous cartoon character Pepe LePew – materialized in her bedroom two days later.

Other women have provided sworn testimony of similar treatment by Myton's only full-time law enforcement officer.

I told him that I wasn't interested in any sort of sexual relationship,” a second woman testified during a May 11 hearing. Rather than accepting the rebuff, Butterfield plied the victim with unsolicited personal disclosures, telling her that he and his wife hadn't been intimate for several years and that he “needed a cool kind of friend that wouldn't cause drama in his life.”

I've told a lot of people that,” Butterfield admitted when asked about the claim that he had complained to women about intimacy issues with his wife. He described those comments as “facetious” while grudgingly conceding that such comments “may have been in poor taste.” His misconduct wasn't limited to breaches of etiquette.

Despite the utter absence of any hint of reciprocal interest, Butterfield called the woman repeatedly and showed up at her home without an invitation, announcing his intention to “finish the conversation” about sex – which, given that the “conversation” was one-sided and involuntary, left the woman understandably alarmed and frightened.

Remarkably, the Myton woman who found Butterfield standing in her bedroom was not the first to have that experience – nor the first to be told that breaking into the home of a would-be victim is part of his skill set as a police officer.

Holli Stewart told the Deseret News that after breaking up with Butterfield in 1999, she found him sitting on the edge of his bed. When she asked how he had gotten in, Butterfield replied: “Holli, I'm a cop. They teach us how to do that. I can get in anywhere.”

At the time, Butterfield was employed as an officer with the police department in Lehi, Utah. He was charged with criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor. A plea bargain reduced that charge to an infraction in exchange for a no contest plea. His peace officer certification was suspended for a year by the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST).

In an interesting contrast, last year the POST Council imposed a two-year suspension on former police cadet Shawnn Hartley for “not disclosing a prior use of marijuana in a timely manner." Under the institutional priorities of the Utah POST Council, which haven't changed appreciably over the past decade and a half, a lack of candor about marijuana use is a graver offense than using the skill-set of a police officer to engage in sexually predatory behavior.

Butterfield's brief suspension, and his criminal record, did no lasting injury to his law enforcement career. In 2000 he found employment with police departments in Spring City and Roosevelt, eventually being hired as a deputy with the Duschene County Sheriff's Office.

In 2010, Butterfield resigned from the Duschene County Sheriff's Office during an internal affairs inquiry into alleged misconduct involving another woman. He was re-hired by the Roosevelt PD, but was fired in April 2013 after two women filed complaints claiming that he had acted inappropriately toward them.

Despite his severely tainted record and “gypsy cop” status, Butterfield was hired by Myton when the political clique in charge of the town of 604 people unaccountably decided that although the town has one stop sign and no measurable criminal activity, it needed a police department.

We scraped together every cent we could to get a department together,” Myton Mayor Kathleen Cooper lamented to the Salt Lake Tribute. Perhaps as an economy measure, the city government didn't invest in a background check. Butterfield was hired in July 2014. By September, sexual misconduct allegations had begun to accumulate.

People are innocent until proven guilty,” Mayor Cooper said with respect to the “mind-numbing” charges against Butterfield. “At this point, we stand behind our chief, and we'll defend him until we find out otherwise.” The mayor's determination to defend the chief evaporated shortly after the September 16, 2014 interview with the Tribune: Butterfield was fired by the city and surrendered his peace officer certification. 
She doesn't do due diligence: Myton Mayor Kathleen Cooper
8th District Judge Samuel Chiara found sufficient evidence to bind Butterfield over for trial on two counts of stalking, one count of illegal detention, and one count of criminal trespassing. The trial is set for early December. If Butterfield possessed even a particle of humility, or even the slightest capacity for contrition, he could have ended his legal travails on absurdly generous terms.

Originally charged with three misdemeanor counts of stalking, criminal trespass, and unlawful detention, Butterfield was offered a deal in March that would have dismissed everything but a single charge of stalking. He rejected this offer – which was incomprehensibly lenient, given his history – because the single stalking charge would have applied to three women. Butterfield apparently hopes that jurors will perceive him to be a flawed but decent police officer traduced by disreputable women.

Most of the victims have had problems with law enforcement in the past, have had some kind of history," Duchesne County sheriff's detective Monty Nay testified during an Oct. 14 hearing for one of those civil stalking cases. When Butterfield was confronted with the allegations, Detective Nay recalled, he threatened to file criminal charges and pursue civil action against the accusers.

During the same hearing, one of the women – who had a pending drug possession case -- explained that whenever her dogs bark in the middle of the night, she finds herself wondering, “is it him? I'm scared.”

Her concern about the possibility of retaliatory violence by a state-licensed predator was entirely reasonable. After all, Butterfield was a cop; he had been taught how to do such things.

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Road Piracy, False Flags, and the State's Crime Cartel

Welcome to Idaho, Joe David: Signs at the "No More Road Pirates in Idaho" demo.

Joe David, a former California Highway Patrol officer, has made a considerable fortune by teaching police officers how to steal under the color of “law” through his “Desert Snow” consulting firm. When he arrived in Meridian, Idaho for a two-day “asset forfeiture” seminar on August 10, he probably didn't expect to be greeted by protesters. It is to his credit that he took advantage of the opportunity to speak with them, especially in light of the fact that the conversation couldn't have been a pleasant one for him.

“You come up here to Idaho teach teach our officers to be more effective at a very bad concept,” complained activist Daniel L.J. Adams, who helped organize the “No More Road Pirates in Idaho protest outside the Peace Officer Standards and Training academy in Meridian.

What do you find `bad' about it?” inquired David, pretending that summary confiscation of money and property from people not charged with an offense somehow abates the menace posed by criminal cartels.

It's stealing people's stuff!” exclaimed Adams, mildly astonished at the need to state a self-evident truth. “How do you get the sense that stealing stuff, through whatever inverted legal means that you can, make it morally legit?”

It's been around since, like, 1700,” David responded, ignorant of what he conceded in that blithe reply – and what it says about the role he plays and

Civil asset forfeiture,” as practiced by contemporary American law enforcement officers (and taught by the likes of Joe David to officers both here and abroad) is close kindred to many of the abusive practices of his colonial-era antecedents who confiscated property and harassed innocent people in name of the British Crown. Acting through specially constituted “admiralty courts” in which due process rights were ignored, and the plundered property itself was prosecuted, colonial customs agents would routinely seize shipping cargoes, store inventories, and money as “deodands” (things “given to God”).

Colonial patriots reacted to this practice by introducing colonial officials to the decorative properties of bitumen and goose feathers, and then by shooting and killing the troops sent to police the restive colonies. 
The congressional draft of the Declaration of Independence explicitly condemned asset forfeiture, accusing the Crown of undermining the law “with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our property.” The Due Process provisions of the Fifth Amendment were directly inspired by the Framers' revulsion over the criminal practice of which Joe David boasts such a venerable pedigree.

During his conversation with David, Adams noted that forfeiture operations are carried out by specialized “interdiction units.” Interdiction “is a military term for cutting off and destroying an enemy's supply lines,” Adams pointed out – which means that every time a police officer escalates a traffic stop into a drug-related search, he is participating in a literal war on the public. 

Impenitent, David insists that this war is justified by the need to “dismantle criminal enterprises.... You have to take apart the infrastructure, you have to take their goods, their houses, their cash.”

Even granting the untenable assumption that the use and sale of narcotics should be treated as criminal offenses, the approach David defends is, as Adams reminded him, nothing more than “stealing people's stuff.” Confiscation of money and property through criminal forfeiture – that is, following an actual conviction – is a different proposition. As it happens, that approach is much less profitable for police agencies and prohibition privateers like Joe David and his “Desert Snow” racket.

For more than a quarter-century, Joe David and his comrades have been tutoring police in the art of highway robbery, and his reward is a lifestyle many crime lords would envy. Given government's role as what Justice Louis Brandeis called “the potent, the omnipresent teacher,” it shouldn't be considered surprising that some criminally-minded people within the general public have sought to emulate the behavior of the overseers in the coercive sector.

On July 23, three members of a border vigilante group that offered to assist the Border Patrol were indicted for practicing “asset forfeiture” without a license – that is, plotting to steal narcotics and cash from drug cartels in Mexico.

A criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent John E. Kelly accuses Parris Frazier, Robert Deatherage, and Erik Foster of conspiring to possess and distribute “five kilograms or more of a mixture … containing a detectable amount of cocaine” and derivatives of that controlled substance. The suspects, who belong to a private militia called the “Arizona Special Operations Group,” obtained the contraband from an undercover FBI agent as part of a federal false-flag operation.

On January 24, Frazier was stopped by Border Patrol agents operating an internal checkpoint. Explaining that he “wanted to assist Border Patrol in stopping illegal border activities,” Frazier “asked for information on the illegal activities they had seen lately,” narrates Kelly's criminal complaint. The agents claimed that they had been working with an informal source but could no longer do so. Frazier “expressed his interest in contacting the source” in order to conduct his own investigation.

Several weeks later, the undercover FBI agent, “posing as the informal [Border Patrol] source,” contacted Frazier. During a covertly recorded conversation, Frazier allegedly told the provocateur that “he had a small group of patriots that he trusted and they were trying to take care of (steal) anything that came up out of Mexico (drugs) or was going back into Mexico (bulk cash),” and that, predictably, “they preferred the cash loads going south.” Frazier promised the undercover FBI agent “a percentage of whatever is taken” from the narco-couriers.

During a second recorded conversation on March 4, Frazier reportedly told the FBI agent that he and his colleagues would be willing to “dispatch” – that is, kill – “all of the individuals guarding the cash to ensure that his guys go home at night.” Although he had specified that none of his associates were “tied up in law enforcement,” their policy regarding lethal force apparently was modeled on the familiar “officer safety uber alles” paradigm.

In recorded phone calls over the next several weeks, the FBI agent outlined a plan to steal thousands of dollars from a vehicle that was supposedly owned by a cousin in the employ of a drug trafficker. This led to an attempted “rip” by Frazier and a partner on April 2: FBI surveillance captured the suspects, dressed in camouflage, wearing facemasks, and carrying AR-15s, search the Bureau's “bait car” in a fruitless effort to steal money that wasn't there.

A follow-up phone call from the informant added new details to the fabricated story by claiming that cartel members had found $8,000 in the vehicle, but that the miscreant cousin had stolen $12,000. Unwittingly playing the role scripted for him, Frazier allegedly told the informant: “How about I lay an offer out on the table that we just get him [the cousin] out of the way for you.” The informant suggested that Frazier and his partners do at last one more cash “rip” before discussing a hit on the mythical cousin.

On April 23, Frazier and his companion seized $7300 from a second FBI “bait car” that was said to be carrying $20,000. Once again, the informant claimed that the cousin had confiscated the rest while driving the “cartel vehicle” to a pre-designated drop.

Artfully stringing Frazier along, the informant continued to discuss the possibility of a murder-for-hire targeting the nonexistent cousin. In the meantime, he told Frazier, it would be possible for him to steal a northbound cocaine shipment. Frazier and the other two suspects were directed to a warehouse in Phoenix where they found a Hyundai Tucson containing “one package of actual cocaine weighing approximately one kilogram and nine packages of cocaine stimulant [sic] that also weighed approximately one kilogram each.”(Emphasis added.)

Although the FBI criminal complaint dishonestly refers to the quantity as a five-kilo "mixture," the single kilo of cocaine was packaged separately from nine kilos of cocaine substitute. By arranging for the suspects to find the ten-kilo "mixture," rather than the single kilo of "actual cocaine," the FBI made it possible to charge them with offenses that carry a mandatory 10-year prison sentence, and fines of up to $10 million.

As they drove away from the warehouse, Frazier and his comrades were intercepted by an FBI SWAT team. They briefly managed to evade several police vehicles but were kept under surveillance by an FBI aircraft, which tracked them to the home of Frazier's girlfriend. The suspects were arrested, and firearms found in the home during a search were “seized as evidence.”

By seeking to confiscate drug proceeds at gunpoint, Parris Frazier and his friends behaved in a fashion indistinguishable from government-authorized “narcotics interdiction” patrols – especially by expressing a preference to confiscate southbound cash deliveries, rather than northbound drug shipments.

In the state of Tennessee, where police departments have been permitted to retain 100 percent of the cash stolen through “civil asset forfeiture,” Interstate 40 has been designated a high-impact narcotics area. However, the most coveted patrol area is the westbound lane, because of the assumption that narcotics flow east and cash flows west. Competing law enforcement agencies have literally come to blows over jurisdictional claims on the most profitable sections of I-40.

The ends pursued by Frazier and his colleagues, and the means they employed, didn't differ materially from those of government law enforcement and intelligence agencies – but they lacked official authorization to conduct highway robbery.

Ironically, the same was true of Joe David's involvement in an “interdiction task force” operated by District Attorney Joe Hicks of Oklahoma's Caddo County. In July 2013 (as previously reported here), Hicks was forced to disband the unit, which included David himself and several other private contractors associated with Desert Snow. On one occasion, David – who was wearing a sidearm, but not a certified law enforcement officer -- pulled over and interrogated a pregnant woman on I-40 and interrogated her at length.

Hicks told The Oklahoman Newspaper that he had hired David and his sidekicks “because his drug task force had little success on drug stops” and because “he hoped to make money for his office from the drug stops because of a loss of federal funds.” 

David and Desert Snow were allowed to keep a 24 percent cut of the plunder. Desert Snow’s take was $40,000, with another $212,000 in the pipeline when Caddo County Special Judge David Stephens shut down the racket.

As he ordered David never again to conduct “interdiction patrols” in his county, Judge Stephens told him that “if you do, I hope to see you soon, wearing orange.”

No instrument yet devised by the intelligence of man can detect the moral and legal difference between what Joe David and his comrades were doing in Oklahoma, and what Parris Frazer and his buddies thought they were doing in the FBI-orchestrated false-flag operation.

Frazer and his pals face the prospect of years in a government-sponsored cage for mimicking the behavior taught by David and carried out by agents of the state's crime cartel. David is no longer an accredited member of the state's punitive priesthood, but as someone who teaches cops how to be more effective robbers he enjoys Blue Privilege-by-proxy. 

Dum spiro, pugno!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Prohibitive Price of Government "Protection"

When they reached Fort Hall in what would eventually be known as southeast Idaho, the leaders of the Oregon-bound Elijah Utter wagon train believed that the most dangerous part of their trek was behind them. Their fortunes would soon change dramatically for the worse, in large measure because of the involvement of the United States military.

The 44-member train assembled at a bridge crossing on the Portneuf River near an abandoned fur trading outpost in the late summer of 1860. Their ranks were increased by five recently discharged soldiers who offered their services as guards and scouts “in return for the sustenance supplied them.” Prior to this time the Utter Train, which originated in Wisconsin, had received an occasional military escort as it traversed lands coveted by Washington but still populated by Indians who had neither sold nor relinquished them.

Like other Euro-American emigrants, the members of the Utter Party confided in the ability of the US Government to protect them during their voyage to Oregon's Willamette Valley. This assurance was especially valuable as they confronted the prospect of crossing the Snake River plains, where major Indian attacks had occurred the previous year.

Historian Donald Shannon observes that “Although these assaults were made by Indians, each of them were led by or involved with white men.” Twelve emigrants had been killed, and at least twice that many wounded, in three separate attacks in 1859. Several other bloody episodes occurred in the weeks leading up to the arrival of the Utter Party, including a raid by the Snake Indians that wiped out a mining camp along the appropriately named Malheur River.
Pimping for "protection": Lt. Col. Howe.

Vividly aware of the potential dangers ahead of them, the emigrants were delighted to receive a visit from Lt. Col. Marshall Howe, who had been assigned to supervise the main overland route to Oregon and California. Rebuffing their eager welcome, Howe imperiously commanded the train's leaders to deliver a team of oxen to an elderly member of the party named Munson, who had decided that he wanted to join the California-bound train.

Like most expeditions of its kind, the Utter Train had a charter that established mechanisms for peaceful resolution of property disputes. Like too many others in similar situations, however, Mr. Munson enlisted the help of an official representing the State, which deals exclusively in violence. Howe was eager to intervene, using his visit to the camp to assess other goods he could “requisition” – that is, steal. His esurient gaze quickly fell upon the female members of the party – all of whom were pious and morally disciplined, many of whom were married.

Understanding the tactical value of distance, Howe returned to his encampment. The following day he dispatched a messenger “with an invitation to the women and girls of the train to attend a dance, to be held in the soldiers' tent area,” relates Shannon in his book The Utter Disaster on the Oregon Trail. That overture, understandably, was firmly rejected. Howe's response was to send a second, more sternly worded message that included a demand that the married women in the Utter party consort with his soldiers “in opposition to the wishes of their husbands.”

Howe was the sort of government functionary who believed that both oxen and women could be confiscated and redistributed as he saw fit. He regarded both private contracts and sacred marital vows as trivial impediments to the exercise of his State-conferred “authority.” In the interest of its own protection, the Utter Party was willing to compromise by allowing Howe to seize a team of oxen, but they weren't inclined to pimp unwilling women out to his troops. 

Inconsolably offended by such impudence, Howe “swore the train should have no military escort,” Shannon recalls. In the interest of creating a self-serving record for his superiors, Howe allowed a small party of dragoons to accompany the train for six days – and then turn back, leaving the party to its own devices.

Emiline Wheitman (nee Trimble) and husband, John.
Emeline Trimble, who kept a detailed dairy of the journey, recorded that some soldiers assigned to escort the Utter Party “apprehended danger,” and warned that “the train was doomed.” The Lieutenant in command of the escort was aware that the wagon train would almost certainly be destroyed, but obeyed orders he must have known were inspired by Howe's personal grudge.

As the Utter Train reached Rock Creek, near the present-day city of Twin Falls, the Lieutenant advised the settlers that they were now out of the “danger zone.” Joseph Myers, one of the leaders of the expedition, noted in his journal that he “felt very bad as indications were ominous.” 

This sense of impending disaster grew in crescendo as the emigrants continued west, eventually making camp at Castle Creek in what is now Owyhee County, Idaho, on September 8, 1860.

When the party awoke the following day it discovered that several oxen belonging to a man named Alexis Van Ornum had been stolen. The train proceeded a few miles before coming upon a grisly tableau – a freshly dug grave framed by a copse of trees from which dangled a collection of bones. Inscribed on the bones was a warning left by a wagon train that had been attacked thirteen days earlier. The shallow grave contained the mortal residue of a man who had been killed while trying to find some stolen sheep.

Obviously, the emigrants couldn't remain where they were, and heading back wasn't an option. The leaders still held out hope of reaching Oregon and linking up with a larger wagon train. The party proceeded another mile before encountering “about one hundred Shoshoni or Bannock” Indians, who as a group were called “Snakes.” Elijah Utter and Alexis Van Ornum quickly organized the train in the familiar circular defensive formation, passed out weapons and ammo, and awaited the inevitable siege.

Although outnumbered more than two-to-one, the Utter Train gave as good as they got for two days.

It was certain death to an Indian if he showed his head as the defenders were all pretty good marksmen,” Joseph Myers would recall in his account of the two-day onslaught. Charles Utter, thirteen years old at the time, shot five of the attackers. His stepsister Emeline Trimble, also thirteen, defended the family's wagon with a rifle and, at one point, with an ax.

The Utter Train was well-provisioned with ammunition and well-supplied with courage. However, they had no water, and the pitiless late summer sun proved to be their deadliest enemy. A decision was made to abandon most of the livestock in the hope that the Indians would focus on plunder and allow the emigrants to reach a nearby river. A half-dozen former soldiers who had joined the wagon train gallantly offered to act as skirmishers, keeping the attackers occupied while the main party escaped.

Field Marshal Moltke famously said that no battle plan outlasts the first encounter with the enemy, and the same proved true of the over-sold valor of the former military men who had joined the Utter Party. As the Indians surged toward the depleted train, the ex-soldiers acted on the priorities they had been taught in government's employ. Shannon writes that the supposed protectors, who had been paid and provided with firearms at the expense of the Utter Train, fled on horseback “as fast as they could go, without firing a shot, making no resistance whatever, thus leaving the rest to the mercy of the Indians.”

The river was less than a quarter-mile from the train's defensive corral. That distance might as well have been measured in light-years. After breaking formation the emigrants were overwhelmed.

During the two-day siege at Castle Creek, the Utter Party lost eleven people – one-quarter of its complement. Over the next forty days, the survivors would be pursued, harried, and picked off until only sixteen remained. Some of the survivors, including several children, continued along the Oregon Trail, reaching a spot south of what is now Nyssa, Oregon.
After much hesitation, those who remained alive resolved to eat the bodies of the dead, with the hope of preserving their own lives until relief should come,” Shannon writes. 

In words saturated with sorrow, the redoubtable Emilene Trimble, who had already endured enough hardship to last several lifetimes, described the death, by starvation, of “my darling little baby sister whom I had carried in my arms through all the long, dreary journey....”

Alexis Van Ornum and his wife were slaughtered in front of their children near present-day Huntington, Oregon. Their bodies were later found “gleaming in the moonlight” by a dragoon force under the command of Lt. Marcus Reno, who sixteen years later would head the only unit within the Seventh Cavalry that survived the Battle of Greasy Grass (or, as the losing side insists on calling it, the Little Bighorn).

The Van Ornum children were taken hostage. For two years the family sought the Army's help in locating and freeing the children, but by then it was too occupied with the campaign to re-conquer the Confederate States.

Without material assistance or support from the government, Zacheus Ornum, the uncle of the four missing children, conducted his own search and – with the help of a volunteer unit – fought a successful battle in Utah's Cache Valley to free the sole survivor, Reuben Van Ornum, in December 1862.

What became known as the “Utter Disaster” at Castle Creek was a prelude to the four-year regional conflict called the “Snake War,” an effort to subdue and assimilate the Paiute and Shoshoni bands in Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada.

Government is the only human enterprise that profits from its own failure. Owing to its own native incompetence as much as Lt. Col. Howe's petty vindictiveness, the U.S. government failed to protect the Utter Train from the predictable blow-back resulting from colonization and dispossession of the Indians. In equally predictable fashion, the government quickly capitalized on the massacre to escalate the conflict.

Humanity, the obligation of the Government to the citizen and the general prosperity of Oregon and Washington, demand that prompt and vigorous measures be taken to inflict summary chastisement on these miscreants and for the future security of immigrants and the frontiers,” wrote Edward R. Geary, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, in a message to Colonel George Wright.

As news of the Utter massacre was propagated throughout the region, the Army made plans to retaliate against the Snake Indians, eventually compelling them to “submit or starve.” The problem, as Colonel Wright admitted, was that “We pursue an invisible foe, without a home, or anything tangible to strike at.... Victories can easily be gained over such an enemy, but they will rarely prove decisive.” This is why, he predicted, “the complete subjugation of this nomadic people will require some years....”

Nearly a century and a half later, following another September massacre that claimed a much larger number of victims, Donald Rumsfeld would offer a similar assessment. Striking back at al-Qaeda would be difficult, Rumsfeld complained, because there were “no decent targets in Afghanistan” and the elusive, decentralized enemy had “no return address.” Defeating the threat on the periphery of the American empire, according to Rumsfeld and his comrades and successors, would require nothing less than a “generational”conflict.

Colonel CYA: George Wright.
For people in the parasitical sector, the first rule of crisis management is: Find someone else to blame. The efficiency of the Bush administration in applying that principle is attested by the fact that not a single consequential official was fired or saw fit to resign in the wake of the epoch-shattering disaster that occurred on September 11, 2001. Col. Wright lived in a more primitive time technologically, his bureaucratic instincts were as well-developed as those of his 21st Century descendants.

It will be recollected that I had reported complete success in the protection of the immigration route as one of the results of the summer's operations, and that the Snakes had been driven from the region of country lying West of the Blue Mountains,” Wright wrote in a letter to Army headquarters following the Utter massacre. Pointedly underscoring the fact that the “large body of migration” had made the passage in safety, and insisting that they “owe their security unquestionably to the troops” under his command, Wright insisted that the victims of the massacre had only themselves to blame:

Although the Commander of the Dragoon force on the road had not deemed it necessary to go as far on the route as the place [that was] probably the scene of the massacre in the discharge of his duty of escorting emigrants, this party would have experienced the benefits of his proximity and been safe, but for the convictions of the main body of the emigrants that there were no parties of emigrants in [the] rear, and their having communicated their convictions to the Officer in Command.”

This all-but-unintelligible statement seemed to accuse the Utter party of turning down a military escort – when it was Lt. Col. Howe who refused to provide them with an escort after the women in the wagon train refused to act as camp followers for his troops.

The men and women of the Utter Train were typical of the individualist settlers who surged westward at the invitation of the regime in Washington. Individualistic in outlook and industrious by nature, they were cynically exploited as icebreakers by entrenched, ambitious men carrying out the murderous enterprise in corporatist collectivism known as Manifest Destiny.

For those seeking to create a continent-spanning empire, the greedy and unscrupulous among the settlers were more useful than those who sought to deal honorably and equitably with the Indians. Those killed in the inevitable backlash were more useful still – martyrs invoked in war propaganda intended to overwhelm any misgivings about the righteousness of annihilating the empire's implacable enemies.

Even today, more than 160 years after Frederick Jackson Turner declared the closing of the American Frontier, the Empire's military emissaries use the expression “Indian Country” to describe any territory inhabited by people indisposed to be ruled by people in Washington who pursue Manifest Destiny on a global scale. 

Dum spiro, pugno!