Waco Massacre: Janet Reno’s Truth

On this 25th anniversary of the massacre at the Branch Davidian Church near Waco, Texas, AFP concludes its series of articles looking back on that terrible time when U.S. military and law enforcement waged war against a peaceful group of American citizens. This is part four of that four-part series. Parts one to three follow, in full, as published in previous issues of American Free Press.

Janet Reno Responsible for Waco Massacre

Part 4 of 4: The deadly fire at Waco was started by strategies approved by Janet Reno’s Justice Department.

By S. T. Patrick

The plan for the raid on what the mainstream media strategically called a “compound” worked its way up the chain of command to Attorney General Janet Reno on April 12, 1993. It was a two-step plan that the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) hoped would end at step one—injecting tear gas into two areas of Mount Carmel, the Branch Davidian home and church complex outside of Waco, Texas. They had hoped that this would drive the men, women, and children out and the engagement would be short-lived. Part two of the plan to lay siege to Mount Carmel involved tearing down the outer walls in an effort to expose those inside.

Reno was not alone in her decisions. She was often consulted not only by the commanders in the field, but also by FBI Director William Sessions and Assistant Attorney General Webster Hubbell, a Clinton administration appointee tied to the same Arkansas scandals that would trail the president and first lady throughout their tenure in D.C.

Reno suggested a scheme that would involve waiting until the water supply to the home was so depleted that the inhabitants would be thirsted out of Mount Carmel and into the hands of government officials. A later Justice Department report stated that the FBI convinced Reno that “(Branch Davidian leader David) Koresh was rationing water to ensure discipline.” Reno quickly abandoned the water strategy and instead asked the FBI for a written report on entrance options.

The FBI’s report was received by the attorney general on April 17. She quickly gave her approval to an assault plan that would begin on April 19. What was to be a 48-hour plan lasted approximately five minutes.

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“It was not law enforcement’s intent that this was to be D-Day,” a later Justice Department report claimed.

At 6:02 a.m., M6OA1 tanks, modified for demolition, began tearing through the walls of Mount Carmel. The tanks then began firing CS gas into the building. Shortly thereafter, in protection of their home, the residents of Mt. Carmel fired shots at the armored CEVs (combat engineering vehicles). The operations plan, approved by Reno,called for an escalation of government action if the tanks were fired upon. The order of the shots and the identities of the shooters would remain a controversy within the Waco research community.

Regardless of the order of shots, return fire on the part of the Davidians was a certainty. Unlike many Americans, there are those who believe in the literal protection of property rights and the right to exist as a community. When they are threatened and fired upon by others—in an official governmental capacity or not—they will fire back. Self-defense laws protect individuals from other individual intrusions, but it is assumed that individuals are simply supposed to acquiesce when the intruder is a government entity over-aggressively and mortally enforcing its will. The Branch Davidians outside of Waco believed differently.

The Justice Department report detailed Reno’s reactions as those of a surprised attorney general and not as the country’s leading law enforcement official who had pre-planned for all likely outcomes. In defending Reno, allowing her a human reaction to the commanders’ militaristic actions, the report also made the attorney general look incompetent.

Reno “did not read the prepared statement carefully,” the report said. “Nor did she read the supporting documentation. She read only a chronology.” If that is true, then Reno approved fatal violence against American citizens after reading an outline in lieu of carefully studying the actual plans.

Around 11:40 a.m., after a vapor had formed from the over 400 ferret rounds fired into the home, the building caught fire. Within a half hour, Mount Carmel was destroyed and those inside had died.

Reno, President Bill Clinton, and FBI spokesmen all immediately began claiming that the Branch Davidians had started the fire. The BATF and the FBI made sure that no evidence could be investigated, just as Branch Davidian spokesman Steve Schneider said they would on March 10, over a month before the blaze.

“If anybody wanted to come here and burn the place down, kill all the people, what evidence would be left?” Schneider had asked, a month earlier.

Over the next month, Schneider made multiple statements predicting that government agents would, indeed, burn Mount Carmel to the ground in an effort to destroy evidence.

Schneider was correct in his predictions, despite a FBI negotiator once telling him, “No, we’re not going to do something like that.”

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In a statement as callous as Hillary Clinton’s later comment regarding Muammar Qaddafi (“We came, we saw, he died.”), President Clinton summed up the entire horrific tragedy at Waco in one line: “Some religious fanatics murdered themselves.”

On a February 2001 episode of “Larry King Live,” former White House aide Linda Tripp alleged that it was the first lady who had pressured the late Vince Foster, Mrs. Clinton’s partner at Rose Law Firm and Deputy White House Counsel for the Clinton administration, to find a solution to the Waco standoff.

According to author Robert Morrow, “Foster, at Mrs. Clinton’s direction, transmitted the order to move on the Branch Davidians’ Waco compound, which culminated in a military style attack on the wooden building.”

Mike McNulty, producer of the documentary “Waco: Rules of Engagement,” also believed Mrs. Clinton gave the orders from the White House. In 1993, and throughout the Clinton administration, Mrs. Clinton did not have an appointed or elected role in the administration. She had neither been elected, nor had she ever been confirmed by the Senate. She assumed power by proxy, the definition of a shadow government.

Regardless of who gave the orders at the White House level, Reno is on record as having approved the tactics used against the Branch Davidians. She also approved the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as the only Oklahoma City conspirators, despite evidence that others, including a Middle Eastern man seen with McVeigh, were involved. In 2000, it was Reno who ordered Elian Gonzalez returned to his father’s custody in Cuba. Whether or not she made warm speeches for progressive groups before her 2016 death, she is still responsible for the 80-plus lives lost at Mount Carmel, 21 of which were children. For Reno, the first woman to serve as attorney general, this is her legacy. This is her truth.

Published in American Free Press Issue 17 & 18, April 23 & 30, 2018.


The Waco Massacre

Part 1 of 4: On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the massacre at the Branch Davidian Church near Waco, Texas, AFP begins a series of articles by S. T. Patrick to look back on that terrible time when U.S. military and law enforcement waged war against a group of American citizens. This is part one of a four-part series.

By S. T. Patrick 

Twenty-five years ago, on April 19, 1993, America witnessed one of the most indelible moments of the Clinton presidency as it unfolded on cable news. In a field outside of the small community of Axtell, Texas—13 miles from Waco—a tank, on orders from the U.S. government, powered its way through the front door of Mount Carmel, a home to nearly 100 Branch Davidians. Mount Carmel was quickly ablaze in a gaseous inferno that would take the lives of approximately 80 Davidians, including almost 20 children.

Many questions lie in the smoldering ashes of Mount Carmel. The government spokesmen and national media owned the narrative immediately following the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) siege at Mount Carmel. Made-for-television films such as “In the Line of Duty: Ambush at Waco,” which presented the government’s view of the earlier Feb. 28 conflict with the Davidians, had been made even before the April siege.

In the years following the fire, the political right lifted its own public-relations torch regarding what is now simply known as “Waco.” Militias, Second Amendment activists, and libertarians have all pushed their own causes and anger through the hazy lens of Mount Carmel.

Dick J. Reavis, a former senior editor of Texas Monthlyand reporter for the Dallas Observer, wanted to take the story beyond the conflicts of current events. In 1995 Reavis released The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, which studied the origins of the Branch Davidians and the trek that found them in McLennan County, Texas, just 90 minutes from Dallas.

In an interview with this writer, Reavis pointed out that the media never discussed the demographics of the Davidian community outside of Waco. They preferred, instead, to paint the Davidians as right-wing gun nuts and religious zealots. To the mainstream media, the labels are synonymous with white racism. Reavis describes a multi-cultural community that is much different.

“There were about 120 people, perhaps 130, living in Mount Carmel at that time,” Reavis said.

“The press never pointed this out—or skipped over it—but those people were of all races on the face of the Earth. About 20% of them were mainly West Indians, but black. . . . In other words, you had an integrated community. There were Asians and there were some Mexican-Americans. The rest were white. There were several nationalities—Brits, Australians, all the West Indies.”

American Freedom Party Conference in TennesseeMost of the Branch Davidians had been born into and raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, domestically and internationally. Those living in Waco in 1993 had located there out of a belief that David Koresh was a successor to Ellen White, the founder of the church. They believed that Koresh was next in a line of leaders who could decode prophecies.

The pilgrimage to the McLennan County countryside dates back to Victor Houteff and a schism within the church. Houteff founded the Branch Davidians based upon the ideology of an imminent second coming of Jesus Christ, an apocalyptic event that, it is believed, will also see the final defeat of the armies of “Babylon.” Financial instability led them to Texas rather than to Israel, their intended destination. After Houteff’s death and a failed Armageddon prediction from his widow, control of Mount Carmel—the Davidian home named after the mountain in Joshua 19:26—fell to Benjamin and Lois Roden.

An eventual struggle for leadership ensued after Mr. Roden’s death. Mrs. Roden supported Vernon Howell (who changed his name to David Koresh in 1990) in the position of prophet, because her son, George, was unfit for the position due to mental instability. In 1987, after threatening a Texas court with sexually transmitted diseases if it did not rule in his favor, George Roden was jailed for contempt of court. In 1989 he killed another Davidian with an axe. Found not guilty due to insanity, Roden spent the remainder of his life in an asylum. Koresh assumed the leadership of the Branch Davidians and control of Mount Carmel.

The Davidians at Mount Carmel saw themselves as Messianic Jews who celebrated the traditions of Judaism with the ideology of Christianity. Each generation would have a messenger sent from God that would interpret end-times prophecy. The prophet would then lead the flock via his or her interpretation of God’s word, prophecy, and a biblical analysis of current events.

According to Reavis, Koresh and the Branch Davidians had no problems with local law enforcement and even assisted the local sheriff on one drug case. When local law enforcement found out that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were going to raid Mount Carmel, local officials asked, “Why don’t you just go talk to (Koresh)?”

Reavis is most perplexed by the way political groups have taken up the case since 1993. The Branch Davidians, he explained, were completely apolitical. They aligned with no political ideology and believed American politics were minutia when faced with the Second Coming. Koresh pragmatically believed he could profit from second-hand firearm upgrades and sales if a national gun-grab occurred, but he was not a boisterous Second Amendment advocate.

“What the remaining Davidians think of the gun rights question is, ‘Why do you bring that up?’ ” Reavis explained. “They think they were attacked for religious reasons. They do not believe—because they are ‘End Timers’—that human beings can do anything to improve our circumstances on Earth. Therefore, banning guns or allowing guns is a moot question, because it has to do with life on Earth, and they are anti-political.”

Rather than fleeing the compound when the February raid and the April siege began to threaten their lives, Reavis describes a more devout group of believers that chose to stay. In one intense moment during the fatal burning of Mount Carmel, one Davidian asked another what they would do next. “I guess we wait on the Lord,” he was told.

“They thought they were in something like Noah’s Ark,” Reavis explained. “You don’t jump off Noah’s Ark. They thought that the outside world would be destroyed and not the inside of Mount Carmel. If that was wrong, they also thought, they would go immediately to Heaven. I think there were some who stayed in because of their religious convictions. Those who did flee ran into a great theological problem. . . . (God) wanted to take those people (inside Mount Carmel) to Heaven, and I ran out on that chance.”

Originally published in American Free Press Issue 3 & 4, Jan. 15 & 22, 2018.


David Koresh: Fact vs. Myth

Part 2 of 4: Why was the U.S. government so bent on taking down Waco religious leader?

By S.T. Patrick

The central figure in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) and FBI attack on the Branch Davidian home and church outside of Waco, Texas, was David Koresh. Many have called him a “cult leader,” yet to other researchers, he is a victim of religious and anti-constitutional persecution.

In 1959, Koresh was born Vernon Howell to a 14-year-old mother who would later turn to prostitution. His step-father, a violent alcoholic, was a carpenter-turned-bartender. His biological father had left the family upon meeting another teenage girl. Born dyslexic, Koresh lamented that he spent years being referred to by schoolmates as “Mr. Retardo.” It has been alleged by some researchers that Koresh was gang-raped by a group of older boys when he was eight years old. The peer abuse was so intense that he dropped out of high school to become a non-union carpenter.

Koresh picked up religion through his grandparents, both Seventh-Day Adventists. While working out of Dallas, he met a girl who became pregnant. Bothered by this as fornication and against biblical principles, he felt it was his duty to marry her. She declined, had an abortion, became pregnant again, and then had the child. Conflicted by his own personal decisions, the results of which left him alone, he drifted to Mount Carmel.

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In the mid-1980s, while on a Davidian excursion to Israel, Koresh claimed he was taken up into a sort of spaceship called a merkaba. While inside, the knowledge of the Bible was implanted into his mind. Those around Koresh later said they noticed an instantaneous yet incredible change during this period. He had quickly gained the ability to quote long passages of the Bible without the use of an aid or text. After what other Davidians saw as a spiritual miracle, Koresh’s legitimacy and authority within the group grew. Koresh eventually won leadership over the Branch Davidians and Mount Carmel in 1987 when the mentally unstable George Roden killed another Davidian in a gunfight.

Much ado has been made about Koresh’s affinity for underage girls. The attention paid to the issue has been so deafening that it has overtaken many of the other pertinent religious, constitutional, and legal debates surrounding the Waco story.

Mark Breau, a former Davidian, left the group and reported Koresh to law enforcement for child molestation. The district attorney’s office investigated the complaint, and although they suspected it was true, the parents of the girls refused to either confirm or complain. It was also Breau who told authorities that Koresh had firearm pieces that would convert an AR-15 to an automatic firing weapon.

Dick J. Reavis, the author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, has framed the debate over Koresh’s marriages to underage girls as a religious matter rather than a legal or societal one.

“In the Book of Revelation, which is behind a lot of Koresh’s theology, there are 24 judges who stand in judgment over people,” Reavis explains. “During the End Times, the judges are all born to virgins. Koresh said that he had to father those 24 judges. So the parents who followed [Koresh] thought it was a great honor for their daughters to be picked,” legally underage or not.

Reavis, without making a moral or legal argument favoring either side of the debate, points out the constitutional controversy that exists when genuine religious convictions conflict with both American law and societal norms. The legal age for marriage in many countries is determined by religious practices, whereas in America it can range from the age of 13 (New Hampshire, with court approval) to 21 (Mississippi). Koresh believed his relationships were marriages based upon religious practices.

“What I found most interesting about Mount Carmel was not the fireworks but what it reveals about American society,” Reavis said. “We say we have freedom of religion, but prohibit sex with women under the age of 16 or 18, depending on what state you are in. You can believe what you want, but anything you practice is regulated if the government wants to regulate it. The same thing is true about guns. We claim you have the right to bear firearms, but everyone knows that is regulated. So what happened exposes our mythology . . . freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of gun ownership . . . it exposes our mythology and teaches us a lot about where we are still living today.”

It is not uncommon for members of majority religious denominations to label minority religious sects as “brainwashed cults.” The difference between a so-called cult and a majority religion often boils down to the number of members. Mainstream historians will deride the idea of Koresh as anything other than a cult leader. But at some point, Americans will have to define and deal with the true meaning of freedom.

Minority religions, minority leaders, and minority thought always test the certitude of the majority’s beliefs.

For Koresh and the other 80-plus Davidians who died in the fires of Mount Carmel, the Constitution didn’t work. For the many who supported the raid and still believe in its validity today, the Constitution worked just as they wanted.

Originally published in American Free Press Issue 7 & 8, Feb. 12 & 19, 2018.


Unanswered Waco Questions

Part 3 of 4: Mysteries still loom over the U.S. federal attack on peaceful Waco church members.

By S.T. Patrick

Twenty-five years after a gaseous inferno burned down the last remnants of the Mount Carmel Church near Waco, Texas, unanswered questions puzzle investigators, historians, and journalists still trying to make sense of one of the worst tragedies of the 1990s.

The nature of the gas injected into Mount Carmel has been a controversial issue for scholars and bureaucrats alike. A Justice Department report noted that Attorney General Janet Reno had been concerned that CS gas would harm pregnant women and young children. At a briefing two days after Ms. Reno expressed her concerns, a Ph.D. from an Army research center assured her that no laboratory tests regarding CS gas had been performed on children but that “anecdotal evidence was convincing that there would be no injury.”

CS gas derives from an aerosolized white powder. It is a lachrymator irritant, which stimulates the shedding of tears. According to OSHA manuals, it also causes skin and respiratory irritation. Though an adviser had told Ms. Reno otherwise, CS gas is also flammable. In fact, one CS manufacturer explained that when burned, CS particles can create lethal fumes.

Named for the American inventors that created it—B.B. Corson and R.W. Stoughton—CS gas has been available since 1928. Though its use is quite obviously effective, it has been banned for use in warfare in over 100 countries, including the United States. It is not illegal, however, for a country to use it on its own people.

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Amnesty International has reported that indoor use of CS gas has been known to cause death. Manufacturers, therefore, suggest that its use be limited to large, outdoor areas.

An Army manual on the quelling of civil disturbances highlights its effectiveness on people by stating, “Generally, persons reacting to CS are incapable of executing organized and concerted actions.” It goes on to state that affected persons may be rendered unable to vacate an area.

Waco victim Wayne Martin, who died of smoke inhalation, was found with traces of cyanide and burning CS particles. Cyanide is quite often a byproduct of house fires.

The injection of CS gas into Mount Carmel was a governmental decision. Many have tried to either ascertain or even guess what the motive behind the use of CS gas might have been. If the ramming of a tank through the front door was not enough of an eye-opening maneuver for the Davidians to exit their home, why use gas that could burn them, blind them, disorientate them, and start a towering inferno? What was the government’s goal?

Many have also wondered if the government or the Davidians fired first on April 19, 1993. There were clear bullet holes on the inside of the front door, yet the source of the bullets remains unclear. It would seem that the Branch Davidians were firing from inside Mount Carmel, yet researchers such as Dick J. Reavis, author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, point out that once the door was involuntarily opened, holes seen on the internal side of the door could have also come from outside the home.

The forensics evidence would have given investigators a fuller picture had it not been destroyed in the fire as well.

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) claimed that videotape from three cameras pointing at the door would prove that the Davidians, and David Koresh, specifically, fired first. The problem with that assertion is that the BATF seems to have lost the videotapes. The BATF’s onsite activities log for April 19, 1993 is also missing.

After the government had contended that no pyrotechnics were used at Mount Carmel, researcher Michael McNulty found expended tear gas and “flash bang” grenades in the evidence collected at Waco.

Ms. Reno stated that the FBI assured her that the pyro was used hours before the fire was ignited.

McNulty also found a memo stating that the Combat Applications Group—now called Delta Force—was present. The FBI had initially denied the presence of Delta Force operatives at Waco. Both the FBI and Ms. Reno, however, eventually admitted their presence but also claimed that Delta Force was “just observing.”

The horrors of Waco remain fresh in the hearts and minds of those who care about governmental abuses of power. And to those interested in the case, questions may always exist. Why didn’t the FBI simply talk to Koresh, as local law enforcement had suggested? Why did the FBI and BATF prepare as if it were a military invasion? If the children’s well-being was of the utmost concern to government forces, why was there such widespread support for the use of CS gas? Who fired first? If there was any compassion for the innocents inside, why were there no rescue efforts as soon as the fire began?

Waco is a puzzle. It is a labyrinth in which all the passions of contemporary political, religious, and constitutional debate are intertwined. To adequately answer one question is to make the others all the more difficult. The saddest reality is that 25 years later, we don’t appear to know much more than we knew after the initial independent investigations were completed. With so much of the evidence left in ashes, the questions may always remain unanswered.

Originally published in American Free Press Issue 9 & 10, Feb. 26 and March 5, 2018.

S. T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.




Neocons Are Back With a Big War Budget and Big War Plans

The military-industrial complex has yet again taken the lead in U.S. government spending, receiving “the largest military budget in history” in the recent $1.3 trillion omnibus bill. And, as Ron Paul explains, “the neocons continue to do very well in this Administration.”

By Ron Paul

On Friday, President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill for 2018. The $1.3 trillion bill was so monstrous that it would have made the biggest spender in the Obama Administration blush. The image of leading congressional Democrats Pelosi and Schumer grinning and gloating over getting everything they wanted—and then some—will likely come back to haunt Republicans at the midterm elections. If so, they will deserve it.

Even President Trump admitted the bill was horrible. As he said in the signing ceremony, “There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill, but we were, in a sense, forced—if we want to build our military. . . .”

This is why I often say: Forget about needing a third political party—we need a second political party! Trump is admitting that to fuel the warfare state and enrich the military-industrial complex, it was necessary to dump endless tax dollars into the welfare state.

But no one “forced” President Trump to sign the bill. His party controls both houses of Congress. He knows that no one in Washington cares about deficits so he was more than willing to spread some Fed-created money at home to get his massive war spending boost.

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And about the militarism funded by the bill? Defense Secretary James Mattis said at the same press conference that, “As the President noted, today we received the largest military budget in history, reversing many years of decline and unpredictable funding.”

He’s right and wrong at the same time. Yes, it is another big increase in military spending. In fact, the U.S. continues to spend more than at least the next seven or so largest countries combined. But his statement is misleading. Where are these several years of decline? Did we somehow miss a massive reduction in military spending under President Obama? Did the last Administration close the thousands of military bases in more than 150 countries while we weren’t looking?

Of course not.

On militarism, the Obama administration was just an extension of the Bush administration, which was an extension of the militarism of the Clinton administration. And so on. The military-industrial complex continues to generate record profits from fictitious enemies. The mainstream media continues to play the game, amplifying the war propaganda produced by the think tanks, which are funded by the big defense contractors.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is conspiracy fact. Enemies must be created to keep Washington rich, even as the rest of the country suffers from the destruction of the dollar. That is why the neocons continue to do very well in this Administration.

While Trump and Mattis were celebrating big military spending increases, the president announced that John Bolton, one of the chief architects of the Iraq war debacle, would become his national security advisor. As former CIA analyst Paul Pillar has written, this is a man who, while at the State Department, demanded that intelligence analysts reach pre-determined conclusions about Iraq and WMDs. He cooked the books for war.

Bolton is on the record calling for war with Iran, North Korea, even Cuba! His return to a senior position in government is a return to the unconstitutional, immoral, and failed policies of pre-emptive war.

Make no mistake: The neocons are back and looking for another war. They’ve got the president’s ear. Iran? North Korea? Russia? China? Who’s next for the warmongers?

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.




Elites Move to Ban Guns Following Recent Mass Shootings

Not surprisingly, the push for more draconian gun-control laws has strengthened following the Feb. 14 shooting deaths of 14 students and 3 teachers at a high school in south Florida. Now, a former Supreme Court justice has weighed in calling for a constitutional amendment to repeal the Second Amendment, which he says is “a relic of the 18th century.” 

By Mark Anderson

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens caused a stir on March 27 when he took to the sympathetic pages of The New York Times in an op-ed calling for repeal of the Second Amendment via constitutional amendment. What’s not as well known is that, about a month before that, a bill had been quietly introduced in Congress to ban all “assault weapons.”

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 (H.R. 5087), which has 174 cosponsors as of this writing, was introduced in the House Feb. 20, just six days after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. As of March 20, the legislation had been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, which referred it to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. The bill would “make it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).”

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The bill does permit “continued possession, sale, or transfer of a grandfathered SAW, which must be securely stored. A licensed gun dealer must conduct a background check prior to the sale or transfer of a grandfathered SAW between private parties. The bill permits continued possession of, but prohibits sale or transfer of, a grandfathered LCAFD.”

The nationally televised March for Our Lives had just happened on March 24 in Washington, D.C.—where scores of emotional teens stumped for drastically increased gun controls—when Stevens’s anti-gun homily was published in the Times.

Referring to the radical idea of repealing the second of the 10 amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights—a concept that has never been seriously contemplated much less carried out—Stevens wrote: “Overturning that decision [in District of Columbia v. Heller, which upheld the individual right to bear arms] via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option. That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States. . . .”

He argues: “Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment. . . . Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”

Of course, Stevens knows that America has a standing army, which has grown beyond what our Founders envisioned due to the U.S. leading the charge in interventionist, undeclared world warfare. Worse still, the U.S. ceaselessly patrolling the world has over the years led to calls for surrendering command of U.S. forces to United Nations commanders—a prospect U.S. Army Medic Michael New resisted in 1995 when refused to wear a UN uniform.

“For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment,” Stevens, 97, opined, “it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a ‘well-regulated militia.’ ”

Irrespective of that court decision, the types of weapons needed for personal and community defense, in a Second Amendment context, would logically be based on effectiveness, since it’s absurd to speak of defending town, state, and nation from tyranny with inferior firepower. The widely popular AR-15—the prime target of the Florida students, other gun opponents, and an example of SAWs addressed in H.R. 5087—is arguably the best readily available defense weapon in terms of its utility and power.

Stevens’s Times piece comes adorned with a picture of an 18th century musket alongside an AR-15, and he tries to say that the AR-15’s power so far exceeds the power of the weaponry from the days of the Second Amendment’s framers that the amendment itself is enabling dangers that the framers could not have foreseen. Therefore, Stevens believes, the U.S. should disregard the framers in terms of the principle of homeland defense.

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Overlooked is the fact that the musket represented the top firearm technology of its day, just as the AR-15 does now. Naturally, the educated men who framed the national charter understood that weapons technology would advance like any other technology. Conversely, sound principles are by definition unchanging—with the principles of self-defense and national defense being definitive in America’s founding—regardless of the weapons technology at any given time.

The mainstream media, meanwhile, uses loaded terms like “assault weapon” regarding the AR-15, even though any weapon is best defined by the circumstances of its usage. In other words, an AR-15, a .38 revolver, a baseball bat, or a meat cleaver are all “assault weapons” if used unlawfully in an actual assault. But an AR-15 or any other weapon is a defense weapon when lawfully used to “defend the realm” from an assault.

And while all the talk of nixing the Second Amendment and banning so-called assault weapons only pertains to civilian-owned firearms, the government’s abuse of its own firepower is undeniably evident—from police shooting citizens without just cause to the military unlawfully bombing nations with which the U.S. is not at war.

It is worth noting that the Second Amendment is largely bulletproof despite groups like the Conference of the States (CS) seeking to amend the Constitution, according to Cindy Nation, a volunteer for the Conference of the States, an organization based in Houston.

Ms. Nation assured AFP that existing calls for a formal Conference of the States to propose constitutional changes are designed to be strictly limited.

Her group wants to convene such a conference to, among other things, insert term limits for all federal officials into the Constitution, which would require ratification by 38 states under Article V of the Constitution.

However, repealing the Second Amendment appears to be impossible, she said, since none of the CS groups of which she’s aware have any known intentions of touching that amendment.

Besides, “It’s against the rules to add amendment topics later outside the framework of the initial topics with which states apply for a [CS],” she said.

Still, the bill on Capitol Hill, H.R. 5087, among other anti-gun bills that have taken root lately could gravely erode the Second Amendment due to our country’s current fearful climate.

As of this writing, Congress had been out of session starting March 26. Lawmakers return April 9—making this the perfect time to start calling Congress: 202-224-3121, or 202-225-3121.

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor for AFP. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.




Pompeo and Haspel are Symptoms of a Deeper Problem

What most threatens our republic, says Ron Paul, is not the particular war-mongering neocons President Trump wants to appoint to the State Department and CIA but “that both federal agencies are routinely engaged in activities that are both unconstitutional and anti-American” and the wider executive branch over-reach.

By Ron Paul

President Donald Trump’s recent cabinet shake-up looks to be a real boost to hardline militarism and neoconservatism. If his nominees to head the State Department and CIA are confirmed, we may well have moved closer to war.

Before being chosen by Trump to head up the CIA, Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo was one of the most pro-war members of Congress. He has been militantly hostile toward Iran, and many times has erroneously claimed that Iran is the world’s number one state sponsor of terror. The truth is, Iran neither attacks nor threatens the United States.

At a time when Trump appears set to make history by meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un face-to-face, Pompeo remains dedicated to a “regime change” policy that leads to war, not diplomacy and peace. He blames Iran—rather than the 2003 U.S. invasion—for the ongoing disaster in Iraq. He enthusiastically embraced the Bush policy of “enhanced interrogation,” which the rest of us call “torture.”

American Freedom Party Conference in Tennessee

Speaking of torture, even if some of the details of Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel’s involvement in the torture of Abu Zubaydah are disputed, the mere fact that she helped develop an interrogation regimen that our own government admitted was torture, that she oversaw an infamous “black site” where torture took place, and that she covered up the evidence of her crimes should automatically disqualify her for further government service.

In a society that actually valued the rule of law, Haspel may be facing time in a much different kind of federal facility than CIA headquarters.

While it may be disappointing to see people like Pompeo as secretary of state and Haspel as the head of the CIA, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. The few areas where Trump’s actions are consistent with candidate Trump’s promises are ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran and embracing the torture policies of Bush. Candidate Trump in late 2015 promised to bring back waterboarding “and a whole lot worse” if he became president. It seems that is his intention with the elevation of Pompeo and Haspel to the most senior positions in his administration.

We should be concerned, of course, but the real problem is not really Pompeo or Haspel. It is partly true that “personnel is policy,” but it’s more than just that. It matters less who fills the position of secretary of state or CIA director when the real issue is that both federal agencies are routinely engaged in activities that are both unconstitutional and anti-American. It is the current executive branch over-reach that threatens our republic more than the individuals who fill positions in that executive branch. As long as Congress refuses to exercise its constitutional authority and oversight obligations—especially in matters of war and peace—we will continue our slide toward authoritarianism, where the president becomes a kind of king who takes us to war whenever he wishes.

I am heartened to see some senators—including Sen. Rand Paul—pledging to oppose Trump’s nominees for State and CIA. Let’s hope many more join him—and let’s hope the rest of the Congress wakes up to its role as first among equals in our political system.

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.




This Is the Beginning of Totalitarian Government 

Donald Trump turned his back on his word to protect the Second Amendment as he enthusiastically picked up the gun control mantra and embraced enacting additional gun control laws. In response to the president’s surprising “green light” signal, gun control bills that had been assumed dead on arrival have been resurrected. 

By Chuck Baldwin

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings last year in October, I wrote a column entitled “They Are Coming for Our Guns.” In that column, I listed 16 gun control bills that were working their way through the U.S. House and Senate. See the column here: They Are Coming for Our Guns.

At the time I wrote that column, the vast majority of conservatives, Republicans, and Christians paid no heed, because they said, “Donald Trump is ‘pro-Second Amendment’ and won’t let any more gun control legislation pass.”

Fast forward just four months later to after the Florida school shootings, and we watched and listened to Trump turn his back on his word to protect the Second Amendment as he enthusiastically picked up the gun control mantra of Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi and embraced enacting additional gun control laws.

Please understand: In spite of the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, gun control Democrats in Washington, D.C. were mostly stymied, and the myriad gun control laws they were pushing appeared dead on arrival. Trump had campaigned and won as a fierce defender of the Second Amendment, and everyone (including Democrats) figured that even if some gun control bills passed the Congress, Trump was sure to veto them.

Following the mass shooting in Florida, there was no surge in gun sales (which is not normally the case—usually gun sales skyrocket after mass shootings in anticipation of more gun control laws being enacted), as conservatives and gun owners were confident that their constitutional right to keep and bear arms was not in jeopardy: Trump would make sure of that.

But, as I have tried to warn people, Trump has no core convictions; he has no center; he has no moral compass; and he is a dish rag when it comes to the Constitution. Of the 16 gun control bills in Congress that I referenced in my October 2017 column, Trump is now actively supporting at least 10 of them.

In Trump’s highly publicized round-table discussion with members of Congress from both parties (including radical gun control zealots such as Dianne Feinstein), Trump announced that he favors implementing several additional gun control laws, including banning bump stocks (and similar “modifiers”), more background checks for gun purchases—including adding a variety of “mental health” screenings—and implementing the “Fix NICS” bill (a longtime goal of gun grabbing Democrats like Schumer and Feinstein).

In point of fact, the original “Fix NICS” bill was introduced under Barack Obama and included outlawing private gun sales. Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie is warning the American people that the Republican leadership in Congress is trying to pass the “Fix NICS” bill this week. He warns of how devastating the bill will be to America’s veterans and seniors who will be thrown into the “no buy” list for a host of reasons. And will the bill include the original language outlawing the private sale of firearms? Don’t count it out.

American Freedom Party Conference in Tennessee

Trump also announced that he supported gun confiscation without due process. He twice said that government should take (confiscate) the guns first and worry about due process later. He then looked at Feinstein and told her he would support her bill. “Her” bill is the “assault-weapons” ban that would outlaw all semi-automatic rifles.

After Trump’s shameless calls for more gun control, the White House has tried to calm Trump’s conservative constituents by walking back several of those comments. That doesn’t change the fact that Trump said them—more than once. And it doesn’t change the fact that Trump is still forging ahead with plans to implement new gun control laws.

Again, until Trump made his stupid Stalinist statements supporting more gun control laws—even gun confiscation—the Democrat-led charge for more gun control was dead. However, after Trump’s stupid Stalinist statements, politicians in both parties have gone into a gun control frenzy.

Already, the Republican house, senate, and governor of Florida have enacted one of the most draconian gun control laws in U.S. history. The law bans the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21; it mandates a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases; it adds a “red flag” law that allows law enforcement to confiscate the firearms of individuals who have not committed a crime or have not even threatened to commit a crime—but who might be “suspected” of having “mental health” issues; it adds additional background checks for gun purchases; and it mandates “mental health” screening for all public school students in the state.

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Again, these Marxist-inspired gun control laws were passed by a Republican-led House, Senate, and governorships.

Do you think for one minute that Trump’s pro-gun control rhetoric had nothing to do with the way those Republicans voted in Florida? Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. The party takes its cues from him. When Trump embraced and promoted the enactment of more gun control, it was a signal to Republicans and Democrats alike to proceed with more gun control. And that’s exactly what both parties are doing.

A few days ago, the state of Washington became the first state in the country to enforce its newly enacted “red flag” law and confiscate the firearm of a man who had broken no law and who had not even threatened anyone. His firearm was confiscated on the mere notion that he was “suspected” of having “mental health” issues. I wrote about this Gestapo-style episode last week.

Now, the state of Illinois is about to pass a law that would authorize blanket gun confiscation of everyone under the age of 21. Writing for American Thinker, Daniel John Sobieski writes:

It is no longer a conspiracy theory spawned by deplorable bitter clingers, but a creeping reality spawned by shootings law enforcement could have prevented but didn’t.  The Illinois House has passed legislation requiring 18- to 20-year-olds to give up certain legally purchased and legally owned firearms:

A bill requiring 18 to 20-year-olds to hand over or transfer ownership of heretofore legally possessed “assault weapons” is gaining sponsors in the Illinois Senate after passing the House last month.

The bill, HB 1465, was sponsored in the House by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and passed by a vote of 64-51 on Feb. 28.

After being introduced in the upper house by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the bill has added seven co-sponsors in the last week.  Notable among them was Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), the NRA “A” rated 2014 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.

Gun confiscation is here.  First they will come for the young, who can go to war with guns but can no longer go hunting with them or protect their families.  If you are a 20-year-old single mom with a restraining order against a violent ex-boyfriend, well, you’ll just have to trust your life to 911 as your door is being kicked in.  Meanwhile, the government wants you to give it your guns.

Notice that Democrats and Republicans in Illinois are supporting this Marxist bill that confiscates guns from law-abiding people with no due process whatsoever.

Make no mistake about it, this is the beginning of totalitarian government.

As I noted in last week’s column, no fewer than 30 states have either already passed gun confiscation laws (Florida makes that number now seven) or are in the process of enacting gun confiscation laws.

Instead of enacting additional gun control laws, what our president, governors, and lawmakers should be doing is expunging existing gun control laws—including eliminating virtually all of America’s gun-free zones.

As Mr. Sobieski wrote:

It is typical of gun-control zealots that their answer to the slaughter invited by gun-free zones is to create more gun-free victims.  Those who fear an armed citizenry are typically those who believe that all rights are on loan from an all-powerful government. The Founders wisely wrote the Second Amendment to protect the other nine in the Bill of Rights.

Critics of the Second Amendment say they are not going after guns used for legitimate activities such as hunting.  But when the Founders wrote the Second Amendment, it was because the British were coming, not because it was the start of deer season.

In the hands of British redcoats, the musket was an assault weapon.  In the hands of a law-abiding American, even those between 18 and 20, an AR-15 is what the Second Amendment is all about.

Hear! Hear!

It is time for the American people to forget about which party controls Congress and who is in the White House and start standing en masse for the Constitution and Bill of Rights—and against any new gun control laws—or the Second Amendment (and the rest of our liberties) will soon be toast.

I want to once again remind readers that self-defense—including defense against tyrannical government—is more than a right guaranteed in the Second Amendment to our Constitution; it is a duty assigned us in nature by our Creator. For anyone, especially a Christian, to willingly surrender their means of self-defense is not only a crime against liberty; it is a sin against God.

I urge my Christian friends (and anyone else) to read the book my constitutional attorney son and I wrote entitled To Keep or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns.

Mark it down: Any law demanding free men to surrender their arms—especially their AR-15 rifle—is unconstitutional, unnatural, immoral, and unbiblical. And no Christian or any other free man should ever comply with such a law.

I know that there is a plethora of pastors who teach that Christians ought to obey the government should it outlaw our guns. They are wrong. They are wrong biblically, constitutionally, and morally.

Our book shows the natural and biblical duty of self-defense. I don’t know of another book like it. Many books deal with this subject from a constitutional perspective, but none that I know of deals with this subject from a biblical perspective. And make no mistake about it: The right to keep and bear arms is as much a moral and biblical issue as it is a political and constitutional issue.

With all that is happening today, it is crucial that people (especially Christians) become familiar with the truths contained in this book. I urge you to order one for yourself and one (at least) for your friends and kinfolk—and maybe for your pastor. Order To Keep or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns here.

Chuck Baldwin is a radio broadcaster, syndicated columnist, and pastor dedicated to preserving the historic principles upon which America was founded.




Uniting on U.S. Prison Reform

Communist China imprisons half of what the United States currently jails—over 2 million people incarcerated in America today and over 4.5 million on probation or parole—yet we are told it is China that’s the “harshly prosecutorial” state. Prison reform movements in the U.S. are working to change the state of affairs in this “land of the free.”  

By S.T. Patrick

In a country that boasts both the largest per capita and total prison populations in the supposedly civilized world, Americans have taken up the cause of prison reform in numbers greater than ever before. Commensurate with the framing of most political issues, reformers are both radical and moderate—yet their political skins have encompassed both liberals and conservatives. One of the more creative movements to arise from this current wave of prison reform activism is the Prison Abolition Movement.

According to Bureau of Justice statistics, there are over 2 million people incarcerated in America today and over 4.5 million on probation or parole. Compare that with the next two countries. The largest country in the world is China, with 1.4 billion people. Its prison population is half that of America, yet China is seen as a harshly prosecutorial country where imprisonment can occur for the slightest wrong. Russia is third-highest with over 800,000 imprisoned. There is sizeable drop to fourth-place Brazil, with over 300,000 incarcerated. To put the per-capita evaluation into perspective, America incarcerates 737 of every 100,000 people. China incarcerates 118 of every 100,000.

Organizations such as Critical Resistance and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners push to dismantle what they call the “Prison-Industrial Complex,” or PIC. The majority of the Prison Abolition Movement seeks not to open bars and allow inmates to filter onto every street, nor does it intend to put the public at harm. What it acknowledges is that, even after decades of massive prison-system expansions, we are not safer as a country. If the overall goal is not being met, then the structure of the system needs to change. When that is acknowledged, the abolitionists believe, it is time to eliminate prisons in favor of more humane and effective systems of correction and rehabilitation.

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Hard Time Blues: How Politics Built a Prison Nation, by Sasha Abramsky, is available from the AFP Online Store.

Americans are used to the ineffective means of imprisonment—cages and control. It is still a nation of quick-judgment artists. TV judge programs, after all, are some of the most lucrative franchises in syndicated television today. Americans are attracted to shows where the passing of judgment is swift. We are stimulated by the opportunity to quickly vote someone off an island, pass judgment on talk-show guests, and yes, even fire employees on national television. Real life, however, is not simple, and its effects do not end as credits roll an hour later.

Reformers are not abolitionists. Reformers attempt to find answers regarding methods to make imprisonment more effective. Abolitionists believe that caging a human being is a moral wrong that hurts society more than it increases safety.

No amount of imprisonment has solved the initial problems, including inadequate access to education and opportunities, the increase of single-parent homes, addiction, societal insecurity or lack of treatment for mental illness. However, a blind trust in imprisonment has increased the problems of politicized punishment, an epidemic of poor legal representation by public defenders, broken families, children without parents, bloated state budgets, class inequities in punishment, and the covering up of officer-on-inmate violence.

Darren Rainey was a mentally ill inmate under the care, custody, and control of the notorious Florida Department of Corrections until on-duty officers burned Rainey to death on June 23, 2012. Rainey was thrown into a scalding shower by the officers as punishment. The water temperature—controlled by the officers—topped 180 degrees and melted Rainey’s skin from his bones as he begged them to stop. Though it was clear the guards committed the horrible act, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office announced that the four officers overseeing the gruesome murder would not be charged with a crime.

It is a natural defense to fortify societal norms with the “Then what do we do?!” argument. It is also natural to use the worst criminals and the worst crimes to make the argument for imprisonment. But if you disregard the worst 5% for the moment, the remaining 95% deserve a better path to change. Rehabilitation is touted but rarely accomplished.

The prison abolitionists believe that true rehabilitation cannot occur locked behind bars, as a tyrannical security corps treats the inmate as less than human. They believe true rehab should be enacted with one’s family or a team of supporters in an environment that is familiar, such as an offender’s community. The method commonly used and advocated for in America today clearly isn’t working when measured against any of the myriad goals expressed by the citizenry or by government officials.

If America is going to change its definition of reform, rehabilitation, and treatment, it will take a sea change—as it did with the marijuana decriminalization movement. When it does happen and those who have failed are seen as projects rather than objects, society will be better for it.

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News” Show. His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.




Finicums, Bundys File Lawsuits

Lawsuits have been filed by Jeanette Finicum, widow of Arizona rancher Robert LaVoy Finicum who was assassinated in cold blood by the Oregon State Police and FBI on Jan. 26, 2016 while apparently surrendering, and Cliven Bundy, who is disputing the Obama administration’s designation of public land in Utah as a national monument. The suits follow on the heels of dismissal of the last trial of the Bundy proceedings when the judge declared a mistrial due to “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.”

By Mark Anderson

Recently freed rancher Cliven Bundy is suing Clark County, Nev. over the Obama administration’s late-2016 designation of public cattle-grazing land as the Gold Butte National Monument.

Bundy, whose family’s roots in the region go back about 140 years, calls the designation “illegal and unlawful,” since it could destroy his livelihood by stopping him from functioning as a beef producer.

His complaint states: “The current leaders and government officials of the state of Nevada and its subdivision, Clark County, refuse to defend its or the people’s rights to all lands within Nevada’s and Clark County’s borders.”

In the suit, it’s estimated that Bundy has 1,000 head of cattle grazing on 160 acres of private land—along with “300,000 acres of unclaimed land belonging to the people of Nevada and Clark County.”

The establishment of Gold Butte came down when Bundy, his sons, and several others were still in federal custody in Nevada, stemming from the now-legendary spring 2014 standoff between Bundy and his supporters, and armed Bureau of Land Management and FBI agents accompanied by private contractors. The federal agents tried to enforce a warrant to impound the rancher’s cattle, ostensibly for unpaid grazing fees on public land.

Think the IRS Never Loses Cases? Think again!

In the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas on Jan. 8, Bundy, his sons Ryan and Ammon, and Ryan Payne were freed from prison when the federal government’s case against them was dismissed, ending a nearly two-year period of imprisonment and a tortuous series of trials and hearings.

Judge Gloria Navarro’s decision to dismiss the case is seen by many as a major triumph of citizen activism regarding property rights and constitutional principles.

One thing to closely watch at this juncture is whether President Donald Trump carries out any changes to the Gold Butte designation. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, “Bureau of Land Management officials in Las Vegas postponed discussion of the monument at its meetings this month [January] until the Trump administration decides on possible changes to the Obama-era land designation.”

The lawsuit is rooted in what AFP and other alternative media have long reported but mainstream media sources have downplayed or ignored: Bundy insists that Clark County, which is affected by the Gold Butte designation, is not under federal jurisdiction. While the federal government claims ownership of more than 80% of Nevada land, it’s only now that the mainstream Review-Journal is giving Clark County’s status significant publicity.

Bundy’s complaint, filed the afternoon of Jan. 25, argues: “Recognizing that the land is not owned by the United States of America, [Bundy] has avoided erroneously giving money [for grazing fees] to an entity which does not actually own the land and has been careful not to give money erroneously to a stranger to the land. Thus, there is an actual, significant legal controversy of great consequence. . . .”

Bundy has called upon Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo to assist him in this matter. Just days after Navarro dismissed the charges against Bundy and the other three defendants noted above, Bundy stood outside Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters to argue that, within Clark County, the sheriff is more powerful than the president, a viewpoint based on the “Constitutional Sheriff” principle popularized by former Arizona sheriff and author Richard Mack.

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WIDOW SUING GOVERNMENT

Jeanette Finicum, widow of LaVoy Finicum— a much-loved Arizona rancher and foster father fatally shot by police at a roadblock about two years ago—has filed a civil demand for a jury trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. The suit was filed Jan. 26, on the two-year anniversary of the tragic event in which Finicum was gunned down, one day before his 55th birthday, while appearing to surrender along a remote stretch of highway in Oregon.

Mrs. Finicum is a plaintiff along with 12 others, as well as the estate of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, according to court documents. The documents list the defendants as not only the United States of America but also the state of Oregon, Harney County, Harry Mason Reid (former Nevada U.S. senator), Ronald Lee Wyden (current Oregon U.S. senator), the Center for Biodiversity, and several others.

The complaint says, in part:

On Jan. 26, 2016, at approximately 4:40 p.m., decedent Robert LaVoy Finicum was fatally shot three times in the back, assassination style, by one or more militarized officers of the Oregon State Police and/or FBI. LaVoy had plainly and repeatedly explained he was going to go across the county border to meet with Grant County Oregon Sherriff Glen Palmer and invited several of the . . . defendants to come with him. The problem was, Sherriff Palmer had already been identified by several of the . . . defendants as an unfriendly political personality, and as being potentially uncooperative with what has now been discovered to be the illegal, diabolical, and shocking internal government scheme and conspiracy to do intentional violence to LaVoy Finicum and other political supporters of Cliven Bundy and those who were visible public critics of the [Bureau of Land Management] and federal government overreach.

Interestingly, the complaint compares the case of Finicum to recent reports of a North Korean dissident fleeing that communist regime, as both Finicum and the dissident had tried to cross a border.

Unlike the North Korean [dissident] who fled for the border to safety in 2017, after LaVoy Finicum was shot in the back—he died. As it turns out, he was deliberately executed [in deep snow] by a pre-planned government ambush, after he had exited his vehicle with his hands up along an isolated section of U.S. Route 395 in Harney County, Oregon, where the only other people within miles were those who had set up the ambush. . . .

Notably, the government’s own aerial video footage appears to support the plaintiffs. The mainstream-news based Wikipedia online claims, on the contrary, “After fleeing the officers, Finicum was stopped by a roadblock, where he challenged officers to shoot him. He was shot and killed by state troopers while moving his hands toward his pocket, where officers later claim to have found a loaded weapon.”

Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne were among several people who rode with Finicum that day. For those two men and Ammon Bundy, the Clark County, Nev. standoff back in April 2014 had already concluded with Bureau of Land Management and FBI agents backing down. But once the ensuing federal court trial from the Oregon affair concluded, these men were among those arrested when federal prosecutors decided it was payback time for the government having to abort its attempt in Nevada to confiscate Cliven’s cattle.

At the time of Finicum’s shooting, the lingering protest-occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility was winding down, thankfully without an attempted assault by law enforcement on the protesters.

Finicum was known for addressing reporters outside the facility, where the occupiers, many of them ranchers, had taken a firm stance to protest father and son ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond being sent back to federal prison. Much to the dismay of the protesters and likeminded people across the nation, the Hammonds were convicted of arson for setting “backfires,” a logical action to protect their property from fires on adjacent federal property.

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.




The Waco Massacre

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the massacre at the Branch Davidian Church near Waco, Texas, AFP begins a series of articles to look back on that terrible time when U.S. military and law enforcement waged war against a group of American citizens. This is part one of a four-part series.

By S.T. Patrick 

Twenty-five years ago, on April 19, 1993, America witnessed one of the most indelible moments of the Clinton presidency as it unfolded on cable news. In a field outside of the small community of Axtell, Texas—13 miles from Waco—a tank, on orders from the U.S. government, powered its way through the front door of Mount Carmel, a home to nearly 100 Branch Davidians. Mount Carmel was quickly ablaze in a gaseous inferno that would take the lives of approximately 80 Davidians, including almost 20 children.

Many questions lie in the smoldering ashes of Mount Carmel. The government spokesmen and national media owned the narrative immediately following the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) siege at Mount Carmel. Made-for-television films such as “In the Line of Duty: Ambush at Waco,” which presented the government’s view of the earlier Feb. 28 conflict with the Davidians, had been made even before the April siege.

In the years following the fire, the political right lifted its own public-relations torch regarding what is now simply known as “Waco.” Militias, Second Amendment activists, and libertarians have all pushed their own causes and anger through the hazy lens of Mount Carmel.

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Dick J. Reavis, a former senior editor of Texas Monthly and reporter for the Dallas Observer, wanted to take the story beyond the conflicts of current events. In 1995 Reavis released The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, which studied the origins of the Branch Davidians and the trek that found them in McLennan County, Texas, just 90 minutes from Dallas.

In an interview with this writer, Reavis pointed out that the media never discussed the demographics of the Davidian community outside of Waco. They preferred, instead, to paint the Davidians as right-wing gun nuts and religious zealots. To the mainstream media, the labels are synonymous with white racism. Reavis describes a multi-cultural community that is much different.

“There were about 120 people, perhaps 130, living in Mount Carmel at that time,” Reavis said.

“The press never pointed this out—or skipped over it—but those people were of all races on the face of the Earth. About 20% of them were mainly West Indians, but black. . . . In other words, you had an integrated community. There were Asians and there were some Mexican-Americans. The rest were white. There were several nationalities—Brits, Australians, all the West Indies.”

Most of the Branch Davidians had been born into and raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, domestically and internationally. Those living in Waco in 1993 had located there out of a belief that David Koresh was a successor to Ellen White, the founder of the church. They believed that Koresh was next in a line of leaders who could decode prophecies.

The pilgrimage to the McLennan County countryside dates back to Victor Houteff and a schism within the church. Houteff founded the Branch Davidians based upon the ideology of an imminent second coming of Jesus Christ, an apocalyptic event that, it is believed, will also see the final defeat of the armies of “Babylon.” Financial instability led them to Texas rather than to Israel, their intended destination. After Houteff’s death and a failed Armageddon prediction from his widow, control of Mount Carmel—the Davidian home named after the mountain in Joshua 19:26—fell to Benjamin and Lois Roden.

An eventual struggle for leadership ensued after Mr. Roden’s death. Mrs. Roden supported Vernon Howell (who changed his name to David Koresh in 1990) in the position of prophet, because her son, George, was unfit for the position due to mental instability. In 1987, after threatening a Texas court with sexually transmitted diseases if it did not rule in his favor, George Roden was jailed for contempt of court. In 1989 he killed another Davidian with an axe. Found not guilty due to insanity, Roden spent the remainder of his life in an asylum. Koresh assumed the leadership of the Branch Davidians and control of Mount Carmel.

The Davidians at Mount Carmel saw themselves as Messianic Jews who celebrated the traditions of Judaism with the ideology of Christianity. Each generation would have a messenger sent from God that would interpret end-times prophecy. The prophet would then lead the flock via his or her interpretation of God’s word, prophecy, and a biblical analysis of current events.

According to Reavis, Koresh and the Branch Davidians had no problems with local law enforcement and even assisted the local sheriff on one drug case. When local law enforcement found out that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were going to raid Mount Carmel, local officials asked, “Why don’t you just go talk to (Koresh)?”

Reavis is most perplexed by the way political groups have taken up the case since 1993. The Branch Davidians, he explained, were completely apolitical. They aligned with no political ideology and believed American politics were minutia when faced with the Second Coming. Koresh pragmatically believed he could profit from second-hand firearm upgrades and sales if a national gun-grab occurred, but he was not a boisterous Second Amendment advocate.

“What the remaining Davidians think of the gun rights question is, ‘Why do you bring that up?’ ” Reavis explained. “They think they were attacked for religious reasons. They do not believe—because they are ‘End Timers’—that human beings can do anything to improve our circumstances on Earth. Therefore, banning guns or allowing guns is a moot question, because it has to do with life on Earth, and they are anti-political.”

Rather than fleeing the compound when the February raid and the April siege began to threaten their lives, Reavis describes a more devout group of believers that chose to stay. In one intense moment during the fatal burning of Mount Carmel, one Davidian asked another what they would do next. “I guess we wait on the Lord,” he was told.

“They thought they were in something like Noah’s Ark,” Reavis explained. “You don’t jump off Noah’s Ark. They thought that the outside world would be destroyed and not the inside of Mount Carmel. If that was wrong, they also thought, they would go immediately to Heaven. I think there were some who stayed in because of their religious convictions. Those who did flee ran into a great theological problem. . . . (God) wanted to take those people (inside Mount Carmel) to Heaven, and I ran out on that chance.”

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.




The Last Fed Chairman?

Jerome Powell has his hands full as he steps into the role of Federal Reserve Chairman. Tireless monetary reformer and watchdog Ron Paul warns, “The economy may seem to have recovered, but the recovery is not built on a firm foundation. Instead it rests on Fed-created bubbles. . . .” The U.S. had better get its economic house in order, he says, if it wants to remain the world reserve currency.

By Ron Paul

Last week the Senate confirmed Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve Chairman by a vote of 84-13. This is in contrast to the contentious debates and closer votes over Janet Yellen’s confirmation in 2014 and Ben Bernanke’s confirmation for a second term in 2010. Powell benefited from a perception that the economy’s recovery from the 2007-08 meltdown proves that the Fed is a capable manager of monetary policy. However, the perceptions of economic recovery and Federal Reserve competence are both far from the truth.

The economy may seem to have recovered, but the recovery is not built on a firm foundation. Instead it rests on Fed-created bubbles in areas such as automobile sales, credit cards debt, student loan debt, stocks, and even a new housing bubble.

The most dangerous bubble is the government debt bubble. The Fed facilitates deficit spending by monetizing the federal debt. The desire to enable Congress’ spending addiction is a major reason why the Fed cannot significantly raise interest rates, as increasing rates could increase federal debt payments to unsustainable levels. This may be one reason why President Trump has reversed course and endorsed low interest rates. Of course, all first-term presidents want low interest rates since they believe the low rates boost the economy and thus help them win reelection.

IRS Loses Cases

One of the issues Powell will face is increasing challenges to the dollar’s world reserve currency status. China is pressuring Saudi Arabia to price oil in Chinese yuan instead of in American dollars. China and other countries may take other steps, such as halting purchases of Treasury bonds, that could weaken the dollar. The threats to the dollar’s world reserve currency status will increase as concerns about U.S. government and private sector debt, as well as resentment over U.S. militarism and protectionism, grow.

The dollar still maintains its reserve currency status not because the dollar is strong, but because other countries’ currencies are weak. However, unless the U.S. gets its economic house in order, that may not long be the case.

Web of Debt cover

A new challenge to the dollar’s status is emerging from the private sector as more individuals seek alternatives to government-created fiat currency. The dramatic increase in the value of bitcoin may very well be another Fed-created bubble, but it is one fueled in part by desire to be free of the Fed’s ever-depreciating paper dollars.

Another sign of the people’s rejection of the Fed is the passage of state laws recognizing gold and silver as legal tender. Arizona passed such a law last year and Wyoming will soon consider a similar bill. As the failure of our current system becomes more apparent, more states will give their citizens freedom from the Fed’s money monopoly.

Much to new Fed Chairman Powell’s chagrin, support for the Audit the Fed bill remains high. As knowledge of how the Fed endangers prosperity grows, the pressure on Congress to pass Audit the Fed will prove irresistible.

Jerome Powell may seem to be assuming the Fed chairmanship at a time of increasing prosperity and renewed respect for the Fed. However, the prosperity is an illusion built on a series of Fed-created bubbles whose bursting will cause a major economic downturn. This will increase both the growing challenges to the dollar’s world reserve currency status and the number of people seeking alternatives to Federal Reserve-created fiat currency. Powell could be the last Fed chairman if the next Fed-created economic crisis leads the people to force Congress to audit and then end the Fed.

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.

Copyright © 2018 by RonPaul Institute.



Ending SPLC’s Reign of Terror: Christian Ministry Sues National Hatemonger

In an exclusive interview, AFP talked with a senior staffer at the Christian ministry taking a stand against the SPLC hatemongers. He explains the critical importance to every American of D. James Kennedy Ministries’s case, why the ministry also sued Amazon, and why we must prevail against real hate if the First Amendment is to have any meaning at all.

By Dave Gahary

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), one of the legal arms of the cultural Marxist gangsters running rough-shod over this once-great nation’s traditions and institutions, is being called on the carpet. No, not by any governmental agency or regulatory body, but by a conservative, Christian ministry, which is demanding answers as to why the SPLC believes it has the right to classify the Christian charity as a “hate group.”

As this newspaper reported in its Dec. 18 & 25, 2017 edition in the article “Christianity vs. the SPLC,” Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM) has the SPLC in its sights and has filed a federal lawsuit against the organization. The importance of this case for free speech cannot be overemphasized.

DJKM became “the fastest-growing Presbyterian church in the U.S.” when at its peak its weekly television programming aired on more than 400 TV stations and four cable networks with an audience of 3.5 million viewers in 200 countries.

In an exclusive interview with AFP, DJKM senior staff member John Rabe, DJKM’s director of creative production and on-air host, delved into great detail about why the organization feels it is critical to stand up to the SPLC ) and what the group’s leaders are hoping to accomplish.

Listen here!

“Because [we take] a biblical position saying that marriage is a God-ordained institution between one man and one woman—which is simply what all Christians at all times have believed over 2,000 years—and because [we say] that marriage is a one-man one-woman union, and because we’ve said that sex is ordained by God,” explained Rabe, “for upholding those views and for broadcasting those views, we have been designated a ‘hate group’ by the SPLC.”

Rabe explained why the SPLC’s designations are dangerous.

“The SPLC sets themselves up as sort of the clearinghouse of information on hate groups in America,” he said, “and so they’re frequently quoted by the media [and] they are often relied upon by law enforcement groups. And because it’s taken seriously by so many, we decided the time has come to act.”

The lawsuit, filed Aug. 23, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, “alleges, among other things, that the SPLC illegally trafficked in false and misleading descriptions of the services offered by DJKM and committed defamation against DJKM arising from the publication and distribution of false information that libels the ministry’s reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public.”

Rabe explained the danger the SPLC poses to everyone’s free speech.

“They are trying to marginalize and ultimately silence Christians if they can designate you as a hater,” he said. “So if you can get someone designated as a hater and get their speech designated as hate speech, then you could say they’re not covered by the First Amendment and you can have the government silence them.”

“This lawsuit has been a long time coming,” Rabe continued, “and it’s a way of planting that flag to say, ‘Thus far and no farther,’ that it’s time to take a stand.”

DJKM was founded by pastor, evangelist, and broadcaster Dennis James Kennedy, who built Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church into a $37-million-a-year powerhouse. Kennedy was such a force that the day after his passing in 2007, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush issued a statement saying they were “deeply saddened” by his death, calling him “a man of great vision, faith, and integrity. . . . Dr. Kennedy’s message of love and hope inspired millions through the institutions he founded.”

Rabe explained the genesis of the lawsuit.

“DJKM has continued on Dr. Kennedy’s mission,” he said. “We’ve continued promoting his viewpoints, using his sermons on our television programs, and those issues . . . include issues of sexuality. Well, as you probably know, in today’s culture, to take a biblical viewpoint on those issues—which is essentially a conservative viewpoint on those issues—will make you very unpopular with those who are intent on remaking our society upon new lines.”

Although the First Amendment to the Constitution was designed to protect the states from central government power, the SPLC’s arbitrary “hate group” ratings have the potential to put a serious chill on free speech.

Rabe continued: “The SPLC is a private organization and so it’s not the government, and the SPLC calling us haters is slanderous, but it’s not a violation of the First Amendment.

“But, where the religious liberty concerns come in and the First Amendment concerns come in is that often law enforcement agencies have relied upon the SPLC’s designations. The FBI has relied upon the SPLC’s designations, and so government entities are taking these designations of the highly ideological, far-left SPLC at face value.

“There is a danger in that, and that’s one of the reasons for this lawsuit as well—that the SPLC cannot be allowed to damage people by making these false claims about them, and that the government cannot rely at face value upon the designations of this highly partisan group. It’s part of a larger strategy that will ultimately threaten our First Amendment freedoms, designating people haters and trying to argue that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.”

If Americans understand the First Amendment, Rabe explained, “it was to protect dissenters; it is to protect unpopular speech. And so if it doesn’t protect ‘hate speech,’ whether it actually is hate speech or whether it’s just something that someone falsely designates hate speech, if the First Amendment doesn’t cover that, I don’t know what it really does cover.”

Rabe turned his sights on the SPLC and why it is so dangerous to this country.

“The [SPLC] engage[s] in a fallacy by lumping in groups like ours that simply promote mainstream, historic, Christian doctrine with actual violent hate groups,” he said. “We all recognize there is such a thing as a hate group; there are groups based along racial lines or others [that] will designate people for targeting and will incite violence against those kind of people—although [it’s] very interesting to note that radical Islam is largely absent from the SPLC’s hate maps. We’ve had mosques in America where terrorist attacks had been coordinated in the United States—in Virginia and elsewhere—and yet these mosques do not appear on the SPLC’s hate map. They’re very selective about the groups that they choose, and they end up lumping together Christian organizations—like the Family Research Council and DJKM and the Alliance Defending Freedom, who simply defends the First Amendment in court—together with groups like neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, which is extremely disingenuous.”

Rabe explained how the SPLC’s ostensible mission has swayed far from its beginnings.

“The SPLC was founded after the bulk of the civil rights movement by an attorney named Morris Dees in 1971,” Rabe said. “Early on, they fought some cases in court against the Ku Klux Klan and others and built a reputation as an anti-hate group organization that will do something about it during that period. However, if you look beyond the early ‘70s you will be very hard-pressed to find actual cases of the SPLC going up against true hate groups and being effective against them. What you instead find is that they’ve largely built an enormous fundraising machine [by] basically [scaring] Northeastern liberals who never met a Christian or never met a conservative into thinking that there are hate groups around every corner. They currently have—and this is not speculation, this is in their own financial filings—over $300 million in endowments right now, much of that sitting in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.”

Besides the SPLC, DJKM is also suing Amazon, “the world’s largest online shopping retailer,” headed by Jeff Bezos, who is on track to become the wealthiest person in history, worth over $100 billion.

Rabe explained why the online powerhouse is included in the lawsuit. “Amazon.com has been relying upon the SPLC’s hate group designations” for their charity program called AmazonSmile, he said. This program allows customers to donate a portion of the purchase price to a charitable organization, but Rabe said they were barred due to the SPLC’s classification.

“We applied to become one of the charity groups, and they refused us entrance into AmazonSmile,” Rabe explained. “The basis that they gave us was that ‘you’ve been designated by the SPLC as a hate group.’ We view this as religious discrimination because we have been falsely designated a hate group simply for holding traditional orthodox Christian beliefs on issues like sexuality.”

DJKM’s lawsuit is being litigated by Texas-based National Center for Life and Liberty, headed by David C. Gibbs III, who is on the ministry’s board of directors and is a frequent Fox News legal contributor. Gibbs litigated the Terri Schiavo case, the gripping 1990-2005 “right-to-die” legal matter that saw Theresa Marie “Terri” Schiavo in an “irreversible persistent vegetative state” with her husband wishing to remove her feeding tube. Schiavo’s parents challenged the medical diagnosis, and the prolonged series of legal challenges reached state and federal politicians including President George W. Bush, causing a seven-year delay before Ms. Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed, on March 18, 2005. She died 13 days later.

Rabe discussed the federal lawsuit, its cost, and its significance against the arguably out-of-control, rogue SPLC.

“I can tell you right now we do not have a $300 million bank account at DJKM, not anywhere near it,” said Rabe, “so this is a little bit of a David-and-Goliath type of situation. They are far, far larger than we are in terms of resources, in terms of their ability to just sort of overwhelm us with motions and with what lawyers call ‘punitive discovery,’ frivolous discovery claims. So we are gonna be up against it here, so anyone who feels led to help with that, we welcome that, as well as prayer.”

Those wishing to donate to support DJKM’s lawsuit can do so at djameskennedy.org/donate or via U.S. Mail to D. James Kennedy Ministries, P.O. Box 11184, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33339.

Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him. Dave is the producer of an upcoming film about the attack on the USS Liberty. See the website erasingtheliberty.com or call (850) 677-0344 for more information.




Victory for the Bundys

Federal agents and prosecutors repeatedly lied and hid evidence during the Cliven Bundy legal proceedings, prompting Judge Gloria Navarro to dismiss the entire case with prejudice. The government is thus barred from prosecuting these patriots again on these charges. The long nightmare Bundy and his family and supporters have faced is over.

By Mark Anderson

On Jan. 8, U.S. federal Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed with prejudice the case against Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon and Ryan, and Ryan Payne. After spending nearly two years in prison, the Bundys celebrated their hard-fought victory along with property-rights advocates and proponents of small government around the country.

Cliven Bundy spoke with AFP on Jan. 9 in an exclusive interview. He said he was filled with joy and relief over the fact that his ordeal, and that of his family and supporters, is essentially over, and chuckled that he was a bit jaded from giving nonstop press interviews

“I went into that place a free man and I intended to leave it as a free man,” Bundy stated, referring to the jail in which he spent 700 days.

During his incarceration, federal prosecutors feverishly tried to nail these patriotic men for resisting and protesting an attempted but failed impoundment of Cliven’s cattle by armed Bureau of Land Management and FBI agents.

The “Bunkerville standoff” in Clark County, Nev. in April of 2014 made world headlines. Scores of supporters, some of whom were armed in the open-carry state, showed up that spring from across the nation to stand with the Bundys. No shots were fired by either side, and the feds eventually backed down.

When AFP spoke with Bundy on the phone, his sons and other family and friends could be heard chatting and laughing in the background.

He commented that, under Article III of the Constitution, judges can hold office only during periods of good behavior.

“Good behavior is when our judges are in tune with the Constitution. When you’ve got judges like I had in my case—abridging the Constitution—nobody holds them accountable,” he remarked.

Bundy was referring to several rulings that, among other things, allowed prosecutors to retry Bundy, his sons, and his supporters—even though juries had repeatedly decided in favor of the ranchers and their friends.

Bundy summarized for AFP: “They tried to ruin my ranch, my heritage, and my posterity. But we’re in the cattle business and we intend to stay there.”

On Jan. 9, AFP spoke with popular radio show host Jim Lambley, the owner of KSDZ-FM, about the long and difficult case that was brought against Cliven Bundy, his sons, and several supporters. Lambley’s station in Nebraska, known as the “The Twister,” has reported on the Bundy case more than any other licensed broadcast-media outlet.

“The government needs to write some checks because it stole the lives of these people for two years,” Lambley commented to AFP, just after the dismissal was announced.

The Jan. 8 dismissal followed Judge Gloria Navarro’s Dec. 20, 2017 decision to declare a mistrial in the proceedings against Bundy and the three others. That alone was a stunning development in the saga of the elder Nevada rancher whose devotion to principle, like that of his sons and supporters, represents in the minds of many a repudiation of the arbitrary exercise of federal power.

Throughout this grueling case, Judge Navarro was believed to be largely unsympathetic to the defendants, but when she decided to dismiss the charges, she stated that prosecutors willfully withheld evidence from defense lawyers, which is what tipped the scales. She referred to it as “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct.”

She also declared, “The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated.” Her statement implies the government’s misdeeds in this case are legion.

Government misdeeds were not limited to the courtroom. Marooning the defendants in jail for so long, of course, denied them the fair and speedy trial required by the Constitution. Both Ammon and Ryan Bundy were grossly humiliated when they were subjected to body cavity searches every time they were transferred from their jail cells to the U.S. District Court. The government even imposed solitary confinement at times.

Given the conduct of their jailers, you’d think that Bundy and company had already been convicted and sentenced.

Lambley agreed with this AFP writer’s observation that it appears the government committed an especially grave miscarriage of justice in the way it handled the series of Bundy show-trial proceedings that started in February 2016 and finally concluded Jan. 8. Nearly 20 defendants in all were tried under a 16-count indictment consisting of rather vague and redundant conspiracy, obstruction, and weapons charges, among others.

Legal expert Roger Roots, who observed the court proceedings from start to finish, feels Cliven Bundy was correct when he said, right after the dismissal, that he had been jailed for 700 days as a “political prisoner” for refusing to acknowledge federal supremacy over the public land near his southern-Nevada cattle ranch, where his cattle have long grazed. The impoundment was said to have been ordered over Bundy not paying grazing fees, but citing the area’s unique history, he maintains that federal jurisdiction was never established over Clark County.

Asked if Bundy and the 19 others had indeed been political prisoners, Roots replied: “If they had been left-wingers they would never have been looking at such ridiculous charges. The thing about Cliven and the others is that they provided real resistance with real constitutional principles.”

Crucial remaining matters include the Las Vegas Review Journal’s motion to try to force the federal government to open all of its files in this case. If the motion succeeds, the documents could reveal whether illegally secret court hearings were held and, among many other things, provide more information on the existence of federal snipers in the vicinity of the standoff and the Bundy homestead—despite denials by the prosecution that the snipers existed and relevant evidence withheld from the defense.

Roots noted that, despite the judge throwing out the case with prejudice, a government appeal of the dismissal cannot be ruled out.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the roving editor for AFP. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.




Breaking News: Mistrial Declared in Cliven Bundy Proceedings

Judge Gloria Navarro, who has presided over the multiple Bundy trials emanating from the Nevada “cattle grazing fees” standoff in April 2014, has declared a mistrial. Yet family patriarch Cliven Bundy continues to stand firm in displaying the kind of rarely seen and highly honorable “ironclad principles” he has shown since the beginning of his ordeal with the federal government. 

By Mark Anderson

Around 50 supporters of the Bundy family on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 20 left the U.S. District Courthouse in Las Vegas in a state of elation. Judge Gloria Navarro ruled to declare a mistrial in the current proceedings involving longtime Bunkerville, Nev. rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons, Ryan and Ammon, and Ryan Payne.

These four defendants have become emblematic of the plight of ranchers resisting onerous federal land controls. They were joined in the spring of 2014 by hundreds of protesters, who arrived from across the nation and gathered near Bundy’s ranch in Clark County, in southern Nevada, to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights.

These stalwart souls protested the actions of Bureau of Land Management agents, as well as armed FBI agents and contractors, who had arrived to impound Bundy’s cattle over allegations of unpaid grazing fees on public lands.

The impoundment attempt, on April 12, 2014, was unsuccessful.

But while the government turned tail and retreated that day, a 16-count federal indictment was eventually handed down. Cliven, Ammon, and the two Ryans were among nearly 20 individuals initially indicted in this now-legendary federal case, which hasn’t gone well for prosecutors ever since the first of several planned trials started in February 2017.

Liberty Stickers

The government, despite spending millions of taxpayer dollars, has seen its case steadily deflate to the point where, as of now, the only remaining piece is for the prosecution and the defense to deliver briefs, by 5 p.m. Dec. 29, to Judge Navarro. Those briefs will consist of arguments to enable the judge to decide whether or not to fully dismiss the case.

The mistrial happened just before 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time on Dec. 20, as, “Navarro told the jury to ‘Go home. . . . It’s over,’ ” recounted Roger Roots, a legal expert and author who has observed firsthand virtually every Bundy trial proceeding.

After Judge Navarro reviews the briefs, an open hearing will be convened at 9 a.m. on Jan. 8. That day, if she rules for dismissal “without prejudice,” the indictment remains in force and federal prosecutors technically could reset the trial of Cliven and the three others, reportedly for Feb. 26. But if she rules for dismissal “with prejudice,” then the indictment is dissolved.

A dissolved indictment would mean the government would have to go to the trouble and expense of convening a new grand jury in order to seek a new indictment—which would constitute “double jeopardy” and, therefore, a constitutional violation. Roots does not believe the government would even try to get a new indictment if it were to face such a high legal hurdle.

Judge Navarro’s findings for a mistrial were founded on the fact that the prosecution had committed at least five Brady v Maryland violations, including: failing to disclose to the defense the existence of surveillance cameras, including those trained at the Bundy homestead; not disclosing the fact that concealed snipers were stationed around the area at the time of the 2014 standoff; not disclosing the existence of maps of the snipers’ positions; and, among other things, not disclosing threat-assessment reports, which include government admissions that Cliven and company are not dangerous people.

In a dramatic twist, family patriarch Cliven Bundy, as a matter of principle, had stayed in prison despite a court ruling at a recent detention release hearing to allow him to go home under house arrest. He has been jailed since early 2016 while suffering from health problems. Bundy based his decision on the fact that a few remaining defendants, which had included his sons Mel and Dave until they, too, were granted house arrest, still in jail awaiting a final trial that’s been scheduled to take place sometime in 2018.

Ryan Bundy stated: “My father’s position on not coming out is that he’s an innocent man. He’s not guilty of any crime. And the standard in America is that we are innocent until proven guilty. It’s the government’s responsibility and it’s their duty and their obligation to provide that proof. We shouldn’t have been in jail, not one day.”

Ryan and Ammon Bundy, as well as Ryan Payne, all were recently released under house-arrest rulings, after an equally grueling amount of time behind bars.

During a recent on-the-air interview, Cliven’s daughter-in-law Briana, who is Mel’s wife, told “Free Speech Zone” host Jim Lambley of KSDZ-FM “The Twister” out of Nebraska that in the almost two years that Cliven Bundy has been behind bars, several more grandchildren were born, yet he still chose to remain in jail to stand for the others still imprisoned.

On a Dec. 20 appearance on the same radio show, Briana added,“Over 3,300 hundred pages of evidence that helped the defense have been withheld and have been turned over to the defense in the last two weeks . . . . It was absolutely intentional and she [Judge Navarro] said she believes it was intentional because of what they withheld.”

Roots, who’s cautiously optimistic, said that given the mistrial ruling, the final few defendants behind bars have a dramatically improved chance of never going to trial.

“Cliven won’t go home until this case is all the way over,” he remarked, moved by the patriarch’s ironclad principles.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the roving editor for AFP. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.




Journalist Faces 61 Years in Prison for Covering Anti-Trump Protests

Though AFP may disagree with the political views apparently held by this photojournalist and videographer who provided embedded coverage of the D.C. protests on the day of President Trump’s inauguration, he has the right to attend and report on controversial events.

By John Friend

Nov. 27 marked the beginning of a trial being watched across the nation. Alexei Wood, a San Antonio-based freelance photojournalist and videographer, is facing multiple felony rioting and destruction of property charges stemming from his coverage of the chaotic and violent protests held in Washington, D.C. during President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. If convicted, Wood faces up to 61 years in prison, according to his lawyer.

Numerous groups protested against Trump’s election on the day of the inauguration, and many more protests followed during the weekend. As this newspaper reported at the time, as many as 50 of the groups involved with organizing the protests, which turned violent, caused massive property damage, and created disruption and chaos in the nation’s capital, were directly connected to the infamous plutocrat and top globalist George Soros. Soros has a history of financing radical, subversive protest groups around the world with the goal of undermining the established order in a truly Bolshevik-style fashion.

Liberty Stickers

During the D.C. protests, vehicles were damaged, storefront windows were broken, and other private property was vandalized. Over 200 of the protesters, many of whom were affiliated with the DisruptJ20 activist organization—a radical, anarchistic group—were arrested for their participation in the violent chaos that consumed the nation’s capital. Additionally, nine journalists, including Wood, were arrested along with the protesters.

Seven of the nine journalists have had all charges against them dropped by prosecutors in Washington, D.C. Charges against Wood and Aaron Cantu, a staff reporter at The Santa Fe Reporter in New Mexico, were not dropped despite First Amendment concerns from some of the nation’s leading journalism and free speech experts.

Wood has a history of covering protests, particularly during the heated 2016 presidential campaign. On his personal website, Wood notes his history of “documenting social justice issues and resistance movements,” for which he appears to have sympathy.

Wood livestreamed his embedded coverage of the Inauguration Day protests and can be heard expressing what seems to be tacit approval of the actions of the protesters, which included breaking windows and spray-painting private property.

The Department of Justice, the entity pursuing the charges against Wood, has not commented on the case.

“The government has not informed me as to why Mr. Wood’s case involved any greater degree of culpability than any of the other journalists who were ultimately not charged,” Brett E. Cohen, Wood’s attorney, explained to The New York Times. The indictment against Wood and 211 other defendants, originally filed on April 3, “does not single out Mr. Wood for anything arising from the demonstration,” Cohen noted.

Lawyers and legal experts have questioned the indictment against Wood and other journalists, arguing that a journalist’s political perspective and personal attitude toward an event they are covering is not relevant from a legal perspective.

“Obviously, journalists are not above the law—they can’t break windows,” Reed Brody, who has represented other journalists in controversial cases involving coverage of major protests, explained to the Times. “They can be sympathetic to the people that they cover, and they can draw attention to the people that they cover. But you can’t arrest and you can’t charge journalists for covering events.”

At the end of Wood’s livestream, police are seen moving in to confront and arrest many of the protesters. Wood identifies himself as a journalist and member of the media documenting the event, yet Washington Metropolitan Police appear to ignore him and eventually arrest and charge him with the same crimes as the radical, violent protesters he was covering.

Radical, violent protesters who commit crimes—whatever their political leanings or affiliations—deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and the federal prosecutors pursuing criminal charges against the radical extremists who targeted Washington, D.C. during Trump’s inauguration should be applauded. However, journalists covering controversial events, regardless of their political leanings and affiliations must be protected by the First Amendment.

John Friend is a freelance author who lives in California.




GOP Tax Plan Increases the Most Insidious Tax

Appointing a former investment banker to chair the Federal Reserve will have much longer lasting impact than any tax reform plan, but adopting the Chained Consumer Price Index will increase the inflation tax, Dr. Paul explains. 

By Ron Paul

Last Thursday, congressional Republicans unveiled their tax reform legislation. On the same day, President Trump nominated current Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair. While the tax plan dominated the headlines, the Powell appointment will have much greater long-term impact. Federal Reserve policies affect every aspect of the economy, including whether the Republican tax plan will produce long-term economic growth.

President Obama made history by appointing the first female Fed chair. President Trump is also making history: If confirmed, Powell would be the first former investment banker to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Powell’s background suggests he will continue Janet Yellen’s Wall Street-friendly low interest rates and easy money policies.

Powell is an outspoken opponent of the Audit the Fed legislation. In 2015, Powell delivered an address at Catholic University devoted to attacking Audit the Fed. Like most Fed apologists, Powell claims the audit would compromise the Fed’s independence and allow Congress to control monetary policy. However, like all who make this claim, Powell cannot point to anything in the text of the audit bill giving Congress any power over the Federal Reserve. Powell’s concerns about protecting the Fed’s independence are misplaced, as the Fed has never been free of political influence. The Fed has a long history of bowing to presidential pressure to tailor monetary policy to help advance the president’s political and policy agenda.

IRS Loses Cases

 

The Republican tax cut plan has some positive elements, such as increasing the standard deduction, creating a new family tax credit, eliminating the death tax, reducing the corporate tax rate, and lowering taxes on small businesses. It also has some flaws, such as the “millionaire surcharge” imposed on upper-income taxpayers. This provision reflects a belief that upper-income taxpayers only “deserve” a tax break if reducing their taxes serves the interest of government by increasing economic growth.

The worst part of the tax plan is that it adopts the chained consumer price index (chained CPI). Chained CPI is a way of measuring CPI that understates inflation’s effects on our standard of living. It does this by assuming inflation has not reduced Americans’ standard of living if, for example, people can buy hamburgers when they can no longer afford steak. This so-called full substitution ignores the fact that if individuals viewed hamburgers as a full substitute for steak they would have bought hamburgers before Fed-created inflation made steak unaffordable.

Chained CPI increases the inflation tax. The inflation tax may be the worst of all taxes because it is hidden and regressive. The inflation tax is not even a tax on real wages. Instead, it is a tax on the illusionary gains in income caused by inflation. The use of chained CPI to adjust tax brackets pushes individuals into higher tax brackets over time.

Politicians love the inflation tax because it allows them to increase taxes without having to vote for higher rates. Instead, the Fed does the dirty work. Since their creation in 1913, the Federal Reserve and the income tax have both enabled the growth of the welfare-warfare state and the erosion of our freedom and economic well-being. The key to restoring our liberty and prosperity, as well as avoiding a major economic crisis, is reversing the great mistakes of 1913 by repealing the 16th Amendment and auditing and ending the Federal Reserve.

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.




Radio Host Pete Santilli Cops Plea to Avoid Possible Six-Year Sentence

Internet-radio host Pete Santilli’s surprising plea bargain could impact the other defendants’ cases in the ongoing Bundy proceedings, given his agreement with the prosecution’s description of events near Bunkerville when the BLM attempted to take Cliven Bundy’s cattle in March 2014. 

By Mark Anderson

LAS VEGAS—Things have taken two sharp, rather unexpected turns regarding the upcoming trial in the Bundy proceedings in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada. For one thing, Internet-radio personality Pete Santilli—one of the defendants in the next trial, which had been set to begin with jury selection on Oct. 10—“pled guilty today (Friday, Oct. 6) and was released pending sentencing,” his attorney, Chris Rasmussen of Las Vegas, confirmed for AFP by phone about 4:30 p.m. Eastern time that day.

Notably, the next trial involves the federal government trying cattleman Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and Ryan Payne. Due to his plea arrangement, Santilli is, of course, no longer involved in this trial. Two other defendants, O. Scott Drexler and Eric Parker, who are being retried on some counts for a third time, will join the others in this second of three planned trials of all the defendants charged in the Bunkerville “standoff.”

The second surprising turn of events is that both the prosecution and defense sought and secured yet another delay in these complicated proceedings, this time due to fear that the highly emotional aftermath of the recent deadly shooting during a country music concert outside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas would adversely impact the attitudes and opinions of jurors for the time being.

As of this writing, the Oct. 10 date for jury selection has been postponed to on or around Oct. 30 and could be subject to change again, given the bumpy track record of these multiple-defendant trial proceedings—which the federal government has been largely losing so far. Santilli, who shot extended livestream video footage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building in eastern Oregon—prompting critics to allege that his “journalistic” coverage enabled the government to more closely monitor the ranchers who occupied the abandoned building in protest of onerous federal land controls—was jailed for his role in that affair.

Although cleared of Oregon-related charges, Santilli was kept behind bars and transferred to Nevada to stand trial because he had also taken part in the spring 2014 Bunkerville, Nev. “standoff.” That peaceful confrontation saw Cliven Bundy, his sons, and other supporters gather to protest the policies and conduct of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal agencies that unsuccessfully attempted to confiscate Bundy’s cattle over a grazing-fee dispute.

Regarding the Nevada events, Santilli pled guilty to a felony count of obstruction of justice, based on the government’s assertion that he used his own vehicle to impede the movement of a BLM truck during the attempted cattle impoundment.

Interestingly, Rasmussen believes the government may be willing to consider the prison time that Santilli has already served—behind bars since Jan. 26, 2016—as sufficient punishment for that felony charge. But a reading of the plea memo shared with AFP by Rasmussen shows that the government reserves the right to impose a longer prison term, possibly six years, when Santilli is sentenced, probably in January. Meanwhile, two pending defense motions—one to exclude Oregon-related evidence in the government’s Nevada case against Santilli, and another to challenge the government’s claim that Santilli could not excuse his Nevada actions because of his journalistic background—are now moot, Rasmussen added.

According to court documentation, Santilli’s acceptance of pleading guilty to this single felony-obstruction charge requires, under penalty of perjury, that he accept the following government-sourced statements as “true and correct,” regarding the “standoff” in southern Nevada:

“Beginning on or around March 28, 2014, federal law enforcement officers from the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service were engaged in the official duties of executing federal court orders to remove and impound cattle trespassing upon federal public lands in and around Bunkerville, Nevada, the cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy, a local rancher.

IRS Loses Cases

“Defendant Santilli knew that Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ammon, Dave, Mel, and Ryan, (collectively, ‘the Bundys’), and others associated with them, planned to thwart, impede and interfere with impoundment operations.

“On April 9, 2014, Defendant Santilli used force to prevent officers from discharging their duties by using his vehicle to block BLM law enforcement officers and civilian employees as they were performing their duties related to the impoundment. Defendant Santilli drove his vehicle straight toward a BLM law enforcement officer’s vehicle, preventing the officer and the rest of the convoy behind him from being able to move forward.

“The officer ordered Defendant Santilli to move out of the way but Defendant Santilli continued to block the convoy’s path. Defendant Santilli finally reversed his vehicle out of the path of the convoy only after the officer repeated the command several times.

“By using force to block the convoy, Defendant Santilli allowed others to surround the convoy and threaten the occupants of the vehicles by force of violence and fear, inducing the officers to leave the place where their duties were required to be performed.

“Defendant Santilli acknowledges that all of the above took place within the State and Federal District of Nevada.”

The maximum penalty for “Conspiracy to Impede or Injure a Federal Officer,” the formal name of this count against Santilli under 18 U.S.C. § 372, is six years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both. But the plea memo shows that Santilli owes no restitution under this charge, nor will he be required to forfeit any of his assets—provided he meets the strict terms of his supervised release until he’s sentenced.

He must not violate any federal, state, or local laws, is restricted from any significant travel, and among other things must avoid any known association with anyone who’s breaking any law. Nor can Santilli possess a gun or any other item deemed a weapon by the government. Failing to show up for a hearing or other procedural matter would also result in this deal being dissolved.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the roving editor for AFP. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.