Thursday, August 23, 2007

Murder by Incompetence

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the murder of Vicki Weaver by the FBI; and the day before, was the anniversary of her sons murder by US Marshals acting in concert with the ATF.

Yes, I said murdered by the government. Not just killed, but murdered. A crime was committed; and it has never been properly redressed.

Much of the attention and blame for this crime has fallen on Lon Horiuchi, the sniper who took the shot that Killed Vicki Weaver. I won't excuse what he did (he should have known better), but he was operating on very bad information, very bad orders, and under what I would consider clearly unlawful rules of engagement.

The greater culpability for this incident lies in the US marshals who were initially on scene; and from the FBI, HRT commander Richard Rogers, SAC Eugene Glenn, and deputy directory Larry Potts; who took over the scene after Kevin Harris killed deputy marshal William Degan in self defense.

On the morning of August 21st, during a botched surveliance operation; deputy US marshal Art Roderick fired at Sammy Weaver and Kevin Harris, or at their dog striker (this is unclear); killing the dog, and drawing return defensive fire from Weaver and Harris.

Deputy marshals Roderick, Degan, Frank Norris and Larry Cooper then opened fire on Weaver and Harris. Degan shot and wounded both Weaver and Harris, at which point Harris shot back directly at Degan, killing him. In retaliation, deputy marshal Cooper then shot Sammy Weaver; killing him.

When the marshals called in the FBI, the situation they described to the FBI, was an outright lie. They informed the SAC and the HRT commander that the Weavers were radical religious fanatics, part of a white supremacist holy war cult; that all members of the family were armed and ready to fight at all times, and that they were going to kill their children and themselves rather than surrender. They also told the SAC that they had been pinned down for 12 hours by heavy small arms fire, and possibly automatic weapons; and that William Degan had been deliberately murdered.

Based on this outright lie, the FBI instituted rules of engagement to allow any adult with a weapon to be shot on sight. These ROE were clearly unlawful, and should have been rejected by the onsite agents (and a judge decided that as well later); instead HRT acted on them for a full day.

Within a few hours, the FBI chain of command knew that the marshals had lied; but they did not change the illegal rules of engagement until after Horiuchi had already fired several shots at Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris (wounding both). Horiuchis final shot at Harris missed him, and struck Vicki Weaver who was standing behind the door that Harris was entering, holding her infant child.

I believe that Lon Horiuchi was negligent in his actions that day in firing through the doorway; and he was derelict in his duty to the constitution when he accepted the unlawful rules of engagement; but he did not commit deliberate murder.

It seems clear to me however that the marshals wanted revenge for the killing of William Degan, and to cover up their own unlawful acts and incompetence. In furtherance of this, they deliberately mislead the FBI in the hopes that the Weavers would be killed, and there would be no witnesses left alive to their crimes.

There is no doubt that Larry Cooper murdered Sammy Weaver, by shooting him (under whatever circumstances), while attempting to cover up the crimes and incompeteance of he and his colleagues. Further, there is no doubt that the US marshalls lied to the FBI in order to cover up their incompetence, and possibly their crimes.

At the very least, they should be tried for manslaughter, if not second degree murder; in the deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver.

Additionally, SAC Glenn, SAC Rogers and dpeuty director Potts knew that the rules of engagement instituted that day were illegal, unconstitutional, and unjustified. They should never have instituted those rules; but even in so doing, once they found they had been misled by the marshals they had an absolute duty to rescind them.

They did not do so, and their incompetence and misfeasance of duty directly caused the murder of Vicki Weaver.

Given these circumstances, Lon Horiuchi has been sadled, somewhat unfairly, with the majority of the burden of these crimes. I simpyl believe this is incorrect.

Horiuchi commited negligent homicide; but I believe his chain of command showed a depraved indifference to the lives of the Weavers, based on their political beliefs; and therefore commited second degree murder, or first degree manslaughter (depending on the laws of Idaho, which I am unfamiliar with).

If I had my choice, I'd have all of those responsible before the firing squad; and I'd have no problems with my conscience pulling the hot trigger myself.