Ruby Ridge Redux
 
by Edgar J. Steele 

November 22, 2001

 
The controversy over Ruby Ridge, located in a gorgeous, heavily-wooded section of remote North Idaho, lives on. 
 
Recently, murder charges against the prime shooter, Lon Horiuchi, were dropped by the new Boundary County Prosecuting Attorney (known as the District Attorney in many other places in America), Brett Benson.  The charges had been pending for years, while the federal judicial system ruminated over whether Horiuchi could be prosecuted by the State of Idaho.  Finally, earlier this year, the green light was given by a federal judge.  Horiuchi, the federal sniper who boasted of being able to hit a dime at a hundred yards, would stand trial for shooting Randy Weaver's wife, Vicky, in the head as she stood behind a door with her baby in her arms.  She fell where she stood, shot by Horiuchi from much less than his claimed "perfect accuracy" range.
 
More on the charges against Horiuchi, but first some background is in order.
 
Vicky Weaver is dead.  So is her son.  Both shot by Federal agents, embarked upon a fool's errand to arrest Randy Weaver for having agreed to sell a shotgun with a stock too short by a half inch to undercover BATF agents. 
 
Weaver was badly strapped for money and had made a few dollars buying and selling weapons in the past.  (North Idaho is prime hunting country, drawing hunters of every stripe from throughout the world.)  His entrapment by the BATF was a part of their scheme to infiltrate the Aryan Nations compound, located an hour down the road.  Get him up on charges, they figured, and he would be willing to be their informant, since he occasionally visited the compound with his family to attend church services. 
 
This is the way the feds do it, you see.  It's called good, solid investigatory police work.  Never mind if a few innocents' lives get destroyed in the process.
 
Mind you, there was nothing illegal about the shotgun, modified at the demand of the undercover agents, just the fact that Weaver sold it without remitting a $200 tax to the BATF.  You see, Idaho is one of the few places where one can still possess such things as machine guns, silencers and sawed-off shotguns, provided one pays the requisite $200 tax per item to the feds. 
 
As a side note, the tax was imposed early during the last century primarily as a means of keeping really effective weapons out of the hands of blacks in America.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) was formulated during the days of Prohibition.  The eventual legalization of alcohol meant that the bureau had to look to other arenas to exercise its power and justify its size at the time.  Firearms were the logical choice.  There has been an assault on the Second Amendment ever since.
 
They finally got Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations church that he founded many years ago, of course.  They didn't even need Randy Weaver for that.  Morris Dees accomplished that through his Southern Poverty Law Center's trumped-up civil lawsuit against Butler, filed in 1999.  The resulting 6 million dollar verdict obtained from a runaway jury could not be appealed due to the bond requirement.  (To appeal a civil judgment in Idaho, one must post 1.4 times the amount of the verdict, you see, which effectively denies access to appellate review when verdicts are anything more than merely nominal.)
 
Eventually, Randy Weaver and his children were to recover millions from the federal government in a civil lawsuit for its conduct.
 
Benson, the aforementioned Prosecuting Attorney elected last year in Boundary County, upon learning of the federal judge's decision that Horiuchi could be tried in a criminal prosecution, almost immediately dropped the charges.  It was never adequately explained why he did so.
 
Benson recently got in serious trouble in an unrelated series of incidents which involved his forging another's signature to court documents.  He resigned and is now dealing with the criminal and professional charges arising from that imbroglio. 
 
Rather than hold a special election to fill the vacancy, Idaho Code mandates that Benson's replacement be appointed by the Boundary County Board of Commissioners.  Furthermore, the local Republican Central Committee must provide a list of three candidates to the Board (since the electorate chose a Republican, goes the legislative rationale, it is only fair that the same nominating committee as placed Benson's name on the ballot in the first place propose a slate from which his successor be chosen). 
 
Over the past couple of weeks, I received a series of telephone calls from the chairman of the Boundary County Republican Central Committee, Steve Tanner, and several others, urging me to ask that my name be included on the list to be provided the county commissioners.  My willingness to stand up to the establishment had become well known and my integrity unimpeached despite herculean media efforts to do so, is why I was told they sought me out.  I ignored many of them and said no to the others.  Even so, it stuck in my craw that Horiuchi was getting off, scot free.
 
Though I am a Bonner County resident, if three qualified lawyers who are Boundary County residents cannot be found, it is permissible to go outside the county for candidates.  The county line is just a few miles up the road, so the logistics are irrelevant.  Indeed, the current interim Boundary County Prosecuting Attorney is a lawyer from Sandpoint, which is where I maintain my office.  Similarly, Boundary County retains yet another Sandpoint lawyer to advise it on civil matters.
 
The deadline to submit names was 5 pm on November 15.  Finally, at about 3 pm that day, I relented and called Tanner to advise that he could add my name to the list.  I made it clear that I was relenting because I felt so strongly that Lon Horiuchi must be reindicted and brought to trial for the murder of Vicky Weaver, which is precisely what I would do if selected.  Furthermore, I made it clear that I would indict as high up the line from Horiuchi as I could possibly reach.
 
My name was immediately added to the short list of nominees, thereby displacing the interim replacement.  That simple act has given rise to a furor and headline treatment that was never accorded the disgraced Brett Benson, who resigned after admitting his forgeries.  The outcry included an "above-the-fold" headline story in the local "big-city" newspaper, replete with a rather bad picture of myself.  The story prominently linked me to a politically-incorrect client from two years ago and attempted to paint Tanner as a right-wing kook embarked on a personal vendetta against the establishment.
 
The Spokane, Washington newspaper, The Spokesman Review, neglected to remind the public that I have a libel suit pending against it which is now being scheduled for hearing before the Idaho Supreme Court.  That suit was filed after the Spokesman Review defamed me prior to the Aryan Nations trial, at which I was the defense attorney, by making it seem that I was personally and professionally connected to both the Aryan Nations and another local anti-Semitic group, and financed by both.  That libel attached a taint to myself that has persisted to this day and which at the time resulted in members of my family receiving death threats.
 
This is just the start of a campaign to discredit my inclusion on the list in a desperate attempt to ensure that I will not be selected. 
 
To ensure that Lon Horiuchi and his superiors will never be held to account for what they did to Randy Weaver's family.
 
This is how it is done. 
 
Already, the word is out that the Boundary County Board of Commissioners is being relentlessly lobbied to ensure that I am not selected.
 
To ensure that Horiuchi and his superiors are never again charged.
 
The Commissioners must make a choice by early next week, else the selection reverts to the Central Committee and we all know who they might select, now don't we?
 
Every now and again, the curtain slips a bit and we catch a glimpse of the man in the booth, furiously clawing at the levers.  This is one of those times.


-ed

"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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