There was a huge hubbub around a raid in Michigan this week of members of a “multi-state Christian militia.”
Disclaimer. I have no idea as to the guilt or innocence of the people involved, (nor am I looking for a discussion about that), nor do I have direct knowledge at this point as to the Constitutionality of the investigation, raid or arrests. Additionally, I am firmly opposed to the use of violence to achieve political ends, and if what is alleged is true, I find the planned acts to be despicable.
Here’s what caught my attention.
Federal authorities say the 21-year-old was a member of a militia group known as Hutaree, or Christian warrior, that plotted to kill a police officer sometime in April and hide homemade bombs along the funeral processional route in hopes of taking out scores of others.
Stone’s father, David B. Stone, 45, of Clayton, and his stepmother, Tina Stone, 44, were among seven militia suspects who appeared in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday, charged with attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and seditious conspiracy. [emphasis added]
If you go to the article and click on the link at right, you can read the indictment (which reads like what a seven-year-old would get sent to his room for by his parents as punishment for exaggeration).
Weapons of mass destruction? If we’re calling IEDs weapons of mass destruction, then what do we call chemical or nuclear weapons? Weapons of a whole bunch of mass destruction?
Whenever I see law enforcement come out with a proclamation like that for the press, I immediately become suspicious of their entire case. If they’re exaggerating that much about that point, then how much of the rest of it is true?
This is unhealthy in establishing trust with the public, and unfortunately, it is a major national trend. We see it all the time, and I know that it’s in part a way of technically piling on charges in order to have more leverage (which is bad form in itself), but the only reasons to tell the press are to prejudice the public against the defendants and provide favorable press for law enforcement (the public thinks “Boy, if the person’s being charged with all that, they must have caught a really, really bad guy.”).
My sensitivity to it may be due in part to the time I’ve spent studying the drug war, where this kind of thing happens constantly. I never believe police reports in the press anymore.
In fact, I have my own internal translation that I do with press reports of arrests that you may find useful:
- Possession â€” twig found under mat on car floor
- Trafficker â€” passed the joint after it was handed to her
- Dealer â€” “Hey, can you pick me up a dime bag when you go?” “Sure.”
- Big-time dealer â€” no longer lives in mother’s basement
- Kingpin â€” has someone working for him
- Cartel â€” has someone working with him
- Criminal Organization â€” wife sometimes answers the phone
- Accomplice â€” gave friend a lift
- Conspiracy â€” two guys talking while stoned “Hey, we should sell some of this.”
- Money Laundering â€” sold drugs and then used the money to buy a pack of cigarettes
- Drug House â€” any house that no longer has a front door
- Grow-op â€” a seedling, which could grow into a large marijuana plant, which could produce over a pound of pot, which could be rolled into more than 2,000 joints with a street value in excess of $5 million.
Oh, I forgot one…
- Weapons of Mass Destruction â€” a meth lab
Why should we believe anything they say?