USA –-(Ammoland.com)- “A federal judge acquitted seven members of the Hutaree militia Tuesday of the most serious charges following six weeks of testimony in a high-profile terror case,” The Detroit News reported yesterday.
On the second anniversary of the Hutaree arrests, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts granted a defense motion to acquit the militia members on seven charges, including seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
Still open are some weapons charges “against Hutaree leader David Stone Sr. and his son.”
It’s a stunning defeat for Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, which made great media hay of the danger the group posed when their FBI raid and arrests were announced. The conflationists were quick to tar all conservatives with the charge of being violent extremist haters, with Media Matters slapping at predictable punching bags Glenn Beck and Fox News. And also immediately exploiting the situation for maximum effect and without any consideration for fact-checking: the gungrabbers, as Kurt Hofmann reported back in March of 2010.
That the case was problematic became apparent early on. I cautioned Trigger Sports Live! viewers to remember that the suspects—in spite of what was being reported and the disturbingly-titled “Evil Jews” forum section on their website notwithstanding—were innocent until proven guilty, and that we needed to wait and see what facts would be established (see sidebar media player).
This column subsequently noted some of the warning flags that all might not be as the government and dutiful media camp followers might have us believe, asking “Does freeing of Hutaree on bond tell us anything about government’s case?”, “Hutaree release blocked-for how long?”, and “Why would prosecutor ‘misrepresent’ conditions of Hutaree bond release?” (An archive of Gun Rights Examiner “Hutaree” posts can be found here.)
“Ultimately, this was a case that was all talk and no action,” The Detroit News article quotes law professor Peter Henning. “This is a blow to the government. They put a lot of resources into this case. It demonstrates how difficult it is to prove conspiracy cases that have not advanced very far.”
True enough. The line between freedom of political expression and sedition and conspiracy must always be adjudicated with an eye toward protecting rights, and if speech—no matter if disturbing, offensive or hateful does not cross it—the government must not be allowed to punish those engaging in it. Still, the parallels between this case and recent statements by the New Black Panthers about Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman should be noted: Is offering a reward to their followers to find and kidnap a man who has not been criminally charged protected free speech, or a violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241, “Conspiracy against Rights”?
The feds were willing to destroy the lives of the Hutarees and ride the publicity for all it was worth over violence conspiracy charges that turned out to be legally unfounded. Are they willing to even look at whether the Panthers’ actions rise to the level of a “conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the United States,” particularly “if such acts include…an attempt to kidnap”?
About David Codrea
David Codrea is a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He is a field editor for GUNS Magazine, and a blogger at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance. Read more at www.DavidCodrea.com.