William P. Barr: The Same only Different

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I have the greatest respect for The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel. Back in September of 2018 I wrote a review of her book, The Intimidation Game, (http://www.readjamesonparker.com/?s=Kimberley+Strassel) praising it and recommending it highly. I usually agree with everything she has to say.

But in today’s (Friday, February 15, 2019) edition of the WSJ, her regular column includes a cautiously optimistic piece about William P. Barr, the once (under George H. W. Bush) and current Attorney General of the United States and his ability to clean up the Department of Justice and bring credibility and trust back to that institution and its embattled subsidiary, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I have my doubts. Mr. Barr may well clean up the mess by replacing the current top brass with new top brass, thereby restoring faith in the DOJ’s and the FBI’s willingness to adhere to their oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution. I hope he does. Unfortunately, Mr. Barr has in his past incarnation as Attorney General shown himself equally contemptuous of both the law and the Constitution.

Do you remember Randy Weaver and the incident at Ruby Ridge?

To recap briefly, Randy Weaver was a survivalist and possible white supremacist whose wife, son, and dog were all killed by FBI snipers. The son was shot in the back while retreating. I have read—I do not know personally—that Mr. Weaver was deliberately entrapped by an undercover FBI officer on a weapons violation because the FBI wanted to compel Mr. Weaver to become an undercover informant. I have read—I do not know personally—that the charge was bogus (it involved two sawed-off shotguns, and there is apparently some dispute about whether the guns were just at the legal length or shorter).

But beyond those two issues, there is no ambiguity. Do the research and read about the case. What you will find is a litany of abuses by the DOJ, FBI, ATF, and USMS, including deliberate violations of law, accidental violations of law that were allowed go uncorrected, bumbling ineptitude by a wide range of federal employees at various levels of the government, misinformation by the media which was then knowingly used by the government to justify use of force and the consequent deadly siege, false charges, incompetence, clerical errors that were allowed to go uncorrected, misinformation given to Mr. Weaver by his own attorney, violations of the FBI’s own rules of engagement… The list goes on. Even the FBI’s own Deputy Assistant Director wrote a memo while the siege was still under way, stating that the, “Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit [sic].”

I could go on but suffice it to say that the result of DOJ, FBI, ATF, and USMS incompetence, overreaching arrogance, bad judgement, violence, and just plain bad marksmanship, was that the surviving Weaver family members were awarded $3,100,000 in damages. The FBI snipers who did the actual killings of Weaver’s wife and son were charged with manslaughter, but the charges were dismissed by a Federal District judge who cited the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2). That dismissal was reversed by the Ninth Circuit, but charges were eventually dropped.

I could make a very good argument that the Supremacy Clause (“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”) does not cover FBI agents murdering unarmed or fleeing civilians, but the point is that it was William P. Barr who used his position as Attorney General to organize legal support for the snipers and to “assist in the framing of legal arguments advanced in the district court” in order to hush up the scandal of what had occurred. Mr. Barr also claimed not to have been directly involved in the Ruby Ridge operation, but a subsequent investigation by the Washington Post revealed that of some twenty-plus phone calls in the twenty-four hours after the siege began and immediately preceding Vicki Weaver’s murder, two of those calls were made to William P. Barr.

Kimberley Strassel is optimistic; I fear it will just be a change from one kind of mess to another kind of mess.

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5 thoughts on “William P. Barr: The Same only Different”

  1. Dear JP,
    I am saddened by your lack of optimism in the new Attorney General. During my short but wonderful 48 year life I can recall no Attorney General that was great. The best anyone might aspire to say is that the person was competent.
    Inspired by your post I looked at the list of AGs in those 48 years. I couldn’t find one that didn’t have an abuse of power or some other scandal in all of those years.
    For crying out loud, the first AG in my life was John N. Mitchell who ended up in prison for Watergate.
    But, at least this man is competent.
    In the end the only person that can hold law officials accountable is THE PEOPLE. A single person cannot.
    At least he more restore a bit of respectability to the system.
    Thank you for your insights and writings,
    Ken from Dallas

  2. Thanks for reminding us all of his activities during this travesty. As someone who was in Boise during Ruby Ridge, and is still in Boise, I remember it well. The trial was a big event here.

    While Barr certainly has experience and credentials for being AG again we know his GOP connections and public support for Trump against the Russia “investigation” is the primary reason for his selection. I say this as a Trump supporter who voted for him and believe the conspiracy looks to be sour grapes BS from the Dems.

    I too fear what may come from the DOJ with him back in. While it is unfortunate the agencies were referred to as “jack-booted thugs” (I am still a life member BTW) we know in the midst of good people in those agencies there are still plenty of them thugs there as much of the current investigations demonstrate. Of greater concern is the ridiculous pending bump stock ban taking effect. I fear that will lead to future Ruby Ridges as those thugs are just itching to use the ban as an excuse for military actions against civilians. Personally I don’t care for the stocks nor do I have one, but that lousy ’86 law that made NFA items balloon to the price of a car is why we have those stocks. Bans on all semi-autos and greater than 5 round mags will be the final straw. I am worried that comes next if the so-called (misnamed) “Progressives” get control in 2021. Can’t wait for the Barney Fife law!

    At least Janet Reno can’t return unless the Zombie Apocalypse happens (she was probably the worst AG followed by all of Obama’s)….fingers crossed Barr does better this time!

  3. google translated into english:

    (I hope you can understand what I want to say.)

    Hello Mr. Parker, I know my question has nothing to do with the current blog, but I would really care how you think about these current topics.
    …. once here 1 .:

    https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2019-02/donald-trump-notstandserklaerung-klage-16-staaten

    and once here 2 .:

    https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article188928803/Syrien-Trump-fordert-Deutschland-zur-Ruecknahme-von-IS-Kaempfern-auf.html

    to 1 .: … would the declaration of the state of emergency be justified, or abuse of office? What do you think would count as a (real) emergency? Will the 16 states succeed with their lawsuit?

    to 2 .: …. if no return to Germany, you would feel the release of these felons (as threatened in the article above) for right?

    My personal opinion: No, I think it’s completely wrong to think even such a thought. To release these people would be one of the biggest mistakes of all and no, I do not want to have more of these felons in my country (Germany)! (… and I’m not a Nazi !!!)

    best regards … Manuela

    deutsch / german:

    Hallo Herr Parker, ich weiß meine Frage hat Nichts mit dem aktuellen Blog zu tun, aber mich würde wirklich interessieren, wie Sie über diese aktuellen Themen denken.
    …. einmal hier 1.:

    https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2019-02/donald-trump-notstandserklaerung-klage-16-staaten

    und einmal hier 2.:

    https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article188928803/Syrien-Trump-fordert-Deutschland-zur-Ruecknahme-von-IS-Kaempfern-auf.html

    zu 1.: … wäre die Ausrufung des Notstands gerechtfertigt, oder Amtsmissbrauch ? Was würde Ihrer Meinung nach unter einem (wirklichen) Notstand zählen ? Werden die 16 Staaten mit Ihrer Klage erfolg haben ?

    zu 2.: ….wenn keine Rücknahme nach Deutschland zustande kommt, würden Sie die Freilassung dieser Schwerverbrecher (wie im Artikel siehe oben angedroht) für richtig empfinden?

    Meine persönliche Meinung dazu: Nein, Ich finde es völlig falsch, auch nur solch einen Gedanken zu denken. Diese Leute frei zulassen wäre einer der größten Fehler überhaupt und Nein, ich möchte nicht noch mehr von diesen Schwerverbrechern in meinem Land (Deutschland) haben ! (… und ich bin kein Nazi !!!)

    viele Grüße… Manuela

  4. “…fingers crossed Barr does better this time!”

    Why would someone expect him to change his spots?

    BTW, you mention bad marksmanship at Ruby Ridge. I beg to differ, and so did the investigators and subject matter experts at SOF magazine back then. They concluded that Horiuchi’s real target was the wife, and it was his spotter that fired at Randy and friend in front of the shed where his son’s body lay. They needed to bring her into the open for a clear shot. SOF and sundry others concluded that she was the real power in the family, and the .gov wanted to end it quickly.
    IIRC, they found Horiuchi’s claim to be tracking Randy as he ran toward the cabin to be less than credible, given the particular scope he had on his sniper rifle, and the very short range. The fact that he supposedly fired rather incompetently at the two standing in front of the shed door raised eyebrows on everyone. But, the spotter shooting with iron sights fits that scenario much better. That they lied, would fit the facts better than the issued storyline.

    1. Fingers crossed is an expression of weak optimism and not high confidence along with frustration he is back and there is nothing else that can be done.

      Clearly these agencies have badge heavy members just itching for shootouts. Waco also demonstrated that. The coming bump stock ban will likely trigger even more.

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