The Hutaree Arrest and Getting Tough on Terror From Left and Right


The indictment on the Hutaree "militia arrests" is out. From my read, even taking every word in it as gospel, it sounds like these guys were angry loudmouths who fantasized too much to someone who turned out to be a federal informant or agent, but who they thought was a potential comrade who might help them obtain some explosives.

I may be wrong on this, the government will have its opportunity to prove its case in court, and the defendents will have their opportunity to, well, defend themselves. (I have written and blogged in the past on the generally weak nature of the government's past highly publicized "domestic terror" busts.) It is way too early to decide exactly how much of a real threat to other people's lives and property these guys were.

Not if you are bloggers at DailyKos who are thrilled to see "sedition" being called by its true name, and appearing to presume that, well, the government wouldn't charge someone with something if they weren't guilty.

At Balloon Juice, they play a particularly dumb version of the "my opponents are hypocrites" game while lumping together everyone they think of as "on the right":

The indictment sounds pretty clear: we captured a bunch of religious fundamentalist extremists planning mass casualty attacks against America. Unlike, say, Jose Padilla or any of the clown car gangs whom Bush rounded up this team had the gear and the training to go operational (and kill a lot of people) within a month.

Rightwing antiterror doctrine clearly states that we must strip these "terrorists" (no such thing as alleged in the war on terror) naked and hang them in cold cages by the wrists with their arms tied behind their backs so that the tendons tear and the shoulder joint dislocates. We should waterboard them until they confess and give up their co-conspirators (the Inquisition found waterboarding almost 100% effective!). Without question these people should be held without any trial or access to habeas corpus petitions until the "war" against violent fundamentalist groups is over. At the very least we should shunt these guys into military tribunals where the rules have been rigged to ensure a conviction.

Of course Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds and Crittenden and Erickson and any other credentialed rightblogger will agree with what I just said. They have to.

I guess Balloon Juice is saying that, well, since these terrorists are on Goldberg and Reynolds' team, that they will defend them? Frankly, from their website's concerns and the general sense of their intellectual and cultural milieu I got from it, it would surprise the hell out of me if the Hutaree gave much of a damn about the vital importance of keeping Gitmo open, nor do the Jonah Goldberg/Glenn Reynolds right generally make much common cause with Christian apocalyptic warriors in the woods. But I am glad to see Balloon Juice is setting themselves up to be strong watchdogs for the Hutaree's procedural rights as this proceeds.

The Detroit News article (filled with good details on the specifics of the many raids that led to the arrests) has an interesting story spelling out that, whatever the Hutaree's crimes turn out to be, it would be wrong to smear the entire "militia movement" so-called with them:

Mike Lackomar, of Michiganmilitia.com, said…he heard from other militia members that the FBI targeted the Hutaree after its members made threats of violence against Islamic organizations.

"Last night and into today the FBI conducted a raid against homes belonging to the Hutaree. They are a religious cult. They are not part of our militia community," he said…..

One of the Hutaree members called a Michigan militia leader for assistance Saturday after federal agents had already began their raid, Lackomar said, but the militia member—who is of Islamic decent and had heard about the threats—declined to offer help. That Michigan militia leader is now working with federal officials to provide information on the Hutaree member for the investigation, Lackomar said Sunday.

"They are more of survivalist group and in an emergency they withdraw and stand their ground. They are actively training to be alongside Jesus," he said.

Anyone writing or thinking about how this is all going to play out as a cultural and political story should have under their belt Jesse Walker's excellent October 2009 Reason magazine feature on "The Paranoid Center."