Monday, May 07, 2007

If you own 200 grenades, you may be a redneck... but not a terrorist.

You might have caught this news story a little over a week ago where six members of the Alabama Free Militia were arrested for having just a little more than a hunting rifle.
Agents recovered 130 hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun, 2,500 rounds of ammunition, explosives components, stolen fireworks and other items, said Jim Cavanaugh, regional head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The local U.S. Attorney had this to say about it at the time:
"They just have a beef with the government, and they stockpile munitions," U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said at a news conference in Fort Payne.
Really?! Coming from someone who should be digging hard to prosecute this lot with all the force that can be applied, that's pretty much minimizing things, particularly since one of those arrested is a federal fugitive. Why wasn't Martin treating this as a clear-cut case of illegal terrorist activity?

In any case, via Dave Neiwert, there is a little update on the case. It seems a federal judge in Birmingham has a slightly different view than the U.S. Attorney.
Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a judge approved bail for a sixth man.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong said at a hearing in Birmingham federal court he could not grant bail to the five because of the agent's testimony and the amount of weapons - including about 200 homemade hand grenades - that were seized in raids Friday in DeKalb County.

"I'm going to be worried if I let these individuals go at this time," he said.

A little worried?

Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five - Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 - planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20. The agent provided no further details.
Michael Wayne Bobo was released on bail.

So, let's get this straight. A federal prosecutor doesn't see anything too terribly nefarious about this lot. They're just a bunch of good old boys with a hair across their collective asses over the government, which causes them to go into bomb-building mode. The prosecutor's statement has all the impact of describing a bunch of pissed-off squirrels hoarding cashews. A federal ATF agent, who obviously has some gathered intelligence on his side says, noooo, these guys were probably going to go on a shooting spree. The judge gets a little uncomfortable and denies bail to five of the six.

Without the details we have no way of knowing what part Bobo played in the alleged manufacture and storage of all the neat stuff they were all caught stockpiling. What is mind-boggling however, is that some are quite willing to flip this off as a just a bunch of rednecks acting like rednecks.

They're not terrorists. And only five out of six present enough of a threat to be remanded to custody.

I just had a recent discussion about the problems encountered by cruise ship passengers entering the United States. Keep in mind most of the guests on cruises either have blue hair or blue pills. Yet, the level to which the US Dept. of Homeland Security goes to protect the citizenry from these potential geriatric jihadists is more than just inconvenient - it's paranoiac to the extreme.

But a bunch of good old boys with an arsenal are just, you know, a little over the top.

What would have happened if they were brown, swarthy, black-haired, bearded and spoke English with a middle-eastern accent? Would any of them have made bail?

This is going to be worth keeping an eye on.

Before anyone goes off half-cocked and suggests it's typical Alabama, keep in mind that Alabama is home to some great people. And in the event that we all start pointing south with some kind of smug grin it would be worth reading this series of posts.

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