Ruby Ridge Remembered

This month marks 30 years since Ruby Ridge, one of those events that, as Dan Gelernter explains, the FBI prefers Americans to ignore. That attitude invites a look at those events, as described by the victims of FBI violence. 

Army veteran Randy Weaver believed the world had become corrupt and dangerous, so he chose to be a survivalist. In 1983, Weaver built a cabin in the remote Ruby Ridge area of northern Idaho and lived there with his wife Vicky, daughters Sara and Elisheba, son Samuel, and family friend Kevin Harris. 

Weaver held anti-government views but was not a member of the Aryan Nations. The federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms sought to make Weaver an informant among the group and when Weaver refused he was arrested. This led to a standoff in which U.S. Marshal William Degan and Weaver’s son Samuel, 14, were both killed.

This brought in the FBI, which deployed some 400 heavily armed agents, helicopters, and armored personnel carriers against a single family. The rules of engagement allowed deadly force against any family member seen with a firearm, but in effect it was an order of shoot on sight.

“On August 21, 1992,” Randy Weaver later testified,  

federal marshals shot my son Samuel in the back and killed him. He was running home to me. His last words were, ‘I’m coming, Dad.’ They shot his little arm almost off and they killed him by shooting him in the back with a 9-millimeter submachine gun. The gun had a silencer on it. He was not wanted for any crime. He did not commit any crime. The marshals killed his dog right at his feet. He only tried to defend himself and his dog.

Sammy was just 14 years old. He did not yet weigh 80 pounds. He was not yet 5 feet tall. The marshals who killed Sammy were grown men. They were in combat gear. They had their faces painted with camouflage. They were wearing full camouflage suits with black ninja-type hoods. They were carrying machine guns and large caliber semi automatic pistols. They were trained to kill. Two of them were hiding behind trees and rocks in the woods where they could not be seen. The third was around a bend in the trail in thick forest. They were under direct orders from Washington to do nothing to injure the children. They were to have no contact or confrontation with me or my family. They killed him anyway in violation of their orders.

One day later, Vicki Weaver was holding infant daughter Elisheba in the cabin doorway when FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot the unarmed mother in the face, killing her instantly. Snipers are trained carefully “to acquire” the target, so there is little chance the shooting was accidental. 

“On August 22, 1992,” Randy Weaver later testified

completely without warning of any kind, an FBI sniper shot and killed my wife Vicki. He was using a .308 caliber sniper rifle with a specially weighted barrel and 10-power scope. He was using match grade ammunition. He had years of training to kill. I heard him testify at the trial that he wanted to kill. He shot my wife in the head and killed her. She was not wanted for any crime. There were no warrants for her arrest. At the time she was gunned down, she was helpless. She was standing in the doorway of her home. She was holding the door open for me and Sara and for Kevin Harris. She was holding Elisheba, our 10-month-old baby girl, in her arms. As the bullet crashed through her head, she slumped to her knees, holding Elisheba so she would not drop her. We took the baby from her as she lay dead and bleeding on our kitchen floor.

Louis Freeh, the Clinton pick for FBI boss, expressed “regret and sorrow for Mrs. Weaver’s death,” which was “tragic but accidental.” For Freeh, a former federal judge, the sniper’s second shot was “constitutional.” 

Freeh also referred to the “murder” of Degan, which was inaccurate given the 1993 trial that acquitted Weaver and Harris of that charge. “Serious mistakes occurred with regard to the Ruby Ridge incident,” testified Freeh, who promoted Larry Potts, the agent in charge, to deputy director of the FBI, only to demote him when controversy ensued. 

Attorney General William Barr spent two weeks organizing former attorney generals to defend FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, whose kill-shot on Vicki Weaver was “constitutional,” and also an “accident” and one of the many “mistakes” that could have been avoided but weren’t. 

FBI snipers also wounded Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris, who was near death when he finally surrendered. In the aftermath, Randy Weaver filed a lawsuit that paid more than $3 million to the family. Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sympathized with the Weaver family, but as the San Francisco Examiner reported, Dianne Feinstein of California “dealt sternly with Weaver, asking whether his children wore Nazi armbands and shouted Nazi slogans at neighbors.”

In early 2020, Fox News produced a documentary on the Ruby Ridge standoff. As the film shows, establishment media branded the Weaver family “white separatists.” Since the 2020 election, those less than worshipful of Joe Biden are branded “white supremacists.” In practice, as the late Angelo Codevilla explained, that means “anyone whom anyone in power dislikes enough to so label him.” 

The Biden junta also brands his political opposition as violent extremists and “domestic terrorists,” a smear applied to parents who protest the racist indoctrination of their children. FBI boss Christopher Wray, who strenuously denied any FBI spying on Trump, is down with all of it, and so is Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

As the 30th anniversary of Ruby Ridge approaches, the FBI functions as a Geheime Staatspolizei, an American Gestapo making summary arrests in the dead of night, with a show of overwhelming force. The FBI is also the American Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti or KGB, involved in stagecraft, as the Whitmer kidnapping plot and January 6, 2021 demonstrate. In KGB style, the bureau conducts “special tasks” far beyond the rule of law. 

Some two months after the Ruby Ridge milestone come the midterms. Should the same massive irregularities of 2020 accompany those elections, embattled Americans might launch major pushback. And 2024 is just down the road.

“If the next presidential election is curated by the usual suspects, Soros, Zuckerberg, and the Democratic National Committee,” Roger Kimball explains, a few million people might begin “acting like Black Lives Matter during the summer of 2020.” As Kimball wonders, “what then?” Ruby Ridge provides a few clues. 

Randy Weaver, the man labeled a “white separatist” by the FBI, died on May 11. He was 74, but his testimony stands the test of time. Against a single family, including children, the FBI deployed helicopters, armored vehicles, hundreds of agents in full combat gear, and trained military snipers like Lon Horiuchi. That sniper shot and killed Vicki Weaver, who was unarmed, and neither accused nor guilty of any crime. For embattled Americans in 2022, it would be a mistake to regard this assault as a one-off.

“Desire to wage war on ordinary Americans—to disadvantage them and even to kill them—had long been bubbling in the ruling class’s basements,” wrote Angelo Codevilla, citing documents such as Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1979-2008. This Department of Homeland Security study classified persons judged “suspicious of centralized federal authority” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right wing terrorists.” 

For Codevilla, “the countless, nearly identical pronouncements from on high in recent days can be taken as an announcement that the ruling class has raised them into its forceful mainstream.” 

In the United States of America, with all due respect to Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson, every year is the year of living dangerously. 

About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Michael Williamson/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

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