I’ll not spend any real time on the arrest and prosecution of Roger Stone. Stone, as I’m sure you know by now gentle readers, is an old friend of Donald Trump who apparently served, briefly as an informal advisor during the 2016 presidential campaign. What this likely means is his relationship with Mr. Trump allowed him to occasionally offer advice, which Mr. Trump, being polite, may or may not have heeded. I’ve seen no evidence to suggest their relationship during the campaign was more involved than that.
The topic of this article is Stone’s dramatic, CNN televised arrest, more specifically, the tactics of the FBI and DOJ and what they say about the state of those organizations, not Roger Stone. Former federal organized crime prosecutor George Parry writes at The Spectator:
Long ago, as a Special Attorney with the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, I participated in planning and — in a handful of instances — executing arrests of members of La Cosa Nostra and their associates. From personal observation, I early on concluded that, in apprehending mobsters, one of the primary threats to agent safety was the risk of fratricide, i.e., one amped-up, anxious and heavily armed agent accidentally shooting some other amped-up, anxious and heavily armed agent. The FBI, ATF, and other federal agents with whom I was privileged to work shared that concern. For that reason, they planned operations meticulously and kept the number of arresting agents to the absolute minimum in order to reduce the risk of injury or error.
It does not appear the FBI’s SWAT team, the HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) was used, but the tactics were very much the same.
To that end, I opted whenever possible to avoid arrests altogether by having defense counsel surrender their clients at the marshal’s lock up during regular business hours. From the media’s standpoint, the visuals must have been underwhelming. But then, we didn’t much care about meeting the needs of the news media. Having targets surrender was simple, held down costs, and reduced the risk of harm to one and all.
This is not to say that we never made arrests. Sometimes, we had no choice.
During my police days, when I was serving as a detective, I often simply called criminals and set up an appointment with them to drop by to be arrested. It was never a problem, but was slightly easier to do if they had lawyers. I’d just make the arrangement with them. No fuss, no danger, everyone behaved in a civilized manner, which made everything easier on everyone, then and in the future. The alternative was a patrol officer and I would find and arrest them. A SWAT team, which was available, would never buy going on a raid like that on Stone.
But today, with the example of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI’s recent daring dawn raid and arrest of serial false declarant Roger Stone, it is apparent that my ancient generation of federal law enforcement had it all wrong. Team Mueller’s use of 29 agents plus CNN video support elements were confronted with a challenging tactical problem. Despite the fact that Stone has no prior criminal record, he is nevertheless 66 years old. This is an age when people are sometimes cranky and disagreeable. Obviously, those 29 agents were necessary to establish tactical dominance and to quickly subdue this lawless false declarant. Hopefully, the overwhelming show of force prevented Stone from making any further false declarations during the course of his arrest.
And, equally important, the visuals of the assault broadcast by the CNN tactical elements undoubtedly will serve as a deterrent to others who may harbor thoughts of uttering untruths sworn or otherwise.
All of which leads me to shake my wooly gray head and wonder aloud if any of these two-fisted crime fighters who took down the cunning and dangerous Roger Stone are in any way embarrassed by their participation in this vaudeville act.
I would not have been embarrassed because I would never have done anything so stupid, nor would I have alerted the media so they could come along to record my manly martial skill and stalwart courage. To be fair, the special Counsel’s office may have arranged CNN coverage. If so, it reveals, yet again, their lack of professionalism, their corruption, and their insane hatred of President Trump, even though the crimes for which Stone has been charged have nothing to do with Mr. Trump, as Parry suggests:
Or was there some other reason for this televised silliness? Could it be that Mueller and his team of Hillary Clinton acolytes are trying to fool us with their comedy act? Is this ridiculous armed raid supposed to distract us from the humiliating fact that the Team Mueller elephant has once again given birth to a mouse? Is this an act of misdirection calculated to obscure the fact that Mueller’s Hillary Clinton fan club seems incapable of bringing nothing but process crime indictments devoid of any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion?
Parry is absolutely right. This should have been handled by calling Stone’s attorney, who would have produced him at the proper facility, at the designated time, for processing. Stone is, after all, not a felon, is not known to be dangerous or a flight risk, and is, for goodness sakes, 66 years old. One or two mighty, virtuous FBI agents could have arrested him at a time and place most advantageous to them, a time and place sure to eliminate, to the greatest degree possible, all reasonably foreseeable risk. Of course, that wouldn’t have allowed 29 FBI SWAT wannabes to hand out automatic rifles, dress up in tacticool SWAT wannabe gear like drop holsters, and play grown ups doing a TV action series screen test for CNN, the anti-Trump network.
Parry is also correct in suggesting any SWAT or SWAT-pretend callout greatly increases the risk for everyone involved, including the police. I’ve written about this several times, including here. Unless a team works and trains together regularly, the risk of undertrained and inexperienced officers making fatal mistakes is simply too great. Throwing together a bunch of people who have never trained together, and who are mugging for the cameras, is a recipe for disaster. Oh, but all FBI agents are highly trained professionals! Right. Like the FBI agent that left an MP5 submachine gun on the trunk of his car. A local skateboarder found it and brought it to my agency, who returned it to a very embarrassed, and highly trained professional, FBI agent. There are many, many other examples of the same, or worse FBI mistakes. They’re human beings, and therefore subject to all the follies affecting all human beings.
So why did the FBI do a pre-dawn raid with a ridiculous number of over-armed, over-adrenalined agents, preening for CNN cameras that were allowed into a secure perimeter a half hour before the raid? It surely couldn’t have been because they had any reason to fear violence from Roger Stone or his wife. Most likely it was because Mueller’s Democrat Party minions wanted to humiliate him, and send a message to everyone that might ever consider being a friend to a Republican, or participating in a Republican campaign in any way, that they too might, one dark night, find themselves looking down the barrels of a great many automatic rifles wielded by undertrained, adrenaline infused feds hoping to use them for the cameras.
Smarting from the backlash, DOJ and FBI spokesliars are claiming they feared Stone would destroy evidence. They’ve been investigating him for more than a year. Through his attorneys, he’s turned over every document they’ve requested. They suddenly decide he might be hiding something now? He couldn’t have destroyed evidence earlier? This Stone is a slow fellow indeed.
The worst part of the entire affair is the FBI went along with this insanity. It’s a miracle they didn’t shoot each other. By participating in this third rate TV cop show, the FBI demonstrated, yet again, they lack the professionalism, judgment, and common sense to be trusted. The FBI and DOJ’s willingness to abuse their power and the law is not confined to a few upper level corruptocrats that have already been fired or retired. None of themwere playing SWAT that morning.
What, then, about the rank and file FBI agents that participated? Surely they were most of the 29 that assaulted a middle class home in a quiet middle class neighborhood that morning. Administrators don’t dirty their hands with such tasks, unless they’re preening for the cameras after the danger is over. Did they not understand what they were doing was dangerous and insane? Have they no clue how little respect the public holds for them? Did they think this would improve their public image? Is this the way they routinely interact with the public?
What seems to be missing in all of the investigations of wrong doing by the FBI is the testimony of the agents who did the work. They know who’s corrupt, but many go along because they need their jobs and pensions. They’re just following orders. That didn’t work out so well at Nuremberg. Let us hope we don’t find ourselves in a state such that trials akin to those at Nuremberg become necessary.
One can hope that when Mueller finally hangs up his popguns–if he ever does–President Trump will absolutely clean house at the DOJ and FBI, and will find sufficient honest agents and federal prosecutors to prosecute each and every federal employee that has violated their oaths of office and the law, and imagined themselves the masters of the American people rather than their servants. And when that happens, professional agents will call their attorneys, and arrange a time for them to turn themselves in. They won’t deserve it, but that’s what should happen—if the law and Constitution matter anymore.