Fox News Documentary Puts Brutality of the Militarized Central State on Full Display

Back in 2012, Anthony Gregory wrote “Lessons From Ruby Ridge” on the infamous bloody siege from 1992. Gregory charted the federal efforts to entrap military veteran Randy Weaver, who had opted to live in a remote corner of Idaho. When the entrapment went awry, the FBI brought in massive military force against a single-family, resulting in the deaths of Weaver’s wife and son.

As Gregory notes, the issue was not the left versus right but the militarized central state versus individual life and liberty. The lessons are painfully evident in a Fox News documentary aired on January 19.

Weaver’s son Samuel, 14, was killed in a firefight that also took the life of a U.S. Marshal. That brought in the FBI, whose massive military force is on full display, with 400 heavily armed FBI agents, helicopters, armed personnel carriers, and trained snipers. The rules of engagement essentially allowed the FBI to shoot on sight. Sniper Lon Horiuchi shot dead the unarmed Vicky Weaver, who was holding her infant daughter.

Snipers are trained to “acquire” the target, so the notion that the killing of Vicki and 10-month-old Elisheba was accidental may well be doubted. As Gregory recalled, in 1993 the FBI brought in dead-eye Horiuchi to the Waco siege, which claimed 75 lives, 25 of them children. The Fox documentary misses that sequel but does show the FBI at Ruby Ridge sending in a robot with a telephone–but also rigged with a shotgun. Weaver spotted the weapon and preserved his life. Weaver and friend Kevin Harris took wounds from sniper fire and Harris was near death when he surrendered.

The Fox documentary puts FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshal incompetence in plain sight. At the time, federal bosses had little clue, and years later comfy, overpaid mouthpieces float the same one-sided explanations. The documentary failed to note that Weaver filed a lawsuit that brought the family more than $3 million, hardly compensation for the loss of his wife and son. Neither victim was under arrest or guilty of any crime. Such brutal incompetence is what happens when the federal government marshals military force against civilians. 

For detail and analysis, the Fox News “Scandalous” documentary series is easily the equal of PBS “Frontline,” which on January 19 aired a partisan and hagiographical program on President Obama. PBS also exploited an awards show for the great Smoky Robinson to showcase House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This is what happens when a television network gets hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, with little if any accountability. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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