Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
Perhaps you didn't bother to follow the truly bizarre case of the Whitmer Kidnappers. If you didn't, then you also didn't make a truly bad choice, except in one respect. I'll point that out a bit later on.
The case involves a group of sort-of-regular young guys in Michigan who were obviously not fans of their Governor's draconian COVID restrictions. They supposedly hatched a plot to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. There were firearms and explosives involved in the plot somewhere, too.
The case was based on an FBI sting operation. The group of Michigan miscreants were chatting on-line, offering their opinions of what Gov. Whitmer deserved and what they'd like to do to her for her egregious overreach in imposing all the COVID rules on them.
If you followed the trials at all, you know the FBI was monitoring communications between the defendants and decided to “make a case” out of them. They set up their sting and used CIs (confidential informants), to “help” the defendants pursue turning their drink-induced chatter into some semblance of reality. Toward the end of the sting there were far more agents and CIs involved than there were “conspirators.” You have to ask, “Which conspiracy was real?” There were some Keystone Cops moments included in the narrative – those Michigan guys were truly a batch of bumblers. They had to be led by the hand in every move they made. All by themselves they couldn’t have knocked over a convenience store.
The FBI sting turned out to be a bit more than a sting. It was a case of "the big con," but, in the end the FBI conned themselves. The Feds don't like to let anything go once they've invested time and money in it, so they proceeded from the set-up to federal grand jury hearings, indictments, and trials. That's where something unusual happened.
Did you know the Feds have a conviction rate in the mid-90% range? It's true. Keep in mind, the government has unlimited resources. If they should run out of money pursuing a case, they just get some new taxpayer money and plow on. How nice for them! Meanwhile, most defendants who have charges brought against them by the Feds will plea-bargain to keep from becoming permanently destitute. Our Department of Justice isn't so much interested in true justice anymore, assuming it ever was. What it is interested in is closing cases. And, its objective is to win regardless of the costs.
You should know two of the “conspirators” did plead guilty. They were scared and wanted to end the nightmare they’d walked into. One, Ty Garbin, said he thought they might put Gov. Whitmer into a boat and park her in the middle of Lake Michigan. The other, Kaleb Franks, admitted to something of a death wish. He stated he had wanted to die in a shootout with Gov. Whitmer’s security detail. Maybe that was his idea of going out in a blaze of glory. Both men should have just shut up and waited. That seems to be the best way to deal with the Feds when they go off the reservation and take you with them – just shut up and wait it out. Four of the group, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft and Adam Fox, were tried by a jury that couldn’t seem to figure the whole thing out. They did find Harris and Caserta not guilty of the sole charge against them, but had a harder time with the charges against Croft and Fox. The jury was hopelessly deadlocked after a week of deliberations, so the judge declared a mistrial.
If you paid attention in the past few days you know the latest defendants in the Whitmer Kidnapping Case were found not guilty. Their lawyers were smart! As they hoped, the jury in the case saw through all the chaff thrown in the air by the federal attorneys and got right to the heart of the matter. There was no real case. When all the evidence and testimony was presented there was no “smoking gun” to indicate the entire saga was more than an FBI-led effort to compromise a few guys whose worst habits were drinking a bit too much and getting carried away in their “guy talk.” Sure, it was evident all the defendants were unhappy with Gov. Whitmer, but it was also evident none had the serious intent, the knowledge, or the necessary resources to do more than talk. All of that, the serious intent, knowledge, and resources, were incrementally provided by FBI agents and their CIs. In the end, the case was revealed as little more than entrapment by over-aggressive FBI agents. Shouldn’t that be a federal crime?
I want to add something that’s a little more than a parenthetical thought – the same Feds from DoJ and the FBI prosecuted Matthew Martin for “crimes” committed on 6 Jan. 2021. Martin’s attorney was smart in opting for a bench trial. He knew the judge was better at comprehending the web of tales that were sure to be spun during the trial. He was right. Martin’s statement regarding what he had done that day and actions of others were borne out by extensive video records. He was clearly innocent of all charges, and the judge declared him so. It makes one wonder how many others of the over 700 who are in jail in connection to events of 6 Jan. did virtually the same thing as Martin – entered the Capitol rotunda, wandered around for a few minutes taking pictures like a tourist, then walked away, having harmed no property or trying to do anything at all other than “be there” and have a look around? Are those truly crimes that should get people locked up without bail? Are they crimes at all?
If I sound cynical, it's because I am. I've watched our government ruin people for decades now. They ruin people's lives, their careers, and their finances, and they seem to do it with great satisfaction. I might agree that some deserve it. I'm not sure how many. It's not like the government keeps statistics on prosecutions they know aren't justified. But, it just seems once our government knows who you are and sets its sights on you – for whatever reason – punishing you becomes their objective, and they're unrelenting in pursuing you until they succeed. I've seen it. I admit, I fear it, too.
I've always been bothered by law enforcement's "Get Out of Jail Free" card when it lies, cheats, and steals while in pursuit of criminal activity. Law enforcement should always be required to obey all laws, and should be subject to the same punishments as the rest of us, regardless of the circumstances. In this particular case, the FBI should have and could have understood they weren't dealing with any tangible threat against Gov. Whitmer. In every aspect of the "plot" it was the FBI and their CIs who made the suggestions, the FBI that provided the materials, and the FBI that created the opportunities to execute the plot. All of that was clearly evident in trial testimony. It was an FBI set-up, initiated after some drunk guys got carried away in E-mail chats. Once the FBI got involved – that's when all the possibly illegal things happened. Yet, will we ever see an FBI agent punished for the fiasco. You should bet not. Their "Get Out of Jail Free" card will protect them.
What do I think is most striking about the aftereffects of this latest trial? It's the palpable increase in the distrust of government that's already rampant. That distrust has always been around at some level, but is now reaching an all-time high. Why? Partly because of cases exactly like the Whitmer Kidnapping Case, which was as dumb and phony as any you'll ever learn of.
It's sad to think Americans have to fear the government and its agents, but the pure truth is – You Better Be! They don't work for us. They don't protect us. They see us as potential adversaries and threats of one kind or another. Their reaction to their own paranoid perceptions, developed over several decades, has been to evolve into a police state. I'm sure some of you think I'm being overly dramatic. Go ahead. Think that way. But, while you're thinking my viewpoint is a problem, make darned sure you stay off the government's radar. If they lock onto you, then you'll find out who's right about them. It's far better that you never know.
If you have doubts, check out the trial records for the three prosecutions above. None should have ever gone to trial. How many prosecutions occur like them? Ask yourself that question and raise your voice about this issue. Justice in American has always been a curious thing, with no absolute safeguards. Justice in America today? I’m certain it exists for some, but it’s readily apparent it doesn’t for all. No government should be in the business of ruining people just because it can.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.