The Hutaree Case Falls Apart

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Federal District Judge Victoria Roberts has ruled that the nine members of the so-called Hutaree Militia accused of plotting to wage war against the Regime can be released on bail. Prosecutors had argued that bail should be denied because the group posed a severe danger to public safety.

The Hutaree group is accused of “seditious conspiracy” — specifically, plotting to  murder a law enforcement officer and then follow up with opportunistic attacks on other LEOs who would attend the funeral. This would supposedly precipitate a wide-scale revolt.

Conversations discussing that scenario were reported by a federal informant who infiltrated the group and thoughtfully offered to teach them how to make improvised explosive devices.

While federal prosecutors have provided ample evidence that members of the Hutaree are passionately anti-government — what decent person isn’t? — they haven’t been able to demonstrate that the group did anything more than engage in survivalist training and indulge in apocalyptic rhetoric.

Defense attorneys, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1969 Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, maintain that seditious speech — including speech that constitutes an incitement to violence — is protected by the First Amendment as long as it does not indicate an “imminent” threat.

The prosecutors’ brief, invoking the the 1995 seditious conspiracy trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, maintained that it was not necessary to demonstrate a threat of imminent harm, but rather only that the defendants had formed an “agreement to oppose by force the authority of the United States.”

(Incidentally, it was because of the CIA’s intervention that Rahman got a visa to enter the United States, where he became part of the radical Muslim terrorist cell that carried out the first World Trade Center attack in 1993; that cell included at least three others who  had been on the payroll of U.S. intelligence.)

Judge Roberts didn’t find the government’s case compelling.

“Discussions about killing local law enforcement officers — and even discussions about killing members of the judicial branch of government — do not translate to conspiring to overthrow, or levy war against, the United States government,” she wrote, ordering that the Hutaree suspects be released on bail.

Since the federal case against the Hutaree rests entirely on what was said by the suspects, rather than anything specific that was done by them, it’s difficult to see what’s left of it.

11:53 am on May 3, 2010