Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for July 27th, 2021

Our Clematis was still there

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In the northeastern quadrant of Mopac and US 183 on July 10th I photographed my first Clematis drummondii flowers for this year, so the post’s title should really be “Our Clematis was already there.” I put still because when I took this picture and other similar ones, I was reminded of fireworks going off, and then in processing the photograph the line from “The Star-Spangled Banner” came to me about “the rockets’ red glare” that “gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” Fanciful? Perhaps, but that’s how my mind works.

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You may have heard that a bunch of right-wing extremists were arrested in the fall of 2020 for conspiring to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. Last week BuzzFeed.News broke a story that included the following:

The government has documented at least 12 confidential informants who assisted the sprawling investigation. The trove of evidence they helped gather provides an unprecedented view into American extremism, laying out in often stunning detail the ways that anti-government groups network with each other and, in some cases, discuss violent actions.

An examination of the case by BuzzFeed News also reveals that some of those informants, acting under the direction of the FBI, played a far larger role than has previously been reported. Working in secret, they did more than just passively observe and report on the actions of the suspects. Instead, they had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception. The extent of their involvement raises questions as to whether there would have even been a conspiracy without them.

That gives the defendants an opportunity to plead entrapment. As BuzzFeed.News noted:

To date, one defendant has formally accused the government of entrapment, arguing that the FBI assembled the key plotters, encouraged the group’s anti-government feelings, and even gave its members military-style training. Additional defendants have said they plan to make similar claims when the cases, divided between federal and state court, go to trial starting as soon as October…. Last week, the lawyer for one defendant filed a motion that included texts from an FBI agent to a key informant, the Iraq War veteran, directing him to draw specific people into the conspiracy — potential evidence of entrapment that he said the government “inadvertently disclosed.” 

The defendants may well be guilty, but if government informants are found to have entrapped them, then guilty people could get to go free. If you want to know more about the fine line between legitimate undercover work and entrapment, you can read an article by UCLA law professor Paul Bergman.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 27, 2021 at 4:35 AM

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