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NEWS ITEM - Tuesday Jan 13th - 2009
Making Fun of FBI Affidavits
As the case of Brandon Darby (see below, item three) moves into its second public week we find a little time to make jokes, namely with the FBI's case against David McCay and Bradley Crowder, and with local TV reporting and analysis from a few months back.
Jumping back, let's recall how Crowder and McCay were introduced to the city. Here from The Court of Public Opinion is a set of news items from September:
The second news segment introduces us to local counterterrorism expert Fred Burton, who works for Stratfor. Surely an expert on things, Fred Burton shares the distinction of being a black helicopter target of Alex Jones along with recommended reading of equally humorless Bill O'Reilly. In "Could Austin Affinity group be tied to Texas Governor's Mansion fire?" (above) Mr Burton is quick to assert:
"This is a group that crosses the line from peaceful protest and moves into violent stages ... If you read the [FBI] affidavit in detail, it's pretty frightening on what [these kids] were planning on doing. They were creating napalm, like Molotov's. They discussed throwing them into police vehicles. They discussed actually throwing them at police officers," said Burton.
Hold on Fred, where's your professional command of language or law? Who says anyone here is guilty. Let's remember that an affidavit is merely an accusation and not a verdict. Let's also stop being so grim. Have you really read the affidavit? There's some good humor in there. The FBI's main complaint is not safety. No, the FBI's charge, or joke, is that McCay and Crowder did not properly secure a Molotov Cocktail Owner's Permit!
Download the affidavit here. Note the set-up and punchline, from items 22 and 23:
22. Federal law makes it a felony for a person to "receive or possess a firearm which is not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record."...
The term "firearm" includes a destructive device. The term "destructive device" means any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas ... bomb ... ." Molotov cocktails qualify as destructive devices under this statute.
23. The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota caused a check to be made of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, which is maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. As of September 4, 2008, that check revealed that during the relevant time period there have not been any firearms as defined above registered to Bradley Crowder or David McKay.
Good laugh at that last line!
Can this really be true? Does the FBI really do checks for registered Molotov Cocktails? And what if such a permit were secured. Can you imagine such a scenario? "Say son, you with the burning bottle right there. Hold on, no no don't go throwin that just yet. No, no. Just want to make sure you have the right papers. I better see some Identification! Stop! S-Stop You!"
It got us thinking. If there's a reference to something in an FBI affidavit, surely it has to exist, right? Sure enough, such a permit does. Amazing. Here's one:
Here's a decent half-hour episode on Brandon Darby from Democracy NOW. (gets good around the five minute mark with Lisa Fithian's appearance)
Related Austin History:
The Spies of Texas by Thorne Dreyer, Texas Observer November 17, 2006 (great photos, even better article)
Thorne Dreyer's piece discusses the Austin murder of activist George Vizard in 1967. Here's an interesting blog piece by Jim McCulloch, from 2005, on living in the same house as Vizard's murderer.
And George Vizard's widow Mariann recently wrote on both Darby, her husband, and the Spies piece.
Previously on this site:
Welcome to http://www.ep.tc
January 5 2009
RANDOM COMEDY ITEM:
(watch with sound)
The Diethyl-Ether Girls say:
"Happy New Year To One and All!" Slowly.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
NEWS ITEMS - Early January - 2009
Item Number One
Realist Archive Project
Archive is now officially halfway complete in its goal to digitally preserve the entire run of Paul Krassner's good cerebral masterpiece, The Realist. Six issues have been added this month, placing things exactly one issue beyond the halfway mark. That's 74 issues of the complete 146 issue run now immediately available for your perusal. Click for the archive.
This month's update includes an interview with Shel Silverstein, a visit to a Post-Communism Amusement Park, a set of conversations with homosexuals (one and two) and a visit to the Jack-and-Jill-Off Parties. Plus RACE HATE AND SEX and the Benefits of Switching From Cigarettes to Narcotics.
Most notable historic items this month is "Jenkins Backlash" a 1965 piece focusing on Walter Jenkins, LBJ's longtime aide. Jenkin's gaff was getting caught at a YMCA giving oral sex to another club member. At the time gay men were not allowed security clearance in the White House, alarming the capitol into a Johnson-led gay hunt that included FBI investigations of 500 people. Jenkins was forced to resign, leaving politics. He returned to Austin TX where he lived as a CPA for the remainder of his life. They always get their man. More FBI and Austin below, see Item Three.
Item Number Two
S. Clay Wilson Needs $$ Help
We're a bit late in reporting on this, but cartoonist S Clay Wilson has suffered a head injury and needs help to cover uninsured medical costs. We understand he's out of ICU, but still struggling with possibly permanent Aphasia. More information, including a well reported account at this link.
And an off-note news item here, which paraphrases to say:"the comic art of S. Clay Wilson always made some people wonder if Wilson had mental damage. He didn’t ... UNTIL NOW" - Pure class from the SF Weekly.
We'd like to direct you to a paypal or online donation form of some sort, but it appears things are being kept simple and paper based. Send $$ and checks to:
S. Clay Wilson P.O. Box 14854
San Francisco, CA 94114
OF LOCAL INTEREST
"George Demmerle Lives" -- Yippie archivist Samuel Leff on Brandon Darby
Item Number Three
The big local news over the holiday was Austinite Brandon Darby's sudden fame. To quote Democracy NOW:
Texas Activist Admits He Was FBI Informant
A prominent activist in Austin, TX named Brandon Darby has revealed he worked as an FBI informant in the eighteen months leading up to the Republican National Convention. Darby has admitted to wearing recording devices at planning meetings and wearing a transmitter embedded in his belt during the convention. Darby is expected to testify on behalf of the government later this month in the trial of two Texas activists who were arrested at the RNC on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails. Darby’s role as an FBI informant has shocked the activist community in Austin. Darby is best known as a founder of the New Orleans-based group Common Ground Relief, which he helped start after Hurricane Katrina.
Some reports have indicated Darby as an informant since October (See Twincities.com, Oct 29) but it was Darby's actual statement on Indymedia that makes this story suddenly much stranger and very emotional.
View Darby's recent statement, along with a lengthy thread of comments from friends and non-friends: OPEN LETTER FROM BRANDON DARBY - including statements of rejection to Darby, along the lines of "you'll never be allowed into a community again" - with many more comments much more implicitly threatening.
A weird byproduct of the information age is it suddenly allows your past history to become a graffiti wall for threats and accusations. Darby is featured in a Common Ground Relief video on Youtube. This previously praised video is slowly becoming weighted down with attack. "snitches end in ditches" and "reap what you sow motherfucker" being the last two examples.
A quickly purchased and assembled site brings us the clausterphobic www.brandondarby.com
Suddenly strange PBS reading: Tavis Smiley on Brandon Darby, 2007.
Houston Indymedia offers a pdf of the FBI affidavit in PDF form.
But it's Mr Leff's comment (at top) comparing Darby to George Demmerle that resonates so well with me. It's the sense of narrative symmetry. Read about Sam Melville. Demmerle was a trusted friend to Melville, who was later found out to be an FBI informant and never heard from again.
The key difference between the Demmerle story and present news is, of course, Demmerle himself participated in bombing actions - so his reasoning for informing on a trusted friend seem somewhat more plausible and self-protecting - and less bankrupt. After all, the feds literally caught Demmerle with a stick of dynamite in his hands. It begs the question: Was Darby caught red handed with something himself? Drugs Bombs Blackmail? Fill in the blank? ... Is this a situation where someone of completely altruistic means revolts against his entire community to prevent an incident, or was he forced into wearing bugs for two years because the government had him framed or forced?
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