“Eventually, we’ll have to put an end to this, one way or another.”
Sheriff Kelly Janke of North Dakota’s Nelson County uttered that ominous sentence in mid-September, during what the local media giddily described as a stand-off with local farmer Rodney Brossart and his family. By that time, Sheriff Janke, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Air Force, had already run the table where “non-lethal” means of compelling the family to surrender were concerned. This included everything from the Taser used during Brossart’s June 23 arrest to the precedent-setting use of a Predator-B drone to conduct surveillance of the home several days later to facilitate the arrest of the farmer’s three sons.
The most recent conflict between Janke’s department and Brossart began when a half-dozen stray cattle wandered onto the family’s farm, which is located near the tiny village of Lakota (roughly 100 miles northwest of Fargo). Brossart, who reportedly believed that the cattle were unclaimed and thus belonged to him under a disputed interpretation of open-range law, refused to turn them over to the Sheriff.
A team of deputies tasered the 55-year-old farmer and took him into custody. His daughter Abby, frantic for the safety of her father, tried to intervene; for “striking” the sanctified personage of a deputy, she was arrested and charged with assault. When Brossart’s wife Susan refused to help the deputies locate what they described as “illegal” firearms, she, too, was arrested and charged with lying to law enforcement officers (who are trained to lie and can do so without legal consequence).
When deputies returned the following day, they were reportedly confronted by Brossart’s three sons – Jacob, Alex, and Thomas -- who were allegedly carrying the rifles the police had tried to confiscate the previous day.
This led Sheriff Janke to escalate the confrontation to a full-spectrum military response – including, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, elements “from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances, and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. He also called in a Predator B drone.” That unmanned aerial vehicle, identical to those used in CIA-directed missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, was supplied by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP), an affiliate of the Department of Homeland Security.
“As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed,” continued the Times. “Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.
That was the “one way” Janke had already tried. What, pray tell, would have been the “other” – short of equipping the drone with Hellfire missiles and using it to annihilate the Brossart family as suspected terrorists?
If this had happened, the Brossarts would not be the first Americans to be killed by way of a drone-fired missile. That unwanted distinction is owned by Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, Adbulrahman, who were killed in separate drone strikes in Yemen about three weeks apart. Abdulrahman, a 16-year-old boy who was born in Denver, was murdered while eating dinner with his 17-year-old cousin, who was also killed in the missile strike.
The original story was that Abdulrahman was a “suspected militant,” and thus a “legitimate” target. He was actually a teenage boy frantically trying to find his father, whose name was on a roster of terrorist suspects who had been sentenced to summaryexecution by a secretive executive branch committee that answers to nobody.
As a result of a dispute involving a half-dozen cows, the Brossart family found itself treated as if they were terrorists. The CBP’s drone fleet is described by the agency as a counter-terrorism asset. For the act “brandishing” legally owned rifles in the presence of armed sheriff’s deputies, the three Brossart sons have been charged with “terrorizing” law enforcement personnel -- fragile, timid creatures that they are. Most significantly, however, the family had been enrolled on a roster of domestic terrorists – one compiled not by the Obama administration, but rather by the quasi-private Stasi calling itself the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
According to the SPLC, Brossart’s family received special attention because Sheriff Janke “knew the Brossarts were followers of another Lakota resident, Roger Elvick, one of the original gurus of the bizarre but remarkably resilient sovereign citizens movement.”
For the past several years, the SPLC has been indoctrinating local law enforcement agencies in the belief that the sovereign citizens movement – and, for that matter, the entire “radical Right,” a label the SPLC applies to anyone more conservative than Hugo Chavez – is an undifferentiated mass of menace and a particular threat to law enforcement. This campaign is perfectly calibrated to play on the fears of police, for whom there is no higher priority than “officer safety.”
Little of consequence would result if the SPLC were simply a private pressure group. However, the organization seamlessly interfaces with a number of government agencies, including the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program, which is funded through the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. National and regional law enforcement seminars have been used to cultivate alarm among police officers regarding the supposedly all-encompassing terrorist threat posed by domestic “extremists.”
During the June confrontation, Sheriff Janke actually took time to respond to an interview request from the SPLC’s Intelligence Report.
“We’re trying to reach out to the family to get them to surrender,” Janke told the publication. “It’s not common for people to brandish weapons against law enforcement, and to have them all be family members is unique. [It tells me] they’re up to something, they’re planning something, they have some different beliefs…. We’re meeting with a team of experts to find out the best possible way to resolve this.”
Janke’s belief that the Brossarts were “planning” something sinister proved to be entirely unfounded. In November, months after the family had refused to attend an August 26 preliminary hearing, Rodney Brossart and his son Jacob – both of whom were unarmed – were arrested while finishing the fall harvest. Alex and Thomas, along with their sister Abby, were arrested “without incident” at the family’s home.
During what the local media – which dutifully regurgitated a porridge of alarmist sound-bites it had been fed by the SPLC – called the “stand-off,” Brossart gave one brief interview in which he insisted that his family were not “violent people.” Janke, on the other hand, did his best to depict the family as a menace to the public.
“We have been able to associate them with an individual that has served time in the State Pen that is giving them advice,” the Sheriff claimed in a September 13 interview, referring to Elvick. By that time, Elvick – who had briefly lived in an apartment in Lakota – had apparently departed for California. But his geographic proximity to the Brossarts was apparently enough for the latter to be “associated” with the ex-convict, and thus tainted as potential domestic terrorists.
This concept of being “associated” with a suspected terrorist is impressively elastic and immensely dangerous. Section 1031 of the proposed National Defense Authorization Act (NADA), which provides for indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists, permits the military to target anyone the Federal government decides is “associated” with an identified terrorist threat.
“Is a terrorist under this law necessarily a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban?” asks the estimable Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone in his analysis of the NADA. “Or is it merely someone who is `engaged in hostilities against the United States’? Here’s where I think we’re in very dangerous territory. We have two very different but similarly large protest movements going on right now in the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement. What if one of them is linked to a violent act? What if a bomb goes off in a police station in Oakland, or an IRS office in Texas? What if the FBI then linked those acts to Occupy or the Tea Party?”
Where Sheriff Janke was concerned, a potential terrorist was anyone he could “associate” with an ex-convict described by the SPLC as a guru of the “sovereign citizens” movement. He also alluded to the “history we’ve had with the family over time” as a cause for concern.
In 1996, Rodney Brossart was charged with violating a state land use ordinance by plowing and seeding a section line on his own property. Although he was found guilty on that charge, the verdict was overturned by the state Supreme Court. This episode was one of several instances in which the Brossarts have come into conflict with the County Sheriff’s Office.
Five years ago, Brossart was charged with disorderly conduct and “Preventing Arrest” after shouting at sheriff’s deputies and “tensing his arm” when one of them laid hands on him to take him into custody. He was acquitted on the first charge, and found guilty of the second. That case was likewise appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Citing facts that were uncontested at trial, a brief filed on Brossart’s behalf notes that he “did not at any time threaten the officers, or become physically aggressive toward them. At worst, he simply did not comply with their unlawful orders when they attempted to arrest him.”
“Brossart did not take any aggressive stance, did not swing, or attempt to strike the officers in any way,” continues the brief. “He was simply verbally combative, and uncooperative.”
The deputies, on the other hand, employed what can reasonably be described as excessive force by throwing him to the ground and employing “the mandibular angle pressure point technique upon him” – a pain compliance technique in which the thumb is placed at the hinge of the jaw below the right ear.
North Dakota law (Section 12.1-05-07 of the Century Code) recognizes the right of an individual to resist unlawful arrest and excessive force, observes the brief:
“When faced with a man who was not physically aggressive, and was simply verbally loud and angry, and uncooperative, it was unnecessary for both officers to slam him to into the ground, and use the mandibular angle pressure point upon him to effectuate an illegal arrest. Brossart was then within his rights to resist the unlawful and excessive force used in the arrest by the officers.”
Thus the troubled “history” to which Janke refers is one in which a family living on a small farm in rural North Dakota has been repeatedly abused under color of official “authority,” and have chosen to pursue their grievances through the courts, rather than through armed violence. They have endured years of what they regard as harassment and surveillance by law enforcement personnel: During the “standoff” this fall, one Lakota resident told a local television station that “when Rodney Brossart used to attend school board meetings there was always a police officer present.” As a result, the family decided to home-school the younger children.
The Brossarts may well be eccentric or even misguided. They might be regarded by some as poor neighbors. But only those with a unique gift for dishonesty – and a large measure of cravenness – could depict them as a Predator-worthy menace. The SPLC is amply endowed with the former, and Sheriff Janke’s department apparently boasts a large measure of the latter.
As a result, we’ve seen the first test run of the vertically integrated Homeland Security State, in which your friendly local sheriff or police chief, using hit lists compiled by the SPLC, can call in the drones to help round up anybody he considers to be potentially troublesome.
Thank you so much!
I am deeply grateful to everyone who has responded so generously to the appeal at the end of my last installment. Over the next few days I will extend personal thanks to each of you. This means more to me and my family than I can adequately express. God bless you.
Be sure to check out Republic magazine
Dum spiro, pugno!
The real terrorists are on display in this sorry scenario of life in fascist amerika.
The fascists shown rely on reflected power from the state they serve. This power will not be maintained forever. When the reflected power is gone, scores will be settled, as always.
It is the central state that is fostering this misery in the name of security. It is the central state that must be brought to heel to end these abominations. Nothing less will do.
no need to post
Thank you for writing this essay
Doc Ellis 124
no need to post
Amazing. I suppose when that "shot heard round the world" went off over two centuries ago it was due to some "arm flexing" or some such, eh?
I just keep reading John Bad Elk vs United States, wondering when that decision will be used in a current ruling.
Interesting reading. Our base political viewpoints may not agree, but you provide some interesting background on this incident that I was not aware of. Drop me an email offline if you'd like to discuss. I wrote a post on this incident over at Open Salon, and expressed many of the same concerns as you.
If they are not sovereign citizens they should sue those accusing them for liable.
I also wonder if part if this has to due with the sudden run up in the price of farm land, and the desire to get the Brossarts property.
Whose cows were they? Has the owner's identity been revealed? Did the owner make a complaint? Or request help in locating them? How did the Sheriff find out about the cows?
"Remote Sensing" is what USDA calls snooping on farmers.
"In addition to disaster monitoring, FSA uses aerial photography and satellite imagery to map farm fields and to monitor compliance with farm program rules." (google - usda.gov remote_sensing)
"...to monitor compliance with farm program rules." Love it!
We are on NO farm programs. Nonetheless, our - end of the road/1700 acre - North Dakota farm has extremely nimble UAV's keeping a constant vigil overhead. They become obvious at night with their high intensity running lights & 'herky-jerky' movements. It isn't possible to walk from the house to the barn without one of these things swooping in for a closer look.
Heaven only knows, what capabilities they have to 'information gather'. Plenty, no doubt.
The feds do let us know via registered mail when our tiny flock of sheep 'short-cut' from their pasture back to the barns across a narrow pie-shaped piece of drainage the Corps of Engineers 'took' in the 1960's for Missouri River flood plain. We are at the end of a 2 1/2 mile dirt road with nearest neighbors 1 1/2 mile across the valley. No way to know the sheep short-cut without aerial surveillance!
What has started out as privatized wars against individuals and their families in now in the open for all to see. I've been blogging about what it feels like to be under the absolute despotic control of tyrants on www.myfamilyview.com, and it shows how the local sheriff's collude with other parts of the bureaucracy to bring down their political and/or possibly considered religeous enemies.
North Dakota is simply carrying on the great tradition of that mass murderer Janet Reno...a drunk and degenerate (those are facts..not opinions) whow ith smiling Billy Clinton's help murdered over 50 children..women..and men (of course they don't count)
in Waco, Texas.
And just to think..Hillary wasn't the least bit disturbed by ANY of that..but reamed old Billy for having someone play around with a body part she wouldn't touch without top secret clearance.....
The first US citizen was in a car in Yemen 5or so years ago. Driving in caravan of 2 cars the Hellfire struck and killed its first citizen.
It would seem to me that if the Iranians can hack and take control of a predator drone, as is now being reported, there is now reason why we cannot do the same. At least to the point where we can disrupt control communications enough to cause the craft to simply crash. Operating the craft would quickly become cost prohibitive.
such governing is no doubt due to--or least in contribution to/of--a lack of Protestant hegemony in Law Enforcement and the further system.
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