"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." -- Rahm Emanuel.
I noted in my comments last night on this article, that I would post the documents I received from another source on Scribd. Exhausted as I was from a day at the gun show, I didn't pick up on the fact that they were already posted here.
As the article notes, in the aftermath of the OKC bombing elements within the Clinton administration wanted to use the excuse to suppress the constitutional militia movement by measures that would have demanded -- with all the force of the federal government backing it up -- that we publish our memberships lists, required us to register as "paramilitary organizations" with the Feds and to get permission from them before doing any training.
On 6 Oct 1995, the Clinton political operative Dick Morris wrote in a memo to White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, as well as Deputy Chiefs of Staff Erskine Bowles and Harold Ickes:
“The public overwhelmingly supports a significant expansion in the FBI’s ability to investigate militia groups. If you and the Justice Department believe such an expansion would be in the public interest, I would recommend that we go ahead with it with a high profile announcement.”
A careful reading of the documents, however, indicates that by that time the idea was long dead, killed by resistance at the FBI and DOJ as well as by the brutal description of the "realpolitik" of the power grab's likely unintended consequences by then White House counsel Abner Mikva in a 25 May letter to Panetta, Ickes and Rahm Emanuel, then serving as Assistant to the President for Political Affairs. Emanuel was the architect of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban that was widely credited (including by Bill Clinton himself) with costing the Dems the 1994 midterm elections and returning the GOP to control in the House.
The proposal obviously scared the political crap out of Mikva. In letter from Jennifer O'Connor, who worked for Panetta, to Janice Enright, assistant to Ickes at the time, there is this:
The Justice Department has stopped working on the terrorism question, Thy say this is because Ab (Abner Mikva) instructed them that this is not something that should be on paper. Justice says they are caught between two White House offices saying opposite things and they need us to sort it out.
The letter was written the morning of 25 May. Mikva's letter followed later that afternoon. It is worth citing in full:
SUBJECT: · Regulation of Militias or Terrorist GroupsTwo weeks ago, you asked White House Counsel to provide a "quick" legal judgment as to the constitutionality of several proposals to regulate militias. Our provisional opinion was reflected in a memo of May 10, which was forwarded to Leon and a copy of which is attached. To summarize, we concluded that one of the proposals--to require militias to publish membership lists-was almost surely unconstitutional, while others--such as to require militias to register with the federal government--raised less serious constitutional issues, which probably could be surmounted.More recently,' you asked DOJ to provide, by this weekend, definitive judgments about the constitutionality of several similar proposals to regulate "organizations that support terrorism." These questions may yield different answers from those that we gave with respect to regulating "militias." But, in any event, it is not possible for DOJ to give definitive answers to these questions quickly, since many of the questions are ones of first impression and will require surveying a number of relevant but not dispositive constitutional cases and then determining their likely application to the proposals now under review. Given the time and effort this will require, both our office and the lawyers at DOJ thought it would be advisable at the outset to share our policy views about the proposals under review.All of the lawyers analyzing these proposals (in this office and at DOJ) strongly believe it is a serious mistake--as a policy but especially as a political matter-~to impose militia controls of the type now being discussed, even if they would be constitutional.* As a policy matter, such controls are of doubtful necessity, given that 41 states already have laws that ban either the creation of private military organizations or private paramilitary training that threatens civil disorder. Nor does it seem likely that the proposed federal controls would enhance federal law enforcement, given DOJ's reinterpretation of the terrorism investigation guidelines and Congress' expected passage of an anti-terrorism bill. Rather, the most·likely effect of the proposed controls would be to greatly increase fears about government encroachment on individual freedom and thus, paradoxically, to fuel public sympathy for militia organizations. A recent Gallup poll found that 39% of Americans already believe the federal government "has become so large and powerful it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens."* It follows, in our judgment, that as a political matter the proposed controls would be extremely ill-advised. The President's anti-terrorism legislation has already brought about an unprecedented alliance on legal issues between groups like the ACLU and the NRA, who have issued a joint public statement warning that an overreaction to the bombing will jeopardize "basic freedoms." If the President were now to call for registration of militias, for publication of their membership lists, or for reporting of their activities, he would likely prompt these and other groups on the left and right to join together in even stronger opposition, with renewed calls for investigation of Waco and so on. A recent Los Angeles Times poll found that, among those who owned guns or who described themselves as "conservative" or "white fundamentalist Christians," substantially more people ,were "concerned that government would excessively restrict the average person's civil liberties" than were worried that government "would fail to enact strong new anti-terrorism legislation." Only respondents describing themselves as "liberals" disagreed.Thus far, we believe the President's statements and actions in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy have placed him just where he should be: a) with a clear record of responding to a new threat with sensible new policies, and b) with an equally clear record of sensitivity to the rights of individuals. We worry that further proposals of the type now being discussed could be depicted in very menacing terms to average citizens and could tip the political balance against the President.
Re-read this sentence for the money quote: "If the President were now to call for registration of militias, for publication of their membership lists, or for reporting of their activities, he would likely prompt these and other groups on the left and right to join together in even stronger opposition, with renewed calls for investigation of Waco and so on."
The GOP, remember, had just taken over the House and promised hearings into Waco and Ruby Ridge. THIS was what scared Mikva and the professionals at DOJ and the FBI. The last thing in the world they wanted was to provide more incentive to those who were trying to find out the truth about those massacres, large and small. The opposition to these unconstitutional measures did not come from any principled critique but from bald self-interest and fear of the truth being discovered.
I called a source who has long experience in DC and was there at the time. I asked him, "Given that even the Clintonistas knew by that time that McVeigh (their designated patsy) wasn't a militia guy, that there was no 'militia connection' to OKC -- that he had been asked to leave militia meetings -- why the crackdown on militias? Whose bad idea was this? Emanuel's?"
"Of course it was Rahm Emanuel's idea," he replied. "Why do you think he was copied on Mikva's letter? Mikva knew where this was coming from." And, I pointed out, by that time everybody understood that a previous bad idea of Emanuel's, the Assault Weapons Ban, had led them to staring the prize pig of disaster in the face -- a GOP congress sniffing for the truth of Waco, something they feared above all things.
I also pointed out that I had been told early on in the Fast and Furious investigation in 2011 that the idea for that fiasco had originated in Rahm Emanuel's office. "Hey," he replied ironically, if somewhat misquotingly, "'Never let a good crisis go to waste.'" "Too bad," I responded, "that somebody didn't sit on Rahm for THAT one." But, my source said, "By that time HE was White House Chief of Staff. He held all the keys to the kingdom." "Some kingdom," I replied. "Yeah," he agreed, "some kingdom."