By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
At that precise moment, FBI agents Tollhurst and Bailey jumped from the prosecutor's table, leapt into the air, and exchanged vigorous high-fives. They then raced around the courtroom with index fingers raised and proclaimed to the jury, "We're number one."
Actually, they didn't do that.
The FBI contented itself knowing that the agency had pulled a small trailer of damning, if circumstantial, evidence out of Davis' apartment including a typewriter whose letters matched identically with those found on a note in Davis' home.
Referring to the attack on Palo Verde and other nuclear facilities that never materialized, the note read: "We are running out of time. Some power plant poles attending certin [sic} nuxlear [sic] installations in the Western United States were cut down last night. EMETIC accepts full responsibility."
Could Mark Davis and his colleagues ever have launched an assault on Palo Verde without the FBI's assistance?
The tapes played last week generated mixed signals.
On January 3, 1989, one week shy of a year after Ron Frazier went to the FBI, he taped a conversation with Davis. The two men were still discussing the nonexistent thermite. But something had changed.
Energy Fuels Nuclear's uranium operation at Canyon Mine was sabotaged on September 25, 1988, and 29 power poles were cut.
The FBI knew about this strike and let it occur.
What they did not know in advance was that as Canyon Mine was struck on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, a simultaneous attack by environmentalists happened at an Energy Fuels Nuclear facility on the North Rim.
Davis related what happened at Canyon Mine to Frazier.
"Yeah, the power went out when we cut a bunch of the poles about three-quarters of a way through . . . I got down on the ground with a hacksaw and cut the one that was going to the ground. That fell over. The whole thing fell over and the lines shorted . . . those lights they have out there flared . . . She said it looked like an atomic-bomb explosion. Like this huge flare of light."
In the very same conversation, Davis gave the government ominous information.
"We've got a real, real, real, major stuff happening in spring. That's what I need to be able to use the thermite for would be simultaneous strikes all over the West Coast."
Eleven days later, on January 14, 1989, Frazier recorded a conversation with Davis and this time the FBI had Frazier volunteer that he'd found a formula for thermite. Better than that, Frazier said he had a contact who might be useful.
"I do have access to, uh, little thermite charges . . . grenades. Little thermite grenades."
Davis could not believe his good luck.
"Oh, you do? Grenades?"
Davis told Frazier he had people lined up to hit five nuclear-power plants in the West.
Both sides were posturing at that stage.
Frazier continued to up the ante, agreeing to supply incendiary devices while Davis claimed that he could put together the sort of coordinated attack upon nuclear-power plant transmission lines that the writers on Mission Impossible would have considered too unlikely for a script.
Davis even fantasized about launching this strike during President Bush's budget speech, a talk that Davis predicted would ignore the issue of nuclear-waste disposal.
By linking sabotage to Bush's speech, Davis figured, "We look like heroes riding to the rescue rather than terrorists."
As often as defense attorneys portray their hapless clients as "Moe, Larry, and Curly attempting to build a better mousetrap with a monkey wrench," there is another version of this scenario.
Before the trial commenced, Roslyn Moore-Silver told me emphatically that the defendants "are not harmless."
A former prosecutor who had this case before entering private practice, Ivan Mathew, made the point that when the government learned that there was a plan afoot to attack nuclear installations, it would have been irresponsible not to get to the bottom of the alleged conspiracy. And on January 3 when Davis told Frazier that there would be coordinated attacks all over the West Coast, Davis had already taken credit for the two-pronged sabotage of Energy Fuels Nuclear at the Grand Canyon.
Although the FBI knew about and let the vandalism at Canyon Mine occur, this incident also demonstrated that the environmentalists were capable of a certain level of sophisticated syncronization.
All Ron Frazier had to do, with the FBI's prodding, was offer up thermite grenades.
Actually that wasn't all Ron Frazier had to do.
One of the last tapes the jury heard last week was of a conversation Frazier recorded with Ilse Asplund.
Like Bogie in Casablanca, Mark Davis has decided to send his Ilse away.
On February 14, 1989, Asplund tells Frazier how crushed she is over this impending separation.
"This is realy sad," Ilse told Frazier. "This is just breaking my heart. This is real sad. We're not going to live together pretty soon so that I won't be in the line of fire . . . you know, it's been a reality for him to do what he needs to do. He's got to, like, not have a place that's held back to try to protect me."
How did Frazier respond to the torment of the woman he cared for so deeply?