The survivors of the Branch Davidian holocaust are represented by Ramsey Clark.

These men are lifelong civil libertarians.
Yes, there are elements of the militia movement which, in isolated cases, go off the reservation and become a threat.

In the mid-'80s, tax protester Gordon Kohl was killed in a firefight with law enforcement. Closer to home, eight members of the Arizona Patriots were indicted in 1986 for planning to knock over an armored car in a scheme to finance a white supremacist survival camp.

The point is that these criminals are always run to ground under current laws that respect constitutional safeguards.

Now President Clinton wants to give federal agents sweeping new powers citing a national conspiracy that does not exist. Timothy McVeigh, as the evidence shows, is too sick to have ever fit into any movement.

Why isn't it enough to understand McVeigh as an isolated psychopath whose delirium was fueled by the methamphetamine that reduced him to a skeletal frame and helped finance his apocalyptic travels?

The answer isn't very pleasant.
With his Democratic coalition shattered, his domestic agenda up in flames, the U.S. Senate announcing yet another look into Whitewater and indictments flying out of the special prosecutor's investigation in Arkansas, Bill Clinton has found a new source of momentum. He has isolated the militia movement and tar-brushed it with Oklahoma City.

The press has lapped up Clinton's suggestion that blaming the militia movement made sense out of the senseless slaughter in Oklahoma. The coverage has boosted the president's image.

"Clinton's public approval ratings have risen significantly since the bombing April 19," wrote the New York Times' Todd S. Purdum. "The White House is eager to keep the initiative on an issue that makes the president appear tough."

President Clinton is pushing national security legislation to create a new level of spying upon American citizens, target his natural political enemies on the right and enhance his law-and-order credentials.

President Clinton even wants to use American troops to police United States citizens.

The last time such remarkable security measures were in effect, the radio was playing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Four Dead in Ohio" and psychiatrists' offices were being burglarized for dirt on antiwar dissidents. In those days, Bill Clinton was a pot-smoking, draft-dodging member of a culture Nixon and Kissinger thought was a threat to national security. It was wrong then to turn federal agents loose upon the entire antiwar movement because of the deranged actions of a handful of lunatics in the Weather Underground.

It is wrong now.
The president's proposal is a ruthless and cynical manipulation of a tragedy, but it is not out of character.

I remember Bill Clinton on the campaign trail when he wanted to bolster his crime-fighting image. He didn't think twice before flying home to Arkansas and executing a mentally retarded inmate.

Cheryl Burgess looks at the Constitution through the lens of a crackpot.
But I don't think Burgess and the militia faithful merit the surveillance of a police state because of their controversial notions.

I do believe she has a right to her opinions and her guns. And if she, or her dogs, step over the line, Harry Craig, not J. Edgar Hoover, is the appropriate dogcatcher.

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