Last week the fifteen good people in the jury box watched a parade of FBI agents step into the witness stand.

This jury, like all juries, is composed of citizens who are chosen because they are like the rest of us. They do not summer in Portofino. They work for a living. They do their own laundry and on the weekend they shop for their own groceries. At the supermarket checkout counter, the jurors see the tabloid magazines that trumpet as male role models Michael Jackson, Arsenio Hall, Rob Lowe, Burt Reynolds, Mickey Rooney and, yes, Roseanne Barr's husband.

Was it refreshing, then, to this jury of our peers when a host of FBI agents, men who still look and talk like real men, took the stand?

Every agent was square-jawed and clear-eyed. They really do look that way; you'd never think of asking one of them to spell H-A-N-G-O-V-E-R. Facial hair-- a mustache to you, sir--is regulation issue. And these are men of substantial size; not a Spike Lee in the lot.

The first to testify was Special Agent Michael Roof. (Everyone in the bureau is referred to as Special Agent so and so.)

Special Agent Roof was in charge of the FBI's SWAT Team. He described for the jury how he had scouted the territory near Central Arizona Project Pole 40-1, where his fellow agents had hoped to arrest the crew from Earth First!.

On May 30, 1989, a contingent of special agents was staging in Salome, Arizona, prior to the SWAT Team's departure for Pole 40-1. On two separate occasions, local law enforcement officers came upon the Salome gathering. Rather than confide in the sheriffs, Special Agent Roof lied and said it was only a training exercise.

When defense attorney Wellborn Jack Jr. stood, he asked the witness about this lie.

Special Agent Michael Roof absolutely refused to admit that he'd told an untruth.

Jack asked the question five or six ways. And each time Special Agent Roof refused to budge.

"It was a necessary part of the operation," said Special Agent Roof, but he would not label it a lie.

Wellborn Jack was a model of patience. He was the understanding principal who had an unruly child in his office. In the face of each denial, Jack found a new way to ask the same question.

With his slight Louisiana drawl and gentle, hesitant elocution, he sounded like a Dixie Jimmy Stewart: "Now.|.|.now.|.|.now .|.|. just tell me.|.|.you lied, didn't you?!"

Special Agent Michael Roof continued to charge forward, owning up to nothing; then, in a single unexpected movement, Jack took the onrushing Roof and deftly flipped him: "It's hard to admit that you lied, isn't it?"

That soft question gave the courtroom pause and allowed everyone to see Roof's bullheaded resistance in stark relief against the relative inconsequence of the deception itself. Jack's moment of illumination set up a fundamental bulwark of the defense: The FBI is not to be trusted; not in matters small or large.

As the FBI's story of the arrest at the transmission tower emerged, the defense attorneys adopted a strategy that was a variation on Dana Carvey's character, the Church Lady, from Saturday Night Live: "Well, isn't he special, Special Agent Michael Roof?"

The skepticism directed at the FBI by the defense attorneys began with the description by Special Agent Roof of the arrest.

At the CAP transmission tower, a SWAT Team of nine FBI agents waited under Roof's command. They were dressed from head to toe in their black uniforms. They wore bulletproof vests and were further protected by unique antisnake leggings. They carried walkie-talkies and sported night-vision goggles. Each man carried a 9mm pistol and many were additionally armed with shotguns and fully automatic M-16s. One agent carried an M-79 grenade launcher specifically tooled for flares. A Blackhawk helicopter waited in support. A short distance away another fifteen agents were organized in teams prepared to interrogate, transport and analyze the crime scene.

Into this deployed array of bristling special agents rode the Earth Muffins the government identified as terrorists from Earth First!: Mark Davis, Margaret "Peg" Millett, and Marc Baker. They were driven to their ill-fated rendezvous by Special Agent Michael Fain in the truck of Special Agent Michael Fain.

After witness Roof described how he and his partner had crept up upon the would-be saboteurs, pounced upon and arrested Baker and Davis, defense attorney Michael Black stood.

Did you see anyone out there dressed as a giant squirrel, sneered Black in reference to his client's inclination to don just such a costume at Earth First! demonstrations.

Roof did not see the humor in Black's jab, and for all the Special Agent knew, Peg Millett had worn a squirrel costume. The Special Agent was in the dark about Peg's outfit because he was in the dark about Peg period.

Despite all of the special agents at CAP Pole 40-1, despite all of the equipment, ammunition and backup, Peg Millett walked right past the FBI on the night of the arrests.

Special Agent Roof spent the entire evening and all of the following morning with his men in the desert searching for the lady, calling her name.

Come out, Peg. This is the FBI.
In fact, an FBI agent had to summon the very law enforcement agency lied to earlier to bring out dogs and horses in an effort to find Peg Millett, who'd long since hitchhiked back to Prescott.

Defense attorney Gerry Spence wondered why the FBI was tricked out in full battle array like a battalion of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf's finest, when in fact, the vegetarians of Earth First! were well-known to abhor human violence and weapons of all kind. Why did the FBI mount Operation Desert Storm against the hippies of Operation Desert Tie-Dye?

Spence asked Special Agent Gary Reincke if the squad hadn't been briefed about the Prescott group's insistence on nonviolence. Before you go out on a mission, isn't it standard procedure to inquire whether or not you're going up against "vicious criminals or grandmother types"?

All of the agents pleaded ignorance: "We assume everyone is armed and dangerous."

The defense would not let such an answer pass. All of the lawyers know that the FBI had 807 hours of taped conversations in which the environmentalists repeatedly state their opposition to violence. Furthermore, FBI agents and informants had thoroughly infiltrated the group, and in fact, the FBI was transporting the saboteurs to the spot where they would be arrested. Spence forced witness Reincke to concede that Special Agent Fain's vehicle was so clearly known to the Bureau that it received considerate treatment at the crime scene. And so, said Spence, the FBI knew, because they knew all that there was to know, that these people were not armed or dangerous.

And yet, said Spence to Special Agent Reincke, the "whole truth" is nowhere reflected in the FBI's reports on this arrest.

"I don't understand the difference between the truth and the whole truth," replied Special Agent Reincke smugly.

"Yes," said Spence, pausing for effect. "Thank you."
In contrast to the Ninja/Star Wars regalia of the FBI, the environmentalists were shown to be armed with one, broken, Swiss army knife.

Special Agent Walter Garcia described from the stand taking Dr. Marc Baker, the biologist, into custody.

When surprised by the FBI, Baker had been wearing upon his feet something akin to water skis for midgets in a not-entirely-thought-through attempt to mask his footprints upon the desert floor.

These odd contraptions were two sheets of plywood approximately eighteen inches by ten inches that were secured to the bottom of his shoes by crude baling wiring. Dr. Baker stands a skinny six foot three inches, and the jury could only imagine the sort of headless-horseman flight he made in these harebrained Dr. Scholls when the FBI's flare exploded.

Special Agent Garcia was asked to put on one of the plywood skis and lie on the courtroom floor, completely stretched out, to mimic the loony position Dr. Baker was in at the point of arrest and to unwittingly mock the agent's own doomsday armaments.

Attorney Skip Donau posed the rhetorical questions that the defense team hoped would stick with the jurors. Isn't it true that you FBI agents were armed with automatic weapons and shotguns and helicopters, not because the people were armed or dangerous, but because you wanted to make a big splash with the press? Isn't that what this case is all about? The defense perspective comes sharply into focus when you consider a Los Angeles Times article that appeared shortly after the arrest. In that article, the FBI was quoted as claiming the defendants were apprehended with automatic weapons.

It is impossible to know how the jury reacted to this dance between the FBI agents and the defense attorneys. The jurors have not seen the press clips from the arrest.

Obviously, the defendants' supporters who filled the courtroom gallery were delighted. And why not?

The FBI agents were transformed by the defense lawyers into some semblance of that overpowering choir that dominated the television airwaves on Monty Python's Flying Circus. The choir on the British-based satire knew only one song but they were so majestically masculine that you imagined them filling cathedrals at the coronations of kings. And this vision was based entirely upon image, you see, because once you got past the richness of the sound, you discovered that the lyrics were:

Spam, spam, spam, spam
Wonderful spaaaam
Marvelous spam

Oh, the music was marvelous indeed, but in reality they were only singing about World War II luncheon meat.

So, too, the FBI made a swell presentation, all yes ma'am, no ma'am, just the facts ma'am. And certainly they appeared to be stunning breeding stock. But underneath all that surface gloss, what was the content?

Was it simply paramilitary gibberish as the defense contended?
While the prosecution could never portray the environmentalists in the courtroom as Shiite terrorists, no matter what the government said to the press, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roslyn Moore-Silver did present witnesses to document the kind of damage these alleged tofu-innocents were capable of if given their head.

After a relatively brief appearance by the manager of the Snow Bowl to recount the dollar loss at the ski resort, the witness stand was taken by an engineer from Canyon Mine.

Mark Chalmers managed the controversial uranium mine on September 25, 1988, when 29 power poles were vandalized by saws.

Chalmers' calculations quickly ran the total cost up over $200,000, including materials, labor and increased security. Especially increased security.

The defense quickly charged that Chalmers was possibly padding his numbers, and to this allegation you can only say, so what?

This defense tactic was too coy by half. Someone cut down those poles. And clearly many in the Earth First! movement portrayed themselves as "warriors for Mother Earth." You simply cannot, on the one hand, stomp about the forest, pounding your chest and sniffing your underarms, and then, when the final accounting comes due, claim that you were merely a litterer who'd dropped a few beer cans.

More curious for the jury was the revelation by defense attorneys that the FBI was aware in advance of the assault that happened on September 25, 1988, against Canyon Mine.

Whether the cost of the vandalism was $150,000 or $200,000, the FBI could have warned the owners of Canyon Mine, could have arrested the perpetrators, could have prevented the entire folly.

Instead, the FBI sat back and let Canyon Mine take the full hit.
Gerry Spence pointed out to the jury that at the time of the Canyon Mine sabotage, the FBI had not been able to link Dave Foreman to the conspiracy, and so the vandalism was allowed to play out until the connection could be made down the road.

Last week, everything having to do with the FBI that was presented to the jury ended up tainted.

On Thursday, the prosecution offered a witness, Harry Macey, in an effort to tie Marc Baker to the ski-lift sabotage near Flagstaff.

Macey testified that at a party in July of '89, a party given in celebration of Marc Baker's release on bond, that he, Macey, had been discussing how heavy his exhausted children were to carry down a mountain at the end of a recent hike.

Baker's reply, according to Macey was, "You think that's heavy? You should try carrying an acetylene torch over the top of the San Francisco Peaks."

Three months later, in mid-October, Macey took his information to the FBI, saying he was disgusted by what Baker had said.

Skip Donau, Baker's attorney, wasted little time.
Isn't it true, asked Donau of Macey, that this man you were allegedly disgusted with was hired by you to help build your deck in August, one month after the party?

Yes, it was true.
And isn't it also true that on October 13, the day before you called the FBI, you learned information that made you angry and that hurt you?

Yes, that was also true.
"On October 13, I discovered," said Harry Macey, "that my now ex-wife was having an affair with Marc Baker."
"You did this out of anger and hurt, didn't you?" said Donau.
"Only partially," replied Macey.
What a jury will make of this sort of information, God only knows.
Marc Baker did not blink when Macey fingered him.

The week had begun for the biologist with FBI agents holding up his patented, plywood Air-Bakers in a display that kept the court amused at the antics of the galloping galoot from Central Arizona Project Pole 40-1. By the end of the week, a former friend was tying him to the ski-lift sabotage, and if that wasn't disappointment enough, there was the added public mortification of explaining the accusation by saying.|.|."Please understand, I've been sleeping with my buddy's wife."

By Friday afternoon there was enough pain in the courtroom to obliterate the humor of Tuesday morning. Of the five defendants, only Dave Foreman has the constant support of a spouse. All of the others have endured separation and heartbreak under the stress of the federal indictments.

That is how these things go.
Dr. Baker is a biologist with controversial, environmental dreams. And when these fantasies turned to nightmares, everything went to hell. He broke up with his wife, and now, when he comes home at night, his children are no longer there to hug him. And even that is not the end of it.

One day Dr. Baker's former friend will come to court and point an accusing finger at the biologist.

For better and for worse, in sickness and in health.

To be continued

"It's hard to admit that you lied, isn't it?"

Why did the FBI mount Operation Desert Storm against the hippies of Operation Desert Tie-Dye?

"I don't understand the difference between the truth and the whole truth," replied Special Agent Reincke smugly.

In contrast to the Ninja/
Star Wars regalia of the FBI, the environmentalists were shown to be armed with one, broken, Swiss army knife.

Last week, everything having to do with the FBI that was presented to the jury ended up tainted.


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