2011-11-15 "Sovereign citizen claims government railroaded him" by Jill Burkefrom "Alaska Dispatch"
After last month's victory in Alaska State Court, jailed militia leader Schaeffer Cox is looking for a second game-changing decision in federal court. After a judge ruled the warrantless FBI surveillance tapes of Cox and his associates were illegal under state law, the murder conspiracy and weapons case the state had brought against Cox fell apart within weeks after the ruling.
Now, Cox is trying to dismantle the federal weapons case against him on grounds it violates his rights to free speech and protection from the abuse of government authority.
"There was no legitimate law enforcement purpose in electronically recording, investigating, and attempting illegal transactions with Francis Schaeffer Cox," Nelson Traverso wrote in a motion filed Tuesday to dismiss the charges.
"This case is not about drug trafficking; this case is not about firearms trafficking. This case is about the trafficking of ideas that gave rise to overreaching by the government for speech critical of the same," argued Traverso. Traverso elaborates further in a pointed passage:
The government in this case did not pass a statute to suppress the free speech of Francis Schaeffer Cox; here, instead, they engaged in a number of acts whose result was to accomplish the same and did so without a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Justifying their extensive electronic surveillance, usage of an informant to ―infiltrate Schaeffer Cox, constant manipulation of him to physically attack the government, actively ignore Schaeffer Cox‘s expressed rejection of warfare, actively try to manipulate him to stay longer—not depart—so as to engage him in some form of criminal activity, persist with surveillance even where two Assistant U.S. Attorneys were aware Francis Schaeffer Cox had not crossed any line into wrongful actionable conduct, encouragement of a confrontation with law enforcement over a dispute with state authorities over his son, and after an emphatic rejection on February 12, 2011 by the Alaska Peacemakers Militia command staff‘s rejection of an attack urged by one of the informants renewed efforts for him to commit violence; and, attempt to have him handle destructive devices and firearms to manufacture a crime. This does not just shock the conscience; the government has clearly demonstrated it has none.
Cox, a self-declared sovereign citizen and fervent advocate of disregard for existing government structure, has been in custody nearly nine months, ever since he and several of his militia associates were arrested in March.
He has since told the court that he believes it was confidential informants and not his core militia members who "fanned the flames of government overthrow." He has also said he never planned a retaliatory murder plot in the event he was taken into custody, as has been alleged. He wanted an approach that was more "Ghandi" than "Rambo," he said, and instead of waging war had instead planned to go into hiding, according to court records.
Yet Cox had reason to be paranoid, according to Traverso, whose filings indicate someone in the military overheard a federal agent who was investigating Cox state that law enforcement would eventually have a confrontation with Cox in which Cox would be killed.
One day ago, Cox pledged in writing that this was so, and that Bill Fulton, a gun dealer from Anchorage and a man now known to be one of the informants, had tried to instigate dissension among Cox's ranks by spreading a rumor that Cox -- against his militia's "defend all, aggress none" philosophy -- was intent on going to war with the government. When Fulton couldn't get Cox to admit he had a plan to harm the government, Cox said Fulton "exploded" and "threatened" another militia member with a knife. Fulton was so on edge that Cox would later warn his militia members to avoid Fulton, especially if Fulton or Fulton's protégé -- a man known as the "Fuse King" -- had been drinking.
The government had no reason to go after Cox, yet it did, according to Traverso. The government had branded Cox a militia extremist and didn't like that sympathizers in the state of Montana were latching onto his message. "I believe I had touched a nerve with my speeches and that government was trying to keep me quiet. They did that," Cox wrote in an affidavit signed Nov. 14.
In long, sermon-like speeches to friendly audiences Cox likened the government to a "wounded bear," something not worth sinking time or money into. Attention is better spent on figuring what to do after government dies underneath its own bloat and bad decisions, he said.
Yet in his speeches he manages to simultaneously advocate violence and peaceful action, calling on people to be willing to kill or be killed in the name of liberty while also urging them pursue less bloody avenues for change.
"My most deepest fear is that our government is not going to hear us until we speak to them in their language, which is force. Now that doesn't necessarily mean violence," Cox said during a speech he made in Montana in December 2009, just before he would gain increased attention from the FBI. He then goes on: "Don't get me wrong. I'm not against violence. I am not against violence. OK? I am not against spilling blood for freedom. I'm not against, I will kill for liberty."
In the same speech, Cox talks about how force can merely be "pushing them into submission to the law through nonviolent means."
Federal prosecutors stand firm in support of the case they've built.
"We have already shown the court that this case is about illegal weapons and not about suppression of speech. It's about machine guns, hand grenades and silencers, all of which are designed to kill by stealth or extreme violence," prosecutor Steven Skrocki said Tuesday afternoon. "When it became clear that people's lives were in danger through possession and future use of these weapons against others, this office will always take those matters very, very seriously -- to the fullest extent allowed by law."
Asked about Cox's claims that the informants were actively working to instigate Cox to violence and lure him to commit crimes, Skrocki declined to comment. The facts at trial will speak for themselves, he said.
Skrocki plans to ask for a few weeks to respond to Cox's claims that the investigation into his activities was, from the start, illegal. Cox's trial is scheduled to begin early next year.