Monday, April 14, 2014


The U.S. government tells us that it has to keep careful tabs on the electronic communications of ... well, everyone, because otherwise it might miss a message that passes between a murderous terrorist and an as-yet-unidentified co-conspirator one or more "hops" away. I keep thinking about that as I read about Frazier Glenn Miller, the suspect in three anti-Semitic Kansas killings, because this was a guy whose association with the scum of the earth was -- openly -- as little as one "hop" away, a fact that we've known for more than thirty years.

There's this:
The suspect, Frazier Glenn Miller, was a prolific poster under the screen name "Rounder" on a website called the Vanguard News Network, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center, which tracks hate groups, flagged a thread Miller posted Saturday that described a phone conversation with Craig Cobb, a fugitive from Canada who tried to mold a tiny North Dakota town into an all-white enclave until he wound up in jail on charges of terrorizing residents.

Miller wrote in the post, titled "Craig Cobb phoned today," that Cobb "sounded confident and healthy." He noted that a pre-sentencing investigation had been completed ahead of Cobb's next hearing and added that he made Cobb "promise to visit me IF and WHEN he can."
And there's this:
Frazier Glenn Miller ... was close associates with Kevin William Harpham, the man arrested for the attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Jr. unity march in Washington in 2011.
The site where Harpham shared his ideas with racist comrades, the Vanguard News Network (VNN), was created in 2000 by Alex Linder, a former National Alliance member. The VNN site motto is “No Jews, Just Right.” In addition to featuring racist and anti-Semitic blog articles, the site has become a virtual meeting place for nearly three thousand white nationalists. Linder runs the site from his Kirksville, Missouri home. He also publishes the crude racist tabloid, The Aryan Alternative, with fellow Missouri white nationalist Frazier Glenn Miller.


Miller thanked Harpham for a “gigantically large” donation of $500, according to a post on VNN in December 2006. The posting also noted that the contribution paid for nearly 7,000 copies of the tabloid and that Harpham was one of the top 5 or 6 donors from the site. Harpham also donated cash to Miller's 2006 and 2010 congressional campaigns.
Why, it almost seems as if there's never been a white supremacist Miller didn't associate with:
[In the 1980s,] Miller had ties to The Order, a white nationalist terrorist organization whose members assassinated Denver talk show host Alan Berg.... The leader of the group, Robert Mathews, had given Miller $200,000 in cash that was part of the $3.8 million stolen during an armored car robbery.
How does the All-Seeing Eye of the government not keep careful watch on this guy? How does it manage to miss the fact that he's about to grab a gun and kill some people? Why the hell do we live in a panopticon if the seers don't even see something like that coming?

I'm also reminded of a somewhat more low-tech dragnet we've been asked to accept in recent years. This is from Timothy Noah's review of the new Matt Taibbi book, The Divide, in The New York Times yesterday:
Taibbi is ... skillful at explaining how bureaucratic imperatives in the criminal justice system can spin scarily out of control. In New York City, you start with a "broken windows" theory that says cracking down on petty crime can prevent little criminals from becoming big criminals. Possibly because that's right, violent crime goes down. But paradoxically, that makes a cop's life more difficult rather than less, because criminals are getting harder to find even as new computer systems are enabling the police commissioner to keep track of which precincts are making the most arrests. The solution turns out to be aggressive use of a stop-and-frisk policy that gives cops a blank check to "search virtually anyone at any time." The police start behaving "like commercial fishermen, throwing nets over whole city blocks." Some of the fish get prosecuted or ticketed for ever-pettier offenses; 20,000 summonses, for instance, are handed out annually for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. But most fish aren't guilty of anything and must grow accustomed to being routinely cuffed and ridden around in a police van before they are tossed back into the water. These fish are, of course, typically black and poor. Anecdotal evidence suggests that throwing a similar fishnet over entire Wall Street firms would produce a criminal yield at least as high as any random ghetto block. But innocent Wall Street fish would have a much bigger megaphone with which to proclaim their constitutional rights, and guilty Wall Street fish would have much better lawyers.
I'm not arguing in favor of the principle that it's OK to stop and frisk people based on a generalized suspicion about their kind, but if you accept that principle, isn't Frazier Glenn Miller the kind of guy who ought to have to demonstrate to the cops every few weeks or so that he's not packing? He's a convicted felon -- does he have the right to own firearms at all? If you have no problem with the way Mike Bloomberg's cops treated teenage boys in Harlem, why shouldn't Miller have been treated the same way?


Victor said...

He certainly should have.

But he's white, and older, and lives in rural areas.

Of course, as you said earlier, if he were even dressed like a Muslim, he'd have had a parade of people following his every move - physical, and electronic!

Yastreblyansky said...

Honestly I begin to wonder if the "dragnet" isn't altogether an invention of the DHS to make themselves look competent. Ever since 2001 the FBI has hardly been able to locate a terrorist plot other than the ones they themselves were running. Then again remember what happened when DHS contemplated giving some attention to right-wing groups in 2009. All the Republicans screamed because persecuting white supremacists and abortion-clinic bombers is so partisan. Wonder why they thought that?

The New York Crank said...

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that throwing a similar fishnet over entire Wall Street firms would produce a criminal yield at least as high as any random ghetto block."

Heck, you could throw a fishnet over various New York $50,000-a-year-tuition prep schools and make enough drug busts to jam the courts into total sclerosis.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

Unknown said...

Amen to all of you!

Ken_L said...

As was entirely predictable, right wing bloggers are rushing to explain that the guy was a liberal, a Democrat and in no way associated with conservatism.