Such is the print version title of my letter to the editor published in The Washington Post this morning. Published prominently on the top page of the "Free for All" section, it appears online as Breaking the Law at FreedomWorks:
The Post’s article about Dick Armey’s armed coup at FreedomWorks [“Big donor steps in as tea party reels,” front page, Dec. 26] provided a new angle on the term “office politics.”
After reading about how Armey walked into the group’s D.C. offices with “an aide holstering a handgun at his waist,” I expected to see a discussion of how this was (or was not) a criminal action. This expectation went unfulfilled.
The Armey coup certainly suggests the possibility of a direct violation of D.C. law, which prohibits the public carrying of weapons. Simply put, one can have a licensed weapon in the home but very few (such as police or the FBI) have the right to carry a weapon.
Beyond a firearms violation, what about assault? Here’s one common-law definition: “an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” Illegally displaying a firearm while you force people out of their offices certainly would seem to fit the bill.
Less than two weeks after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the absence of discussion of the legal implications of carrying a weapon into the workplace is strikingly bizarre.
As one can't cover every subject in a LTE, there are many additional angles and issues to the "Armey Coup" (some raised after the fold) but there is one that should be a serious item for this community:
Why is the 'progressive community', including members of Congress, not pushing hard for investigation of and, if warranted, legal action about the Armey Coup in downtown Washington?
The Armey Coup
- (a) involves (and potentially puts at risk) one of the main players in fostering the Tea-Hadist threat to American Democracy (and democracy);
(b) provides a potential path for learning more about and shining light on 'hidden' (whether billionaire, Corporate, or otherwise) fiscal support for Tea-Hadists;
(c) involves a(t least one) significant Republican operative who might be liable for criminal charges; and
(d) is highly relevant to helping foster a more sensible national discussion about guns and the appropriate role(s) for weapons in society.
With this in mind, why the 'crickets'?
For example, here at VOTS, my search found nothing ...
Over at Daily Kos, Laura Clawson discussed the armed Armey Coup in Laura Clawson Money trumps guns in FreedomWorks coup attempt which sparked a robust discussion (150 comments). Laura focused on the role of money in the Armey Coup and did not raise the issue of whether anyone (and if so who) should face criminal charges related to it.
This appeared, however, in the comments. From the thread started by my comment questioning whether this was a legal violation, KS Lavida suggested something quite serious,
When people commit a crime together, they are all guilty. The gunman could perhaps be viewed the same way as a hit man -- while a hit man who kills someone is guilty of murder, so is the person who hires him, who is really viewed as the more serious criminal. Armey and his wife were both part of the armed assault and thus both appear to have been perpetrating a felony.
In other words, was this a criminal conspiracy? And, if so, how far did this extend? Hmmm ... seems like something meriting (calls for) an investigation, no?
Yep. Right now the Washington Post has an article covering the issue of David Greggory showing an empty ammunition magazine on camera. Yet, there isn't yet a probe into this armed goon flaunting a gun in a DC office, obviously for the purpose of intimidating and spooking other people there. I guess it's not really surprising since for the teabaggers, guns are always part of the answer. But we DC residents aren't in favor of this sort of shit going down here.
I would imagine that this caused FreedomWorks to violate the lease for the office space that they are renting. I can't imagine a single property owner in DC wanting to let random people off the street enter their buildings armed. Furthermore, other tenants leasing space on the same property can't be happy with such a potential security situation occurring in their vicinity.
Would Dick Armey have ordered his armed guards to kill the two men if they had not left the building? What the f'ck --- who in their right mind even thinks to take armed guards to work to clear out the people you don't like?
Hmmm ... this is a legitimate scenario to consider in considering the implications of the armed Armey Coup.
Are threats -- implicit or direct -- with armed weapons a legitimate part of American office politics?
In any event, cc's diary along with other discussions of the armed Armey Coup have not had great prominence here nor, it seems, elsewhere.
Consider, however, how much have you heard about the armed Armey Coup in the ten days since the Post article? Is this a prominent item of discussion, whether Congressional podiums, editorial page discussions, by Rachel Maddow, or here at Daily Kos? Imagine a different scenario for a moment. What if such an "armed coup" had involved (large) black men at, for example, CREDO's political action group? What if George Soros had been involved in paying off the armed coup leader? Not hard to imagine the RWSM screaming for investigations and we likely would have already had hearings in the House of Representatives. Yet, we are hearing little more than crickets (in the dead of winter).
Yes, there are other things going on. There was the Fiscal Cliff molehill, there are battles engaged over the Debt Ceiling, there is the terrifying reality of the Catastrophic Climate Chaos Cliff, ... Yet, legal issues surrounding the armed Armey coup at FreedomWorks are centrally related to these and to so many other critical issues.
FreedomWorks is one of the institutions that fosters and enables Tea-Hadist revanchism and helps to undermine our society's (not just our political system's) ability to address real challenges and adopt viable policies to address them. By not demanding serious investigation of (and, as appropriate, legal action about) the armed Armey Coup, we are leaving unexploited a very real (and quite legitimate) tool to weaken the part of the 'conservative' movement's anti-democratic machine.
With a note of personal history
While an undergraduate decades ago, I experienced an incident with some relevance to this. Late on a Saturday night, someone pounded one the door of a house that I lived in. Arriving at the door, this roughly 35 year-old stated he wanted to come into the party. Simply put, there wasn't such a party and this 35-year old could not foster any connection to any of the 20 people who lived there. Thus, I refused to let him in. He then pulled back on his shirt to show a large bulge while stating "I'm an officer of the law and have a gun, you will let me in." I told him that (a) this was a private residence and (b) I was letting him in against my will. He went downstairs to were several people were drinking from a keg. I went upstairs and called the police. And, the cops took it seriously with detectives and uniformed officers there in under 10 minutes. On going downstairs, the 'intruder' actually tried to draw the weapon when the police officers demanded his ID. As one of the detectives then put it to me, "this idiot, he started to draw his .44 Magnum. We could have killed him. It was unloaded." This 'guy' turned out to be a game warden from another state and was illegally carrying a concealed weapon in my university's state. While charged with a number of crimes (including assault with a deadly weapon and criminal trespass), he ended up pleading guilty to lesser charges.