UPDATE AND RETRACTION False alarm; apparently the guy bought a couple of insurance policies and then killed himself, trying to make it look like murder so his heirs could collect.
After the body of a part-time Census enumerator was found in Eastern Kentucky with the word “FED” written on its chest, there was a little flurry of activity from Blue Blogistan on the theme that the man has been a victim of the violent anti-government rhetoric coming off the hate-radio and hate-TV airwaves and the Tea Parties, with the acquiescence (to say no more) of elected Republicans.
That was a plausible story, but no more than that, and the authorities were being very cautious about what they said, so I refrained from jumping on the bandwagon; the Blue team ought to be careful not to imitate the Red team’s tendency to hysteria around incidents of possible political violence.
But new facts have now emerged that change the picture substantially, making it much more plausible that the Kentucky killing was a continuation of the war waged against local federal officials in the 1990s by the militias, the Posse Comitatus, and the “sagebrush rebels.” (With, I might add, an appallingly weak response from Bill Clinton and Janet Reno.)
AP inteviewed someone who claims to have been the original finder of the body. And his account is full of chilling detail, with the key facts confirmed by two anonymous people with access to official information:
Jerry Weaver of Ohio told the Associated Press he was visiting a cemetery in rural Kentucky with family members on Sept. 12 when he, his wife and daughter saw the body.
“The only thing he had on was a pair of socks,” Weaver said. “And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something.
“He was murdered,” Weaver said. “There’s no doubt.”
Weaver said the body was about 50 yards from a 2003 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck.
Two people briefed on the investigation said various details of Weaver’s account matched the details of the crime scene, though both people said they were not informed who found the body. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.
Authorities have said a preliminary cause of death was asphyxiation, pending a full medical examination. According to a Kentucky State Police statement, the body was hanging from a tree with a rope around the neck, yet it was in contact with the ground.
“And they even had duct tape around his neck,” Weaver said. “And they had like his identification tag on his neck. They had it duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder.”
Both of the people briefed on the investigation confirmed that Sparkman’s Census Bureau ID was found taped to his head and shoulder area.
I can’t think of an interpretation of taping the victim’s Census ID to the body other than as a political statement; if the man had just stumbled across a meth lab, he might have been killed, but hardly in such a dramatic fashion. Unless and until contrary facts emerge, I’m prepared to call this a terrorist incident, and to say that Glenn Beck* very likely has Bill Sparkman’s blood on his tongue and lips.
Here’s hoping that the President will make a full-throated statement that all the power of the Federal government stands behind each and every Federal employee attacked for doing his job.
* Update I’m reminded that it was Michelle Bachman, and not Glenn Beck, that tried to make the Census Bureau into a wingnut bogeyman.