L. Neil Smith's

Number 3, December 1995

Rogue Myth

By Vic Milan

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         In the wake of the Ruby Ridge and Waco hearings, we're once again hearing that such atrocities are the fault of "rogue agencies," usually meaning BATF. That's wrong, and it's dangerous.
         Legally, the concept of "rogue agency" has no meaning. Under the law, government agents acting "under color of law" are deemed to be the government. If ATF does it, the United States government does it.
         And it's not as if this behavior is anything new. The DEA acted this way -- kicking down doors without regard to law, decency, or whether it was even the right door -- all through the '80s. Bill Clinton increased their budget. While it never managed to incinerate 70-100 people at a whack, that we know of, DEA did employ contract assassins -- one of whom, William Wayne Gilbert, is one of America's top-scoring but least-known serial killers.
         Sure, ATF has a history of abuse. But while they got the ball rolling at both Ruby Ridge and Mount Carmel, the ambush and murder of Sammy Weaver were carried out by agents of the Marshals Service, and both Vicki Weaver and the final assault on Waco were executed by the FBI. The FBI is the lead law-enforcement agency of the world. Are they a "rogue agency"? Are the Marshals? If they're not mainstream Federal law enforcement, who is?
         The abuses keep happening. People are still losing their property, their freedom, and their lives to jackbooted Federal thugs who believe, with sanction from the highest levels of the govrnment, that the Bill of Rights does not apply to them.
         The United States government is controlled by people, not just Democrats and not just liberals, who believe that they have not only the right but the duty to direct the activities of every living American in every particular -- for our own good, of course. To that end, they must have power -- all of it, not to beat around the bush. And when you have that conviction of absolute righteousness, anybody who stands in your way -- who thwarts your desire to save the American people from themselves -- is both sick and evil; is a pervert and a heretic and dangerous criminal. Which is how the government and media characterized David Koresh, and how the government tried to portray Randy Weaver on the one hand, while slipping him $3.5M with the other -- without any admission of wrongdoing, of course.
         Blaming "rogue agencies" is blaming symptoms. Sure, it would be a great idea to follow Arlen Specter s uncharacteristically sound suggestion to abolish ATF. But ATF is a symptom, not the sickness. If ATF goes away, its iron gauntlet will only be taken up -- eagerly -- by some other branch of Federal law enforcement.
         If, as Time and Newsweek aver, "heavily-armed paramilitaries" pose a threat to America, clearly the most dangerous of all belong to our government. Nor do ATF, DEA, and all the rest operate in a vacuum. The problem isn t rogue agencies. The problem is rogue government.

Prometheus Award-winner Victor Milan is the author of over 70 novels, including the just-released CLD from AvoNova and War in Tethyr from TSR.

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