By Craig Hastings
I’m going to weigh in on the arrest of Roger Stone last week. Stone, a long time confidant of President Trump, was arrested at his home in South Florida during the early morning hours on Jan. 25. Depending on which news source you watch or read, it has been reported that as many as 30 FBI agents participated in the raid/arrest. Some of those agents included in this count would have been in the helicopters and amphibious vehicles reported to have been part of this operation. So began a debate over the FBI tactics used to arrest Mr. Stone.
The debate surrounding the arrest has to do with the number of agents, helicopters, and amphibious boats reported to have been on scene. First I will admit that I have no idea what the FBI policy and procedure manual has to say about how many agents and what special equipment will be used for what types of arrests. I can say that, like many of you, I have seen televised news accounts of FBI arrests many times. Recalling those accounts I don’t remember seeing the FBI bringing this many agents to an arrest of someone accused of committing a crime such as the one Mr. Stone has been charged. Someone within the higher ranks of the FBI or the Justice Department or both, felt the need to do a little political grandstanding with Mr. Stone’s arrest.
However, it appears the way in which Mr. Stone was taken into custody didn’t sit well Republicans and even some Democrats. Once the on scene CNN coverage went viral many Americans wanted an explanation. These Americans watched this raid/arrest on television and were shocked to see the number of FBI agents on the ground surrounding Stone’s home. Not only the number of agents but the weaponry some of those agents were carrying was also of question. Wasn’t the mission just to arrest one elderly man who was at home and probably asleep with his elderly wife? FBI agents were seen with short and long automatic/semi-automatic rifles storming the Stone’s residence as an FBI helicopter flew overhead and amphibious vehicles patrolled the nearest waterway.
Me; I expected to hear whether true or not, some sort of confidential information the FBI had received that gave them cause to believe that Stone was in possession of an arsenal of weapons and prepared to use them if threatened with arrest. Nope. What about the helicopter? Would we learn that confidential information caused the FBI to suspect Stone, his wife, and their dogs had an escape plan that would include a getaway vehicle that justified helicopters overhead to track every mile. Nope. What about the amphibious vehicles? Would we learn that the Stones and their dogs had a waterway-based escape route that would allow them a getaway in a speedboat? A speedboat faster than any law enforcement boat allowing them to get away and seek asylum in Cuba? Nope.
And what about the on scene, live as it happened, CNN news crew set up very well positioned to record all of this historical event? Coincidence? Never! Intentional leak? For sure! However, Mr. Mueller, I think you botched your decision to leak this one to CNN, if you did. Even some people that dislike Mr. Stone think this was nothing more than a political power play intended to gain support of the Russian collusion theory being pushed by the Democrats. What has happened though is many Americans began thinking to themselves: “What if this was me and maybe all I did was tell an untruth?” “Would law enforcement break into my home and in front of my wife and children point pistols and rifles at us for such a minor crime?”
Roger Stone has been accused of telling an untruth to Congress. For this OMG allegation 340 some FBI agents armed like a military strike force broke into Stone’s home in the early morning hours while his family was asleep. Roger Stone was taken into custody for this “are you kidding me” crime of maybe saying an untruth. No, no, make no mistake this raid/arrest was a staged political statement directed at the supporters of the President of the United States. That statement tells everyone who dare support President Trump: “look out, you may be next”!
So next came the blame game. The Justice Department say the use of force used to take Roger Stone into custody is on the FBI. Some at the FBI say no, that’s not exactly how this was decided, but the FBI have not made an official statement as to why the strong arm tactics were used to arrest Stone. Retired FBI agents comment that this was indeed above and beyond what they would have organized for a non-violent arrest of someone of Stone’s history. Nothing released so far would have anyone believe Roger Stone has a violent past or present.
I’ve been in law enforcement for 38 years and have participated in many high-risk arrest and search warrant executions. Never, never have I ever had the luxury of having 30-plus police officers on scene at the time. It was pistols and shotguns every time and maybe four or five officers. Funny thing is, I never remember any of us looking around and saying; “Wow, I wish we had a helicopter, tank, bazooka, maybe some trip wire, and 20 more officers! For example; not that many years ago Tuscola police were tasked with an early morning arrest of a triple homicide suspect out of Kentucky and his roommate. They were holed up at the Tuscola Super 8 Motel and we scrambled a few Tuscola on and off duty officers and on duty county officers. With a total of about 10 of us we managed the arrest of two suspects who had sworn not to be taken alive and known to be heavily armed and dangerous. Pistols and shotguns and no news cameras.
But most importantly here is what I want all of you to think about. It wasn’t the decision of most of those 30 FBI agents to storm the Stone residence. I believe most all of these good male and female agents looked around and thought as you have: “are you kidding me, all of us for this arrest?!” They do as they’re told, as they should. I have little doubt these professionals could have made this arrest with three or four agents and been just fine. Three or four agents could have made the arrest and secured the interior pending the arrival of the evidence collection team. However, politics at the upper most level at the FBI continues to blacken the eyes of the professional and talented field agents being used as pawns of Washington, D.C. All of this grandstanding just enabled Roger Stone to draw more followers to his cause. He is a political pot stirrer favoring the Republican party. He digs for dirt on the opposition candidates and how that information is collected is of little consequence.
Lastly, I still believe in the FBI and 99 percent of the people that make the FBI what it has always been known to be. The leadership at the top has to be figured out if this agency is to regain the trust of the American people. The American people have always felt that the FBI will get it right even when nobody else can. Right now that same confidence Americans had three years ago is waning and this latest escapade with Stone isn’t helping their cause.