The reaction of Idaho’s Congressional delegation ran from strong to middle of the road following news that Ruby Ridge’s standoff will be replayed in Boundary County.
U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth is unhappy that Kevin Harris will again be tried, but believes FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi should face more severe charges from a siege at white separatist Randy Weaver’s cabin that left a U.S. Marshal and Weaver’s wife and son dead.
Boundary County Prosecuting Attorney Denise Woodbury announced Thursday she was filing charges against Harris - who lived with the Weaver family - and FBI sniper Horiuchi.
“What I’m struggling with is the inequality of Marshal Degan’s life being treated differently than Vicki Weaver’s,” Chenoweth said in an interview Friday. She was referring to the fact that Harris is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan and Horiuchi is charged with involuntary manslaughter for killing Weaver.
“I believe it’s wrong to treat people unequally under the law,” Chenoweth said. “Mr. Harris, on the other hand, has already faced charges and been found innocent. His case should be laid to rest.”
It isn’t clear what, if any, new information a Boundary County trial can shed on the Ruby Ridge situation, she conceded. “We need to give space to this particular case to move ahead,” she said.
But tackling a federal agent will be difficult. “I think our best wishes and prayers need to be with those people in that little North Idaho county who are waging battle against the bigger resources of the federal government,” Chenoweth said.
U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, meanwhile, hasn’t taken a position. But he said he believes the Boundary County trial may be the only way to bring closure to the long-running saga.
This could be the last chapter in the Ruby Ridge saga if the average citizen can see “all of the evidence was brought to the table and those guilty of illegal actions are appropriately handled.”
Craig takes issue with federal law enforcement officers who say prosecuting Horiuchi will have a chilling effect on the ability of other officers to do their jobs.
“Agents on the ground have a clear course of action, based on the law,” Craig said. “When the rules of engagement are clear and properly executed, there should be no chilling effect on a federal officer.”
The chilling effect will come from the public perceiving “that federal law enforcement officers are beyond the law and are not being questioned when they are beyond the law,” he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who promised to “raise hell” with the FBI when he chaired Senate subcommittee hearings on Ruby Ridge, wasn’t available for comment on the Boundary County prosecutor’s decision.
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