In describing some of the horrors of the tyranny under which they lived, residents of the former U.S.S.R. would frequently relate the story of the nighttime visit by the KGB. In this story, a Soviet citizen would be awakened in the dead of night by a knock on the door and hauled off by forces of the KGB to serve unspecified time in a Siberian gulag as punishment for crimes against the state. This served as a warning to his fellow citizens to tow the Soviet line. Or else.
Roger Stone, described as a long time confidant of President Trump, was indicted on 24 January 2019 on charges of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He had no previous criminal record and was not judged to be a flight risk or to be a risk for violent behavior. Yet he was arrested in a predawn raid on his home by a large contingent of FBI agents and a SWAT team in battle dress and body armor and armed with automatic weapons. The invasion pf Stone’s home was filmed by CNN. Stone was arrested without incident. Fortunately neither Stone, his wife, the agents involved in the raid, Stone’s dogs and cats or the CNN crew were injured during the raid.
The tactics and firepower employed in this raid were clearly excessive. The presence of a CNN crew was surely not coincidental. So what was the point of such theater? Was it to intimidate Stone into becoming a witness against Trump? Perhaps that was part it. But I think that the intention was much broader.
Just like the nighttime knock on the door was a frightening story amongst the Soviet citizenry that became a very powerful tool for keeping them under control, so too will be the visions of the early morning raid on the Stone household. The message sent to every American citizen is, “This can happen to you, if you don’t tow the line.” “If you are of the wrong political persuasion or otherwise not a favored member of the state, you too might easily be charged and have your home invaded in the predawn hours by a platoon of heavily armed U.S. intelligence agents.”
All filmed by CNN, of course.
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