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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaugs Scott Meyer, left, was honored as the recipient of the 2024 Michael H. Savage Spirit of Sport Award at the CAS-CIAC Scholar Athlete Banquet on May 5 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. (Courtesy of the CIAC)
Nonnewaug’s Meyer Wins Prestigious CIAC Perseverance Award
Gianna Lodice '24, Senior Editor • June 10, 2024
Nonnewaug boys soccer coach Toby Denman, left, and assistant coach Josh Kornblut address the team after a game last season. Denman says hes tried to learn how to be an effective coach by observing the ones hes played for and coached with. (Kyle Brennan)
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Anna Crocker '26, Junior Editor • June 10, 2024
Nonnewaugs Ellie McDonald dribbles the ball during a game last season. McDonalds nickname is Smellie -- one of many Chief names that exist on the girls soccer team. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
The (Nick)name Game: Teammates Bond Over Inside Jokes
Audrey Doran '27, Reporter • June 10, 2024
Kyle Viveros is ready on his toes, awaiting the ball. Viveros and Landon Parks took home the BL doubles title. (Courtesy of Sophia Cenatiempo)
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Addison Bushka '27, Reporter • June 10, 2024
Chief Advocate editor-in-chief Izzy DiNunzio bids farewell after four years in Nonnewaugs journalism program. (Courtesy of Izzy DiNunzio)
DiNunzio: Journalism is More Than Just Words
Izzy DiNunzio '24, Editor-In-Chief • June 10, 2024
Deme Jones looks at students orphan portraits at Nonnewaug’s art show on June 6.
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Brynn Clampett '26, Reporter • June 7, 2024
The memorial for Chester Carruthers. (Courtesy of Find-a-Grave)
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Izzy DiNunzio '24, Editor-in-Chief • June 7, 2024
Nonnewaug girls tennis seniors, from left, Maggie Keane, Skylar Chung, Maylan Hardisty, Kiley Stampp, Sam Duncan pose on their senior night. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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Ava Hirleman '27, Reporter • June 7, 2024
Lets Talk Nonne: Year-End Wrap-Up
Let's Talk Nonne: Year-End Wrap-Up
Katie Savulak '26 and Morgan Willis '26 June 7, 2024
Nonnewaug freshmen discuss their worries about the testing, including potential AP exams, they have to take next year.
Savulak: AP Tests Aren't That Stressful
Katie Savulak '26, Reporter • June 6, 2024

The ATF and FBI: Apotheoses of Reprehensible Government Action

NHS+sophomore+Everett+Pierce+completed+his+AP+Seminar+project+on+the+role+of+government+control+in+times+of+conflict+domestic+and+abroad.++
Yunona Uritsky – Unsplash
NHS sophomore Everett Pierce completed his AP Seminar project on the role of government control in times of conflict domestic and abroad.

Editor’s note: The following article was completed by Everett Pierce ’26, a student in Nonnewaug’s AP Seminar course.

In the words of Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded” (Thomas, Chaleff). The world that Snowden broaches is the modern United States. He exposed the government’s immoral collection of United States citizens’ phone data without their awareness. His decision was met with insurmountable support, being named both a “hero and whistleblower”, despite his later prosecution. Certainly, this is not the only time one person has taken the charge to stand against the United States government for their iniquitous actions and procedures. The government has taken plenty of harmful action against Native Americans in the past, examples including The Starvation Winter of 1883–1884. During this time, “They would not allow Indian people to hunt or carry arms because they wanted them to be dependent on the Indian agent… As a result, 500 Blackfeet Indians starved to death” (Janko). This further mistreatment of people inhabiting the United States creates a clear call to action for regulations regarding the lessening of government control to be enacted, and for a greater platform for whistleblowing to be further explored.

As of recently, the United States government has taken further action to enact control over the citizens of the United States, especially following the increased development of firearms and their usage within the nation. Examples of the United States government’s current control of firearms are derived from the ATF and FBI, and their actions taken in Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas involved a 51-day period in which ATF agents raided the compound on February 28, 1993. On the first day of the siege, 4 ATF agents and 6 Branch Davidians were killed, prompting the ATF to receive aid from the FBI in the form of hostage negotiators and rescue teams. Over the course of the following days, several of the women and children within the compound were released, but many still remained inside. During the final day of the siege, on April 19, 1993, the FBI was approved to tear gas the compound. On the final day, a fire erupted within the compound, resulting in the death of many inside. (History.com) Further unjust action was taken by the ATF and FBI during that of the incident at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992. In Ruby Ridge, Idaho, Randy Weaver lived in a remote cabin with his wife, Vicki Weaver, fourteen-year old son Sammy Weaver, and three daughters. In 1989, Randy Weaver was indicted for the making and keeping of illegal weapons, after undercover ATF agents asked Weaver to sell them illegal sawed-off shotguns. After being released on bail, there was confusion regarding his court date, causing Weaver to miss his trial, granting the U.S. Marshal Service a warrant for Weaver’s arrest and the opportunity to bring him in. Surveillance began on the Weaver’s cabin, before reaching an ultimatum on August 21, 1992, where the Weaver’s dog became aware of the U.S. Marshalls presence, before being shot and killed by the Marshalls. Fourteen-year old Sammy Weaver then shot back, before U.S. Marshalls returned fire and killed him. The following day, FBI snipers set up around the Weaver’s cabin and shot at Randy Weaver upon him returning to the cabin. The first shot taken by FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi wounded Randy Weaver, and the second shot missed, before making contact with Vicki Weaver’s head, killing her. The siege came to an end on August 31, 1992, through negotiations by Special Forces soldier Bo Gritz. (History.com) Moving forward, there is an unequivocal need for a solution regarding the further regulation of the ATF and FBI’s actions. Looking back at the actions of Edward Snowden, the most viable solution may simply be to continue the practice of whistleblowing, though other potential solutions include the implementation of laws that hold the ATF more accountable for their actions or investigation of the ATF and FBI by other government agencies in the case further unjust action is taken.

The events that occurred during the Waco Siege at the Branch Davidians’ compound over a 51-day period are largely debated by both the government, and the citizens of the United States. From the majority of the government analysis regarding the Waco Siege, little to no wrongdoing was found. A major point of discussion is the origin of the fire that proceeded to engulf the entirety of the compound, resulting in large quantities of unnecessary death. The Department of Justice argues that, through investigation by independently operating experts in the field, “the fire was deliberately set from within the compound.” The Department of Justice has further stated that “a Davidian stated that the fire was started with Coleman fuel which had been distributed throughout the compound in specific locations.” (Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr.) Further evidence is given regarding the supposed origin of the fire within the compound, regarding the claim of the fire deliberately being set by the Branch Davidians. While there is a sufficient amount of evidence supporting the potential start of the fire within the compound, there is additional evidence suggesting the fire may have additionally been caused due to faults by the FBI. In their analysis of the events that occurred at Waco, the Department of Justice likewise mentioned that “We are of the opinion that these [tear gassing] operations did not contribute to the ignition or spread of the fire.’ The report does not rule out the possibility that the spread of the fire could have been enhanced by spillage of flammables caused by the FBI breaching activities.” This conclusion, while not entirely indicative of placing the FBI at fault, does provide support to the notion that the FBI partially committed some wrongdoing during the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. While the FBI showed mostly proper conduct throughout a majority of the conflict, there is certainly an argument for their poor tactics surrounding negotiation. Further Department of Justice analysis of the Waco Siege revealed that “Loudspeakers were initially used to provide information to Koresh’s followers still inside the compound, but contrary to the negotiators’ advice the loudspeakers were used to broadcast Tibetan chants, other annoying music and the sounds of dying rabbits.” The introduction of this notion brings into question the legitimacy of the actions taken by the FBI against the Branch Davidians. This usage of psychological warfare can certainly be defined as irresponsible and wrongful, especially when taking into consideration the fact that many women and children inhabited the compound, and were tormented by the FBI’s usage of these tactics. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the FBI employed other harmful tactics throughout the duration of the siege, including turning off power within the compound and that “On March 21… negotiators were advised that the Davidian vehicles would be cleared from the left side of the compound.” This further analysis of the FBI’s actions taken throughout the siege in Waco supports and confirms the notion that the FBI was at least partly at fault, a notion which has been further developed following the siege. The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research performed an analysis of statistics and surveys conducted surrounding public opinion regarding the way the Waco Siege was handled. 

Originally, there were great amounts of support for the actions the FBI had taken, but in the years following, more dissent had grown. “Public opinion shifted considerably. Approval of the FBI’s handling of the standoff dropped from 70% during the events to a low of 38% in October 1999.” (Roper Center for Public Opinion Research) This change in public opinion following analysis of the actions the FBI had taken is indicative of growing hatred for the government, especially following the events of Ruby Ridge. 

Ruby Ridge is a major piece of evidence in the argument surrounding wrongful action taken by the United States Government against the people of the United States. There is additionally substantially more evidence supporting the notion of ATF and FBI wrongdoing over the course of events that occurred at Ruby Ridge than there were during the Waco Siege. Firstly, it is important to note the illegitimacy of the operation as a whole, regarding the origins of the warrant for arrest on Randy Weaver. Randy Weaver’s original indictment was legitimized through the National Firearms Act of 1934, originally put into place after the prohibition, sought to decrease violence following the prohibition, through the decrease in capability to conceal weapons. While certainly important then, the law has significantly lost its effectiveness over time, following the evolution of firearms and their usage throughout the decades following the prohibition. “Even though the statute is longstanding, the NFA’s registration requirements for short-barrel firearms are unlikely to prevent criminal activity.” “Another reason that the NFA’s restrictions on short-barrel firearms would fail the narrow tailoring requirement of strict scrutiny is because there is no functional or tactical advantage to short barrel lengths that would lend itself to increased use by criminals.” (James A. D’Cruz) In addition to the illegitimacy of Randy Weaver’s original indictment, there was also severe wrongdoing committed through the accidental killing of Vicki Weaver. In July 1993, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility conducted several investigations into the actions taken by the FBI at Ruby Ridge. One such investigation, the Walsh Report, conducted by the FBI after breaking off of the original investigation and published in January 16, 1994, concluded that there were no issues with Lon Horiuchi’s shooting of Vicki Weaver and at Randy Weaver, stating that “Horiuchi’s use of deadly force at Ruby Ridge was ‘reasonable under constitutional standards.’ (Office of the Inspector General) Although, another report known as the Berman Report, published 5 months later, concluded that the rules of engagement utilized by the FBI were “defective because of the inclusion of the word ‘should’ in the phrase deadly force ‘can and should be employed,’ which deviated from the standard deadly force policy that requires agents to assess the level of danger before using deadly force and to give warnings if feasible.” Additionally, it was mentioned that “Horiuchi’s first shot was justified, but that his second shot was not because the immediacy of the threat had dissipated when the subjects retreated into the cabin.” (Office of the Inspector General) This report provides conclusive evidence regarding the unjust action taken by the FBI during Ruby Ridge, and develops an avenue to argue for the riddance of this immoral action.

At this point in time, there is an increasingly valid argument for the wrongful control the ATF and FBI hold and their execution of said control. Moving forward, there are a large quantity of options to consider in the regulation of the ATF and FBI’s actions. One of which involves the continuation of whistleblowing when a wrongful action occurs. One such example is that of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who “is pressing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for answers after legally protected whistleblower disclosures revealed the agency failed to fully investigate criminal misconduct among ATF employees, including gun trafficking and drunken assault.”(“Grassley Demands ATF to Own Up”) In the years following the illegal trafficking of weapons into Mexico, Senator Chuck Grassley aims to hold the ATF accountable for this action. Although, this leaves a large opening for the government to silence any whistleblowing attempts. Along with continued whistleblowing, the implementation of laws that hold ATF and FBI accountable to a greater degree could be effective. Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw “reintroduced the ATF Accountability Act to Congress on Tuesday, aiming to create the appeals route for firearms companies and small businesses to push back on ATF classification letter rulings that harm business or go against Second Amendment rights.” (Keene) Whilst potentially effective, this bill and others similar to this have the potential not to make it through the American legislation system. A final potential solution involves that of investigation from other government agencies into harmful action taken by the ATF and FBI, and would act as a method of deferring both agencies from taking further harmful action. A system such as this is already implemented through the Office of Professional Responsibility, who follow a three step process when conducting investigation against government misconduct. This process consists of the intake of information or materials that may reveal potential harmful government action, inquiry regarding said information and materials, and ending with an investigation into the illegitimate actions taken. (Office of Professional Responsibility)) While this three step system is potentially effective, exemplified through its usage regarding Ruby Ridge, the potential for cover-ups and misuse of the system are present, as seen through the FBI’s Walsh Report following Ruby Ridge.

There is a sufficient amount of evidence suggesting harmful action taken by the FBI and ATF, through the occurrences during the Waco Siege and at Ruby Ridge. This harmful action will likely continue without taking action against it, which can be done in a multitude of ways, including the implementation of laws that hold the ATF and FBI accountable for their actions, continuing whistleblowing against harmful government action, and continuing the investigation of the ATF and FBI by other government agencies.

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