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9781555534929

In Bad Company

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781555534929

  • ISBN10:

    1555534929

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2001-11-01
  • Publisher: Northeastern Univ Pr

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Summary

The dramatic sieges at Randy Weaver's cabin in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, combined with the FBI's reluctance to admit wrongdoing in those tragic confrontations, fueled a virulent hatred of the federal government that unified previously isolated voices within the extreme radical right movement. As a result, the scores of clandestine paramilitary cells that flourished in the aftermath of Ruby Ridge and Waco formed a loosely knit underground network with a shared goal to violently overthrow the U.S. government. This gripping volume explores one of the most dangerous of those phantom cells-the Aryan Republican Army (ARA). Based on trial transcripts, interviews, a secret diary, newspaper accounts, and ethnographic research, Mark S. Hamm provides a compelling history of the ARA, its organizers, and the revolutionary group's significance in supporting acts of domestic terrorism, including its previously unrecognized role in Timothy McVeigh's devastating bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He interweaves his narrative with a penetrating discussion of why people like McVeigh and the ARA members turn hatred into terrorist actions. Hamm centers his riveting account of the ARA on the troubled life histories of founders Peter Kevin McGregor Langan and Richard "Wild Bill" Guthrie, as well as on profiles of the foot soldiers in the movement. He explores the similar social, cultural, and personal forces that attracted these men to the White Supremacy movement and Christian Identity, a theology that gives the blessing of God to the racist cause, and that drove them on a criminal path to terrorism. Drawing historical parallels with the motives and tactics of Jesse James and his gang's crime spree, Hamm focuses on how Langan and his paramilitary gang committed a string of professionally executed armed bank robberies to finance the overthrow of the federal government through such terrorist attacks as train derailments, assassinations, and bombings. Hamm concludes this absorbing yet disconcerting journey through America's underground terrorist conspiracy by challenging the government's assertion that Timothy McVeigh acted as a lone wolf in the Oklahoma City bombing. Instead, he offers startling new evidence that connects McVeigh to the Aryan Republican Army.

Author Biography

Mark S. Hamm is Professor of Criminology at Indiana State University. He is the author of American Skinheads: The Criminology and Control of Hate Crime, The Abandoned Ones: The Imprisonment and Uprising of the Mariel Boat People, and Apocalypse in Oklahoma: Waco and Ruby Ridge Revenged, and the coeditor of Ethnography on the Edge: Crime, Deviance, and Field Research.

Table of Contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xvii
Introduction: Bust a Cap 3(26)
Part One: Rebel, Rebel
Company Man, Warrior Dream
29(15)
Gook
44(10)
Ponyboy and the Greasers
54(13)
No Fallen Angel
67(18)
Part Two:... About Sixteen Years Later
Acting Stupid and Contagious
85(9)
The Foot Soldiers: Trails of an Estimated Prophet
94(25)
The Ballad of Pedro Gomez
119(36)
The Coiled Rattlesnake
155(33)
Apocalypse: The Theory of Multiple John Doe 2s
188(49)
Part Three: The Fall
Day of the Sword: The New Young Radicals
237(43)
Epilogue: ``In God's Name''--On Masculinity, Rage, and Lost Causes 280(19)
Notes 299(12)
References 311(10)
Index 321

Excerpts


Chapter One

Company Man, Warrior Dream

All subcultural crime is rooted in the norms and values of the dominant culture. Gangs of urban crack dealers, for example, are simply conforming to the entrepreneurial traditions of the conventional business world when they strive for "big money" as part of their value system. The crimes of antigovernment paramilitary groups--from the James gang to the Aryan Republican Army and others--are generated through subterranean values based on American military culture. Sociologists David Matza and Gresham Sykes once defined subterranean values as normative traditions that "are familiar and, within limits, tolerated by broad segments of the adult population."

    For extremists of the radical right, these traditions may converge in encouraging behavior as common as racial harassment and hate crime, and as exceptional as bank robbery and revolutionary violence. In other words, antigovernment paramilitary groups act like regular military groups in defining their deviant behavior as acceptable. Much like white-collar criminals of the corporate world, paramilitary criminals of the political world consider their illegal behavior to be "respectable crimes."

    The roots of Pete Langan's criminality can be traced to his view of the military experiences of his father. "Before anyone told me," Langan recalled in an interview with the Washington Post , "I had in my mind that [my father] went on secret missions. I don't know whether it was a typical childhood fantasy, but I felt it was true." Pete Langan's fantasy--and the truth it was based on--were anything but typical.

The primary function of the Central Intelligence Agency is to provide the President of the United States with accurate, apolitical intelligence about the rest of the world. Its secondary purpose is to carry out clandestine activities that can be highly political. During the Vietnam War, the CIA was heavily involved in both areas. The agency gathered intelligence on the size, nature, and intentions of the North Vietnamese fighting forces. It also performed paramilitary activities, many of which were outside the agency's legal mandate, that raise moral questions about U.S. conduct in that war. One of the earliest and most important covert operations undertaken by the CIA occurred in 1963 when the agency supported the assassination of South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem. One of the CIA agents ostensibly involved in this operation was Eugene Langan--a superpatriot.

    Eugene Francis Langan was born in St. Louis on July 24, 1917. His life began with extraordinary hardship. Before reaching his tenth birthday, Eugene lost both Irish Catholic parents to illness. He became the ward of a woman named Mabel Wolf, who was married to a prominent St. Louis judge. The boy learned a deep sense of patriotism in his adoptive home and came to respect the value of public service. These commitments became evident at the outbreak of World War II.

    On July 1, 1940--more than a year before the United States entered the war--twenty-two-year-old Eugene Langan voluntarily joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Allied fight against the Axis powers. Although the U.S. Constitution forbids American citizens from joining foreign militaries, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had recently issued an executive order permitting it. An asthma condition kept Eugene from becoming a pilot, so he began training for duty as a gunner aboard an RCAF aircraft. His performance was outstanding and in early 1941 he was promoted to sergeant. In February of that year, Sergeant Langan left Canada aboard a naval convoy bound for London and the Battle of Britain, a fight that Winston Churchill would later call England's "finest hour." But Langan nearly lost his life before even setting foot on British soil. Twenty-four hours after setting sail from Canada, his convoy was battered by torpedoes from a German U-boat in the North Atlantic, then left alone. The German news agency proudly reported that the convoy would sink before reaching England. That was not to be. Eugene's ship eventually made it to the British Isles and for the next six months he received more gunner and radio training at a Royal Air Force school near London. Those were the days of constant blackouts, long daily queues in front of London stores, and nightly attacks by Hitler's Luftwaffe, an unrelenting Nazi bombing machine that ultimately killed forty thousand British citizens.

    In September 1941, Eugene was granted his first leave of duty. He returned to St. Louis and a hero's welcome. On Thursday, September 25, 1941, the society page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a full-page story about the heroic young man who had voluntarily placed himself in harm's way. At twenty-four years old, gunner Langan was movie-star handsome. He stood five foot eleven and he had a strong build, light brown hair, a firm jaw, and piercing brown eyes. Being a hero satisfied Eugene greatly.

    Two weeks later, Eugene reported to the RCAF base in Rockcliffe, Ontario. Then it was off to London again, this time to take part in dogfights against the Luftwaffe. During the darkest days of the Blitz, Eugene was reassigned to an RCAF training operation and returned to Calgary It was there, on a weekend liberty pass, that he attended a dance and met the love of his life.

    Mary Ann McGregor was the daughter of poor, hardworking Scottish parents who had migrated from Scotland to Canada following World War I. The McGregors were a family with deep political beliefs dating back centuries. In fact, Mary Ann was a descendant of Rob Roy MacGregor--the giant of Scottish folklore who was the hero of Sir Walter Scott's novel bearing his name. Rob Roy's popularity for being an outlaw who defied the British king would become a Langan family story that engendered pride in Mary Ann's children's Scottish roots. This story became especially important to Peter.

    Rob Roy's descendant's soon-to-be husband Eugene joined the United States Marine Corps following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1942 and 1943, he was on continual combat duty in the South Pacific--first in Guadalcanal and then Espiritu Santo (Vanuatu) and on Northfield Russell Island (in the Solomons). He was promoted to second lieutenant and returned to Calgary in December 1943, where he married Mary Ann McGregor in a Catholic ceremony. Early the next year Eugene reported to the U.S. Marine Corps base in El Toro, California, and then became a staff intelligence officer with the Marine Corps detachment in Santa Barbara, where he was promoted to first lieutenant in October 1944. His last wartime assignment came in April 1945, when Eugene left the States aboard the USS Vella Gulf , bound for the Pacific theater. For the next six months he was involved in operations in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Okinawa, and then finally, Japan.

    At war's end, Eugene returned to Santa Barbara and Mary Ann. In August 1946 he was assigned to intelligence school at Fort Riley, Kansas. There, sometime in October, Eugene received the Air Medal with two gold stars in a military ceremony conducted by Major General I. D. White. It would be his first of many commendations. Shortly thereafter, Mary Ann gave birth to their first child, Lance. Eugene graduated from intelligence school on January 29, 1947, and was promoted to captain. In the following years, Mary Ann gave birth to two daughters, Jean Ann and Mary Kathleen. A third daughter, Leslie, was born in 1954; and a second son, Ian, came in 1955. Mary Ann's last child, Peter Kevin McGregor Langan, was born on May 18, 1958, on the Marianas island of Saipan in the South Pacific. Peter would become his mother's favorite child.

    During these years Eugene's assignments took the family to such faraway locations as the Philippines, Korea, Okinawa, and Hawaii. Eugene and Mary Ann took their parenting seriously and life on these overseas military bases offered them the resources necessary to instill in their children--among other things--an adequate level of self-control.

    From a criminological perspective, this trait has been touted as promising to serve children well. Even in a recent, widely acclaimed general theory of crime, Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi assert that criminal acts are committed by persons who have failed to learn self-control, people who are impulsive, insensitive to others, risk-taking, and shortsighted. Eugene and Mary Ann Langan used all the resources at their disposal in an effort to raise even-tempered children, thus supposedly guarding them against the onset of criminality in any of their offspring.

    Beginning with their stay in the Philippines, the Langans were assisted in their parenting by what is generally known throughout Asia as an amah , a sort of Oriental nanny. A mother of two children who lived on army bases in Japan while her husband was stationed there during the U.S. occupation recalled, "Those Japanese women were just so nice to our children. There were never any harsh words spoken. Our kids were always kept clean and neat.... Many of them [the amahs] knew creative arts, and our kids learned how to express themselves in painting, acting, and dancing. They made it easier to be a parent." The amahs were, indeed, much more than babysitters. They performed the hard labor of parenting. The amahs cooked, served the meals, did the laundry, cleaned the house, bathed and dressed the children, and taught them to appreciate Oriental culture. This freed mothers to spend quality time with their children, affording mothers the opportunity to teach family values through less stressful activities. But there was, perhaps, an even more important advantage to living in post-World War II Asia.

    The Allied victory had created a spectacular increase in the value of the dollar over the yen. For working-class women like Mary Ann Langan, conditioned to the hardships of wartime rationing, this economic advantage provided the necessary leverage to achieve middle-class prosperity. Access to up-to-date consumer goods--which were produced in the postwar manufacturing boom--was suddenly within reach. This improved socioeconomic status was thought to further guard the Langan children against the onset of criminality. At least that is what would have been predicted by the well-known strain theory of criminology.

    The same year that Peter was born, Eugene retired from the Marine Corps and became an agent for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He began making periodic trips to Vietnam, just as the CIA's role in Indochina was being defined. In 1960 he moved his family to Saigon, where they lived comfortably near the U.S. embassy's annex. Major Langan's role there during the early 1960s would prove to have a profound effect on his children, ultimately reversing his and Mary Ann's child-rearing safeguards against future criminality for their youngest son, Peter.

In 1960, United States policy in Vietnam centered primarily on political support for South Vietnam's ascetic Catholic president, Ngo Dinh Diem. Washington assumed that Diem (pronounced Zee-em ) was an effective leader and that South Vietnam was on its way to successful nation building. Yet as the war progressed, that perception began to unravel.

    In the spring of 1963, the quality of life in Saigon had degenerated into a carnival of Western decadence. In an attempt to control Saigon's brothel-like reputation, the Diem government closed down the city's nightclubs, banned dancing throughout the country, and even prohibited the broadcasting of Chubby Checker records or any other music deemed suitable for doing the twist. That same spring, President Kennedy was advised by a CIA agent that the weak Diem government was on the brink of collapse; dissension had grown into a plot by South Vietnamese rebel generals to assassinate Diem. Dissension had also become apparent outside South Vietnam's government, on the streets of Saigon and elsewhere.

By the summer of 1963, the Langan family was directly at the center of this emerging crisis. Eugene was now acting as the CIA's liaison between the United States Operations Mission and the Saigon police, working out of the CIA station only steps away from the back gate of Independence Palace and the office of his primary contact, the influential Ngo Dinh Nhu, President Diem's brother. Eugene's job was to prod Nhu into greater efforts in the struggle against communist subversion. This was a formidable task. Nhu controlled the reins of a powerful secret police force and an elaborate intelligence network, both of which, it was later seen, contained enemies of the Diem government. As a safety precaution, therefore, Independence Palace and the CIA station were connected by an underground tunnel that could be used in the event of a coup.

    Mary Ann had become a receptionist at the U.S. embassy, working out of its annex. The embassy and the CIA station were both a short distance from the family's large stucco villa at 288 Phanthangian Street (pronounced Fan-than-gee-an ). The three-story French colonial structure offered numerous amenities, including a front porch shaded by a sprawling kapok tree, lawns, gardens, servant quarters, and a rooftop patio complete with furniture, a play area, and a bar. The Langans employed their own staff of Vietnamese maids, gardeners, cooks, and amahs. The entire estate was surrounded by a wall made of concrete and barbed wire. For the Langan children, these were times of great luxury, excitement--and untold terror.

    Mary Ann and Eugene sought to protect their six baby boomers from the unrest around them, as well as from the deprivations the older Langans had experienced during the Great Depression and two world wars. They did so by placing great emphasis on home and family. Simply put, life was about being free, prosperous, and happy. As the former Leslie Langan recalled years later, life inside the family was also about being "loyal, undemonstrative, and very, very private."

    The Langan children looked up to their father as a respected adult role model and an American superpatriot dedicated to his country's goal of containing communism in Asia. At forty-six years old, Eugene maintained his movie-star good looks. His neatly trimmed mustache and well-cropped hair nicely complemented his traditional suit and tie worn over his barrel-like frame, giving him an air of confidence and dignity. His employer, the Central Intelligence Agency, was now at its peak of power, having recovered from its demoralization after the 1961 fiasco at the Bay of Pigs (Cuba). In Asia, its counterinsurgency programs, as well as the military's Special Forces and Green Berets (all created at the behest of Bobby Kennedy), became the rage among superpatriots fighting to win the "hearts and minds" of the people of South Vietnam. Back home in the States, author Ian Fleming's James Bond novels topped the bestseller list and, from the Kennedy White House on down, America was enjoying a love affair with secret operations and spy stories. CIA agents were expected to play the part of swaggering, real-life James Bonds. And these outlooks on clandestine behavior gave the ever polished Eugene Langan an aura of epic stature in his own home, creating in his sons a tendency to romanticize him as a heroic guerrilla fighter not unlike their other heroic ancestor, Rob Roy.

    Although occasionally gruff, Eugene was capable of displaying genuine warmth. As for the three boys, everything they learned taught them that one day they would be able to walk in their father's idealistic footsteps, if only they applied themselves and followed the rules. And those rules were unequivocal, beginning with the cardinal rule: Obey authority and don't ask questions . (This rule was buttressed by the many years the Langans had spent living on military bases, which, in Asia, added the Oriental custom that children should not touch their parents and should avoid eye contact with them out of respect.) Rule number two was Control your emotions . Rule number three was Fit in with the group . And the fourth rule was Don't even think about having sex .

    In effect, the rules made the Langan household a civil and orderly place where children displayed proper manners, respected their elders, and displayed an all-American can-do spirit. Eugene enforced the rules by imposing strict military-style discipline on the kids to the point that each child was given a number. This was something that he had picked up from his long years in the Orient. Like Charlie Chan in the old movies, Eugene dubbed his children "No. 1 son," "No. 2 son," and so on. Eugene also owned a leather strap; its purpose, he told the children, was to enforce the cardinal rule. As a testament to his and Mary Ann's parenting skills, though, it should be stated that he was never forced to use the strap. The Langan children had learned self-control.

    The baby of the family, five-year-old Peter ("No. 3 son") was the family's pampered prince, showered with love and affection. Each morning, Peter's amah would wash and dress him in the clean white linens fashionable among the Vietnamese well-to-do. After being served breakfast, Peter would be picked up by his own personal rickshaw driver and delivered to the nearby French Catholic kindergarten. There he was given an exceptional education, one far more demanding and disciplined than those offered in American kindergartens. Before his sixth birthday, Peter was able to write in cursive, perform elementary math, and both speak and read French, English, and Vietnamese. On the way home after school, Peter's driver would routinely stop and buy him a treat of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. In order to develop his athletic abilities, Peter's parents enrolled him as an enfant de membre in a Saigon sports club, as they had their other children.

    Family photographs of this period show Peter to be an alarmingly handsome boy, brimming with good health and happiness in his white linens. One picture, taken during the family's 1963 vacation to Nha Trang, shows a relaxed and happy Peter alongside Ian, who was mugging for the camera, and Leslie, also inspiring in her natural childhood beauty. Another shows a beaming Peter, wearing an Oriental lei and wrapped in the loving arms of his amah.

    Peter was also nurtured with a great amount of attention by females. Although she was not an affectionate woman by nature, Mary Ann's feelings for her youngest child caused her to make an exception. "There was no kissing and hugging from our mother," said Leslie, "except with Peter." Further bonding him to the feminine side of the family circle, following Oriental custom, Mary Ann arranged for Peter to have an honorary mother and grandmother who were chosen from the local Catholic church. These Vietnamese women were invited to the villa for Peter's birthday parties and other special occasions. Peter also became the express object of his sisters' affections. Because they found him so adorable, Leslie and Mary Kathleen would often dress the boy up in little white "girly things"--as if he were a baby doll.

    While all this attention gave the boy a feeling of invincibility within the family, this era of his life also marked the beginning of his complex problems with gender identity. "From my earliest memories," Peter later recalled, "I felt I was in the wrong body. As a child I wished I was a girl and not a boy. I identified with my sisters, my mother, and the amahs more than with my brothers and my dad." Young Peter reacted to these feelings, in the dark shadows of war, by striving for the masculinity he craved.

    In his free time, Peter joined his close brother, Ian, and several French kids from next door in their favorite pastime of playing war. The boys played their war games in the yard within the concrete-and-barbed-wire-protected compound. They were not allowed to leave the compound, of course, because by 1963 there was increasing unrest outside. When they played up on the rooftop patio, they could hear some of the twenty-four-hour-a-day war reports over Eugene's two-way radio, which was tuned to the CIA frequency.

    The highlight of daily life was the family dinner. Each evening, the amahs dressed the children in formal attire and led them downstairs to the large ornate dining room, where the servants laid out polished glasses and silverware on a freshly laundered white tablecloth. Dinners were served French style: The children ate first, as the adults drank and visited; then the kids were led out of the dining room and their parents and their guests took their turn. Such dinners were expected, as part of Eugene's liaison job.

    Recent studies on the social and psychological profiles of terrorists show that when these people were children, they often experienced life-threatening events that frightened them severely. Along with abiding fear, these children developed an acute sense of hopelessness during their childhoods. This combination of fear and hopelessness lived early in life is thought to lead some people to deny the risk of death later in life. Some place themselves in life-threatening situations. Others end up wagering against the forces of death by putting the lives of others in danger--by committing such extreme acts of terrorism as airplane hijacking, bombing, and assassination. As a result of what frightened Peter while in Saigon, he would tend closer to the former reaction.

    Despite the protectiveness of their parents, all six Langan children experienced trauma on Phanthangian Street in 1963. Each of them suffered lasting aftereffects. This was especially so for the babied, sensitive, even effeminate No. 3 son who idolized his father's way of life.

    On the evening of June 10, 1963, the children had gathered for an early evening dinner before going to the Palace Theatre to see the 1962 Oscar-winning movie Lawrence of Arabia . Peter refused to eat something from his plate, and his father ordered him to do so. For the first time, five-year-old Peter violated the cardinal rule: He talked back to his father. Major Langan angrily told Peter to go to his room and the boy stomped up the stairs and went to bed without dinner.

    The next morning Peter awoke to find that his house appeared empty. After looking all over, he went to the top floor and climbed the steps to the rooftop patio. There was the entire family, along with several men carrying rifles. It was a warm, sunny day with a slight breeze. There was a commotion on the street below, just beyond the kapok tree. A crowd of some three hundred Buddhist priests stood there in flowing saffron robes, surrounding a shaven-headed sixty-six-year-old monk named Quang Duc, who was sitting in the lotus position on the asphalt. One monk stepped forward and poured gasoline over Duc's body, then another calmly put a match to his orange robes. As Quang Duc pressed his hands together in prayer, orange flames engulfed him, sending huge plumes of black smoke up and onto the rooftop patio.

    Eugene stood beside the men with rifles, his camera aimed at the fire below as Peter's nostrils filled with the rancid smell of burning flesh.

(Continues...)

Excerpted from In Bad Company by Mark S. Hamm. Copyright © 2002 by Mark S. Hamm. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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