America defends itself against all terrorists, foreign and domestic. What does a nation do when its own officials are participating or even leading that terrorism?
That is the dilemma that the State of Washington now faces. State Representative Matt Shea has been found to have been participating with and aiding terrorists for the past five years, according to an independent investigation that was just released on Thursday. The investigation was spurred on by a story first reported by The Guardian in April, where Shea was alleged to have participated in online conversations where he condoned and encouraged violence and intimidation.
The four-month investigation produced a 108-page report that showed that conversation was hardly isolated.
The investigation says Shea, a leader of the anti-government Patriot movement, regularly encouraged his supporters to intimidate “activists, government officials, Muslims, and others who speak or act in opposition to his personal beliefs and political agenda.” This all happened over a five-year period from 2014 to 2019, according to that report.
The four-month investigation also backed up other media reports about Shea, including that he “engaged in and supported the training of youth and young adults to fight a holy war” (also reported by The Guardian), and that he wrote a document called “Biblical Basis for War” (first reported by The Spokesman-Review).
The most chilling finding might be that the investigators’ report found that Shea put together a document called “Biblical Basis for War” that intended to replace the U.S. government with a theocracy, as well as the “killing of all males who don’t agree.”
Again, this isn’t some recluse in his mother’s basement selling these ideas, this is an elected official who makes law.
But wait, there’s more …
There are other revelations contained in the newly released investigation as well.
Shea traveled to the Malheur standoff in 2016. President Trump pardoned those who were convicted in that crime.
Shea’s involvement in planning the 2016 Malheur takeover contradicts his statements to a House ethics investigator at the time. Back then, Shea had said he traveled to the armed conflicts in Nevada in 2014 and Oregon in 2016 on “fact-finding” missions and to help “ensure a peaceful resolution.”
“However, this investigation has determined Representative Shea went to Nevada and Malheur specifically to support armed insurrections at both locations in furtherance of his Patriot Movement agenda,” the report says.
The Patriot movement, which is active primarily in Western states, rejects the idea that the federal government can control and own land.
He also went to Nevada two years earlier to support Cliven Bundy, a rancher who let his cattle graze illegally on federal land. A federal judge dismissed that case during Trump’s term in office in 2018.
The investigation says Shea also took part in a third armed standoff against federal officials, this one in Priest River, Idaho, in 2015.
That confrontation involved blocking federal officials from seizing firearms from an elderly veteran who was no longer legally eligible to possess guns, according to the investigators’ report.
Going back even further, the independent investigation found that Shea attempted to “personally” intimidate his opponent in a way that terrorists do in his 2012 election bid — using social media as a tool for that intimidation.
Now, the Washington legislature must decide what to do with Shea. The Washington GOP caucus has removed Shea from their ranks. This means he has lost all his committee assignments. Shea does remain in the legislature, however, and has so far refused to resign. Shea could be removed from office by the legislature if they can get a two-thirds majority to vote for Shea’s expulsion — something that has only happened once in Washington’s history.
So far, Shea has not been charged with any crime related to the investigation, but the report has been sent on to the US Attorney’s office.
Hopefully, Shea will be brought to justice for his participation in terrorism and aiding other terrorists, but seeing how Trump and others during his tenure have pardoned and dismissed others involved in these acts of domestic terrorism, that is hardly a given.
Featured image via houserepublicans.wa.gov