This week, the FBI arrested 9 members of the Hutaree Christian militia on charges that they were planning to provoke an armed right wing rebellion against the U.S. government by killing police officers and their families. Why would any group come up with such a plan?
Desperation is a powerful motivator. At least one member of the Hutaree was convinced by a hoax email that Congress had passed a bill this month to spend 20 billion dollars to bring Hamas fighters to the United States.
Defendant Tina Mae Stone wrote on March 19, on her Facebook account, of a bill that she called H.B. 1388, “when people in this country is getting kicked out of there homes everyday and our government passes a bill to spend more then 20 billion dollars to bring Hamas here and supplies them with food and homes that just wrong.”
Those familiar with Congress will realize that no legislation begins with H.B. That’s a tipoff that something is amiss with Tina Stone’s concerns about H.R. 1388. But, perhaps she just made a typographical error. Could there be an H.R. 1388 passed earlier this month that gave 20 billion dollars to Hamas?
No, that’s not possible, because H.R. 1388 was signed by President Obama and made into Public Law No: 111-013 on April 21 of last year. The earliest time when there could be another H.R. 1388 is in 2011, when the 112th Congress will be in session.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Tina Stone had been suckered in by a hoax, an email making wild claims about H.R. 1388 that were completely untrue. The actual H.R. 1388 is a public service bill that expands opportunities for Americans to help their neighbors in a variety of ways. It’s called the Serve America Act. It contains no money for Hamas.
If Tina Stone and her comrades had not been so gullible, if they had known that they can look up any piece of congressional legislation at thomas.loc.gov, the Hutarees might have calmed down, realized that they were living in a world of paranoid delusion, and avoided an FBI raid. We’re lucky that the lies about H.R. 1388 didn’t actually result in anyone’s death – they came awfully close.
This isn’t just a cautionary tale for the Hutarees. It should serve as a reminder to us all. When we’re told about a bill in Congress, whether the bill is praised or condemned, we should look into it ourselves before forming a judgment.