June 12, 2020
WASHINGTON DC – Retired FBI agent and member TOM BAKER writes OPED for the WASHINGTON EXAMINER. Speaking about Attorney General [AG] WILLIAM BARR, he states BARR has seen it “all,” deploying federal agents onto streets during civil unrest, using chemical agents against rioters/looters and bringing charges against local officers for violations of the federal civil rights statute.
As his resume suggests, BAKER states BARR is prepared for this moment.
Talking about the riots that erupted as a result of the RODNEY KING protests in Los Angeles [LA], in 1992, BAKER reminds readers, after three days of unrest, which he argued was “even worse than today’s multicity unrest,” BARR ordered thousands of federal agents into Los Angeles to help control the situation. Sparked by police officers acquitted of assaulting KING, he said BARR ordered prosecutors to “initiate a federal civil rights case against” the same officers. As a result of the riots, he said 63 people were killed and another 2,380 were injured. The introduction of federal agents he said helped stopped the “looting,” although “snipers” continued targeting 1st responders for another week. Working with the Los Angeles Police Department [LAPD], he said the FBI and the Department of Justice [DOJ] proved they could work with local authorities trying to help quell tensions, while other agents investigated those responsible for assaulting KING.
Insisting BARR is the right man to be the Attorney General, he also reminded readers, in office for only three days, in August 1991, BARR famously ordered the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team [HRT] to intervene in a prison riot where inmates had seized hostages at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Alabama. Not hesitant to authorize the use of force and/or chemical agents, prison authorities quelled the riot without loss of the life. BARR’s no nonsense, but fair treatment won everybody’s respect.
Likewise, within hours of GEORGE FLOYD’s death at the hands of 4 Minneapolis Police Officers, BARR ordered the Justice Department to initiate a civil rights inquiry before the Bureau completed its preliminary investigation. And like the RODNEY KING incident, ordered federal agents to deploy in Washington, DC to work with members of the Bureau of Prisons Special Operations Response Teams wanting to quell rioting/looting.
“Not” shy from making “hard decisions, a frequent visitor at the FBI’s Command Post in Washington, DC, as BAKER’s piece suggests, Attorney General WILLIAM BARR is the right man for the job.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER | Opinion
June 11, 2020
By THOMAS J. BAKER
June 11, 2020 | 03:40 PM ET
The deployment of federal agents on the streets during civil unrest, the use of chemical agents, federal civil rights charges against local police, and an attorney general in the FBI command post — WILLIAM BARR has seen it all before. During his previous tenure as attorney general, he was in the thick of it.
On April 29, 1992, in the middle of his first tour as attorney general, the RODNEY KING protests erupted in Los Angeles. The spark that set off these disturbances was the acquittal, in local court, of police officers who had been videotaped beating KING.
On the evening of May 1, 1992, the third day of continued demonstrations, BARR ordered a force of several thousand federal agents into Los Angeles to help control the situation. In addition to the FBI, the force included DEA agents, U.S. Marshalls, and others. A rotating cadre of FBI special agents in charge, under the overall command of OLIVER “BUCK” REVEL, was sent in to run the feds’ field command post in LA. At the same time, BARR’s Justice Department initiated a federal civil rights case against the just- acquitted police officers.
Although limited to just one city, the 1992 riots were, in a sense, even worse than today’s multicity unrest. The number killed then was 63 — and the injured more than 2,380. The presence of the federal agents on the ground helped stop the looting after two days, although sniping at first responders continued for almost a week. The FBI faced a challenge that it had met before and would meet again. While working beside the police to restore public order, it was also investigating members of the LAPD for the civil rights violations. But the FBI proved then, and will again, that it can “walk and chew gum.”
The civil rights charges, violations of Title 18, U.S.C., Deprivation of Rights under Color of Law, concerns a person under the authority of state or local law acting to deprive someone of their constitutional rights. It is the statute that usually covers incidents of police brutality. The charges were made, and the case went to court. In April 1993, three months after BARR left office, two of the LAPD offices were finally found guilty in federal court of depriving KING of his civil rights.
By the time of the LA riots, BARR already had a great working relationship with FBI agents and management. Only three days after becoming the acting attorney general in August 1991, he was present in the FBI’s forward command post, when he authorized the intervention of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team at the TALLADEGA FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, where a large number of hostages were under threat. Various chemical agents were employed in the operation, but the standoff was resolved without any loss of life. BARR’s reputation for fearlessness, along with his appreciation of the FBI’s capabilities, both rose out of the smoke of the TALLADEGA prison siege.
In leading the federal response to the current threat to law and order, BARR is leaning on lessons learned. Within hours on May 25, as in the RODNEY KING response, his JUSTICE DEPARTMENT began a criminal civil rights inquiry into the death, at the hands of police, of GEORGE FLOYD, using the same “color of law” statutes.
At the same time, BARR has issued a directive that the agents of the WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE deploy on the streets of Washington in a “show of force.” Among other DOJ components joining them “on the street” is the Bureau of Prison’s SPECIAL OPERATIONS RESPONSE TEAMS, a much-improved riot response unit thanks in part to BARR’s initiatives after TALLADEGA. Barr continued to demonstrate his fearlessness by walking around the streets of Washington to observe the federal response. Current FBI officials tell us that he is now a regular in the WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE’s command post. But in a sense, he’s been there before.
The actions for which he was praised in the past (judicious use of non-lethal chemical agents, putting federal investigators “on the street,” and being present in their command post) now evoke criticism from some quarters. A sign of the times, perhaps. But, if true to past form, BILL BARR will proceed fearlessly. The right man, well prepared, for this moment.
TOM BAKER spent 33 years in the FBI, including during WILLIAM BARR’s first turn as Attorney General. Mr. BAKER is a retired FBI special agent and former legal attaché.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After almost 33-years’ service with the Bureau, in 1999, THOMAS J BAKER “retired” from the FBI while stationed overseas as the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Paris, France.
Appointed a Special Agent in 1967, his career includes tours of duty, as a police instructor at the FBI’s Academy in Quantico, Virginia and, in 1981, as the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge [ASAC] at the FBI’s Washington Field Office [WFO], he set up the Command Post [CP] investigating the attempted assassination of President RONALD REAGAN by JOHN HINCKLEY.
Assigned to the Office of Public Affairs for almost five -years, in 1987, he transferred to the U.S. Embassy, in Ottawa, Canada, and in 1990, was made Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, where he handled matters “not” only on the Australian continent, but a number of Pacific island nations as well. In 1994, he was transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, also as the FBI’s Legal Attaché, that also included managing the Bureau interests’ in Algeria and much of Africa.
For more information about Mr. BAKER, his profile can be found here at: https://fbiretired.com/agent/thomas-baker/
You can also follow Mr. BAKER on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-j-baker-413b577/
And on Twitter @bakeassociates