More Than Entrapment, More Than a Frame-Up, the Crucifixion of the NATO 3, Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly. The NATO 3 are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, June 12.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, rarely in history has so much been so wrong with a case in which so much is at stake. The story of the NATO 3  is either the story of the most inept, harebrained terrorists in history meeting the Keystone Cops, or a terrifying retaliation by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's police department for the posting of a Youtube video which documented illegal police behavior.
The case has the potential to strike at the heart of First Amendment rights exercised at the NATO protests, and all future protest, by escalating the chilling of free speech. Until now this consisted mostly of nuisance charges based on the philosophy enunciated by police that "you can beat the rap but you can't beat the ride." This brings it to terrifying levels. With this goes the "right of the people peaceably to assemble," and to petition for the "redress of grievances," in all matters from wars to bank bail-outs. The NATO 3, young men in their twenties, all face 85 years in prison.
Perhaps what most undermines the charges against the NATO 3 are the charges themselves .
If we are to believe state prosecutor Anita Alvarez, then just seven days before the defendants were "making preparations" to commit acts of terror, the CPD just happened to have stopped these same three  in a traffic stop. They had made a three-point-turn and, according to an officer in the video, touched "private property" (yes the Dr. Strangelovian echo is there.)
During this traffic stop, which was videotaped by the defendants, Chicago police, with no more probable cause than the alleged traffic infraction, opened the trunk and searched it, which is clearly beyond what is allowed by long-settled law.
In the course of the stop, the defendants are heard saying they are in town for the NATO protests organized by Occupy Chicago. The police joke to the young men about taking "billyclub[s] to the f-ing skull," saying they will be "looking" for "each and every one of you." Church, Chase, and Betterly are heard responding to requests for ID which the police presumably record and run through their system. Seven days later, the three defendants are arrested on charges which, if carried out, would have constituted one of the worst terrorist attacks since 9/11.
The Traffic Stop
Strangely, in State's Attorney Alvarez's charge sheet, there is no mention of the coincidence of the traffic stop, nor how Chicago's finest had the near-equivalent of Mohammed Atta, or at least Bonnie and Clyde, within their clutches just a week before they were to commit utter mayhem. Nor that the encounter had been videotaped. Nor that the day after the traffic stop, on May 9, 2012, the defendants posted the video of the illegal search and the thuggish talk on Youtube after which it quickly went viral.
Well what do you know?
Instead, sometime in "early May," according to the charge sheet, police posing as protesters, which the department admits to using and which Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy says is a legitimate tactic,  infiltrated the apartment in which the defendants and other protesters were staying and began their "investigation."
Protesters present in the apartment and active in Occupy Chicago have told reporters that two infiltrators, now said by protesters  to have gone by the names of "Mo" and "Gloves," tried to incite the defendants and other protesters to acts of violence, which they say were refused. At this point, protesters in the apartment say, evidence was planted which was "recovered" in a raid.
Ignoring the threats of violence by his own officers caught on videotape in the traffic stop, and the record of police violence against Occupy Wall Street rather than the other way around, Chief McCarthy instead expresses predictable outrage at the unmasking of his infiltration of a peaceful movement, saying to Fox  that it "endangers police officers' lives."
According to the charge sheet, police:
"obtained a judiciaily-approved (sic), no-knock search warrant for the target location" and "analyzed varioius (sic) items from the search, including weapons, four completed Molotov Cocktails, wiritten (sic) plans for the assembly of pipe bombs, Chicago area map, computer equipments, recording devices, video cameras, cell phones, and an assault vest..."
It is unclear why "recording devices, video cameras, cell phones" are mentioned in the charges, since they are legal. The defense maintains that the warrant presented to them is not signed by a judge.
The official charges  also state:
"As part of their efforts, the defendants also possessed and/or constructed improvised explosive-incendiary devices and various types of dangerous weapons (including a mortar gun, swords, hunting bow, throwing stars, and knives with brass-knuckle handles), as well as police counter-measures such as pre-positioned shields, assault vest, gas mask equipment and other gear to help hide their identity during their operations."
It is unclear what the defendants intended to do with this nutty assortment of weapons against police behind riot shields and in full riot gear, with sidearms. Not to mention that walking around with a hunting bow in the middle of a protest would be a good way to be immediately surrounded, by protesters, or shot on sight by police. As for the Molotov cocktails, the charges state that on Wednesday, May 16, the night of the arrests,
"the defendants using gloves began to make the Molotov Cocktails and cut bandanas as timing devices. During construction, CHURCH and CHASE assisted in the preparation and BETTERLY gave instructions on how to properly assemble and use the Molotv Cocktails. While the Molotov Cocktails were being poured, CHURCH discussed the NATO Summit, the protests, and how the Molotov Cocktails would be used for violence and intimidating acts of destruction. Ar one point, CHURCH asked if others had ever seen a "cop on fire" and discussed throwing one of the Molotov Cocktails into a car located near the residence."
The Molotov cocktails, the charges say, were made from beer bottles.
A number of problems present themselves here. First, Molotov cocktails do not have "timing devices." Any gas-soaked rag strip serves as a "fuse," which plugs the bottle and is lit before throwing, lighting the rest of the gasoline when the bottle shatters on impact. Second, the reference to "bandanas" seems almost a hilarious attempt to associate the alleged firebombs with something associated with "self-described anarchists" as the rap sheet describes the defendants.
Any strip of rag will do for a fuse on a Molotov cocktail. Why waste bandanas? Third, as one former prosecutor points out, one doesn't use beer bottles for Molotov cocktails, they are too hard to break. One uses wine bottles.
The CPD confiscated beer-making equipment  in the raid on Wednesday night, May 16, the same night the charges say the three were observed filling beer bottles with gasoline. This of course would sound great to a jury, from the prosecution point of view, if prosecution produced a big contraption with a rubber hose for drawing liquid. Perhaps in anticipation of this the defense released photos of the equipment, which seems to be full of...beer. Either that or extremely dark, foamy gasoline.
Finally, in order to carry out the extraordinarily busy schedule of targeted mayhem, which included plans to "destroy police cars and attack four CPD stations with destructive devices..." and to attack "the Campaign Headquarters of U.S. President Barack Obama, the personal residence of Chicago Mayor Rahm [Emanuel], and certain downtown financial institutions," the defendants were going to "recruit four groups of four coconspirators (for a total of sixteen people...)"
Let's get this straight. In addition to their nutty weapons cache, the defendants were going to approach perfect strangers to run up to police stations and throw a firebomb at it, a crime good for life in prison under new terrorism laws. Without the recruits knowing them from Adam, or even if the defendants were not police themselves. See that big grey building with bars in the windows and cameras all around it? Take this, and...
All these unlikelihoods taking place six days after posting an institutionally embarrassing video documenting an illegal search on Youtube.
One word only here folks: Right.
The NATO 3 are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, June 12. Drop the Charges! Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office: 312.744.5000 (email)  Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez: 312- 603-1880 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org )