T H E U N C E N S O R E D G O R D O N K A H L S T O R Y In 1968, Tax Protester Gordon Kahl
T H E U N C E N S O R E D
G O R D O N K A H L S T O R Y
In 1968, Tax Protester Gordon Kahl stopped filing IRS 1040 Income Tax Returns. For 9 years thereafter, the IRS ignored him, but in 1977 after Gordon Kahl spoke on an evening radio talk show regarding the illicitness of the income tax, some 250 phone calls would come into the radio station over the next two days; either supporting Kahl in some aspect, or pledging never to file another tax return.
And with that, the IRS came down on Kahl like a ton of bricks. They quickly assembled a case against him and two weeks later threw a criminal prosecution against him for violating Title 26, Section 7203 ["Willful Failure to File"]. Gordon Kahl was a low-income farmer not even meeting minimal statutory standards for threshold income levels achieved before being required to file 1040s, but that was not about to stop the IRS, who is good at changing the facts by creating facts.
Convicted and incarcerated, when out of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary on parole, Kahl left the Texas judicial district he was confined to by claiming that some aspect of the Restriction Orders was defective. He soon moved to North Dakota -- and there, he met his fate. A criminal Summons issued from a Federal Court in Midland, Texas was served on Gordon Kahl on August 8, 1980, charging him with a misdemeanor. Gordon Kahl responded by informing the Court that he would not be appearing, and the matter was allowed to be deferred until March 31, 1982, when the Justice Department obtained a Federal Arrest Warrant citing his parole violation.
Then, that Warrant was held up again until July 26, 1982, some 16 months later, when it was sent to the U.S. Marshals Office in Fargo, North Dakota on February 13, 1983. The United States Marshals and the Federal Court in Texas knew of his whereabouts in North Dakota at all times. After a two and one half year delay in the case, the fact that there was a "problem" controlling the prosecution of the case is self-evident.
If that chronology had been published in the New York Times in the context of discussing some other unfortunate incident that had happened, it would be referred to, very defensively of the Government of course, as mere "bureaucratic bungling," in an attempt to discredit the obvious interposition of the "Lateness of the Hour" operating against the Government to bar the legitimacy of their management of the case.
Once again Gordon Kahl had attracted the attention of the United States Government. With the personality known as Ronald Reagan acquiescing indifferently as President, and with William French Smith sitting as Attorney General, the word came down the pipeline to get rid of Gordon Kahl, and the stage was set for the kind of confrontation the Feds wanted.
A violent attack was planned against Gordon Kahl at his farmhouse, and it was going to be well publicized. The attack would be in the form of a roadblock, it would be in the evening hours, and it would occur in a remote rural area. The timing of the attack in February of 1983 was selected to coincide with the Trials of other related criminal prosecutions then going on that would be favorably tipped towards the Government, as the Juries were exposed to what would be surfacing visibly on the news as the Gordon Kahl "incident."
From his farm in Heaton, North Dakota, both Gordon Kahl, along with his neighbors, and the Chief of Police of Medina, North Dakota, Darrell Graff, all had received several advanced notices that the United States Marshals were planning a very unpleasant reception for Gordon Kahl, and in the case of Darrell Graff, he was told bluntly to stay out of it.
Rather than meet his adversaries face-to-face to settle the grievance at that lower level, Gordon Kahl improvidently ignored the gathering storm and tossed aside the Warrant, thus giving his adversaries the benefit of intensifying the impending confrontation into an elevated status -- a level that originates out of the barrel of a gun, where they were quite likely to prevail. Although that did not give the United States Marshals the right to come out first and shoot Kahl, it does however require that other people in difficult positions with juristic authorities facing contemplated extermination itself, should not replicate Gordon Kahl's modus operandi.
On the 14th of February, 1983, Gordon Kahl, accompanied by his wife and son Yori, left a meeting in a commercial Medina, North Dakota district and headed home. Gordon Kahl was under surveillance and he knew it. He could have been picked up at the meeting, but the Feds had a surprise for him and wanted the remoteness of a rural environment. His son Yori detected something adverse and dangerous in the air, and so he took his father's jacket and cap an wore those on himself on the ride home that afternoon.
Not far from his farmhouse a roadblock had been set up by U.S. Marshal Kenneth Muir. It was a very unusual roadblock in that it had an ambulance and fire truck waiting there. Yes, there was going to be some trouble. The Marshal had not come to arrest, but to murder. Bringing neither the Arrest Warrant, nor any identification, Deputy Muir brought his gun and orders to terminate Gordon Kahl.
Arriving at the roadblock, Gordon's son, Yori Kahl, fled the pickup truck and ran to a nearby telephone pole for cover. Thinking that Yori was his dad Gordon, Marshal Muir opened the shooting by firing several shots at Yori. Yori did not fall to the ground quick enough to satisfy the killer Marshal, so Marshal Muir kept on shooting until Yori fell. After spending a while at the hospital, Yori Kahl would actually survive to be charged with murder, and later convicted by a jury in a Star Chamber that was highly pressured by the U.S. Marshals and had numerous other fatal irregularities that would never survive reversal on appeal.
Back at the evening roadblock, after seeing his own son cut down by Marshal Muir, Gordon Kahl grabbed a gun and let Marshal Muir have it, killing him and Deputy Marshal Robert Cheshire. Injured was Deputy Marshal James Hopson. Staying in the background, looking at all of this shooting and profanity being thrown about, was Chief Darrell Graff of the Medina Police Department, who was told in advance that Kahl was going to buy the farm, and that he was to stay out of it. Gordon went over to the telephone pole, dragged his son Yori, white with blood loss and bleeding profusely, over to an unmarked police car, drove him to a hospital back in Medina, and then as a mysterious fog quickly settled in on the Fargo countryside, Gordon Kahl sped away into the night.
Soon, a swarm of military stormtroopers descended on Fargo, in military clothing and using military trucks [see Time Magazine ["Dakota Dragnet"], page 25 (February 28, 1983)]. They were on search and destroy orders. Gordon Kahl was immediately placed on the FBI's ten most wanted list, and was the subject of the most intensive fugitive search in the history of the FBI. It was a massive operation.
A tight clampdown was put out in North Dakota, accompanied with extensive random stops of motor vehicles, but nothing ever turned up. For Gordon Kahl, thousands of armed forces were called into search the surrounding North Dakota countryside. Every available private bounty hunter known to the FBI was hired and put on the case, but fugitive Gordon Kahl slipped through it all.
In comparison to what they can do when they feel like it, it is worthwhile noting how J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI never showed any such interest in capturing unknown fleeing killers when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. No roadblocks, no dragnets, no manhunts, no searching -- nothing but CIA agents carrying Secret Service credentials restraining people from approaching the grassy knoll for about 10 minutes.
For the next three months, Gordon Kahl had found a home with some friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ginter, and a Mr. Russell, who kept moving him quietly from house to house. It was rather obvious to anyone that if he was ever found, he would be killed immediately.
In time, Mr. Russell's daughter, Karen Russell Robertson, noticed that her father was hiding Gordon Kahl. Possessed with First Person evidence ["I saw...," "I heard..."], she in turn went to the FBI and spilled the beans. She was given $25,000 and the promise of immunity from prosecution [see the New York Times ["Arkansans Guilty in Tax Rebel Case"], page A19 (October 19, 1983)].
The rural house where Gordon Kahl was staying was placed under FBI surveillance; but the results were inconclusive. On the morning of June 4th, a special FBI team of animals and savage killers [which is no exaggeration], known as the Delta Force, left their home base on Washington, D.C. and flew into Lawrence County, Arkansas on a private FBI jet. There, they were met by local FBI agents, other FBI agents, the Arkansas State Police, the Sheriff of Lawrence County, Arkansas, his deputies, and a confluence of United States Marshals assembled from across the country. Several Marshals invited to the Kahl execution operation arrived too late and missed it.
Later in the afternoon, it all began. The quiet, isolated and remote house was cordoned off, roadblocks were set up, and all without Gordon Kahl detecting anything amiss. Soon that afternoon, Mr. Ginter left the house alone and he was stopped down the road. He claimed his wife, Norma Ginter, was in the house alone. Now, the house where Gordon Kahl was living was more closely surrounded, and Sheriff Gene Matthews went to the front door to remove Mrs. Ginter from the scene.
With her out of the way, the FBI started open shooting, and saturated the house with bullets; but the earth shelter house was made with concrete walls and Gordon Kahl survived through it all without a scratch. The 36 year old local Sheriff, Gene Matthews, was killed incidental to the FBI siege on the Gordon Kahl hideout.
After a while, as the firing stopped, the FBI cordoned off the house for themselves while the Delta Force animals converged on the house like starved panthers going for a piece of meat. They found Gordon Kahl alive and well inside the home, hiding behind the refrigerator. He was taken to the living room, thrown on the floor, and was worked over with the butt end of their rifles. While numerous bones were being fractured and his teeth were being smashed in, other members of Delta Force went on a rampage in the house, smashing pictures and the television set, over-turning furniture, a copier, and taking a fireman's axe and chopping up a bookshelf.
While Gordon Kahl was pinned to the floor by the six to eight Delta Force panthers, still under attack from the gun butts, the FBI agent with the fireman's axe turned to Gordon Kahl himself and chopped off his hand. Then he went around and chopped off Gordon Kahl's other hand, and then both of his feet were severed. While screaming with pain and with blood gushing out profusely over the floor where his hands and feet used to be, Gordon Kahl was shot in the head at close range, killing him.
A local Deputy Sheriff was given the honor of removing the bullet from Gordon Kahl's head [later that week, the deputy would tell a neighbor that he had not eaten in three days]. When local people viewed Gordon Kahl's dismembered body, they became nauseous and sick, stating that the man they just hacked apart was not Gordon Kahl, but Mr. William Wade, who was the owner of the land and resembled Gordon Kahl closely in age and appearance, and was well known to the Sheriff and others personally.
There was confusion; immediately there was trouble. A massive series of roadblocks were erected again, and the thorough searching of all automobiles over a wide radius was started; it was believed that Gordon Kahl had slipped out once again.
Local residents monitoring the operation on the police radio band heard a call made for some gasoline to be delivered to the house. Now that the murder of Gordon Kahl had been botched, the Feds were going to cover their own tracks and torch the place. The Delta Force animals left the place with extensive blood stains covering their clothes and took the private FBI jet back to Washington.
The roadblocks were called off when Mr. Wade, the owner of the land, showed up in town alive and well. The body of Sheriff Matthews was taken to a local hospital, while later in the evening after the fire the Feds had set had died down, the charred body of Gordon Kahl was taken to the local coroner. The dismembered body was later identified as being that of Gordon Kahl. But the bodies and the house were only lightly charred, since the house was fabricated from cast concrete walls and the fire never got that intense. The corpse identified as being Gordon Kahl's was missing teeth, hands, and feet, had a bullet hole in the head (without a bullet), and was extensively covered with tissue bruises and fractured bones. It was very shocking and disgusting, as people who saw photographs of Gordon Kahl's charred remains, taken by the coroner, reported a stark and terrified look on his charred face; he had died in extreme screaming violently from the pain. They had gotten their man.
Gordon Kahl was later buried with military honors -- for whatever that meant. His wife back in North Dakota received several mean and ugly death threats from the Feds to keep quite or be murdered herself. Meanwhile, the rest of the country went on like Alice strolling through Wonderland; believing that all was well and that the Federal Government is your trusted friend, and that some little Tax Protester over there got what he deserved.
Back in Arkansas, while shifting through the smoldering ruins in the kitchen, a reporter for the New York Times accompanied by Ray Wade, the land owner's son, found Gordon Kahl's left foot that had been severed off by the axe. It was taken to the local coroner Dr. Fahmy Malak in Little Rock, confirmed as being Gordon Kahl's sliced off foot. However, this was news not fit to emphasize, and the reporter's story was blurred over when printed [see New York Times ["Gunfight Shatters Tranquility of Arkansas Hills"], page 14 (July 3, 1983)].
Mr. and Mrs. Ginter, who had been harboring Gordon Kahl, were charged not only with aiding and abetting a fugitive, but also were fraudulently charged with the murder of Sheriff Matthews. At Trial, the only evidence introduced against them, outside of the background story, was first person evidence from Art Russell's daughter, Karen Russell Robertson, who reported to the Jury what she had seen her father do. And with that eyewitness evidence, the Ginters and Art Russell were convicted and sentenced to protracted incarceration in a Federal Penitentiary [see New York Times ["Arkansans Guilty in Tax Rebel Case"], page A19 (October 19, 1983)].
In conclusion, note that a large volume of the continuous reporting that the New York Times and Time Magazine did on the story from February through October, was based, as usual, on the mere replication of whatever the FBI and wire services had told them, as the Government Billboards that they are -- and so their reporting is highly edited, inaccurate, and distorted news. Be advised that there are numerous inconsistencies in those articles between what they have reported [as the Feds are quite good at changing the facts], and what is reported herein. Until their own reporter J.C. Barden actually went to the torched house to dig at facts for himself on the case, some of the real facts never surfaced, and his reported factual details considerably change the character and color of the savage FBI animal attack on Gordon Kahl.
Incidentally, Mr. Ray Wade, who found Gordon Kahl's foot, was also threatened with being killed himself if he did not remain silent, as were other local residents who also saw different aspects of the bloody reign of FBI terror that went on during that fateful day -- as the FBI once again allowed itself to be defiled by acting ministerially, without and wanting jurisdiction, on behalf of those presiding in Washington who had handed down the extermination orders.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank