Mimesis Law
22 July 2019

The Toxic Mix Of Feeble Minds And Terrorism (Again)

September 12, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — In an investigation led by the FBI, an Alabama District attorney charged a mentally retarded teenager with terrorism charges.  But on September 8, 2016, a St. Clair County Circuit Judge found him not guilty by reason of mental defect.  The insanity (no pun intended) finally came to an end for Peyton J. Pruitt, as reported by AL.com:

Pruitt was arrested Nov. 13, 2015, charged with soliciting support for a terrorist act.

At a December hearing, witnesses described Pruitt as a “child” – a teenager with an IQ in the 50s who cannot tie his own shoes, soils his clothes, has little verbal skills and lacks the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy.

Yet a St. Clair County investigator then testified that the FBI determined Pruitt used the Internet to communicate with what he believed were representatives of the Islamic State and the Pakistani Taliban, and that he told an FBI agent that he provided links to encrypted information on car bombs, pressure cooker bombs and suggested high value targets for acts of terrorism.

A May mental evaluation found Pruitt has a mental defect and is “not a danger to himself or the community.”

Peyton was charged under an Alabama statute that forbids “soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism.” A few things before moving forward. One, it’s very rare for the feds to spearhead an investigation – of terrorism of all things – and not end up being the ones charging the purported perp. Local law enforcement’s involvement in a federal case usually ends when the feds use a few local cops to barge into that perp’s house at 6 a.m.

Deux, the Alabama statute has no mens rea requirement, as the word “knowingly” is absent, and all it takes for someone to be charged is a “total value of material support” of over $1K.  So the bar is already set low for the prosecution, but when was the last time a Bible Belt Congressman argued for a more stringent requirement for a statute that has the word “terrorism” in it? That poor sap would be tarred and feathered inside the state’s Capitol.

This is a case that reeks of paranoia that began with Peyton’s father being bullied questioned inside the local station, and Peyton talking to the cops without a lawyer or his parents present:

Peyton was wary during the interview. When asked if he knew what a lawyer was, he said he wasn’t sure. After signing away his right to an attorney, he was asked whether he knew a person named Usamah Anthony, based on records related to the case. The question made Peyton uncomfortable, and he froze under the pressure, drinking two bottles of water instead of responding.

Meanwhile, a team of FBI agents searched Tony’s house—with his permission—atop a hill on a nine-acre pasture and wooded property five miles away, a converted mobile home set into a cement foundation. Tony says they confiscated Cassady’s iPad, three household laptops, a PlayStation, two toy swords, and a paperback copy of Inside ISIS by journalist Benjamin Hall found on top of a dusty bookshelf.

Peyton’s interview stretched on for four hours. When he was finally reunited with Tony, an agent informed them that the Sheriff was taking over the case and that Peyton was under arrest for providing support for an act of terrorism. They had evidence, the agent claimed, that Peyton had sent bomb-making instructions to someone he thought was a member of ISIS. Tony put his head in his hands and began to cry.

The paranoia element was confirmed when the duty judge set Peyton’s bond at $1 million, when the recommended bail amount for that charge is between $2,500 and $15,000.  But in all honesty, had he set it at the recommended amount, that judge would’ve been excoriated during his next election. And as usual, the press jumped on board.

Luckily for Peyton, his lawyers fought tooth and nail to make the court see the obvious: that their client was a very feeble-minded kid who had nothing, nothing, to do with sponsoring terrorism (of all things).  His lawyers are James Gallini, Edward A. Merrell and Kenneth Baumann. But while his attorneys were doing his bidding, Peyton was held in solitary confinement for months.

Those are days Peyton will never get back, and all kinds of wrong can happen when kids are held in solitary. All this while the prosecution had the cojones to keep insisting that even though Peyton was mentally challenged, he was conniving to provide material support to ISIS.  From his room? In a small town in Alabama? Since Occam’s Razor cannot be applied to Peyton’s tormenters prosecutors, one has to ask, how do they sleep at night? Can they even point out Aleppo on a map?

When it comes to terrorism, the feds almost always seem to shoot for — pun intended —  people like Peyton.  They bully the weak and then have the temerity to allege that these people were up to grandiose, complex plans that involve terrorism springing from abroad. Even autistic people who truly have no idea what they’re doing have been snared, and then it takes the efforts of a gutsy defense attorney to make everyone come to their senses.

What would a better use of finite federal prosecutorial resources? How about bringing to a U.S. District Court the alleged masterminds of the coordinated attack on American civil society that occurred 15 years and 1 day from today, instead of having them linger for years in an obscure military tribunal process that’s been mired with prosecuorial overreach? Now that would be a true display of American might.

6 Comments on this post.

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  • Gabriel
    12 September 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Warning: this is a link to “encrypted information on car bombs”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_bomb

    Oooo, scary! Look at that padlock in your browser- that means it’s *encrypted* information that was sent to you in a way designed to avoid interception by groups like law enforcement.

  • Matthew Cline
    13 September 2016 at 9:06 am - Reply

    You might mean Hanlon’s Razor, not Occam’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately ascribed to stupidity”.

    • Mario Machado
      13 September 2016 at 12:49 pm - Reply

      You’re right, that’s the razor I meant to reference. But now that we got the razors out, Occam’s might apply as well.

      In his Summa Logicae, 1323, Occam wrote “It is futile to do with more what can be done with fewer.” Maybe the prosecutors could have just sent some investigators to Peyton’s house to confirm the obvious: that he was not a threat and that there was no need to go above and beyond by railroading him the way they did. Maybe something akin to what the Secret Service did with Ted Nugent when he made incendiary comments about Obama:

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/secret-service-to-interview-ted-nugent/

    • David Meyer Lindenberg
      15 September 2016 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      To be fair, Hanlon’s Razor is just an application of Occam’s Razor.

  • DaveL
    13 September 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    When it comes to terrorism, the feds almost always seem to shoot for — pun intended — people like Peyton.

    It isn’t just terrorism,either. The BAFTE loves this stuff, apparently. According to John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

    ATF agents befriended mentally disabled people to drum up business and later arrested them in at least four cities in addition to Milwaukee. In Wichita, Kan., ATF agents referred to a man with a low IQ as “slow-headed” before deciding to secretly use him as a key cog in their sting. And agents in Albuquerque, N.M., gave a brain-damaged drug addict with little knowledge of weapons a “tutorial” on machine guns, hoping he could find them one.

    • Mario Machado
      13 September 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      C’mon, the ATF is not that bad or reckless. It’s not like the ATF has purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell thousands of weapons to illegal straw buyers in the hopes of tracking the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders. Oh, wait…never mind.