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Siege At Sagle

Jeff Elkins is a freelance consultant and writer living in North Central Florida. His personal website is located at www.elkins.org.
by Jeff Elkins, June 7, 2001

"Get the guns!" We don't know exactly what alerted 15-year-old Benjamin McGuckin. It could have been one of the family dogs, warning the boy when a jackboot broke a twig. Perhaps one of the Sagle, Idaho, storm troopers attacking the McGuckin home cursed softly when he slipped on some gravel. However it happened, the boy called out an alarm that precipitated a dramatic five-day standoff with the Bonner County Sheriff's department.

Sheriff's deputies had already captured Benjamin's mother, JoAnn McGuckin, after luring her from her home with a lying promise to take her to buy groceries. Instead of a trip to a grocery store, Bonner County sheriff's deputies arrested McGuckin on various charges; County Prosecutor Phil Robinson has claimed she spent the family's meager resources on liquor, and has slyly insinuated that her husband, Michael C. McGuckin's recent death was not from multiple sclerosis but from deliberate starvation of a terminally ill man by an insane wife.

Oddly enough, we heard no tales of methamphetamine laboratories or child sexual abuse from Herr Prosecutor Robinson; items from the typical government play book he missed. One must suppose that charges of insanity, alcoholism, child abuse and possible homicide were deemed sufficient.

In the aftermath of the siege against the young home-schooled children, five weapons were found, according to Robinson. The small collection consisted of shotguns, rifles, and handguns and of course was referred to as an "arms cache". Despite Benjamin McGuckin's cry to "Get the guns!" none of the McGuckin children were ever seen brandishing a weapon. The brave deputies of Bonner County were chased off the McGuckin property by the family dogs.

The final not-so-stealthy assault on the McGuckin home was the culmination of a four-year campaign by Idaho authorities to steal their property via tax warfare. The McGuckin property, which is worth nearly $500,000, was seized for $5,000 in back taxes and sold at auction for $50,000 to a Schmuel and Amy Korengut.

As I write, Mrs. McGuckin sits in jail having bravely refused the state of Idaho's embarrassed offer to release her on her own recognizance; that order was contingent on her agreement to not attempt contact with her children. "Those children are my children, not wards of the state," McGuckin said in a statement. "The state needs to learn its place and that is not in family business. I do not accept the charges against me."

The children, Kathryn, 16, Benjamin, 15, Mary, 13, James, 11, Fred, 9 and Jane, 8 are in state custody, the state having refused an offer of temporary foster care from a family friend of ten years who lives on a nearby 140 acre ranch.

Odd circumstances indeed for the surviving family of a former Boston Brahmin. Michael C. McGuckin was a graduate of the prestigious Groton prep school, class of 1957. His father, an Army major, was a Harvard graduate and a Cambridge Fox Club member. His mother was Jane Shreve, of the distinguished Boston jewelry firm, Shreve Crump & Low Co.

McGuckin went on to study engineering at the University of North Carolina, and served in the US Army, where he learned Arabic. After discharge he moved to California to set up a series of successful businesses: furniture manufacture, textile plants, and home construction. After a divorce, he moved to Idaho to start a new family and a new business, a sawmill.

Ultimately the sawmill failed, even with infusions of cash from McGuckin's Massachusetts relatives. A federal tax lien filed in 1988 listed McGuckin as a debtor to the IRS for $18,842. Then McGuckin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and slowly, inexorably, the McGuckin family fell into tax hell as they became unable to pay state and local property taxes on their extremely valuable lakefront timberland. The end result was the kidnapping of the mother and this pitiful siege against children by the State.

The McGuckin children can count themselves lucky in a way; marginally more merciful local sheriff's deputies were in charge of the assault. Had federal jackboots been involved, the children would have undoubtedly been subjected to tape recorded screams of dying rabbits projected at ear-smashing decibel levels and at least one of them would have been assassinated by an FBI sniper. Perhaps Mr. Horiuchi would have been recalled to Idaho to duplicate his superb marksmanship of Ruby Ridge fame.

Sadly, the ending of the McGuckin affair is all too predictable. Their lives, already devastated by the tragic loss of a beloved father, have been ruined forever and their homestead stolen by government. JoAnn McGuckin, demonized and charged as a felon by a power- and publicity-mad prosecutor, will probably have the charges dropped or reduced; but she'll remain under the watchful eye of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, unable to raise her children without government interference. Those children, five healthy young Americans, will no longer enjoy roaming the family timberland or canoeing on Beaver Lake. Nor will they have the benefit of a home-schooled education, they will undoubtedly be forced into a government reeducation center, to be molded into proper servants of the State.

For our masters, all turned out well in Sagle, Idaho. For the rest of us, it's another tragic tale of liberty denied and freedom crushed, under the jackbooted heel of Leviathan.

Copyright © 2001 LewRockwell.com, Reprinted in The Tocquevillian with permission.

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"...Those children, five healthy young Americans, will no longer enjoy roaming the family timberland or canoeing on Beaver Lake..."

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