One of federal police agencies' favorite activities is spying on radical political organizations. They don't care for being hindered by such things as the Bill of Rights; the FBI has been censured by Congress several times for illegal investigations.
In the late 1980s, the FBI and ATF wanted to infiltrate white supremacist groups. In 1989, the ATF sent informant Kenneth Fadeley to pose as a gun dealer to spy on groups such as the Aryan Nations in Idaho.
The ATF targeted white separatist Randy Weaver to be one of their moles. Fadeley claims that Weaver approached him with the offer to sell sawed-off shotguns in October 1989. Weaver claims he was entrapped, and in fact he was acquitted of weapons charges when tried in court.
As reported by James Bovard in the Jan. 10, 1995, Wall Street Journal, the ATF set up a sting in order to blackmail Weaver into doing their bidding: "an undercover agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms approached Mr. Weaver and pressured the mountain man to sell him sawed-off shotguns. Mr. Weaver at first refused, but the agent was persistent and Mr. Weaver eventually sold him two shotguns -- thereby violating federal firearms law."
Weaver refused to cooperate with federal agents. To justify a militaristic retaliation, ATF agents lied to the U.S. attorney's office. ATF agents claimed that Weaver had a criminal record and that he was a suspect in several bank robberies. Both charges were fabrications, even according to ATF Director John Magaw, who admitted the accusations were "inexcusable" in testimony before Congress.
The U.S. attorney's office indicted Weaver on weapons charges in May 1990. Weaver was arraigned in January 1991. After missing his February 1991 court date, Weaver was indicted in March 1991 on charges of refusing to appear in court.