Congress remains divided over the prospect of confirming an admitted participant in an eco-terrorist attack to lead the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
One GOP senator, however, weighed in unequivocally on Thursday, calling Tracy Stone-Manning an “attempted murderer” who should be “before a jury.”
“Shrapnel goes every direction”
The nominee has admitted that she edited a newsletter advocating violence against officials who did not adopt laws and regulations an affiliated group favored. She was less candid, however, in discussing the tree-spiking case that led to a criminal trial.
In his scathing speech, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) described tree-spiking as an attempt to kill someone since the metal spikes cause a type of explosive reaction when struck by a massive saw blade and launch shrapnel into the surrounding area.
He described the impact as that of a hand grenade detonation.
“Shrapnel goes every direction,” Risch said. “It destroys the saw, be it a band saw or a circular saw. … It will either kill or injure anyone that is within range of the shrapnel.”
More than 30 years ago, Stone-Manning was accused of sending a letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of her friend John P. Blount informing officials that trees set to be cut down had been rigged with spikes.
“It’s not a Sunday school prank”
The incident led to a grand jury investigation and she eventually testified against Blount in exchange for immunity. For his part, Blount spent 17 months behind bars.
“Why do you put this in a tree?” Risch asked. “You put this in a tree to kill somebody. It’s not put in there for fun. It’s not a Sunday school prank. You put this in a tree to kill somebody.”
In response to colleagues who have sought to downplay or dismiss the act as a decades-old lapse in judgment, the senator asserted: “This was not a mistake. This was a knowing, willful, intentional act down with a black, abandoned, and malignant heart, intended to kill a fellow human being. This is not a mistake.”
Risch went on to accuse Stone-Manning of lying to Congress in claiming that she was never the target of a federal investigation, declaring that she “shouldn’t be in front of this committee for confirmation to a major, major point in this administration” but “should be in front of a jury, explaining to them why she committed perjury and why she lied to Congress.”
The subsequent panel vote was evenly split along party lines, which will allow the confirmation process to continue with a full Senate vote.