From the May 2004 Idaho Observer:

Feb. 13, 1983, should have been a wake-up Kahl for America

by Don Harkins

Where were you Feb. 13, 1983? I was a little over a year out of high school, single, childless and working as a janitor in Spokane, Washington. I think I remember vaguely some story about an anti-government extremist militia guy who shot some federal agents. I also vaguely remember the incident referred to in conjunction with the term “posse comitatus.”

Since becoming an independent journalist 10 years ago almost to the day, I had been hearing about the incident involving Gordon Kahl but never took the time to look into the matter because it was old news and I was always preoccupied with events as they were unfolding.

Then “A Writ of Habeas Corpus” came in the mail one day. Because I am still too busy trying to keep up with events as they are swirling around us like clouds of poisonous policies, it wasn't until weeks later that the opportunity to read the book presented itself.

And now, with a decade of (justifiably) dissident observation under my belt, I can see exactly what happened that day, how it happened, why it happened and, most significantly, where America has been taken since February 13, 1983.

Because we, as a nation, didn't see the threat implied in the shootout with Gordon Kahl, innocent Vicki Weaver was murdered 10 years later by federal agents at Ruby Ridge and, two years after that, 86 innocent men, women and children were murdered by federal agents in Waco, Texas.

On February 13, 1983, on a lonely stretch of highway near Medina, ND, agents of the U.S. government, with murderous malice aforethought, triggered an event that should have alerted Americans to the police state being erected around them. But it didn't and Yorie Von Kahl, son of Gordon Kahl, who is my age and guilty of nothing, has been held prisoner all this time by a federal government that has no intention (at this time) of ever setting him free.

Yorie Kahl has spent the last 21 years in prison because he, as a very young man, was in the car with his family and friends as they returned from church and a lawful meeting. The feds laid a trap and initiated a shootout. Yorie was almost fatally shot. Gordon killed two feds and escaped -- temporarily.

Background in brief

Gordon Kahl returned home from WWII a decorated veteran. He became aware that the U.S. government was not the benevolent defender of freedom it claimed to be and was becoming a socialist nation.

By the late 60s it was apparent to Gordon that the land of the free was falling apart. Gordon wrote to the IRS and, returning is social security number, respectfully and in great detail informed them why he was doing what he was doing and that he would not participate in the government's ungodly and unconstitutional schemes. He also reminded the IRS he had sworn an oath to protect his nation against all enemies, both foreign and domestic and he intended to honor his oath.

The IRS responded with threats to prosecute Gordon and seize his assets. Correspondence was exchanged and then all was quiet for awhile.

Gordon continued learning and, by 1973, discovered posse comitatus. According to Black's Law Dictionary (5th edition) posse comitatus is, “The power or force of the county. The entire population of a county above the age of 15, which a sheriff may summon to his assistance in certain cases, as to aid him in keeping the peace, in pursuing and arresting felons, etc. Williams v. State, 253, Ark. 973, 490 S.W.2d 117, 121.”

He chartered a Posse Comitatus chapter in Midland, Texas, and began holding meetings to educate people and organize them so they could be prepared to help their sheriff defend their communities against lawlessness -- from wherever quarter it may come. Gordon was convinced that government was likely to become the biggest threat to our way of life. It turns out he was right.


In 1976 the IRS made good its promise and prosecuted Gordon for willful failure to file federal income taxes. U.S. Marshal Kenneth Muir delivered the warrant for Gordon's arrest.

The government convinced a jury that Gordon was a threat to the American way of life and found him guilty of willful failure to file in 1978. He served a year and eight months in prison. When he was released, Gordon retired to his North Dakota farm and tried to be left alone.

The interview

In winter 1980-81 Gordon gave an interview to a small local newspaper about the IRS and the income tax. The probation office, the U.S. Marshal's Service and a judge decided to issue a warrant for Gordon's arrest and set bond at $1,000,000 -- for allegedly violating the terms of his probation by being interviewed by a small newspaper. Yorie believes his father may have been entrapped by the interview.

The March 31, 1981 warrant was defective and was never served though Gordon's whereabouts was well known and he was not hiding from anyone.

The FBI began following Gordon around in fall, 1982. Gordon was attending meetings, but they were primarily about farmers' issues and farm foreclosures. Yorie claims that his father was not involved in posse comitatus activities or tax protesting since release from prison. His entire family was unaware that Gordon was being investigated by the federal government as a result of one insignificant newspaper interview in which he committed no crime.

The trap is set

Beginning February 10, 1983, a series of all points bulletins (APBs) were being issued for authorities to be on the lookout for Gordon and others who are to be considered armed and dangerous and that the group was going around protesting farm foreclosure sales, which was not true.

The Kahls believe the false APBs were instigated by Deputy Marshal Muir and Deputy Marshal Wigglesworth. The evidence also suggests that Muir and Wigglesworth had planned to initiate a shootout with Gordon and his companions, kill them all and create their own story about what happened.

At approximately 6 p.m. Feb. 13, 1983 (at a time when it is pretty dark outside), Gordon Kahl, his wife Joan Kahl, Yorie Kahl, Scott Faul, David Broer and Vernon Wegner were en route to Heaton when they were stopped by a Dodge Ram Charger that had approached them at a high rate of speed from the south with weapons pointing out the windows.

The Kahls maintain that the Dodge slid to a stop and several men jumped out and said things like, “Freeze, mutherf****rs” and, “You're all going to die” while laughing hysterically.

Joan Kahl, Broer and Wegner ducked down to the floorboard. Yorie, Gordon and Faul took what was later described by the police and the Kahls as “defensive positions.”

The police were not wearing uniforms, were not wearing badges and, according to the Kahls, never announced who they were. “We're gonna blow yer fu**in' heads off,” and other similar threats were being screamed by the unknown assailants.

Yorie took the first shot which would have been a fatal shot to the heart had it not been deflected by his .45 -- which had not been drawn and still in his shoulder holster. He was hit several more times in the abdomen by shotgun blasts.

Gordon shot and killed two men who were later identified as marshals Muir and Robert Cheshire. He also injured Deputy U.S. Marshal James Hobson, Medina Police Officer Stephen Schnabel and Stutsman County Sheriff Bradley Knapp.

Gordon escaped on foot. Yorie was taken to the hospital where he had emergency reconstructive surgery that saved his life. The following day everyone in the car, including Wegner and Joan whose only action was to duck to avoid being shot by unknown assailants, were charged with first degree murder for the deaths of Muir and Cheshire. An assortment of other charges were also filed against them all.

Yorie awoke from his near death experience to a world wherein heavily armed anti-government extremist members of the Posse Comitatus shot and killed two federal marshals in their attempt to serve a warrant for the arrest of Gordon Kahl.

“I was hopelessly unaware that I, my mother, my closest friend Scott Faul, or our recent associates David Broer and Vernon Wegner were members of Posse Comitatus or any such conspiracy,” wrote Yorie.

Charges against Joan were dropped, but David Broer, who was exactly as innocent as Joan, was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison.

On June 3, 1983, Gordon was brutally executed and there was nothing left of his body for burial. On June 24, 1983, Faul and Yorie, after what the record reveals to be a kangaroo federal prosecution, were sentenced to serve life in federal prison.

On a personal note

What you just read is a brief overview of the story from the perspective of Yori and Joan Kahl. The government obviously has a different way of looking at itself to justify the incident and to justify sending people to prison for crimes they did not commit.

However, Yorie and Joan Kahl have put their case together with many official documents that, when laid end to end and taken in the light of objectivity, you know they are telling the truth.

Their story becomes even more believable when you factor in the human details. The story of how Gordon became opposed to the government is perfectly believable and those of us who know the truth can follow it logically. On the other side of the coin, the egos, the relationships and conflicts of interest among the federal players and their ruthless, ladder-climbing aspirations serve as mortar holding the concrete blocks of the Kahl's description of this tragedy together.

The government's story, were it not for its absolute power to achieve whatever outcome it desires in any trial, could not fight its way out of a wet paper bag.

A Writ of Habeas Corpus began as just that, a petition for writ of habeas corpus Yorie filed with the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas. Yorie filed it there because he is being held in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. Unfortunately, the writ, though probably read unofficially, was denied without review or consideration.

At this time, I would like to make a special request of our readers: Our mission here is twofold -- we must help our countrymen understand what really happened on that lonely stretch of highway near Medina, ND Feb. 13, 1983 and; we must compel the government to release Yorie Kahl.

Please take a look at the back page. If you can afford to buys some books or artwork and will talk about this case among the people you know, you will be doing your part to help accomplish those noble objectives.

No matter what, Don H.

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