Farmer's Explosive? A Bug Bomb
Bratt played a portion of a videotaped interview after Watson surrendered, in which an FBI agent suggested to Watson that he wanted authorities to assume his tractor and trailer were loaded with explosives.
"Yeah. . . . Like a drill sergeant told me in basic training: 'Don't ever assume nothing, or you make an ass out of you and me,' " Watson told the agent on the tape. "Yeah, as long as I could keep on doing it, I let them assume what the hell they think it was."
Watson's attorney, Federal Public Defender Erica J. Hashimoto, pointed out that, on the second day of the standoff, the Secret Service concluded that Watson was unlikely to have a way to detonate explosives. The agency had approved President Bush's plan to jog around the South Lawn of the White House that day.
Watson had described himself to police as a generally peaceful man at the end of his rope who'd tried everything to get people and politicians to pay attention to the dangers of pesticides, troops suffering from chemical exposure in the Gulf War, and the bankruptcies of tobacco farmers. He said he had lost his farm and his hope because he no longer could make a living on the 1,200 acres he, his father and forefathers had farmed in rural Nash County, outside Rocky Mount.
Watson's family still owns Watson Seed Farm and Goldrock Farm, records show, but Watson deeded over some of his property to his mother and brother in the days before he came to Washington.
In court yesterday, Watson said he surrendered earlier than he had planned because of the skills of one of the two female negotiators, Park Police Sgt. Kathleen Harasek.
"Her being a woman and all, she just naturally took over," he said.
In a 30-minute conversation with Harasek that was played to the jury, Watson lamented that his concerns about pesticides, farmers and veterans were ignored.
"I tried to do the right thing, like we were raised as kids, you know, go up and talk to your congressmen. . . . Everybody just blew me off," Watson told Harasek. "I said, 'Damn, these people up here in Washington, D.C., need a damn wake-up call. . . .
"And I tell you what, everybody will remember my damn name before it's over," he told her. "I'm military police, and I'm taught to stand up when I see something wrong."
Staff researcher Margaret Smith contributed to this report.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
Courtroom sketch of Dwight Watson.
(Sketch by William J. Hennessy Jr.)
Complaint: U.S. v. Watson (PDF)
Farmer's Future In Judge's Hands (The Washington Post, Mar 3, 2004)
Jury Hears Farmer's Warning in Standoff (The Washington Post, Sep 23, 2003)
Trial Opens Today For Tractor Driver In D.C. Standoff (The Washington Post, Sep 17, 2003)
Judge Declines to Free Farmer Pending Trial (The Washington Post, Jun 26, 2003)
Farmer Disrupts Hearing on Mall Standoff (The Washington Post, Mar 26, 2003)
Farmer Deemed Fit for Trial (The Washington Post, Mar 22, 2003)
Farmer Told Police to Evacuate District (The Washington Post, Mar 21, 2003)
Unhappy Man Grabs the Spotlight (The Washington Post, Mar 20, 2003)
Patience Paid Off, Police Say (The Washington Post, Mar 20, 2003)
Mall Standoff Fuels Evacuation Fears (The Washington Post, Mar 19, 2003)
N.C. Man Made Trip of Last Resort (The Washington Post, Mar 19, 2003)
Park Police Avoid Pushing Incident To a Violent End (The Washington Post, Mar 19, 2003)
Farmer Says He'll Give Up Thursday if He Gets Respect (The Washington Post, Mar 19, 2003)
Tractor Driver In Standoff With Police on Mall (The Washington Post, Mar 18, 2003)