Gritz Goes In

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JORDAN, MONTANA: With the standoff in Montana between federal agents and the freemen entering its fifth week, it's time to call in the heavy-duty negotiators. Enter James "Bo" Gritz, former Green Beret colonel and a leading figure in the far right "patriot" movement. After three days of meeting with the remaining fugitives in their cabin, Gritz and Jack McLamb brought back a 26-page document of what Gritz called "legal mumbo-jumbo." The Freemen authored document challenges the constitutionality of the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, and other branches of government. Gritz announced the Freemen are prepared to surrender, "if the United States government can prove that the documents ... are not the law." The Freemen also sent out a videotape with Gritz in which they attempt to explain their actions. Gritz said he had not seen the tape, and called the negotiations "verbal judo all day." Gritz insisted Sunday that white separatist Randy Weaver accompany him on his second trip, but authorities in Washington refuse to let Weaver play a role in the stand-off. After his Saturday meetings with the Freemen, Gritz told reporters the anti-government group, which he reported numbers 22 people, may be running low on food, and might surrender soon. He also reported that the group is armed with pistols and numerous rifles. Gritz has publicly called on the Freemen to surrender and go to trial in Federal court, and hopes he can help bring an end to the standoff. If the Freemen do surrender, Gritz noted, they want Weaver lawyer Gerry Spence to represent them in court. Gritz arrived in Jordan on Thursday along with Weaver, whose wife and son were killed in the now famous standoff at Ruby Ridge in 1992. Gritz was able to talk Weaver out of his cabin, and hopes to do the same for the Freemen. "Its hard to tell if Gritz has the credibility to bring the Freemen out," says TIME's Patrick Dawson. "The Freemen live in their own little world, isolated in their own milieu. Randy Weaver might have what it takes to convince the Freemen to come out, but Gritz has a huge, monumental ego and a sense of destiny. He's there for the publicity, and I don't think he's going to have much luck changing their minds.. There are a lot of right-wingers drifting into town, trying to be on hand for the making of history."