Calling the federal agents surrounding his fortified compound "guns for hire," a New Hampshire man convicted of tax evasion vowed today that he and his wife would fight U.S. marshals to the death if they tried to capture them.
"Do not under any circumstances make any attempt on this land. We will not accept any tomfoolery by any criminal element, be it federal, state or local," said Ed Brown in a press conference from the stoop of his concrete-clad home in Plainfield, N.H. "We either walk out of here free or we die."
Brown and his wife, Elaine, were sentenced in absentia in April to serve 63 months in prison for failing to pay more than $1 million in income tax.
The couple, however, insists that there is no law that requires citizens to pay income tax.
"There is no law. We looked and looked," Brown told the press.
Brown and his supporters, including Randy Weaver, leader of the 1992 standoff with ATF agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, told the press that the government has unlawfully tricked people into believing they have to pay income tax, knowing full well that such a law would be unconstitutional.
"We will defend it to the death. This is 1776 all over again. You cannot tax someone's labor because that is slavery," Brown said.
Carrying a pistol in his waistband, Brown also insisted that he could not receive a fair trial in a federal court because "the court system falls under freemasonry."
"There [are] no longer any lawful courts. The Freemasons have taken over our nation. … [Freemasons want] to take over our nation and all nations on the planet," Brown said.
Weaver, whose son was killed by federal agents and who later received a $100,000 settlement from the government, said he was there to support the Browns.
"I'd rather die on my feet right here than die on my knees under this de facto government," he said. "Bring it on."
Despite months of surveillance and reports of agents hiding in the woods of the couple's 110-acre compound, U.S. marshals said this morning that the Brown's Plainfield, N.H., home was not surrounded by their officers.
U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier made an effort to starkly contrast the actions of the Marshals with those of the ATF agents who besieged Ruby Ridge in 1992. In addition to Weaver's son, one federal agent was killed in that incident.
"There is no standoff and the house is not surrounded." Monier told ABC News.com. "We have no intention of assaulting the house or engaging in a violent confrontation."
Monier said he believed Weaver would attend the press conference the Browns are hosting this afternoon. He said Weaver and others -- some of whom are believed to have brought the couple weapons -- have been freely allowed to enter Brown's property.
"There is no reason to block Weaver. People are free to exercise their First Amendment rights," Monier said. "We are not setting up roadblocks or surrounding the house."
In April, Ed and Elaine Brown were sentenced in absentia to 63 months in prison for failing to pay more than $1 million in taxes.
Since failing to appear in court the couple has remained within the concrete-fortified walls of their rural New Hampshire home.
Monier said the Marshals have been communicating with the couple in an effort to get them to turn themselves over the federal authorities without having to resort to the use of force.
"We know they have weapons and we do not want to see this escalate," he said.
Last week agents cut off the home's telephone, Internet and power access. Monier said the couple most likely had generators -- possibly solar or wind powered -- but that eventually the Browns would become uncomfortable enough in their isolation that they would be forced to surrender.
"They probably have generators but those will soon need fuel and need people to fix them. We want to continue to encourage them, and make it uncomfortable enough for them that they'll give up."
Brown said he and his wife had enough supplies to wait out the government no matter how long it lasted. He said the couple did not use air conditioning and could chop down trees from firewood.
Last week, Danny Riley a friend of the Browns was arrested near their home by federal agents while walking the couple's dog.
The Marshals claim they were engaged in routine surveillance of the property, but the Browns believe Riley thwarted a potential raid.