On February 10th Cliven Bundy was travelling from Nevada to Oregon, where his two sons were being held in jail and four holdouts remained at the Malheur Wildlife refuge. His travel was interrupted by SWAT teams at the Portland International Airport, where he was arrested at 10:10 p.m. Bundy, 69, was then booked into the Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m. on charges related to the 2014 standoff at his Nevada ranch.
Cliven Bundy and four others have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, use of a gun in a crime of violence, assault of a federal officer, threatening a federal officer, obstruction of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and interstate travel in the aid of extortion. Each of the 16 charges carries a minimum sentence of between five and 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment has some interesting things to say about the vaunted BLM law enforcement officers, stating they committed key tactical errors including ceding the high ground to their opponents and underestimating the strength of their “attackers.”
Fifty BLM rangers were guarding 400 cattle confiscated from Bundy and penned in a temporary corral at the bottom of a wash. According to papers filed with the court, when the Bundy family and their supporters arrived to claim the cattle, the rangers found themselves in a life-threatening situation.
The indictment states:
“The officers at the (corral) gate were dangerously exposed. They were in the open and low ground at the bottom of the wash, below highway bridges that towered more than 40 feet above them and surrounded on the sides by steep embankments of high ground.”
“The terrain acted like a funnel with them at the bottom and no natural cover or concealment to protect them from the gunmen on the high ground, their only protection being their body armor and the vehicles they happened to drive to the gate.”
“…the officers had no choice and were forced to leave and abandon the cattle to Bundy and his co-conspirators…”.
I remember thinking at the time the DC Deep Thinkers had come to their senses and called off the dogs. Not so. They were simply out maneuvered by a superior force and made to retreat from the field.
As a result of the Battle of Bunkerville in Nevada and the occupation of the wildlife refuge in Oregon, however, Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy are in jail and facing multiple charges.
What do we make of all this?
Peter Walker, a professor at the University of Oregon writes:
“Those who value public lands – for economic, environmental, recreational and aesthetic values – owe a debt of gratitude to Harney County. A violent branch of the Sagebrush Rebellion came to town in Harney County, and the community told it to go away.”
While Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O’Neil write in the Illinois Review:
“Granted, the conflict that created the situation in Oregon is far from over. The ranchers involved have accomplished their primary goal of having their concerns made public, although not to the extent of those who rioted, thrashed, and burned Ferguson or those who marched on the streets of large cities chanting “No justice! No peace! No racist police!”
And they conclude:
“Unfortunately in calling attention to their plight, one rancher paid the ultimate price, his life, for doing so. Will the authorities now be more open to initiating productive discussions to hear ranchers’ concerns? The fate of the protestors arrested and taken into custody might be an indicator of what the future might hold for the Great Basin region of this nation.”
Your humble observer thinks what may be happening on our side of the aisle is what has been going on with the enviro-left for many years. Radical elements take action that brings media and political attention to a particular issue, paving the way for more moderate partisans to offer compromise solutions. Time will tell if this is actually occurring, and if so, will it be as effective as the enviro-left model has been in influencing national policy.
Will Obama strike again?
President Obama recently designated three new national monuments in California – Sand to Snow National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument – totaling 1.8 million acres. “This president has misused and abused his executive power more than any of his predecessors in an attempt to distract from his true environmental legacy which will be one of mismanagement and undue economic hardship in rural communities,” said Brenda Richards, Public Lands Council President. Further, the PLC is expecting another 10 million acres to be set aside in the waning days of the Obama administration.
Areas in New Mexico may be on that list. There have been several press accounts of a proposal to designate 120,000 acres as the La Bajada Mesa National Monument in northern New Mexico, and we should remember the BLM has suggested that 1.2 million acres be set aside in the Otero Mesa of southern New Mexico.
“Everybody is coming to me with their wish list,” says Interior Secretary Sally Jewel.
You take your wish list to one person, who then takes it to one other person, who can grant you your wish. Under this model, three people can determine how 640 million acres are managed. No public hearings, no debate, no involvement of Congress. And this model is being heavily used by the current administration. You know, the same folks who promised “sound science” and transparency in the management of these lands.
Let’s call it the Tres Amigos Treehugger Triangle, and any member of Congress who opposes significant revision of the Antiquities Act should be branded as supporting this three-person power trip.
Till next time, be a nuisance to the devil and don’t forget to check that cinch.
Frank DuBois was the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003, is the author of a blog: The Westerner (www.thewesterner.blogspot.com) and is the founder of The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship and The DuBois Western Heritage Foundation. ▫