In an epic standoff that Infowars reporter David Knight described as being like “something out of a movie,” supporters of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy advanced on a position held by BLM agents despite threats that they would be shot at, eventually forcing Bureau of Land Management (BLM) feds to release 100 cattle that had been stolen from Bundy as part of a land grab dispute that threatened to escalate into a Waco-style confrontation.
Despite the fact that Bureau of Land Management officials agreed to cease their operation to seize Bundy’s cattle after a massive public backlash, Bundy demanded that Sheriff Douglas Gillespie disarm BLM officials and return his stolen cows It was later discovered that the BLM had killed and buried much of his cattle. When this didn’t happen, hundreds of Bundy supporters, including cowboys on horseback, descended on a nearby cattle pen outside of Mesquite where the seized cows were being held.
In a tense standoff, armed BLM feds, backed up by at least one SWAT team, threatened to shoot at Bundy supporters if they marched any closer to a line of vehicles. Infowars reporter David Knight, who was at the head of the march, described the scene as like the moment from V For Vendetta when the military is forced to stand down. Despite threats such as “one more step and you’re dead,” the protesters continued their slow march towards BLM agents as bullhorns blared.
Refusing to back down, the protesters marched straight past the armed men and towards the cattle pen. Sheriff Gillespie eventually appeared to inform Bundy supporters that the BLM had finally caved and agreed to release the 100 cattle they had seized that were inside the pen. After around 30 minutes, Bundy supporters saw the cattle being released about a mile away in the distance. It cannot be overstated how much of a gargantuan victory this represents for the American people in their battle against big government tyranny. “The people have the power when they unite,” Ammon Bundy told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “The war has just begun.” (Infowars)
Most media coverage of the situation focused on two claims by the BLM. First, that Bundy hadn’t paid fees to the federal government for his use of “public lands.” Second, that Bundy’s cattle (near 1,000 head) were threatening the habitat of the desert tortoise (never mind that the feds have been killing thousands of those “endangered” animals for years).
What has failed to be adequately explored are the key constitutional conflicts between the BLM’s tyrannical behavior and the power granted to the federal government in the Constitution. First, a brief review of the historical debates on the issue of federal ownership of “public lands” is in order.
On September 5, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were wrapping up the nearly four months of deliberations. Within two weeks, the document would be signed and sent to state conventions for consideration. But first, there was the question of control the federal government would be authorized to exercise over “public land.”
Discussions centered on the provision of the Constitution known as the Enclave Clause — Article I, Section 8, Clause 17. As he had done so many times, Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry rose to employ his impressive oratorical skill to build better fences separating the federal government from the states and the people.
Gerry contended that “this power [to exercise authority over “public land”] might be made use of to enslave any particular state by buying up its territory, and that the strongholds proposed would be a means of awing the state into an undue obedience to the general government.”
There is no better description of the despotism of the BLM than “awing the state into undue obedience to the general government.” The federal government — and most commentators — believe that the federal government is merely exercising its constitutional right to control “public lands.” Sure, these apologists admit, Bundy is suffering personal deprivation, but that’s the price we pay for “domestic tranquility.”
Our Founding Fathers knew better. As Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) explained in regard to federal seizure of significant land in the mountain West:
Then, as now, we have a grave risk associated with the fact that when the federal government owns this much land, the federal government has this much power. This was on the minds of the delegates to the Convention of 1787, that one of the things they needed to protect against was the concentration of too much power in the hands of the few, especially the concentration of too much power within the federal government. They understood, and each of them had a mission to protect the sovereignty of their respective states. They understood that if Congress had too much power to simply buy up too much land in any one state, disproportionately in some states, the federal government would have too much influence within that state.
Unfortunately for the state of Nevada, its own state constitution is little more than a paean to the unfettered ferocity of the federal beast. Section 2 of the Nevada constitution reads:
No power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [sic], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.
Could there be a less constitutionally sound demarcation of the spheres of power of the states and the federal government? James Madison’s allotment of authority as set out in The Federalist, No. 45, was apparently not available to the drafters of the Silver State’s constitution. Madison wrote:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
Cliven Bundy’s family has lived on this land for nearly 140 years. The Bundys have settled and improved this property since Cliven’s ancestor accompanied Edward Bunker and a company of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members who settled on the Virgin River, a few miles west of the Nevada-Arizona border in 1877.
In nearly every way, Bundy’s life and liberty are connected inextricably to this property — property they have preemptive rights to and have worked for years before the federal government realized there was gold — black gold — in them thar hills.
The BLM makes millions by leasing land such as that worked by Cliven Bundy to energy companies dedicated to fracking operations. A 2007 map produced by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology shows oil exploration being conducted on the land surrounding Bundy’s spread. Some drilling operations in the area are already successfully siphoning oil from the wells in Bundy’s backyard. There’s more than federal lust for oil and mineral leases, though, at work against Cliven Bundy.
Nevada native Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) knows something about the tortoise and how important its survival is. When a millionaire donor to Reid needed the BLM to fudge the boundaries of the desert tortoise’s protected habitat so that he could build a billion-dollar real estate development, it was not as precious a natural resource as it is now.
That donor, Harvey Whittemore, was convicted in May 2013 of making illegal campaign contributions to Reid. A news report of the verdict revealed, “Prosecutors said Whittemore gave money to family members and employees in 2007 to make contributions he had promised to Reid while concealing himself as the true source to skirt campaign finance laws.”
Harry Reid had another ominous tie to the federal government’s attempt to seize Bundy’s land. Just days after the standoff, the Senate confirmed Neil Kornze, former senior adviser to Senator Reid, to head the BLM. Does the federal government (or any government) have the right to pass “laws” such as those being enforced against Cliven Bundy?
For an answer, I turn to The Law, by Frederic Bastiat:
What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute.
Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.
Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?
If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.
Finally, there is one constitutional consideration that needs to be made. Despite the Nevada constitution’s capitulation to supreme federal authority (authority, remember, that does not exist in the Constitution), there is another article in that document that it could be argued supersedes the other article’s cession of state and popular sovereignty.
Section 1, titled “Inalienable Rights,” of the Nevada constitution reads:
All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.
John Jacob Schmidt of Radio Free Redoubt said that according to Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, Attorney General Eric Holder approved drone strikes against the Bundy ranch. According to Schmidt, the information came from a source Oath Keepers has within the Department of Defense. That source, according to the report, allegedly said Attorney General Eric Holder authorized what is known as a “hot drone strike” against the ranch. Such a strike, he added would effectively kill everyone at the ranch.
The Bundy’s were eventually detained and kept in jail on false charges, with many of those months in solitary confinement without cause, as innocent victims and political enemies of the state who had a vendetta for the Bundy’s daring to stand in their way.
When the trial finally arrived, there were no cameras permitted in the courtroom. All cell phones were confiscated before anyone was allowed to pass through the doors. There was no way to record the images of government abuse that went on inside of Judge Gloria Navarro’s courtroom… No one could photograph the spectacle of innocent Americans being treated as if they were guilty criminals. There is only an artist’s sketchbook or a writer’s pen to record the events. Cliven Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and Ryan Payne were all treated as if they were some kind of dangerous criminals.
The men and women of the jury were never allowed to see the shackles on the defendants’ feet nor the chains that held them captive. They were all oblivious to the spectacle… It is the spectacle of innocent Americans who were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but instead were presumed to be guilty at their trial and forced to wear shackles and chains as if they have already been convicted.
Navarro declared a mistrial in the first go around in the spring of 2017, when the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on most of the charges. The jury later came out to say they did not believe the government had proven their case. However, Judge Navarro and AUSA Myhre seemed to nearly panic at the thought the jurors may have actually been practicing nullification. In light of the jury having been deadlocked, Judge Navarro changed the rules of the game in the government’s second bite at the apple. She made it much easier for the prosecution, in that she ruled nearly 100% in their favor on all major motions presented. She sustained their objections and allows them to present any evidence they felt necessary, whil on the other hand Judge Navarro practically stamped her foot and threw a tantrum at the thought of defendant Eric Parker telling his version of events on the witness stand, and ultimately had him removed with his testimony stricken from the record.
Judge Navarro told the jury they could not use the US Constitution nor their own understanding of the law. The defense was limited to a short 40 minute window within their case, and could not bring in evidence and witnesses to prove their defense, as Judge Navarro ruled against this, as well.The jury was not allowed to judge the law itself, according to Navarro, only the defendants violation of the law, as she explained it to them. She went out of her way to instruct the jury and make them believe they have no choice but find the defendants guilty.
But, the jury was paying attention. They saw the defense being shut downtime after time; they saw the prosecution given favored treatment time and time again; they witnessed the wrath of Judge Navarro. There were several jury questions that indicated that the jury was not happy.
Finally, the trial of Nevada rancher and leader of the Sagebrush Rebellion, Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a co-defendant ended in a mistrial in December 2017. Why? Because the government had lied out of its butt to the judge and hidden critical evidence that would have significantly aided the defense. In other words, in a legal system that has reframed “adversarial” to mean “win at any cost” the prosecutors decided to put Bundy away and they decided that a little perjury was no big deal. It was, as they say, a day ending in “y.”
“The court does regrettably believe a mistrial in this case is the most suitable and only remedy,” U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro declared, issuing her ruling from the bench before a packed courtroom.
The judge listed six types of evidence that she said prosecutors deliberately withheld before trial, including information about the presence of an FBI surveillance camera on a hill overlooking the Bundy ranch and documents about U.S. Bureau of Land Management snipers outside the ranch.
The others were maps, an FBI log with entries about snipers on standby, threat assessments that indicated the Bundys weren’t violent and that the Bureau of Land Management was trying to provoke a conflict by antagonizing them and nearly 500 pages of internal affairs documents involving lead bureau special agent Dan Love, since fired from the agency.
The material, the judge found, would bolster the defense stance that defendant Ryan Payne put a call out for support because the Bundys feared they were surrounded by snipers and felt isolated in early April 2014 before the standoff with federal rangers and officers on April 12, 2014. The federal officers were carrying out a court-ordered roundup of Bundy cattle for failure to pay grazing fees and fines for two decades.
The information also would help refute the government’s indictment that alleged the defendants used deceit to draw supporters by “falsely” contending snipers were posted around the ranch.
Think about this for just a moment. The Bundys were being accused of lying about the presence of government snipers around their ranch in order to rally support. There were snipers around the ranch. The government lied about the snipers to the court. And the prosecutors were perfectly willing to send four men to prison for a crime they knew was fraudulent.
“The failure to turn over such evidence violates due process,” the judge said.
Prosecutors had belittled Ryan Bundy’s pretrial motion for information on the “mysterious” devices outside the family ranch in 2014 as “fantastical” and a “fishing expedition,” the judge noted. The government willfully withheld a March 28, 2014, law enforcement operation order and an FBI report that showed there was an FBI camera trained on the Bundy home for surveillance.
The FBI’s SWAT team put the camera up, repaired it and monitored a live feed from it. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was aware of this, the judge said, and didn’t share information about the camera until the defense heard a witness confirm its presence.
“The government falsely represented the camera that was on the Bundy house was incidental, not purposeful,” the judge said.
The judge also found prosecutors withheld a March 3, 2015, FBI report that identified a Bureau of Land Management agent in tactical gear and carrying an AR-15 rifle outside the family ranch on April 5 and April 6, 2014.
In addition, she cited an FBI log with entries that said “snipers were inserted” and on standby outside the Bundy home. Three entries in the log mentioned snipers present, Navarro noted. Prosecutors claimed they were unaware of the log at first because it was kept on a thumb drive in a tactical vehicle.
“The government is still responsible for information from the investigating agency. The FBI chose not to disclose it,” Navarro said.
That, coupled with “the government’s strong insistence at prior trials that there were no snipers,” convinced her the withholding of the sniper evidence was done knowingly.
And even though the government’s own threat assessments didn’t see the Bundys as a risk for armed confrontation, the allegation they were a threat was used in court.
She also cited at least four threat assessments that indicated the Bundys likely wouldn’t use violence, “would get in your face” but not engage in a shootout, and that the Bureau of Land Management was antagonizing the family “trying to provoke a conflict.” The threat evaluations were made by the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism unit, the FBI Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Gold Buttle Cattle Impound Risk Assessment and the Bureau of Land Management law enforcement arm between 2011 and 2015.
And the Bundy grazing permits were cancelled based on fraud.
The judge further identified 493 pages of internal affairs documents on BLM agent Love that said there were no documented injuries to endangered desert tortoises by cattle grazing on the federal land. That’s the reason the federal land agency sought to curtail the senior Bundy’s grazing permit in 1993 and limit the number of cattle on public land.
BLM Whistleblower was Answer to Prayers
This only came to light because one of the Bundy’s attorneys got a letter from a whistleblower. Had this not happened, four guys would have received long prison terms based on blatant fraud. The sad part of the story is that the prosecutors and every federal agent involved in this will skate where, in a just world, they should be liable for the same prison sentence they would have given the defendants. The BLM Whistleblower, Larry Wooten, sent a memo to Andrew Goldsmith, Assistant Deputy Attorney General. You can read his memo at this link.
The documents were sent to several others in order to make sure the claims outlined within would make it to the public domain so they might know the truth about government tactics and behavior and the absolute demonic power of, now defunct Agent In Charge, Dan Love. It also shows the culture of corruption within our government experienced by individuals throughout this nation. Special Agent Wooten, upon discovering this misconduct, promptly reported them to his supervisor at the BLM, but found that his supervisor was already aware of the issues and also participated or instigated them himself. Wooten urged his supervisor to stop the misconduct or he would further report the issues to “hire-ups”. Wooten tells how, as the investigation went on in “investigating” the Cliven Bundy and concocting plans of steeling his land and his cattle, “the more extremely unprofessional, familiar, racy, vulgar and biassed and inappropriate it became”, which included disrespectful comments, name calling, sexually inappropriate language, profanity and body shaming.
“The behavior of U.S. government officials in the case was so outlandish and potentially even criminal that Congress and the Trump administration must investigate, lawmakers said. “All of these violations warrant an investigation by Congress, the Trump administration, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke,” Washington State Representative Matt Shea, a liberty-minded Republican leader who has actively followed the case, told The New American. “These people should all be fired, if this is all borne out by the investigation, but some of these players need to be prosecuted. Special Agent Wooten alleges that the Department of Justice prosecutor knew about this, and took a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach to withholding exculpatory evidence. This may expand not just into an investigation of the prosecutor, but potentially even charges against them…”
Wooten said he was told by BLM law-enforcement supervisors that BLM boss Dan Love (shown), who was a key figure in the Bunkerville showdown between the BLM and the Bundy family, had a “Kill Book.” He kept this as a “trophy” to commemorate his role in the death of various victims, Wooten said. Love, who also was accused of sending photos of his own feces and his girlfriend’s genitalia to co-workers, “in essence bragged about getting three individuals in Utah to commit suicide,” Wooten’s memo said. The out-of-control bureaucrat apparently bragged about removing evidence, as well as his ability to quash investigations into his wildly inappropriate behavior. He would tell others that “he is untouchable,” while urging his co-workers not to cooperate with investigations into his harassment, abuse, and even potential criminal activity.
Daniel Love is currently under investigation for another matter: stealing exculpatory evidence from a crime, according to the Las Vegas Sun. He is accused of taking expensive stones that were supposed to be evidence, and “handing them out like candy” to his friends.