Pay attention to standoff trials

As a strong advocate for our rural lifestyle here in Eastern Washington and the West in general, I’ve followed the Bundy standoff trials in Oregon and Nevada closely.

Last week, one particularly interesting fact was presented in the trial relating to the 2014 Bunkerville, Nev., standoff.

To refresh your memory, that standoff pitted federal land management agencies against cattle rancher Cliven Bundy. When federal bureaucrats arrived to round up and steal Bundy’s cattle, the rancher called for help on social media, a call that was answered by hundreds of westerners fed up with bureaucrats trying to take away rights to access, use and enjoy public lands.

What came out of the federal court proceeding last Thursday, should be enough to dismiss the case against Bundy, his sons and supporters. And it should be enough to charge those federal bureaucrats with a variety of crimes against the people.

Last Thursday, the court — and jury — learned that the federal employees had been ordered, but refused, to cease “all operations.” That order came the day before the standoff reached its intense climax where federal agents threatened Bundy supporters with firearms and the supporters, in turn, took defensive positions with their own firearms.

No less than three law enforcement officers testified Thursday that they knew they were ordered twice to standdown and leave, but instead chose to stand at the ready overnight. They were supposed to be long gone, before any standoff occurred and before any national media attention.

You likely haven’t seen that bit of information on the national media. But it’s key information for rural westerners to know, given the fate of future access to, use and enjoyment of public lands may hang in the balance of the trial’s outcome.

Had federal agencies been immediately forthcoming with that information, the federal employees who are supposed to uphold the law and Constitution would likely be defendants in the case.

Had they been charged, it’s also likely tensions over federal land management in the West would have eased slightly before a second standoff occurred at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon.

Speaking of Malheur, the “Malheur 2.0” trial is also under way — in the liberal bastion of Portland, Ore. It’s another story you’re not likely to find covered on national media. Heck, you can’t even find coverage in Pacific Northwest media.

In Malheur 2.0, closing arguments were under way yesterday. The verdict on charges against four defendants should be forthcoming.

If there are convictions, I suspect we’ll see national media rush to get something on the airwaves. If the charges fall short of conspiracy, you might hear only a whisper. And if the defendants are exonerated, you’ll likely only hear silence.

That seams to be the way federal agencies and national media work these days — hype the drama and downplay the truth. That should concern all of us.

As rural West residents, our lifestyles are decidedly different than those big-city folk. We see public land as public — for all citizens, including ranchers, especially if their families have been using and protecting the land for generations. We see firearms, generally, as tools for protection. And we see the long arm of federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. trying to tell us what is good for us.

The outcomes of the two current standoff trials may give us a glimpse into what lies ahead for the West.

Agree with the standoff defendants or not, its important all westerners pay attention to these cases.

— Roger Harnack is the publisher and editor of The Daily Sun. Email him at rharnack@dailysunnews.com.



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aquatopaz 1 year, 9 months ago

Whether or not orders had been given to cease operations is immaterial to the conspiracy charge as the reason that order was given is to prevent bloodshed due to the conspiracy instigated by the Bundys and the threat to life that conspiracy created. There was and still is a court order for the removal of the cattle which, due to that court order, were to be confiscated and no longer Bundys' cattle, hence no theft. Those agents did not break the law nor act against the Constitution when they didn't stand down as they were still acting in support of a valid court order. At no time until the present have the Bundys received a reprieve from that court order for the removal of their cattle and the Bundys are still in violation of that court order. Hopefully their entire ranch will be confiscated by the conclusion of the trial.

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