Tag Archives: Oath Keepers

Enough Sovereign Citizens: Las Vegas Plot 2013 to Bundy 2014

Bundy 2In August 2013 two ‘sovereign citizens’ in Las Vegas, NV planned to capture and then execute a Las Vegas police officer.  The idea was to kidnap an officer at random, “try” him or her in a makeshift court packed with fellow ‘sovereign citizens’ and then kill the unfortunate law enforcement officer.  Their lovely mug shots are available here.

David Allan Brutsche, 42, and Devon Campbell Newman, 67 were to be arraigned on October 8, 2013 after Brutsche tried to persuade the court that he could represent himself.  Newman was to be assisted by a public defender. [LVRJ]  Instead of facing a trial, Newman, who had no prior criminal record, took a plea deal. [Mail AP]  Later  Brutsche also accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a felony conspiracy charge, getting a five year probation deal with orders to stay away from any connections to the Sovereign Citizens movement. He remained in jail as of April 13, 2014 because of his failure to register as a sex offender. [LVWN]

In short, Las Vegas law enforcement is all too aware of the Sovereign Citizens, and the kinds of people who become involved.  They are probably not  likely to see other adherents of Cliven Bundy’s philosophy as ‘boy scouts and grandmothers.’ [Heller/Roll Call]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also aware of them, and aware of the danger they pose:

“Since 2000, lone-offender sovereign-citizen extremists have killed six law enforcement officers. In 2010, two Arkansas police officers stopped sovereign-citizen extremists Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son Joseph during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 40. Joseph Kane jumped out of the vehicle and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing both officers.” [FBI 2011]

Was Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) using hyperbole when he described the Bundy mob as “domestic terrorists?  Not unless the FBI is applying hyperbole as well:

The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.” [FBI bulletin 9/2011]  (emphasis added)

What were Cliven Bundy’s words? “His personal grievance with federal authority doesn’t stop with the BLM, though. “I believe this is a sovereign state of Nevada,” Bundy said in a radio interview last Thursday. “I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” [Atlantic]  In this instance there’s a bit of nuance in Bundy’s philosophy — he does recognize county and state government, just not the federal one. Evidently, he’s not quite the constitutionalist he’d like to be, since he missed Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution.  That’s the part which begins with:

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it. But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers…”

As the FBI advised, these Sovereign Citizens have varying philosophies and conspiracy theories,  and Mr. Bundy’s appears to be a variation on a common theme — government doesn’t have jurisdiction over my activities — in his case it’s the federal government.

And who joined him in his “protest?” The Oath Keepers were front and center.  The FBI has been watching this and other groups which seek to attract members of the military and veterans, as set forth in a July 2008 report. (pdf)  The level of paranoia in the Oath Keeper’s 10 Rules is clear, if not absolutely blatant.   Justine Sharrock’s April 2010 article for Mother Jones should be required reading for anyone who wants an in-depth look at the Oath Keeper’s disturbing and perhaps invidious philosophy.

So, on April 12, 2014 Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) made this request to the Bundy followers:

“The dispute is over, the BLM is leaving, but emotions and tensions are still near the boiling point, and we desperately need a peaceful conclusion to this conflict,” Heller said.  “I urge all the people involved to please return to your homes and allow the BLM officers to collect their equipment and depart without interference.”

Yes, and this to a group of people who believe that the government is simply waiting for a catastrophic event during which it can incarcerate citizens in concentration camps?  Who will not “disarm American citizens?” Who will not obey orders to impose martial law?” Who will not assist foreign troops to keep order on American soil?

This? to Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who is going to save America from gun control? Who is an inductee in the National Rifle Association Hall of Fame?  Who is a devotee of the radical philosophy of W. Cleon Skousen? W. Cleon “Pocahantas was a Communist” Skousen? [MJ]

If anyone has any doubts as to why federal agents and BLM employees thought they needed armed protection, the presence of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack should resolve the question quickly.

The question remains, if the law enforcement community in Clark County has a heightened awareness of so-called sovereign citizens,  and the FBI has been watching organizations like the Sovereignty Movement and the Oath Keepers, then WHY did Senator Heller walk directly into the morass in support of Bundy in the first place?

As noted in the previous post, he’s now back-pedaling as quickly as he can after Cliven Bundy’s outrageously racist remarks.

Bundy’s remaining public supporter is none other than Clark County’s own Assemblywoman Michele Fiore who issued this statement: ” Fiore said Bundy “has said things I don’t agree with,” but “we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.” [The Wire]

What atrocities? Tazing a man who kicked a police dog?  What harm to the land?  However, what can we expect from an Assemblywoman whose Mother’s Day blog greeting included a photo of all the women-folk armed to the hilt…or the stock if you prefer?  If one is known by the company kept, then Assemblywoman Fiore’s association with the likes of the Oath Keepers and Richard Mack may get her into the NRA Hall of Fame, but it won’t prevent questions about her penchant for supporting ultra-right wing radical causes.

After Cliven Bundy’s sad little tirade about “the Negro” the scales should have fallen from everyone’s eyes — the core of the issue for Mr. Bundy isn’t essentially about BLM operations, or two court orders — it’s about preserving a revised White Man’s America.  An America in which all those enslaved people were ‘happy’ — ‘must be why the old Gospel song says, “And before I’d be a slave I’d be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free?”  It’s a White Man’s America — out of a Hollywood western.   It’s a White Man’s America that never was except in the perfervid imaginations of the seriously disturbed and the wildly radical.

Meanwhile in the real world, the BLM will revise and recalibrate its enforcement strategies, the courts may have to hear more litigation on the matter, and in the end … Mr. Bundy may be forced to follow the provisions of Article I, Section 2 of the Nevada Constitution and admit that the federal government is, in fact, due our paramount allegiance.

 

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A Well Tuned Whine at the Bundy Ranch

Bundy 2Just what do you say to lawbreakers when they refuse to cooperate with legal decisions?  In Public Lands Council vs. Babbitt the U.S. Supreme Court decided that, yes, the Bureau of Land Management did have the Constitutional authority to enforce the provisions of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, 43 USC 315.  What do you say to a freeloading rancher who lost in a Federal District Court in July 2013 (pdf) and again in October 2013 (pdf)?

Nevada’s own freeloading rancher, Cliven Bundy, doesn’t have any “right” to graze his cattle on public land. The land is not his property. He has no deed for the property, it is not for his sole and exclusive use.  [TWN]  There is no “land grab” because the land never belonged to Mr. Bundy in the first place.  How much simpler can the issue be? It is public land, the administration and management of the land is established in 43 USC 315, the law was confirmed as Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 15, 2000 in a 9-0 decision from Chief Justice Rehnquist’s court.  [Oyez Project] And, not one but two Federal judges have informed Mr. Bundy he has no case.

It isn’t too difficult to come to the conclusion that Mr. Bundy is all for the U.S. Constitution — until a law he doesn’t personally like is declared Constitutional.  He may be all for law and order — until the law doesn’t suit his purposes.  What do we call the people who violate or ignore laws with impunity?  The answer is commonly “anarchists.”

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has another answer. He called them “Patriots.” [Roll Call]   Heller offered yet another example of his “Government as Bully” perspective, “I take more issues with BLM coming in with a paramilitary army of people, individuals with snipers, and I’m talking to people and groups that were there at the event, and to have your own government with sniper lenses on you, it made a lot of people very uncomfortable.”

Let us parse.  What’s a “paramilitary army of people?” On March 15, 2014 after twenty years of trying to get Mr. Bundy to comply with orders,  the Bureau of Land Management informed Mr. Bundy, by letter, that his cattle were “trespassing” and would be impounded.  Mr Bundy’s response — to ask the Clark County Sheriff’s Department for “protection.”  Bundy gives interviews by the hay wagon load and fans the fire of his displeasure. [WaPo]  Members of so-called freedom-fighters gather in Bundy’s support.   Bundy family members confront law enforcement personnel, and one is tazered after he kicks a police dog.

That “paramilitary army” of people were law enforcement personnel, BLM employees, and cowboys hired to round up and impound the cattle.

On the other side, a very visible group of Bundy supporters is the Oath Keepers organization, closely associated with the Tea Party, and infamous for proudly announcing what orders they will not obey. The organization includes members of the 3%’ers and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack who refused back in the 90’s to enforce the Brady Laws.  [MJ]

Perhaps Senator Heller was ‘inartful’ using the term Paramilitary, but the word usually means an organization the structure, training , culture, and function of which is similar to the military, but is NOT considered a part of a state or federal military branch.  So, who has gathered a “paramilitary army of people?”  From the photographs of the scene the honors appear to go to Mr. Bundy.

But, Senator Heller is disturbed that people have their own government with sniper lens on them. It makes them uncomfortable.  At the risk of flippancy, when is it acceptable to have those who have broken the law for 20 years feel “comfortable?”

The radical right gives every appearance of wanting another drama — another Ruby Ridge, — another Waco, — another armed confrontation with authority, especially federal authority.  Senator Heller’s unfortunate use of the word “Patriot” offers sustenance to the fantasies of the radical right wing which feeds on these scenarios, and revels in the scripted Hollywood versions like Red Dawn.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is more accurate calling antigovernment types like Bundy “domestic terrorists.” [previous post]  Certainly, there are euphemisms which might make the lawbreakers and their allies more “comfortable,” perhaps we could call them “puerile anti-authority activity advocates?”  However, it is not particularly helpful to apply euphemisms to assuage the tender sensitivities of extremists while ignoring the deleterious ramifications of their intentions, and covering their lawlessness with a patina of polite phrases.

The strident whining of the radical right extremists with its cacophony of hypocritical complaints is out of tune with a nation of laws — not of men.

 

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