Perspectives: Bundy Ranch, 4 years later

This composite of St. George News file photos shows various gatherings and activities incident to the Bundy Ranch standoff with federal authorities in and around Bunkerville, Nevada, 2014 | File photos by Mori Kessler; submitted photos, St. George News

OPINION — The four-year anniversary of what some refer to as the Battle of Bunkerville came and went last week. It’s probably safe to say that we’re all a little surprised at how things have shaken out since the events of 2014.

Even just a short year ago, the fate of Cliven Bundy and those who stood with him still hung in the balance.

Few could have predicted that the charges against Bundy and others would be dismissed with prejudice and that most of them would be free men. Fewer still could have foreseen that the federal government’s flagrant disregard for justice would be the reason for that dismissal.

From the government’s point of view, the situation seemed like a slam dunk.

People who face charges in federal court are convicted 97.7 percent of the time. It’s not that every one of them are actually guilty or that the prosecutors and investigators are just that good.

It’s what you’d expect when going up against a politically-driven opponent with virtually unlimited resources and time. Often defendants will take a plea deal for a lower charge and lighter sentence simply because if they take it to the jury and lose, the sentence will be much worse.

The Bureau of Land Management had been at odds with Bundy since 1993 when he refused to go along with their attempts to convert the grazing and water rights he owned into rented privileges for which he must pay their bureaucracy. Over time, as the BLM underwent management changes with the election of a new administration in 2008, the decision was made to find a way to bring Bundy into compliance.

It’s essential to understand the fact that Bundy’s cattle eating forage on a vast, untamed desert landscape did not victimize the American people in the slightest. Only the U.S. government could maintain with a straight face that for those cattle to eat grass without its bureaucrats being paid a fee constituted a crime.

In the meantime, Bundy continued to put hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of watering holes and related infrastructure into place, at his own expense. The water sources benefited every living creature in that harsh environment.

Several attempts to impound Bundy’s cattle ended in failure for the government when Bundy simply refused to cooperate with the attempted rustling. At no point was he violent with anyone.

As the BLM set about putting together a new operation to trespass the cattle off the disputed allotment, they had access to multiple threat assessments the FBI had done on the Bundy family. According to the FBI, the threat posed by the Bundys was minimal – as in the lowest threat level possible.

The BLM was informed that as long as they weren’t too heavy-handed or tried backing Bundy into a corner, the worst they might get is a punch in the nose.

Instead of heeding these assessments, the BLM, under the direction of Special Agent Dan Love, set about putting together the most militarized, aggressive and heavy-handed operation in its history. Why else would there have been a federal joint terrorism task force complete with SWAT teams, snipers and around-the-clock surveillance of Bundy Ranch in the weeks before the April 2014 impoundment?

Why else would a 200-man task force be sent to Bunkerville with orders to “kick them in the teeth” and to tase, manhandle and point loaded firearms at innocent people?

If the intent of the feds wasn’t to provoke a deadly confrontation, they were certainly missing a good opportunity. The lies they perpetuated about the Bundys set the stage for conflict.

All of this has come out in the trials that followed the events of that fateful day. The Wooten memo from a former BLM investigator further confirmed what the Bundys had said all along. A second Wooten memo remains sealed for now but could shed further light on what the BLM was up to – if the feds will ever deign to release it.

When the Bundys called for help, their fears of another Waco-style massacre at the hands of overly zealous federal agents were not unfounded. Those who answered that call were not madmen or malcontents; they were American citizens who saw firsthand how out of control our government had become.

The fact that they backed down a armed mob of government aggressors without firing a shot is as much a miracle as it is proof that firearms in the hands of the citizenry are an effective check on tyranny.

Jurors who were allowed to hear these truths rightly refused to convict the Bundys and others. Sadly, a handful of defendants who took plea deals or were convicted by less than fully informed jurors remain in custody.

The truth took nearly four years to emerge from darkness. But when it did, it set the Bundys and others free.

More importantly, it showed that those who rushed to judgment or who parroted the official narrative regarding the Bundys were mistaken. Making mistakes is part of being human.

How many will have the character to admit their error?

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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43 Comments

  • Death Valley April 16, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Bundy and his ilk disgust me.
    Not surprising this was written by Mr. Hyde.

    • mesaman April 16, 2018 at 8:50 pm

      Back to Death Valley with you, you don’t belong among human beings. Your ilk disgusts me.

      • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 9:51 am

        Please enlighten me as to how I “don’t belong among human beings.” This should be a hoot.

  • Dusty April 16, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    It is difficult for the common person to see how much the government, not only controls our lives but strives to get more control. And it has become increasingly difficult to get just the facts, without opinion, from the news on any given situation.
    I, for one, feel that what the Bundy clan did was good. They basically stood up to a bully. However, I’m sure it is far more complicated than that.
    People need to held accountable for their actions, whether they act individually or as an ‘official’.

  • No Filter April 16, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    This story is so old, let’s talk about Sean “lumpy” Hannity and his conflict of interest with Trumps lawyer. I bet you right wingnuts didn’t see that one coming.

    • NotSoFast April 16, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      No Filter, go away, will ya. Or stay on subject for gods sake. Your sounding like Maxine Waters or cry baby Hillary the con.

      • John April 16, 2018 at 6:58 pm

        no filter is maxine’s toupee’…and he wipes with cactus.. he’s not so bright !

        • No Filter April 16, 2018 at 9:41 pm

          Wow John you have wonderful punctuation skills! You don’t … need to… be like … Trump on all your post ! Your use of the English grammar is that of a 5 year old at best. I think you and Hannity deserve the same nick name. From here on out you will be referred to as lumpy. See you tomorrow on “special ed’s” comment section Lumpy.

          • John April 17, 2018 at 10:24 am

            Go clean some more porta-potties , loser…,NOBODY ASKED FOR YOUR UNIFORMED CLUELESS OPINION !

          • No Filter April 17, 2018 at 11:11 am

            Poor Lumpy, do you need a hug?

          • John April 17, 2018 at 11:43 am

            Hey, can’t filter, it’s one thing to be clueless but you prove that clueless = brainwashed. You are one sick, out of touch, hateful MSM carrot chasing imbecile. Keep out of it since you don’t know what the heck you are talking about !

          • No Filter April 17, 2018 at 1:39 pm

            I’ll never go away lumpy, if you don’t like my comments, you don’t have to read them. If the moderator approves my comment then you have no say in what I can and cannot say. Re-read your Bill of Rights Lumpy!

          • John April 17, 2018 at 2:45 pm

            I love to watch you prove how liberals are simple minded and easily entertained. You should still try to get a clue though. You come off like a uneducated fool !

      • No Filter April 16, 2018 at 9:45 pm

        I was going for a Kelly Ann Conway style of change the subject before I have to answer the question kind of comment. I don’t a care about any of those law breaking bundys, they should all be in jail. It’s too bad the government screwed up in their case.

        • John April 17, 2018 at 11:44 am

          Go away till you get a clue. stay on subject MORON !

  • Lastdays April 16, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Interesting to hear what side people are on when the Cliven Bundy story comes up.
    An individual either agrees with a Law-abiding group that fully understands and has enormous respect for the Rights and Freedoms we have that are presented in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other Amendments.

    Or, they are on the side of the governments and BLM’s Ex-Special Agent Daniel Love and his Co-Conspirators who formulated a scheme to hopefully entice the Bundys into an altercation which would fulfill their evil plan to eliminate them.

    And don’t bring up the make believe million dollars they owe in grazing fees. That was all part of the evil plan mentioned above and helped facilitate having this case dismissed.

    Who’s side are you on ?

    • bikeandfish April 16, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      Well, that comment and logic takes the cake.

      There are several more options than the two extremes you present. I will say your comment is emblematic of everything that is wrong with Hyde’s writing.

      The Bundy’s were rightfully released after federal prosecutor’s misdeeds. But that is a nuanced reality. There actions don’t indict the entire process or well-recorded history that led up to this unfortunate series of events. The misdeeds of the federal prosecutors don’t mean the Bundy’s are heroes any more than the misdeeds of the Bundy’s means the BLM are heroes.

      We know the Bundy’s broke the law for years and have yet to pay for their crimes. They likely never will. No one wins in that situation despite Hyde’s simplistic arguments.

    • PatriotLiberal April 17, 2018 at 8:46 am

      An individual either agrees with a Law-abiding group that fully understands and has enormous respect for the Rights and Freedoms we have that are presented in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and other Amendments.

      Yep. That’ why he refused to pay the grazing fees he agreed to for 20+ years.

      he DID pay Clark County and the Federal Gov’t (until 1992 or 93′)
      Here’s PROOF that Bundy sent a check to Clark County for grazing fees. , which was then returned with instructions on where to send that money.
      https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4176232/Bundy-Payment.pdf

      Again, these are fees he agreed to pay If he didn’t want to pay the fees, he should have moved. \

  • comments April 16, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Wasn’t the whole thing brought on by some group that sued the BLM to have some endangered species provision enforced or something? Isn’t it true the BLM had no intention of interfering with Bundy’s law breaking until they got sued?

    Hyde also needs to state his personal affiliation with the Bundy clan like he has in the past. By no means is he an outside observer. I’d never trust him to tell a non-biased account on this issue.

  • jaybird April 16, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    So I guess my family no longer needs to pay grazing fees on BLM lands? Yippee!

    • mesaman April 16, 2018 at 8:52 pm

      You have a cow?? Who’d ever thunk it.

  • bikeandfish April 16, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    I have to laugh that Hyde’s sources include Redoubt News. I’ve learned to temper my expectations for Hyde’s resources but that is a new low. Nothing like a “news source”, ie extremist blog, that primarily using links to its other posts to source its most outrageous claims. No wonder it get such low ranking from watch dogs.

    • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Yeah, it’s a shame that these so-called journalists are nothing but fear-mongering right-wingers who parrot extremist views. The worst part is, they’re given a platform(like this) to further espouse those views. And people wonder why we’re such a divided nation. When you have people willing to use extremist propaganda to get their point across, their credibility keeps getting smaller and smaller. Which makes those of us who actually SEE what they’re doing very angry.
      I get the impression that Mr. *speaker of truth and a disciple of liberty* Hyde believes he is beyond reproach. Sad.

    • No Filter April 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

      Wow I checked out that website, it looks like a doomsday prepper advertisement. I am surprised Mr. Hyde hasn’t started one of those for himself here in Southern Utah. That website is extreme even for some of our right wing readers on stgnews.com

      • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

        “I am surprised Mr. Hyde hasn’t started one of those for himself here in Southern Utah.”

        While I haven’t heard it, one can assume that his podcast covers the same extremist views.
        You know how those podcasts go. Wild Wild West opinions with a side of grandiose delusions of liberty and freedom plucked from the script of a John Wayne movie gone wrong.

      • John April 17, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        You just love proving how clueless you really are! hahahahahahahahahahaha! How many tin foil hats do you actually own?

        • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 12:39 pm

          Oh, look. Everybody’s favorite fool is here. Must be that time of the month again(out of meds).
          Hey, Johnny. There’s a city not far from here that specializes in medicine that would greatly benefit a person like you. Maybe you should go there sometime and SEEK HELP for your overwhelming negativity, Mr. Haha.

          • John April 17, 2018 at 1:59 pm

            you should know… Have you gotten that space between your ears fixed yet? hahahahahahahaha~! Get a clue…

          • Lee Saunders April 18, 2018 at 3:35 pm

            It might be best to just ignore him. He’s obviously short a card or two in his deck. Just don’t encourage him. Hahahahahaha, Waah, waah, waah. That’s the most intelligent things he ever seems to be able to come up with.

          • John April 18, 2018 at 6:50 pm

            Hey Lee, too bad you are so clueless, quite entertaining..hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Liberals exist just to be laughed at …

        • No Filter April 17, 2018 at 1:26 pm

          This is not a laughing matter John, media such as redoubt news can get somebody hurt or worse. So just how clueless am I lumpy, I stated my opinion about a web site and made a statement about Mr. Hyde. I claimed no truth to what I said just that it was my opinion, yet you spew out your hate speech about me being clueless, typical right wing hate mongering.

          • John April 17, 2018 at 2:03 pm

            You are so clueless it is really sad…hahahahahahahahaha ! All anyone ever has to do to be on the correct side of any issue is just be on the opposite side of your clueless foolishness. You have never been right about anything and I really don’t believe you are going to start now! Anything you state is a laughing matter. You don’t have a clue and you prove it every day !

          • No Filter April 17, 2018 at 3:04 pm

            I’ll make you a deal Lumpy, if you can show me just one example of how clueless I am, and I mean real facts not your opinion. I will sign off this web site forever and never make another comment. You have 24 hours starting now. Go Lumpy Go!

          • John April 17, 2018 at 4:52 pm

            You are way to funny to let you ban yourself, although proving you clueless is so easy to do. It’s always entertaining to watch you embarrass yourself! ” We hire the handicapped, They’re fun to watch!” Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

          • John April 17, 2018 at 5:07 pm

            And to prove how clueless you are, you always take the stand right where the MSM puts you and you are too clueless to realize it. Every time ! Clueless and easily distracted. A perfect little liberal sheeple.. hahahahahahaha!

        • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 4:32 pm

          Typical John responses. Nothing of substance. Nothing to add to the conversation. Just nothing. Period.
          Keep telling yourself that you are anything other than an annoyance around here, little john.

          • John April 17, 2018 at 7:08 pm

            Did you fill that vacant space between your ears with anything other than what the MSM gives you? You poor little clueless libtard…hahahahahahha! ou might try manure, anything would be better than what you are using now, you unemployed pothead ! Besides, you are so good at ignoring facts that you actually believe smoking pot makes you smarter.

          • Death Valley April 17, 2018 at 7:49 pm

            Again with the typical low-IQ responses, insults, name-calling. Childish.
            Like I said, keep telling yourself that you are anything other than an annoyance.

          • John April 17, 2018 at 9:12 pm

            You still haven’t a clue ! hahahahahahaha! MORON !

          • John April 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm

            It’s not my fault you are so ridiculously gullible, I just merely point it out ! hahahahahahahahaha!

  • Lee Saunders April 18, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    I’m interested to understand how someone who defies the laws of our land and the judicial system of our nation can call themselves “patriots”. My family grazed BLM land and we had not reservations about paying our fees, building and maintaining fencing and water developments. How do these folks come to the assumption that that public land is theirs just because they’ve grazed it for decades? Sure, they’ve put in water improvements, but so do most lessees of BLM land. Typically, after the US stole the nation from the Indians, the lands of the west were all government lands until acts such as the Homestead Act, grants to States, railroad grants, Desert Lands Acts and other acts disposed of the public lands. I’m wondering what act specifically gave all that land to the Bundys.

    • bikeandfish April 18, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Hyde and his ilk are part of a growing movement of largely white right wing extremists. Just look at his Redoubt News source, a reflection of the Great American Redoubt movement not shockingly headquartered in a region that is vastly white and with a rich history of white supremacy. I doubt Hyde is a supremacists but its an honest reflection on the sources and influences he does draw from.

      Hyde could posit justifiable libertarian views but instead deals in the currency of fear mongering and cherry picking. The Bundy’s are criminals who likely got a pass because of a couple federal prosecutors who were unwilling to play by the rules. They rightfully were released on the relevant charges but now their political martyrdom will likely release them from the full consequences of their previous actions, like trespass, etc.

    • John April 18, 2018 at 6:52 pm

      Yawn,,,,typical liberal canned statement. You really don’t think for yourself , do you?

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