On November 20, 2018, the Idaho Statesman ran an article written by former U.S. Forest Service agent Pat Finnigan in response to an article written by Statesman reporter Nicole Blanchard. The first article was written after Nicole had spent the day at my home in Emmett, Idaho. Nicole and I talked openly about the matters she wanted to discuss. We talked about our families, about life since I have been home—we talked about “the movement” the Bundy family has supposedly started. We spoke about the actions of federal officers from the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Overall, Nicole reported accurately and fairly the information she was able to write about.
Reading Pat Finnegan’s negative article in response to Nicole’s, I had to ask: did the Statesman’s story show us the real BLM and the true character of its officers? Nicole and I talked about the horrific actions of BLM officers towards the agricultural community in the West and specifically their actions at the Bundy ranch. But the Statesman chose not to put these facts in the article, and that I fully understand. After all, an article can only have so many words, and the abuses from federal agents towards the people of the West have been a long train. It is because of these abuses that the Bundy ranch incident arose in the first place.
For example, nearly two decades before the Bundy ranch incident, federal agents laid a deceitful plan to paint my father as a radical extremist. Federal agents tried to provoke him into responding with physical violence so they could justify the use of force upon him and remove him from the land and public eye. To their frustration, my father would not be provoked to violent actions. Federal agents reported that Bundy was too “savvy” to allow himself to be provoked.
Because federal agents could not provoke him and justify his removal from the land, preparation to destroy the Bundy ranch in 2014 was made by officials at the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, Nation Park Service, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In sensitive government documents, federal officials admit “that up to that point, Bundy himself is less prone to initiate or support violence.” They further admit that they did not know “Bundy’s threshold or precise trigger that would elicit a violent response, nor are we able to detect what his actions would be to a direct threat.” They go on to say, “However, if pressed into a corner and faced with having to defend his property, family, or person, his actions may be hard to forecast.”
In the official planning documents of this imminent action against the Bundy family, a plan was devised to use excessive federal force to push Bundy “beyond his threshold and either summons enough fear in Bundy to lose all semblance of hope and give up his claim on the land or leave him with no choice but to defend his family and property.” The official plan states, “It is important that Bundy realize that impound operations are imminent so he can develop a plan B.” Further, it states, “This will give Bundy time to really weigh his options, identify and organize key players, and decide how he wants to handle the possibility of violence.”
Federal officials further reveal in this plan that “while this planning time presents a double edge sword for our LEO operations, it is in our best interest to face off against a more stable and measured Bundy contingent, vice a gagged and reactive one.” It is evident that the official federal plan was to exhibit such a show of force upon my father, family, and the local community that it would either terrorize us, causing us to lose hope, or force us to react in opposition, giving federal agents justification to arrest and dispose of anyone who would oppose them.
These acts by federal agents towards my family and the community are by definition, acts of political terrorism: “violent criminal behavior designed primarily to generate fear in the community, or a substantial segment of it, for political purposes.” Since the Bundy ranch incident, federal agents and sympathizers have tried to change the narrative about what actually happened. However, the certified court record is full of despicable acts by federal agents who wanted to harm peaceful American people at the Bundy ranch. While federal agents pointed guns at men, women, and children protesting the reprehensible conduct of the BLM, body and dash cameras caught audio and video of federal agents on April 12, 2014, saying things such as: “Mother f----r, you come find me, and you will have hell to pay.” Or “This is a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later situation.”
One BLM agent speaking about a man with a dog among the people says, “Shoot the f-----g dog first.” Then another agent speaking about an overweight woman says, “Shoot her right in the f------g forehead.” Then several agents laughed together about the comment. Most of the federal agents were aiming assault rifles at the people while making these comments. After Chief Deputy Tom Roberts from the Clark County Sheriff’s Department de-escalated the situation and backed the federal agents down, you see and hear federal agents talking. One says, “We should have sent units up there and smashed them, kill em; if we kill them, great!” Another agent is so disappointed in the de-escalation by the sheriff’s department that he says, “Not one shot fired, all just f-----g mouth.” These are just a few examples of the propensity for violence that the federal agents exhibited at the Bundy ranch.
So I ask: who are the real terrorists here? A simple ranching family that has been on the land for 143 years—five generations—since 1877 and holds state title to both the grazing and the water, or federal agents who use violence to push people “beyond [their] threshold and either summons enough fear in [them] to lose all semblance of hope and give up [their] claim on the land or leave [them] with no choice but to defend [their] family and property.”
While Pat Finnegan in his Statesman article professes that the U.S. Constitution is a powerful document, he fails to admit that the document was drafted for the purpose of creating a limited general government with specific enumerated purposes. The Tenth Amendment alone reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Does this sound like the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government supremacy over the states and the people? No! When it comes to land inside a state, the federal government is limited in its control and ownership.
In Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, the federal government is given authority to control the area of Washington D.C. It is also given the power to control property inside a state that has been purchased with consent of the state legislature but can only be used for the purpose of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock yards, and other needed buildings. The Supreme Court has ruled several times that the enumeration in this part of the Constitution refers to military purposes and certain others needed in order to fulfill the authorized enumerations listed. Nowhere does it authorize the federal government to own or control massive amounts of land inside a state.
The Framers of the U.S. Constitution set protections upon the people so a governing body could not take control of land and its resources. The Founders understood that if the people had to compete with the government for land and resources, the government would use taxes and the law to limit people and hold the land and resources for themselves. The theory by federal employees that the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to control all the unappropriated lands inside a state without limitations is ridiculous, historically inaccurate, and destructive to the liberty and prosperity of the people.
The Supreme Court has also ruled that Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government jurisdiction to control certain lands until they can be disposed. Federal agents have used this article to dupe the public into believing that they have supreme power over the open lands inside western states. However, a close look at the lands referenced in this clause reveals that it is referring to territories, not states. A “territory” is a legal jurisdiction of land before it becomes a state. After statehood the federal government loses jurisdiction to make rules and regulations upon the land. “Statehood” means the people’s republic as a state has become sovereign from congressional control, and through this republic, the rules and regulations are held by the people of the state, including jurisdiction of the land and its resources.
So the facts and history simply do not align with Mr. Finnigan’s narrative, and the Statesman story, understandably, did not show us the real BLM. Ultimately, we must always question why governments are created and who ultimately is responsible to keep them from spinning out of control. Are governments created for the benefit and protection of the people, or for some other purpose? Many would say that they should be created for the benefit and protection of the people.
With the U.S. Constitution effectively being used as a doormat by people in power, what we are left with is a pure, unadulterated free-for-all. Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys? Considering today’s legal system and political network in the USA, it’s getting difficult to tell.