The judge in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his sons, and their friend Ryan Payne, declared a mistrial. The reason is stunning. Prosecutors willfully held back evidence of the government agents acting illegally in 2014 during a standoff on the Bundy ranch which drew the attention of militia from around the country.
When Bundy refused to comply with payment of grazing fees, Bureau of Land Management agents planned to take his animals. They suddenly appeared behind Berns on the ranch, heavily armed and armored, with guns trained on the Bundy home. It drew the attention of Sean Hannity and armed organizations who went to the Bundys assistance. The government pulled out.
Bundy characterized the uprising as an act of patriotic civil disobedience against government excess.
Cliven Bundy didn’t pay his grazing fees because the land, he says, should belong to the state, not the federal government. He also said the government is pushing all the ranchers off their land and confiscating it.
The government keeps retrying the Bundys, Cliven and his sons Ammon and Ryan This has been going on for three years since the Bundy standoff and since they later occupied a remote government building in Burns Oregon to demonstrate against Western land grabs and the arrests of two ranchers.
Judge Gloria Navarro reacted to evidence of prosecutors hiding information about agents conducting surveillance on the Bundy ranch and threat assessments since 2012.
The agents also hid logs of their activities.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM0 Special Agent Larry Wooten found “incredible bias” and widespread misconduct and likely illegal actions which he detailed in his 18-page report.
Wooten is a whistleblower who sent a memo released last week.
The BLM instituted a military operation against the ranchers. Agents had a “kill list” of people who killed themselves while under investigation. They called the Bundys, “retards”, “douche bags”, and they wanted to grind the Bundys’ faces into the gravel.
The agents who impounded the Bundy cattle before the standoff on the Bundy ranch conducted the “most intrusive, oppressive, lard scale and militaristic trespass impound possible” while the US attorney told him not to.
Bundy said he saw agents walking around his property with AKs and he saw surveillance cameras set up.
“The government falsely represented the camera that was on the Bundy house was incidental, not purposeful,” the judge said.
The judge 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.
Funny how the occupiers were never treated like that. And when will these agents be fired? The answer is never because the union doesn’t let anyone get fired.
Navarro set a retrial date for Feb. 26, 2018, but whether a new trial will actually happen is uncertain. Acting US Attorney Steven Myhre said prosecutors have yet to decide whether to pursue the case, and even if they do, the judge will hear defense arguments Jan. 8 on whether to dismiss the case.
This is the latest in a string of failed prosecutions in Nevada and Oregon against those who have opposed federal control of vast swaths of land in the American West.
Jurors in Portland, Oregon, acquitted the two Bundy sons of taking over a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon for more than a month in early 2016 amid calls for the U.S. government to turn over public land to local control.
The government has kept these men imprisoned while trying them again and again.
One cowboy LaVoy Finicum was shot and killed in the Oregon standoff and fault was found on the part of law enforcement. An FBI agent was charged with lying in a cover up of what happened.
The government wants the four punished so it doesn’t happen again but it wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t institute a military operation.