The Nature of Government

Anyone remember the case of Cliven Bundy, a rancher in Nevada who led an armed standoff against government agents over grazing rights, and whose son later occupied a national wildlife refuge in protest?  Here’s what the BBC said at the time while telling us how racist he was:

First Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was protesting against government attempts to round up cattle he was illegally grazing on federal land, wondered whether blacks were “better off” under slavery.

Illegally grazing, eh? Sounds clear-cut. But here’s what the BBC are saying now:

The four-day standoff happened in April 2014 near government-owned land outside Bunkerville, 80 miles (130km) north of Las Vegas.

Law enforcement officials tried to remove Mr Bundy’s cattle, saying he owed more than $1m (£737,000) in grazing fees on US Bureau of Land Management property.

Hundreds of armed supporters rallied from across the country to keep officers off Mr Bundy’s ranch.

The Bundys argued that the government lacked the constitutional authority to control the land where his cattle fed.

Why the change in tone? Because of this:

A federal judge dismissed all charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, his two sons and another man on Monday after accusing prosecutors of willfully withholding evidence from Bundy’s lawyers.

You can almost hear the disappointment in the BBC studios. But what is most remarkable about this story are the judge’s comments:

U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro cited “flagrant prosecutorial misconduct” in her decision to dismiss all charges against the Nevada rancher and three others.

“The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated,” Navarro said.

Navarro said Monday it was clear the FBI was involved in the prosecution and it was not a coincidence that most of the evidence that was held back – which would have worked in Bundy’s favor – came from the FBI.

Here’s a second opinion:

“In this case the failures to comply with Brady were exquisite, extraordinary,” said Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. “The judge exercised tremendous patience.”

“Either the government lied or [its actions were] so grossly negligent as to be tantamount to lying,” Napolitano said. “This happened over and over again.”

That this is allowed to happen is an absolute disgrace. Heads should be rolling at the FBI and lengthy jail sentences handed down, but of course they won’t. Why? Because too many people are happy with such blatant abuse of government power, especially when it’s brought to bear against their perceived ideological enemies, and the Deep State protects its own. I wonder which camp the BBC’s reporters fall into?

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13 thoughts on “The Nature of Government

  1. I spend a lot of time in Utah and folks are split in their feelings about the bundy family, Mormons are a funny folk, a mixture of very law abiding and yet rather prone to bouts of religious inspired individualism to put it politely.

  2. No doubt Bundy is an awkward sod, that is the type of character that brought an end to the feudal system.

    And how typical of
    a) The FBI to display cavalier thuggishness and
    b) the BBC to take the side of the state’s thuggish henchmen against the little man.

    How both organisations have fallen from their founders’ lofty ideals!

    Time to be put out of their (our) misery.

  3. @BiI – but the little man here was insufficiently left-wing, and the FBI belonged to Barry. It’s the whole Leninist “Who-Whom” thing…

  4. He actually should owe in the low tens of thousands of dollars for missed grazing permit fees. It’s “late fees”, fines, and add-ons that allow the BLM to claim he owes over a million.

    The government’s main charge against him was that he brought in his armed supporters as a way to threaten the government agents who were attempting to uphold the law. His defense was that he brought them in as a defense because the government had set up numerous snipers around him who were threatening his life.

    The government poo-pooed this assertion, stating that they never had snipers anywhere near the area.

    As it turned out, the information that they hid from his defense was that they had indeed brought in numerous snipers before he did anything, and had them scattered around him. His supporters came in after the snipers, which went far in destroying the government’s arguments.

    Usually such action results in a mistrial grant by the judge, and then the government has to decide whether it’s worth retrying the case. This situation was so egregious, the judge simply dismissed the case forever.

  5. “Heads should be rolling at the FBI and lengthy jail sentences handed down, but of course they won’t.”

    They know now they can get away with this sort of thing, as long as it’s all directed at people the journalists and the rest of the New Class disapprove of. (In other words, what abacab said.)

  6. As far as I can tell (which may well be in error) the guy was probably in the wrong to start with. Heavens, the fact that he was arguing that Federal grazing fees are unconstitutional strongly suggests that he owed them and hadn’t paid them.

    The Feds, however, acted with that prudence, sense of proportion, and meticulous attention to the law of the land that they displayed at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and so on. The prosecution seems to have been just as bad.

    Wotcha think? Would a score of senior bods going to pokey for a couple of decades be criminal punishment enough? Naturally I’d want them sued to buggery and thereby ruined.

    Presumably instead a couple of low level people will be sacked and the whole affair suppressed. Compensation, if any, will be supplied by the taxpayer.

    To mix my metaphors, I doubt whether Trump has got the backbone to show some balls on this issue. But it’s his employees, staff of the Executive Branch, that have behaved so criminally

  7. Another issue here, beyond the usual police state thuggishness, is that the Federal government owns far too much land in the western US. By all means keep the bombing ranges and the place in New Mexico where they hide the aliens, but the rest of it should be placed back in private hands. The Feds owning 80% of the state of Nevada is unnecessary and inevitably leads to disputes like this one.

  8. Nothing short of amazing, considering that Bundy and his folks were acquitted in another federal standoff case, in Oregon, in 2016. (That one was a massive entrapment operation, involving a Swiss marksman hired by the FBI to teach the Bundy bunch to shoot straight. The Swiss commando went by “Killman” in America – no kidding – more details in my two posts on that case.) Do English and Scottish trial judges have the legal ability to prevent retrials when the prosecution gets caught hiding key evidence?

  9. As far as I can tell (which may well be in error) the guy was probably in the wrong to start with.

    True, but from what little I’ve read about the US Bureau of Land Management, they appear to be an absolute bunch of c*nts who take perverse delight in making nonsensical and arbitrary decisions over land and water issues which have enormous, sometime existential consequences for people who’s forebears had been working the land in question for a century or more.

  10. Clarification: the Bundy brothers acquitted in 2016 are Ammon and Ryan, Cliven’s sons. Cliven, Ammon and Ryan were all involved in the Nevada standoff in 2014 but Cliven took no part in the Malheur occupation in Oregon in January 2016.

  11. “people who’s forebears had been working the land in question for a century or more”: feeble argument, Tim. It implies that you can’t argue that they are right in law. And I don’t give a hoot what their forebears did: the present generation must obey the law of the land.

    I agree, though, the the federal government should sell off tracts of land – if the land has no bearing on the duties assigned by the Constitution (e.g. military) then what the hell are they doing owning it in the first place? Even better, sell off all federally-owned land, and have them lease back any that they “need” for the military, the courts, and so on. It would do a power of good for departmental budgets to show the cost of the rents every year.

    I was thinking about this earlier today: why not have HMG do much the same? A combination of selling outright but renting back, and selling 99-year leases on much of the rest: that should do the trick. What would we get for Buckingham Palace? In fact, there’s a parlour game there. What is the minimum sensible set of lands that HMG (= the Crown = the taxpayer) should own?

  12. feeble argument, Tim. It implies that you can’t argue that they are right in law. And I don’t give a hoot what their forebears did: the present generation must obey the law of the land.

    True they must, but if people working in sprawling bureaucracies in capital cities make arbitrary and deeply unjust laws regarding things like water and land use, they can 1) expect resistance, even if those resisting don’t have the law on their side and 2) expect a yawning chasm to open up between the rural and urban populations.

  13. “but of course they won’t. Why? ”

    I partially agree but I think part is inherent in the US Federal government. If you have a problem with Feds trying to screw you who do you call? Your Representative who represents 250,000 other people and might or might not have the time, resources and interest to determine if you are a crank or not. With the House fixed at 435 members every year the ratio of the people to elected officials gets worse. The elected Federal govt is 537 people to manage over 2 million federal employees. Sure managers might do their job but what if the manager sees himself as a wise Mandarin expanding his empire with specious interpretations of regulations. (I.e. The EPA by law can regulate navigable waterway so by rule making they decided they can regulate a non-navigable ditch) The result is a bureaucracy which is more unaccountable than I’d like.

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