BLM has become the tyranny Founders overthrew

January 10, 2016

FoundingFathersIf you were the President of a public relations firm hired to promote our Founding Father’s ideal of a small and limited federal government the absolute last person you would want as your public representative would be one Ammon Bundy.

Bundy, one of father Cliven’s clan of 2014 Nevada standoff fame, decided last weekend it would be a hoot to round up a few buddies, grab their guns and head on up to Burns, Oregon to “occupy” the headquarters building of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in “defense” of fellow ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond.

That the Hammond’s want nothing to do with Bundy so far hasn’t fazed him or his misfit band of militia men.  Yet for all his wrongheadedness, Ammon Bundy has accomplished one very, very good thing.  He has brought a national light to the living hell that our own federal government has been putting the Hammond family through for years now.

A full timeline and historical context can be found on the and websites but the gist of it is that the feds want the Hammond’s private land to be added to the already over 187,000 acres of public land that has been assembled since Teddy Roosevelt’s Executive order 929 first took for the federal government the “smallest legal subdivisions which touch the shoreline of Lakes Malheur and Harney” in 1908.

Unable to convince the Hammond’s to sell outright, the Bureau of Land Management has resorted to intimidation.  Two fires are at the heart of it all.  The first was a 2001 planned fire on ranch property that jumped to refuge land and burned a whopping 127 acres of public grass. Not a peep from the feds on that one.  Then in 2006 lighting strikes on the federal lands started what would become a fire so large that the Hammond’s winter range and home was in jeopardy.  They started a backfire to protect their property and were rewarded for their forethought with federal agents filing a police report against them the next day.  A report that would ultimately lead to state charges being filed.  Charges that the Harney County District Attorney reviewed, found not rising to the level of prosecution, and were appropriately dropped.

But then five years later, for reasons still not fully known, the U.S. Attorney Office in 2011 filed new charges against father and son under Federal anti-terrorism statutes.  And while Dwight and Steven Hammond were found guilty of starting the fires, the judge found the minimum 5 year prison term to be a violation of the 8th amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment and issued more reasonable prison terms.  In January, 2013 Dwight and Steven turned themselves in and served their sentences.

Yet a vindictive Bureau of Land management appealed to the 9th District Federal Court to force the Hammond’s to serve the full 5 years minimum.  Ruling that the trial judge did not have authority to reduce sentence, the feds prevailed and the Hammond’s are now back behind bars for nothing more than being good stewards of their ranch and protecting their property.

Barring a Supreme Court intervention or a Presidential pardon, Dwight, if he lives, will be 79 when released and Steven’s wife and 3 children will be fatherless for the next four years.

Bundy and bunch will eventually be brought to justice.  But where’s the justice for the Hammond’s?

What every American of any political stripe should be asking today is who will punish the BLM bureaucrats for such an outrageous abuse of their federal power?  Who will bring them to justice?

The answer so far is no one.  And that is the real outrage.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the January 10, 2016 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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