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Guilty Until Proven Innocent – Ammon and Ryan Bundy try to Prove their Innocence Amid a Government Conspiracy to Convince the Public of their Guilt.

Posted by Scott Rohter on Saturday, September 17, 2016

 

Ammon and Ryan Bundy

Guilty Until Proven Innocent ?

Ammon and Ryan Bundy Try to Prove their Innocence

Amid a Government Conspiracy to Convince the Public of their Guilt..

By Scott Rohter, June 2016

 

“The time has come to end the occupation of twelve Western States by the Federal Government.” – Scott Michael Rohter

 

They have been locked up in jail for more than seven months without a trial. One of the brothers has been in solitary confinement for over a month for refusing to allow doctors to remove a bullet lodged in his upper right arm. Ammon and Ryan Bundy are political prisoners.  They are being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland, Oregon across from the Federal Courthouse where they are being tried on charges of conspiracy to impede Federal officers. They were taken into custody not far from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge which they were “occupying” in a nationally televised protest over the unjust incarceration of two fellow ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond of eastern Oregon on terrorism and arson charges. They are also protesting the federal government’s unconstitutional occupation of over 700 million acres of land in twelve Western States for more than 150 years. Ammon and Ryan Bundy are real American heroes.

The Bundys are leading an effort to change the way that Congress administers America’s public lands. The Federal government’s land management policies were rewritten back in 1976 when Congress passed the Federal Land Policy Management Act. When they did that they also rewrote 200 years of American history and legal precedent. One of the Bundy’s friends and a fellow rancher named Lavoy Finicum was shot in the back by two Oregon State Police officers for his efforts to help the Bundy’s support the Hammonds. The police officers who shot Lavoy Finicum claimed that they fired their weapons in self-defense.  Lavoy’s murder has been described by a police investigation as a justified use of deadly force, but in reality the police investigation was nothing more than a whitewash.

The national rebellion over the Federal government’s public land use policies didn’t just begin with the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and it isn’t going to end with the arrest or even with a conviction of Ammon and Ryan Bundy on federal charges stemming from their month long protest in Harney County. The controversy surrounding the Federal government’s administration of America’s public lands has been going on since the 1980s when the Sagebrush Rebellion was launched, and it won’t be settled in an Oregon courtroom during the Bundy trials.  It can only be addressed by Congress. In fact the subject won’t even come up during their trials since the only issue really at stake is their refusal to leave the Refuge.

The defendants claim that they were never given a direct order in writing from the appropriate authorities to leave the Refuge. They would have welcomed such an order because it would have given them an opportunity to challenging the validity of that order in court, but they never got the opportunity. Instead of receiving an eviction notice or an Official Notice of Trespass they were ambushed on their way to a meeting. They were all arrested on conspiracy charges, all except one, and they were thrown in jail without bail and without the usual presumption of innocence. The one person who was not arrested, Mr. Finicum was shot in the back three times by law enforcement officials and left to die.

So what led the Bundys to come to Oregon in the first place? What led them to occupy this remote strip of desert land? Knowing this is the key to understanding the unjust nature of the government’s indictment against them. If a rancher’s grievances against the Bureau of Land Management are even mentioned during their trial they will probably be tossed out of court as quickly as they are brought up by the Federal magistrate who is appointed by the Federal government to preside over their trials. The Federal government is both their prosecutor and their judge. Fortunately for them it is not their jury too.

What prompted the defendants to leave their homes and families in Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho and meet in the little town of Burns is a long and convoluted story.

Their purpose was to support two Oregon ranchers who were being unjustly incarcerated for arson under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1976. The defendants wanted to create a national discussion about the Federal government’s mismanagement of America’s public lands and the unconstitutional nature of it’s control of over half the land in twelve Western States. They decided to do this only after it became apparent that the Obama Justice Department was going to put Dwight and Steven Hammond back in jail for almost five years for a grass fire they started on their land to control weeds. It was a dubious charge to begin with, but it was a crime for which they had already served their time, and it became a crime for which they are now serving out the remainder of a five year mandatory minimum sentence of five years at a Federal Penitentiary in southern California, a thousand miles away from their family and friends.

The Bundys viewed the resentencing of the Hammonds to spend almost five more years in jail by the Department of Justice as a violation of their civil rights under the Fifth Amendment which states… “Nor shall any man be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”.  The re-incarceration of the Hammonds for a second time after they had already served their original sentences is a clear violation of the Constitution and a clear cut example of Federal overreach… It is an example of their continuing unconstitutional control of public lands and the type of harassment they can and do dole out to ranchers who stand in their way. The Bundys viewed the Hammond’s plight as typical of their own and an opportunity to focus national attention on the plight of all Western ranchers. What neither Ammon nor Ryan took into consideration is that most Americans live in big cities and they don’t understand or care about the plight of Western ranchers.

The Bundys came to Oregon to support Dwight and Steven Hammond,  and to call attention to the occupation of over 700 million acres of land in twelve Western States by a Federal bureaucracy that is so bloated and full of itself that is totally and completely out of control. The defendants managed to occupy the headlines for almost a month by occupying a rather remote and deserted Wildlife Refuge in the middle of winter when no federal employees were there, an act of defiance for which they are now paying dearly.

Let me ask you a question. What is a bigger crime? Is it worse to occupy a deserted Wildlife Refuge for a month in the middle of Winter when no one was there, or to  occupy 700 million acres of land in twelve western states for over a hundred and fifty years?

All wealth comes from the land, but fully one half of all the land west of the Rocky Mountains is controlled and administered by the Federal government. That explains why most of the counties in Western States are struggling just to meet their budgets and to provide basic government services like public schools, and police and fire protection.. All Federally controlled land remains off the tax rolls and any Payments in Lieu of taxes (PILT)  which Western Counties receive from the Federal government does not nearly compensate for the losses in revenue arising from not having these lands on the tax rolls. It does not enable local government to become self-supporting. On the contrary it keeps local governments always dependent on Washington. County government is frequently not able to fund basic government services because too much of the land in the county is not on the tax rolls.  

Without a national strategy that supports private property there is not a broad enough tax base at the local level to support local government. That is why Western States are so dependent on Washington..

The right to own property is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. The right to petition the government whenever any of our rights is violated by the government is also guaranteed in the Constitution. Cliven Bundy owns a ranch in Nevada on which he and his son Ryan raise cattle. They own grazing rights on adjacent land which is administered by the Federal government. Their right to the use this land is being adversely impacted by the Federal government’s public land use policies. The Bundys exercised their right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Only after all of their efforts failed did they look for another means to advance their cause.

In 2015 they drafted legislation in the Nevada Legislature regarding the administration of State land by the Federal government, but all of their efforts in search of a legislative solution to their problems failed. That led them to Oregon and to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to draw attention to their cause and to the plight of Dwight and Stephen Hammond. They tried to work within the system without openly defying the government even as the government continued to evade the Constitution, but all of their efforts under the law got them nowhere. They are now political prisoners at the Multnomah County Jail in Portland, Oregon where they have been kept in jail for over eight months without a trial. They are being held without bail and without the presumption of innocence before they have even been found guilty of committing a crime. They have been denigrated in the press for standing up to the Federal government’s flagrant violations of the Constitution.

All of our rights are not enumerated in the Constitution, but all of the Federal Government’s powers are specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and there is no power given to the Federal government to maintain control over such vast amounts of State land.

It is a sad day when two Oregon State Police officers can shoot an innocent man in the back for believing in the Constitution and get away with it. That was the day I realized that something much bigger than Lavoy Finicum had died in America. Honor, integrity, and respect for the Constitution have ceased to exist too…

Here us a little history lesson. Please take it to heart:

Oregon became a State in 1859. Before that it was part of a vast territory whose ownership and administration was contested even back then by three different countries and a variety of different Indian tribes. The controversy over the ownership of land in the West is much bigger than what happened at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

What used to be known as the Oregon Territory included the future States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, part of Montana and Wyoming, and most of the province of British Columbia. In 1846 the United States purchased this Territory from England and after a border dispute with Canada was settled, Oregon became the 33rd State to enter the Union, however for the past 157 years Oregon has remained an occupied territory… occupied by the Federal Government which annexed it.

Fifty three percent of Oregon is administered and controlled by Congress through two departments of the Federal bureaucracy… the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. It is time for this occupation of Oregon by the Federal Government to come to an end.

When Americans think of occupied territory we don’t usually think of the peaceful Pacific Northwest. We usually think of more turbulent places like the Middle East where people have been fighting for control of land ever since Israel became a state again in 1948. Whether all or part of Israel remains occupied by Jews or Arabs or both or they all learn to live together in peace is a question that still remains to be resolved, but for Americans living in occupied territory right here in our own country, Oregon is not the first nor the last State to be occupied by the Federal government.

There are twelve States that are occupied by Washington contrary to the Constitution. They are all west of the Rocky Mountains. They have been occupied ever since they were admitted to the Union. Half of the land in twelve Western States is occupied territory. The total amount of land occupied in these twelve States is over 700 million acres of land..

All of the Federal Government’s powers are enumerated in the Constitution. There is no power vested in Congress to be the nation’s largest landowner. The fact that Congress is and remains in direct violation of the United States Constitution is what prompted the Sagebrush Rebellion of 1979, and it prompted the Bundys to come to Oregon in 2016.

 

The Property Rights Clause only gives Congress the right to manage public lands until such time as there is a permanent home found for them, but ultimately these lands have to be permanently disposed of. The only land that Congress has the authority to retain is a hundred square miles of land called the District of Columbia which is the seat of the Federal government. Together with enough land to build forts and ports and other needful government buildings on, that is all the land the United States government can own under the Constitution.  Congress must find a permanent resolution for public lands which conforms to the Constitution and it must dispose of these lands which it continues to administer. The proper resolution would be to turn these lands over to the States and the Counties and the people from which they were taken when these States were admitted to the Union.

The entire process can be overseen by Congress and the land can be returned to the States with a stipulation that each State should determine how these lands are to be ultimately disposed of. There should be public hearings. Title to the land can be transferred or sold with the proceeds used to pay down the National Debt which is unsustainable at the current level of 20 trillion dollars. No studies need to be done because all of the details on how to successfully manage these lands are already available from the 38 other States that already do so.

Congress used to dispose of all lands it acquired by treaty or otherwise before the passage of the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976. After that Congress began to implement its current policy of retaining control of all public land.

Only three percent of the land east of the Mississippi River is controlled by the Federal Government while fifty percent of the land west of the Rocky Mountains remains under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. The total amount of land controlled by the Federal Government in the West is bigger than the size of most countries in the world, and the disparity between Western States and Eastern States is continuing to grow with attempts to federalize even more land such as the current proposal to make another national monument in Malheur County next to the one that already exists in Harney County. This disparity between eastern States and western States violates the Equal Footing Principle that was supposed to be applied to western States as they entered the Union.

What follows is a table of western States with their dates of admittance to the Union and the amount of land controlled by the Federal government in each State:

 

                              Table

1)            California        1850        45% owned by the Federal government

2)            Oregon            1859        53% owned by the Federal government

3)            Nevada            1864       85% owned by the Federal government

4)            Colorado            1876      37% owned by the Federal government

5)            Montana           1889      30% owned by the Federal government

6)         Washington        1889       35% owned by the Federal government

7)           Wyoming           1890      42% owned by the Federal government

8)            Idaho                    1890      50% owned by the Federal government

9)            Utah                      1896   57% owned by the Federal government

10)          Arizona                 1912    48% owned by the Federal government

11)          New Mexico         1912   41% owned by the Federal government

12)          Alaska                    1959   69% owned by the Federal government

 

The occupation of California and Oregon started before the Civil War. The occupation of Nevada began during the Civil War, and the occupation of nine other Western States began shortly after the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War. During the same time the Federal Government also occupied the Southern States. The occupation of America didn’t end when Federal troops pulled out of the South.  The focus of Washington’s occupation only shifted from the South to the West. It’s now time for the occupation of Western States to come to an end too.

 

Corroborating Sources

http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/291-federal-lands-in-the-us

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