Jury Selection Begins in the Trials of Seven Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Defendants.
By Scott Michael Rohter, September 2016
Dateline: September 12th, Portland Oregon
Opening arguments begin this week in the trials of Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of the remaining co-defendants who are accused of conspiracy to impede Federal officers in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The so called “occupation” lasted for 41 days.
In a surprise move by prosecutors just before the trial began, all of the charges against another defendant, Pete Santilli were dropped, but Mr. Santilli will remain in Federal custody until his other trial in Nevada begins later this year or early next year on similar charges relating to his involvement in the BLM standoff at the Bundy Ranch.
Why weren’t the charges against Pete Santilli dropped over seven months ago? Why did the government wait until the last minute to dismiss the conspiracy charges against him? The reason is obvious. The government wanted to punish the internet journalist for his positive news coverage of the occupation of the Refuge from the point of view of the defendants and their supporters. The government did this by locking him up for seven and a half months until his trial. That is not justice.. That is revenge.
The government’s decision to hold all of the defendants in pre-trial custody before they have their day in court violates a very important principle of American jurisprudence. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and unless the government can show proof that they are a flight risk or represent a danger to the community they have the right to the presumption of innocence and to be free on bail pending their trial.
I was present at the pretrial hearing on the motion to release Ammon and Ryan Bundy on bail. I heard government prosecutors argue that the accused men should be denied the presumption of innocence because they had firearms at the Refuge. The Obama Justice Department is making a complete and total mockery of our laws, and by cooperating with them so is this trial judge. Meanwhile President Obama travels to other countries and lectures them about their human rights record… He shouldn’t be lecturing the leaders of other countries about their human rights record as long as his own Justice Department is incarcerating innocent Americans without trial, without bail, and without the presumption of innocence.
The trials of Ammon and Ryan Bundy and the remaining five defendants will take place in one of the most liberal cities in America, Portland Oregon. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting which routinely blankets the State with its progressive propaganda so much so that most Portland residents can’t think either clearly or rationally anymore, neither the facts of this case nor the charges involved are in dispute. It is from a pre-selected pool of these brainwashed individuals that Ammon and Ryan Bundy have the difficult task of choosing a jury of their peers… the men and women who will actually decide their fate.
The truth of the matter is that everything about this trial is actually in dispute. The facts are in dispute. The charges are in dispute, and the Federal government’s policy of owning and controlling half of the land in America west of the Rocky Mountains is in dispute. It has always been in dispute ever since the Federal Land Policy Management Act was passed by Congress in 1976. This changed the way that Congress administers America’s public lands. Everything in the trial is in dispute and it is critical to understand this because it is why the Bundy’s came to Oregon in the first place where 53% of the land is controlled by the by the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service. This is why the Bundy’s decided to stage a peaceful occupation of a deserted Wildlife Refuge in the middle of winter, in the middle of nowhere, when no one was even there. The Bundy’s came here after two Oregon ranchers who had already served their time in jail for burning weeds on their land were re-incarcerated and forced to spend another five more years in a Federal Penitentiary.
Whether or not Dwight and Stephen Hammond were prosecuted under an anti-terrorist act or they were not as U.S. District Attorney for the State of Oregon, Billy Williams claims is not the point. The point is that Federal prosecutors had the discretion whether or not to prosecute the Hammonds in the first place and if so under what statute they were going to do it.. They had prosecutorial discretion, and the statute they chose to prosecute the Hammonds under (18 USC Sec 844 F1) carries a mandatory minimum of five years in jail which the original trial judge, Michael Hogan characterized as a gross miscarriage of justice which “shocks the conscience”. When the Obama Justice Department appealed his decision and put the Hammonds back in jail for an additional five years, that set into motion the circumstances which led to the occupation of the Malheur Natl. Wildlife Refuge.
For as long as the occupation trial lasts Oregon Public Broadcasting will be broadcasting a daily podcast designed to confuse and confound its listeners. Their podcast is called THIS LAND IS OUR LAND. It is a cheap ploy on words. What they really mean is that 53% of the State of Oregon belongs to the Federal Government and it should be managed by Congress. Oregon does not belong to Congress. It belongs to Oregonians.
All of the land in Oregon which is not privately owned really belongs to the people of Oregon, and it is the Oregon Legislature’s job to decide what to do with it and how to administer it… It is not the job of Congress, but our State legislature is weak and it is controlled by Democrats. Fifty three percent of the land in Oregon was taken away by the Federal government when Oregon became a State through the Enabling Act. This theft violates both the TAKINGS CLAUSE and the EQUAL FOOTING PRINCIPLE by which all new States were supposed to be admitted to the Union on the same basis as all of the other States.
Not only are the facts of this case in dispute and the charges in dispute, and the Federal government’s policy of managing 700 million acres of State land in dispute, but even the very definition of the word conspiracy is in dispute. The word conspiracy comes from the root word conspire. It is defined by Webster as “to join in a secret agreement.” Whether a conspiracy is intended to do good or evil is actually irrelevant. You can commit a conspiracy to do either good or to do evil, but there has to be an element of secrecy. The government is trying to claim that the men who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were doing things in secret and committed to doing evil. These men believe in the Constitution, and they believe that the government should follow the Constitution. Unfortunately our Nation’s leaders in Washington haven’t really wanted to follow the Constitution for many years. That is the problem.
The government wants to re-define the word conspiracy for the purpose of this trial as something that occurs whenever two people decide to break the law… but by that definition they are the ones who are actually guilty of a conspiracy, and the Supreme Court which doesn’t follow the Constitution is guilty of conspiracy, and of course the Obama Administration which likes to pick and chose what parts of the Constitution it will follow is also guilty of conspiracy. The element of secrecy is always there as Congressmen and Senators, and judges, and even the President with his pen and phone and his advisors deliberate in private on how to circumvent the Constitution and rewrite the laws of this land with total disregard to the Supreme law of this land.
In contrast there was never any element of secrecy involved in anything that the Bundys did during their occupation of the Refuge… Everything they did was in front of the television cameras and was instantly broadcast around the world for everyone to see. Words have meanings. The government prosecutors cannot simply change the definition of a conspiracy to suit themselves.
In order to constitute a conspiracy secrecy must be present and without the intent to do harm no one would waste any time prosecuting someone. Neither of these things was ever present during the 41 day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge so all of the defendants should be acquitted on the charge of conspiracy. There was no intent to do harm and this is obvious from the fact that although some of the occupiers did have firearms, none of them ever used their firearms even when they were fired upon. The only people that fired shots were the FBI and the Oregon State police. That demonstrates the true intent of the defendants so the charge of conspiracy should have never been filed.