Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Malheur "Occupiers" Meet The Definition of Domestic Terrorists, Seditionists, and Religious Militants, So Why Are They Being Tolerated?

Three days ago, armed men broke into and took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, but so far our government hasn't done a single thing about it.  I believe that part of the problem is the way these people are being referred to.

Writer Christian Drake said it best in the title of his Jan 3 article:  "Why the Hell Are Our News Media Whitewashing Domestic Terrorism in Oregon?"  Over and over I am seeing these militants referred to as "occupiers," "protesters," or "ranchers."  Some articles have called them "militia," at least, which is closer to the heart of the matter.
"We're not terrorists; we just want what any true
patriot wants: to take down the United States of America."

(from the New Yorker)

While it's true that they are occupying the buildings there, and some may be ranchers, make no mistake about it:  this is not just some sit-in protest, like the Occupy Movement, with citizens peacefully sitting or standing, unarmed, and waving signs.  If that were the case, I imagine this would be a whole different scene that garnered some public sympathy.  No, this is something much more ominous.  You don't show up with guns and promise violence if removed, and then claim you are just peaceful protesters who "are not looking to hurt anyone."  

These militia men easily fit the definition of terrorists in the U.S. Code:

"Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics:
  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term "federal crime of terrorism" as an offense that:
  • Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
  • Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).
These Bundy militia men arrived, armed, with the stated intention of killing or being killed and to have a violent conflict if law enforcement tried to remove them.  Just today, they tweeted "We have remained peaceful. If the authorities raid us unnecessarily we can't guarantee that continues. We are prepared to defend ourselves." (and then he had the gall to compare himself to Rosa Parks!).

They violated federal law by breaking in and occupying.  They have taken up armed strategic positions, including in a watch tower.  And their stated intention is to coerce the government into changing its policies and dissolving the entire wildlife refuge.  With all that in mind, they meet the criteria of "domestic terrorists."  If they fire a single shot, the self-defined "patriots" will also be committing a "federal crime of terrorism" and an act of insurrection.

The acts of these militia men also fit the definition of sedition, according to U.S. Code (highlighting added):

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both". 
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808; July 24, 1956, ch. 678, § 1, 70 Stat. 623; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(N), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.) 
I would hardly call a seditious act representative of "patriots," would you?

Finally, the title of "militants" certainly applies, as well.  The term "militant" is defined as follows:
mil·i·tant ˈmilətənt/• adj. combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods: an uprising by militant Islamic fundamentalists.• n. a person who is active in this way.
Given that they have shown up armed and willing to die and engage in violence if confronted, for their political cause, and are certainly confrontational, I'd say they fit this definition precisely.

Finally, they are religious extremists.  A number of these militants have stated that they have undertaken this occupation for religious reasons.  

It turns out that the Bundy family and many of their militia at the Malheur headquarters are adherents to a particularly extremist form of Mormonism.  One referred to himself as "Captain Moroni," a reference to a Mormon figure who specialized in weapons and battle strategy and who wanted to overthrow his government in the name of freedom.  From the article:

The man identifying as Captain Moroni said he was inspired by the call, and that the inspiration was validated by God in the form of a flock of geese he saw flying. 
I just knew it was the right thing [to come to Oregon]," Captain Moroni said. "I'm willing to die here."
The Bundy's had previously couched their prior standoff with the government in religious terms, and have continued to do so with this standoff.  Ryan Bundy has stated about his role in the Malheur takeover, "My Mormonism plays a large part in what I do … the biggest part.”  His brother, Ammon Bundy, has stated:
“I got this urge that I needed write something,” Bundy said. “I asked the good Lord…I need some help. And he gave me that help. The Lord is not pleased what has happened with the Hammonds.”
Ammon also stated in a YouTube call to arms, "I did exactly what the Lord asked me to do."  And further said in that video:
"I began to understand how the Lord felt about the Hammonds," Bundy says in the video. "I began to understand how the Lord felt about Harney County and about this country. And I clearly understood that the Lord was not pleased with what was happening to the Hammonds…. If we allowed the Hammonds to continue to be punished, there would be accountability."
I would like to ask him how, exactly, the Lord told him this.  Did he call him up on the phone?  A booming voice in his head?  A dream?  Or did he, like "Captain Moroni," read omens in the actions of geese?  It says a lot about Bundy's beliefs that he thinks God approves of arming yourself and preparing to kill police as part of a militant takeover of federal buildings.

The Mormon Church, by the way, has issued a statement condemning these extremists, stating:

While the disagreement occurring in Oregon about the use of federal lands is not a Church matter, Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis. We are privileged to live in a nation where conflicts with government or private groups can — and should — be settled using peaceful means, according to the laws of the land.
But apparently these "devout Mormons" prefer to ignore the statements of their own church leaders.  Thus they are extremists even by the definition of their own religious leaders.  A prominent Mormon writer and theologian agrees with those church leaders.

My understanding is that the United States Government does not negotiate or tolerate terrorists, domestic or foreign.  So why haven't they yet taken any action against these extremists??  People are still coming and going without being blocked, supplying these militants with food and supplies.  The militia is still in full contact with the press and the public and the internet.  And they still have electricity, water, and phones (though that may change soon).  As far as I can tell, the most the Government has done is "monitor" the situation and issue a statement by the District Attorney, as well as some statements against them by lawmakers.  At least the county sheriff has issued a statement urging the militia, in the nicest of terms, to please leave.  A call that has been roundly ignored.

These men said they were there for the Hammonds, until the Hammonds told them they weren't wanted.  Then the militia changed their story and said they would leave if the community wanted them to.  But they have ignored the very apparent calls from the community to leave.  Nearly a dozen schools in the area are closed for the entire week out of fear of these extremists.  You'd think that might be an obvious signal to them, certainly more obvious than reading the intentions of the Lord through flying geese.  So now they have changed their story again, saying that “The purpose of this whole thing is getting people excited. And (the people in Harney County) are excited that this is taking place" and to educate residents "so they'll come on to our side."  I don't think so.  It seems to me their only motive is to get attention in as dramatic style as possible, like some tantruming toddler, and to terrorize the nation.

The government's lack of action is only emboldening the militia at Malheur, as well as other militia groups, such as the one in Eugene that is distributing militant propaganda fliers.

And now these militia have brought children onto the compound!  Given that these militants have stated an intention to kill or be killed and to react violently if someone tries to remove them, I can only imagine that they are using these children as human shields.  Is this something our government should tolerate, as well??

So how do you label these people?  A poll by the Washington Post has 70% of responders labeling them as "terrorists" and "extremists."  So why don't our media and government?

The Bundy Militia has a long history of violence and intimidation.  It's long past time to stop tolerating these seditionists and criminals.  I urge our law enforcement to take immediate action.  Blockade the compound and stop anyone from going in to supply and enable these militants.  Cut off their electricity, water, and phone.  Stop giving them a podium to spew their extremist views.  And insist they give up peaceably and submit to arrest and trial.  These are domestic terrorists.  Treat them that way!

ADDENDUM:  A related article, by an international security analyst and military historian, Tom Mockaitis, disputing the term "militia" for these domestic terrorists.

Also, as demonstrated in an interview, Ammon Bundy doesn't even understand the definition of the word "terrorism" or how it applies to him and his actions.