The trial of Nevada rancher and leader of the Sagebrush Rebellion, Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a co-defendant ended yesterday in a mistrial. Why? Because the government had lied out of its ass to the judge and hidden evidence that would have significantly aided the defense. In other words, in a legal system that has reframed “adversarial” to mean “win at any cost” the prosecutors decided to put Bundy away and they decided that a little perjury was no big deal. It was, as they say, a day ending in “y.”
I’m going to probably go a bit overboard here in my blockquote but there is so much violence done against the justice system that it needs to be repeated:
“The court does regrettably believe a mistrial in this case is the most suitable and only remedy,” U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro declared, issuing her ruling from the bench before a packed courtroom.
The judge listed six types of evidence that she said prosecutors deliberately withheld before trial, including information about the presence of an FBI surveillance camera on a hill overlooking the Bundy ranch and documents about U.S. Bureau of Land Management snipers outside the ranch.
The others were maps, an FBI log with entries about snipers on standby, threat assessments that indicated the Bundys weren’t violent and that the Bureau of Land Management was trying to provoke a conflict by antagonizing them and nearly 500 pages of internal affairs documents involving lead bureau special agent Dan Love, since fired from the agency.
The material, the judge found, would bolster the defense stance that defendant Ryan Payne put a call out for support because the Bundys feared they were surrounded by snipers and felt isolated in early April 2014 before the standoff with federal rangers and officers on April 12, 2014. The federal officers were carrying out a court-ordered roundup of Bundy cattle for failure to pay grazing fees and fines for two decades.
The information also would help refute the government’s indictment that alleged the defendants used deceit to draw supporters by “falsely” contending snipers were posted around the ranch.
Think about this for just a moment. The Bundys were being accused of lying about the presence of government snipers around their ranch in order to rally support. There were snipers around the ranch. The government lied about the snipers to the court. And the prosecutors were perfectly willing to send four men to prison for a crime they knew was fraudulent.
“The failure to turn over such evidence violates due process,” the judge said.
No, sh**, Sherlock.
Prosecutors had belittled Ryan Bundy’s pretrial motion for information on the “mysterious” devices outside the family ranch in 2014 as “fantastical” and a “fishing expedition,” the judge noted. The government willfully withheld a March 28, 2014, law enforcement operation order and an FBI report that showed there was an FBI camera trained on the Bundy home for surveillance.
The FBI’s SWAT team put the camera up, repaired it and monitored a live feed from it. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was aware of this, the judge said, and didn’t share information about the camera until the defense heard a witness confirm its presence.
“The government falsely represented the camera that was on the Bundy house was incidental, not purposeful,” the judge said.
The judge also found prosecutors withheld a March 3, 2015, FBI report that identified a Bureau of Land Management agent in tactical gear and carrying an AR-15 rifle outside the family ranch on April 5 and April 6, 2014.
In addition, she cited an FBI log with entries that said “snipers were inserted” and on standby outside the Bundy home. Three entries in the log mentioned snipers present, Navarro noted. Prosecutors claimed they were unaware of the log at first because it was kept on a thumb drive in a tactical vehicle.
“The government is still responsible for information from the investigating agency. The FBI chose not to disclose it,” Navarro said.
That, coupled with “the government’s strong insistence at prior trials that there were no snipers,” convinced her the withholding of the sniper evidence was done knowingly.
And even though the government’s own threat assessments didn’t see the Bundys as a risk for armed confrontation, the allegation they were a threat was used in court.
She also cited at least four threat assessments that indicated the Bundys likely wouldn’t use violence, “would get in your face” but not engage in a shootout, and that the Bureau of Land Management was antagonizing the family “trying to provoke a conflict.” The threat evaluations were made by the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism unit, the FBI Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Gold Buttle Cattle Impound Risk Assessment and the Bureau of Land Management law enforcement arm between 2011 and 2015.
And the Bundy grazing permits were cancelled based on fraud.
The judge further identified 493 pages of internal affairs documents on BLM agent Love that said there were no documented injuries to endangered desert tortoises by cattle grazing on the federal land. That’s the reason the federal land agency sought to curtail the senior Bundy’s grazing permit in 1993 and limit the number of cattle on public land.
This only came to light because one of the Bundy’s attorneys got a letter from a whistleblower. Had this not happened, four guys would have received long prison terms based on blatant fraud. The sad part of the story is that the prosecutors and every federal agent involved in this will skate where, in a just world, they should be liable for the same prison sentence they would have given the defendants.
Crap like this is why I don’t trust anyone who can take my property or put me in jail or kill me. This kind of thing is why I think the scrutiny being given the Mueller investigation, the FBI, and the Justice Department is not only proper but very necessary if we are to remain citizens and not subjects.