This article originally ran on LewRockwell.com on April 21.
The Federal response will definitely come. It will likely be in three areas, two of which don’t involve the Bundys specifically. First, a multifaceted attack will be made on the Bundys; second, a broad-front regulatory response against other land users will be made for the purpose of retaliation against the whole group and as a deterrent; and third, new provocateur deployments will probably be made across the West into similar situations.
The attack on the Bundys will be planned to be large enough so as to not fail, since precedents are being considered by the Feds. To give an historical example, the precedent of voluntary militias forming in the 1990s as a Constitutional concept in lieu of standing armies was effectively derailed for 20 years when the whole movement was painted as obscene by multiple Federal law enforcement agencies intensely targeting them, or anything that looked like them, while prosecuting a PR campaign in conjunction with the sycophant mass media in the wake of the provocateured Oklahoma City fiasco.
There is the possibility that doors will be smashed down in the darkness of early morning raids for all the Bundy family members, supporters and ranch hands. There is the possibility that plants are feigning inside knowledge at this very moment and are seated with prosecutors scrolling through video and pointing out participants and ascribing statements or actions to them. Such violent raids on houses and places of business targeting these designated domestic terrorists represent one possibility. If that happens, it probably won’t be immediate. The following factors all affect the timeline for the response, which I estimate to be in about three weeks, give or take a week or two.
The most likely first step for the violent option involves the impaneling of a grand jury that will be brought along slowly with presentations by government “experts” giving sensational overviews of generic un-American activities, terrorist groups and right-wing extremists. All of the activity involving the grand jury will be officially in “secret.” PowerPoint presentations will be made to the grand jury showing pipe bombs, smoking buildings and Nazi symbolism. It will be blatantly prejudicial to the eventual case presented for indictment, but there is no “other side” in this process to object. There is just a prosecutor, government agents and the grand jury eating doughnuts in a little room. Period. The massaging of the jury’s mindset is done long before they are shown case-specific information. This process can go on for a week. It is not adversarial. It is a one-sided show. There is no defense. It is designed to paint a picture of a general evil class of people. It’s kind of like the process used to get police cadets ready to shoot people. There is no danger that the grand jurors will ever be identified by the Bundys or feel any guilt from having to face those they bravely accuse.
Next, with the extent of the balderdashing that needs to be done to the grand jury to obfuscate the truth in this case, the prosecutor will need another week of ominous head-nodding alongside the agent witnesses’ general summarizing of the evil network masterminded by the Bundys. That puts us at two weeks. Then, the grand jury would be asked to give a “true bill,” an indictment. The grand jury always indicts if asked to do so. Always, always, always. Because if they don’t, they are dismissed and another one is impaneled until the indictment is handed down. The warrants on the indictment will then be issued by the Federal magistrate by the following week.
And finally, the law enforcement agencies need a few days to draw up plans, print out Google Earth photos of all the target locations, bring in temporary duty support from other Federal agencies, assemble for briefings, give out team assignments and pick a date to execute search warrants and arrest warrants. All of that puts us at three weeks. The three weeks also gives a period of apparent peace and quiet. It will be hoped that this quiet period will cause any supporters to give up and go home. Agents from other agencies will be enticed, probably with notices going out right now, to volunteer for an all-expense-paid week living on the Las Vegas strip at taxpayer expense enjoying wine, women and song at a premier hotel. This is one of the possible approaches against the Bundys.
Another possibility will be considered by agency heads who are reviewing the news coverage, the iconic images of cowboys waving flags displaying historic “American” individualism and the favorable reaction by much of the public to the visible stand taken by Bundy supporters. This possibility would probably begin to slowly go into effect along the same three-week timeline as the smash-and-grab scenario above. This one may involve the grand jury also, but as an “investigative tool.” While a grand jury is “investigating” a suspect or a “criminal organization,” unlimited secret subpoenas may be issued for anything. No other reason for the subpoena is needed other than the fact that the grand jury is investigating something. Anything and everything will be scarfed up. The Feds will get financial information, phone information and witnesses who will be compelled to testify or be incarcerated if they refuse to testify. There is no “I stand on the 5th” when the grand jury asks you about something. You will be held in contempt merely for refusing to testify when in front of a grand jury. No day in court. No due process. No good time. No parole. No probation. You are locked up as a grand jury witness until you change your mind and decide to go along with the government.
Ex-parte orders would be obtained to obtain Internal Revenue Service records for all involved. Asset forfeiture orders for substitute assets could be obtained that would identify Bundy or supporter assets and forfeit those assets to the government in lieu of supposed specific losses sustained by the government from unpaid grazing fees or other claimed damages or from an estimated value of the illegal proceeds of the criminal activity (ranching). These designated substitute assets may have no identifiable connection to the asset classes designated as losses or as illegal income by the government. Money laundering charges could be filed for “conversion” of “illegally obtained” assets or income.
Archived call data or live “pen registers” may be obtained to make conspiracy connections within the “criminal organization.” Wiretaps may be initiated, although this would be more time consuming and would lead to jury-sympathetic recorded conversations with fewer co-conspirator and criminal hierarchy connections than those that could be manufactured by experts analyzing the call data with link charts to be shown to a jury.
This alternate slower attack against the Bundys would be the nickel-and-dime approach that would result in service of seizure orders to banks and persons. Seizure notices would be posted on residential or business property accompanied by lis pendens filings recorded at the county courthouse against those properties. Notices would be mailed out. Administrative or judicial forfeiture action would commence against personal assets depending on value thresholds. Bank accounts would be frozen and then drained. People would be detained individually when they went shopping away from their homes to avoid video clips of militarized Feds attacking the houses of ordinary Americans in military operations. Businesses and vehicles would be seized over time. Cars would be grabbed when driven away from home when the owners were alone in their vehicles so as to not precipitate a defensive response from supporters.
Both of these types of attacks on the Bundys would likely involve the task force concept where multiple agencies would be brought in to confer and participate in either the slow or fast takedown of the Bundys and their livelihood. The other three-letter agencies would likely be tapped to lend equipment, manpower, administrative authority or proprietary investigative techniques to wage the good fight against the hard-working American cowboys and their loyal families.
The most likely response will involve the above techniques in a hybrid operation with the sheriff’s office or Nevada State authorities. Up to half of current Federal agency prosecutions are done through county prosecutor offices or the offices of State attorneys general. The Federal prosecutors don’t object, since their resources haven’t always kept up with the expansion of Federal law enforcement agencies. They are all too happy to see a Federal law enforcement agency prosecute a case, or parts of a case, through State and county channels when similar laws exist on the Federal and State sides. Charging the core case via the county or State would be somewhat complex in this situation, however, since the base charges are primarily Federal in nature regarding lands that the Feds have proclaimed off-limits to various citizen and resident uses. That wouldn’t be a stopper, though.
Cliven Bundy has indicated that he would surrender or submit to justice if the sheriff was the one making the request on behalf of the county or State. It is likely that the Feds will approach the sheriff and suggest that he be part of the face of leviathan when Bundy is approached with a combination of charges. The Feds will pressure the county and State authorities to come up with a few token charges that could be dovetailed with the Federal charges so that a county warrant, summons, writ or subpoena could be presented by a local officer tacitly or overtly working with the Feds. Local officers are quite often deputized with Federal authority for the duration of a certain case or longer. Once the Bundy case is in the State system, criminally or civilly, the State charges could then be dropped or held in abeyance while county authorities defer to Federal prosecutors awaiting the outcome of the Federal case.
Aside from the Bundy family, all other ranchers will likely be punished by the Feds via enhanced regulatory interventions in response to the actions on display in Nevada. This is common fare as a mechanism to teach the public to not mimic others who are standing up for themselves. U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management staff will be told at the headquarters level to crack down on ranchers in general and to give no quarter when dealing with “grazing permits” and “grazing fees.” The continual downward trend for the number of cattle allowed on historical grazing lands (i.e., “Federal allotments”) will be announced to ranchers during their recurring annual grazing permit meetings with the Feds. The continually reduced allotments will be enforced with vigor to teach the rancher scum a lesson. My family has had to deal for generations with perpetually reduced livestock “allowances” on grazing lands in Arizona, along with the more recent “endangered species” excuse to stomp on the land and water rights of ranchers who willingly maintain infrastructure that benefits both livestock and wildlife at no taxpayer expense. This happens and will continue to happen on both private deeded ranching land and on historical grazing “permit” lands used by ranchers for generations that were beyond the acreage amounts permitted for official deeded homesteading claims. (By the way, these grazing “permits” on specific land parcels with their documented historical homestead linkages convey and are bought and sold just like other real estate.)
The final likely type of general response by the Feds will be a chaotic, unpredictable deployment of provocateurs throughout the West trying to simulate the crisis presented in this trendy new visible law enforcement category. More visible crises are needed to allow Fox News and CNN to delineate between the good guys (the police state) and the bad guys (ranchers). Attempts will be made to catch evil ranchers operating their ranches while scheming, in recorded conversations, to keep operating their ranches despite growing opposition by the Feds to the presence of ranchers. That won’t work since cowboys are wary and hard to trap, so provocateurs will try to find a bozo in a cowboy hat and suggest to him, after he consumes a 12-pack purchased by the provocateur, that the drunk pretend cowboy and his newfound friend should have some fun and smash some turtles out in the desert. The Feds would then save us from that fate just on the cusp of it occurring with Federal planning, financing and taxpayer-purchased plastic turtle props. It would be made clear in press releases that no real turtles were harmed, lest we worry. The Federal press releases for this activity would be glorious and be seen by most being read verbatim by a horrified network newsreader tossing her hair incredulously while sports scores scroll underneath the screen. A hammer over a turtle outline could be the graphic floating next to the newsreader’s head.
Or attempts may be made to paint a rancher as evil by trying to compile statistics of drug loads arriving in the interior of the U.S. that Federal experts would suggest must have traversed the rancher’s land, proving unequivocally that the rancher can’t manage the grazing land as effectively as armed Federal bureaucrats who will keep us safe from beef cattle on that land and other productive uses. These actions will all increase to prove that the Feds will not be dictated to.
Although I cheer for the Bundys and applaud the courage of their sweet family, my heart would much rather see them running now and hiding out in a freer country like Mexico as opposed to becoming a decimated family of martyrs ravaged by the state.