Thursday, July 31, 2014

News: Public Lands: DHS reports BLM's Bundy Ranch retreat will 'embolden' extremist militia

DHS Sec. Johnson with Pres. Obama & VP Biden.
Phil Taylor, E&E reporter
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014
 
The Bureau of Land Management's retreat from an armed confrontation with protesters during its roundup of cows in Bunkerville, Nev., will inspire more anti-government violence in the coming year, according to a new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security.

The July 22 assessment from DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis also found the United States has experienced a spike in anti-government violence or plots over the past several months compared with previous years, fueled, in part, by the perception that armed militia were victorious at Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch, the assessment warned.

The assessment highlighted three incidents since April that appear to be connected to the events in Bunkerville, including the gunning down of two Las Vegas police officers, a threat that Texas militiamen will "exterminate" federal officials who attempt a "land grab," and discussions by a Missouri-based militia movement about attacking federal convoys or helicopters it believed could be used to raid Bundy's ranch.

Information in the unclassified assessment was deemed “law enforcement sensitive” and “not to be released” to the public or media. A spokesperson for DHS did not immediately verify its authenticity this morning.

"The belief among militia extremists that their threats and show of force against the BLM during the April Bunkerville standoff was a defining victory over government oppression is galvanizing some individuals -- particularly militia extremists and violent lone offenders -- to actively confront law enforcement officials, increasing the likelihood of violence," the assessment states. "This perceived success will likely embolden other militia extremists and like-minded lone offenders to attempt to replicate these confrontational tactics and force future armed standoffs with law enforcement and government officials in 2014."

The assessment was released this morning by the government watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER.

It comes weeks after the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that monitors hate groups, came to a similar conclusion that the Bundy standoff could inspire more violence against the government (E&ENews PM, July 11).

According to the DHS report, the spike in anti-government violence and plots since last November is a "departure" from previous years and is driven by perceived government restrictions on gun use, land and property, the assessment said.

Some violent incidents appear to be inspiring future attacks, it said. For example, the husband and wife accused of shooting the two Las Vegas police officers in June left a note explaining that the attack was the start of a "revolution" and a "new day."

"Though the initial tipping point or cause of this spike in violence remains unclear ... some of these incidents are likely intended to inspire additional violent attacks, resulting in a greater rate of attacks than in the prior four years," the assessment found.

The office has recorded five such incidents of anti-government violence or arrests for violent plotting since last November, compared with just three incidents in the prior 46 months.

PEER blasted BLM's retreat at Bunkerville.

"Like pumping [bellows] onto a smoldering ember, Interior's retreat in Nevada this spring, abetted by related reckless political rhetoric, appears to be encouraging and empowering dangerous right-wing extremists," said a statement by PEER Southwest Director Daniel Patterson, who formerly worked for BLM. "This is a form of domestic terrorism which demands a swift, clear and definitive response."

BLM said it stood down in the Bundy standoff to protect its employees and the public and that it still intends to bring Bundy to justice for illegally grazing his cows.

But its decision to cancel the roundup triggered criticism, particularly among environmentalists, over the signal it sent to other states' rights advocates who disagree with the agency's land-management policies.

In May, a Utah county commissioner openly flouted BLM's closure of Recapture Canyon to motorized vehicles by leading an all-terrain vehicle protest ride. Though the ride had been planned before the Bundy incident, it was seen as another illustration of BLM's limitations in enforcing federal land laws.

No arrests were made or citations issued in the Recapture ride.

- from Greenwire

Extremist militias on rise in US. DHS assessment uncovered by PEER finds inaction on Bundy stand-off likely to spur more violence

Militia man on I-15 aims at US officers in Nevada, April 2014
LAS VEGAS — The failure to effectively address anti-government extremists is making matters more dangerous, according to a new federal law enforcement assessment released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The assessment predicts that the “perceived victory” by renegade rancher Cliven Bundy in his stand-off with the government is “likely to prompt more violence.”

An Intelligence Assessment from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security dated July 22, 2014, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Officials and Law Enforcement,” notes that, “After years of only sporadic violence from violent domestic extremists motivated by anti-government ideologies, I&A (Office of Intelligence and Analysis) has seen a spike within the past year in violence. Based upon reports from state and federal law enforcement reports, this Assessment finds:

  • “I&A assesses that perceived victory by militia extremists in a show of force against the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada in April will likely inspire additional anti-government violence over the next year.”
  • “I&A also assesses that the recent murders of two Las Vegas police officers is the latest and most severe in a growing trend of anti-government violence…” and
  • The “perceived victory” from the Bundy stand-off “is galvanizing some individuals – particularly militia extremists and violent lone offenders – to actively confront law enforcement officials, increasing the likelihood of violence.” 

“Like pumping billows onto a smoldering ember, Interior's retreat in Nevada this spring, abetted by related reckless political rhetoric, appears to be encouraging and empowering dangerous right-wing extremists,” said PEER Southwest Director Daniel Patterson, who formerly worked with BLM. “This is a form of domestic terrorism which demands a swift, clear and definitive response.”

The Assessment stressed that law enforcement officers will be primary targets of militia attacks since they are perceived “as an extension of state control.” As with the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building, government facilities are also at enhanced risk.

“The law enforcement assessment suggests that timidity in the face of threats only breeds more threats,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Without a cogent enforcement strategy, we can expect more armed confrontations putting both public servants and civilians at greater risk.”

BLM has taken no further action since it backed down this past April from an armed confrontation with militias seeking to prevent seizure of Bundy’s cattle illegally grazing on federal lands. PEER has been pushing for criminal charges against Bundy and militia snipers who targeted law enforcement officers. In addition, PEER is suing BLM to force release of information explaining its actions and why the situation was allowed to fester for years, as well as statistics on assaults against its employees.

- adapted from PEER.org