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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/10/16

A Very Bad Idea in Oregon

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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

Hammond Protest in Oregon
Hammond Protest in Oregon
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To allow the Bundy brothers and their supporters to remain in control of a U.S. federal installation, fully armed, while federal law enforcement effectively does and says nothing, is a wide-open invitation to disaster.

The Obama administration's decision in March 2014 to withdraw federal personnel from the Bundy Ranch in Clark County, Nevada, laid the groundwork for the storming of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, that now unfolds. The folly of that decision was obvious then and the result is all too clear now. The current situation in Oregon is the direct consequence of inaction at the Bundy Ranch.

This approach to meeting a direct, armed challenge to federal authority is totally unprecedented in U.S. history. If you run once, you will run again. Right now this is a small cadre of disgruntled misfits. But if this ragtag self-appointed militia can back the Obama administration and federal law enforcement down again, this will absolutely become an emboldened movement.

The Obama administration's handling of this situation is not only dangerously short-sighted but also racist. By treating the armed white protesters as different and somehow more equal than protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, or Oakland, California, or on Wall Street, President Obama and all of federal law enforcement bow down to, actually facilitate, armed white supremacy.

Fear of a Waco or Ruby Ridge repeat is absolutely no rationale whatsoever for directing federal law enforcement to back down in the face of an armed takeover of an active federal installation. The situations in Waco and Ruby Ridge were totally different. No one at the Branch Davidian compound or the Weaver cabin sought a confrontation with federal law enforcement. The Bundys and their numerous, heavily-armed supporters do.

The longer the federal government waits to act, the more complicated and dangerous the situation becomes. Emboldened by the apparent success of the initial takeover in Oregon, additional armed supporters are arriving at the site. They are considering advanced military tactics that will make substantial bloodshed significantly more likely -- not less. If this force is allowed to continue to grow, supply, and fortify, dislodging them will require a full military confrontation.

The current position of the Justice Department is that they are allowing local law enforcement to handle it. That is absurd on its face. The Harney County Sheriff's Department is already totally outmanned and outgunned. They would have no chance whatsoever against this force, many of whose members are former military.

In any case, from a jurisdictional perspective it is not a state or local matter at all. It expressly falls within federal jurisdiction. The land is federal land, the subjects crossed numerous state lines to come to the site, and the facility under siege is a federal facility. Deferring to local authority under these circumstances has no basis in law whatsoever.

The risk of inaction greatly outweighs the risk of action. The lesson of Waco and Ruby Ridge is -- professionalism matters. Proceed with wisdom and good judgement. But proceed with resolve, before this situation reaches a critical mass that may dwarf the current problem.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News: http://www.readersupportednews.org

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