Public employees group says, “Oregon Refuge Standoff Latest Extremist Jihad”

Public Employees for Environment Responsibility (PEER) news release “Federal Inaction for 19 Months on Bundy Spawns More Militia Confrontations”

Washington, DC —This week’s armed seize of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by self-styled “militia” stems from the lack of a coherent response to earlier confrontations with anti-government extremists, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), pointing to a threat assessment from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The failure by the federal government to take any action following the April 2014 armed stand-off with renegade rancher Cliven Bundy was seen by his supporters as a victory and encouraged his sons and other followers to stage similar clashes.

“Rather than abating conflict, the federal hands-off approach has backfired and enables the Bundy clan to franchise a ‘Militia McDonalds,’” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting the current “call to arms” to spread resistance against “federal tyranny.” “In Nevada, federal authorities have ceded a 200-square mile militarized zone on national park and range lands as a staging ground for further operations to challenge the legitimacy of public ownership.”

The July 22, 2014 Homeland Security assessment entitled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Officials and Law Enforcement,” correctly predicted that 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.”  The assessment also linked the murder of two Las Vegas police officers to this effect.

The rationale for the Malheur Refuge armed takeover by the Bundy brothers and their confederates has shifted somewhat but is now supposedly aimed at ending federal management because the refuge “is rightfully owned by the people.”  This self-proclaimed liberation of public land is ironic in that:

  • The refuge is now completely closed to the public due to the continued presence of “an unknown number of armed individuals,” according to the refuge website;
  • The Bundys envision a capitalist outpost rather than a proletariat of the people, saying they want the refuge for private and for-profit uses, especially for “ranching, logging, mining and recreation” without any oversight or limit; and
  • The refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds” at a crucial stop along the Pacific Flyway.  It is not clear how migratory waterfowl figure into the Bundy vision or what they have to do with combating “the terrorism that the federal government is placing upon the people.”

“This armed takeover should be treated as a terrorist act designed to spread fear in the community,” added Ruch, pointing to the Secretary of Interior closing all nearby federal offices due to concern about employee safety; even local public schools are closed.  “Demanding public attention at the point of a gun is not the exercise of First Amendment rights but the actions of deluded wackos.”


Read the DHS threat assessment

View the closure of the Malheur Refuge

See Secretary Jewell’s closure notice




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  1. Berta Gutierrez Avatar
    Berta Gutierrez

    Where is the 200 sq mile area in Nevada that you mention and is there further reading on this?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Berta Gutierrez,

      Here is from the Wikipedia.

    2. rork Avatar

      I think that’s referring to areas near the Bundy’s ranch:

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Thanks Rork.

  2. Jack Wills Avatar
    Jack Wills

    I must agree with this article, and PEER. I knew that following the initial confrontation with the
    Bundy family and the “militia” and the government retreat, the group would be emboldened and find ways to strike again. I also believe that the right wing radio talk show hosts are partly responsible for inflaming the situation. I am from Oregon and have been to the refuge numerous times. It distresses me that this is occurring and I would like to see these people removed.

  3. snaildarter Avatar

    I have no doubt that bubba right Talk show guys are involved. I’m trying to remember how many years those kids got for burning those Global Warming Vehicles aka Hummers. I think they are still in jail. This is the same thing to me the sentences should have been the same

  4. JB Avatar

    “No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities. The First Amendment gives every …[citizen] the right to speak out – but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others – nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here…”

    Hey, does anyone remember when the peaceful liberal protesters were forcibly removed from occupying a park? And remember how the conservatives lined up to take potshots, saying things like “get a job” (N. Gingrich).

    Wonder what those conservative presidential hopefuls are saying now that the shoe is on the other foot? [Warning: This article contains extreme hypocrisy]

  5. Rita Verma Avatar
    Rita Verma

    We need wild life refuges. Humans have literally eaten some animals and birds out of existence. I don’t think these Oregonians are starving and need to occupy and feast on the wild life there, surly there are ample vegan, vegetarians eating options there!

    I hope the Federal Government will stop these looters quickly. If its Federal Land, its Federal Land – period. I don’t think there are any environmentalists in the militia. They keep talking about the “white ranchers” usurped rights; grazing (free) and water rights. Unfortunately, its a race issue as well.

    Everything else aside, those animals and birds living in that area, the plant species etc. need to be protected from for-profit exploiters – surly these people can find other means of making a living.

  6. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    So for everyone who wants the government to take action against a group that has yet done no bodily harm and has taken control of one building in a very rural and conservative community, you must be willing to have blood on your hands because that is a definite possibility. Then who do you think will be blamed for over re-acting and ultimately spread more hatred for the government. That is a lose-lose situation.

    There is a win-win situation; let the local community tell them to go home and no one gets hurt and they have had their message voiced. As for Bundy not paying his one million dollars in grazing fees and basically doing whatever he wants near his ranch, yes it stinks, but again is it worth bloodshed? Not in my view.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      Sigh. If they want a peaceful solution, it will be the first one by law enforcement in many months. Why so quiet on this one?

      As also a taxpayer, I want them to pay for anything they have damaged in the name of freedom. We’ve hear their gripe. Deduct it from one of their many gov’t giveaways and freebies, and everything else the government does to accommodate them for centuries, just like oil companies. It may have applied years ago, but it’s a different world today. GTFO.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        It’s a no-win situation. If something isn’t done, the government looks weak(er), or that they are in the pockets of these people, and probably both.

    2. OregonCoast Avatar

      Bundy now says his earlier statement about leaving the refuge if the locals wanted them to was taken out of context. They will not leave if Harney County wants them gone. Very disappointing news to wake up to. I take this as a sign they were expecting more support & are frustrated with the pace of things… They are being mercilessly mocked by the public at large, the government hasn’t come in guns a blazing. So far they are a small cold group of men sitting around a fire. That image doesn’t rally the “patriotic” spirit as much as they hoped. No doubt. Now is when to be worried, they’ll need to do or say something much more provocative to ignite the larger political movement they were hoping for. Luckily they are still a bit remote, ODOT has been ordered to leave the roads up there uncleared. The public should be kept out of harms way.

      1. Ida Lupines Avatar
        Ida Lupines

        Nobody wants to mock anybody, but we’re all stuck with each other now, and we all have to share the land fairly, with a deference given to our Native people first, I believe.

    3. Yvette Avatar

      Gary, the main reason I don’t want bloodshed is because these people want to become martyrs. I wish I could say I care about the Bundy’s and their ilk, but today I do not. I cannot think of the Bundy’s and what they’ve laws they’ve been allowed to break with no consequences and not think of Mary and Carrie Dunn. Did the BLM, Senator Reid or anyone else care about bloodshed had they of had a militia of armed warriors when you guys were seizing their livestock?

      From a NYT’s 2002 article:

      “This battle has gone on for 30 years, and the Danns have not given up yet, even though the government has seized hundreds of their cattle, sold the animals at auction, charged the sisters nearly $50,000 in fees and fined them $3 million for willful trespass.

      ”Trespass? Who the hell gave them the land anyway?” Mary Dann asked as she mended a fence on a windswept desert morning. ”When I trespass, it’s when I wander into Paiute territory.”

      Her sister Carrie said: ”I was indigenous and in one single evening they made me indigent. If you think the Indian wars are over, then think again.”

      “The government considers it public land, and to drive the point home, 40 agents from the Bureau of Land Management descended on the Danns’ ranch in September, heavily armed and fortified with helicopters, and confiscated 232 cattle, which were later sold.”

      “Once before, in 1992, federal agents came and confiscated Dann family livestock. A six-day standoff ensued, ending with their brother Clifford dousing himself in gasoline and threatening to light it. Clifford went to prison and went deaf, and 250 horses went to auction.”

      “The now-defunct Indian Claims Commission ruled in 1962 that the Shoshones had lost possession by gradual encroachment by settlers.

      ”Encroach what?” Carrie Dann wanted to know. ”There isn’t anybody living out here. Look around.”

      Isn’t that something? The American legal system says they lost all that land because of ‘encroachment’. 26 MILLION ACRES lost to ‘encroachment’.

      I can understand why people get angry with the feds. If I was Western Shoshone, and federal courts ruled we lost 26 million acres to encroachment and BLM was seizing my livestock, I’d be ready for war.

      I shake my head at the difference in the how the Bundy’s are treated (and never get charged and never go to prison) and how the Dann’s were treated.

      And all this without even covering the Malheur reservation; how it was seized for ‘encroachment’ after the Bannock uprising, which occurred in response to those ‘salt of the earth’ ranchers.

    4. Rich Avatar


      Cliven Bundy has already successfully commandeered a large chunk of public lands in Nevada for his personal use by arming himself and organizing vigilantes to protect his empire. Now his sons have commandeered additional public lands in Oregon for their purposes. Ammon and Ryan and friends seem to be happily ensconced in public buildings at Malheur NWF using public resources to live comfortably. In addition they indicate they will persist into the indefinite future unless all their demands are met including turning over other public lands to them and releasing some prisoners from jail. As long as these lands are being taken over by armed vigilantes what do you suggest to stop this behavior? Assuming we will never directly confront or use any strong arm tactics to return these lands to the public, what is the future for public lands anywhere if they can easily be commandeered in this manner?

      Obviously waiting for the Bundy family to peacefully surrender public lands they have controlled for some 20 years in Nevada has not worked. Just walking away and informally ceding these lands to armed vigilantes to avoid any current or future conflicts does not seem like a satisfactory long term solution either. What is your solution to return these lands to the public?

      1. Yvette Avatar

        +++++ Rich

  7. Ria Avatar

    Unfortunately, the local community appears to be supporting them so don’t count on them. The occupiers state that they have enough rations to last them for years to come – what are these rations if not the creatures at this refuge?

  8. Ria Avatar

    So, the land belongs to the Burns Piaute tribe(on moral grounds – its there ancestral) and then to the People of the United States; this means ALL the people of the United States, regardless of social class, wealth or race. We the People want them out. The Piaute tribe, whose SACRED land/ground it is want these armed self/special interest fellows out and so do the majority tax payers.

    Ref: link above.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Interesting pics from “ground zero” Jeff E.

      1. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        what i don’t get is why the power is not turned off.

        1. Immer Treue Avatar
          Immer Treue

          I read somewhere that there are some farms or ranches in the same grid. Don’t know how true that is though.

      2. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        ryan bundy looks like he is having a stroke

  9. Ida Lupines Avatar
    Ida Lupines

    I wanted to respond to OFN’s Horatio Alger view of the world where everyone can succeed if they just work hard enough.

    That does nothing to address unfulfilled obligations of our government centuries old to Native peoples, or reparations for forced assimilations and damage to culture and genocide. Some of these traumas are understandable barriers, as they have been for other people too. The dominant culture making the rules and having privilege makes this very difficult to understand, I believe.

    It really isn’t too late to address these things, and certainly we can concede some lands to the Native American tribes, or must we take everything? I know the President has said he will before he leaves office, but there isn’t much time left and not much has been done. Throwing money at the problem to make it go away, which I know is the American way, isn’t the way for all.

    1. Ida Lupines Avatar
      Ida Lupines

      I mean, even the Nazis were made to be accountable for their war crimes against humanity – why won’t we address what we’ve done?

      In my lifetime, I’d love to see the Black Hills given back to the Native people more than by a Supreme Court decision that hasn’t been truly honored. What a wonderful thing that would be. I’d hate to see the area turned into another wasteland a la Bakken:

      1. Ria Avatar

        Beautiful thought about the land.

        About the Nazis, well there is another side to the story – The Greatest Story Never Told. History tells shows that Lenin and Stalin’s crimes were terrible. Hitler’s people loved him because he cared about and loved them, but Stalin/Lenin the opposite.

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