Last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) found themselves withdrawing from federal lands in Nevada after an ad hoc militia started setting-up snipers and threatened to kill federal employees to support anti-American rancher Cliven Bundy’s fight to keep the BLM from seizing his cattle due to illegal grazing and $1 million in unpaid taxes and grazing fees.
Over the weekend, attorney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lashed out at the Bundy Ranch supporters by calling them “Domestic violent terrorists”. Reid stated, “600 people came armed, they had practiced, they had maneuvered…they set up snipers in strategic locations…they had automatic weapons, and they boasted about the fact they put women and children…so they would get hit first…If there were ever an example of people who were domestic violent terrorist wannabes, these are the guys”.
Of course, corporate sponsored right-wing mainstream media and blog sites went crazy (wait, they already were crazy). So, they went even more crazy then they already are. Reid was called a “gutless bastard” and a “wretched son-of-a-bitch” by one right-wing nutcase. While a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling Reid’s accusations “baseless”.
“Terrorists” was one of the first words that came to my mind when I first heard of the standoff nearly two weeks ago. Even though I have written about radical religious and political organizations for close to a decade, I’m neither an attorney (like Reid) nor do I consider myself an expert in terrorism.
Bruce Hoffman is the Director of the Center for Security Studies and Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He specializes in the study of terrorism and counterterrorism and insurgency and counter-insurgency. In his book, Inside Terrorism, Hoffman identifies five key characteristics of a terrorist movement.
“By distinguishing terrorists from other types of criminals and terrorism from other forms of crime, we come to appreciate that terrorism is (1) ineluctably political in aims and motives
(2) violent – or, equally important, threatens violence (3) designed to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victim or target (4) conducted by an organization with an identifiable chain of command or conspiratorial cell structure (whose members wear no uniform or identifying insignia) (5) and perpetrated by a subnational group or non-state entity.”
When considering Hoffman’s key characteristics, it should be clear to everyone the Bundy Ranch militia has checked all five of the key points off the list. Reid’s characterization of this armed terrorist organization seems to hold up
One might also consider the US Department of Defense’s definition of terrorism: “The unlawful use of — or threatened use of — force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.”
The Bundy Ranch supporters believe they are above the law. They believe corporations have a right to exploit and desecrate our common public lands for their own personal gain. Cliven Bundy is a millionaire that made his money by stealing and cheating the American people.
It should come as no surprise the billionaire Libertarian Koch brothers would support Cliven Bundy. They have a long history of stealing from Americans. But to see more mainstream Republicans come to the defense of an unruly group of thugs pointing guns at the face of their fellow Americans, just doing their job, is truly a disgrace.
Harry Reid is correct, the Bundy Ranch militia is a terrorist organization that must be brought to justice.