Burns Chronicles No 19 – Property?

Burns Chronicles No 19
Property?

 

damage-and-destruction-of-government-property-does-happen-n

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
April 6, 2016

Count 6 of the Superseding Indictment reads:

(Depredation of Government Property)

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1361 and 2)

On or about January 27, 2016, in the District of Oregon, defendants SEAN ANDERSON and JAKE RYAN, aided and abetted by each other, did willfully and by means of excavation and the use of heavy equipment on lands of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, property of the United States, injure and commit a depredation against such property, specifically, an archaeological site considered sacred to the Burns Paiute Tribe, resulting in damage in an amount exceeding $1000, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1361 and 2.

I have provided Jake’s name, though the government still has his name blacked out on the Indictment.  The statutes cited are:

18 U.S.C. § 1361: Government property or contracts

Whoever willfully injures or commits any depredation against any property of the United States, or of any department or agency thereof, or any property which has been or is being manufactured or constructed for the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or attempts to commit any of the foregoing offenses, shall be punished as follows:

If the damage or attempted damage to such property exceeds the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; if the damage or attempted damage to such property does not exceed the sum of $1,000, by a fine under this title or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

and

18 U.S.C. § 1362: Communication lines, stations or systems

Whoever willfully or maliciously injures or destroys any of the works, property, or material of any radio, telegraph, telephone or cable, line, station, or system, or other means of communication, operated or controlled by the United States, or used or intended to be used for military or civil defense functions of the United States, whether constructed or in process of construction, or willfully or maliciously interferes in any way with the working or use of any such line, or system, or willfully or maliciously obstructs, hinders, or delays the transmission of any communication over any such line, or system, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

In the case of any works, property, or material, not operated or controlled by the United States, this section shall not apply to any lawful strike activity, or other lawful concerted activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection which do not injure or destroy any line or system used or intended to be used for the military or civil defense functions of the United States.

Now I think that we must first dispense with §1362, as the statute addresses communications equipment, and the Indictment makes no mention, suggestion, inference or allusion to any communications equipment.  It would seem that which the government attorneys are attempting, what I have often referred to as a “legal shotgun”, where they throw enough charges at the accused, that the jury will conclude that if the government has this many charges, then they must be guilty of something.

So, let’s look at §1361.  First, the use of the word “property”, in context with the statute, “Whoever willfully injures or commits any depredation against any property of the United States, or of any department or agency thereof, or any property which has been or is being manufactured or constructed for the United States“.  So, what is meant by property?  Can you manufacture what is properly referred to as “real property” (land)?  If they had intended to include land, would they not have made clear that “land” (real property) was included?  And, if they did, perhaps they would have to provide some indication of just what kind of damage would be included in that which could be considered to be what was intended.

Perhaps we can use the subsequent wording in the stature to garner an idea of what might be included in any interpretation of “damage”.  It states, “If the damage or attempted damage to such property exceeds the sum of $1,000“, which gives us an idea that the damage is calculable, in terms of dollars.

The Indictment refers to the source of the damage being “by means of excavation“, so that is clear.  Now, we can look at how the calculations might be addressed.  If it is nothing more than a hole in the ground, and both the spoil (dirt that was removed) and the equipment that was used to remove it are on site, it would seem that, at best, the cost might approach $200, if Union or Prevailing Wage applied.  Next, they mention “an archaeological site considered sacred to the Burns Paiute Tribe“.  However, they have provided nothing to indicate just what damage occurred.  Is a shovel full of dirt accountable in dollars?  How about a backhoe bucket of dirt?  Or, is disruption of the archaeological site accountable in dollars?  In the latter, the archeological site, wouldn’t there have to be an itemization of the artifacts, along with an ascribed value?  Or, can the government simply say, “it is worth more than $1,000”?

However, to be fair, I think that we must also look at whether what Anderson and Ryan did was done on ground that was still undamaged and sacred.  With that in mind, we can look to what has been found by Arnold Law, dealing with the alleged criminal excavation.  A video and written article explains that if those who dug the trench were the first to disturb the sacred lands, then the Indian had laid communication and utility cables through that same area, perhaps centuries before.

I suppose that I should conclude this article with the thought that first occurred to me, when I read Count 6 – Who makes this shit up?