Burns Chronicles No 22 – OathKeepers vs. Militia – Part III

Burns Chronicles No 22
OathKeepers vs. Militia – Part III

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Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
May 22, 2016

Just over two years ago, I wrote two articles, Oathkeepers vs. Militia and Oath Keepers vs. Militia – Part II. Those articles were associated with the events that were happening at the Bundy Ranch, in Nevada. I had no intention of writing a series regarding the subject, though more recent events, in and around Burns, Oregon, have compelled me to do so.

What we are discussing is to what level members of OathKeepers cooperated with government officials, both local and federal, in Burns, Oregon. Beyond simple cooperation, did they also provide misinformation to both sides to heighten anxiety — on both sides?

To better understand this concept we need to revisit a story I did back in 1994. Michael Hill, an Ohio Unorganized Militia Chaplin, was shot to death on a roadside while returning from a patriot meeting. Hill was alone in his car and was being followed by friends. A police officer pulled Hill over and Hill complied, pulling to the side of the road. The police car pulled over behind him, and the friends pulled over behind the police car. While the friends were still present, they heard gunshots and fled the scene. Shortly thereafter, two additional officers arrived. Based upon my research, one of these officers fired additional shots into Hill’s nearly dead body.

What led to the heightened anxiety on the part of the police, and the situation that cost Hill his life was, in part, a notice put out by the BATF, in late April 1995, shortly after the Oklahoma City Bombing. The incident just described above occurred on June 28, 1995.

REQUEST NATIONAL BROADCAST
FM: BUREAU OF ALCOHOL TOBACCO AND FIREARMS,
WASHINGTON DC

TO: ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
SUBJ: WARNING TO ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL:

ATF INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION SUGGESTS THAT THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING MAY HAVE HEIGHTENED PARANOIA LEVELS AMONG VARIOUS MILITIA GROUPS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.

INFORMATION SUGGESTS THAT THIS BOMBING MAY BE SEEN AS A “STAGED TERRORIST ATTACK” BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS PART OF AN OVERALL PLAN TO DECLARE MARITAL[sic] LAW AND SUSPEND THE CONSTITUTION. IN ADDITION, MANY OF THESE MEMBERS FEEL THAT AN ATTACK ON THEM IS IMMINENT AND HAVE ALREADY GONE INTO ALERT STATUS.

THESE GROUPS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO MOBILIZE AND ARM THEMSELVES FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBSTRUCTING LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST OTHER MILITIA MEMBERS. DUE TO THIS, ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL ARE WARNED TO TAKE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN CONTACTING ANY KNOWN MILITIA MEMBERS OR AFFILIATES.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING THIS WARNING, OR TO PROVIDE ANY FURTHER INTELLIGENCE REGARDING THE CONTENT OF THIS MESSAGE, PLEASE CONTACT THE ATF ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS CENTER AT 1-800-659-6242 OR
RESPOND VIA NLETS

My Preliminary Report on the Death of Michael Hill explains the circumstances and why I came to the conclusion that the anxiety created by the BATF “Warning” was a contributing factor to the overly aggressive law enforcement action.

Within the context of the potential consequences of heightened fear, or anxiety, let’s look at just how that likely played a role in the recent events in Oregon.

Brandon Rappolla, an OathKeeper, was with Brandon Curtiss in November 2015, and, like Curtiss, indicated that he supported Harney County Sheriff David Ward, in whatever decision he made and did not support Ammon Bundy. However, in a January 9, 2016 Reuters News Article, Rappolla, even though he stated that he still didn’t support Ammon’s operation, gave him a “small roll of bills”. Since not publically supporting Ammon, this material support may have been intended to assure continued communications with Ammon.

Within a few days of the occupation of the Refuge, Joe Rice, Pacific Patriot Network and head of the Josephine County OathKeepers, reported to a Sheriff’s Deputy that Ammon’s people had “crew served weapons” (machine guns) and plenty of ammunition. That was certainly reported up the chain. This could explain why the purported original plan to raid the Refuge was abandoned by the feds.

So, by the end of the first week of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, OathKeeper members cozied up to Ammon Bundy and his people, while they publically expressed that they did not support the operation,  and simultaneously provided intelligence  to law enforcement (however incorrect) regarding the armament of those in the Refuge.  Of course, this  report to the Sheriff and his deputies surely had the effect of creating some apprehension (fear) on the part of law enforcement, including the FBI.

So, was anything done by the OathKeepers that heightened the apprehension (fear) in the minds of the occupiers? Let’s look what OathKeepers had to say  on January 5, 2016, just three days after the patriots settled in at the OK Jan 5Refuge. OathKeepers posted the following statement on their Facebook page and the OathKeepers website.

“Oath Keepers has received very credible information from an active duty source within the special operations community that at least one SOD-X unit under the command of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has been tasked for this standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Reserve and moved to the area. Given this, we should expect that other special operations assets, such as Delta Force… And we should expect the presence of the infamous FBI HRT (which were present at both Ruby Ridge and Waco).”

So, those in the Refuge went on alert, preparing for the worst, but determined to fire back, if fired upon. Can we doubt that there was a bit of apprehension (fear), especially considering the named opposing forces?

So, now, both sides were in a state of increased anxiety. Those inside of the Refuge were willing to negotiate, and wanted someone with legal authority to respond to the “Redress of Grievances” that they had provided to all interested parties who wished a copy, including Sheriff Ward and the FBI.

On the other side, the FBI and the Sheriff took what appeared to be a passive stand, allowing those inside to travel freely, eventually encouraging a degree of complacency, which was quite apparent on January 26 when they encountered the ambush on US Highway 395, which resulted in the murder of LaVoy Finicum.

However, we have only touched the surface of things. It was apparent that Sheriff Ward, probably acting under the instruction of the FBI, tried to talk those inside the Refuge into leaving, even offering safe conduct to another county or the state line. There is no doubt that the government wanted the focus taken off the Refuge lands, and there is equally no doubt that the occupiers knew that holding the land would guarantee attention to address their concerns over federal land practices.

On January 24, 2016, Jason VanTatenhove, Todd Engle, and Stewart Rhodes called LaVoy Finicum to discuss the situation, in a recorded broadcast (mp3 – 15:21). Their discussion began with the subject Constitutional Sheriffs, but led into a discussion of Sheriff Ward’s failure to perform his job, thereby leaving that responsibility to the people, themselves. The failure being the Sheriff’s unwillingness to intercede in the federal re-arrest of Dwight and Steven Hammond.

Jason seemed to support the actions of those in the Refuge, though he suggests that it should only be tried where there is already a Constitutional Sheriff. Stewart appeared to agree, (and I paraphrase) that LaVoy must find the right county, with the right Sheriff, before he should do something like this.

Stewart then expressed concern for what might be coming to the Refuge, in terms of government force being used against the occupiers — suggesting that the women and children should be removed. He follows up by saying that he believes the government might “drop the hammer”, suggested again, that they should leave Harney County. He continues to suggest that they move, even to a private ranch in Harney County. It appears that Stewart’s objective was to get them to move off of the Refuge, which is exactly what the government wanted to happen. He also says that Idaho III% and PPN are doing an excellent job in handling the field (in Burns only), which shows the close working relationship between PPN, Idaho III%, and OathKeepers. LaVoy said very little, and it seemed that that this was just Stewart’s show.

According to the OathKeepers article, the next conversation with LaVoy, was shortly after the above radio show aired.

After that show, there was another private call (mp3 – 13:40) to LaVoy, from Jason, Todd, and Stewart. Stewart was very direct in suggesting that those in the Refuge make a “lateral move” to a strong county. This, of course, would be exactly what the government wanted — get them off of the Refuge in order to arrest them. He tells LaVoy that the government is getting ready to “move on [them]”. So, was Stewart in the loop with the feds, or was he simply trying to scare LaVoy? Now, this is the second time that the OathKeepers have told those in the Refuge that they were going to be facing the feds, eminently. Todd explains that even the day before, when he was at the Refuge, that he told them that they had to move out, that force would be coming. Todd then assured LaVoy that some “seriously armed dudes” would be there to aid them. We must wonder where those “seriously armed dudes” were, two days later when the Refuge needed all of the manpower that it could get.  Again, armed support is offered if they are willing to leave. We simply have to wonder if they would be turned over by the armed escort, directly into the waiting hands of the FBI.

Bearing in mind that a “lateral move”, as proposed by OathKeepers, would have satisfied the fed’s primary goal, was the OathKeepers’ plan to get them make the “lateral move” off of the Refuge an effort to avoid bloodshed, or to firm up their working relationship with the feds?

If OathKeepers reported back to the feds that there was going to be no “lateral move”, did that result in the fed’s alternate plan of the ambush on US 395?

So, we come to the ambush. With what has been presented, there is little doubt that the Oregon State Police (OSP), based on the FBI briefings, began their role in the ambush full of apprehension (fear). In their minds, the possibility of a machine gun in the back of LaVoy’s truck was not outside of the realm of possibility to them. When the truck finally stopped, stuck in the snow, an FBI agent fired two shots. If the OSP officers realized that they didn’t fire the shots (there were only three OSP officers in position to deal with LaVoy), did those two shots, one of which entered the roof of the truck cab, heighten their apprehension? And, if so, were they more likely to minimize risk to themselves by shooting LaVoy in the back?

Some questions that warrant answers:

  • Just how much information from the Refuge did OathKeepers pass on to the government?
  • Was OathKeepers playing on the side of the government from the beginning?
  • Who benefited most from the actions of the OathKeepers?
  • Were OathKeepers intentionally trying to get those on the Refuge to abandon that site to facilitate their arrest?
  • Were their reports to the government intended to generate apprehension?
  • Did the actions of OathKeepers contribute to the circumstances that led to LaVoy Finicum’s death?

5 Comments

  1. Speak2Truth says:

    Also, on the Oath Keepers website, Stewart Rhodes sent a message to the FBI, warning they would have military crawling up their *sses and down their throats if they tried to take action against the refuge occupiers. This sort of threatening language seemed designed to agitate conflict. https://web.archive.org/web/20160117192755/https://www.oathkeepers.org/critical-warning-to-u-s-military-and-federal-leo-do-not-follow-orders-to-waco-ammon-bundy-occupation-in-oregon-or-you-risk-starting-a-civil-war/

    When the Bundy family rebuffed Joseph Rice’s attempt to enter and take control of the Refuge occupation, he immediately took his armed cadre over to the FBI staging area at the nearby airport unannounced, shook hands with the FBI then engaged in some condescending and insulting “discussion” with the FBI present. This video is available on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5w99LTKEA0

    It is worth mentioning that Joseph Rice is the person the Finicum family tried to contact, from inside their vehicle, at the original FBI stop, having been promised protection by “seriously armed dudes”. But, Joseph was conveniently far away by that time. http://www.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2016/02/30_minutes_of_chaos_witness_de.html

    Joseph established the Pacific Patriots Network apparently in preparation for a lateral move of his own, as his actions could foreseeably result in the breakup (or worse) of Oath Keepers, where he is merely a chapter leader.

  2. […] that he was, in fact, an informant.  Mark professes to be a patriot, and he probably is —along the lines of OathKeepers, where the Constitution is what they are told by their superiors, and is patriotism to the […]

  3. […] arrival.  Rather quick work on his part.  The deceptive role of OathKeepers is explained in OathKeepers vs. Militia – Part III.  This explains the heightened alert status on that day.  Thus, McConnell, who had been invited […]

  4. […] the Court that he was, in fact, an informant. Mark professes to be a patriot, and he probably is —along the lines of OathKeepers, where the Constitution is what they are told by their superiors, and is patriotism to the […]

  5. […] arrival.  Rather quick work on his part.  The deceptive role of OathKeepers is explained in OathKeepers vs. Militia – Part III.  This explains the heightened alert status on that day.  Thus, McConnell, who had been invited […]

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