The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acted illegally when it dispatched armed rangers to remove Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal land in Clark County, Nevada, a Congressman is charging.
The BLM’s action led to a standoff between armed protestors and authorities that attracted national media attention.
“Because of this standoff, I have looked into BLM’s authority to conduct such paramilitary raids against American citizens, and it appears that BLM is acting in a lawless manner in Nevada,” Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to President Obama, the Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the BLM.
Stockman contends that Section 1733 of the United States Code requires the BLM rely on local law enforcement officers to enforce regulations rather than its own rangers. He also alleged that the BLM refused to work with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in its actions against Bundy.
Sheriff on the Sidelines?
“Under this statute, whenever the Secretary of the Interior determines that force may be necessary to secure obedience to federal law and regulation, the Secretary must seek the cooperation of local law enforcement officials,” Stockman wrote.
“In the case of Bunkerville, Nevada, the relevant local law enforcement officials appear to be the Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada, Douglass C. Gillespie. Yet at the Bundy farm, on the federal law enforcement front line were BLM Law Enforcement Rangers and BLM Special Agents,” Stockman alleged. “The Sheriff of Clark County has been on the sidelines.”
At the conclusion of the letter, Stockman asks President Obama, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and BLM Director Neil Kornze to investigate the handling of the Bundy action. He also asked the officials to keep federal agents away from the Bundy ranch.
Stockman did say whether he would ask Congress to investigate the BLM’s conflict with Bundy.
Ron Paul Gets Involved
Stockman, who just lost a US Senate primary race in Texas, is not the only prominent politician from that state to take an interest in the Bundy affair. Former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul is also questioning the BLM’s authority.
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“In this case it’s who should own the land,” Paul said of the Bundy dispute. The trouble developed because most of the land in Nevada is federally owned and controlled by the BLM. He noted that such disputes would be unlikely in states like Texas where most of the land is privately owned.
“They had virtual ownership of that land because they had been using it,” Paul told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. The Bundies have been grazing cattle in the area for a century. “I think land should be in the states and they should sell it to the people.”
“You need the government out of it,” Paul said of land ownership. Paul suggested that the federal government transfer all the land in the West to the states.
Paul predicted that there will be more such disputes in the future because he thinks the economy is getting worse. In particular, he believes there will be more disputes between the BLM and ranchers.
“I’m hoping this is a very positive of things to come, where the people stand up and object to the federal government’s intrusion into our lives and everything that we do,” Paul said. “And when the people do get together and stand up, if think the governments will be forced to back down. But the other thing is governments don’t give up their power easily and they may well come back with a lot more force, like they did at Waco with the Davidians.”
Which side do you think is right in the Bundy Ranch divide? Let us know in the comments below.