Perspectives: The Bundy mistrial, the government’s false narrative is exposed

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OPINION — Those who maintain that what happened in Bunkerville in April of 2014 was simply about Cliven Bundy’s cows and the federal Bureau of Land Management are getting a much needed reality check.

It was a symptom of a much larger long-term problem involving government power being exercised without proper limits or accountability.

When Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case against Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy last week, virtually no one in the courtroom was shocked. Even the most openly hostile media representatives who have been covering the Bundys could see the writing on the wall.

Read more: Mistrial announced in Bundy case

The official narrative, which falsely depicted the defendants as dangerous, violent men who posed a deadly threat to government officers and the public in general, had been breaking up on the rocks of reality for some time.

Federal indictments were revealed to be long on melodrama and short on substance and did not accurately reflect what happened in Bunkerville back in 2014. As more and more facts found their way to daylight, a very different picture began to emerge as to who were the aggressors and who were the victims in this case.

The government’s case against the Bundy family members and Ryan Payne had already failed to persuade jurors in a number of previous cases. This wasn’t a matter of the defendants exploiting loopholes or deftly out-lawyering the prosecution.

The juries weren’t stacked with Bundy supporters who could be counted on to oppose the government for ideological reasons. Jurors came to realize they simply could not trust that their government was telling them the truth.

In explaining her reasons for declaring the mistrial, Navarro cited several key pieces of evidence that prosecutors willfully failed to turn over to the defense during the discovery phase of the trial. Navarro pointedly emphasized the “willful suppression” of evidence as she listed each one.

This included information regarding an FBI surveillance camera posted outside the Bundy’s ranch, documents that identified BLM snipers posted outside the ranch eight days before the April 14 standoff. Also withheld was an FBI log with entries stating “snipers were inserted” and on standby outside the Bundy home.

In addition, prosecutors willfully withheld at least four threat assessments that admitted the Bundys weren’t violent and that the BLM was “antagonizing” the family. Finally, the government suppressed an internal affairs document that admitted there was no documentation of any desert tortoises being injured by Bundy’s cattle grazing on the federal land.

Over and over, federal prosecutors had accused the Bundys of deceiving those who rallied to their support in April of 2014, saying that they had falsely claimed they were being targeted by a militarized task force and in fear of their lives. Prosecutors openly mocked these assertions and the defendants’ efforts to compel the release of documents verifying the nature of the operation.

Ironically, it was the government’s own witnesses who inadvertently spilled the beans and verified the existence of this exculpatory evidence while they were testifying. Once the first cracks began to appear in the prosecution’s case, an unstoppable torrent of previously hidden truths began to spill forth.

Long story short, it was government agents, not the Bundys, who were the aggressors and who lawlessly sought to provoke violence.

Truth is what turned the government’s case on its head.

The jury was not going to convict them. Remember, it would only have taken a single juror refusing to convict to hang the jury and force a mistrial. In this latest trial, the vast majority of jurors were solidly on the side of the defendants.

This became crystal clear after the defendants and their counsel had the opportunity to visit with the jurors after they were released from their duties. One African-American juror, immediately walked from the jury box, gently moved a person aside who was visiting with Ryan Bundy and wrapped Bundy up in a big hug.

It’s telling that the people who are most upset about this trial ending in failure for the government are those who weren’t in the courtroom and who haven’t examined the evidence for themselves. Their hysterical outbursts are a poor substitute for reasoned observation.

It’s understandable that people can become dug in ideologically and find it difficult to adjust their thinking upon encountering new truth. None of us wishes to be dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that that we were wrong.

Still, it must be said. Far too many people have wrongly allowed the Bundy family and their supporters to be reduced to a one-dimensional headline. Will they continue to cling to official untruths?

This doesn’t mean that everyone must become a supporter of the Bundys. However, now that we know that a patently false, self-serving narrative was put forth by government and parroted by the media, it does raise the question, how can we trust what they say?

More importantly, how do we intend to hold unchecked and aggressive government agencies accountable?

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • chris keele December 25, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Great article Bryan, I think if more people really knew the Bundy family and those people that came to help them, they would be more supportive of what went on there at the Bundy ranch during that so called standoff, everything was going along pretty well there until some of the mercenaries the B.L.M hired started to “manhandle” some of the family members and turn their attack dogs on them and shoot the Bundy cattle and post snipers on the ridge overlooking the ranch house, and then when the government people erected a ” 1st amendment zone” with some pylons and crime scene tape so that if you wanted to voice your opinion that’s is where you go to speak up, that was the final straw I guess, thank God there wasn’t a war that day, we are all lucky it ended as well as it did. That “black eye ” the feds got that day then just set the tone for the vengeful way those in Oregon were treated and the consequent outright murder of one of our great citizen’s Lavoy Finicum. Be informed America!

  • Lastdays December 26, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Mistrial is one step closer to dismissal of this case.
    When Judge Navarro first started this case, she was very arrogant and ignorant towards the Bundys defense. She did unprecedented things in her court that obviously could hurt their defense. She had to have been coached from the start to help with a government conviction before case even started. Hope they uncover whomever formulated this plan against the Bundys.
    However, things started to unravel and I believe she realized she might be in trouble for her actions on the bench. So I think she was relieved to obtain evidence towards a possible mistrial and dismissal of this case. I think she sees a way out for her past mistakes and can wash her hands of this case before it ruins her career. I see a complete dismissal coming on Jan 8th.
    I also see many cases of monetary damages being filed by the Bundys against the Feds for the actions of many who obviously broke the law and many times created their own laws to follow as they bullied this family.
    I believe this Bundy case was instigated by someone at the top (Senator, last President, ? ) to create a situation where they could instigate a shootout with Bundys and have a quick resolution in Feds favor. Well, it obviously backfired on them.
    This case is just the beginning of uncovering HUGE conspiracies and unlawful activities by BLM, and other Fed agencies to take down people and families who understand their rights and are willing to take on the government when they feel they are being bullied and wrongfully treated.
    Many people joke about Cliven and others carrying a pocket Constitution with them all the time. The real Fool is the person who doesn’t understand their own rights and freedoms presented to them by the Constitution and will side with the Feds in cases against true Patriots in our own area.
    Give em’ hell Cliven !! Help drain the swamp.

  • Riversong December 26, 2017 at 6:27 am

    There was never a “false narrative” – except to the willfully blindered defenders of Bundy’s anti-constitutional armed insurrection (precisely what the Constitution created the well regulated militia to defend against).

    That the prosecution team engaged in unethical and possibly illegal actions in their zeal to see justice, in no way diminishes – as Judge Navarro made clear in her ruling – the facts of the matter and the guilt of the Bundy gang.

    That the Bundy family and friends engaged in decades of criminality and an armed resistance against legitimate legal authority is beyond question, as was the desperation of the prosecution to overcome the tendency of juries toward unconscionable nullification.

    • Phil December 28, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      First of all, that’s not even remotely what a “well-regulated militia” means. “Well-regulated” simply means “well-armed”, and the militia is us, the people. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with the military. Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution already addressed that.

      Criminality is in the eye of the beholder. Who is the victim of the Bundy family’s actions? Go on, tell me. They were guilty only of breaking laws designed to make life more difficult for the states further out of Washington’s reach than others. You hate gangs? Well, how about the one that hides behind a seal with an eagle on it? How about the one that wraps itself in the stars and stripes and claims to speak on behalf of “the people” while in practice undermining them at every turn?

      The United States Federal Government can not, by any reasonable person’s measure, be considered a defender of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. It has become destructive of all those ends. We have a right and a duty to alter or abolish it. Its offenses are neither light nor transient.

      But, by all means, grovel. Kiss the boots of your redcoat overlords. If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set heavily upon you, and may posterity forget that you and your ilk were ever our countrymen.

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