OPINION — The nine-year anniversary of the joint FBI/Bureau of Land Management raid dubbed Operation Cerberus Action has come and gone.
For most of us, the events of June 10, 2009, are already a long-forgotten footnote in history.
For Blanding, Utah, the anniversary marks a painful reminder of how certain federal agencies turned overkill and personal destruction into a clear message for rural communities. They wanted to remind everyone that they were in charge.
Official documents put the number of agents that invaded Blanding that day at nearly 300. It was the first time that many of the BLM agents were allowed to get dressed up in their combat gear with assault rifles.
Was all that firepower assembled to confront a gang of violent cartel gunmen? Hardly.
It was used to execute search and arrest warrants in a federal sting operation targeting individuals who were suspected of trafficking in archaeological artifacts. The brutality of the raid was entirely unnecessary given the nature of the alleged offense.
None of the suspects were considered violent. Nor was there evidence that an organized trafficking ring existed. Federal agents had sent their own confidential informant to entice artifact collectors to violate one bureaucratic rule or another.
This is nothing new for the FBI, which has a long history of saving us from monsters of its own creation.
In order to justify the harshest felony charges, BLM investigators lied about the value of a small bead that they claimed was worth over $1,000. In reality, it was worth only $75.
Facing decades in prison and financial ruin at the hands of the feds, Dr. James Redd took his own life the following day. Over the course of the next few months, another defendant would commit suicide, as did the confidential informant whose conscience began functioning a bit too late.
The only person who actually served prison time was an individual who expressed a desire to beat the informant with a baseball bat. Fines and probation were imposed on the remaining defendants.
Does it not strike you as a unreasonable for federal agents to go after these people in such a violent and malicious manner? If not, is there any level of aggression that you’d consider too harsh in enforcing these types of laws?
The danger that few recognized at the time was that the shock and awe mentality of these agents was the product of BLM special agent in charge, Dan Love, who worked in concert with FBI agent Greg Bretzing.
These are names that have since surfaced in connection with two other notable examples of government overkill and abuse. Love led the militarized, ego-cocaine fueled BLM impoundment attempt at Bundy Ranch in 2014, and Bretzing headed up the barbaric response to the Malheur Refuge occupation in 2016.
Each time, the official narrative sought to excuse excessive violence on the part of the feds and to place the blame on those who were on the receiving end of their aggression. Each time, closer examination has shown the bad faith in which these officials were acting.
Of course, not everyone gets it.
One of the advantages of my work is that I’ve been able to go directly to the people involved instead of having to rely entirely on incomplete media or government narratives.
It’s been fascinating to watch how the the government’s case crumbles like chalk as the truth slowly but surely begins to come forth. It happened in the Bundy family’s case. It happened in the raid that destroyed so many lives in Blanding. It happened in the BLM raid on Garryowen, Montana.
We’ll likely see it happen yet again in the lawsuit moving forward against those who colluded to kill LaVoy Finicum.
It’s disconcerting how many people compliantly close their eyes to abuse and continue to grasp for any reason to believe that the abusers are in the right. It leads one to wonder: What exactly is the benefit to pathologically clinging so desperately to the status quo?
If they believe that professing their love and willingness to comply to their would-be rulers will forever shield them from similar abuse, history tells a much different story. What starts out as abusive behavior towards some tends to become abusive for all if left unchecked.
Standing up for those who are being abused doesn’t require marching in ideological lockstep with them. It simply demonstrates the understanding that if official lawlessness can be done to others, it can be done to us as well.
What would it take to stir our sense of injustice in such a way that our ideological proclivities no longer act as blinders?
When even whistleblowers like Larry Wooten within the BLM cannot remain silent any longer, isn’t it worth another look to see if we’ve missed something?
Our bad conscience is warning us. Perhaps we should listen to it instead of trying to silence it.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
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