I was asked to publish my impressions of the Bundy Ranch drama. So here they are.Submitted by Smudge Pot on Wed, 05/07/2014 - 06:30
I've been asked to write up my impressions as I learn more about what happened at Bundy Ranch and all the drama. I'd first make clear that this is by request and that I was not at the ranch. I have not met most of the people involved. I am doing a lot of listening and communicating however. It's certainly clearing up a lot of my confusion surrounding the issue.
I'd also make the point that certain investigations are being performed, these are internal investigations undertaken by community members and they are not yet complete. So there's going to be ambiguity built into this report. But this is why I was asked to write this: the feeling is that people need to know now while other fact-finders continue their investigations. The investigators and their findings will be disclosed when they feel it's appropriate.
What I understand now is that there are 3 areas of action: there's the Bundy Ranch itself, a location known as "Base Camp" about 3 miles away on public land in a public camping area, and (at least) a third group trying to secure and push out a perimeter which encompasses all areas of action.
As it turns out, the Bundy Ranch is secured by their hand-picked operators and that's their sole mission: defend the Bundy family itself. This group operates with the implicit and explicit sanction of Mr. Bundy himself. This is the only force for which Mr. Bundy is directly responsible as it's under his sanction, on his land. These I understand are the organized "militia" on scene such as Operation Mutual Aid, Mountain Men and other 3%ers. These were the first on scene in their role as "rapid response teams". The Ranch itself is secured, buttoned down and patrolled. Nobody gets in there without an explicit invite.
Oath Keepers came in a bit later and began two operations: augment the existing security, medical, and communications forces in place AND set up the types of grassroots media coverage and press opportunities we historically generate as alt-media. This is primarily how we saw as many as 14 government officials and other figures (such as Sheriff Richard Mack) on stage speaking to the media and doing the whole PR thing.
Finally, there is Base Camp which again is on public land, it’s not on Bundy land or the land the Bundy's claim hereditary rights to. Base Camp is 100% volunteer driven and the Bundys don't manage it or lead it. It's independent. This is where unaffiliated defenders and visitors most commonly end up and it's where the media is sure to roll cameras. It's this Base Camp in which we heard the "Fruit And Nut Brigade" (unaffiliated defenders) were established by default. And this is where some of the strongest "opinions" are heard including a whole bunch of talking about the other groups, individuals, etc.
At this point it's clear to me that not a whole lot of communication/coordination happened between these groups but then who had time? At first this was a rapid response action and there was no time for a meet-and-greet and establishment of protocols whether command or basic communications.
It's also clear that some of the animosities here pre-existed this action. Having listened to some grievances and heard them corroborated to a degree, I'm at least open to hearing more in an objective manner. Mistakes get made in this movement like any other and in context (our lives on the line) they are non-trivial.
It's further clear that some operators, well more than some, a LOT of these boys are not exactly Prince Charming when it comes to communications or diplomacy. These guys are rough, tough and they mean business. They aren't there to play Patty Cake with the press or anybody else. Some of these guys are perfectly willing to lay down their lives on that land right now. They are serious. The clash between former Military (and Police for that matter) and non-militarily trained defenders seems to have got ugly. There are two reported instances of people getting "drawn down" on. Fortunately not a living soul was fired up by defenders but draw downs are past any point of comfort.
What I'm hearing also tells a very human story. I can relate to this through my years of activism and all-volunteer organizations. I'm hearing that at first, defenders went out to defend, media-savvy people started putting up a stage with mics and doing the whole PR thing and others (primarily unaffiliateds) set up kitchens, dug latrines, ran water around to different positions and just generally chipped in with whatever skills and equipment they brought. This was ad-hoc and spontaneous in nature. But when the media departed and the dust settled a bit, without that immediate need and mission, with just a bit of a break or lull in the action, all that energy, all that enthusiasm tends to turn itself inward on the group. Pesky grievances and animosities suddenly took center stage. Combine that with some almost fantastically large egos and conflicting missions and SOPs and we have the kinds of hostile language we've all been hearing with great dismay.
Again, a human story. I've seen this in leftist action and rightist actions. In fact, when have we ever done anything in the grassroots without some form of huge-ass argument taking place? Debate is our internal form of advancement but these tensions are pretty much everywhere you find volunteer driven action.
As far as names getting thrown around, Blaine, Little Dog, Bhudda, Ryan, if we didn't know them before we sure know them now (at least their names and associations) but I haven't heard anything really indictable yet. We all saw the "circle video" endlessly but I'm not hearing that such talk was a daily occurrence. I understand that circle is the decision making apparatus of Operation Mutual Aid, that was a daily decision making meeting, in other words there's one of those every day. None of these other meetings resulted in the kind of sensationalist talk that one did and that one was in response to a pretty significant event. That was the Oath Keepers ‘redeployment’ (if you will) or ‘retreat’ (if you won't) in response to the drone strike ‘intel’.
That even proved to be more divisive than is even apparent to us on the outside looking in. As a tactical measure I'm with the decision to "get off the X" or the actual target zones BUT many of the defenders there (regardless of affiliation) chose to literally stand and be fried if it came to that. HOWEVER this notion that OKs aren't welcome back is simply not the case on the ground. There are still past and present OKs there now and they are working well with other groups while others still trickle in. Posts are manned.
Today I was privy to several communications in which about a dozen misunderstandings were instantly and amicably resolved by simple communications and these mostly came down to who said what to whom at what time and what the circumstances were. There's a lot of simple misunderstanding going on here but these are mostly misunderstandings among men of good faith. There are exceptions as in Base Camp there was a fair amount of equipment literally stolen or mishandled. This is not surprising given as Base Camp was pretty much open to anybody who wandered in and it's the most likely place for agent provocs to do their damage. Theft being universally condemned by all groups operating in the area, this leaves simple Fed scumbags and their minions as the obvious culprit. We hold this lesson: we assume we are ALWAYS infiltrated and we should remain ever watchful for these disreputables going forward.
For some positive news, a lot of lessons were learned and this was the first time some of the miltias had ever worked together (with or without the often-repeated-mantra “we're NOT militia, we're OathKeepers”). New bonds of trust and friendship have been formed no matter what it looks like on the surface and this was just the beginning. I expect there will shortly come an announcement of another action, an action having nothing to do with Bundy land or the Bundy family specifically. I think we can all feel grateful that no human lives were lost to us or to the Feds (Feds have children too) and that a statement was made that was heard literally around the world.