Prosecutors confirm FBI agents posed as film crew in Bunkerville standoff investigation

Defense lawyer Chris Rasmussen…said the undercover operation circumvented the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for some of the defendants, along with their Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial… “It puts a chill in the air for people who want to report newsworthy events… This creates a cause for concern for journalists everywhere that their sources can’t be confident they’re talking to a news agency.”

A Handbook for Ranch ManagersWhat ever happened to due process and the rule of law? — Hint: Government repealed them. — jtl, 418

By JEFF GERMAN LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

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Ammon Bundy, middle, son of rancher Cliven Bundy, removes a “closed area” sign from the BLM impound corral after the BLM agreed to release his family’s cattle near Bunkerville on April 12, 2014. (Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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Ammon Bundy, right, talks with Spencer Shillig at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area near Overton on April 10, 2014. Shillig and his brother were detained while protesting the roundup of cattle owned by Cliven Bundy on the road. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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Armed guards surround Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy and Ryan Bundy as they do a remote interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News near Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville on April 14, 2014. (Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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Ammon Bundy, middle, son of rancher Cliven Bundy, talks to his family’s supporters near the BLM impound corral after the BLM agreed to release his family’s a cattle near Bunkerville on April 12, 2014. (Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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Ammon Bundy, right, son of rancher Cliven Bundy, hugs some of his family’s supporters after the BLM agreed to release his family’s a cattle near Bunkerville on April 12, 2014. (Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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Dave Bundy, middle, and his brother Ammon Bundy, left, talk with Las Vegas police Chief Deputy Tom Roberts, right, while trying to persuade the BLM to release their impounded cattle outside of Bunkerville on April 12, 2014. (Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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 Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual  By JEFF GERMAN LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Federal prosecutors confirmed late Wednesday that undercover FBI agents posed as a documentary film crew to gather evidence during their investigation of the April 2014 standoff near Bunkerville.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewIn court papers, the four prosecutors handling the case, including First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Myhre, did not identify the company used in the ruse.

But defense lawyers who have seen FBI reports of the undercover operation have previously said in court documents that the company’s name was Longbow Productions.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3)  Several of the 19 defendants charged in the Bunkerville case — including Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders of the alleged assault on Bureau of Land Management officers — were tricked into doing interviews with the undercover agents before they were charged.

Reconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps Institute The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits Combat Shooter's Handbook  Prosecutors revealed the undercover sting in a written response to court papers filed by another defendant, Gregory Burleson, who accused FBI agents of misconduct for giving him liquor during his October 2014 interview at a Phoenix hotel room.

Burleson’s defense lawyer, Terrence Jackson, has asked a federal judge to toss out the evidence obtained against Burleson by an undercover Longbow crew, arguing that plying him with alcohol induced him to make incriminating admissions.

But in their court papers Wednesday, prosecutors defended the undercover operation and said Jackson has no evidence of government misconduct.

“As an initial matter, there was no interrogation process,” the prosecutors wrote. “Burleson voluntarily met and spoke with undercover agents posing as documentary filmmakers.

“They met in a hotel room under circumstances designed to make Burleson believe that he was participating in a documentary by recounting his experiences at the April 12, 2014, assault.”

Prosecutors acknowledged that agents gave Burleson alcohol before and after the interview.

“But that alone fails to establish that Burleson’s answers were anything other than coherent, freely given responses to the questions posed,” they wrote. “Burleson cannot establish any coercive police activity was used to elicit his statement given the context of the undercover operation or that the officers prevented Burleson from walking away from the conversation at any time.”

His answers were consistent with other statements he made to law enforcement and on social media, prosecutors said.

Burleson, who maintains that he is now legally blind and suffering from other medical ailments, was a gunman during the Bunkerville confrontation, according to prosecutors. He has been associated with militia groups in Arizona over the years.

Bundy is regarded by prosecutors as one of the leaders of the armed standoff. Last week, he was acquitted with six others by a federal jury in Portland on charges of taking over a government wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year. He was being transported Thursday by U.S. marshals to Nevada to face the Bunkerville charges.

His Las Vegas attorney, Dan Hill, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month that Bundy was interviewed for several hours in Phoenix by Longbow Productions.

“Ammon has nothing to hide, but this is one of the many troubling actions the government took in this case,” Hill said Thursday. “There’s something troubling about the FBI posing as a First Amendment journalist outlet to interview suspects in an investigation with no attorney. They would never have gotten a legitimate interview from Ammon.”

Eric Parker, whom prosecutors described as a gunman at the Bunkerville standoff, was interviewed by Longbow Productions in Idaho, where he lives.

“It’s a little bothersome that they created this ruse,” said his attorney, Jess Marchese. “You’d like for them to be aboveboard and upfront and honest that they’re agents. But it doesn’t necessarily hurt my client as a whole because his recitation of the facts has been consistent from Day One.”

Defense lawyer Chris Rasmussen, who represents Peter Santilli in the case, said the undercover operation circumvented the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for some of the defendants, along with their Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

It also creates First Amendment issues for the news media, said Rasmussen, whose client, an internet radio talk show host, was not interviewed by Longbow Productions.

“It puts a chill in the air for people who want to report newsworthy events,” Rasmussen explained. “This creates a cause for concern for journalists everywhere that their sources can’t be confident they’re talking to a news agency.”

Attorney Brett Whipple, who is defending Bundy’s father, Cliven, also was critical of the undercover FBI operation.

“This shows the lengths they’re willing to go to target individuals that they believe are challenging the federal government,” Whipple said. “I’m very concerned about the use of this ruse to gather this information.”

The Bundy patriarch was not interviewed by Longbow Productions.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

A Handbook for Ranch ManagersA Handbook for Ranch Managers.  In keeping with the “holistic” idea that the land, the livestock, the people and the money should be viewed as a single integrated whole: Part I deals with the management of the natural resources. Part II covers livestock production and Part III deals with the people and the money. Not only would this book make an excellent basic text for a university program in Ranch Management, no professional ranch manager’s reference bookshelf should be without it. It is a comprehensive reference manual for managing the working ranch. The information in the appendices and extensive bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.

You might also be interested in the supplement to this Handbook: Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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