While no one is taking the Oregon militiamen holed up in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge center that seriously, the latest attempt to end the standoff by the FBI proves that literally no one involved in the standoff knows how to put it to an end—not even Ammon Bundy, the man who started it all.
Although the negotiations officially begin Friday, there was an hour-long conversation between Bundy and an FBI negotiator—who only identified as “Chris”—on Thursday evening that left many shaking their heads.
According to the Oregonian, Bundy showed up unannounced at the Burns Municipal Airport, the FBI’s base of operations for the standoff, located about 30 miles from the wildlife center. He borrowed a cell phone from one of the FBI agents in order to talk to the negotiator.
To no one’s surprise, and as he has done plenty of times in the past, Bundy proved that he had no idea what he was talking about.
"I'm a face-to-face kind of guy," Bundy told the negotiator. "You reached out to me ... I'm not sure exactly what you wanted to talk about."
Of course, that led the negotiator to ask about what could end the standoff.
The Oregonian reports:
The negotiator asked why Bundy picked Harney County.
"You're familiar with the Hammonds," Bundy said in a sardonic tone. The federal government for years has tried to buy the Hammond ranch to add to the refuge holdings, he claimed.
The negotiator pressed for what Bundy wanted to see done with the refuge. Bundy said it should be turned over to Harney County officials.
He said his group wouldn't leave until practical steps had been taken to get the refuge out of federal control and ensure the refuge buildings were never again used by the federal government.
How would that get done, the agent asked.
"I don't know," Bundy said. "We could put more thought to that."
Wait, it gets better! After some more talking, Bundy tries to tell the FBI that they have no business being involved in the standoff.
Bundy had questions of his own. He asked by what right was the FBI involved in the refuge occupation.
“Are you here under authority of the sheriff?” Bundy asked.
When the negotiator said the sheriff had asked for federal help, Bundy responded, “You do not have the people’s authority to be here.”
In measured tones, the negotiator told him, “The sheriff has asked for our assistance.”
Bundy even tries to tell the FBI that they should release the Hammonds, a father-son duo that were sent to prison on arson convictions for burning federal land, by way of “magic.”
One action was paramount to ending the standoff, he said: "You can bring the Hammonds back home to their families."
When the negotiator asked if he was referring to a presidential pardon, Bundy had a quick response. "The president didn't put them" in prison, Bundy said. "You and I both know the president is not going to get them out."
Instead, he said the federal prosecutors who put the Hammonds in prison "need to work their magic" to free the ranchers.
We have a feeling this is going to be a long winter.
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