CAN DELIBERATELY REMOVING THIS STATEMENT FROM THE WEBSITE BE CONSIDERED HIDING EVIDENCE?
By Shari Dovale
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has only been around since 1946 and has not had too many noteworthy events in their own right. The most noteworthy of all BLM operations in the past decades seems to be the Bunkerville Standoff and the underlying cattle impoundment operation that preceded the protest.
When the BLM are actively involved with any situation they, like all other departments of the Federal Government, will issue press releases so the public will understand said events (their version).
The BLM Website has an entire section devoted to press releases dating back to November 2006. There are hundreds of press releases, almost an average of one per day.
But, if ever there was an important date in the history of the BLM, it was April 12, 2014. The day of the Bunkerville Standoff, involving the Bundy Ranch.
The BLM issued a press release for that day which stated (emphasis added):
Statement from Director of the Bureau of Land Management Neil Kornze on the Cattle Gather in Nevada (04/12/14)
Today we announced the decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.
This afternoon, demonstrators gathered at the area where personnel and cattle were located. Due to escalating tensions, the cattle have been released from the enclosures in order to avoid violence and help restore order.
Safety has always been our number one priority, and the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service appreciate the support of those who called for a peaceful conclusion to the operation.
As we have said from the beginning of the gather to remove illegal cattle from federal land consistent with court orders, a safe and peaceful operation is our number one priority. After one week, we have made progress in enforcing two recent court orders to remove the trespass cattle from public lands that belong to all Americans.
Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.
We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner.
Ranching has always been an important part of our nation’s heritage and continues throughout the West on public lands that belong to all Americans. This is a matter of fairness and equity, and we remain disappointed that Cliven Bundy continues to not comply with the same laws that 16,000 public lands ranchers do every year. After 20 years and multiple court orders to remove the trespass cattle, Mr. Bundy owes the American taxpayers in excess of $1 million. The BLM will continue to work to resolve the matter administratively and judicially.
Back in 2014, the BLM made it very clear that the event was a peaceful law-abiding protest. They were not in fear of their lives and did not leave from their fear of the citizens. There was no violence, and the BLM were looking to keep it peaceful. They made a considered decision to stop the impoundment.
This press release is now missing from the BLM website.
It was noticed by defense teams during their evidence preparation for the upcoming trial on October 10th.
Can deliberately removing this statement from the website be considered hiding evidence? Can it be considered obstruction of justice?
It is very lucky that someone, many months ago, thought to preserve the statement for posterity. I am sure the defense attorneys will make use of it.
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