The SPLC’s definition of a hate group is “an organization that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” including race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. It’s a standard that is in line with the latest thinking among scholars of hate, and also one that intentionally parallels the FBI’s definition of a hate crime.
Does an alliance of lawyers with conservative Christian leanings that has won nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in the past seven years meet that criteria? According to Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project — which produces the hate list — the decision to put the Alliance Defending Freedom on the list for 2016 was a judgment call that went all the way up to top leadership at the SPLC.
Three years before the impoundment of Cliven Bundy’s cattle turned into an armed confrontation between anti-government groups and federal agents, the FBI made an assessment that the Nevada rancher personally was unlikely to be violent in the event of conflict. The agency suggested a novel solution to Bundy’s 20 years of unpaid bills, one designed to put the dispute to rest: drop the fines he owed altogether.
The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, based in Quantico, Va., determined in 2011 that the rancher was unlikely to comply with federal court orders to move his 900 animals off federal land, where they had been illegally grazing, because “he only has enough land to handle less than 100 head of cattle.” Though the Bureau of Land Management was concerned that allowing Bundy to avoid paying federal grazing fees and fines could lead to violence, the FBI thought otherwise.
“BLM may wish to consider waiving the existing fines, as a gesture of willingness to participate in discussions geared toward negotiations,” the FBI wrote in the classified analysis, obtained by The Washington Post. The unit concluded that any alternatives the government could offer Bundy might reduce the rancher’s stress and “in turn, reduce the risk of a violent act.”
An unusual ripple effect of the mass shooting that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded along the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday is that it could have implications for a high-profile federal trial that is set to begin here next week — a case that also involves weapons.
A Montana militiaman who is accused of weapons charges and conspiring against the U.S. government asked a federal judge this week to delay his trial by 60 days because of the Las Vegas shooting. The charges against Ryan Payne stem from the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., and the trial is slated to start with jury selection Oct. 12.
On Thursday, Payne’s attorneys filed an additional motion, seeking to move the trial out of Las Vegas and to a different venue nearly 450 miles away: the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev. They argued that it would be impossible to seat a fair jury in light of the gun-related massacre.
WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that President Trump modify 10 nationalmonuments created by his immediate predecessors, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four western sites,according to a copy of the report obtained by the Washington Post.
The memorandum, which the White House has refused to releasesince Zinke submitted it late last month, does not specify exactreductions for the four protected areas Zinke would have Trumpnarrow – Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante,Nevada’s Gold Butte, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou – or thetwo marine national monuments – the Pacific Remote Islands andRose Atoll – for which he raised the same prospect. The two Utah sites encompass a total of more than 3.2 million acres, part of the reason they have aroused such intense emotions since their designation.
The secretary’s set of recommendations also would change theway all 10 targeted monuments are managed. It emphasizes theneed to adjust the proclamations to address concerns of localofficials or affected industries, saying the administration shouldpermit “traditional uses” now restricted within the monuments’ boundaries, such as grazing, logging, coal mining andcommercial fishing.
The FBI has arrested an Oklahoma man on charges that he tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb, acting out of a hatred for the U.S. government and an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, according to court papers.
Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested shortly after an attempt early Saturday morning to detonate a fake bomb packed into what he believed was a stolen cargo van outside a bank in Oklahoma City, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. He was charged with attempted destruction of a building by means of an explosive.
According to the complaint, over the course of a months-long undercover investigation by the FBI, Varnell made repeated statements about the extent of his hatred of the federal government.