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The BLM & Bunkerville

Wooten was subjected to “Whistleblowing Discouragement, Retaliation, and Intimidation.” 

The BLM & Bunkerville lava
(Pictured: Cliven Bundy walks by a first amendment area set up by the Bureau of Land Management near Bunkerville, Nev.)

The BLM & Bunkerville

by Karen Schumacher

The Bunkerville incident occurred in 2014 where citizens gathered to support Cliven Bundy and his stand against the removal of his cattle by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  It ended up with BLM law enforcement agents pointing guns at those citizens and some of those citizens pointing guns back.  Luckily, it was the county Sheriff who diffused the situation but many of those citizens were arrested and incarcerated.

It was due to one courageous BLM employee who stood up to the agency and exposed the truth that resulted in the release of some citizens.  Larry Wooten was the assigned Case Agent/Lead Investigator on behalf of the BLM Bunkerville incident.  His investigation “revealed widespread conduct, ethical and professional issues as well as potential crimes, policy violations and “cover-ups” by the BLM.

It was through his leaked email, called the Wooten I document, that U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in December 2017, as the memo contained allegations that BLM employees were unprofessional, withheld exculpatory evidence, and the BLM did not follow the law.  Efforts to follow BLM policy and bring this information to upper level management by Mr. Wooten during his investigation received no response.

The Wooten II document, which contains far more specific allegations and details about the BLM, was entered into a court of law and released.  It is a lengthy and at times difficult document to read as it contains information about the inner workings of the BLM with interspersed information about the Bunkerville incident, and is often repetitive.  What makes it so valuable is that it exposes the corruption and unethical contamination of a federal agency.

Following are some highlights specific to Bunkerville.  One word of caution, this document does contain vulgar language and sexual material used by the BLM, and religious harassment.  Again, these are allegations by Mr. Wooten.

Special Agent In Charge Dan Love

Mr. Wooten alleged that the Bunkerville incident was led by a “BLM Special Agent-in-Charge”, referring to Dan Love, and as a result, “involved officers and protestors were themselves pawns”.  All of this information was overlooked by higher authorities, and was not provided to the prosecution team.  He also cited Cliven Bundy as a responsible party in this event (pg 2).

During the time of the investigation, Mr. Wooten was subjected to “Whistleblowing Discouragement, Retaliation, and Intimidation.”  BLM management fully participated in this misconduct (pg 3) which included extremely vulgar language and unprofessional behavior by employees.  The report also includes the accusation that illegal monitoring of jail calls was instituted (pgs 4-6).  It appears this information was not turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office as required (pg 7).

It was also in this memo that Mr. Wooten alleged the U.S. Attorney’s Office Prosecution Team adopted a “policy of preferred ignorance in regard to the likely gross misconduct on the part of senior management from the BLM Office of Law Enforcement…” and that evidence of exculpatory material be withheld (pg 9).

On page 11 Mr. Wooten identifies the parties involved in this massive cover-up, the “lack of character” by those who had the ability to stop these crimes, and that his original notes had been seized.  Also, on pages 11-12 he cited multiple policy violations by BLM leadership, and “potential Constitutional issues”.

On October 13, 2016 Mr. Wooten once again reported the unprofessional behaviors on a telephone conference with an Assistant US Attorney, and FBI Special Agent, describing altered images of defendants, sexually explicit emails, and a “kill book” to get defendants to kill themselves.  This was met with a response that those activities were funny and “not a big deal” (pgs 18-19)

Clear instructions on how the BLM SAC should respond in the Bunkerville incident were outlined by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on March 26, 1014.  These directives included no initial use of force, the BLM was to stand down and step back where possible, and that “any arrests must be approved by an AUSA prior to the arrest”.  This was met with a response from “a BLM SAC” that a show of force would not be a first play and awareness of consequences for abuse of authority (pgs 23-24).

However, that agent then stated, “Although a passive approach may have the desired effect, it may also be considered a sign of weakness…which may embolden one or more members of those we are confronting”.  Around the same time an order was issued to impound Bundy’s cattle where a BLM SAC said “something like “we’re going to go out there and kick Cliven Bundy in the teeth “or mouth” and take his cows.”  An iPad was also taken from Dave Bundy who was arrested while filming these impound operations (pgs 23-24).  Other intimidating statements are on these pages.

Notations were made by Mr. Wooten in November, 2014 that the seized iPad had “likely unacceptable indication of unprofessionalism and potential evidence of excessive physical force” (pg 29).  It was also during this time he received accolades for his work on the Bunkerville case (pg 30).

Around September, 2015 Mr. Wooten noted that a lead prosecutor mentioned the theory that Bundy’s cattle were sickly and in bad shape.  He countered this with the fact that the cattle were in good physical shape (pg 35).  He also speaks to a pin-up at the BLM Southern Nevada District Office that made comparisons of the Bundy’s to Ted Bundy and others, and an unflattering posting of Cliven Bundy.

Even though the “over use and unjustifiable use of cost codes” infers “misconduct”, one agent bragged about a fly rod and reel being “purchased with authorized investigation overtime money”.  Also referenced was the BLM Deputy Director at the time stating “when Democrats win elections, public service jobs are safer…and funded better”.  It was also noted that the lead prosecutor intended to “charge the subjects with the maximum possible charges” rather than the recommended lesser charges (pgs 36-37).

Upon the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover in Burns, Oregon, Mr. Wooten alleges the “office narrative” was “there needs to be an officer involved shooting to make these types of people get the message” (pg 38).

In January, 2016 an email was sent around that contained a link to a derogatory article in Rolling Stones about the Bundys.  The email was also shared with a “potential trial witness”.  Along with this several other derogatory emails were sent out about the Bundys that included “sexually explicit material and profane language” (pg 41).  An overall lack of concern for the death of LaVoy Finicum was noted.  Mr. Wooten also documented plain clothes operations were conducted at this time without case documentation.  Another reference to a derogatory email about Ammon Bundy was also made on page 42.

Congratulatory remarks were made by BLM officials via emails upon the arrest of Cliven Bundy which led to Mr. Wooten being concerned about it having a negative effect on the investigation (pgs 43-44).

On pages 45-47 Mr. Wooten gave clear indications that BLM staff were pleased with their efforts in doing their job with the Bunkerville arrests, again creating demeaning pictures to pass around as well as posting them in areas where civilians could see them.

On the same pages, Mr. Wooten exposes a severe disregard for and violation of the law by the BLM.  As part of the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), 43 USC 1733(c) (1) states that contracts with local law enforcement shall be offered  to assist with enforcement of laws and regulations on federal land which was not done at Bunkerville.  Even the BLM website states it has a partnership with the Western States Sheriff’s Association and is under FLPMA, so why wasn’t this law followed?

A discussion about the illegally recorded phone conversations on the detainees while in jail can be found on page 48.  The lead prosecutor advised them to stop this activity.  Also mentioned was the use of equipment for “covert monitoring” in the field and around campsites which Mr. Wooten advised was not legal.  Mr. Wooten disclosed the BLM held a “parabolic microphone covert/spy listening device and bionic ear booster and amplifier” in storage.  Further derogatory emails and texts being sent out were discussed through page 49 and may have been “unlawfully deleted”.

In June, 2016 there was discussion about putting BLM SAC, Dan Love, in charge of a Threat Mitigation Unit (TMU) to “hide him” (pg 52).  TMU’s began in the 1990’s by the LA police department, and are comprised of a “team that provides criminal and behavioral analysis and risk assessments in an attempt to review, and ultimately mitigate, the potential for violence with an emphasis on prevention.”  These “threat assessments” are now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including Idaho.  The BLM has a link to the DHS as part of its Emergency Management Program.  DHS now has a full blown program on terrorism and threats, including “domestic terrorism”.

Mr. Wooten expressed concern that this “threat analysis and mitigation strategies” for personnel, facilities, resources, visitors, and partners would be perceived as “mission creep”, meaning “intelligence gathering on Constitutionally protected activities” (pg 52).  Also on this page was a clear mockery of the Constitution by a Senior BLM Supervisory Law Enforcement Officer.

Mr. Wooten was informed that an Assistant Special Agent in Charge stated to an audience, “What XXXXXXX is trying to say is that we are going to go out there and kick Cliven Bundy in the teeth (or mouth) and take his cows” (pg 55) with more inappropriate behavior by the BLM SAC through page 56.

Continued on pages 56-66, Mr. Wooten numerically outlines concerns, about how the Bunkerville incident involved multiple abuses of power such as destruction of documents, failure to follow directives, abuse of authority, unprofessional conduct, false statements, illegal monitoring of conversations, failure of upper administration to respond to raised concerns, confidentiality violations, and other allegations.

A discussion about the dismissal of exculpatory evidence is highlighted on page 74.  Efforts to contribute to a fair trial were clearly ignored.

snipers bunkervilleIn spite of the BLM denying the use of snipers, the types of weapons used by the BLM and the disclosure of their use of snipers can be found on pages 62 and 93.  Mr. Wooten again reiterated BLM’s failure to follow 43 USC 1733(c) (1) on pages 83-89.  While it is referenced in this document that this law does not apply to Idaho, that is inaccurate.

In spite of multiple attempts by Mr. Wooten to follow the 1981 BLM policy on reporting misconduct with upper management, he was released from this case on Feb 17, 2017 and his files seized (pgs 96-99).  Dan Love, BLM Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Bunkerville incident was promoted for his failures, then exited the BLM in 2017.  The BLM does have a public site where misconduct can be reported.

It appears that no lessons were learned by the BLM as they continue to ignore the law and engage with crony corporate partners that monetarily benefits them, and will continue to remove the use of the land by citizens, including the right of cattle ranchers to grazing.  This is one federal agency that needs to be eliminated.

However, it really is a testament to just how far the government has exceeded its enumerated powers and ballooned into an overpowering and tyrannical regime.  If one man, Mr. Wooten, has the courage to bring this truth forward at the expense of his own livelihood, what is every other man and woman doing to be as courageous standing in the defense of the Constitution?

More documents on this investigation can be found here.

 

Related:   Wooten II – On Patriot Radio!