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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 3, 2018)
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
Fair trials, federal tricks
It should be obvious: When the U.S.
government goes after anti-government
protesters, it must follow the highest
legal, ethical and operational standards.
To do otherwise is to reinforce
the protesters’ notion of an unfair,
untrustworthy and undisciplined
Yet in the court case against Nevada
rancher Cliven Bundy — whose 2014
ranching protests helped inspire the
2016 armed occupation of the Malheur
National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon
— federal agents and prosecutors
veered off that high road and onto the
low. Because the government withheld
evidence that might have aided the
defense, federal Judge Gloria Navarro
declared a mistrial last month, stating “a
fair trial at this point is impossible.”
Bundy, sons Ammon and Ryan,
and sympathizer Ryan Payne faced
multiple charges, including conspiracy,
from the Bundys’ 2014 armed standoff
against federal agents in Nevada.
Navarro has scheduled a hearing for
Jan. 8 to determine whether the case
against them should be thrown out. On
Friday, the federal prosecutors asked
for a new trial, contending their failure
to share all their evidence with the
defense was unintentional.
Let there be no doubt: Cliven Bundy
was wrong when he kept using public
land for his cattle after choosing not to
renew his federal grazing permit and not
pay the grazing fees. The Bundys and
their supporters were wrong to take up
arms against federal agents who planned
to seize the Bundy cattle over the unpaid
fees and ensuing fines.
Ammon Bundy and his cohorts were
wrong to bring their armed campaign
into Oregon and ultimately seize the
However, documents and testimony
reveal that at various stages, it was
as if some federal agents had a
vendetta against the Bundys and
their supporters. As one example, a
federal threat assessment had found
the Bundys were not the violent threat
that the government claimed. Yet the
government expectation of a violent
response from the Bundys almost
guaranteed violence. The government
had positioned snipers and other
surveillance, and gun-toting Bundy
supporters had shown up to protect the
The similarities to the Malheur refuge
occurrence are eerie. The U.S. Justice
John Locker /Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File
In this April 2014 file photo, flanked by armed supporters, rancher Cliven Bundy
speaks at a protest camp near Bunkerville, Nev. A U.S. judge has set a Jan. 8 date to
decide whether charges should be dismissed outright in the prosecution of Cliven
Bundy, sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy, and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne.
Department’s heavy-handed pursuit of
two Harney County ranchers — Dwight
Hammond Jr. and son Steven Hammond
— led to excessive prison sentences in
their arson case. In response, Ammon
Bundy and his fellow anti-government
sympathizers descended on the
community of Burns and eventually
invaded the wildlife refuge.
Nothing justifies those extremist
actions of Ammon Bundy and his
followers, or those of Cliven Bundy.
But remember: Our nation’s founders
envisioned a fair, just and accountable
government. When federal prosecutors
and law enforcement agents subvert
these principles, they undermine the
very government they claim to uphold.
Seven wishes for the new year
B2H line could empower
This letter is in response to Idaho
Power’s intention to build a 500 kV power
line through Eastern Oregon and Idaho
from Boardman to Hemingway, known as
B2H. There are many problems with this
If this project is approved, Idaho Power
could evoke the law of eminent domain, a
law created to enable government to take
private land for the public good. Eminent
domain laws for compensation in the case
of transmission lines are among the most
restrictive. Landowners would likely only
be compensated for the land the tower pad
is built on, with no compensation for loss in
surrounding land value or loss of view.
This seems particularly galling in light of
the fact that there is no public good in this
project, only corporate profit.
There is already a federally designated
“energy corridor,” the 386 federal corridor,
set aside to be used for transmission lines.
Why is this corridor not being used for
the proposed transmission line? Could it
be because Idaho Power does not want to
bear the cost of battling with environmental
groups regarding impacts to public lands?
Instead they’ll push it through a new route,
without notification or the meaningful
involvement of residents.
I refuse to get ensnared in arguments
about a preferred route for the transmission
line. I will not use my mental and emotional
resources to fight with my fellow citizens
regarding the placement of B2H because no
land anywhere deserves to be blighted with
this line. The reasons for the project are
wrong, at their core and throughout. Before
we talk about where to place the line, we
need to question if it is needed at all.
Idaho Power has gotten permission to
cross BLM land with the B2H line that is
less than half the length of the line. To finish
getting approval for the line they must
pass bureaucratic hurdles from the U.S.
Forest Service, the Oregon Facilities Siting
Council, and Public Utility Commissions in
both Idaho and Oregon.
Idaho Power will likely face lawsuits
from the Oregon California Trail
Association, the STOP B2H Coalition,
agricultural interests, and residential
property owners. There are many
opportunities yet to stop this line. Let’s
stand together to demand accountability
from Idaho Power and sovereignty from
corporations in Eastern Oregon.
CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
221 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
La Grande office: 541-962-7691
Greg Barreto, District 58
900 Court St. NE, H-38
Salem, OR 97301
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Pendleton office: 541-278-1129
Greg Smith, District 57
900 Court St. NE, H-482
Salem, OR 97301
185 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
La Grande office: 541-624-2400
Bill Hansell, District 29
900 Court St. NE, S-423
Salem, OR 97301
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the
East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and
not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
ell, at least it’s not 2017
book “Getting Better,” a succinct
summary of global well-being
I expect that future
— what to hope for in 2018. His
historians will look back on it as
answers include: final victory in
one of the darker nonwar years
the battles against polio and Guinea
in the country’s history — a year
worm; famine precluded in South
when the president lied constantly,
Sudan; progress on the malaria and
the United States’ global influence
HIV vaccines, as well as continued
suffered and Congress used its
U.S. support for treatments.
mighty powers to enrich the rich.
Science outpaces politics. In
Yet the long view of U.S. history
the struggle against rising seas,
still offers reason for optimism. We
worsening droughts and a warming
usually figure out how to emerge
planet, the Trump administration is
from our darker periods.
trying to make things worse for everyone’s
In the hope that 2018 represents at least
grandchildren. Which means our hopes
the start of a turning point, I offer seven
must rest elsewhere. But there are realistic
New Year’s wishes:
climate wishes for 2018.
I hope public concern
up for the rule of law.
continues to grow (as
The country’s most urgent
polls show it did in 2017),
problem is the possibility
the costs of both solar
that the president will
and wind energy keep
impede an investigation
into illegal behavior by his
become cheaper and more
aides and possibly himself.
powerful and governors,
mayors and foreign
Trump clearly wants to do
leaders stay focused on
so. His allies are defaming
the problem. I also hope
Robert Mueller even
Americans start devoting
though Mueller is a longtime Republican,
more than 2 percent of our philanthropic
a successful FBI director and a decorated
dollars to climate change.
Marine who is pursuing matters of national
Democracy thrives. Authoritarianism
interest, such as: Does a hostile foreign
was on the rise in 2016 across both Europe
power have influence over U.S. officials?
and the United States, and the response
And did the president use illegal tactics in
from small-democratic movements was a
highlight of 2017. Demagogues in France,
Republicans in Congress can make
Austria and the Netherlands all suffered
sure that the country gets answers. They
disappointments. Here, the resistance
can refuse to tolerate any disruption of
delivered electoral setbacks to Trump and
Mueller’s investigation, including the
helped preserve decent health care for
firing of him or his boss, Deputy Attorney
General Rod Rosenstein. If Trump tries to
But creeping authoritarianism remains
go there, his fellow Republicans can tell
a major threat. Democracy advocates will
him that his presidency would effectively be have to summon even more energy for
over. Privately and publicly, they should be
saying so now.
A particular wish: That voter turnout in
Democrats do not waver. In the worst-
our midterm elections surges. It was only
case scenario, with Republicans allowing
42 percent in the last midterm, in 2014,
Trump to obstruct an investigation, I hope
compared with more than 60 percent in
Democrats have no illusions about the
recent presidential elections. That’s not
depth of the constitutional crisis.
healthy. Some groups with the biggest
They should refuse to pass any
potential to increase their political say are
legislation, including to keep the federal
18- to 24-year-olds (17 percent citizen
government open, until a real Russia
turnout in 2014); Asian-Americans (27
investigation restarts. They should use
percent); and Latinos (also 27 percent).
every available tool to block nominees.
Everyone finds an escape. This is
They should talk publicly about little else.
a pretty heavy list, I realize. So I’ll end
U.S. democracy will be in an emergency.
on a lighter note. I hope all of you find
Korea avoids war. The risk of a horrific ways to escape our exhausting political
war is real. The most encouraging sign
times, as well as our all-consuming digital
is that, for all of Kim Jong Un’s brutal
technologies, and enjoy yourselves.
eccentricity, he generally acts in his own
Read Steven Pinker’s forthcoming
book, “Enlightenment Now,” to feel better
self-interest. That rationality means that
about the current era. Savor Mikaela
containment should be possible, because
Shiffrin’s awesome athleticism at next
war would obliterate his regime. Here’s
month’s Winter Olympics. Take advantage
hoping the Trump administration’s cooler
of our golden age of cheap, delicious
heads are setting policy.
and often healthy food. Test drive a
The world keeps getting better. It may
semiautonomous car, and get a feel for
be hard to believe in the United States, but
the future. And when in doubt, spend time
2017 was again the best year in history,
with your friends.
based on the aggregate well-being of
humanity. People have never before lived so
David Leonhardt is an op-ed columnist
long, so well or so freely.
for The New York Times.
I asked Charles Kenny — author of the
I hope all of
you find ways
to escape our
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