A Recommended Honorable Exit Strategy For Ammon Bundy

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Ammon,

I believe you know that I respect you as a man of great, inspirational courage and conviction.  And likewise for your brothers.   It was your family’s inspiring courage and conviction at Bundy Ranch in Nevada that caused me, Oath Keepers as an organization (with hundreds of our members answering the call), and many other groups and individuals to come from all over the nation, rifles in hand, to protect your family and back you up, shoulder-to-shoulder, as you took a strong stand for your rights and for the Constitution against a clear and present danger of military trained snipers and Special Forces veteran “contractor” mercenaries.   When we saw the militarized posture of the .gov forces arrayed against you, we veterans felt honor bound to interpose ourselves between them and you, to prevent your ranching family from being “Waco’d.”  It was a profound honor to do so, and it was a stand that will go down in history.

However, as you know, we oppose what you have chosen to do by occupying the wildlife preserve there in Oregon, specifically because it is not being done with the consent of the locals or at their request, without the request of the Hammond’ family, without even their knowledge of what you were going to do, until you did it, and because it is not in direct defense of anyone.  The right way to go would have been to respect the right of the locals on the Committee of Safety to call the shots, decide what needs to be done, and to actually let them be in charge of all outside volunteers, including you.  You can certainly act as an adviser and instructor, giving input on what you think they should do, but they must be in charge.

And frankly, what they should do is go out, as a united community, and simply use the land to ranch, log, mine, farm, etc, with our protection.  You can bet that if they did chose to do so, Oath Keepers, the Oregon III%, Idaho III%, Pacific Patriot Network, Bearded Bastards, and other hard-core patriots would have saddled up and rode, with distinct pleasure and joy in our warrior hearts, to protect the people as they nullified, used “civil-disobedience” and simply lived as free American westerners, ranching, farming, logging, and just living as if he BLM did not exist.   It would be ideal if they did so with a Constitutional Sheriff leading the way, with the people serving as his posse, but even without that, so long as a significant number of locals choose to stand, we can provide direct, physical assistance and protection to back them up as they take back their land.

But none of us have the right to make their decisions for them.  They need to have the stones to stand up.   They must make that momentous decision for themselves.   Once they do, it is then our duty to back them up 100% and then some.  It is a fundamental principle of self-government, the consent of the governed, and self-determination that it is the people of Harney County who must make the momentous, critical decision to stand, and who must ultimately be in charge.  In fact, you said so yourself, during your recent town hall meeting on December 15, 2015, where you helped locals form the Harney County Committee of Safety.  You said:

We have people across the United States that will stand with you, I’ve already explained that.  I’m confident.  But the thing is, it’s not necessarily right, for us, or for the people, to come in here and to make a stand without the people forming and being in control of it.  That’s what this Committee of Safety is.  It is where the people elect this Committee and this Committee is in charge of those that will come in and assist throughout this country, in defending the rights of this people and enforcing the Constitution.  And, I’m not going to dance around what we’re talking about here.  We’re talking about removing these unconstitutional agencies from Harney County.   And bringing the people back up to go ranching, logging, or whatever else.  But the people have to – you, you have to exhibit enough organization to form these committees of safety so that you can charge, and be in charge of the militia.   That’s what it comes down to.  That is the proper way in which this is supposed to happen (emphasis added).

I agree completely with your above quoted statement to the Harney County Committee of Safety.  The people of Harney County do have the absolute right to govern themselves, and to be in charge of, and in control over, whatever is done to secure their rights in their county and state, and they have the right to be in charge of any volunteers from elsewhere who come in to help.   That truly is “the proper way in which this is supposed to happen.”  But unfortunately, you did not respect that right.   Apparently, you did not really trust the people of Harney County to take a hard stand and were not confident that they would do so.  And while you told the locals that they would be in charge and control of their own destiny, you had evidently already planned out this armed occupation of the federal facility at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and were already staging your men (none of them locals) and supplies in the area to do it.  All of this was done without even the knowledge, let alone the consent, of that local Committee of Safety (or any other locals).  The Harney County Committee of Safety is now in charge of jack squat.   And that’s what you now have the chance to correct, with honor and integrity.

I propose that you return to and adhere to your own stated principles of respecting the right of the people of Harney County to self-determination, self-government, and their right to stand up, on their own two feet, with our support and protection.   Therefore, you need to submit yourself to the authority of the Committee of Safety and the people of Harney County at large, and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that they are now in charge, and you will comply with whatever they decide must be done, whether you agree with it or not.   Even if you think the people there are not yet ready to stand, you should know you cannot graft a pair of balls onto a gelding.   The people must grow a pair themselves, and it must be their decision to stand, and meanwhile you must respect their will and do what they determine is best.   You can advise, suggest, and assist, but you cannot decide for them.

So throw your sword at the  people’s feet, and pledge and swear that you will abide by their decision, whatever it is, and defend them in doing whatever they decide is best, so long as it is ethical, moral, and constitutional.  But it must be their decision, not  yours.

That is the honorable, ethical, moral, and constitutional way to go.  That is an honorable exit plan.

I recommend you take it, and by doing so you will have retaken the moral high ground.  And then we can all pledge to protect any rancher, logger, farmer, miner, etc. in Harney County who has the physical and moral courage to take a stand, and simply act as their forefathers acted, as free Americans on the land, and we will protect them with our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor (as we did this year at the Sugar Pine Mine, in Oregon, and again at the White Hope Mine, in Lincoln, Montana).   Let that be our standing offer to any of the people of Harney County who will take a stand.   Let that be our oath, and when they stand, we will be honor-bound to stand with them.  And we will.

And when that happens, we will be acting with honor, and it will be the Feds who will have the choice of honoring their oaths by standing down, or violating their oaths by aggressing against the people, and history will reflect who had the moral high ground and acted only in defense of human decency, local self-government, liberty, and the Constitution.

That is the honorable path here.   Please take it.

For the Republic,

Stewart Rhodes

Founder and President of Oath Keepers

 

About Author

Stewart Rhodes

Stewart is the founder and National President of Oath Keepers. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper until disabled in a rough terrain parachuting accident during a night jump. He is a former firearms instructor, former member of Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff, and served as a volunteer firefighter in Montana. Stewart previously wrote the monthly Enemy at the Gates column for S.W.A.T. Magazine. Stewart graduated from Yale Law School in 2004, where his paper “Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status” won Yale’s Miller prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. He assisted teaching U.S. military history at Yale, was a Yale Research Scholar, and is writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war to the American people.