Santilli Prosecution a Tyrannical Assault on Free Speech and Press

ScreenHunter_08 Feb. 11 19.36

Love him or hate him, if the government gets away with its prosecution of Pete Santilli, freedom of expression and freedom of the press will be effectively quashed. (The Pete Santilli Show)

“Is Pete Santilli a free speech champion or just another loud mouth?” Kevin Harden of the Portland Tribune asks. “The 50-year-old Santilli was arrested Jan. 26 in Burns for what federal prosecutors say was his part in a conspiracy of threats and intimidation preventing federal employees from doing their jobs during the five-week occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.”

The answer to Harden’s question is that it doesn’t matter.  The First Amendment is not there to ensure only inoffensive and approved speech is lawful.  And Santilli’s case raises a concern of equal importance: the government presuming to define who is a “legitimate” reporter/commentator.

I’ve been sensitive to that distinction ever since I was threatened with arrest for asking a question at an anti-gun public media event. Since that time, appalled by the outrageous state of today’s “agenda press,” with routine sins of omission, commission, ignorance, and flat-out lies, I’ve logged untold posts and articles on a phenomenon I started out calling “Authorized Journalists,” but in many cases more appropriately refer to as “Fourth Estate Fifth Columnists.”

Jealous of losing their role as information gatekeepers — and thus as controllers of the narrative the public hears – “progressive” defenders of returning to the old ways (every day for them is Opposite Day) – have gone so far as to propose an internet tax “to limit the avalanche [of alternative news sources, and] make the technologies that overproduce information more expensive and less widespread.”

That’s desperation. And funny thing about “social justice” types – when it’s their rice bowls going empty, they suddenly find a capitalist streak.

Grousing by “real reporters” aside, the actual threat comes from government, and I’ve experienced that firsthand as well.  Back when I was reporting on ATF harassment of a gun shop, accusations were leveled that reporting on the doings of agents and inspectors posed “a credible threat,” and amounted to “harassment and intimidation.” ATF actually complained to the judge ruling on the case that a citizen taking photographs of their activities, and blogs reporting on them, were not journalists, attempting to get a ruling to shut down scrutiny.

When that didn’t work, a U.S. Marshal sent a warning to me via the gun shop owner that my reporting was prosecutable as a felony under the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007.

This is very similar to the legal crap the feds are throwing at those they arrested in connection with the Malheur occupation, which the always-excellent William N. Grigg provides background perspective for:

The federal statute under which Ammon Bundy and six other members of the CCF have been charged, 18 USC section 372, offers no protection whatsoever to the persons and property of U.S. citizens. That measure, enacted in 1861, is designed to protect “officers” of the federal government (including administrative personnel and other bureaucrats) as they prey upon the Regime’s subjects. It originally targeted actual and suspected sympathizers with the Confederacy, which in practice meant anybody who respected and defended the right of states to withdraw from the Union, even if motivated by an ignoble cause.

I’ve also gone beyond reporting and writing opinion pieces in my capacity as an advocate for the right to keep and bear arms. I’ve routinely encouraged civil disobedience against unjust edicts. And I’ve defied those edicts and risked arrest on occasion myself.

Now think what would have happened to the public cognizance of Fast and Furious “gunwalking” if mere bloggers had been arrested for “preventing federal employees” from doing their jobs of suppressing information, stonewalling and lying. Go ahead and count/look at all the reports Mike Vanderboegh and I had filed before big boy media said word one about it.

That Santilli is facing any charges, when he was clearly acting within his rights as a citizen and in the capacity of an independent journalist — bringing original information the mainstream press could not about a vital public interest story — is an Intolerable Act against the First Amendment. That’s not gone unnoticed by others, even those opposed to much of what the Patriot movement stands for.

“While many people might disagree with statements made by those involved in the Malheur takeover, Americans have a fundamental right to freedom of speech,” the ACLU of Oregon declared in a position statement on charges against Santilli. “We can all agree that we should not hold members of the media or protesters in jail without bail simply because they have shocking or abhorrent views. These are principles that we must stand by, even when we disagree with the message of the speaker.”

Anyone familiar with his work knows Santilli can be a polarizing figure, and that includes within the liberty movement. I’ve never met the guy or even to my recollection corresponded with him, and hold no special personal connection to him or to the way he does things. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m on good terms with several people who can’t stand him. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see the same divide in comments, with some condemning him and others rushing to his defense.

That’s the price of putting your name and your beliefs out there. And it’s irrelevant.

We don’t have to agree with the guy, we don’t have to approve of his way of doing or saying things, we don’t have to believe him, and we don’t have to like him. But if he’s guilty, I’m guilty, and so are a lot of people I know. By going after him, the government has declared war on freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and war on citizen oversight of government activities. It has set itself up as a totalitarian ministry of information and the final arbiter of what is acceptable, with all the potential for great evil that implies.

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About Author

David Codrea

David Codrea blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance (, and is a field editor/columnist for GUNS Magazine. Named “Journalist of the Year” in 2011 by the Second Amendment Foundation for his groundbreaking work on the “Fast and Furious” ATF “gunwalking” scandal, he is a frequent event speaker and guest on national radio and television programs.


  1. Linda 12 February, 2016, 07:14

    There is a huge issue with the USC under which all of them are being charged…18 USC, section 372.

    It is being wrongly used and has been wrongly used for decades against the people. And, it is a basic judiciary manipulation that has been going on for even longer. It was used against the first Bundy and the Hammonds, too.

    For a better understanding, three key things are necessary.

    1) USC applies to government and/or government employees (including military)
    2) Common Law applies to the people
    3) The Constitution Article III, Amendment V and Amendment VII must be adhered to

    The charges are not following ‘due process’ and are in the wrong jurisdiction. Among other things, the Grand Jury indictment was wrongly applied and there needed to have been a probable cause inquiry with an injured party whereby the accused faces the accuser before the indictment. Basically this process is called ‘common law’ and it is what applies to the people.

    What the government is trying to do is use ‘statutory law’ under Article I instead of common law under Article III.

    None of the refuge folks were properly arrested or charged. The government charges are un-constitutional I hope someone on the ground in OR is filing counter charges against the government actions.

    Reply this comment
  2. R. J. Simmons 12 February, 2016, 08:58

    This Sintilli PERSECUTION is just another bead on the necklace that the traitors and oath breakers are stringing across America. Recently others have been persecuted for their speech and thought crimes such as Wolfgang Halbig and James Tracey who both rightfully question the Sandy Hook Massacre narrative. Halbig had his donation page shut down, and Tracey, a tenured professor, was fired from a Florida University. ( One word from Jeb Bush could reverse that action, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that). And think back a few years to those who doubted the 911 story. Barrett and Ryan quickly come to mind. And just a few weeks ago a student at Duke wrote some screed proclaiming that free speech should be done away with. Folks, we are in serious trouble, and I think a lot of it has to do with the Marxist professors who have infested our institutes of learning for the past decades. Many of them have diarrhea of the mouth when they get up in front of their classes and divest from the curriculum and proceed to dump on the impressionable minds before them. This country needs a nice cleansing enema if we are ever to get back on track. The universities would be a good place to start. They need to be re-educated about the old saying that said ” I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it with my life”.

    Reply this comment
  3. PaulMan 12 February, 2016, 09:18

    Regardless of what anybody thinks about this guy he has a constitutional right to say and wright what he wants. This should not and cannot be tolorated. If we as an organization let this stand then we are guilty of complicity. This is not any different than the 2014 activities at the Bundy Ranch . It’s a violation of our constitutional rights. Either we step up to it or we turn our back,disband and go home. We may not like this Loudmouth however he did nothing wrong and should get our full support.

    Reply this comment
  4. Gabriel 12 February, 2016, 10:00

    Great Work David~! Thank you~!

    Reply this comment
  5. ken 12 February, 2016, 10:21

    What really amazes me is this. All the bashing of Santilli. Was anyone holding a gun to your heads to watch him. Ifyou don’t like the guy turn the channel. O ya thats right he braved the 17 below weather to report on the goings on . While most everyone sat at their key boards in the comfort of their homes. Don’t like him go do a better job or shut up!!!

    Reply this comment
  6. Robert D. 12 February, 2016, 10:48

    Linda, thank you for your clarifying words. I hope someone out there in Oregon territory is aware of what you point out.
    And, as always, thank you Elias Alias for your sound reasoned input. The arrest of Pete, like him or not, is the arrest of ALL of US!
    And for those of us who pray for Divine Intervention, let us all remember ….. God doesn’t show up out of the clouds, He works through US, through individual human beings standing forth FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS! If we want God’s help, let us stand forth and BE that help, to the best of our ability. Being TRUE to that which we know is GOOD is BEING OUR PART of God-in-Action!
    I thank you Elias for keeping this line of communication up and running.
    May you take time to rest and nourish yourself!!! We need you to be healthy!
    With gratitude to all who are participating,
    Robert D. Gubisch

    Reply this comment
    • psychokat 12 February, 2016, 12:47

      Robert D.,
      I must correct your ‘euphemism’ about The free State of Oregon. I’m sure you know OR is a state, but calling it the ‘The Territory of’ is giving legal credence to federal gov intrusions and illegal activity. I don’t want to be the ‘word police’ but words have real meaning, and we all need to plug that back into our brains. If OR were still a territory, then everything perpetrated by fedgov agents would be perfectly LEGAL.
      Please, all read your dang Constitutions, especially if you want to make a difference!

      Reply this comment
  7. Kat 12 February, 2016, 10:54

    We are seeing this too Media is controlled by the Government that is A SAD DAY IN AMERICA………… WE ARE FAMILIES being violated by CPS FAMILY COURTS ETC., CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY many of us have attempted to get investigative journalist to take our cause to the front lines sadly there are none or I should say very few that will even consider speaking out against this CORRUPTION RICO FEDERAL RACKETEERING ………………. #TAKEN #OPEXPOSECPS read all about it ……………. There cannot be this many victims if what we are saying is not TRUTH LAWSUITS DAILY PEOPLE WAKE UP ONE DAY this could be your child your grandchild

    Reply this comment
  8. Nevada Dave 12 February, 2016, 11:09

    Back in 2012, Marine, Brandon J. Raub was taken into custody over some FaceBook posts, hauled off to a psych ward, with no charges, and held for some time, all against his will. The Rutherford Institute successfully represented him, but there are still evil people in high places that try to rule over us with violence. As created beings, accountable to a Righteous Judge, we have a duty to our fellow man to treat him as equal. In some circles, you might say, don’t grab a tiger by the tail.

    Reply this comment
  9. Heyoka 12 February, 2016, 11:31

    The thing to remember here is the intent of the Amendment is to protect all forms of communication. These communication, except when they can be attributed to inciting a physical confrontation or a breach of the peace, are to be protected from government restriction. the intent is to protect political speech, speaking about your beliefs in the Almighty and to actually publish that speech if your little heart desired it.

    You are still restrained from slander and liable if you do those things and the only defense from either is the truth. Beyond that government has no business restraining speech and the Framers left it open ended intentionally. If they wanted it restricted they could have proposed it. Of course the People were the ones who ratified in their state conventions and if they did not want it they would not have voted it in.

    The problem is that we have been indoctrinated into the concept that government has the right to remediate our liberties because it has been going on so long. As Madison said. “… powers delegated are few and defined”… Federalist 45. If they ain’t writ in the Constitution they ain’t brother…

    Reply this comment
  10. R.E.Massey 12 February, 2016, 13:07

    I found this on the BLM Elias, although I do not believe that they have been re-authorized by congress for a very long time, this agency does receive funds from somewhere though;


    Established: In the Department of the Interior by Secretary’s Order 2225, July 15, 1946, implementing Reorganization Plan No. III of 1946, effective July 16, 1946.

    Predecessor Agencies:

    In the Department of the Treasury:

    Office of the Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1812)
    Register of the Treasury (1789-1812)
    General Land Office (1812-49)

    In the Department of State:

    Office of the Secretary of State (administration of land patents, 1796-1812)

    In the War Department:

    Office of the Secretary of War (military land warrants, 1789-1812) Ordnance Department (supervision of lead and copper mines, 1821-46)

    In the Department of the Interior:

    General Land Office (1849-1946)
    Division of Grazing Control (1934-35)
    Division of Grazing (1935-39)
    Grazing Service (1939-46)

    Functions: Classifies, manages, and disposes of public lands and their resources according to principles of multiple-use management. Administers federally owned mineral resources on nonfederal lands.

    Finding Aids: Preliminary inventory in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

    Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Bureau of Land Management and its predecessors in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, RG 48.
    Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, RG 75.
    Records of the National Park Service, RG 79.
    Records of the Forest Service, RG 95.
    Records of the Bureau of Reclamation, RG 115.


    History: The Federal Government inherited a substantial public domain from its predecessor, the government under the Articles of Confederation. By Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution, Congress was empowered “to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” In the act establishing the Treasury Department (1 Stat. 65), September 2, 1789, the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized “to execute such services relative to the sale of the lands belonging to the United States, as may be by law required of him,” and the Office of the Register of the Treasury was designated the agency for the collection and dispersal of Treasury revenues. The Secretary of War, in the act establishing the War Department (1 Stat. 50), August 7, 1789, was made responsible for granting military bounty lands (lands to which veterans of the Revolutionary War were entitled by virtue of their military service). Treasury responsibility for administering the public lands was defined initially in the Land Act of 1796 (1 Stat. 464), May 18, 1796, which provided for the orderly survey and sale of lands northwest of the Ohio River. This responsibility was extended geographically and amended procedurally by additional land laws of 1800, 1803, and 1804. The act of 1796 required the Secretary of State to record and issue patents (titles) to public land. The General Land Office Act (2 Stat. 716), April 25, 1812, created the General Land Office (GLO) in the Department of the Treasury to “superintend, execute, and perform, all such acts and things, touching or respecting the public lands of the United States,” including those functions formerly vested in the Secretaries of War and State. GLO transferred to the newly created Department of the Interior under provisions of its establishing act (9 Stat. 395), March 3, 1849. GLO and Grazing Service (SEE 49.6) consolidated to form BLM, 1946. SEE 49.1.

    The last authorization made by congress that I could find was made in 1976.
    Public Law 94-579-Oct. 21, 1976.

    Here is some good outside information on the BLM;

    Reply this comment
  11. Sean 12 February, 2016, 13:59

    Freedom of speech is as dead as the 2nd… least that’s how our government and its slave class citizens view things.

    Not sure how we change that misperception.

    Reply this comment
  12. commonlaw 12 February, 2016, 14:22

    the united states has been operating as a corporation- Obama is the ceo of a corporation. They are now broke.Ever wonder why every court case that has challenged him comes back-“No Standing” why? Do your homework. Pete Santilli said something on his way from Ohio that was a little puzzling to me (as I have always had the utmost respect for oath keepers ) He said ” I do not need a membership to be an oath keeper! It is now at this late time that I understand what he meant. I believe that would be politics,lawyers and fencesitters.

    Reply this comment
  13. Robert D. 13 February, 2016, 18:48

    Thank you Psychokat for your clarity! I should have said it differently.
    And Cal, thank you for your comments!!!
    This forum is VERY healthy and I appreciate ALL who participate!!!!
    And ESPECIALLY the very FEW men behind making this site available.
    With warm regards and much gratitude,
    Robert D. Gubisch

    Reply this comment
  14. Obbop 14 February, 2016, 08:52

    Yet another extremely complicated topic. Condensed to a minute portion of this complexity I think of the unholy alliance between big business and big government and that a handful of huge corporations control the media outlets that have an incredible amount of influence upon the masses via what information is disseminated and how it is conveyed.

    We, the People have to counter that corporate influence when and where it removes wealth and power from the common folks. This is the war for hearts and minds that I fear the militia movement as a whole is failing to confront.

    Reply this comment
  15. Duck 19 February, 2016, 20:26

    pete will be found guilty and imprisoned because he broke the law.

    Reply this comment

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