Hyperbole Abounds in Coverage of Oregon “Militia” Takeover


That’s the word that every media outlet under the sun is emphasizing in their coverage of a small group of ranchers and extremists who have decided that knowingly entering and remaining upon a Federal facility (the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge) while it’s closed is a good idea. By the way, that amounts to a “petty misdemeanor” under Federal law.

Sure there is a lot of banter, and they have guns. Okay. But even if these ‘militiamen’ broke in to the building, or entered through an unlocked door, under Federal Statutes, it’s still just a burglary. Yes, it’s also unlawful to carry weapons on Federal property. Still not a violent act in and of itself.

So while it may not be a wise career move for me to dispute our Opinion Editor’s position, I’m going to, simply on the basis that what’s unfolding in the high plains desert of Oregon is in to no way terrorism.

Could it reach the threshold of terrorism? Yes. But at this point in time, this is a group of folks who perceive a long history of grievances against the Federal government, some based on the historical events within their own family – and some who simply align with the Mormon / LDS religious beliefs of the ideological leaders of this undertaking, the Bundy family.

As I’ve spoken to before, terrorism involves violent acts, or acts dangerous to human life. That again is based in Federal statutes. So where has it been reported that a single shot has been fired in this ‘armed takeover’ of this Fish and Wildlife Service facility? It hasn’t. Because it hasn’t happened.

These are dangerous people, with dangerous ideology, a grudge against the Federal Government of the United States,

The facility is in an area with a lesser population density than Wyoming, or Alaska. Even if there was a shot fired, there’s no one around for miles. How does this present an act dangerous to human life, if there’s nobody to get shot?

Yes, when Law Enforcement enters the area, the likelihood for an armed conflict rises exponentially. This is a group with which Federal law enforcement has some experience, and though these folks profess to be ‘ready to die for the cause’, the much more attended events at the Bundy Ranch were resolved peacefully.

Then again, they also weren’t occupying and refusing to leave a Federal facility in that case.

Brass tax – I am not delusional.

These are dangerous people, with dangerous ideology, a grudge against the Federal Government of the United States, and who have displayed a willingness to use violence, or the threat of violence to achieve the outcome that they desire.

The Bundy Ranch standoff is fresh in many people’s minds. But let’s not blow things out of proportion either. Yes, the headlines are flashy, and it gets people all worked up, which generates click-throughs and ratings – but at the end of the day – we have not reached the point of terrorism.

Cover Photo Credit: Cacophony/ Wikimedia commons (CC By 2.0) 

What Do You Think?


About the Author
Tony Myhre is a physical security and emergency management consultant hailing from the Seattle area. An admitted news junkie, his interests are homeland security and the foster care system. When not writing for Rise News, you can find him opining on Twitter @trmyhre.

2 comments on Hyperbole Abounds in Coverage of Oregon “Militia” Takeover

  1. mm Alex Austin says:

    First, thank you for name-dropping me and my piece on the subject. On the contrary, I enjoy it when other people have opinions that are on the other side of the fence. At least when they have evidence and points to back it up.

    Your point about the definition of terrorism is fairly accurate. Until there is someone injured or killed by these actions, there is some debate. And it is a good point that this could easily escalate when troops are sent in.

    To me, the shocking thing is that this could be considered a misdemeanor. Yes the building was empty, so it wasn’t exactly an armed assault, but it is still a federal building. They aren’t standing on their private property, or even public property. This is federal property and that is where the line is drawn for me. If these men were standing on the Bundy ranch, then I would call them a delusional militia. The fact that they are holding federal property makes this an attack against the country.

  2. mm Tony Myhre says:

    Thanks for the comments, Alex. That was a slight tongue in cheek, but I appreciate your perspective. When Federal property is involved, things get a bit murky. Burglary is only statutorily charged under a Federal statute where Postal facilities are concerned. I checked my Federal bail book (a guidebook for Federal Police Officers providing charging guidance) before I submitted this piece for publishing.

    Burglary would be charged under State law through the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act – http://www.justice.gov/…/criminal-resource-manual-667…

    This allows the Federal government to charge a person under the local law, when a crime isn’t expressly outlined in Federal statutes.

    So yes, under Oregon law, if they entered the building, and did so with a firearm, they could be charged with 1st degree burglary under the Oregon Statute – http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/164.225 whether they used violence or not. Simply possessing the weapon while entering the building unlawfully makes it a class A felony.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top