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article imageReid ups ante on Bundy supporters, says are 'domestic terrorists'

By Ralph Lopez     Apr 21, 2014 in World
Sharply escalating the stakes in a dispute over grazing fees allegedly owed to the US government by a cattle rancher in Nevada, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has declared that Cliven Bundy and his supporters who carry arms are "domestic terrorists."
At an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal last weekend, Reid said that Bundy and those who showed up in response to the military-style show of force against him a week ago were “nothing more than domestic terrorists."
The escalation in rhetoric follows Reid's assertion that the confrontation, which ended peacefully when federal forces withdrew, is "not over." Reid said that a federal task force is being formed to deal with the Bundy situation.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has implemented and continues to enforce a no-fly zone over the area, preventing news helicopters from entering the airspace.
Approximately 200 Bureau of Land Management police as well as FBI withdrew in the face of hundreds of people who arrived to support Bundy, many of them armed, in an area of the country where firearms are commonplace and lightly regulated. The federal force included long-range snipers positioned on ridges, who arrived to enforce a court order to round up Bundy's cows. The agents arrived armed with automatic rifles and wore helmets and body armor, and were backed by helicopters and spy drone support.
Bundy had been grazing his cattle legally until 1993, when the BLM changed the grazing rules and Bundy stopped paying his fees. Since then, Bundy has been locked in a court battle over the fees, which he says amount to about $300,000. Bundy's issue in the complex case is apparently federal control over the land. Bundy contends that he will pay his grazing fees but only to his county, Clark County.
Bundy has said:
"They're carrying the same things that a soldier would..it's soldier type equipment."
Much of the reaction to what supporters have called the government's provocations stems from the deployment of military style force against the rancher and the manhandling of citizens by the federal authorities. In video taken during the stand-off, a man complained that his aunt had been thrown to the ground for taking video, and that K-9 units were being used to intimidate peaceful protesters along the road near the ranch. In one video a police dog can be seen lunging at a man who then fends it off by kicking at it. Some media reports say that a police dog was kicked, without adding that the dog had lunged and nipped at the man's leg (above video.)
A conservative news website and blog, IndependentSentiinel.com, has written:
"Regardless of what you believe and whose side you take, you should want to cry over the government's reaction to unarmed citizens. They sent an army after a family over a legal dispute."
Bundy has indicated that the dispute is a systemic one involving many ranchers over past 20 years.
Bundy said:
"Years ago, I used to have 52 neighboring ranchers. I'm the last man standing. How come? Because BLM regulated people off the land and out of the business."
The IndependentSentinel.com has likened the deployment of military tactics and equipment for policing duties in Nevada to the law enforcement response in Watertown, Massachusetts, during the hunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. In that chase, thousands of police, many dressed in full battle gear, stalked the two brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Armored vehicles similar to those which would be seen in Iraq roamed quiet neighborhood streets, and military Blackhawk helicopters hovered over a shopping mall.
Agribusiness subsidies nothing new
The practice of allowing ranchers to graze cattle on public lands for a fee is one of the many forms of subsidization of private agribusiness in America, but is dwarfed by the $15 million to $30 million in subsidies granted yearly to the wheat, corn, soybeans, rice,, and cotton industries. Ranchers who graze cattle on BLM land are freed from investing in their own private land, and are therefore at an advantage. The BLM ranchers tend to be smaller operations. Bundy has said "My cattle are the kind of cattle people look for at Whole Foods."
The subsidization of private business in America does not stop at agribusiness, and is known by some as "corporate welfare." Ironically, the largest magnitudes by far in this area of government activity are to be found in the banking arena, where it is estimated that US banks still owe the taxpayers between $2 trillion and $3 trillion. The Bundy Affair takes place as Rolling Stone economic writer Matt Taibbi, who covered, and was an influence on, Occupy Wall Street, comes out with a new book in which he argues that justice is dispensed in America, more than ever, according to the economic class of the offender.
Bundy's supporters give no credence to the official stated reasons for the federal agents' targeting of Bundy for harsh enforcement, and say there are other forces at work, such as more powerful interests with their own reasons for wanting Bundy off the land. Bundy's operation, from 500 to 1,000 animals, is small compared to many in the cattle industry, the largest players of which run ranches with up to 60,000 or more head of cattle.
Sen. Harry Reid has also said that Bundy does not pay his regular taxes, but Bundy vehemently denies this, and says he owes no back-taxes to the IRS or Nevada, separate and apart from the grazing fee dispute.
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