Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bundy leaves meeting with FBI because media not allowed

The leader of the armed group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge met briefly with a federal agent this morning but left because the agent wouldn’t talk with him in front of the media. The short meeting occurred as the standoff over federal land use policies stretches to the three-week mark and as Oregon officials are putting increased pressure on federal authorities to take action against Ammon Bundy’s group. Bundy arrived at the airport in Burns late Friday morning, where the FBI has set up a staging area. On Thursday, Bundy went to the airport and spoke to an FBI negotiator over the phone. They agreed to speak again Friday, but Bundy left shortly after he arrived because the FBI agent he spoke with said federal authorities wanted any conversation to be private. Bundy wants face-to-face conversations in front of reporters. “I really don’t think, at this point, even having another phone conversation here without him would be beneficial,” Bundy said before leaving. He also questioned the FBI’s authority. “If you haven’t got sanction from the sheriff, there’s no reason to be talking to you,” Bundy said. A crowd of reporters watched the brief exchange, while state troopers and armed federal agents looked on...more 

The Seattle Times reports the event this way:

...Bundy, a leader in the occupation that began Jan. 2, wants to hold public negotiations with the FBI, and said he was disappointed that the agency’s designated negotiator — based 130 miles away in Bend — did not show up to talk with him Friday at a site next to the Burns Municipal Airport.
“I kind of feel that if he doesn’t have the authority to come here without a bunch of permissions … he’s probably not the one we need to talk to,” Bundy told other FBI agents.  Though FBI negotiations are typically held out of public view, Bundy on Thursday went to the FBI command post at the Burns airport. There, flanked by reporters, he met with agents and talked via cellphone with the Bend-based negotiator.  On Friday, before going back to the airport, Bundy talked privately with the negotiator by phone and later said he asked the FBI official to meet face-to-face. Once Bundy reached the airport, he quickly ended the meeting when the FBI negotiator was not there. “I really don’t think at this point having a phone conversation here … would be beneficial,” Bundy said. “He of course wanted to do it in private, and I think the people have a right to hear that.”

All other issues aside, the above is rather telling.  Bundy wants face-to-face negotiations, open to the public, while the feds want phone negotiations done in total secrecy.  Bundy wants each of us to see and hear what transpires, while the feds want us in the dark.

Bundy also tried to visit with Sheriff Ward:

On his Friday visit to the Burns airport, he also drove downtown to try and meet with Harney County Sheriff David Ward. He was met at the county courthouse by armed law enforcement officers wearing bullet proof vests. Ward was not available, so Bundy spoke with Lt. Deputy Sheriff Brian Needham. Once again, Bundy did most of the talking, asking again and again if the sheriff had given the FBI permission to be in the county. “The FBI is here working in conjunction with the sheriff’s office,” Needham said. Once that meeting ended, Bundy returned to the refuge.

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