Monday, June 06, 2005


Having been born into a family involved in law enforcement, I have always tended to side with and defend the law enforcement community on various issues. My involvement with the Kit Laney case and the abuses I witnessed have caused me to re-think that stand and left me with many questions about that case.

Some of the questions I have concerning the law enforcement angle of this case are the following:

1. Who made the decision to send 16 Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers into this small community to handle the gathering of livestock on one ranch? What was their rationale for sending this large contingent and were the helicopter and dogs really necessary for this operation?

2. Why did the head Forest Service law enforcement official for this area refuse to participate in the operation?

3. Under what legal authority did the Forest Service close non-Forest Service roads and either not allow or delay local citizens from entering their own property? Were these Forest Service personnel acting as employees or officers and when did Congress grant them general law enforcement authority? Congressman Steve Pearce wrote to the Inspector General of USDA requesting an investigation. In his request, Congressman Pearce noted “the fact that there have been numerous other complaints, including harassment of Laney relatives and other ranchers, questionable or illegal road closures and requirement of permits for individuals to enter private property adds to the perception that a concerted effort is being made to drive law abiding New Mexicans from their homes and livelihoods.” Is the IG following through on this investigation?

4. The Sheriff of Catron County issued a statement saying he would enforce state livestock laws. He was then visited by two FBI agents. Who requested the FBI “visit” with the Sheriff and what did they tell the Sheriff?

5. No sales barns in New Mexico would accept the Laney cattle. Did the FBI contact the sales barns and ask if they had been threatened by Mr. Laney and, if so, who requested the FBI do this?

6. My final question involves a person whom I’ve admired for several years, Mr. David Iglesias, the U.S. Attorney. Why was he so adamant in keeping Kit Laney in jail, and why did he fight so hard in so many instances to keep him from being released on his own recognizance?

In the general time frame of the Laney arrest, an Albuquerque man was arrested and charged for putting a steel wire across a public trail and causing injury to at least one person. Yet the U.S. attorney allowed him to be released. One can only conclude that if you are a threat to the general public, the U.S. Attorney will allow you to be released, but if you are a perceived threat solely to the Forest Service, he will fight tooth and nail to keep you behind bars.

My weblog has posted stories on two other events occurring in other jurisdictions since the Laney arrest. In one instance, a BLM Ranger was hit by a person driving an ATV, and in another, a person pulled a gun on a Park ranger. In both instances, the U.S. Attorneys allowed them to be released. I guess New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney believes spurs and reins are more dangerous than ATVs and guns.

It appears one of two things has occurred. Either Mr. Iglesias has turned on those New Mexicans who have supported his run for elected office and supported his appointment to his current position, or he has caved in to pressure from the Forest Service to make an example of Kit Laney. I can’t believe it’s the first scenario, and the second is certainly not an instance of dispensing “justice”.

In any event, it has become clear to me that people in the West must take an interest in Federal law enforcement. While my primary interest would be in the activities of personnel from EPA, USFS, BLM, USFWS, NPS, etc., I will cover all issues, actions, regulations and legislation impacting Federal law enforcement. These articles will be separated from the others with the heading FLE so they can be skipped over by those not interested. However, I hope you will join me in keeping tabs on these folks and the impact they may have on all Westerners.



Anonymous said...

i think the us government is gettin to big fur their britches.
we need ta down size government ,an give control of grazing lands bak to the rancher.
i have ranched an farmed for 25 years and now they tell me bacause of the chemecals in the ground i have wat they are calling farmers lung.
my question is this,were did these chemecals come from,and why were we not informed of them 20 years ago?
i dont know a rancher or farmer that wud intentionally put his help or cattle in that kind of danger.i beleave ,if a human can
get this desease from the soil,what is it doing to our cattle .as for the issue of laney,
i think he shud never have went to jail for tryin to protect the forest and hos animals.i think it is an outrage. sincerly,

The Westerner said...

nice try