Summary: The Oregon Standoff is just about over. It failed abysmally. This is my take on the reasons why. My contention is that it was doomed to
failure from the very beginning. It never had a chance of any sort of success, however you decide to define the term. Its initial response was
emotional and suffered a lack of planning, a lack of leadership, a lack of support, a lack of definition, a failure in communications, a
misunderstanding of goals and objectives, and a failure to discriminate.
Disclaimer: I am not addressing or judging the issues that made this happen or whether the actions of the protesters were justified. Those are
philosophical issues and fodder for a different thread. I am not interested whether the Feds overreached their authority. I am more interested in the
mechanics of the protest, the logistics and tactics used. I am not involved in any way with any militia organization. I am not a sympathizer, just an
observer. I watched it unfold as many of you did, from a safe and comfortable distance.
THE INITIAL SPARK
What started this was the re-jailing of Dwight and Steven Hammond, who had been convicted in 2012 of burning federal lands. The judge in the case
handed down sentences of a few months, far less than the mandated minimum of five years. The prosecutor appealed. The Hammonds served their sentences
and were freed. Much later the 9th Circuit reversed the judge’s decision and said the Hammonds must serve the minimum. The Hammonds voluntarily
surrendered and were re-jailed.
As a result of this there was a protest in Burns, Oregon, including a march through town of about 300 Hammond sympathizers. A small group then takes
over the wildlife refuge building and says they won’t leave. The Hammonds disavow this action. The Standoff started January 2nd and as of this
writing there are five left who say they will leave if all charges are dropped.
LACK OF PLANNING
The original occupation appears to have been a spur of the moment decision based on emotion. The Bundys, the nominal leaders, may very well have
“planned” the occupation for a few days prior, but they did not think things through. They wound up in a remote Federal building in a “plains”
environment in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a snowy winter. They had one ‘excavator’ (Think “large backhoe”) and a few pickup
trucks. Their supplies had to have been meager, though apparently the authorities gave them access to the town and free egress/ingress during most of
the siege. i.e: They weren’t “holed up” in the building.
But they were unable to articulate exactly what they intended to do or why they were there other than to spout political polemics. They also had a
very poor case because the building they occupied was federal property. In the case of the Branch Davidians, for example, they owned their own
compound. These guys were squatting on Federal property. Perhaps it shouldn’t BE Federal property, but it is for now.
FAILURE TO GAIN OR TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SUPPORT
It was kind of a given they would not gain the support of essentially left wing “Conservationists,” with whom they clashed on January 16th. But
1. They had no support from the local Indian Tribe, the Burns Paiute Tribe.
2. They had little to no support from the people of Burns who told them to get out and go home.
3. They destroyed a Federal Fish & Game fence and said the rancher of the adjoining land gave them permission, but the rancher refuted the claim.
4. When a large contingent of surrounding militia groups visited the refuge, the protesters spurned their support and asked them to leave. This
alienated the militia groups who tuned down their support.
5. The general populace sided with the Feds in the dispute. Comments in the nearest big paper, the Oregonian, were almost universally negative. Of
course, this was ultra liberal Portland, but the point still stands.
So for those folks who claimed this was the start of a second revolution, the group pretty much stopped that from happening early on. They lost
support from their own side.
LACK OF DISCRIMINATION
The individuals who formed this occupation do not appear to be the sharpest knives in the drawer. As they began voicing their opinions, they were
laced with profanity and threats to kill law enforcement. Most were disheveled looking, unkempt, poorly spoken, and militantly emotional. As one
fellow said, “I don’t think there is a triple digit IQ among them.” From a PR Standpoint, this was a complete disaster.
LACK OF COMMUNICATION
The protesters had access to cell phones and the Internet. One protester, an import to the area named “Dave” attempted to set up streaming video
off YouTube. The camera was ill-pointed and showed little. He kept messing up the stream and changing channels constantly. He was basically
incompetent at “running the show,” complaining at one point that detractors were mean because he had never streamed before. When someone did talk
to the camera, it was usually to spew profanity and claim Delta Force was on its way to kill them all at night.
In terms of a “message” to be articulated to the public, this also was a complete disaster, both technically and the message itself. Of course the
authorities had access to this stream as well, making its very existence questionable. Both the cells and the Internet could have been easily
intercepted had that been necessary. This was not a secure method of transmission. HAM Radio would have been far superior, but that would have
required pre-planning, which they did not do.
LACK OF LEADERSHIP
Ammon Bundy, the theoretical leader of the bunch, made a disastrous decision to leave the compound and was intercepted by authorities and arrested.
Within hours he was calling on the remaining protesters to stand down and go home. They had basically been abandoned.
This entire operation was unplanned and lacked any kind of cohesive leadership or cohesion. It was based on emotion and had no clear moral authority
for what it was doing. They managed to alienate the locals and their own supporters, and exacerbate their detractors. They looked like uneducated
fools on camera.
In order for a movement like this to be successful, it would require months of planning, pre-staging of supplies, clear lines of authority and
communication, and support from elsewhere, at least from like-minded souls. They had none of this. They managed to create some drama, and some
sympathy for the Feds, the exact opposite of what they intended.
edit on 1/28/2016 by schuyler because: (no reason given)