Today, July 10, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency (Full Pardons) for Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., and his son, Steven Hammond.
What is the Hammond controversy really all about?
Why were the fires started and why were they prosecuted and why did they not get justice from the beginning?
What can we do as individuals to reduce injustice in the world today?
What does it mean to attend to the weightier matters?
Can you or should you simply trust the media to tell you the truth?
"The Hammonds are multi-generation cattle ranchers in Oregon imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land. The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges."
The Hammond Plight
It is a matter of public record that for years the Hammond's property has been sought after by federal agencies for years along with the property of hundreds and hundreds of other Ranchers, minors, and landowners.
There is a fairly accurate history of what they have been dealing with for years at several places. including Natural News. There is clear evidence that people employed at the BLM have been vindictive and even malicious in their personal abuse of the Hammond family and other ranchers. And if you want access to the actual court documents they can be found at Baker County Oregon. or see US vs. Dwight and Steven Hammond Court Documents
The federal government is now using the federal court system to take their land. People in government have misused anti terrorist laws to harass and destroy this family.
The Hammond's have been tried as if they were terrorist, fined $400,000 and coerced into giving over their ranch to the BLM if they sell.
Now for the second time, they must report to federal prison for the same offense to serve an unjust sentence of five years, after already fulfilling their original sentence. All because they started a standard and safe prescribed burn and safely stopped a lightening fire.
Meanwhile, some people in the BLM appear to be driving ranchers out of business including intentionally burning them out. Of course, that must be a distortion of the facts. Or is it?
Watch the video with an open mind and you be the judge and then do something.
What did they actually do?
The Hammond's openly and safely burned off dead grass and dangerous excess fuel growth after giving proper notice to the county.
There were no malicious, wicked or mischievous motives or intentions behind what the Hammonds were doing. Dwight’s wife, Susan, said, “They called and got permission to light the fire… We usually called the inter-agency fire outfit – a main dispatch – to be sure someone wasn’t in the way or that weather wouldn’t be a problem.”
- “In cross-examination of a prosecution witness, the court transcript also includes an admission from Mr. Ward, a range conservationist, that the 2001 fire improved the rangeland conditions on the BLM property.”
According to Erin Maupin, a former BLM range technician and watershed specialist David Ward and a rancher in the area who had been the neighbor of the Hammonds for years, said researchers have determined that managing the invasive junipers, which steal water from grass and other cover was something necessary to improve the conditions on the land.
- “Juniper encroachment had become an issue on the forefront and was starting to come to a head. We were trying to figure out how to deal with it on a large scale,” said Maupin.
The Hammonds were simply engaging in what is commonly known as prescribed fires. That is a practice done for hundreds of years by BLM, ranchers and even the native Americans before them.
The second fire
The second fire was started on their land to stop a lightening fire that was doing a great deal of damage to winter feed. Their back fire worked and saved the range land and maybe their homes and others.
The men were charged nearly a decade after the first fire and five years after the second.
What some people in the Federal government have done according to an October 7, 2015 press release from the Department of Justice, is charge them as terrorists with malicious intent under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, both residents of Diamond, Oregon in Harney County, were sentenced to five years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken for arson they committed on federal lands.
The family of Dwight Hammond has made a terrible mistake. They tried to ranch land someone in the federal government seems to want. Now it appears that both Hammond and his son Steve are being railroaded for something that is a non-criminal act that was not only good but could be called heroic.
Sentenced twice for the same act
This second sentencing for the same charge was interesting because they had already been sentenced in 2012 by now-retired U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan. Steven received one year and a day in prison for setting fires in 2001 and 2006. Dwight got 3 months for his 2001 involvement. Hogan did not believe the men had malicious intent required by law to be labeled as terrorists under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. There were also hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines placed on this family for doing no damage to anyone including the land in question.
Under a great deal of emotional and financial pressures brought on by cruel and abusive individuals working behind the scenes in the BLM and the courts and an apathetic public, the Hammond family agreed to a plea deal that they would not appeal the 2012 sentence in order to bring the case to a close.
Both men had served their sentences and were released. But then some people in the federal government have come back to vindictively reopen the same case another time to impose the mandatory minimum five-year sentence prescribed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 even though there was no malicious intent as required by the act.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has labeled the Hammonds as terrorists under the 1996 law in order to put them back in jail at the request of some people who also forced the Hammonds to sign an agreement that the BLM has the first right of refusal if they have to sell. Of course this vindictive abuse of the courts is likely to force the family to sell their home, business and land. This certainly seems to be the plan all along considering the government wanted that first right of refusal and they have already taken over thousands of acres of formerly private lands.
Long Chain of Abuse
- Terry Lynn Barton, a forest service employee, pleaded guilty to arson charges stemming from the 2002 Hayman Fire which was the worst wildfire in Colorado's recorded history, blackened 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes and forced more than 8,000 people to evacuate. But she only did six-year term in prison. The Hammond are going to have to do 10 years and pay $400,000 dollars and the government has demanded the right to buy their ranch if they go bankrupt or have to sell.
- In April of 2013, a U.S. Forest Service intentionally set a fire against recommendations from local ranchers and weather forecasters and it got out of control and burned nearly 3,000 acres of public and over 7,000 acres of private lands southwest of Lemmon, South Dakota. An outbuilding was burned, along with fences, hay, and pastures amounting to $2.5 million in damages. The ranchers affected by the fire learned on June 27, 2015 that the United States Department of Agriculture says “Our review of the claim discloses no liability on the part of the United States. Therefore your FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act) claim is denied,” to the ranchers.
Can you start seeing the problem?
The BLM simply stipulated a 400,000 dollar fine for a 139 acre fire that improved the land. The court record showed that both a conservation agent and a Fire Specialist Roy Hogue testified there was no damage from the fire but that the “land productivity had improved; no fire suppression or rehabilitation costs existed.”
The huge fine was to force the Hammonds to sell to the refuge. This is clearly abuse and it did not stop there. And you would not be reading this except for "The Occupy Refuge Movement" who risked their lives to get media attention and public opinion.
Whose idea was it to go after the Hammond family after they were sentenced and served their time with such abusive tactics? Well it might appear to start with Amanda Marshall whom with no experience was appointed by the president  to be the U.S. Attorney for Oregon. She made a rare appeal to overturn the sentence given by Judge Hogan in the Hammond case and extended it to five years. After winning this appeal she suddenly stepped down from her job.
We are supposed to believe that this inexperienced Attorney saw the Hammond family as such a threat that they had to not only be unjustly fined by the BLM but she needed to put a 74 year old man in jail against the judgment of Judge Hogan for doing what the ranchers and Native Americans have done for years. Someone is pushing this agenda of removing ranchers to use such boldly unjust tactics.
- "Over the past two decades . . . government officials, and perhaps [others], entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive [the family members] not only of their [grazing] permits but also of their vested water rights. This behavior shocks the conscience.”
These are the words of the Nevada chief federal district-court Judge Robert C. Jones in his decision on May 2013 in Reno in a lawsuit filed pro se by Wayne N. Hage, defending the estate of E. Wayne Hage, his father who died fighting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service represented by scores of lawyers from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture. "Unfortunately, federal agencies’ abuse of the citizenry is not uncommon."
- “A government lawyer . . . has the responsibility to seek justice . . . and he should not use . . . the economic power of the government to . . . bring about unjust settlements or results.” The Canons of Professional Ethics for Lawyers
In the case of Harvey Frank Robbins Justice David Souter held that it was okay for the government to destroy the Robbins family by a “death by a thousand cuts,” in “endless battling” that “depletes the spirit along with the purse,” by the use of “illegitimate pressure”, by “unduly zealous” bureaucrats supposedly for “zeal on the public’s behalf.”
But are they doing all this on the public's behalf or is there a corrupt specter lurking in the shadows of the all powerful State? They have been getting away with this for a long time and the corruption goes farther up the chain through neglect or design.
This could be resolved in the courts if the people would come together and find out what is going on and not just pretend that justice is the governments job.
Justice and righteousness is your job.
Almost no one has the courage to stand for the Weightier matters of law, justice, and mercy much less faith as required by common sense and Jesus Christ.
The public should be fearful
The public should be fearful but not of the Hammonds who are good people but of people hiding in government bureaucracies who are using their unchecked power to work mischief.
Barry Bushue, the president of the Oregon Farm Bureau stated “I find it incredible that the government would want to try these ranchers as terrorists,” He went on to say, “Now is where the rubber meets the road. Right now is when the public should absolutely be incensed. And the public, I think, should be fearful.”
Because there are not very many people in America who are brave. Modern Christians are not really Christians. And most people just want safety for themselves and do not really love their neighbor as themselves. They certainly do not attend to the Weightier matters Jesus told us about.
When the Hammonds were going to go to jail and few people in Harney county were coming to their aid and even the sheriff said they had their day in court the Bundys and other ranchers and people who have seen this injustice sympathized with their story. But the BLM and Federal Attorneys threatened the Hammonds with another raid, early jail, and less desirable prison location if they even "talked to the Bundys". That is a violation of the right to free speech. It makes it impossible to get support if there is an injustice being done against you. It is a violation of your right of free assembly.
- "Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises."
There is no doubt that the Hammonds are grossly abused by the BLM, the Federal attorney and the courts and that there punishment is cruel an unusual although becoming for more common. Why have Americans become so indifferent to the plight of their neighbor?
Real terrorists and arson
As you can see the BLM does not always do it safely like the Hammonds did. They come in at the wrong time of year and actually burn up ranch buildings fences, power poles plus even burn cows and their calves alive. They do this with impunity because America is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave.
What you often get from either ignorant or immoral government employees is false information that misleads the people like the DOJ’s acting US Attorney Billy Williams said:
- “Fires intentionally and illegally set on public lands, even those in a remote area, threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze.”
- “Congress sought to ensure that anyone who maliciously damages United States’ property by fire will serve at least 5 years in prison,” he added. “These sentences are intended to be long enough to deter those like the Hammonds who disregard the law and place fire fighters and others in jeopardy.”
But in the Hammond case there was no malicious intent. These fires did not "threaten property and residents and endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze". These fires especially the back fire likely saved "property and residents and [did not] endanger firefighters called to battle the blaze" because the Hammonds contained the fire themselves and there was no cost or danger to anyone.
They were engaged in open good management practices on their own land where a small amount of some BLM graze was burned before the Hammonds brought the fire under control. The only graze that was affected was the Hammond graze which they paid for and the land came back better than after after the burn according to expert testimony.
No firefighters were endangered and no property damage was actually caused. What they did is done every year all over the west. The BLM calls it fuel reduction and prescribed burns and good management. These fires have been used by inhabitants of the land for thousands of years and can improve the environment as natural events.
To be arson someone would have to start the fire with "malicious intent". There is absolutely no evidence of that by the Hammonds. No we cannot say that about the BLM who starts these same fires all the time. Those fires if started at the right time of year with enough people and resources to control the fires so they do not spread to fences and dwellings are reasonably done unless they want to run someone out of business and destroy their livelihood and life so that they can get their land or just flex their power and spread fear among the people.
The term arson, means, “the malicious burning or exploding of the dwelling house of another, or the burning of a building within the curtilage, the immediate surrounding space, of the dwelling of another.”
Who ever gave the order to those employees of the BLM who were used to set those fires and burn those cattle alive, homes and fences would appear to me to have "wicked or mischievous motives or intentions.” Who fined them? Who saw to it that justice was done to those who lost property, whose lives were threatened? Who starts controlled burns in July unless they want to endanger others or make a point by terrorizing the people who they endanger?
So, we know there was no malicious intent on the part of the Hammonds, but rather normal ranch operations. So what they did cannot be considered arson. But what we see the BLM doing and the employees who were just following orders did looks like it was done with wicked and malicious intent if not extreme negligence since buildings, corrals, fences and live cattle were clearly visible as they set fires.
Families need help
The family wrote on its website that they are "simple ranching family that for generations has cared for the land they live upon.”
- “Prescribed burns are a vital process in keeping the land healthy and productive in the area. The BLM also performs prescribed burns and have let it get out of control many times, but never has it cost any federal agent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and years of life in prison. The Hammonds prescribed a fire that moved to public land, they extinguished the fire themselves. The courts found that the burn increased vegetation for the following years, and had a positive impact on the land. With no authority or justification to prosecute, eleven years after the fire, federal attorneys have obtained judgment that the Hammonds are terrorists and must be punished severely for their actions.”
Your family maybe next and if you do nothing but make stupid apathetic comments like they had their day in court then it is likely no one will come to your aid and rightly so.
Statement by Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue on the sentencing of Steve and Dwight Hammond to five years in federal prison "This is an example of gross government overreach, and the public should be outraged."[Read full statement.]
Many people may not agree with the The Occupy Refuge Movement but because of a long chain of abuses by the BLM, the courts and other agencies people become desperate. The courts do not always work, the judges are not always right and it is the job of everyone to attend to the matters of law and justice.
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A Little History
This story is not just about the Hammonds but hundreds and hundreds of Ranchers and farmers are being strangled financially, run out of business, burned out, robbed by government employees. (See video testimony of congressman and sheriffs.)
Just because someone with a badge or even a court says something is okay that does not make it so. Law existed before man formed an opinion. Sir Thomas More asked at his own trial before the King: "Some men say the earth is round and some say it is flat. If it is round, can the King's command flatten it; and if it is flat, can Parliament make it round?"
Teddy Roosevelt in 1908 established the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Roosevelt used executive power to create National Forests and Parks in one night because Congress was about to remove that power from him. He stayed up with Pinchot who had some knowledge of the west and set land aside to be managed by Federal agencies. The Federal government did not acquire ownership because these lands were within the states.
Millions of cattle were ranging on these lands. Americans had claimed and established grazing and water rights. These rights were deeded and sold just like your lots in cities.
Neither the Federal government nor the States could simply take this land and these rights from the people without an usurpation of the law.
Ranchers in the Oregon’s Harney Basin (72 percent of Harney County is federally controlled) as well as areas all over the west developed elaborate irrigation system in order to create habitat for grazing animals, what had been a huge swampland or dry desert were transformed into rolling meadows, tree lined riparian areas which cause wildlife to flock to the area.
People are lead to believe that there was wildlife everywhere in the wilderness and that is not true. There were vast areas of the wilderness that contained very little wild life. Lewis and Clark almost starved to death for lack of wildlife and game.
Some areas of the west were to dry or far to wet to produce a balanced habitat. The ranchers added balance and many of these areas bloomed with wildlife and became attractive for migratory birds. You may find ducks and geese landing on open water but feeding in mowed and grazed fields along with cranes and predatory birds feeding in the open areas
Governments passed a number of grazing acts like the Thompson and Taylor Grazing Act and the Oregon Swampland Act to help people find ways of managing allotments and grazing rights and improve the balance in the areas.
Drainage and irrigation districts have been established all over the west to make the most efficient use of water. Water is life to a rancher and they have a natural dedication to preserve it and grow as much habitat as possible.
They do this on their own often with not taxes. But there have been development schemes where developers who envisioned improving land at taxpayer expense hoped to sell plots for agricultural purposes. This is not usually Ranchers who promote these schemes. In 1913, the year the Thompson Act was passed, there were no fewer than eight attempts to drain Malheur Lake filed with the Reclamation Service.
Those efforts were resisted by the ranchers who contested the water rights and fought the developers. “What saved the Malheur Refuge from being destroyed by drainage along with other federal refuges in the region were precisely its tangled water rights and the stubbornness of local ranchers.”
Now federal officials imbued unbridled power relentlessly seek to expand the refuge, using abusive tactics and method, both legal and even illegal, to drive the ranchers off the land. There are lots of reasons for this mind set and a perfect storm has been brewing for decades.
Ranchers in many states began to discover and have been informed that grazing was inimical to wildlife and had to be reduced. Some people in these agencies have seen and defended the importance and contribution of the Rancher to create balance at no cost to the taxpayer.
In this area alone with a total of 53 permits, 32 were revoked. Grazing fees have been raised, and many ranchers were forced to give up their land. The irrigation system they had created which encouraged birds and other wildlife was appropriated by the government. The original refuge established by Teddy Roosevelt included only Malheur Lake and not the rivers which flow into it nor much of the land surrounding it.
Ranchers who use the government statistics to prove there is less wildlife under present government management are targeted with a vengeance.
These areas are also rich in minerals and it appear that there are other interests working behind the scenes using the zeal of environmentalist who mistakenly think Ranchers are bad to remove the rancher and trust the government with management. By the time they discover the error it will be to late.
I have worked with government and ranchers for decades and the land is far better off in the private hands. The people in the cities need to understand what is going on in America. The agriculture and food production of this land is under assault. Once the shortages begin there will be no quick fix.
Eventually it will not be just high food costs but obtaining healthy nutritious food or even enough food will become a reality.
Who owns the land
This is a lot more complicated question to answer. Constitutionalist have some very good points about Federal ownership of property rights. Unfortunately even they may not have the whole picture. But we can look at a few basics here
Some Ranchers owned the grazes they used but not the land itself. This allowed for multiple use and in some case shared grazing. Cows were run in common and branded to distinguish whose cow was whose. Rights or allotments were by the number of cows rather than fenced acres. Clive Bundy owned their grazing rights. They had only agreed to pay leasing fees because the government offered to use tax money to make improvements. There fee payment was a reimbursement to the government for services. When the BLM stopped making improvements the Clive Bundy stopped reimbursement.
People in cities and even some children of ranchers do not understand some of these legal arrangements and how all this has worked for over a century or more nor how employees of these government agencies have simply changed the rules beyond the scope of their legal powers. Few people take the time to find out what is really going on in some of these situation.
Over the years more and more corruption has been exposed, cover-ups seen, destruction and withholding of evidence, where there is often distortions and bias by the media yet witnessed by Americans from the Uranium One deal to the Bundy acquittal by the people in Oregon despite prosecutors efforts and now the Bundy mistrial due to out of control BLM and judicial abuse. People only have owner if they come together.
Many people do not know that the BLM also brings in billions of dollars in oil and mineral leases after they confiscate land from private citizens and then open it up to the highest bidders. China will likely get the lease for the minerals under the Hammonds Ranch. People have the habit of being so self absorbed that they cannot see the truth. Seeing the truth requires humility and sacrifice.
Are we actually just seeing the confiscation of our natural resources to appease the Chinese so that they do not dump the dollar. Is this just all the result of Executive orders like Executive Order -- National Defense Resources Preparedness Is the Government merely confiscating the GENERAL PROVISIONS listed in PART VIII under Section 801.
- (f) "Food resource facilities" means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation thereof).
- (h) "Head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense" means the heads of the Departments of State, Justice, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and all other agencies with authority delegated under section 201 of this order.
Because of this selfish blindness what injustice we see now is so blatantly obvious it is hardly deniable... Yet people can find a reason not to act... they of course are doomed. In the years to come America will reap the whirlwind... behold a pale horse... and millions will die from violence and starvation and disease... because they would not attend to the weightier matters.
Is this okay?
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller
so you can learn to care about your neighbors rights as much as your own and be bound only by righteousness
through faith, hope and charity and the Perfect law of liberty.
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- As an example: "Shortly after the sentencing, Capital Press ran a story about the Hammonds. A person who identified as Greg Allum posted three comments on the article, calling the ranchers "clowns" who endangered firefighters and other people in the area while burning valuable rangeland. Greg Allum, a retired BLM heavy equipment operator, soon called Capital Press to complain that he had not made those comments and request that they be taken down from the website. Capital Press removed the comments. A search of the Internet Protocol address associated with the comments revealed it is owned by the BLM's office in Denver, Colorado. Allum said, he is friends with the Hammonds and was alerted to the comments by neighbors who knew he wouldn't have written them. "I feel bad for them. They lost a lot and they're going to lose more," Allum said of the ranchers. "They're not terrorists. There's this hatred in the BLM for them, and I don't get it," The retired BLM employee said. Jody Weil, deputy state director for communications at BLM's Oregon office, indicated to reporters that if one of their agents falsified the comments, they would keep it private and not inform the public." Learn more:
- US vs. Dwight and Steven Hammond Court Documents
- Tri-State Livestock News (http://bit.ly/1OdZEh2)
- She had been a part of “child advocacy” for the Oregon Department of Justice and deputy district attorney in Coos County but no prior experience in the federal system.
- She was under investigation by the Office of Inspector General for stalking employees. But claimed health reasons.
- He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
- He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
- He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: The Declaration of Independence
- Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois (11 September 1858); quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; Mario Matthew Cuomo, Harold Holzer, G. S. Boritt, Lincoln on Democracy (Fordham University Press, September 1, 2004), 128. ISBN 978-0823223459.
- As Nancy Langston puts it in Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed:.