Ammon Bundy, the leader of a militant group that’s taken over a federal building in Oregon, said on Tuesday that his militia would “go home” as soon as members of the local community were ready to exercise their rights over the U.S. government.
Speaking at a press conference at the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Bundy responded to members of the community and local law enforcement who have asked his group to leave.
“We’re not about fear, we’re not about force, we’re not about intimidation,” he insisted. “That is the reason why we came here, because of the force and the intimidation that we have seen in their county. And because of the need we have seen to assist them in becoming free from the force and intimidation.”
“Know that there is no place for intimidation and fear in a community,” Bundy continued. “And if government is being that fear and intimidation then it needs to be checked and balanced. And if other government entities will not do that then it becomes the responsibility and duty of the people to remove that intimidation and fear so that the members of the community can begin living and living in freedom.”
The militia leader said that he saw a time in the near future when the community would take over the role of protecting their own liberty.
“So that they can claim their on rights so that they can begin using them, and then they can stand strong enough to defend them themselves. And then we will go home,” he explained. “It is our goal to get the logger back to logging, to get the rancher back to ranching, to get the miner back to mining, the farmer back to farming.”
In the meantime, he said the militants would continue to be “a temporary defense for them while they get their feet on the ground.”
Bundy’s argument for occupying federal land is strikingly similar to part of the Bush administration’s justification for going to war in Iraq.
“The first to benefit from a free Iraq would be the Iraqi people, themselves,” President George W. Bush told the American Enterprise Institute in 2003. “Today they live in scarcity and fear, under a dictator who has brought them nothing but war, and misery, and torture. Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein–but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us.”
“If we must use force, the United States and our coalition stand ready to help the citizens of a liberated Iraq,” the president insisted. “The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq’s new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people.”
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