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|ON WILD HORSES AND 'NO-KNOCK' SEARCHES
Melvin C. Bailey, Jr., master chief petty officer, USN retired, writes in:
“I was impressed by the comprehensive nature of the Review-Journal’s June 19 editorial, ‘Police no longer need to knock.’ Sadly, your hypothetical question about an American being surprised by the police breaking into their home (unannounced) and an innocent party dying as a result, has already happened.
“I was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, VA between September 1971 and May 1975. I can’t precisely remember the date, but sometime during 1973, at the police chief’s request, the Norfolk City Council passed the ‘No-Knock Law,’ which was supposed to give the police the edge in executing search warrants against suspected drug dealers.
“On the very first raid authorized under the new law, the unthinkable happened. The police raided an address provided by an informant. The raid went down in the early morning hours with the police busting through the door and fanning out throughout the house. No word was ever passed that it was the police. A 65-year-old African-American woman was asleep in her upstairs bedroom.
“Hearing someone walking up the stairs she crouched ready to defend herself and again she hollered, ‘Who is there?!’ Again no answer.
“When the police officer assigned to breach the bedroom door crashed into it, he was hit in the chest by a shotgun blast. The woman was subdued and arrested.
“As the smoke cleared, the police realized that they had made a mistake. They had broken into the wrong house. The address on the search warrant and the house raided were not the same. In the aftermath of this all-too-common situation the results were:
-- A dead police officer, the one who was assigned to breach the bedroom door. His father was the police chief.
-- An embarrassed police department; they had failed to ensure the accuracy of the informant’s information.
-- The woman who shot the officer was not prosecuted. The prosecutor found that she had feared for her life and acted in self-defense.
“The police chief made a televised announcement that the Norfolk Police Department in view of the circumstances would not use ‘No-knock’ provision of the law again.
“No matter how often we are assured that this could not happen in our community, it takes just one typographical error or misinterpreted situation to result in a similar situation.”
Thus ends the missive from MCPO Bailey.
Indeed. Thirteen years after the fact -- though of course such a ruling can’t be retroactive -- the Supreme Court has just legalized what the BATF did at Waco, shooting the dog and her puppies in their pen in front of the church, throwing up scaling ladders and firing into the building long before any agent claims to have shouted the word “Warrant!” (though even then, no single agent would testify under oath as to who actually had the warrant in possession; no plans had been made to actually “serve” it) as agents in helicopters hovering and swooping behind the building (according to credible eyewitnesses I have interviewed) fired machine guns down through the roof.
Is that the model on which the justices now hope to see all our law enforcement based? Because they were so pleased at how it all worked out?
As I said on June 19, “This is not ‘conservatism.’ This is totalitarianism.”
In a recent piece, I asked what predators Ginger Kathrens of Montana would rely on to control the wild horse population, there.
Ms. Kathrens, who makes documentary films on the wild horses and serves as executive director of the Cloud Foundation, writes back from Colorado Springs:
“In your editorial about wild horses and birth control you asked what predators are keeping wild horse populations in balance with their environment. I’d be happy to respond. I was referring to mountain lions that prey on wild horse foals where both species are present in an eco-system. In Montgomery Pass on the Nevada/California border round-ups have not been conducted for over 25 years due to mountain lion predation on young horses. Birth control has never been used there and the taxpayers are spared the expense of government management with helicopters and dart guns.
“In the Pryor Mountains of Montana the (wild horse) herd was at zero population growth and declined in 2004 by 11 percent due to mountain lion predation until three lions were killed -- as the BLM puts it, “successfully killed.” While I am not discounting the formidable hunting skills of African lions which you mention introducing, they really are not necessary if BLM would protect mountain lions from being overhunted in wild horse herd areas. Our native cats have a remarkable ability to serve as a natural check on a native prey species like wild horses. Instead BLM opts for intrusive and cruel management techniques and the taxpayer ends up footing the bill.”
A more polite and diplomatic letter one could hardly request. Furthermore, I believe Ms. Kathrens is correct. If the native mountain lions are adequate to keep the non-native wild horse population in check, it makes little sense to kill off the lions and then have to bill the taxpayers for “wild horse birth control.”
Of course, lions will take cattle and deer, as well, which is why encouraging productive ranching of the land actually leaves in place some of the most knowledgeable “stewards of the range.” Ranchers will thin out cats that prey on their stock, thus benefiting a local deer herd, as well. Are they likely to eliminate the cats, entirely? Not if government lays off retaining contract hunters.
Don’t worry, though. Given enough time, the Forest Service and the BLM will finish “successfully killing off” the western rancher as effectively as they’ve removed the wildcats of the Pryor Mountains.
Nor should they expect much resistance from Rep. Jim Gibbons, currently running for governor of Nevada.
During his visit with the Review-Journal editorial board on July 3, we asked Rep. Gibbons what he’s done in Washington during the past decade that he’s proud of. He replied that he’s proud of his record when it comes to facilitating productive use of Nevada’s public lands by ranchers and miners.
“There’s not much ranching left in Clark County,” I replied.
Congressman Gibbons smiled. “Oh, I think you’d be surprised. If you go out to Logandale, I think you’ll find they’re pretty happy out there, the ranchers and the farmers.”
In fact, when Cal Baird staged his last round-up on the Jean Lake allotment, 40 miles south of Las Vegas, this February, Nevada BLM range specialist Duane Wilson counted five grazing permits still active in the BLM’s Las Vegas Field Office area. “I’d say the era is already over,” Wilson gloated. “I don’t think any of those (allotments) are used to any extent.”
It’s not clear whether Mr. Wilson was counting Cliven Bundy, who still runs cattle on the Mesquite allotment, although he “fired” the BLM as his range supervisor some years back.
Regardless, considering that there were 52 families grazing cattle by permit on federal lands in Clark County a few decades back, the BLM’s campaign to get cattle off the public lands and “manage them for wildlife only” seems pretty much complete. If this is an outcome that makes Rep. Gibbons “proud” of his efforts to facilitate “access to the public lands for ranching and mining,” one hates to think what it would take to make him ashamed.