Conspiracy Theories, Bad Reporting, Bunk, and the Malheur Militia Incident in Burns, Oregon

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
20160103-084324-vdphr.jpg

First, the facts:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malheur_incident
When I first saw this story, it was on the Russian state-run web site RT, with a headline like "150 Armed Militia Members take over Federal Building". Now to me the term "Federal Building" suggests a large Government office building, and this is confirmed by a Google Image search:20160103-085418-qetpn.jpg

So the idea of 150 armed men taking over such a building in the US would be alarming to say the least. So it was curious that the major media was not covering it. I assumed initially the RT story was about an incident in some less stable country that the American Media was uninterested in. But eventually more stories filtered through my Twitter feed, and I discovered the "Federal Building" was actually a small looking cottage on a National Wildlife Reserve. It was not until the next day that I discovered the number of militia members were less than a dozen, and not the "150" originally suggested.

Protesting by occupying government building is nothing new. But this protest seems worryingly dangerous. The most disturbing aspect of the story so far is a video posted by one the occupying militia, Job Ritzheimer, in which he appears to be saying goodbye to his family, and promising a fight to the death with the federal government.

He also suggests something like a conspiracy against the protestors.
Ritzheimer has been in the news earlier in 2015 as "the de facto leader of Arizona’s anti-Islam movement". After the Paris attacks he urged Americans to prevent similar attacks by putting a rifle on their backs, and carrying it everywhere, every day. He posted a photo demonstrating his "daily attire"
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news...amic-syrian-refugee-attacks-in-the-us-7831364


He also organized a "Draw Muhammed" event outside a mosque, a rally to protest the nuclear deal with Iran, a pro-confederate flag rally, and a "freedom of speech" rally.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/photos-2/


So we have a group of people who are driven by strongly felt personal ideology. They are libertarians, they love "America", but they hate government. They are very suspicious of muslims. Ritzheimer is an extreme example (and probably many in his camp will decry him as a bad example), but he's still a manifestations of the "patriot" movement.

This type of extremism, like most types of extremism, is a fertile ground for bunk. Misleading or downright false memes are everywhere. The suspicion of "officials" leads to belief in various versions of the "false flag" theory of events. Everything is seen as some kind of plot to impose gun control and take aware freedoms.

Is there any role here for debunkers? It's a huge messy complex situation. I feel it's still good to correct bunk where we see it. However, I think it's going to take a bit more than simply correcting anti-government memes and urban legends about Muslims. Unfortunately I really don't know what that is.

Hopefully the protest will end peacefully. But looking at Ritzheimer's journey up to this point it does not look very promising. Whatever happens, bunk will follow.
 

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Balance

Senior Member.
I have no idea what timezone (presumably local so about now?) and couldn't view the news if I did, so perhaps worth looking out for?

 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
Here's the latest BBC report...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-35216879
The beeb are not carrying the story on the new24 rolling news network, just reporting the above on the half hourly bulletins
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
...
This type of extremism, like most type of extremism, is a fertile ground for bunk. Misleading or downright false memes are everywhere. The suspicion of "officials" leads to belief in various version of the "false flag" theory of events. Everything is seen as some kind of plot to impose gun control and take aware freedoms.

Is there any role here for debunkers? It's a huge messy complex situation. I feel it's still good to correct bunk where we see it. However, I think it's going to take a bit more than simply correcting anti-government memes and urban legends about Muslims. Unfortunately I really don't know what that is.

Hopefully the protest will end peacefully. But looking at Ritzheimer's journey up to this point it does not look very promising. Whatever happens, bunk will follow.

I definitely think that there is a meaningful role for debunking here.


Last year, Ritzheimer become involved with the arrest of Schuyler Barbeau, who was taken into custody for possessing an illegal weapon. He claimed that Barbeau had been “kidnapped” by the government.



The actual story appeared in the local media.

http://www.king5.com/story/news/loc...estic-terrorism-firearms-explosives/77325982/


From a Seattle Times story.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle...e-washington-man-of-possessing-illegal-rifle/

I am also attaching the actual complaint filed by the U.S. government. I think that it is particularly useful to cut through all the hyperbole about dictatorial government. Barbeau broke the law and is receiving due process. That is a basic element to the story Ritzheimer chooses to ignore. He deserves a rebuttal.
 

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Mick West

Administrator
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On the conspiracy theory side of things:
http://usuncut.com/news/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-oregon-militia-takeover/
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Some are suggesting that it might be a "false flag" to support gun control. Which is something I did not expect.

(in the comments section here)
https://www.oathkeepers.org/oregon-standoff-a-terrible-plan-that-we-might-be-stuck-with/
Then there's this by Mike Vanderboegh, the leader of the Three Percenters militia group. Suggesting the occupiers are "federal provocateurs" creating a contrived "propaganda opportunity".
http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2016/01/no-more-free-wacos-national-three.html
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
Some are suggesting that it might be a "false flag" to support gun control. Which is something I did not expect.

(in the comments section here)
https://www.oathkeepers.org/oregon-standoff-a-terrible-plan-that-we-might-be-stuck-with/

Honestly, the first thought that popped into my head was "great, lets give the anti-gun crowd MORE reason to gripe and show that gun owners are nut jobs." So it doesnt surprise me very much that a CT would appear calling this a false flag. This type of stupidity rolls right up there with the morons that carry slung AR-15s through town, or the picture of the blonde woman in Target with a slung shotgun.



There's no need for it and it makes the rest of us that DO own firearms look like a bunch of crackpots and crazy people. Seriously, what good is a body slung shotgun going to do you if you have to use it? What good is a slung AR-15 going to do you if you have to use it? There's a time and place for it.. wanna carry at a rally to support your rights, then fine... cool... but use some common sense.

Militias are their own kind of crazy. While the vast majority of militias are down to earth and pretty cool for the most part, there are a few out there that are a bunch of gun toting conspiracy regurgitating nut jobs. I realize that may violate the politeness policy a bit, so let me reiterate.. this isnt painting with a wide brush, this is a very small minority that make the whole look like they're out in the ozone.

My objectivity may be a bit skewed on this particular subject as its a hobby I enjoy and it -does- feel like Im being personally targeted at times, even though I know thats not the case. I can sympathize with many of your average law abiding gun owners.. and it sucks when people like this go out of their way to prove a point and end up proving exactly the OPPOSITE of what they intend. If you look at it from that point of view, a false flag makes total sense, even though its clearly not the case.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Some are suggesting that it might be a "false flag" to support gun control. Which is something I did not expect.

(in the comments section here)
https://www.oathkeepers.org/oregon-standoff-a-terrible-plan-that-we-might-be-stuck-with/
Then there's this by Mike Vanderboegh, the leader of the Three Percenters militia group. Suggesting the occupiers are "federal provocateurs" creating a contrived "propaganda opportunity".
http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2016/01/no-more-free-wacos-national-three.html

Reminds me of that movie Victor/Victoria. A man playing a woman playing a man.... or something like that. So it's crisis actors playing oath keepers in order to attract real oath keepers so Obama can take their guns.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
Reminds me of that movie Victor/Victoria. A man playing a woman playing a man.... or something like that. So it's crisis actors playing oath keepers in order to attract real oath keepers so Obama can take their guns.
How the hell did you type that out and not get confused? I knew what you were saying and had to read it three times to make it even remotely sound right.
 

killjoy

New Member
Okay that proves it clearly the US really does have a top secret time machine(I have pictures it looks like a Delorean for some reason). How else would they have gone back to 1993 to start the Cliven Bundy ball rolling.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
On television....I noticed more in-depth air-time of the OP's story on BBC-World News...than on CNN or traditional US networks.
Guessing at my observations, I could conclude that the story is somewhat too complicated for "prime-time" news watchers, and the networks know this.
Topical Saudi vs. Iran disputes are easier to report, understand, and/or take priority.

(....or is this S.O.P. o_O ? )
 

Balance

Senior Member.
Is the seeming lack of mainstream interest because it's a prickly-pear?

This article came across my feed today and begins by poking fun but ends on a serious note
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2016/1/yallqaeda-and-the-limits-of-liberal-laughs.html
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
This is an interesting take on the situation...
http://theconversation.com/oregon-siege-the-us-militia-movement-is-resurgent-and-evolving-52779

(excerpt)
 
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Balance

Senior Member.
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/09/oregon-militia-wildlife-refuge-heavily-armed-men

Apparently, a group called the Pacific Patriot Network turned up at the wildlife refuge to be "peacekeepers", much to the surprise of the people they intended to protect. Reports suggest Pete Santilli, a rightwing radio host, asked them to step in. It's interesting to note, they were under orders not to speak with the media. However, "By early afternoon, the convoy of armed men had driven off from the refuge. It was unclear if they planned to return."

Also http://www.wcpo.com/news/national/o...e-santilli-a-spokesman-for-armed-oregon-group reports "A conservative radio talk show host from Cincinnati is making national news as a spokesperson for the small, armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon".

If I am susceptible to conspiracy theories, I'd be thinking both AJ and then PS went in to co-opt a situation that already gotten far-reaching media attention.
 

BombDr

Senior Member.
Reminds me of that movie Victor/Victoria. A man playing a woman playing a man.... or something like that. So it's crisis actors playing oath keepers in order to attract real oath keepers so Obama can take their guns.
When you visit conspiracy-land, anything is possible....
 

Auldy

Senior Member.
People have been sending in care packages to the occupiers, although it doesn't seem to be what they ordered..


Things don't seem to be going too well for them

 

Balance

Senior Member.
As the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon reaches its sixth day, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and Ammon Bundy, leader of the armed protestors, hold a surprise meeting in a remote wilderness area.

This is classed as "an extra scene". It appears the Sheriff just wants them to go home before someone gets hurt.

https://news.vice.com/video/ammon-bundy-and-the-sheriff-extra-scene-from-the-oregon-standoff

Watch the full length version here https://news.vice.com/video/the-oregon-standoff-a-community-divided
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The sheriff sounds very sensible. But it sounds like the Bundy group really want at least some token victory before they leave.

This is classed as "an extra scene".
In full the title of the Vice piece
Unfortunate ammo for the "false flag, everything is staged" crowd. Vice, of course, was just making a joke about how the unfolding story is quite dramatic and entertaining, and will probably be made into a film at some point.

The video even uses a two camera setup, and does actually seem quite cinematic.



It's a combination of good cell phone footage, even lighting, nice scenery and filming in landscape mode. But I would not be at all surprised if some people think it's fake, and they are all actors.
 
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Balance

Senior Member.
Just to be clear, the above meeting happened last week, on Thursday Jan 7th. I thought at first it was a new meeting.
Yes, I get the impression the extra scenes were highlighting the Sheriff's stance.

There's more up-to-date news here. It appears one of the group has been arrested for using federal vehicles to get groceries.
http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/aut...t-driving-a-federal-vehicle-to-grocery-store/

ETA: RT America seems to have regular video updates.
 
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Balance

Senior Member.
Following the news breaking about the arrests and shooting, there has been many accusations that LaVoy Finicum, who died from being shot was not resisting and had his hands up when they killed him. The rhetoric that followed was to incite people.

Here's another eyewitness account that gives a different story - think I know which I believe.

He claims LaVoy charged the police but it's too much to transcribe all the details so here's the link to the witness video.

https://www.facebook.com/mark.mcconnell.127648/videos/10154667085229762/?pnref=story
 
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JRBids

Senior Member.
Basically, this is what they wanted to have happen. They should all be charged with inciting violence. The Jade Helm pages have been buzzing since this happened.
 

Balance

Senior Member.
I like the comment that said "Even if he did charge them he had every right. They're the aggressors."

What?
Also "you have a right to be stupid".
Perhaps it would have been "righter" to have "charged the aggressors" with more fire-power than the aggressors brought.
 
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Basically, this is what they wanted to have happen. ...
I don't think that's accurate. Many of them are prepared to make use of a martyr, now that they have one. Many of them said they expected violence, and claimed they were willing to die for their cause. But I think what they wanted was for the government to roll over and give them everything they asked for. And they believed this was possible because they have a grossly distorted view of how much popular support they have.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
I don't think that's accurate. Many of them are prepared to make use of a martyr, now that they have one. Many of them said they expected violence, and claimed they were willing to die for their cause. But I think what they wanted was for the government to roll over and give them everything they asked for. And they believed this was possible because they have a grossly distorted view of how much popular support they have.
I disagree. They wanted to start a firefight so they could start an insurrection. They want the SHTF. They prep for it. They already get lots of stuff they want from the government. All kinds of aid. IN the case of the deceased it looks like he even got farmworkers (foster children).
 

MikeG

Senior Member.
I disagree. They wanted to start a firefight so they could start an insurrection. They want the SHTF. They prep for it. They already get lots of stuff they want from the government. All kinds of aid. IN the case of the deceased it looks like he even got farmworkers (foster children).
That may be. I think it varies from individual. The videos that I have seen from Jon Eric Ritzheimer are very troubling.

https://www.metabunk.org/conspiracy...a-incident-in-burns-oregon.t7156/#post-173138
 

Balance

Senior Member.
Bundy has made a press statement via his lawyers to denounce "force" and encourages the path of legal remedies. I get the impression he regrets his stupidity and just wants to be back home with his family and friends.


I watched another video yesterday about the remaining occupiers after LaVoy was killed - most have packed up and gone home but some hardcore remain, jovialy telling their loved ones and the world they're ready to die for freedom by defending their base.

This is an aerial clip of the moment LaVoy was shot.

 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Bu
One of the Jade Helm discussion groups is interpreting that grainy, distant video.
But the FBI has released clear, full HD video... ()
and--though he did have his hands up right after exiting the vehicle
--both of Finicum's elbows are clearly seen at his side (6:04-6:06) right before he is shot--
not a life-preserving move for a guy who is on record as saying he'd prefer death to incarceration...

Finicum Elbows out.png
 
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NoParty

Senior Member.
Here's a zoomed loop of the shooting:
https://www.metabunk.org/m/Finicum.html

The conspiracy claim (quite widely shared) is that when he "reaches for his gun" the first time, he's actually just been shot in his side, and is reaching down to cover the wound.
I reckon if someone is desperate to spin this as Finicum being wrongfully gunned down,
there's enough ambiguity there to hang your hat on that theory. :oops:
I'm not buying it, and I don't think many objective people will.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Here's a zoomed loop of the shooting:
https://www.metabunk.org/m/Finicum.html

The conspiracy claim (quite widely shared) is that when he "reaches for his gun" the first time, he's actually just been shot in his side, and is reaching down to cover the wound.
They're even asking "why" the officer he almost ran down jumped in front of the car, and claim Finicom was ambushed by the one who came out of the woods. As if anyone knew exactly where he would skid out out that he would run. They're typical truthers. Like 911 truthers who think charges were placed in the wtc atty the exact floors the planes hit.
 
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