PORTLAND, Ore. -- The 41-day standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon in early 2016 is again making headlines, after national news outlets revealed how FBI agents impersonated a documentary film crew and embedded with standoff leaders.
Brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy were acquitted on federal charges for their Oregon occupation involvement in a surprise jury verdict last year.
But they still face charges, along with their father Cliven Bundy and several others, for a 2014 standoff at the Bundys’ Nevada ranch in 2014.
Cliven Bundy led an armed resistance against the Bureau of Land Management after BLM accused him of trespassing on federal land and refusing to pay more than $1 million in cattle grazing fees. The three Bundys are set to stand trial this fall.
Some of the FBI’s documentary video will be used as evidence in that trial.
According to the Intercept and Frontline reports, the FBI infiltrated the Bundy family ranch shortly after the 2014 Nevada standoff, posing as a documentary film company called Longbow Productions.
The crew interviewed Ammon, Ryan and Cliven Bundy, as well as Ammon and Ryan’s mother, Carol Bundy, and several other militia members.
In one video, the documentary crew can be seen giving militia member Greg Burleson beer and a shot of alcohol. That testimony helped convict Greg Burleson to at least 57 years in prison for his role in the Nevada standoff.
The videos highlight just how much freedom FBI agents have to shield their identities through impersonation.
Another Intercept report details how one of the FBI agents in the documentary crew was jailed when he impersonated a journalist in Colorado.
That agent was released after the FBI asked the local police department not to press charges.
The Intercept reports that former FBI director James Comey “defended the practice of impersonating journalists in criminal investigations but described it as ‘rare.’”