It’s a pretty safe bet that by seizing the opportunity to decapitate the leadership of the Oregon occupiers, federal authorities were hoping the remainder of the ragtag outfit would just shrivel and go away. It sounds good in theory, but it’s still a roll of the die. The risk, obviously, is that you end up with a more emboldened, more radicalized, and more paranoid rump group left behind that is nervous, twitchy and less predictable.
I would say the signs over the last 15 hours or so are looking pretty good for the feds’ strategy. Here’s why.
You had Ammon Bundy calling for the remaining occupiers to give up and leave peacefully. More importantly you had three militia members at the refuge surrender, including a Georgia man named Jason Patrick.
Patrick’s surrender is of particular importance. As we reported yesterday, Patrick had emerged in the hours after Tuesday night’s deadly encounter between law enforcement and occupiers as the new leader of the Bundy-less brigade. Patrick was known to experts who monitor right-wing extremists. Before the Oregon standoff, he had been in Seattle demonstrating in support of another extremist figure who was arrested on felony weapons charges and had allegedly threatened to lynch government officials for violating the Constitution.
It’s fair to say that Patrick’s hold on the throne was short-lived. We may get a better idea today whether the last of the holdouts at the refuge are coalescing into a force in its own right with a leadership structure of some sort — or whether we’re watching the slow unraveling that Tuesday’s night arrests began.