Planet Earth

How Should Pothunters be Arrested?

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorAug 17, 2009 4:58 PM

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There seems to be lingering anger and bewilderment over the FBI's conduct in the June arrests of 16 suspected pothunters in Blanding, Utah. In my own reporting on this story, it's one of the angles I covered here and here. Since then, I've been surprised to see that some authorities and former prominent government officials continue to focus on the FBI's role. For example, on Aug 7, it was reported that

A Utah sheriff whose brother was arrested for allegedly trafficking in Indian artifacts says he may charge federal agents with excessive force.

I guess that shouldn't be so surprising. But today, the dogged reporter Tom Sharpe carries this quote from Jim Baca, the BLM director during the Clinton Administration:

If people are taking items from federal land, they're thieves. There's still a lot of this stuff going on. ... They were digging up dinosaur bones all over state trust lands when I was land commissioner. ... But the one thing I would say is I think (government agents) have to be a little more discreet on how these arrests are made. When they go in with SWAT teams and all this kind of stuff, that's over the top. It's just law enforcement out of control.

It's one thing for the brother of an accused pothunter to think this. But the former head of a federal agency that is a full partner in the current crackdown?

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