Montana wackiness

During my tenure in Montana, two groups drew national deadlines – the Church Universal Triumphant, which to this day owns substantial acreage in Paradise Valley near the Gardiner entrance to Yellowstone National Park, and the Freemen.

CUT I written off to human susceptibility to religious indoctrination. They were end-timers, and built shelters to protect them as the final war raged on outside. When it didn’t happen, some came to their senses.

CUT activities are far less harmful than those of television preachers who scam people out of billions annually, and legally. The bomb shelters still exist, some converted to homes. The valley is still largely intact, just as when I spent so many days driving through there with my Dad as he installed the Cecil’s Cafe sign in Gardiner. Overall, from a standpoint of effects on the landscape, I would give CUT an A-minus. The people of CUT, one-on-one, are nice, just as are Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s and others with weird belief systems.

An article in the Billings Gazette today recounts the 1996 Freeman standoff. At the time of their trial, I lived with my kids in a fifth floor apartment nearby. We had a laser pointer we used to amuse the cat, and my son went out on the balcony one night and shined it below. We very shortly had a knock on the door. A friendly policeman confiscated the toy. The trial was going on in a barricaded Federal Building, and the red dot from a high building was rather frightening to the officers below.


I expected to find something in the Gazette story I’ve become accustomed to – and was not disappointed.

What propelled this cadre of rural extremists into world headlines began March 25, 1996, when undercover FBI agents lured [Leroy] Schweitzer, Daniel E. Peterson Jr. and Lavon T. Hanson from the compound and arrested them.

The compound was surrounded by 100 FBI agents. That’s strange, just like over fifty FBI agents being immediately on the scene of Dorothy Hunt’s plane crash in Chicago in 1972.  They must have flown them in for the occasion. There aren’t that many agents in the whole state.

A nationally publicized siege ensued. The standoff lasted until June 13, 1996, when the men in the compound surrendered.

How do such small-minded and low-information men as the Freemen manage to create such a kerfuffle? The answer might lie in the word “undercover” FBI agents. We know now that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was shepherded to its conclusion by FBI agents. They claim a screw-up in that real explosives where used, but that is barely plausible. It was a provocation, just as with Operation Gladio, which saw bombings and killings of hundreds of civilian in Europe during the 1970’s – done by CIA and NATO agents.

The purpose: A strategy of tension. Fascists are never voted into power. They are always a small and unpopular minority, but when people are frightened, they invite them in. I doubt we’ll ever see an investigation, but I have a hunch that the “Freeman”, a loose-knit group of low-IQ losers carrying around copies of None Dare Call It Conspiracy and Atlas Shrugged, were spurred on by undercover agents.

So common is this type of underground FBI and CIA activity that I presume that all of the major scary events of our times originate in those agencies. (It’s also documented – sometime look up at a non-Wikipedia source “Cointelpro” and “Operation Chaos”) It is done to keep us in constant tension so that we seek protection and allow government to take away liberties and start wars. Other events of that time, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and Ruby Ridge, are equally suspicious.

The Gazette story by Lorna Thackeray is a standard journalistic treatment of the events of that time, recounting the known, and never probing underneath. It is the job of American journalists not to know things, not to ask the right questions. They are very good at their jobs.

7 thoughts on “Montana wackiness


    An interesting case is pending in the courts since the arrest of William Wolf, or whoever he really is, for allegedly falling for an age-old FBI entrapment scheme involving, again, allegedly, purchase and possession of an illegal weapon.

    Is any of it real? I don’t know. I attended a couple of meetings at MSU where Wolf spoke out from his seat in the crowd about various issues related to federal government policy and practice he believed to be inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. I could be wrong, but assessed Wolf as a talker and no real violent threat to anyone in government.


    1. If he gets a fair trial, the truth ought to emerge. Has he actually hurt anyone? Is he a danger or menace to society? Is a sting operation an enticement to commit a crime, rather than a crime? But fair trials are few and far between in this land.

      I find the expression “anti-government activist” a bit strange. It’s one of those PR catch phrases that embraces a whole array of attitudes in three words.


  2. Mark, Mark (Ok, you only get “2 Marks” here).

    The Royal Teton Ranch is a mega-cattle ranch like any other, and as such has environmental tolls. If you look at the history of the land easements and conservation agreements that the CUT has entered into with the feds to allow for passage of bison to disperse out of northern Yellowstone (like the Lamar), you’d give them much less than an A-.

    Cut has taken millions (13 million for easement and 3 million for grazing to be exact) to allow for to limit cattle grazing and allow safe passage of bison through its property to public grazing habitat down the Yellowstone. It has done neither, resulting in the unneeded slaughter of hundreds of bison. The “Corridor to Nowhere.” CUT also has had the MDOL haze bison off their lands and had BFC volunteers arrested for filming it.

    But generally, the CUT has been worse at land management than traditional ranches, as it embarked on extensive land development projects that impacted wildlife and threatened and endangered species. All of that development at the various different places in Paradise Valley really wasn’t environmentally benign or beneficent.

    As to the CUT as cult, I really think that misses the point, when using that as a point of reference against its environmental problems. The CUT was as potentiality explosive of a cult as the Freemen were. I spent a lot of my youth traipsing through the Gallatins and Absarokas, and came across potentially disastrous encounters. We used to play cat and mouse with Church security when we were horn hunting up Cedar Creek (the OTO Ranch), they with their atvs and semi-automatics, and us with our camo and binocs always staying one step ahead. The OTO was a far better place when the crazy woman protected it before CUT… she’d sneak up behind you and stick a hunting rifle in your back and point you downstream… and you’d do it, fast. The code of the old west was always far better than the code of the new age wannabes.

    CUT? D-


    1. Well, I will work my way down to no Mark’s before I am done here! I am jumping back into Montana issues after a five year absence, and getting an education.

      I was unaware of the CUT failure to perform regarding bison. That sounds like a clear-cut case of lawbreaking, what the courts are made for when the agencies don’t enforce it. I realize it is very corrupt out there, so seeking redress in courts is expensive and iffy, but the words “specific performance” comes to mind from college days – when financial penalties don’s solve a problem, forcing a party to abide by the terms of the contract does. Has anyone thought about a lawsuit to force CUT to abide by its agreements?

      Cults sphults … religions are always run by cynical manipulators who exploit human weakness. I don’t expect CUT to be different, but the rank and file are, as they like to be called, sheep. So CUT is into both cattle and sheep!


      1. BFC has closely followed the CUT land issues over the years. Here’s a report a good buddy of mine put together in 2008 about the issue:

        We did file suit in 2009 (The RTR claim was part of a much larger complaint). And lost. And will continue to lose until Federal District Court Judge Lovell is either too senile to continue to hear federal bison cases, or he dies of old age. He’s 86, and took senior status in 2000, but still gets all bison-related cases shuffled into his court. He’s the MDOL’s yes-boy.

        Liked by 1 person

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