Jailed Right-Wing Shock Jock Pleads “Press Freedom” after Calling for Hillary to be Shot in the Vajayjay.
Propagandist for Oregon Bird Sanctuary Occupiers Faces Many Years in Jail for all Sorts of Stuff
By Nate Thayer
February 24, 2016
“I want to shoot her right in the vagina and I don’t want her to die right away; I want her to feel the pain and I want to look her in the eyes and I want to say, on behalf of all Americans that you’ve killed, on behalf of the Navy SEALS, the families of Navy SEAL Team Six who were involved in the fake hunt down of this Obama, Obama bin Laden thing, that whole fake scenario–because these Navy SEALS know the truth–they killed them all. On behalf of all of those people, I’m supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.“—Oregon Bird Refuge protestor and “Patriot” movement propagandist Pete Santilli on then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”—First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Pete Santilli is one of 25 arrested and charged with federal conspiracy in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon last month. Santilli is in jail in Oregon and he is unhappy about that.
The fun is up and Santilli wants to go home now.
He says he is a journalist and is being denied his First Amendment rights of Free Speech.
His lawyer says Santilli is a “new journalist” and an “unconventional news-gatherer” who is being persecuted for “his words” and should be accorded the same media status as “an employee of a mainstream television station.”
“He stands today an innocent man who did nothing more than exercise his First Amendment rights, and he received no warning that his exercise of those rights was considered unlawful by law enforcement,” said his lawyer Thomas Coan.
That claim is debatable: Santilli has called for the shooting of serving secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Vajayjay, the execution of sitting U.S. president Obama, the arrest on treason charges of Senator and U.S. war hero John McCain, assumed command authority over the armed occupation of federal land in Oregon, and called for the shooting of law enforcement who attempt to enter one’s property, among many other things.
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Many journalists who covered the Oregon occupation say Santilli was not a legitimate member of the press, but rather a full-fledged member of the armed occupation.
He was like a “rodeo clown,” said Spencer Sunshine, an associate fellow at Political Research Associates in Boston who writes about militia movements. “He was clearly a partisan character. He was crossing boundaries that anyone who could normally be considered a journalist would never cross. There was no pretense about playing by journalistic rules.”
“This is the difference between Pete and legit press: A real journalist does not use every opportunity to interject themselves into the story they are supposed to be documenting. Either be the Press or be a protester. You cannot be both. From the second I saw Pete dressed in Camo BDU’s, constantly inserting his opinion in the middle of people’s sentences, as he was supposed to be interviewing them; I knew he was not going to be able to walk away calling himself the press,” said one blogger, who has sympathies with the armed protestors.
“He was outlandishly obnoxious. Like the legless man (who was there in Oregon, too), too much to be true”, Hal Herring, who was at the Malheur refuge and wrote brilliant article for High Country News, told me.
Santilli sees it differently. “Oh, I’m with the press all right. I’m just nonconforming press.”
There may be a reason why Santilli was not “playing by the journalistic rules”—as other journalists in Oregon put it—and is “nonconforming press”–as Santilli phrases it.
However, evidence suggests that Santilli has worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a confidential informant, according to California and Ohio sources. These sources and evidence show that the FBI gave Santilli an “offer he couldn’t refuse.”
On December 18, 2015, near Cincinnati, Ohio, Santilli was arrested for possession of a loaded firearm—a felony charge that rarely results in one being released with no bond or conditions, little less the charges dropped after being forwarded to the court by a Grand Jury who recommended prosecution.
At the time, the arresting police officers in Newton, Ohio said it was a solid arrest for illegal violation of gun possession and weapons carry laws. The Smith and Wesson was loaded, in a gym bag, and within easy reach on the floorboards between the feet of Santilli in the car. At the time of arrest, between Santilli’s feet, was a bag with the weapon and extra loaded ammo clips. That is illegal in Ohio unless one has a Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) license. Santilli has no CCW license. Santilli said he thought it was a legal “open carry” of his registered Smith and Wesson.
And then there was the issue that when Santilli was pulled over, the police check showed he was on the federal “terror watch list”, according to Santilli and the Newton, Ohio police chief, Thomas Synan Jr.
After Santilli’s arrest, the chief received several death threats, including one message which read “I think it is time that citizens draw their weapons first when approached by the cops,” according to public records obtained by Cincinnati Channel 12 TV and their excellent investigative reporter Richard Jaffe.
Santilli was locked up.
Santilli was arrested on 18 December; he was assigned a public defender on the 19th; he was released on the 21st; and all charges dropped on the 23rd.
The Ohio clerk of courts listed the charges as “ignored” on December 23, 2015.
Four days later, he showed up 1000 miles away in Oregon in full-throated support for the rag-tag group of armed extremists occupying the wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon.
Sources say that Federal government law enforcement intervened and Big-footed the local law enforcement and court system to drop all charges, arguing it was in the greater interest of “national security.”
Immediately upon release from jail, Santilli and his girlfriend, Deborah Jordan, drove from Cincinnati to Burns, Oregon to support Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, who are now serving five-year prison sentences for setting fires on federal land. Santilli, his girlfriend, Ken Rhoads and Ben Matthews—all part of Santilli’s production team—hunkered down at the Silver Spur Motel in Burns, where they remained for next month.
Santilli immediately began inserting himself aggressively into the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, representing himself as a member of the “independent press.” He wore a vest with ‘PRESS: PETE SANTILLI’ written in neon lettering on the back.
Santilli broadcast his Internet program from room 123 of Burns’ Silver Spur Motel.
He went to the law enforcement headquarters at Burns airport and ordered the FBI to leave Oregon, he yelled at counter protestors at the wildlife refuge, and he was kicked out of a Burns Oregon community meeting after shouting down a speaker and refusing to stop.
On January 26th, Santilli was arrested in the first swoop by the federal and state law enforcement agencies on the occupiers.
Fast forward to late February, and Santilli is arguing to a federal judge that he is a journalist, and his reporting during the takeover and occupation of the wildlife refuge fall under free-speech protections in the First Amendment.
Santilli’s lawyer in Oregon called on the court to release him, saying Santilli wants to go back to Cincinnati and resume his internet media career. The judge said ‘no’ on Feb. 5 after prosecutors showed video clips of Santilli detailing his gun collection and saying he would shoot any police officers trying to enter his home. But it is expected Santilli will be released in coming days, according to sources in Oregon.
Santilli’s Journalistic Career
Here are a few other things Pete Santilli has said and done while running an internet video talk show in recent years:
In 2013, the U.S. Secret Service visited him after he said that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be shot in the vagina and tortured and that President Obama should be executed.
In 2013, he said on his Internet show that Hillary Clinton needed to be tried, convicted, “and shot in the Vagina”, something that brought him to the attention of the Secret Service.
Santilli has also said that violence against the government would be justified as “the equivalent of us going out and doing a preemptive strike on our foreign enemies. That would be justified…because of the war that has been perpetrated upon our American people.”
In July, 2014, Santilli called for shutting down the border entry points between Mexico and the U.S. hoping to “shut down the flood of immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.A. at the encouragement of the now impeachable President Barack Obama. This event has the potential to become one of the most patriotic and successful events in our nation’s history, and all American families are encouraged to attend.”
He called on “all able-bodied militia members to converge on the Laredo sector of the Texas/Mexico border” with the “objective is to create a traffic jam of epic proportions to shut down the U.S. Mexico border — to stop the flow of immigrants.”
In September 2015, Santilli organized a protest outside Senator John McCain’s Arizona office calling for his arrest for “treason”.
Santilli in the days before the occupation of the Oregon Bird Sanctuary
“If, for instance, I was a FBI informant I have told the people that matter that handle operational security issues including Aamon Bundy—Aamon Bundy, Ryan (Bundy), the guys at Pacific Patriot Network—I do not want to ever know, ever, ever, anything important to an operational security standpoint. …say for instance I was a FBI informant and I had zero access to any sensitive information and when I am told to exit and area I do so willingly for the protection of what we are doing, what we the people are doing for the protection of the constititution and lawfully. If I was a FBI informant I intentionally removed myself from operational security issues. The integrity of what we are doing is never compromised so whether I am a FBI informant or not I have intentionally chosen to stay on the outer realms of…”
Santilli is a right-wing Internet podcast host and conspiracy theorist from Cincinnati, Ohio. Santilli traveled to Nevada in 2014 to “cover” the Bundy Ranch standoff and has also taken part in anti-immigrant activities in California.
Santilli has identified himself with the Three Percenters and the Oathkeepers.
In Oregon, Santilli acted as the occupiers’ chosen propagandist, though he said that he did not participate in the takeover “because that is an illegal action.” But he appears to have far crossed that line since the get go. After the arrest of the main occupiers and the shooting death of Lavoy Fillicum, Santilli called up another leader still at the refuge, Blaine Cooper, and ordered him to “take command and control, now.”
(Full Disclosure: I fall firmly in the category of “an interested party” in this discussion as a 30 plus year career journalist, mainly with the “mainstream media”. I also take very seriously the vital importance of an unfettered Free Press. It is irrelevant whether I agree with someone’s political views; in fact the real test of the inviolable sanctity of a Free Press come when the most obnoxious, the most offensive have their speech muzzled because it is unpopular.)
Everyone should be allowed to say, think, and write what they want; the red line is crossed when someone transits from belief and speech on whatever goofball, lunatic, hateful, dark, absurd, fictional conspiracies swirling around their fetid minds into acting on said goofball delusions.
The U.S. supreme court sanctified this in the seminal decision on the right of avowed Nazi’s to march through largely Jewish communities in Skokie, Illinois in the 1977 court ruling National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie.
The debate over Santilli and his role as a member of the press has more traction in the digital age of media.
“While many people might disagree with statements made by those involved in the Malheur takeover, Americans have a fundamental right to freedom of speech,” said ACLU Legal Director Mat dos Santos. “Law enforcement can and should differentiate between controversial statements and real threats. What’s at stake here could indeed be larger than a radio personality’s career, Malheur and Oregon.”
“It’s irrelevant that he’s a journalist,” Carrie Leonetti, a University of Oregon professor of criminal and constitutional law at the university’s Portland campus (and a former federal defense attorney in Central California) told a Portland Oregon paper. “A journalist just can’t break the law that applies to all of us.”
Gregg Leslie of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C, agreed. “We’ve never had any success arguing that reporters have any kind of special right to violate the law and not be arrested just because they’re reporters. That just doesn’t fly with courts.”
Santilli really, really wants to be out of jail now.
“This is 1,000% an injustice. If this can happen to me, it can happen to any member of the media,” said Peter Santilli in a jailhouse phone call.