While attending a Las Vegas Review-Journal “Hashtags & Headlines” event, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ratcheted up the rhetoric against conservatives by calling supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy "domestic terrorists," the Review-Journal reported Thursday. He also told the Review-Journal that a task force is being set up to "deal" with Bundy.
“Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” he said. "I repeat: what went on up there was domestic terrorism.”
He also accused supporters of bringing children to the ranch to put them in harm's way in order to make the government look bad. He also accused supporters of using fully automatic firearms.
“There were hundreds — hundreds of people from around the country — that came there,” Reid told the Review-Journal. “They had sniper rifles on the freeway. They had assault weapons. They had automatic weapons.”
He also attacked Bundy, implying that in his view, the Nevada rancher is unpatriotic.
“[Cliven] Bundy does not recognize the United States,” Reid said. “He says that the United States is a foreign government. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his fees. And he doesn’t follow the law. He continues to thumb his nose at authority.”
The Bundy family did not respond to requests for comment on Reid’s remarks, the Review-Journal said. Reid was also asked by moderator Steve Sebelius what should be done about supporters “who are willing to shed blood for the cause.”
“I hope that’s not the case,” Reid said in response. “I repeat, we are a country of laws. … We can’t let this happen.”
The standoff between Bundy and the BLM ended Saturday when federal agents beat a hasty retreat after confronting protesters. No shots were fired during the week-long incident, but the situation became quite tense at times, almost to the point of bloodshed.
Since Saturday's withdrawal, a number of people expressed concerns federal agents would return to finish the job, perhaps in a violent and bloody confrontation. The Bundys warned supporters to be wary of unverified information, but Reid's statement Thursday would appear to validate those concerns. Reid told the Review-Journal he spoke with Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI leaders and Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, and understands a task force is being set up.
“It is an issue that we cannot let go, just walk away from,” he said. Thursday's statement seems to echo comments he made earlier in the week when he said the dispute is "not over."
Reid's comments sparked an instant backlash from a number of people, including those on Twitter, according to a report at Twitchy.
"It's GOVERNMENT terrorism. Get it straight," one person said.
"Reid can beak the law and LIE & line his pockets," another person added. A number of other people suggested the same thing.
"Who was terrorized? I detest what Bundy did, but calling terrorist makes light of previous terroristic acts," said Twitter user "Will Dixon."
After excoriating Bundy and his supporters as unpatriotic terrorists, Reid moved on to his favorite punching bag -- the Koch brothers. According to the Daily Caller, Reid fell short of calling then "domestic terrorists" at Thursday's event, but did say they are "not good" for the country.