Harry Reid defends ‘domestic terrorists’ comments
April 18th, 2014
05:44 PM ET
6 months ago

Harry Reid defends ‘domestic terrorists’ comments

(CNN) - In a blunt exchange that hit on a major American divide, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, stood by his comments that militia groups involved in a ranch standoff are “domestic terrorists,” while the state’s Republican senator, Dean Heller, replied that he considers them “patriots.”

The two men appeared Friday afternoon on KSNV’s “What’s Your Point?” question-and-answer show.

The first question went to Reid, about his comments that a few hundred people protesting and blocking federal action against rancher Cliven Bundy are “domestic terrorists.”

“What did you mean by that?” co-host Amy Tarkanian asked.

“Just what I said,” Reid responded.

The Democrat later clarified that he was not talking about Bundy himself necessarily, but about outside individuals who traveled to the area in the recent days.

The standoff on the dusty Nevada land has been building for decades, as the federal government has worked to block Bundy’s cattle from grazing on public land. The family has raised cattle in the area for generations, but 20 years ago the land they used was declared off limits in order to protect a desert tortoise.

Related: What made Nevada rancher fight the feds?

Bundy has continued grazing anyway, insisting he is within his rights. Last week the issue hit a new hot point when hundreds of self-described militia groups came to Bundy’s land to protest federal action and help him defend his grazing ability.

That’s who Reid described as “domestic terrorists”.

“600 people came armed, they had practiced, they had maneuvered… they set up snipers in strategic locations… they had automatic weapon,” the leading Democrat said Friday. “And they boasted about the fact they put women and children… so they would get hit first.”

“If there were ever an example of people who were domestic violent terrorist wannabes, these are the guys,” Reid concluded.

Heller, sitting inches away from Reid in the television studio, rejected the thought. “What Senator Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots,” he said.

Reid interrupted. “These people think they’re patriots, they’re not,” the majority leader insisted. “If they’re patriots, we’re in very big trouble.”

His Republican colleague jumped back in. “Well, it’s a pretty broad brush,” Heller responded. “You have Boy Scouts out there. You have veterans at the event, you have grandparents at the event. As long as they’re not promoting violence…”

“Promoting violence?” Reid asked. “Sniper rifles…. Grandmothers? Boy Scouts? I hope not.”

The Silver State’s two U.S. senators never raised their voices and the dispute kept a respectful tone. But the disagreement fell across sharp philosophical lines that have defined some of the most passionate feelings in modern American politics. Are militia and anti-government groups a threat to American life? Or is the federal government the problem?

Reid insisted it was the former, that protestors at the ranch were threatening U.S. government workers. And he described ranch owner Bundy as a man who hasn’t paid his taxes and sees Washington as a foreign power.

Heller spoke of the situation as a rancher trying to survive government regulation and facing an “army” sent in by the United States to dislodge his cattle.

“There was no army,” Reid responded.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the primary agency involved, has not indicated what its next move will be in the standoff.


Filed under: Dean Heller • Harry Reid • Nevada
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. JohnRJohnson

    Heller is an !diot. Reid's description of what happened in Nevada is exactly what terrorists would do. Trying to provoke violence, setting up sniper positions, assaulting police canines, putting women and children in the front lines, and blocking interstate highways. These people are the dregs of American society and they deserve to be in jail.

    April 18, 2014 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  2. budshot

    Reid doesn't have to defend a thing on this. He's 100% right. Bundy and his Men In Tights are all domestic terrorists.

    April 19, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. joe

    Reid is nervous and desperate. He is going DOWN. Bye Bye Harry GREED.

    April 19, 2014 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  4. Some dude

    Leave it to the democrat to bash on Americans who are only fighting for whats right

    April 19, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. Dale

    Harry Reid and the federal govt is the problem.

    They have ruined our manufacturing base , destroyed our farmers , to line their own pockets. The president signs a law and decides when it will be followed. The Harry rieds and nancy polosise's of congress needs to go and go now !

    April 19, 2014 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  6. 2_indy1600

    Aside from not reporting the solar-plant plans for the area, cnn is also censoring the fact that a 35 year old that Greed appointed BLM head is another incompetent. Why are you ignoring the facts, cnn? We aren't. You've now earned the label "yellow journalists" by some. You haven't printed a word about ENN and their relationship to this story. WHY NOT? The truth is there, but your partisanship is blinding you. Or are you just the liars people claim?

    April 19, 2014 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  7. Just Sayin'

    Nope. As Eric Nordstrum stated, "The real terrorists are in the White House".

    April 19, 2014 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  8. Jim

    He's absolutely right.

    April 19, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  9. Wolf

    Reid is a tool and needs to step down....he's wasted enough taxpayer money with his boondoggles and get rich schemes at taxpayer expense....

    April 19, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  10. 2_indy1600

    The problem with debunking a "conspiracy theory" with your Orthman aide in the Las Vegas sun, is that if no one believes you in the first place because you've been lying about political opponents in order to stay in power, who in the world is going to believe your underling? Harry Greed has seen his last round-up. Credibility shot.

    April 19, 2014 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  11. nathan

    I would not consider them terrorists since Harry Reid does not consider it a crime for illegals from the south to invade our country. As far as I am concerned, the rule of law in this country is over since we reward hispanics for coming here illegaly with no punishment, then these guys who are defending this Bundy guy have my respect. I would not have really cared if they shot some of them federal goverment agents, although they are cowards for saying they would hide behind the women and children. Its really sad what happened to this country. greed and selfishness, and hypocritical people in congress both democrats and republicans.

    April 19, 2014 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  12. Anton

    This family has been on that land for more than 100 years.

    They don't owe anything to anyone.

    April 19, 2014 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  13. OldAsDirt

    Has the Judicial branch agreed with the Executive branch that the BLM is within the law? My recollection is that agencies may only act within the extent of the law as authorized by Congress. The BLM doesn't declare species endangered, nor determine the specific remedy to protect them. The tortoise story sounds like a ploy to win over a voting bloc, especially since it hasn't had urgency for 20 years.

    April 19, 2014 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  14. realville

    Reid is an imbecile and a pathetic liar. And by the way, just how does he know that the rancher doesn't pay his income taxes??? The same way he lied when he said Romney doesn't pay his income taxes which turned out to be a total fabrication. He is an embarrassment to the State of Nevada and to the country.

    April 19, 2014 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  15. JusttheTruth

    Isn't that nice, a cowardly Muslim kills numerous soldiers on Ft. Hood, and that's work place violence, A group tries to defend the rights of Ranchers and they are "Domestic Terrorists"

    April 19, 2014 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  16. waitaminute

    The only terrorist I see is the Progressive infected Federal Gov with the jack booted BLM thugs. America is ready to fight.

    April 19, 2014 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  17. Doug

    "Mr." Reid needs to get out of politics. If he has truly lost any touch with "the common man", he has no right to be paid (overly so) to be a representative. As I stated before, the Gov'ts action was more terroristic than those taken by a man trying to protect his lifes work.

    April 19, 2014 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  18. Marie MD

    If it quacks and looks like a duck it's a duck!
    Why should this farmer and his militia fools living in the distant past not pay taxes and fight against paying like we all do?
    Who do they think they are the rich and powerful?

    April 19, 2014 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  19. jboh

    These same TEA/GOP thugs have justifeid killing unarmed protesters for blocking traffic at civil rights/antiwar rallies, but think it's just fine to threaten w/guns. Never forget that these are the same terrorists who supported T. McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma City, and murdered Americans as a political statement. That is the definition of terrorism. Funny how the local residents never want these thugs around.

    April 19, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  20. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Harry is 100% correct. Can't wait to see Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats Mitt the twit style.

    April 19, 2014 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    That is far from possible. Reid is a total loser, and a disgrace to America.

    April 19, 2014 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  22. louenglish

    Why is Reid so energized about this issue? The name calling from one of the most powerful persons in the nation is not helping the situation. Hell he wouldn't even concede that the Benghazi attackers were "terrorists". If we only had a national press that could get us the facts, investigate the motives, pursue the leads objectively. Ha!

    April 19, 2014 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  23. louenglish

    Why is Reid so energized about this issue??? Hell he wouldn't even concede that the Benghazi attackers were "terrorists". If we only had a national press that could get us the facts, investigate the motives, pursue the leads objectively. Ha!

    April 19, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  24. Get Real

    Harry Reid "Pot Meet Kettle"

    April 19, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  25. Boog

    Some one correct me if i am wrong..what is this i hear that the Reids want that land to sell to the Chinese..is this true...if it is they should be arrested by the U.S.Military for being Traitors...???

    April 19, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7