Harry Reid defends ‘domestic terrorists’ comments
April 18th, 2014
05:44 PM ET
7 years 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.

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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. Refuse2giveup

    How dare you, Mr. Reid? There is no justification for your outrageous comments. You and this administration pick and choose the laws you wish to follow, yet you stand there and accuse these US citizens of being domestic terrorists. Mr. Reid, what about the MILLIONS of illegal aliens who are breaking our immigration laws daily? According to you and this administration, it's OK for the immigration laws to be broken since you need as many Democrat voters as you can muster.

    April 18, 2014 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  2. James Hunter

    How very interesting... a Senator claims that armed men obstructing federal law enforcement are "patriots."
    It has come to that.

    April 18, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  3. Jetranger

    No Backstepping now Reid, everybodys got your number, maybe your still scared of your Good Friend Spiltoro???

    April 18, 2014 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  4. Frank

    I agree with Sen. Reid. "domestic terrorists" is not a reach. Hundreds of outsiders dressed in military gear and armed with guns at government officials sounds like a bunch of wannabe Rambo's looking to fulfill their fantasies.
    If Bundy wants to appeal the law he has that right. He has no rights beyond that point.

    April 18, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  5. Bubba

    It's senator Reid that is the terrorist tying to use the federal government gestapo for his own personal gain.

    April 18, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  6. codyboy

    Harry is nothing but a mouthpiece for Odumbo.

    April 18, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  7. Jason

    There was no army Mr. Reid?

    The militia would not have shown if the BLM was not armed to the teeth pointing their guns and tasting cattle ranchers, wimp men days before.

    Mr. Reid, you need to learn a simple concept of cause and effect. The cause was the BLM SWAT tactics and abuse of power, the effect was the militia.

    Tread lightly Mr. Reid, history is not kind to tyrannical Napoleon wannabe's.

    April 18, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. John

    Reid is a thief who wants the land for his sons financial interest.

    April 18, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. Sergie Kent

    The whole incident grew out of Reid and his son trying to grab the land used by the rancher's family for over a century so that they could relocate endangered tortoises there to clear the way for a huge Chinese built solar energy plant that both Reid and his son have a large financial stake in. (True. You can look it up) Reid is using his senatorial clout to trick federal goon squads into enforcing his will to get his obscene personal wealth enhancing scam done. It is corruption of the most disgusting kind. Then he turns around and attempts to smear the rancher and his followers as supposed tax dodgers and terrorists. My personal opinion is that the man is a huge embarrassment to the fine state of Nevada and to the Federal Government whom he is manipulating. .

    April 18, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. John Cleary

    Man, it's stupid nonsense like this that prevents me from choosing a party affiliation. Politicians say the dumbest things.

    April 18, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. geno marcello

    Harry Reid is starting to show his senility. He has been gorging himself on taxpayers' money for too long. It is past time for him to resign. If Reid had any sense of decorum or civility, he would turn in his resignation. If he stays in office, those 'domestic terrorists' that he describes should surround his home in Nevada in a 24-hour vigil until this punch-drunk fighter throws up his scrawny hands and says, 'Enough. No mas. I quit.'

    April 18, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  12. biologyguy

    Reid is simply a coward who is rightly afraid of the citizenry. He is the only person being terrorized by these people. Being a 1%, Reid doesn't like the rest of us much. Exactly which normal everyday citizens does he represent.

    April 18, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  13. rjsenterp

    So people who stand up to the government are "domestic terrorists? But then again so were Ben Franklin and some guy named George Washington.

    April 18, 2014 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  14. Robyn


    So, let me see if I have the facts.

    A bunch of "men" with automatic weapons have come boasting that they will kill innocent people to protect the rights of Cliven Bundy to steal other people's property. And they have brought along women and children to act a human shields for them to hide behind while they threaten to commit mass murder.

    What a brave bunch of "patriots" these losers are.


    April 18, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    says the guy selling land to china for solar farms

    April 18, 2014 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. Kman

    This demented old bat can not possibly have too much longer left

    April 18, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  17. I think therefore I am

    Once again Senator Reid has proven beyond any doubt that the liberal leaning Democrats will not let the truth get in the way of a good lie. What proof does he have of automatic weapons? I bet he saw AR's and AK's and like every other anti gun person calls it an automatic when in fact it is semi-automatic. Women and children in the front so they get hit first? What a fantasy!! They would have lost any respect or admiration from supports for such as stupid idea but the liberals love to say whatever they think is going to get the lower informed person on their side. Just think somewhere some person without the required "think for yourself" gene is saying OMG!!! they had machine guns and put women and kids in front!!! oh the horror of these terrorist!!

    April 18, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. Gail beck

    Nevada residents should demand his resignation.

    April 18, 2014 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  19. reidismyhero

    "...But the disagreement fell across sharp philosophical lines that have defined..." - At this point, it is not "across sharp philosophical lines" any more. It is across the chasm between a Democrat and a Republican, and a frustrated, polarized Congress. Traitors or patriots? You think we're in the midst of a civil war right now??!! These two senators express uncompromising views on the subject just for the sake of being on opposing sides. That's the mode that the entire country is operating on now. Sad but pretty obvious.

    April 18, 2014 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  20. d. bLACK

    Some of your statements are not truthful, and that can be proven by the NY journalist who stated that no one present boasted or said what you are quoted as saying, "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." One day you will face the Lord God and have some explaining to do. You make me ashamed to be an American. Perhaps you've been in political power far too long and it's gone to your head.

    April 18, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  21. Kishor

    This is an example of the country divided. Neither agitators are terrorist nor are they patriots. The rancher in question is selfish who puts personal gain over societal responsibility. Not paying government taxes.....he should know how much money BLM spends every year to reclaim lands from fire, to reseed overgrazed land to restore and as a person he wants to get those services free for himself. Government is not a foreign thing, it is us and operates from our taxes. If someone wants to use services free means some of us are paying for it.

    April 18, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  22. Rocco

    Why don't Harry Reid go get a real job instead of living off the Taxpayer's. He even has the Guts to call fellow American's Terrorist after they support him, his family and corporate friends. He is the Terrorist, terrorizing Ranchers in Nevada so his son can make a deal with the Communist Chinese for the land so they can put up Solar Panels.

    What going on with these bums and Crooks in Washington? How abut Senator McCain insulting Russia trying to make war with them so his friends benefit from it and Poor American Kids give up their lives for Greed.

    Whoever Votes for War should be required to send their family to the front lines and see how many wars will take place.

    April 18, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  23. Amazed

    Reid might want to invest in a dictionary.

    April 18, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  24. t money

    What's this we hear about Reid having stock in a solar company that is competing for use of this land? Are they raising taxes to push ranchers off so this company can take over?

    April 18, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  25. mro

    Reid is the terrorist... and a thief of millions of tax payers dollars.

    April 18, 2014 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
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