Editorial: Pandering in Utah artifact theft case
"Utah's two U.S. senators, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, are trying to make cheap political points back home at the expense of federal agents who arrested 23 people on felony charges of trafficking in ancient Indian artifacts plundered from public land. In doing so they are making a difficult situation worse.

At a time when anger toward the federal government is running at fever pitch in southeastern Utah following last week's arrests and the suicide of one of the accused, Hatch and Bennett are feeding the flames of resentment when calm and reason are clearly called for.

This rank posturing is all the more egregious because Hatch and Bennett are well aware that anti-government sentiment has long gone hand-in-hand with widespread illegal looting of archaeological sites by some residents of the Four Corners area. Rather than do anything constructive to address the problem, the senators are cynically encouraging the baseless notion that federal agents employed Gestapo-like tactics in arresting peaceful, law-abiding pillars of the community.

By all appearances, the law enforcement operation conducted by the FBI and Bureau of Land Management following a two-year undercover operation was conducted by the book. Some 150 agents and other federal personnel took part, appropriately armed, protected by body armor, and ready with handcuffs to discourage resistance and to ensure the agents' protection and that of the suspects and their families."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Political pandering (The Salt Lake Tribune 6/18)

Relevant Documents:
DOI Press Release: Federal Agents Bust Ring of Antiquity Thieves Looting American Indian Sites for Priceless Treasures | DOJ Press Release: Arrests Made in Operation Targeting Network Selling Stolen Native American Artifacts | Remarks of Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden at a Press Conference

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