The losing general at the “Battle of Bunkerville” has been tapped to oversee security for U.S. Bureau of Land Management facilities nationwide.
As special agent in charge of Nevada and Utah, Dan Love made decisions about law enforcement tactics and security during the BLM’s 2014 standoff with rogue rancher Cliven Bundy in northeastern Clark County.
Now Love will serve as the bureau’s special agent in charge of security and intelligence, a new post created in the wake of recent threats to federal employees and growing conflicts over public land.
BLM spokesman Craig Leff said the dedicated position was created to meet an existing need and not in response to any specific threat or incident.
He said Love started the new job this week after requesting reassignment.
Love could not be reached for comment.
Critics inside and outside the government have blasted the BLM for its approach to the 2014 cattle-roundup-turned-armed-confrontation 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Court documents charging Bundy and 18 others in connection with the standoff near his ranch cite tactical errors by the BLM that left law enforcement rangers “dangerously exposed.”
A July 2014 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national organization dedicated to fighting hate groups, said the BLM took an “almost amateurish” approach early in the roundup by bringing in dogs, helicopters and “a lot of weapons” and trying to confine protesters to “First Amendment” areas.
The report says the BLM’s actions only served to fuel anti-government sentiment and embolden extremists, leading to other clashes including the recent takeover, led by two of Cliven Bundy’s sons, at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Former BLM director Bob Abbey also second-guessed his former agency in the months after the 2014 standoff for being too aggressive and not deferring to local law enforcement to protect the contract cowboys hired to clear Bundy’s trespass cattle from federal range land.
Reached for comment Thursday, Abbey said his criticism then was “aimed at the tactics deployed,” not the individuals in charge, though he acknowledged that Love, as “incident commander,” was largely responsible for many of those tactical decisions.
Even so, Abbey said, Love seems like the right man for the bureau’s new post. “I know Dan,” Abbey said. “He has all the qualifications and skills to serve in the position.”
Love is expected to be a key government witness in the criminal trial of Bundy and his co-defendants.
Federal prosecutors several times in court have referred to his role as the lead government negotiator who struck a deal under pressure to end the armed confrontation and release Bundy’s cattle.
Las Vegas Review-Journal writer Jeff German contributed to this report.