USA TODAY International Edition

Biden must pull Stone- Manning’s BLM nomination

Stone- Manning sent a disturbing letter to the Forest Service on behalf of ecoterrori­sts, then covered up their crimes and lied to the Senate

- John Barrasso U. S. senator

President Joe Biden has called domestic terrorism one of the most serious security threats facing America. In June, his National Security Council even issued a strategy to combat it. So why is he standing by one of his own nominees who collaborat­ed with ecoterrori­sts and lied to the Senate to cover up her actions?

On April 22, President Biden nominated Tracy Stone- Manning to lead the U. S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

With more than 10,000 employees, BLM manages roughly an eighth of the nation’s land, including nearly 65 million acres of forest. This land holds about 30% of America’s minerals and is used for a variety of functions – including energy developmen­t, livestock grazing, mining, recreation and the harvesting of timber.

The lands managed by BLM make up the majority of territory in many Western states, including my home state of Wyoming. Whoever leads this agency must have the faith and trust of the American people. Ms. Stone- Manning’s nomination violates that trust.

Dangerous protest tactic

Ms. Stone- Manning lied to the Senate about her past associatio­n with an ecoterrori­st cell that hammered 500 pounds of metal spikes into trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest in 1989. She anonymousl­y sent a disturbing and threatenin­g letter to the U. S. Forest Service on behalf of the ecoterrori­sts and spent years covering up their crimes. “Tree spiking” has a long history as an especially vicious ecoterrori­st tactic. It involves hammering a metal rod or other material into a tree trunk, either at its base where a logger or firefighter might cut into it, or higher up where it would mangle a mill’s saw blade.

Ecoterrori­sts who employ this tactic to stop legal timber harvesting know exactly what they’re doing. The results can be catastroph­ic to life and limb. Some of the spiked trees from the Idaho forest are still standing and remain dangerous to this day.

Nominees complete a background questionna­ire under oath when they come before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Ms. StoneManni­ng claimed she had “never been arrested or charged and to my knowledge … the target of such an investigat­ion.” That’s not true.

According to court documents and news reports, Ms. Stone- Manning was investigat­ed in a 1989 federal probe of this tree spiking conspiracy. She was subpoenaed to provide physical evidence, including hair samples.

While denying it to the Senate, Ms. Stone- Manning admitted in 1990 that she was an investigat­ive target. She called the experience “degrading. It changed my awareness of the power of government. Yes, this was happening to me and not someone in Panama.” Ms. Stone- Manning also claimed that she “later testified in a trial that resulted in the conviction of a responsibl­e individual.”

That’s just part of the story. The reality is she didn’t cooperate with investigat­ors.

A retired federal law enforcemen­t agent who was the lead investigat­or for the crime wrote to the Senate saying that she helped plan the spiking and that she was a target of the investigat­ion. He said she “absolutely refused to do anything” to help. Her intransige­nce set back the probe by years. Only after she was caught and offered immunity did she agree to testify against one of the spikers in 1993.

Disqualified to lead

Her involvemen­t and her false statements to the Senate about this ecoterrori­st episode are reason enough to block her from serving as BLM director.

Bob Abbey, who led BLM under former President Barack Obama, said these actions “should disqualify her” from leading this important agency.

It’s not clear her radical views have changed. In a 2018 article about Western wildfires, her husband wrote in Harper’s magazine that firefighters should just let homes built on the edges of forests burn. “There’s a rude and satisfying justice,” he wrote, “in burning down the house of someone who builds in the forest.”

Ms. Stone- Manning is not responsibl­e for the views of her husband. But last September, she called the article a “clarion call” and said people should read it.

Protecting ecoterrori­sts

BLM’s work is too important to be led by someone who covered up for ecoterrori­sts, lied to the Senate and supports extremist views most Americans find reprehensi­ble. The Senate must reject this nomination.

The president’s terrorism strategy recognizes the danger of environmen­tal extremists. If he’s serious, he will withdraw Ms. Stone- Manning’s name from considerat­ion and choose someone to lead BLM who can win the confidence of the American people.

Sen. John Barrasso, R- Wyo., is the senior Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 ?? ALEX BRANDON/ AP ?? Tracy Stone- Manning, nominated to direct the Bureau of Land Management, at her confirmation hearing in Washington last month.
ALEX BRANDON/ AP Tracy Stone- Manning, nominated to direct the Bureau of Land Management, at her confirmation hearing in Washington last month.
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