And it was an ambush, pure and simple.
At the Portland Oregonian, "Strategy for Oregon standoff arrests: 'The best way is to divide and conquer'":
After waiting for nearly a month, staying mostly out of sight and trying unsuccessfully to negotiate behind the scenes with the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover, federal agents and state police in the last week were facing intensified pressure from the Harney County community and Oregon's governor to end the occupation.Still more.
When they became aware that the key figures were planning to head north to the next county along a remote, two-lane stretch of highway, they no doubt considered it a prime opportunity to arrest them, former FBI agents and police experts say.
"The best way is to divide and conquer,'' said Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI chief hostage negotiator. "If we know through intelligence that the leadership of the group is leaving, what we need to do is intercept and arrest them.''
The FBI and state and local police early on seemed to hope that a "wait-them-out" approach would work. But they probably soon realized that they had a future chance to make arrests when Ammon Bundy and members of his inner circle began attending meetings outside the refuge.
"I'm sure that thought came up as time went by and they noticed them coming and going from the refuge," Van Zandt said.
On Tuesday, the masterminds of the armed siege were separated from the refuge and the other occupiers, a core group that seemed to fluctuate between 20 to 40 people since the takeover began Jan. 2. They likely were armed but wouldn't have access in their trucks to a big stash of weapons and other ammunition.
And the narrow spot along U.S. 395 between Burns and John Day, hemmed in by tall snow banks, was isolated from homes and businesses, leaving few options for an escape route, experts said Friday.
"Frankly to take someone mobile on the road is a lot safer than in one location, such as the refuge or around a populated area where a lot of people could be watching or reacting,'' said Danny Coulson, who served as special-agent-in-charge of the FBI in Oregon before becoming the agency's deputy assistant director in charge of terrorism operations.
Moving in just before dark was also ideal.
"You want to do it in daylight so everybody can see what's going on,'' Van Zandt said...