News2Share has received a letter from Peter Santilli, a radio host and former United States Marine arrested on January 27th during the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in Oregon. Despite wearing a vest labelled “Press” as well as credentials affiliated with his network, Talk Network News, The FBI alleges that Santilli participated with the occupiers rather than reporting on them. In their criminal complaint, the FBI alleges “The vest SANTILLI is wearing has a clearly visible Oath Keeper patch on front. ”
On February 1st, News2Share Managing Editor Ford Fischer mailed Santilli a letter at the Inverness Jail, where he is being held without bond. In a letter dated February 11, Santilli responded.
The interview, transcribed from the written correspondence verbatim, has been compiled below:
Ford Fischer: I’m sure the last month has been rather turbulent for you. During that time, News2Share, a media outlet based out of Washington D.C. has been watching the Oregon Wildlife Refuge situation very closely and reporting on it to the best of our ability. As it stands right now, thousands of viewers have been relying on us for coverage of the standoff and its aftermath.
As a journalist, I’m sure you know that the public and the media will now be dissecting the situation. If you have anything you’d like the public to know, please reply to this letter with a statement, information, or anything else you’d like to share. We will make sure it is presented, unaltered, to the public.
Peter Santilli: Thanks so much for reaching out and sending a letter. As you can imagine, daily mail-call has become something ‘very important’ to look forward to.
Before I address your questions, I want to share the most critical information I can with you: My incarceration is in direct retaliation for my criticism of the U.S. government; particularly the F.B.I. My case is a true-blue first amendment case & everyone in alternative media has a stake in the outcome.
Ford Fischer: You wore a vest labeling yourself “PRESS,” but the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have labeled you as a participant, partially relying on your status as a member of Oathkeepers. Do you disagree with their characterization?
Peter Santilli: Yes, I always wear a vest labeled “PRESS” because I am the free press as I report/broadcast a live stream from the various scenes I’ve covered. The FBI can do whatever they wish to mischaracterize me, but they don’t set the standards, nor can they modify the First Amendment; which ultimately protects my role as I broadcast the truth. I’m not sure who “other agencies” are, but I can tell you this, any “other agency” which is not doing the right thing or is unconstitutional is very fearful of my criticism – I have gone after many of them fearlessly. Their mischaracterization is mere retaliation against me for calling them out when they deserve it.
As to “relying on my status as a member of Oathkeepers,” I am not sure where you got that, but Stewart Rhodes has relied upon my endorsement of his organization. You have it backwards – or someone does – The Oathkeepers relies [sic] upon my good words. When I criticize them, Stewart R panics!
Ford Fischer: Is there anything you would have done differently?
Peter Santilli: Would I have done anything differently? At this very moment, I am extremely disappointed in the patriot community. Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure I would have invested so much energy or had so much faith that patriots would rise (peacefully) to the call. When I get out, I don’t think I’ll be doing very much in terms of tallying patriots because I’m not sure if Americans really want to do anything about saving our country. Sounds sad, but it’s truly how I feel.
Ford Fischer: Having spent extensive time with the militia very closely as a member of the press, do you think there’s anything the public or media misunderstand/misrepresent about what’s happened over the past month?
Peter Santilli: The “Militia”: Please share this with everyone WE ARE ALL THE MILITIA. It’s so important for everyone to understand this. Read the Federalist Papers to understand exactly what our founding fathers intended with the 2nd Amendment as it related to the militia. It was very specific.
Ford Fischer: What do you want the public, particularly those who disagree with the occupiers’ actions, to know about the group’s actions and motivations?
1) Trespassers who walked into the refuge & made themselves comfortable didn’t deserve to die. None of them.
2) Agree or disagree, it doesn’t change the core constitutional principles they stood for: The U.S. Constitution/Article 1/Section 8/Clause 17 which states very specifically what the U.S. government can/can’t own with respect to land. So, you could have 100,000 people who disagree with how they took over the refuge, and 10 people saying “Article 1/Sect8/Para 17” says the gov’t can’t own a refuge & t belongs to the country and state. I would have to side with the 10 people & The U.S. Constitution and ignore the 100,000 whiney, butt-hurt fake-triots who complain about the style or cleanliness in how we restore constitutionality.
Always Remember: I came here with a megaphone, camera, and my mouth.
People at the FBI can’t stand how truthful I am so they threw me in jail to try to silence me. I [sic] will only make me louder!