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Custer Battlefield Museum Owner Files Lawsuit Against United States

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custer battlefield museum

What would cause a constant stream of federal agents to target, harass, and intimidate an innocent civilian?

And if such a thing were to happen, would that civilian have any recourse in the American court of law?

These are the questions that will hopefully be answered in the case brought against the United States government in the U.S. Federal Court of Claims in Washington, D.C.

The plaintiff is a man by the name of Christopher Kortlander, the owner and director of the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryowen, Montana. Kortlander has decided that he’s had enough of being at the receiving end of the threats and baseless prosecution, and has decided to turn the tables on the government by filing a lawsuit of his own.

On his side, he says, is the Constitution of the United States.

Getting on the Bad Side of the Feds

The way he has been pursued through the years, with his home and businesses raided multiple times, in 2005 and in 2008, and hundreds of important artifacts seized from his properties.




The charges against Kortlander were not only fuzzy – they simply never existed. Despite the multiple raids and threats that he would be charged with a crime, those charges never materialized – not a single charge was ever pressed against Kortlander.

Still, he was forced to struggle through years of harassment and raids while trying to build his business and grow the historic museum.

According to Kortlander, his troubles started when he made the mistake of dating the ex-wife of a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Special Agent.

Kortlander claims that the agent used his federal position to conduct surveillance on Kortlander and the ex-wife, during their relationship.

The claim appears to be true, since after Kortlander reported the surveillance, the BLM agent was reassigned outside of the Bureau of Land Management, and the surveillance and spying ended.

Unfortunately, the event placed an “X” on Kortlander’s back, and someone at the BLM decided to make his life a living nightmare. Claims were made that many of his artifacts were illegally obtained, including Native American artifacts made with Eagle feathers, which are federally protected.

Kortlander says that all artifacts were donated or part of a family heirloom collection, and he is demanding that the remainder of the artifacts still being held by the Feds be returned immediately.

custer battlefield museum

The Government’s Case Crumbles

The scenario of government harassment against Kortlander is very odd and surreal, and not at all the sort of conduct that American citizens would expect from federal agents sworn to protect and serve the public.

However, the document trail of harassment and threatening of Kortlander is very real.

The government was faced with even greater egg on its face when it was revealed that one of its witnesses against Kortlander regarding the Eagle feather artifacts was actually a convicted felon, and the second government witness faced federal child pornography charges.

Meanwhile, the record shows that Kortlander’s past as an upstanding citizen of the community is not in doubt.

According to a report in the Billings Gazette in 2004, Chris Kortlander was named the “Tourism Person of the Year” at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation.

After buying Garryowen in 1993 and improving the tourist economy in the area with his new museum, rest stop and convenience store, he became an important part of the local community. He was well respected enough by citizens to serve on the Board of Directors for Custer County.

It was barely a year later that his business was raided by federal agents.

custer battlefield museum

Turning the Tables

Proving that he is a community man and despite the fact that no charges are being pressed against him by the government, Kordlander has decided that it isn’t the end of the story.

He wants to ensure that no American citizen will have to go through the years of unconstitutional harassment that he had to suffer through at the hands of federal agents.

He is suing the U.S. government to recover damages from the many years of “malicious prosecution”, and to set a precadent that federal agents should not be allowed to act with impunity, outside of the bounds of the U.S. constitution.

He issued a press release on January 30th making it clear that he was ready to pursue the case as high as necessary to protect the rights of any other citizens facing the same kind of treatment.

“If you run afoul of the administration bureaucracy, you can be targeted for financial ruin and public humiliation without the benefit of Constitutional protections which a defendant enjoys when a case is filed for prosecution by the judicial branch of government. I’m determined to bring this misuse of federal power and taxpayer dollars into the light of day.”

As is usually the case in any area of government where power can exist in a form that goes unchecked, that power is almost always abused.

If Kortlander’s experience is any indication, the ability for federal agents to act “above the law” to attack or threaten civilians, rather than to protect and serve them, is an important issue. It is one that hopefully the courts will examine and side in favor of Kortlander – setting a precidence that federal agents are not above the Constitution.


References & Image Credits:
(1) Great Falls Tribune
(2) Pie N Politics
(3) Billings Gazette
(4)

Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com

  • SMC

    A very troubling story Ryan. Kortlander seems guilty of merely protecting an extremely important piece of American and world History. Its actually an insult not only to himself but to all the Braves and soldiers who fought and died on those plains ages ago. Do you think a next piece could detail the Crazy Horse monument? I think that is a monumentally bad idea and Crazy would be deeply indifferent to it methinks.

    Anyhow mate good article.

  • Anonymous

    I love the idea of making those a**holes – who used their position to poison life of this man – accountable for their actions. In the end – who’s gonna check those that check others? – There’s got to be some cleaning process allowing to purge those “above the law” institutions clean of corruption that comes when people with complexes come to power.

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
 
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