Oath Keepers, the military and police organization that was formed early in 2009 and held its April muster on Lexington Green, may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival. Members vow to fulfill the oaths to the Constitution that they swore while in the military or law enforcement. “Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and we will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders,” the group says. Oath Keepers lists 10 orders its members won’t obey, including two that reference U.S. concentration camps.
That same pugnacious attitude was on display after conservatives attacked an April report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that suggested a resurgence of radical right-wing activity was under way. “We will not fear our government; they will fear us,” one man, who appeared to be on active duty in the Army, said in an angry video sent to the Oath Keepers blog. In another video at the site, a man who said he was a former Army paratrooper in Afghanistan and Iraq described President Obama as “an enemy of the state,” adding, “I would rather die than be a slave to my government.” The Oath Keepers site soon began hawking T-shirts with slogans like “I’m a Right Wing Extremist and Damn Proud of It!”
In April, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — a Yale Law School graduate and former aide to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (a Texas Republican and hard-line libertarian) — worried about a coming dictatorship. “We know that if the day should come where a full-blown dictatorship would come, or tyranny … it can only happen if those men, our brothers in arms, go along and comply with unconstitutional, unlawful orders,” Rhodes told conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones. “Imagine if we focus on the police and military. Game over for the New World Order.”
He’s not the first to think so. In the 1990s, retired Phoenix cop and conspiracy enthusiast Jack McLamb created an outfit called Police Against the New World Order and produced a 75-page document entitled Operation Vampire Killer 2000: American Police Action Plan for Stopping World Government Rule.
It’s not known how large Oath Keepers is. But there is some evidence beyond the group’s mere existence to suggest that today’s Patriots are again making inroads into law enforcement — the leak of the DHS report, along with those of a couple of similar law enforcement reports, was likely the work of a sworn officer. Rhodes claims to know a federal officer leaked the DHS report, and says Oath Keepers is “hearing from more and more federal officers all the time.”
The group does seem to be on the radar of federal law enforcement officers. In May, a member complained on the group’s website of a visit to his farm by FBI agents who asked him, he said, about training he provides in firearms, survival skills and the like.
One Oath Keeper is longtime militia hero Richard Mack, a former sheriff of a rural Arizona county who collaborated with white supremacist Randy Weaver on a book and who, along with others, won a U.S. Supreme Court decision that weakened the Brady Bill gun control law in the 1990s. “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government,” Mack says on his website. “One of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality.” Mack’s views echo those of the Posse Comitatus, which believed that sheriffs are the highest law enforcement authorities in America. “I pray for the day that a sheriff in this country will arrest an IRS agent for trespassing or attempting to victimize citizens in that particular sheriff’s county,” Mack said in a video he made for Oath Keepers.
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center