The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
It was the imminent drone attack that finally did it.
Paranoid rumors are not only common at gatherings of antigovernment “Patriots,” they’re practically the entire raison d’etre for them. So when a wild and paranoid rumor began circulating – that Attorney General Eric Holder was preparing a drone strike on the armed militiamen who gathered at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada – it unleashed a rift within the camp, which is brimming with fear, rage, testosterone and firearms.
Vicious infighting among those remaining at the camp – estimated at less than a hundred – broke out a little more than two weeks after heavily armed militiamen forced federal agents to back down from a planned roundup of Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle from public lands. After vowing to stay on and protect Bundy – who then stumbled on the national stage with an outpouring of racist commentary – the remaining “Patriots,” who have been raising fear levels among local residents, have begun feuding. And it has been revealing.
Apparently, someone within one of the major factions at the camp, the Oath Keepers, relayed word of the imminent drone attack to his leaders. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes responded by pulling his people out of what they called “the kill zone” (the area the supposed drone would be striking). When the other militiamen learned that the Oath Keepers had pulled out, they were outraged.
As you can see in the video below, the angry militiamen – led by a Montana “Patriot” named Ryan Payne, who has been acting as the spokesman for the militiamen at the ranch – held an impromptu gathering at the camp to discuss the situation. They openly talk about shooting Rhodes and other Oath Keepers leaders – because in their view, the Oath Keepers’ actions constituted “desertion” and “cowardice” – and describe how “the whole thing is falling apart over there.” At the end, they vote unanimously to oust the Oath Keepers, or at least its leadership, from the Bundy Ranch camp.
PAYNE: We are open to gentlemanly conversation. But this man and the people that obeyed that order have violated my personal creed. You don’t fucking walk in and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and you’re back in, brother. You can walk in and say you’re sorry, and you’re lucky that you’re not getting shot in the back. Because that’s what happens to deserters on the battlefield.
For his part, Rhodes and his fellow Oath Keepers are keeping a stiff upper lip about the rejection. Rhodes himself has returned to his Montana home, reportedly for a family birthday, and his underlings say he plans to return. Oath Keepers organizer Elias Alias (aka Franklin Shook) described the incident on the group’s website as an effort “to sabotage the Bundy stand against the government,” and reported that other “Patriot” movement leaders, including militiaman Mike Vanderboegh and Sheriff Richard Mack, remain firmly within their camp.
Alias also tried to explain the incoming-drone rumor:
Yes, it is true: Oath Keepers received a bizarre bit of leaked info which could not be verified but which also could not be ignored. Our contact is connected with the Department of Defense – or ‘was’. The info we received stated that Eric Holder of the Department of Justice had okayed a drone strike on the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, within a 48 hour period over the weekend of April 26/27, 2014.
That, fortunately, turned out to be ‘dis-info’ – a false rumor. And though it came from a trusted source, Oath Keepers could neither prove nor disprove it.
In the ensuing panic at the camp, “Oath Keepers advised people there to consider evacuation,” Alias said. He referred to the angry reaction of the militiamen as “backwash”. ( continue to full post… )
A man arrested a year ago in what the FBI described as a plot to bomb the Montevideo, Minn., police department has been sentenced to 40 months in prison by a federal judge who said she was convinced there was no such conspiracy.
“I don’t think you are a terrorist or part of a conspiracy,” U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery told Buford “Bucky” Rogers before sentencing him on two federal firearms charges, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Rogers, a member of a small antigovernment group called the Black Snake Militia, was arrested May 3, 2013, about two weeks after a deadly terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. Rogers had come under investigation in October 2012 for possible suspected ties to antigovernment, militia and white supremacist organizations.
The judge said Rogers’ arrest “became a national news story that drew an inordinate amount of pretrial publicity” for what eventually became an ordinary crime of illegal possession of two explosive devices and a firearm,” the Minneapolis newspaper reported.
Rogers, 25, pleaded guilty in January to being a felon in possession of a firearm and illegally possessing homemade bombs.
Federal prosecutors asked the court to sentence Rogers to 63 months in prison – within the suggested federal sentencing guideline range of 57 to 71 months, given his criminal record. His first brush with the law came in 2005 when he brought a pellet gun and shotgun shells to school. He later was convicted of burglary.
Rogers’ attorney, federal defender Andrew H. Mohring, asked the court to sentence Rogers to 24 months of less in prison.
In court filings, Mohring said the federal investigation “failed to substantiate the extensive claims” initially made by law enforcement, including “casting Mr. Rogers as a domestic terrorist” who planned to blow up his hometown police department.
“That Mr. Rogers was the target of an investigation is unremarkable,” Mohring said. “However, the publicity that surrounded the investigation addressed an obvious political agenda.”
The defense attorney told the court that “a veritable armada” of 50 law enforcement personnel, with two armored personnel vehicles, from four federal and state agencies “descended on Montevideo” to arrest Rogers.
Federal prosecutors said the response was appropriate, given the circumstances known at the time by the FBI.
“Today, separated by nearly a year from the bombings in Boston, he [Rogers] chooses to view these events in hindsight and wag an accusing finger at the FBI’s response last May in Montevideo,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter told the court. “However, this is both naïve, self-serving, and dangerous.”
“At the time the FBI ‘descended’ on Montevideo, the FBI had been informed that the defendant was part of a group cheering the Boston bombing, possessed explosive devices, and planned to conduct violent acts imminently,” Winter told the court. The FBI also had been told that Rogers’ father allegedly had fired through his front door on a previous occasion when he believed law enforcement officials were on his doorstep.
“The fact that a broader plot was not discovered is not exculpatory,” Winter said, adding that Rogers and his attorney lack the expertise to tell the FBI how to conduct investigations and make arrests.
“It is unlikely that [Rogers] has the training and experience to determine precisely how many personnel are needed to cordon off a residential neighborhood to protect the citizenry from the shrapnel-laced bombs he constructed,” Winter said. “The government and the public should, and will, continue to defer to the FBI’s professional experience on such matters.”
People in rural southeastern Nevada and the surrounding area are not accustomed to being the center of national media attention, as they have increasingly been since their neighbor, rancher Cliven Bundy, began his notorious standoff with federal authorities. But what bothers them now is the threatening presence of armed militiamen who have taken up semi-permanent residency at Bundy’s ranch.
Some local residents, in fact, are complaining that the militiamen are setting up armed checkpoints and detaining people as they travel to their homes, asking for proof that they live nearby before allowing them to proceed. However, the militiamen themselves deny this, and investigating news crews have not found any evidence of it.
What these locals can say with certainty, though, is that the circus surrounding the standoff and the militias’ refusal to leave is not only disrupting their normally quiet lives, it is costing them money.
Congressman Steve Horsford of Las Vegas has been outspoken in criticizing the militiamen, charging that local residents have been confronted by militiamen who have set up armed checkpoints and demanded that they prove they live in the area before being allowed to pass. Horsford also says the militias have created a “persistent presence” along federal highways and state and county roads.
Horsford has demanded that Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie crack down on the outsiders, saying they make local residents feel unsafe.
“I am greatly concerned about the safety and well-being of my constituents after meeting with local community members this past week. I urge Sheriff Gillespie to investigate these reports, as this sort of intimidation cannot be tolerated,” Horsford said.
“We must respect individual constitutional liberties, but residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia,” Horsford wrote in a letter to Gillespie. “Residents have expressed their desire to see these groups leave their community. I urge you to investigate these reports and to work with local leaders to ensure that their concerns are addressed in a manner that allows the community [to] move forward without incident.”
They aren’t the only residents who feel threatened. According to a report from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, the militiamen have also threatened people who live in the nearby town of Mesquite, and businesses there claim they have lost over $100,000 because of their presence.
The station reported that a local hotel was forced to evacuate all of its clients one evening following a bomb threat. The hotel also received at least nine threatening calls after it permitted Bureau of Land Management rangers to stay there. The callers demanded the BLM rangers be kicked out or the hotel “would not be standing in the morning.”
One hotel worker told the news crew he had been told by an anonymous militia member that he would be “dragged out in the parking lot and shot”.
News crews were unable to find any armed checkpoints when they went out searching for them. A militia group spokesman named Ryan Payne denied to KVVU-TV that they were conducting such checks.
“We are not to set up checkpoints, we are not to pull over civilians, without, you know, reasonable cause,” Payne said. Of course, militiamen have no legal right to pull anyone over – with or without reasonable cause.
But local residents remain far from assured. “We are not a playground for armed militias,” Horsford said. “This unfortunate incident and the outside groups that have come for their own agenda are putting a black eye on this community.”
Armed militiamen are continuing to arrive in southeastern Nevada from around the nation with the aim of preventing the federal government from rounding up rancher Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle – and they don’t appear to be going away any time soon.
The Nevada standoff has emerged as the most significant gathering of antigovernment extremists since 1996, when supporters gathered briefly en masse outside the Montana ranch where a group of self-described “Freemen” engaged in an 81-day standoff with FBI agents who sought to arrest key members of their group.
The militiamen at the Bundy Ranch are from all over the United States. Only a few, however, are from militia groups large enough to be known quantities.
A Las Vegas Review-Journal report noted that one man from Philipsburg, Mont., claimed to represent the “West Mountain Rangers,” a group that has not popped up on anyone’s radar previously. A Utah man said he was from the People’s United Mobile Armed Services, whose Facebook page says that they are a “Revolutionary Movement for the Second American Revolution” but are otherwise almost completely unknown.
Indeed, most of the militias in attendance appear to have very small memberships, such as the Oklahoma militiamen who showed up hankering for a fight: “It’s up to the feds. The ball’s in their court! You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. We’re going to resist you!” They make the dubious claim in their video that they are 50,000 strong.
These militiamen believe Oklahoma could be next for federal “tyranny”: “Just look around the country. They’re doing it everywhere. If they can do it in Nevada, they can do it in Colorado, they can do it in Texas. I mean, what’s to stop them from coming to Oklahoma? The only thing to stop them is We the People.” ( continue to full post… )
The antigovernment “Patriots” and heavily armed militia members backing Cliven Bundy in his “range war” with the Bureau of Land Management were thrilled by the apparent confusion and retreat by federal agents at the scene of the roundup. At least momentarily, they smell victory.
The blog “Bearing Arms” summed up the sentiment on the far right: “It is now a virtual certainty that Obamite acts of tyranny will be resisted, by hundreds, even thousands, and if necessary, by force.”
Many of the leading “Patriot” and antigovernment conspiracist figures were ecstatic over the “victory,” which they said proves the legitimacy of their view that the federal government is a fraudulent entity with no legitimate power.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the victory won in the desert today. While the behind-the-scenes details are not clear yet, it is obvious that something unprecedented in the war on the west that has been waged by the imperial federal government has, against all odds, happened. The feds were routed — routed. There is no other word that applies. Courage is contagious, defiance is contagious, victory is contagious. Yet the war is not over. The empire, you may be assured, WILL strike back. This will be the subject of angry words at an Obama cabinet meeting on Monday. Someone in federal government will want blood, rest assured. The feds, having lost the Mandate of Heaven and demonstrated their impotence in this case, will not want to repeat it lest the peasants get the right idea — that they are not as omnipotent as they claim to be.
Vanderboegh, who spoke by phone with Cliven Bundy’s son, saw the event – as did most of his far-right brethren – as truly historic:
I congratulated Ammon and told him that this was perhaps a pivotal moment in American history. He also agreed with me that it is impossible not to see the hand of God in all of this. I told him that it was my opinion that the empire would surely strike back, but that they would likely come at the Bundys and their supporters sideways next time. Still, it was a great victory, a pivotal moment, in the relationship between the federal government and the American people. Nothing will be quite the same after this, mostly because it has demonstrated to those whom the government would victimize that they only require someone with the guts to stand up to leviathan — and the armed friends to back them up in the argument.
That was the sentiment at Alex Jones’ InfoWars site, where the headline proclaimed: “Historic! Feds Forced to Surrender to American Citizens”. The site also featured an article from Ron Paul himself who warned that federal agents might be planning a lethal raid against that Bundys as retaliation.
On his daily show at InfoWars, Alex Jones himself warned that there would be many more such incidents.
It’s a very special time to be alive. And the victory that you saw at that event? There’s going to be more of that as people push back, as they see victory. And the feds, if they miscalculate, and start shooting people, at another Lexington or Concord, are going to set a revolution off in our favor.
At the slightly more mainstream TownHall.com, financial columnist John Ransom declared that the “War on Federal Bureaucrats Opens at the Bundy Ranch.”
A Minnesota National Guard soldier, implicated by the FBI in a plot to blow up a National Security Agency facility in Utah, has pleaded guilty to federal identity theft charges in a Minneapolis courtroom.
Keith Michael Novak, 25, of Maplewood, Minn., has been in jail since his arrest by the FBI last December on charges of stealing the classified personnel roster of members of his former military unit.
The case suggests the FBI is actively looking at antigovernment and militia activists or sympathizers using their military connections to commit crimes – an issue of national concern that has been repeatedly raised by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The case against Novak is the latest example.
Charging documents (PDF) say Novak, who served in Iraq with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division before joining the Minnesota Army National Guard, stole the identity information, including Social Security numbers, in a scheme to fund and provide fake identities for his militia unit.
He sold the information last November and December for $4,000 to two men who turned out to be undercover FBI agents he had met earlier at a military training session in Utah.
Novak served in the U.S. Army on active duty from 2009 to September 2012, assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he had access to sensitive, classified personnel roster information.
At a detention hearing, an FBI agent testified that Novak, while he was in the National Guard, also belonged to the 44th Spatha Libertas or “Sword of Freedom” militia in Minnesota and had discussed bombing an NSA facility in Utah, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in January. Novak was not charged in that alleged plot.
He has, however, also been linked to Buford Braden “Bucky” Rogers, a 24-year-old member of the Black Snake Militia, another antigovernment group based in Minnesota, the newspaper reported. Rogers was arrested last May on charges related to plans to bomb the police department in Montevideo, Minn.
Federal prosecutors are expected to recommend Novak serve three to four years in prison for his offense, while his defense attorney is expected to recommend a sentence of six months to a year. No sentencing date has been set. ( continue to full post… )
Come on, all you antigovernment militia members and wannabe guerrilla fighters. Surely, you can employ more stealth and cunning than three alleged domestic terrorists arrested recently in Georgia.
Brian Cannon and Cory Williamson appeared in federal court today in Rome, Ga., for a detention hearing after being arrested on federal weapons charges last weekend for allegedly trying to obtain pipe bombs and other explosives to launch a series of attacks on government facilities. The men were detained at the end of the hearing.
The third suspect, Terry Peace, is scheduled to make a court appearance on Feb. 24.
Their goal, according to a nine-page federal criminal complaint, was to force the declaration of martial law and spark a national uprising of militia groups.
“This case is a stark reminder of the threat we face not just from abroad, but from within our own borders from our own citizens,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said this afternoon in a press release. “When plans turn violent, law enforcement must step in to protect our communities from harm.”
The trio, the complaint alleges, hatched their plot “in online chat discussions, which were monitored by [the] FBI, during which they chatted about carrying out an operation against the government.”
Didn’t these guys ever hear of the NSA? ( continue to full post… )
It took a federal jury in Gainesville, Ga., only 90 minutes to convict two members of a north Georgia militia in a plot to produce the deadly poison ricin and use it to “attack government buildings and kill government employees.”
Samuel J. Crump Jr., 70, and Ray H. Adams, 57, were convicted Friday of conspiracy, possession of a biological toxin for use as a weapon and attempted possession of a biological toxin. A sentencing date hasn’t been set, but both face up to life in prison.
The pair were among four suspects arrested on Nov. 1, 2011, after two FBI informants secretly taped 400 hours of discussions of plans for dispersing ricin powder from speeding cars in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., and New Orleans. Two of the men pleaded guilty in the antigovernment plot in 2012.
The FBI considered the case one of its top terrorism investigations of 2011. While it wasn’t clear what the men expected to accomplish with their ricin attacks, they were taped talking about “saving the Constitution” by killing people. ( continue to full post… )
A recently concluded criminal case in Nevada details how a teenager and aspiring U.S. Marine amassed an arsenal of weapons, built bombs, talked about shooting school kids, disparaged women and formed a militia cell.
Steven Matthew Fernandes, 19, was sentenced yesterday in Las Vegas to 15 months in prison for possessing an illegal firearm – a homemade bomb – as part of a plea bargain that saw prosecutors dismiss two other charges. The teen avoided an “exceptional sentence” and what could have been several years in prison.
In entering his guilty plea two months ago, Fernandes confessed to transporting and exploding his homemade bombs in Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
His attorney, Crystal Eller, argued in court filings that Fernandes was “brainwashed” while attending a military preparedness school, D.O.A. Tactical, based in St. George, Utah, about 120 miles from Las Vegas.
But the owner of the business, Brent Roberts, told Hatewatch those arguments are “outrageous falsehoods.”
“This young man was heading down this road long before he and his mother enrolled in our courses,” Roberts said. “This kid’s problems rest in the family setting.” ( continue to full post… )
The “commander” of an antigovernment Minnesota militia — a man who was trained in intelligence gathering by the U.S. Army and currently serving in the National Guard — was arrested yesterday by the FBI on charges of stealing the classified personnel roster of 400 members of his former military unit.
Keith Michael Novak, 25, who served in Iraq with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division before joining the Minnesota Army National Guard, stole the identity information in a scheme to fund and provide fake identities for his militia unit, according to a federal criminal complaint.
The case was the latest example of extremists in military units, a problem that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has focused much public attention on over the years. In 2006, the SPLC’s Intelligence Report detailed a large number of extremists in the military, eventually leading to a tightening of military regulations. ( continue to full post… )