False Patriots

Profiles of 40 antigovernment leaders
Writing the Right
Chris Temple, 39

The world of radical right-wing journalism exploded in the 1990s, and few writers were more central to that maelstrom than Chris Temple. For more than a decade, Temple has played to virtually every sector of the extreme right, from neo-Nazis to militiamen to adherents of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity theology — adding, in most cases, a plug for the financial advice he sells in his National Investor newsletter.

As co-founder of United Citizens for Justice, formed to support Randy Weaver in the aftermath of his deadly standoff with federal officials in Idaho, Temple spoke at a seminal Colorado meeting of right-wing extremists planning a response. He spoke several times during the mid-1990s at Aryan World Congresses hosted by the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.

Temple was, for a time, the western correspondent for the anti-Semitic tabloid The Spotlight, and for many years was a key writer for The Jubilee, America's leading Christian Identity publication.

In 1997, Temple told an audience, "I am very much a national socialist," according to the Coalition for Human Dignity.

Formerly a Montanan, Temple now lives in Spooner, Wisc., and is managing editor for another hard-line racist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens. Like many on the extreme right, he has recently taken up with neo-Confederate hate groups.

The Big Lie
Linda Thompson, 48

From a strip mall office next to a Domino's Pizza in suburban Indianapolis, attorney Linda Thompson became one of the Patriot movement's wildest conspiracy theorists — so much so, that her embarrassed allies ultimately repudiated her.

Thompson made the videotape, "Waco: The Big Lie," that claimed government "flame-shooting tanks" were used to destroy the Davidian compound and that became, in the words of one professor, a "foundational text" of the Patriot movement.

She called for an armed march on Washington, D.C., where militiamen would "take U.S. senators and congressmen into custody, hold them for trial, and, if necessary, execute them." It wasn't too long before Thompson was attacked by her own. Several Patriot writers debunked her film as a crude — and false — propaganda job (from which she allegedly made more than $300,000).

She was pilloried for calling for the suicidal attack on Washington. Thompson told one reporter how her dog had been killed by secret government ray guns, and how she was shadowed and shot at by enemies in black helicopters. In her résumé, Thompson boasted that she had been "Assistant to U.S. Army Commanding General NATO" — but reporters found she was basically an enlisted secretary.

After suing the National Enquirer for labeling her the "Queen of Hate," Thompson faded from view when she moved to Alabama and, more recently, to Durham, N.C.

Mail Order Militiaman
John Trochmann, 57

On Jan. 1, 1994, John Trochmann, along with his brother David and nephew Randy, officially inaugurated the Militia of Montana (MOM), although it probably had been active for several months already.

It was the first major militia to come to public attention, a fact reflected when John Trochmann was called to testify to a Senate committee in the aftermath of the Oklahoma bombing.

Known for his hot temper, Trochmann sold survivalist goods, military manuals and the like, telling his potential customers that these supplies would be vital when the forces of the New World Order came calling. So it wasn't much of a surprise when his wife Carolyn told Esquire magazine that her spouse had huge .50-caliber guns stashed in the woods along with enough ammo to hold off a battalion.

In 1995, Trochmann was in Montana offering to help officials talk Montana Freeman LeRoy Schweitzer into surrendering on outstanding charges. While there, he and six others were arrested with assault rifles, $80,000 in cash, gold and silver, and a trove of other supplies. But within days, officials dropped their charges, saying they were mistaken in their suspicions of a plot.

Today, after he spent much of the 1990s speaking on the Patriot circuit, Trochmann's Noxon-based MOM is little more than a warehouse, known to many former admirers as the "mail order militia."

Reluctant Hero
Randy Weaver, 53

A quiet man once given to wearing T-shirts reading "Just Say No to ZOG [for Zionist Occupation Government]," Randy Weaver may be more responsible than any other person for the phenomenon known as the militia movement.

Hailing from the Midwest, Weaver and his wife Vicki moved to Idaho as their religious beliefs grew more extreme, seeking "to remove our children from the trash being taught in public schools," as Vicki Weaver once put it.

Eventually, the couple and their four children moved into a poorly built plywood home atop a mountain known as Ruby Ridge, from where Randy Weaver occasionally visited the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations compound.

In 1991, after an unsuccessful run for sheriff, Weaver failed to appear on charges of illegally sawing off a shotgun, ultimately prompting federal agents to surround the Weavers' home.

In a confrontation in the woods whose details are still disputed, his 14-year-old son Samuel and a U.S. marshal were killed. The next day, an FBI sniper killed an unarmed Vicki Weaver as she cradled a baby. In the end, Weaver's case became a cause celebre on the radical right, prompting a Colorado meeting that engendered the militia movement.

Weaver was acquitted of murdering the marshal, and later received, with his three surviving children, a $3.1 million settlement after suing the government over the deaths of his wife and son.

The relatively apolitical Weaver is today a fixture on the Patriot circuit, a reluctant icon of resistance.