False Patriots

Profiles of 40 antigovernment leaders
God, Guns and Guts
Charles Duke, 58

A Colorado electrician turned politician, Charles Duke was truly the militiaman's representative. Serving six years in the state House and almost four in the state Senate, the Republican from Monument was also honorary chairman of the National State Sovereignty Coalition, a Patriot outfit. He wrote a weekly column for a key Patriot publication, The Free American.

Duke once outraged constituents by asking a crowd how many thought the federal government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing. He told The Wall Street Journal that "an executive order is being prepared by President Clinton to suspend the Bill of Rights." He suggested that GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich was involved in bugging his home. And he tried to broker an end to the Montana Freeman standoff.

Then came an epiphany. After a summer in a cabin hidden deep in the woods, Duke emerged to say "the Lord God almighty" had suggested that he drop out of politics and instead learn "how to survive in a country devoid of freedom."

For a time, he did. But last year, he was spotted at "America's Tea Party 2000," a kind of conspiracy theorists' convention.

And he never did give up his fondness for guns. In November, he was arrested as he tried to enter a Denver public building and charged with illegally carrying a concealed 9mm pistol.


Stormy Weather
Bob Fletcher, 57

One of just five militiamen to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, Bob Fletcher served up some of the more amazing Patriot theories to his audience.

As Fletcher described a secret United Nations weather machine hidden in Brussels that he said switches charges in the ionosphere, Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-Wisc.) appeared slightly befuddled.

"You're saying the government has created weather-tampering techniques so the 'New World Order' will be able to starve millions of Americans and control the rest?" the senator asked.

"I know that seems kind of like Space Rangers kind of talk," Fletcher replied. "Unfortunately, we've got all the proof."

Fletcher, then spokesman for the Militia of Montana, also offered up a chilling prediction elsewhere after the Oklahoma attack: "Expect more bombs." Later, Fletcher purchased a West Coast radio station and ran his own talk show, also rich with conspiracy theory.

He produced hot-selling videos with titles like "Exotic Weapons of Mass Control," "Bombs of Oklahoma," "Drugs, Government Officials & the CIA" and, relatively recently, "Government Secrecy & UFOs."

"We've permitted a secret government to develop," Fletcher told one Idaho audience. "If any of you think this is not happening, you're damned naïve."


Posse to Prison
Darrell Frech, 57

Although many of those who joined the militia movement were not racist or anti-Semitic, the ideology that they embraced derived directly from groups that were.

Few people illustrate this connection better than Darrell Frech, who had been deeply involved with the anti-Semitic and often violent Posse Comitatus in the 1970s and 1980s.

When the antigovernment Patriot movement picked up steam in the mid-1990s, Frech was quick to jump on board, and he brought with him from his Posse days the ideology of "common-law courts" — courts that have no legal standing but nevertheless were set up to reach "judgments" against Patriot enemies.

Waving a copy of the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Frech presided over a common-law court in Alfalfa County, Okla., explaining that Washington, D.C., was a "Satanic principality" that is encircled by a highway 66.6 miles long (as in the Biblical "mark of the beast').

Between 1993 and 1997, Frech and his wife Sally engaged in a scheme, originated by a group called We the People, that involved convincing some 1,500 Patriot sympathizers to give them $300 apiece in order to qualify for millions of dollars worth of "damages" from the government. Their take: $400,000 in profits.

Although Frech told the judge in his case that America had been "controlled since 1860 by the Crown of England," the court did not hesitate to send him to prison to serve a nine-year sentence. His wife got nearly five.


'Ninja Wannabes'
Brad Glover, 60

In the conspiratorial world of the Patriots, one key myth was that foreign troops were secretly being trained on U.S. bases to join in an invasion of America led by the United Nations. While some Patriots were skeptical, Bradley Playford Glover, who claims to be a former naval intelligence officer, was not one of them.

Glover first took up with the 7th Division Constitutional Militia of Kansas as its "brigadier general," telling one reporter in 1995 that he had an improbable 1,000 followers who would surely "whip" the U.S. military during the coming invasion.

"We can take out the so-called ninja wannabes," he boasted. "We'll beat 'em quick."

When his group disbanded over bad publicity following the Oklahoma bombing, Glover moved on to a Patriot umbrella group called the Third Continental Congress, where he finagled a promotion to "Minister of War." But he and a few cohorts found the Congress too tame, and decided the time for battle had arrived.

Armed to the teeth, Glover and another man headed for the Army's Fort Hood base in Texas, determined to attack and wipe out the scheming foreigners. But being late sleepers, they were roused by FBI agents on the morning of the planned Independence Day 1997 attack as they slept in tents at a nearby campsite.

Arrested with a cache of weaponry, Glover would finally be sent to federal prison in 1999 to serve a five-year sentence for firearms violations.