In the last year and a half, militias and the larger antigovernment "Patriot" movement have exploded, accompanied by the rapid expansion of other sectors of the radical right. This spectacular growth (see timeline) is the result of several factors, including anger over major political, demographic and economic changes in America, along with the popularization of radical ideas and conspiracy theories by ostensibly mainstream politicians and media commentators.
Although the resurgence of the so-called Patriots — people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic "New World Order" — also has been propelled by people who were key players in the first wave of the Patriot movement in the mid–1990s, there are also a large number of new players. What follows are profiles of 35 individuals at the heart of the resurgent movement:
Heaven Can Wait
Chuck Baldwin, 57
In his brand of Christian fundamentalism, Christians will someday be transported from the earth and taken directly to heaven. In the meantime, though, Chuck Baldwin wouldn't mind running things down here himself.
The founder and pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., is no fan of Washington, D.C. — in an essay on his website, he calls the nation's capital "that Putrid Province by the Potomac" — but he keeps trying to get there.
In 2000, after declaring the Bush-Cheney ticket too liberal, the former chairman of the Florida Moral Majority left the Republican Party and aligned himself with the staunchly antigovernment, anti-gay Constitution Party. Four years later, he appeared on the party's presidential ticket as the running mate of far-right lawyer Michael Peroutka. He rose to the top of the ticket in 2008.
Besides leading the flock at Crossroad Baptist for the past 30-plus years, Baldwin, who could not be reached for comment, hosts a daily one-hour radio program, "Chuck Baldwin Live." He is a prolific writer, penning regular columns that are archived on his website. His columns also are archived on VDARE.com, a racist website that regularly bashes immigrants.
In his writing, Baldwin condemns Islam as a "bloody, murderous religion"; refers to Martin Luther King Jr. as an apostate; sympathizes with Joe Stack, the tax protester who flew a plane into an IRS office building earlier this year; and states that he believes the South was right in the Civil War (although he quickly adds that he is no racist).
In one of his more sweeping and Patriot-like observations, Baldwin writes that "there is a conspiracy by elitists within government and big business to steal America's independence."
For Baldwin, heaven can wait.
The Repentant Taxman
Joe Banister, 47
Lots of people insist that the Internal Revenue Service has no authority to administer and enforce federal income tax laws. What makes Joe Banister unusual among them is that he was an IRS special agent for five years. He spreads his anti-IRS message on radio and television and hosts his own two-hour weekly radio show.
Soft-spoken, articulate and a devout Catholic, Banister was interviewed in "America: From Freedom to Fascism," a 2006 "documentary" by the late antigovernment conspiracy theorist Aaron Russo, which denies the legitimacy of income tax laws and the Federal Reserve.
Banister says that he investigated radical tax protesters' claims about the IRS for two years. He concluded they were right, and told his IRS supervisors so. He was placed on leave, then resigned in 1999 to "comply with my oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution."
The following year, he and Bob Schulz, founder of a leading antigovernment Patriot tax-protest group known as the We the People, hand delivered grievances signed by supporters to federal officials in Washington stating that the 16th Amendment that allowed a federal income tax was illegally ratified, and that no law or regulation requires most citizens to pay income taxes or have taxes withheld.
Banister was indicted in 2004 in California for preparing false income tax returns and conspiring to defraud the federal government stemming from his work on behalf of a businessman client. The client went to prison, but Banister was acquitted.
"There's definitely a propaganda campaign out there to make us look like a problem to law enforcement," he told his audience at a Patriot conference last year.
Bulldozer vs. Bulldozer
Martin "Red" Beckman, 80
In 1984, when Martin J. "Red" Beckman ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in New Hampshire's famously wide-open primary, he billed himself as "Montana's fighting redhead." By that time, he had been battling the IRS for 10 years.
Sometimes called the "Father of the Patriot Movement," Beckman gained a measure of fame within the anti-tax militia movement for refusing to pay more than $100,000 in income taxes and $34,000 in property taxes, contending that U.S. tax laws are illegal.
The IRS auctioned Beckman's property in 1979, but he refused to leave. In a 1992 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also assessed $1,500 in sanctions against him, saying his arguments were "wholly without merit and frivolous."
Finally, his home was bulldozed in 1994. He attracted about 100 sympathizers to a rally in Billings to protest the foreclosure — an event he billed as "No More Wacos." At a press conference that year, he called the IRS "a total criminal organization" and vowed, "We will put it out of business at some point."
In addition to being a tax protester and conspiracy theorist who believes the Federal Reserve and International Monetary Fund are conspiring to dominate the world, Beckman is a notorious anti-Semite. He's the author of The Church Deceived, in which he claims the Holocaust was God's punishment of Jews for worshipping Satan.
Now in his dotage, the "fighting redhead" occasionally still speaks in public as the militias of the 1990s make a comeback. This past September, for instance, he spoke to the "Celebrating Conservatism" group in the town of Hamilton, Mont. Two days later, the group paraded through downtown brandishing weapons.
'Needle of Estrogen'
Catherine Bleish, 26
Catherine Bleish, one of the few female leaders in the resurgent Patriot movement, runs the Liberty Restoration Project and has become a popular speaker on the Patriot circuit.
"It's quite frightening the amount of power and authority that our government has assumed for themselves," Bleish told the Intelligence Report. "They say, 'We are the Supreme Being, we have the guns, we are going to do it our way.'"
Bleish, of St. Louis, Mo., speaks passionately about the anger that's fueling the movement. "It's so hard to start a small business, and once you start one, it's hard to keep it open. My parents are being audited for the past six years, while [Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner, who doesn't pay his taxes, now gets to oversee the IRS," she said. "People are losing their homes. People are losing their jobs. People are frustrated and looking for answers."
Like many other Patriot leaders, Bleish charges that the government is behind these economic woes. "The dollar has been systematically destroyed. And that is not the American people's doing. That is the central bank. The central bankers, what they do is they go from country to country, and they destroy currency and bring themselves lots of power and lots of wealth."
Though Bleish said no one in the movement with whom she's worked wants violence, she added that people will be driven to defend themselves if the country continues on its current course. "The actions of our federal government [are] going to create violence. And my goal ... is to try and stop it peacefully before it gets to that point. I'm trying to follow the channels that are still afforded to me to talk to people face to face. But they're going to try and take away my ability to communicate with people of a like mind-set."
Bleish has taken part in key Patriot events, attending the seminal May 2009 Jekyll Island meeting that helped lay the groundwork for the resurgence of the movement. She also spoke at the Freedom 21 conference in Oklahoma City last August. And she was the main organizer for the Midwest Liberty Fest in Illinois last October.
But it's not all thankless work: A glam shot of Bleish was featured in the 2009-2010 Ladies of Liberty Alliance calendar. "Many women involved in the liberty movement have experienced the frustrating feeling of isolation when they look around and realize they are just a needle of estrogen in a haystack of testosterone," she wrote last August. "The Ladies of Liberty Alliance is a brand new organization working to end that feeling of isolation forever!"
Arguing at Gunpoint
Chris Broughton, 29
Chris Broughton loves his guns and hates President Obama — so much, in fact, that he believes the president belongs in hell. He's not too fond of George W. Bush, either.
Broughton made headlines in August 2009 when he showed up outside an Obama rally in Phoenix with an AR-15 assault rifle slung over his shoulder and a pistol holstered on his waist, becoming a hero to many in the "Patrtiot" movement in the process. He said he carries his guns habitually.
Broughton, apparently assuming that the Obama Administration planned gun control measures, said he wanted to make a point about the right to own guns. "The overwhelming statement I was trying to make was whether you like it or not, my guns aren't going away," said the Phoenix machinist. "They're going to be here until you kill me and take them away."
He claims that some news broadcasters edited video footage of the scene to hide his race (he's black) when reporting on the racist backlash to Obama's election. Presumably, he felt that was part of an effort to paint Obama's critics as racist.
Broughton is a member of We the People, a Patriot tax protest group that has played a central role in the resurgence of the militia movement. He also belongs to the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe. That's the church where pastor Steven Anderson told the congregation in August 2009 he would pray that Obama dies and goes to hell. Broughton said he believes there is a hell, and that it was made for evil people – folks like Obama, both former Bush presidents, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"Barack Obama is responsible for more death than my guns ever will be," Broughton said. "He could end so much suffering immediately, and instead he uses his power to force his agenda. I do hate him."
The Pricey 'Patriot'
Bob Campbell, 69
Bob Campbell and his American Grand Jury are on a mission to drive President Obama from office and put him on trial for treason. Obama "is a certified crook that has committed treason and fraud," Campbell wrote on his website late last year. "He is a fraud and a traitor."
Campbell, who did not respond to an E-mail to his website, formed American Grand Jury in March 2009 to examine "evidence" and hand down "presentments" that the group hopes will be used to indict the president. The use of faux "grand juries" and "common-law courts" are common to many in the Patriot movement, especially those who call themselves "sovereign citizens."
Campbell insists that Obama wasn't born in the United States and thus is constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. The group also seeks to indict Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her role in the purported conspiracy to defraud the American people by getting Obama elected.
Campbell plans to take supporters – at $649 a head – on the road in May 2010. He says they'll travel by bus to deliver their findings to federal judges in 20 states. "Serving our Grand Jury Presentments have [sic] always made the courts mad," Campbell wrote on his website. "With what I have in mind it should really burn the bark right off a few of these liberal Judges."
Campbell, who lives in Paragould, Ark., apparently isn't counting on judges to act on the presentments, but "no matter how the courts react it will be favorable for us and not good news for Barack Obama," he wrote.
Murder: The Fantasy
Robert "Lil Dog" Crooks, 59
Camping in the scrubby desert with a tiny band of Mountain Minutemen, Robert "Lil Dog" Crooks guards a hilly, 40-mile stretch of borderland east of San Diego against what he sees as the invading hordes from the south.
The Army veteran and retired commercial fisherman is armed. But is he dangerous? That's the question that arose in 2007, amid a furious debate on federal immigration reform legislation, when Crooks produced videos that appeared to show a Mexican immigrant being shot from a distance by vigilantes — men like himself — along the border.
The chilling footage, shot with night-vision equipment, was posted to YouTube, and Crooks E-mailed a link to several prominent nativist leaders. "This video shows how to keep a 'Home Depot' parking lot empty," Crooks wrote. He chided other nativists who, he suggested, could "talk the talk" but not "walk the walk."
At first, Crooks denied making the video. But when faced with an investigation, he acknowledged making it and said the shooting was nothing but a hoax. The reason he did it: "We're old men and we're bored."
Other Minuteman organizations cut ties with Crooks over the episode. But he remains in the public eye. Last year, he appeared on ABC's "20/20" and was the subject of a Penthousemagazine profile.
Crooks, who could not be reached for comment, recently turned his attention to enemies who are, for a change, U.S. citizens. He was among the 30 "freedom keepers" who gathered in Georgia in May 2009 to plot a revival of the Patriot movement. There, Crooks rubbed shoulders with, among others, tax protesters, anti-Obama "birthers," and an assortment of other conspiracy theorists. In this case, Crooks need not stand guard alone.
Unfair and Unbalanced
Joseph Farah, 55
Joseph Farah is the founder of the right-wing website WorldNetDaily (WND), which stokes fear with articles on topics like "Stocking Up on Guns and Ammo" and advertisements for survivalist-style solar and food products. WND, which boasts nearly 5 million monthly visitors and spices up its "news" reporting with "WorldNetDaily Exclusive" articles like this March's "Girl Scouts Hiding Secret Sex Agenda?", claims to be "fiercely independent." It certainly is unique.
Farah, who could not be reached for comment, has served as the opening act at Tea Party events headlined by Sarah Palin this year. He is a leading fomenter of the baseless claim that President Obama was not born in Hawaii, but in Africa, and so is not qualified to be president. Farah has repeatedly demanded that Obama release a full-form birth certificate. "It'll plague Obama throughout his presidency," he said. "It'll be a nagging issue and a sore on his administration."
Farah is a veteran practitioner of conspiracy "journalism," having repeatedly hawked the tale of the supposed cover-up of the death of Clinton aide Vince Foster – thought to be a murder, not a suicide, by anti-Clinton conspiracy-mongers like Farah and his ilk.
Like many publications of the far right, Farah's website, which he started with his wife in 1997, also carries countless product ads with scary headlines like "Will You Survive the Coming Dark Age?" ("Don't leave your family's safety in the hands of the government.")
Remarkably, Farah sprang from a California newspaper background. He was executive editor at the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he edited the dying Sacramento Union, where staffers have said he ordered them to favor conservative views in news coverage and even book reviews and give short shrift to liberals.
While at the Union, he gave a page-one column to a local radio host named Rush Limbaugh.
The FEMA Fabulist
Gary Franchi, 32
Gary Franchi is one of the leading promoters of a resurgent Patriot conspiracy theory that alleges the government is creating concentration camps for U.S. citizens. In 2009, he produced "Camp FEMA: American Lockdown," a video contending that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is behind the camps that could be used to house political dissenters.
The camps "are on existing military bases now," he said in a February webinar posted on his magazine's website. "It's not a big secret."
He claims that other structures could be converted into camps, including former airport hangars, vacant corporate office buildings, and closed-down prisons. "Your local church may have already signed a deal with the devil," he wrote.
Proponents of non-violence may find themselves at a disadvantage when the government shows up to ferry them to the camps, Franchi said. "If you believe in the 2nd amendment, if you believe in the right to self-defense, then perhaps you will have a different decision to make than the person that will let them kick your door in and drag you out."
Franchi also serves as national director of RestoreTheRepublic.com, whose preoccupations include eliminating the Federal Reserve and the IRS, making it illegal to implant microchips in people (another popular Patriot conspiracy theory that dates back to the 1990s), and ending globalization because it will supposedly lead to one-world government. Franchi asserts the site is attracting nearly 1,000 new members monthly.
He also runs the Patriot social networking site RestoreTheRepublic.net, hosts the weekly "Reality Report" on Freedom.TV, and serves as managing editor of Republic Magazine. In addition, he's now a regular speaker at Patriot conferences, offering a familiar diet of fears of globalist plotters. "There is a global elite structure of bankers and organizations that are pulling the strings of the parties, pulling the strings of the president, the speaker of the House," he said in the webinar.
Though such theories are often promoted by groups that defame Jews, Franchi told theIntelligence Report that his Restore The Republic does not advocate anti-Semitism or racism. "Restore The Republic is not antigovernment in any way, shape or form," he added. "We're pro-Constitution and anti-corruption."
Al Garza, 64
Al Garza is a fifth-generation Mexican American who's determined to preserve the American way of life – by keeping Mexicans out of his country.
Garza was born in Texas and raised in California. Over the past seven years, since retiring to Arizona, he has become a key leader in the nativist movement – first as national executive director of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps and now as president of the Patriots Coalition, an organization he launched in August 2009.
The Patriots Coalition scouts the Mexican border for signs of undocumented immigrants and reports "suspicious activity" to the U.S. Border Patrol. Garza claims the group has about 400 members.
The group reflects a recent trend of nativists increasingly adopting the antigovernment allegations and conspiracy theories of the Patriot movement. According to Garza's website, "Our country has two enemies: Those who want to destroy us from the outside and those who attempt it from within." The site is also thick with materials supporting "birther" conspiracy theories about President Obama's citizenship. When it first went up, it featured a digitally altered photograph of a bullet-riddled Air Force One and the caption, "Obama's first low pass over Texas." (The image has since disappeared.)
Garza claims that he also organizes search-and-rescue patrols along the border that have saved the lives of 345 immigrants. "Politicians don't care about them. I do," Garza said. "I'm not prejudiced. I'm as brown as chocolate."
Asked about the irony of a Mexican American leading efforts to prevent Mexicans from setting foot on American soil, Garza said it's a matter of law.
"Laws were different 120 years ago," he said. "They break the law when they come here, and they break the law every day they're here. They buy homes fraudulently and they send their children to school fraudulently. Everything they do here breaks the law."
"We have well over 50 million people here illegally," Garza added. Where he got that number from is anybody's guess. The Department of Homeland Security, in line with most other estimates, recently put the number at 10.8 million.
Of Government and Guillotines
Ted Gunderson, 81
Ted Gunderson seems never to have heard a conspiracy theory he doesn't believe. What makes this remarkable is that he was an FBI agent for nearly three decades, even heading up large bureaus in Los Angeles and Dallas.
Gunderson, who did not respond to a letter sent a month before this writing, has warned for years that Satanists have footholds from the White House and Congress to the media. He claims a shadow government is targeting thousands of citizens, him included; its methods include the Internet, electronic energy beams from a satellite, hidden cameras and wiretaps in homes. A few of his other claims: There are 1,000 internment camps in the United States, and 30,000 guillotines stored in Atlanta to use on dissident patriots. Children were taken from Boys Town in Nebraska in the 1980s and flown to Washington, D.C., "for sex orgies at private parties with U.S. congressmen and Washington dignitaries." Sonny Bono didn't die in a skiing accident; he was murdered to stop him from blabbing about drug trafficking by CIA operatives.
Being privy to so many conspiracies has resulted in repeated attempts to assassinate him, Gunderson complains.
Some of Gunderson's fellow conspiracy theorists spin their own tales — about him. One claims that the real Ted Gunderson committed suicide in 2002 and that this Gunderson is an imposter. Another claims that Gunderson supplied terrorists with stolen Stinger missiles in return for drugs, and was forced into early retirement in 1979 because he performed Satanic ceremonies in his FBI office.
Last year, Gunderson said he was planning to move to Panama, where he would help Americans "flee the ever-growing Totalitarian Police State and economic chaos in this country." Since then, he has been diagnosed with bladder cancer, friends say.
The Unnamed Co-Conspirator
John Hassey, 60
John Hassey was the public face of Alabama's militia movement in the late 1990s, but he faded from the public eye following the high-profile arrest of a close associate who was accused of plotting several terrorist attacks.
Hassey gravitated toward the militia movement in the early 1990s in reaction to the Clinton administration's gun control policies. He rose through the ranks of the Alabama Constitutional Militia, becoming public information officer and finally executive officer.
In 1995, he explained the group's mission to a reporter from theMontgomery (Ala.) Advertiser: "We're not plotting or planning to overthrow the government. We just want the government to abide by the Constitution."
Two years later, however, he struck a very different posture during a protest in Southaven, Tenn., for a couple being evicted to allow the construction of a park. "If they take the man's house, they're gonna start a war here in these United States," he said.
In 1999, Hassey's superior officer in the Southeastern States Alliance was charged with planning to steal explosives from National Guard armories. Officials said Donald Beauregard planned to blow up utilities and government facilities in Florida and Georgia. Hassey wasn't arrested, but Beauregard's indictment stated that the stolen munitions were to be stored on a "co-conspirator's farm in Alabama." Hassey has said he believes he was the unnamed co-conspirator.
In October 2004, Hassey filed for bankruptcy, but he still lives on the parcel in Elmore, Ala., that his neighbors call "The Militia."
Today, he's active again. Life in a militia, he said in a brief interview, is something "you just can't leave."
Telling Tall Tales
Alex Jones, 36
Alex Jones is out to save the world.
From his perch as a radio talk-show host in Austin, Texas, he outlines the forces that threaten to enslave every man, woman and child on the planet. In his narrative, a cabal of wealthy corporations, the United Nations and government leaders are complicit in a fiendish plot to dominate the world.
Or something like that.
He's the host of "The Alex Jones Show," which airs six days a week on more than 60 radio stations and streams live on the Internet. His website is chock full of apocalyptic headlines and ads for products like "recession-proof coins" and manuals on "How to Survive Martial Law in America."
If Jones' ramblings were shaped into a screenplay, the resulting movie would stretch credulity to the breaking point. But Jones, in his booming radio voice, takes to the airwaves to sound the alarm with the earnestness of a true believer.
Jones believes, for example, that the federal government had a hand in terror attacks aimed at swaying American public opinion. "There was government involvement with the Oklahoma City bombing," he said. "There's a lot of evidence with 9/11 being staged."
Jones said the main goal of his show is to expose listeners to the truth. "At my core, I have a drive to expose evil and corruption," he said. "We have a dictatorship on the planet. The entire planet is being enslaved by global, dominant corporations."
Jones ran for a Texas House seat in 2000 as a Republican but said he doesn't follow the platform of either of the two major American political parties. "I'm a freedom lover, and someone who loves the truth."
The Red-Hot Patriot
Devvy Kidd, 60
Devvy Kidd is a prolific columnist, blogger and public speaker whose incendiary prose helps fan the flames of the constitutionalist, or Patriot, movement. Based in Big Spring, Texas, she bills herself as the "Dynamite Redhead" on her website, where she writes about everything from "Cap and Trade rape" to "Homosexuals 'born that way' – A con job."
Kidd gained popularity with an anti-tax message and by writing two booklets that she claims have sold more than 2 million copies. She ran for Congress in 1994 and 1996, and she says she has appeared on more than 2,500 radio broadcasts.
Like many Patriots, she despises President Obama, referring to him in one recent column as the "Marxist Barack Obama." She believes citizen militias are necessary to defend freedom. She declared in a November 2008 column for NewsWithViews that "Barack Hussein Obama is dangerous to freedom and liberty and your gun rights," and "Our very survival depends on the states of the Union revitalizing the constitutional militias. ... We the people are now the enemy."
Kidd, who declined to be interviewed, didn't start out as a writer. Her website bio says she worked in construction and finance for almost two decades before taking various positions with the Defense Department, where she says she became a federal whistleblower after filing a "fraud, waste and abuse" complaint against her own job.
Her writing frequently invokes what most Patriots see as key events in recent American history. "Most Americans not walking around in self-induced comas still remember how the FBI, the ATF and our military gassed and burned to death almost one hundred adults and children, some babies, at WACO [Texas]," she wrote at one point. "We remember how the FBI and U.S. Marshals shot a young boy ... and then put a bullet through his mother's head while holding her infant daughter at Ruby Ridge."
Apostle of Disunion
Larry Kilgore, 45
If Larry Kilgore ever got his way, Texas would be the Lone Star Country. The Christian activist's goal is an independent Texas governed by biblical law. His ideal community "would be where folks look to God's word, the Bible."
Secession alone is not enough, though. Kilgore would like to see Texas further balkanized into smaller countries or counties, each one catering to a different religious or personal belief. "There's so much cultural diversity and religious diversity," he said. "I think that the tension we feel when we are all forced to be together is difficult."
Kilgore, a telecommunications consultant, said he doesn't support or oppose armed resistance against the U.S. government. He has invested his own efforts in the political process (he's a perennial candidate for public office) and is willing to work with any organization, no matter their politics, in order to escape what he calls an oppressive federal government.
At an August 2009 secessionist rally in Austin, Kilgore left no doubt about his personal feelings. "I hate that flag up there," he said, pointing to the American flag. "I hate the United States government. ... They're an evil, corrupt government."
Apparently, Kilgore's secessionist talk didn't play well in his initial, quixotic campaigns against better-known, better-funded candidates. In a 2004 run for the Texas House, he received just 474 votes.
But he may not be tilting at windmills these days. In 2006, he challenged Gov. Rick Perry and captured more than 50,000 votes. Two years later, Kilgore lost a bid for a U.S. Senate seat, but not before sweeping up 225,649 votes.
Though he recently bowed out of the 2010 gubernatorial race, his influence lingers. Perry has begun courting the antigovernment vote and recently even suggested Texas might be wise to consider secession.
Cliff Kincaid, 55
Whether he's sounding the alarm about the Vatican's role in the "New World Order" or the prospect of the U.S. military becoming a sinister gay fighting force, Cliff Kincaid persistently churns out columns savaging liberals, making groundless claims, and trumpeting far-right conspiracy theories.
The longtime far-right polemicist is the editor of AIM Report, a twice-monthly publication of the group ironically named Accuracy in Media. He is also the founder and president of America's Survival Inc., a group that says it monitors the United Nations in order to "expose the influence of global institutions" on people's lives.
In recent columns written for AIM, the dour Kincaid questions who's behind the financial crisis and rails against "the homosexual lobby." He warns that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will lead to "a homosexualized military [that] could itself become a threat, just like it was in the Nazi period." His warning of the impending gay blitzkrieg links to a column written by Scott Lively, co-author of The Pink Swastika, an unhinged and defamatory history that makes the entirely false claim that gays helped orchestrate the Holocaust.
At the America's Survival website, Kincaid promotes "The Religious Face of the New World Order," a report that claims to examine the Vatican's role in the plot to create a one-world government. Kincaid also has written columns about the Catholic Church's role in health care reform, including "Blame the Bishops For Health Care Debacle."
Kincaid has been a part of Washington's right-wing idea factory since the early 1980s. He's written for the highly conservative Human Events magazine and has been an editorial writer for Oliver North at the Freedom Alliance, a group founded by the former National Security Council staffer at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal.
Last year, as conspiracy theorists questioned President Obama's citizenship, Kincaid stepped up to the plate by publicly releasing his own birth certificate. The president took no apparent notice.
Swim for Your Life
Mark Koernke, 52
When it comes to spotting "black helicopters," few have an eagle eye more focused than Mark Koernke. But it was the green one that did him in.
Koernke was wanted for skipping bail on an assault charge in 1998 when he spied the helicopter. Police later said Koernke wouldn't have been noticed at all if he hadn't scampered into the brush, then tried to swim across an icy lake. Turns out the green chopper was part of a routine marijuana-eradication patrol. Koernke – who had shaven off his mustache, dyed his hair orange and worked up a bad Irish brogue – was taken into custody.
By that time, the tough-talking former janitor known as "Mark from Michigan" had risen to prominence within the Patriot movement by serving up heaping helpings of dark government conspiracies and "New World Order" warnings on his short-wave radio broadcasts. He produced a series of antigovernment videos, including one in which he alleged that Hong Kong police were being sneaked into the country as part of a U.N. takeover. He also garnered attention when false reports linked him to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Before his capture in 1998, he continued broadcasting from secret locations, prompting an FBI terrorism investigation.
The assault charge was eventually dropped, but Koernke landed in prison a few years later anyway. In 2000, he happened to be sitting in front a Michigan bank that had just been robbed. When police tried to question him, he led them on a 50-mile chase before crashing into a tree and then jumping, as it happened, into another lake. Convicted of fleeing police and resisting arrest, he went to prison in 2001. Not to be deterred, he even broadcast to other Patriots from a prison pay phone.
Released in 2007, Koernke is now back on the air with his show "The Intelligence Report" and is still raising the alert to his fellow militiamen. "Somebody's gonna pull a trigger and it's going to be one hell of a popcorn exchange," he calmly warns in a recent audio clip from his show. "From a distance, it's going to sound like somebody opened up the popcorn pan from hell. OK? And when it's all said and done, there will be no turning back. I want you all to be ready for that."
A Sheriff of Their Own
Richard Mack, 57
It seems hardly a day goes by without another Mack attack on the evils of the federal government. This one-time sheriff of a rural county in Arizona and present-day icon of the Patriot movement has parlayed his antigovernment ardor into a full-time job doing speaking gigs at county fairgrounds, high school auditoriums and hotel banquet rooms. He even has a sponsor.
Richard Mack is introduced — often to standing ovations — as "Sheriff Mack." His website calls him that too, even though he hasn't been the top cop of Graham County since 1996, when its population was around 30,000.
Mack's mantra is this: The federal government is too big, too corrupt and too oppressive. "The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government," he warns on his website. Some agencies, including the "Gestapo" Internal Revenue Service, should be eliminated, he says.
Mack has also acted as a key transmitter of such Patriot ideas to Tea Party groups, to whom he now regularly speaks.
He regularly rips undocumented workers and the "socialist" and "Marxist" policies of the Obama Administration. He assures his nearly all-white audiences that neither he nor the Patriot movement is racist (although he did once co-author a book with white separatist Randy Weaver). Had it been his call, Mack would not have made Rosa Parks get off that bus back in 1955, he says. She was merely disobeying a bad law, and cops waste time "enforcing stupid laws all the time."
Mack became a hero of gun-rights advocates after he won a U.S. Supreme Court decision with a few other sheriffs that weakened the Brady gun control bill in the 1990s. Now, he maintains that county sheriffs are the highest legitimate law enforcement authorities — an idea also pushed by the violently anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus in the 1980s — and he relentlessly hawks his latest self-published book, which makes that argument. Its 50 simplistic pages represent "decades of research." Even the president of the United States, Mack tells cheering audiences, "cannot tell your sheriff what to do."
Facts and Fiction
Jack McLamb, 65
Listen to some of today's popular voices in the Patriot movement, like Stewart Rhodes (see profile below) and Richard Mack (see profile above), and you hear echoes of Jack McLamb, a prominent figure in the militia heyday of the 1990s.
Like Mack, McLamb is a former cop — he was a Phoenix police officer. Like Mack, he contends that county sheriffs have enormous power that they foolishly yield to federal agencies. Like Rhodes, he suggests that Americans must be prepared to defend the Constitution from the "New World Order." Indeed, McLamb once produced a 75-page report, Operation Vampire Killer 2000: American Police Action Plan for Stopping World Government Rule.
McLamb believes lots of conspiracy myths. In 1996, he said that government officials were smuggling drugs into the country in an attempt to incite racial rancor, an idea repeated in certain far-left venues. He claimed that then-Vice President Al Gore intended to reduce world population by 90% through an end-of-the-millennium "Y2K" plot.
McLamb is more of a fringe Patriot player nowadays, but still pipes up from time to time on various conspiracies. He thinks the day will come when true patriots are murdered or placed in detention camps by their government. He said in an interview last year that he believes that President Obama is "an illegal alien president. He's also a hard-core communist, and probably a Muslim."
When John McCain was running for president in 2008, McLamb claimed the senator was never tortured while a POW in Vietnam, and in fact made 32 propaganda videos for the communist North Vietnamese.
McLamb says he, of all people, should know: "I'm a police investigator and I know what a fact is."
Railing About Reds
John F. McManus, 75
John McManus is the president and longtime public face of the secretive John Birch Society (JBS), the now fading anti-Communist organization founded in 1958. The former public relations director was named president in 1991 after working for many years alongside founder Robert Welch. He has spoken in public extensively in recent years to boost dwindling membership and funds even as JBS has worked to link arms with the Patriot movement and others with similar ideas.
McManus, who joined the society's staff in 1966, has continued to promote its founding principles. The central thesis is that a sinister cabal of politicians, bankers, globalists and other elites throughout history – including the Illuminati, every U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson and the Council on Foreign Relations – have worked to peel away the rights of individuals and put the U.S. on a path toward a totalitarian one-world government.
The often-lampooned group, which reached its zenith in the 1960s, has been anti-immigrant, anti-United Nations and even anti-Newt Gingrich. It once suggested that Dwight D. Eisenhower was a "conscious agent" of Communism.
McManus, who didn't return phone calls for this story, hates the Federal Reserve, which he blames for the stock market crash of 1929, the current recession and other calamities. "The combination of the government and the Federal Reserve are destroying the dollar and setting us up for world currency, world control, world government," he told his hometown Appleton, Wis., Post-Crescent last April.
An ultraconservative Roman Catholic, McManus has been accused of anti-Semitism, a charge he has denied. In 2005, according to The New York Times, Birch staffers who were ousted amid internal turmoil leaked recordings of McManus saying that Judaism was a dead religion and that militant Jews have influenced the Freemasons, who were "Satan's agents" and part of the Illuminati conspiracy to cause world upheaval.
Facing Down the UN
Daniel New, 64
Daniel New has one claim to fame. He's the father of Michael New, the Army medic who refused to don a United Nations uniform when his infantry unit was assigned to a peacekeeping mission in a former Yugoslavian republic in 1995. To this day, Daniel New, who lives near Waco, hawks calendars, T-shirts, books and videos about the saga of his son, hero of the Patriot movement.
The younger New, who was court-martialed and discharged for bad conduct at the age of 23, long ago expressed a desire to move on with his life. His father and other supporters, however, put up a decade-long, unsuccessful court fight — bankrolled by a steady stream of donations — to win back his honor.
New argued that the Constitution prohibits soldiers from wearing foreign badges and answering to non-U.S. officers. But his appeals have twice been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently in 2007.
That hasn't slowed down his stage dad. "Any time an American soldier is forced against his will to serve a foreign power, then we are not a free country," Daniel New told a reporter after the latest rejection.
Daniel New was the one who handled the hundreds of phone calls, the talk show circuit and other media buzz after his son defied orders. He ran a quixotic race for Congress a few years later. Since then, he's been a staple of the right-wing speaking circuit, appearing at the 2007 Constitution Party conference, among other venues.
At different points, New also has headed the Texas division of the now-defunct, right-wing U.S. Taxpayers Party in Texas and co-authored a self-published book with far-right columnist Cliff Kincaid (see profile above) titled Michael New: Mercenary or American Soldier? At press time, used copies were selling on Amazon.com for as little as a penny, while a new copy could be had for 65 cents.
Back in the Saddle
Norm Olson, 63
Few people played a bigger role in transforming Michigan into a hotbed of militia activity during the 1990s than Norm Olson. Today, the founder of the Michigan Militia is living in Alaska and working with others to build the Alaska Citizens Militia. He told the Redoubt Reporter that he was convinced Americans would be forced to repel "tyrannical, oppressive federal aggression."
Founded in 1994, the Michigan Militia was one of the first major contemporary militias. It was thrust into the national spotlight after the Oklahoma City bombing, when reports surfaced that conspirators Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh had attended meetings. Olson confirmed that each man attended one meeting but added that their rhetoric was not welcome and they were not encouraged to return.
After the 1995 bombing, Olson suggested the Japanese government was responsible — a statement he later said he should have "fully corroborated." Olson wasn't re-elected to a leadership post in the Michigan Militia. He later founded his own Northern Michigan Regional Militia.
By 2005, Olson was moving to Alaska. He declared Michigan "hopeless" and auctioned off weaponry and memorabilia from his Alanson, Mich., gun store — even offering Michigan Militia patches.
By late 2009, Olson and Michigan Militia co-founder Ray Southwell were in Nikiski, Alaska, promoting the Alaska Citizens Militia. Earlier this year, Olson was serving as interim commander of the Kenai Peninsula Division.
"America is very, very ill," Olson said. "And people across the country are preparing themselves."
Out of the Barrel of a Gun
Larry Pratt, 67
When it comes to sniffing out sinister plots to disarm gun owners, Larry Pratt and the Gun Owners of America (GOA) are constantly on the lookout.
Health care reform? It's a plot to take your guns, according to the GOA website.
Environmentalism? You guessed it — another plot to take your guns. At the Ninth Annual Freedom 21 Conference in Texas in 2008, Pratt warned that "the major goal of the sustainable development movement is to disarm Americans."
Pratt, the GOA's executive director, was scheduled to speak at the "Second Amendment March" in Washington, D.C., this April 19. The event, which the GOA helped sponsor, was designed to let politicians know they had better not support anti-gun legislation. Patriot and other radical groups were also expected to participate.
There's one tiny problem. There's no evidence that the government is plotting to strip citizens of their guns. President Obama has even signed legislation allowing guns in national parks and on Amtrak trains. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has given Obama an "F" on every issue on which it graded him.
But that's not stopping the hard-line GOA, which claims more than 300,000 members and doesn't believe in any gun restrictions at all. When armed citizens began appearing outside presidential events, Pratt addressed it in a column on the GOA website. "There are those who don't like Americans owning guns at all, let alone carrying them openly. They can be counted on to run around squawking like Chicken Little that the sky is falling."
Pratt may be the figure most responsible for introducing the militia concept to the radical right. He authored Armed People Victorious in 1990. Based on this study of "citizen defense patrols" in the Philippines and Guatemala — groups that became more commonly known as death squads — Pratt offered a flattering portrayal and promoted militias for the United States.
Two years later, in 1992, he was invited to a Colorado meeting where the outlines of the militia movement were shaped. More than 150 extremists attended the meeting, which was hosted by a white supremacist minister. In 1996, Pratt was ejected from the co-chairmanship of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign over such associations with white supremacists.
Of Cops and Conspiracies
Stewart Rhodes, 44
A former aide to Texas congressman Ron Paul (see profile in "The Enablers"), Stewart Rhodes founded a group called Oath Keepers in early 2009. The rapidly growing organization is comprised mostly of active-duty police and military, as well as veterans, who fret about things like gun control and the much-feared "New World Order." Members swear (a second time) to uphold their oath to the Constitution and not to obey orders they think conflict with that. Among those orders (10 "Orders We Will Not Obey" are listed on the Oath Keepers website): Imposing martial law or a state of emergency on a state, and forcing those who resist into detention camps.
Rhodes is an Army veteran and a Yale Law School graduate. He and others in his organization have been frequent speakers at Tea Party rallies, helping channel Patriot ideas into that movement. Rhodes insists his group isn't antigovernment, but he and other Oath Keepers do describe the government as tyrannical and repressive. "We saw a dangerous increase in power of the executive branch and a dangerous increase in government power over the American people," he told Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy on the latter's radio show in April 2009.
In interviews, Rhodes has suggested that his worries about concentration camps and martial law are purely theoretical concerns. That is false. At the top of the list of orders his group will not obey is a quote from George Washington, saying now is the time to decide whether we are "freemen" or "slaves." Rhodes' site then says, "Such a time is near at hand again," clearly suggesting imminent catastrophe.
Rhodes also has appeared for friendly questioning at least twice on the radio show of über-conspiracist Alex Jones. And, last November, he explained on the Conservative Political Network why his organization doesn't focus on politicians, lawyers or judges. "They've already demonstrated by their behavior they have contempt for the Constitution and have no regard for their oaths," he said. "So I focus on the military and the police because they still have honor, and if they stand down ... and refuse unlawful orders, it doesn't make a difference what the politicians want, it can't be done."
Correcting the Constitution
Jon Roland, 66
When a militiaman claims the federal government is trampling the Constitution, he might have Jon Roland to thank for his reasoning. In the mid-1990s, Roland founded the Constitution Society, a Patriot organization whose website assembles writings on all manner of constitutional issues, including a section on the alleged right to assemble a militia.
The site also delves into the world of conspiracy theories by providing links to sites questioning the Oklahoma City bombing and the role of researchers in creating the HIV virus. It even includes a section on mind-control technology.
It's all in keeping with Roland's role as a purveyor of information to the Patriot movement, a role that includes the founding of the Texas Militia Correspondence Committee in the mid-1990s. He's also played a role in the movement's resurgence by attending a gathering of extremist figures in Georgia last year that appears to have pumped new life into the movement. "The Feds are out of control," he told the Intelligence Report in an interview about that meeting. They "have actually been engaging in warlike activity against the American people."
Roland, a computer specialist in Austin, Texas, has run for office several times since 1972. At a website exploring a possible candidacy for U.S. Senate, he promotes a "Constitutionalist Platform" that would "involve the repeal of much existing legislation," including statutes that make "anything but gold or silver coin legal tender on state territory." He supports the ability of private mints to issue such coins.
And, of course, he wants to revive the militia system he says was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Roland appears determined to fulfill a statement he made in 1994 that is still quoted on the Constitution Society website: "I decided history needed a course correction, so I reached for my keyboard."
The 'Patriot Journalist'
Luke Rudkowski, 23
Luke Rudkowski dislikes the phrase "conspiracy theory." He prefers to think of his organization as a movement of truth-seeking activists who are simply asking the hard questions that aren't being posed by mainstream journalists.
Nevertheless, the founder of We Are Change has tapped into a deep vein of suspicion among Americans who see dark conspiracies being hatched inside the federal government. He has harnessed the energy of 9/11 "truthers" to form an army of activists seeking to expose "the lies of the government and corporate elite who remain suspect in this crime."
Since he formed We Are Change as a group of "patriot journalists" in 2006, the loose-knit group has grown into a network of more than 200 independent chapters, mostly in the United States. Finding the "truth" behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is a driving force — as are concerns about a looming "one world order," according to the group's website. It also seeks "to uncover the truth behind the private banking cartel of the military industrial complex" that wants to "eliminate national sovereignty."
Rudkowski said the group doesn't engage in broad New World Order conspiracies but focuses on the alleged role of groups such as the Bilderberg Group or the Trilateral Commission. These groups have been common targets for Patriot and other conspiracy theorists for decades.
We Are Change videographers have confronted political figures such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. When video surfaced of U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah telling a We Are Change interviewer there's "a lot we still need to learn" about the 2001 terrorist attacks, the congressman felt constrained to issue a statement disavowing any belief in a government conspiracy.
Rudkowski, whose group explicitly condemns violence and racism, said he was arrested last year for trespassing during an attempt to question New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the health care of 9/11 first responders. He said he is fighting the charge, saying he was targeted and never told to leave.
"I see a huge uprising right now of people waking up every single day," Rudkowski said in an interview posted on YouTube last year.
Robert "Bob" Schulz, 70
When the history is written about the rebirth of the antigovernment Patriot movement, Robert "Bob" Schulz may be the man credited with setting the cornerstone for this new era of militias, tax protesters and "sovereign citizens."
The longtime tax protester convened a gathering of fellow tax defiers, militia enthusiasts, nativist extremists, anti-Obama "birthers" and others at Georgia's Jekyll Island in May 2009. At the meeting, they mapped out "action plans" for a larger movement – one that would confront not only taxes but an array of issues that threaten to "collapse the Republic."
That meeting led to an 11-day "continental congress" in St. Charles, Ill., hosted by Schulz's organization, We the People. The November 2009 meeting drew more than 100 delegates from 48 states and birthed the "Articles of Freedom." The document declares the federal government "now threatens our Life, Liberty and Property through usurpations of the Constitution."
Schulz describes the events as merely gatherings of people concerned about the government and seeking a redress of grievances. He said the topic of militias focused on "well-regulated state militias." Nevertheless, these meetings were remarkable for the level of cooperation demonstrated within the revitalized Patriot movement.
Schulz said the actions of the government – such as purchasing stakes in auto companies – are shocking people and "more and more people are talking about the Constitution." Earlier this year, he offered an even more striking assessment. "There's a huge patriot movement," Schulz told a reporter. "I've been doing this kind of work for 30 years. Never have I seen the likes of what's going on now. It's delightful."
The Jekyll Island gathering also is noteworthy because it parallels the origins of the Patriot movement of the 1990s. The modern militia movement was partly shaped at a 1992 meeting of radical-right leaders in Estes Park, Colo. At that gathering, known as the "Rocky Mountain Rendezvous," a cross section of extremist leaders also put aside their differences to focus on a common enemy: the federal government. Schulz denied any knowledge of the meeting.
The end result of Schulz's work may only be realized in time. The documents produced at the continental congress declare any infringement on the people's liberty as described in the Constitution as an act of war that "the People and their Militias have the Right and Duty to repel."
The Cautious Conspiracist
Joel Skousen, 63
He may not be as well known as his uncle, the late (and largely discredited) far-right author Cleon Skousen. But Joel Skousen is similarly preoccupied with conspiracy theories about worldwide government.
Addressing the Constitution Party National Committee meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., last October, Skousen, of Orem, Utah, spoke of powerful deceptive forces at work. In an E-mail to theIntelligence Report, Skousen elaborated on some of those claims, saying he believes there's "substantive evidence" that Obama's birthplace was Kenya, making him ineligible for the presidency. "His sudden rise from poor community attorney to a relatively rich man via insider real estate dealings with less than reputable figures and too-good-to-be-true market speculations lends credence to my suspicion that his rise in the political arena was in large part owing to some kind of deal made with the political machines in Illinois and Washington D.C."
Skousen also predicts that Russia and China will launch a massive preemptive strike against the United States. "Very few know that the Powers That Be (PTB) intend to pull the nuclear trigger via Russia and China," he wrote on his website.
Skousen said this belief preceded what has become his vocation: designing high-security homes and shelters. His survivalist writings (for sale on his website) include explanation of how to fortify closets and turn basements into fallout shelters.
He also writes World Affairs Brief, a weekly E-mail newsletter monitoring "the tactics and hidden intentions of globalist insiders who are maneuvering the world into a New World Order." (A year-long subscription costs $48.) The New World Order, Skousen told the Intelligence Report, is a conspiracy aimed at "undermin[ing] national sovereignty slowly by deception and provocation (using false threats of terrorism, war and Hegelian conflict creation and management) to provoke normal people into accepting increased control, regulation and taxation by a one-world government."
That notion was shared by his uncle Cleon, whose books — including The Five Thousand Year Leap (1981) — are enjoying a revival today thanks largely to the promotional efforts of Glenn Beck (see profile in "The Enablers"). But Skousen has mixed feelings about the Fox News host. "In general, I do not believe Beck to be capable of rigorous and careful analysis of any issues that are complex," he wrote. "His superficial handling of conspiracy issues and the manner in which he dismisses them without a careful hearing is exemplary of this uncareful analysis."
The Rough Guide
Jim Stachowiak, 49
Jim Stachowiak is a longtime militia organizer and foul-mouthed talk show host.
On the Feb. 23 episode of his daily radio show, he called for armed resistance if the government tries to confiscate people's guns. "This country will not be saved without a Revolution," he said.
Wearing camouflage and a "Don't Tread on Me" hat, he brandished a knife as he discussed ambushes and ranted against gays. "We're not going to let one little faggot ... destroy standing up against tyranny," he said, referring both to another movement leader and to an anti-hate blogger. (Stachowiak later said he used the word "faggot" to "elicit a reaction.")
On his website, he calls Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a "Nazi-bitch." A picture on his blog shows an AK-47 emblazoned with the words, "The A.R.M. [American Resistance Movement] solution to forced vaccines," a common bogeyman of the radical right.
Stachowiak told the Intelligence Report he's advocating defense, not violence. "I'd rather go to a movie or make payments on a jet ski, but I have to buy ammo," he lamented. "I'm concerned about civil unrest, my neighbors going crazy, round-ups, foreign troops, the New World Order."
He's part of A.R.M., a leaderless network of individual militias that Stachowiak insists is active, although a notice on its website says it has shut down. In the mid-'90s, he led the Georgia Civilian Militia, a paramilitary group that disbanded in 1997 because, he claims, government agents were attempting to get members to act illegally. Stachowiak says he's Jewish and that the militia had black and Puerto Rican members. "The racist militias aren't all of us," he said. "You can't demonize an entire group based on the actions of a few."
Stachowiak stood on a Mexican flag during a 2008 anti-immigration protest in South Carolina and last fall appeared in an Internet video urging mass protests at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. He has frequently clashed with fellow Patriots and was expelled from We Are Change, a group that promotes Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, after a dispute with another leader. He even attacked his own listeners recently, concluding, "If you don't like this show, fuck it." Stachowiak later said the on-air meltdown was just showmanship.
Running Radical Radio
John Stadtmiller, 56
John Stadtmiller founded and runs Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN), whose talk radio fare is peppered with warnings about enslavement by a one-world government. The station, which broadcasts via the Internet, shortwave and satellite, drew national attention this April when a host who identifies himself as Sam Kennedy sent letters to the nation's governors demanding that they resign within three days. The letters sparked an FBI investigation.
Stadtmiller has his own show, "The National Intel Report," which airs daily on RBN. Also heard on RBN is Jack McLamb (see profile above), a former Phoenix police officer and militia hero who runs Police & Military Against The New World Order and who argues that "globalists" are trying "to gain, through any available means, total dictatorial control over all the peoples of the world." Yet another RBN host is Michael Collins Piper, who has written copiously for the anti-Semitic American Free Press and its predecessor, The Spotlight, as well as The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial journal. Kennedy's show has focused on its host's "Restore America" project, said to be a peaceful attempt to return America to its rightful legal basis and thereby avoid "World War III."
Stadtmiller, who now lives in Round Rock, Texas, has a long history of involvement in Patriot radio, formerly co-hosting militia promoter Mark "Mark from Michigan" Koernke's (see profile above) show. Immediately after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Koernke and Stadtmiller broadcast allegations that the federal government was behind the tragedy. "This whole thing was created to attack the Patriot movement," Stadtmiller was quoted as saying in thePittsburgh Post-Gazette following McVeigh's conviction. Koernke and Stadtmiller stayed on the air even after Koernke became a fugitive in 1998. (Koernke had been charged with assaulting a man trying to subpoena him to serve as a defense witness in a murder trial.)
More recently, Stadtmiller was featured in "Camp FEMA," a video that suggests the Federal Emergency Management Agency is creating concentration camps for political dissenters. Looking scholarly in a jacket and button-down shirt, the silver-haired Stadtmiller asserts that it doesn't take much to establish a detention facility. "It can be a sports arena," he said. "It could be abandoned airports. It could be abandoned military facilities. Anyplace that you can set up a security perimeter could be used as a temporary internment camp."
Stadtmiller declined to speak with the Intelligence Report. "I would rather pour gasoline on myself and light it than speak to anyone in your 'organization,'" he wrote in an E-mail.
'Alice in Wonderland'
Orly Taitz, 49
It's not unusual at public meetings of, say, a local city council to find a common species known as the political gadfly. These persistent critics, tolerated as attention-seeking eccentrics, don't allow the absence of coherency or logic to keep them from speaking. Often claiming expertise they do not possess or seeing evil machinations that do not exist, these gadflies cling to their feverish suspicions.
Orly Taitz, a southern California lawyer who has led the national "birther" movement, is a political gadfly writ large, except for one crucial difference: She found a large, national audience.
Dubbed the "birther queen" – and worse – in the blogosphere, she's a champion of those who question the citizenship of President Obama and, therefore, the legitimacy of his presidency.
Taitz, a former swimsuit model born in the Soviet Union, lived in Israel and Romania before setting up a dentistry practice in Orange County. Along the way, she picked up a law degree from an online school.
Tirelessly, inexplicably, Taitz has filed dozens of lawsuits and made numerous claims in the media alleging that Obama has not only lied about his citizenship but has masterminded a deception on a scale that has seldom, if ever, been seen before. In the process, she has become a hero to the antigovernment Patriot movement and last year even joined We the People, a leading tax-protest group that is a key part of that movement.
Taitz has called for an insurrection to remove the president. Last summer, she released a document she claimed was Obama's Kenyan birth certificate. It was quickly proven a fraud. She has claimed that Obama has as many as 25 Social Security numbers. She has aligned herself with others who claim Obama has ties to radical jihadists, is a closeted gay man, and may be a ruthless murderer.
Taitz has been so roundly discredited, even the rabid right-wing attack dog Ann Coulter has called her a crank. As one judge wrote in dismissing one of Taitz's lawsuits: "Unlike Alice in Wonderland, simply saying something is so does not make it so."
Teed Off in Tulsa
Amanda Teegarden, 54
Amanda Teegarden is Tulsa's leading lady of the radical right. She's executive director of Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise (OK-SAFE), a nonprofit whose website says it "sees a concerted, dedicated and well funded effort by Social and Economic Elites to transition the United States from a Representative Republic to a Socialist Group" — rhetoric virtually indistinguishable from that of the antigovernment Patriot movement.
Teegarden has expressed alarm about federally funded law enforcement "fusion centers" – like the one run by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation – that collect and analyze information about potential terrorist activities. She told one newspaper that she worried the centers could track attendees at "tea parties" and congressional town halls.
Teegarden joined the American Civil Liberties Union and right-wing "constitutionalists" at an odd-bedfellows event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in October 2008. The subject: opposition to the gathering of data on U.S. citizens, including collection and use of DNA and biometric samples, and to any federal ID legislation.
In August 2009, OK-SAFE sponsored a national conference that focused on individual liberties and federal encroachment on states' rights, another favorite issue of the radical right. Right-wing luminaries who spoke at the Freedom21 conference, held in Midwest City, Okla., included Edward Griffin, author of The Creature from Jekyll Island (a screed attacking the Fed, a common target of far-right conspiracy theorists), Republican state representatives and others concerned about the United Nations and President Obama's education plans.
Teegarden has backed local conservative candidates in Tulsa, and she filed to run for the county school board in 2004 only to drop out of the race later. She also co-founded an organization called Oklahomans for School Accountability, which promotes teaching a "biblical world view."
"We are obviously a very conservative parents group," Teegarden told the Tulsa World in 2006.
Gunning for the Government
Mike Vanderboegh, 56
Back in the 1990s, Mike Vanderboegh used to go to some lengths to portray himself as a moderate in the world of antigovernment militias, even though he once wrote about the utility of snipers and using "violence carefully targeted and clearly defensive." In 1996, for instance, he joined many militia leaders in signing a document distancing the movement from racists and neo-Nazis.
That was then. This spring, he started to sound a little different.
On March 19, Vanderboegh, enraged at the imminent passage of health care reform, furiously called on Americans to break the windows of local Democratic Party headquarters offices around the country. "[I]f you wish to send a message that [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows," the Pinson, Ala., blogger wrote. "Break them NOW. Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight."
Over the next few days, party office windows and those of several members of Congress were indeed smashed with bricks in several states, criminal attacks followed with glee by Vanderboegh in his blog's "Window War" feature.
After his time as a militia enthusiast, Vanderboegh in the mid-2000s took to patrolling the Mexican border with his own tiny Alabama Minuteman Support Team. More recently, he has been described as the co-founder of the Three Percenters, a loose alliance of gun owners who vow not to surrender their rights and disarm. The name refers to the 3% of American colonists believed to have been the portion of the population who actively opposed England. Three Percenters also claim to represent the hardest-line 3% of U.S. gun owners.
Vanderboegh's website, Sipsey Street Irregulars, warns that "the collectivists who now control the government" should leave gun owners alone "if they wish to continue unfettered oxygen consumption." He claims the website has garnered more than 1 million visits.
Vanderboegh declined an interview for this article in a lengthy E-mail attacking the Southern Poverty Law Center as "lying, conflationist bastards." Nevertheless, Vanderboegh, who used his website to promote his interview with a television station, ended his E-mail by writing, "Thank you in advance for all the free publicity."
Paul Venable, 56
Paul Venable, one of the few African-American members of the anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-immigrant, and anti-gun control Constitution Party, serves as state chair in Idaho, a state that is 95% white. He says on his website that he was raised in Ohio and has been an information technology specialist for many years. He boasts that he and his wife have been presenting Constitution classes and teaching the principles of liberty since 2004.
Using Thomas Jefferson's words to refer to himself as a "Common Citizen of Little Consequence," Venable is definitely a "party" guy, having run for the Idaho House of Representatives as a Constitution Party candidate in 2008.
In May 2009, he attended a meeting of radical right leaders at Jekyll Island, Ga., that appears to have played a key role in the resurgence of the militia movement. He was then nominated to be a delegate to the "continental congress" in St. Charles, Ill., in November 2009, an event that was organized by We the People's Bob Schulz (see profile above), who also called the Jekyll Island gathering.
Venable spoke at the Constitution Party's October 2009 National Committee Meeting in Phoenix on the theme of "Get Out of Our House" — referring to the U.S. House of Representatives, which he says on his website has been "emasculated."
On his website, there is a snapshot of a yellowed poster headlined "WANTED FOR ACTS OF TERRORISM." It features sketches of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, and their "Aliases": Founding Father, Sons of Liberty, Freedom Fighters, American Patriots. The bottom caption reads: "CAUTION Subjects May Be Armed. They May Also Inspire Revolt Against the Tyranny of Their Government."
Architect of Militias
Edwin Vieira Jr., 66
To lawyer and radical-right thinker Edwin Vieira Jr., the Department of Homeland Security is a misnomer. The Harvard-educated Vieira feels the government agency is not meant to keep Americans safe. Instead, much like most arms of the federal government, the agency is bent on encroaching on the sovereignty of American citizens and individual states.
Vieira believes an economic crisis is looming – a cataclysm he believes will lead to a police state. There will be a "massive social and political unrest bordering on chaos throughout America when the monetary and banking systems finally implode in the not-so-distant-future."
A longtime associate of tax protester Robert "Bob" Schulz (see profile above), Vieira has appeared in a series of self-produced videos and regularly writes commentaries for fringe websites. A year ago, he and Schulz co-organized a meeting of 30 "freedom keepers" at Jekyll Island in Georgia, a summit that appears to have played a key role in reinvigorating the antigovernment Patriot movement. Vieira could not attend because, conference leaders said, he was working on a book on "well-regulated militias" and his plans to establish militias in all 50 states.
According to an Internet bio, Vieira holds four degrees from Harvard and has practiced law for more than 30 years, with an emphasis on constitutional issues. Remarkably, he also is the older brother of Meredith Vieira, the co-host of NBC's "Today" and host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," according to the Internet Movie Data Base.
In his book, How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary, Vieira advocates the impeachment of "advocacy judges" who have authorized abortion and gay marriage. In 2005, he called for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, saying that the conservative jurist's opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."