Tuesday, September 16, 2008

America's Radical Militia Movement - A Patriot Acts Expose

In Patriot Acts, America finds itself under covert nuclear attack from the Islamic Republic of Iran which has linked up with radical American Militia groups. They have set aside their political and religious differences to carry out the widest attack to America in the nation’s history.

I recently spoke with someone who thought the idea of radical Americans working together with Islamic terrorists was farfetched. I reminded him that the deadly attack in 1995 in Oklahoma City is a vivid reminder that an attack of deadly proportions is easier to accomplish by American radicals, who hate American freedom, than it would be for foreign terrorists.

The title, Patriot Acts is important in my novel as the book portrays three groups that all think they are following the correct patriotic way. Iranian terrorists are ready to infiltrate America and to end what they believe to be the Great Satan. They believe their evil acts are the Acts of Allah and that they are patriotic followers of their diabolical faith. Len Garret, the leader of the largest Militia group in America is motivated by raging revenge because of the death of his parents and little sister when he was only 14 years old. Then there is President Tate, a newly inaugurated President of the United States who literally hits the ground running with the most wide-ranging attack on America only months after he takes office. All of these groups believe themselves to be doing the right thing and it is for the reader to find the right course of action.

So, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Militia movement in America today. Below, you will find an article from the Anti-Defamation League that lays out an excellent expose of just what the Militia movement is and what its goals are. I hope it will motivate you to take a good look at such an important story like Patriot Acts. Because Freedom is not free! - Author Steven Clark Bradley

America’s Radical Militia Movement

© 2005 Anti-Defamation League

The militia movement is the youngest of the major right-wing anti-government movements in the United States, followed by the Sovereign Citizen Movement and the Tax Protest Movement are the two others. yet it has seared itself into the American consciousness as virtually no other fringe movement has. The publicity given to militia groups in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, when the militia movement was erroneously linked to that tragedy, made them a household name. Indeed, reporters, pundits and politicians alike have used the term so frequently that it is often tossed about carelessly as a synonym for virtually any right-wing extremist group.

Yet, the militia movement is neither generic nor dismissible as a comic subject. Even if militia groups were not, in fact, involved with the Oklahoma City bombing, they have nevertheless embroiled themselves since 1994 in a variety of other bombing plots, conspiracies and serious violations of law. Their extreme anti-government ideology, along with their elaborate conspiracy theories and fascination with weaponry and paramilitary organization, lead many members of militia groups to act out in ways that justify the concerns expressed about them by public officials, law enforcement and the general public.

  • Origins: Mid-to-late 1993
  • Prominent leaders: John Trochmann (Montana), Ron Gaydosh (Michigan), Randy Miller (Texas),
  • Charlie Puckett (Kentucky), Mark Koernke (Michigan), Carl Worden (Oregon), Gib Ingwer (Ohio)
  • Prominent groups: Kentucky State Militia, Ohio Unorganized Militia Assistance and Advisory Committee, Southeastern Ohio Defense Force, Michigan Militia (two factions using the same name), Southern Indiana Regional Militia, Southern California High Desert Militia-and many others.
  • Outreach: Gun shows, shortwave radio, newsletters, the Internet
  • Ideology: Anti-government and conspiracy-oriented in nature; prominent focus on firearms
  • Prominent militia arrests: Multiple members of the following groups have been arrested and convicted, usually on weapons, explosives, or conspiracy charges: Oklahoma Constitutional Militia, Georgia Republic Militia, Arizona Viper Militia, Washington State Militia, West Virginia Mountaineer Militia, Twin Cities Free Militia, North American Militia, San Joaquin County Militia.

Where Do They Come From & What Do They Believe?

In a sense, the militia movement is both old and new. On the one hand, militia groups are the latest in a series of periodic actions that the extreme right has had with paramilitary organizations. On the other hand, however, the militia movement formed under a unique set of circumstances that gave the movement a character, orientation and purpose distinct from its predecessors.

The extreme right in the United States has long had a fascination with paramilitary groups. Before World War II, right-wing and fascist groups such as the Silver Shirt Legion and the Christian Front marched across America. Later, the Cold War ushered in a new wave of paramilitary organizations like the California Rangers and the Minutemen. In the 1980s, survivalists and white supremacists formed a variety of paramilitary groups ranging from the Christian Patriot-Defense League to the Texas Emergency Reserve to the White Patriot Party.

The militia movement is heir to the right-wing paramilitary tradition, but it is heir, too, to another tradition, the anti-government ideology of groups like the Posse Comitatus. The Posse developed an elaborate conspiratorial view of American history and government, one that claimed the legitimate government had been subverted by conspirators and replaced with an illegitimate, tyrannical government. Posse members believed that the people had the power and responsibility to "take back" the government, through force of arms if necessary. As a result, many Posse figures engaged in paramilitary training. Most notable among these was William Potter Gale, a Christian Identity minister who was one of the founders of the Posse. In the 1980s, he appointed himself "chief of staff" to the "Unorganized Militia" of a group known as the Committee of the States. Gale's appropriation of the term "unorganized militia" is significant; it is a statutory term in federal and state law that refers to the nominal manpower pool created a century ago when federal law formally abandoned compulsory militia service. In using the term, Gale implied that his organization was not only legal but that it was, in fact, a constitutional arm of the government. This argument would be amplified by later militia proponents (Gale himself died in the late 1980s) who claimed that militia groups were: (a) equivalent to the statutory militia; (b) not, however, controlled by the government; and (c) in fact, designed to oppose the government should it become tyrannical.

What turned the concept into reality in the early 1990s was a series of catalysts that angered people on the extreme right sufficiently to start a new movement. Although some militia movement pioneers had been active in other anti-government or hate groups earlier, most militia leaders were in fact new leaders, people who only recently had been so motivated that they were willing to take action. The events that angered them ranged from the election of Bill Clinton to the Rodney King riots to the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. More than any other issue, though, the deadly standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and Waco, Texas, in 1993 ignited widespread passion. To most Americans, these events were tragedies, but to the extreme right, they were examples of a government willing to stop at nothing to stamp out people who refused to conform. Right-wing folk singers like Carl Klang memorialized the children who died at Waco with songs like "Seventeen Little Children." These events provided new life to a number of extremist movements, from Christian Identity activists to sovereign citizens, but they also propelled the creation of an entirely new movement consisting of armed militia groups formed to prevent another Ruby Ridge or Waco.

The fact that both the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents involved illegal firearms added considerable fuel to the fire that formed the militia movement. Many militia members and leaders were radical gun-rights advocates, people who believed that, in fact, there could be no such things as illegal firearms and whose anti-government ire was formed in large part because of fear and suspicion of imminent gun confiscation. In the early 1990s, several prototype militias had emerged in Connecticut and Florida on the basis that members of the "militia" were exempt from federal gun laws. In 1992, Larry Pratt, leader of a radical gun- rights group and an advocate of the formation of militias, issued a statement in the wake of the Rodney King riots urging the Los Angeles Police Department to "take advantage of what the Founding Fathers called the unorganized militia" in order to forestall further unrest. Many people initially joined the fledgling militia movement largely as a way to protect more aggressively their right to bear arms; even today, gun-related issues dominate many of the newsletters published by militia groups.

The final element forming the militia movement was a vast fascination with conspiracies. Conspiracies were easy to accept for people who believed that the federal government deliberately murdered people at Ruby Ridge and Waco and that door-to-door gun confiscation could begin any day. But the militia movement not only accepted the traditional conspiracy theories, it created a host of new ones; combined, they described a shadowy movement intent on creating a one-world socialist government no matter what the cost. This "New World Order," using the United Nations as its primary tool, had already taken over most of the planet. The United States was still a bastion of freedom, but its own government was collaborating with New World Order forces to strip Americans slowly of their freedoms in preparation for the final takeover. The government was erecting large numbers of concentration camps in which to place American dissenters; meanwhile, the number of United Nations troops secretly encamped in national parks grew by the month. Stickers on the backs of street signs would guide the New World Order to strategic points, while the authorities enlisted urban street gangs to help enforce gun confiscation. "The Federal government and the press is [sic] fighting a war against independent thinking Christian patriots," wrote Christian Identity adherent and militia supporter George Eaton in 1993. "The reason they have targeted patriots is simple; they will not conform or submit to the New World Order."


The militia movement is a relatively new right-wing extremist movement consisting of armed paramilitary groups, both formal and informal, with an anti-government, conspiracy-oriented ideology. Militia groups began to form not long after the deadly standoff at Waco, Texas, in 1993; by the spring of 1995, they had spread to almost every state. Many members of militia groups have been arrested since then, usually on weapons, explosives and conspiracy charges. Although the militia movement has declined in strength from its peak in early 1996, it remains an active movement, especially in the Midwest, and continues to cause a number of problems for law enforcement and the communities in which militia groups are active.


The combination of anger at the government, fear of gun confiscation and susceptibility to elaborate conspiracy theories is what formed the core of the militia movement's ideology. Although there were white supremacists in the movement, and although groups and individuals within the movement often made common cause with or at least tolerated hate groups, the orientation of the militia movement remained primarily anti-government and conspiratorial. The militia movement appealed to many radical libertarians just as it appealed to traditional proponents of extreme right-wing causes. There was room even for African American militia leaders like J. J. Johnson of Ohio and Leroy Crenshaw of Massachusetts, whose shared anti-government views allowed them to break bread with racist and anti-Semitic adherents of Christian Identity.

History and Activities: Private Armies, Public Wars

Not surprisingly, some of the earliest leaders of the militia movement had personal associations with the standoffs at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Linda Thompson, an Indianapolis lawyer who decided unilaterally to represent the Branch Davidians during their standoff, went on to appoint herself "acting adjutant general" of the Unorganized Militia of the United States in 1993. Until her call for an armed march on Washington, D.C., fizzled in 1994, she was quite influential, particularly through the videotapes she produced alleging government complicity at Waco. More lasting in influence was a friend of Randy Weaver, John Trochmann, who with his brother and nephew formed the Militia of Montana in January 1994.

Thompson and Trochmann, along with other militia pioneers and supporters, helped other groups to form. Active militia groups arose in Ohio, Idaho, California, Florida and many other states. None grew so fast as those in Michigan, loosely formed into an umbrella group known as the "Michigan Militia," headed by a pastor and gun shop owner, Norm Olson. Militia activists recruited at gun shows, held public meetings in libraries and schools, and broadcast on shortwave radio, where talk-show hosts such as Michigan militia leader Mark Koernke were particularly popular.

The militia movement grew rapidly throughout 1994, drawing little attention until that fall, when civil rights groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center released reports and articles on the new movement. By the following spring, the militia movement had finally begun to receive scrutiny by law enforcement, the media and the public. Then the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, created an entirely new environment. Several suspected links between the bombing and militia groups in Michigan -- later proved to be unfounded -- unleashed a storm of publicity about the militia movement around the country. The militia for the first time faced the harsh glare of the spotlight. Overall, it did not fare particularly well. Some groups disbanded in the wake of the bombing, while other groups splintered. Norm Olson was kicked out by his own followers after he told reporters that the Japanese government had been involved in the Oklahoma City bombing.

However, the overall result of the bombing and its attendant publicity was actually a rise in the militia movement, because the media attention informed many potential supporters that such a movement actually existed. As a result, the militia movement grew in numbers and activity all through 1995 and into 1996. The militia even managed to "strike back" at times, as when, in the summer of 1995, several militia leaders drew publicity to the Good Ol' Boys Roundup, a yearly festivity in Tennessee for federal and local law enforcement officers at which various racist and off-color activities had taken place. Two federal agencies were forced to launch investigations of the event as a result, while militia leaders claimed that the media had been wrong all along -- it wasn't the militia movement that was racist but, rather, the federal government. (The investigations ended up revealing that the racist activity was committed by local Tennessee law enforcement officers.)

By early 1996, virtually every state had at least one group, and most states had several. The movement had attracted the attention not only of the media but also of law enforcement, however, which had begun to discover signs of significant criminal activity. As early as 1994, members of the Blue Ridge Hunt Club, a nascent Virginia militia group, had been arrested on a variety of weapons charges. The following year an Oklahoma Christian Identity minister and militia leader, Ray Lampley, was arrested along with several followers for conspiring to blow up targets ranging from government buildings to the offices of civil rights organizations. But in 1996, a series of investigations resulted in a number of major militia-related arrests, generally on illegal weapons, explosives and conspiracy charges. In April 1996, several members of the Georgia Republic Militia were arrested, followed in July by a dozen members of the Arizona Viper Militia. Later that same month, members of the Washington State Militia found themselves in custody, while in October members of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia were arrested on weapons charges and in connection with plans to blow up an F.B.I. fingerprinting facility. These arrests, not surprisingly, had a depressing effect on the movement.

Other events in 1996 and 1997 also served to weaken the movement. The most ambitious attempt to network militia groups together, the Tri-States Militia, collapsed in 1996 when it was revealed that its leader had been accepting money from the F.B.I. In March 1996, the F.B.I. surrounded the Montana Freemen, a sovereign citizen group, in remote eastern Montana, then arrested them following an 81-day standoff. Although a few militia members traveled to Montana to support (or aid) the Freemen, by and large the movement failed to respond, a fact that embittered some of the more radical members. (This scenario would be repeated the following spring when the militia failed to come to the rescue of the besieged Republic of Texas near Fort Davis, Texas.) Lack of response on the part of the militia movement caused a number of radical members to splinter away at the same time that some of the less hard-core members were leaving because of the increased arrests. By the fall of 1996, the movement had clearly faltered, and several prominent early leaders dropped out, including Idaho militia leader Samuel Sherwood; he disbanded his group in September, complaining that "the whole movement is being distorted on one side by the press and the media and taken over by the nuts and the crazies on the other."

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