It has been more than three years since a conservative campaign waged in the media and in the capital hounded a decorated analyst named Daryl Johnson out of his job at the Department of Homeland Security. That campaign, sparked by a leaked report Johnson authored on the increased threat of right-wing domestic terrorism, was an early and telling flashpoint in the Obama administration's fraught relationship with the right. There is a neat political symmetry, then, in Johnson's return to Washington this week in the waning months of the president's term.
On Wednesday, Johnson will speak to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the topic of "Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism," delivering the same warning that made him a prominent right-wing whipping boy during the early days of the Tea Party. In a sad reminder of Johnson's vindication, a survivor of last month's Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting will join him on the panel.
If Johnson's exchange with elected officials this week does not involve some sort of apology or contrition, it should. Following the release of his report, DHS slashed staff assigned to studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, which Johnson says led to his own resignation. The years since this inelegant end to Johnson's public service career are pockmarked with acts of non-Islamic domestic violence -- violence defined by the exact characteristics listed in Johnson's report.
That April 2009 report, written under the imprimatur of DHS' Department of Intelligence and Analysis and running nine bullet-point pages, was brief but sober. Using recent history as his guide, Johnson argued that the sharp economic downturn triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, in combination with the election of the country's first black president and intensifying debates over immigration, gun control, and abortion, all set the stage for an uptick in violent right-wing extremism. Citing the growth of the militia movement in the 1990s that culminated in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (until 9/11 the worst act of terrorism committed on U.S. soil) he implied that the agency's near all-absorbing focus on al Qaeda and Islamic terror was misplaced.
Leak of the report to the notorious birther website WorldNetDaily produced what appeared to be a well-coordinated furor on the right. Newt Gingrich called for Johnson's firing. Rep. Peter King called for hearings on Obama's DHS. Leading conservative senators penned letters of protest. And the conservative media responded as if martial law had been declared on July 4.
In retrospect, the timing of the media attack on Johnson looks significant. His report, entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment", was leaked in early April of 2009, when the Tea Party movement was in boost phase. The contents of Johnson's warning did not concern non-violent activism around taxation or policy issues, as even a cursory reading made clear. But a conservative funhouse-mirror version of the report was a perfect match for the Tea Party scene's persecution complex and band-of-rebels self-image, in which ordinary Americans were being forced to organize in defense of the last shreds of American freedom.
Leading right-wing media figures grasped this. They hyped and excoriated the DHS report as a sign of the Obama administration's master plan to smear and repress his conservative opposition. Although Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is the only proper name mentioned in the report, and although DHS had previously issued reports on violent leftwing extremism, T-shirts and signs proudly proclaiming "domestic terrorist" soon emerged as staples of the Tea Party scene.
National Rifle Association board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent lost his cool during his first televised interview following the firestorm that surrounded his infamous claim that he would "be dead or in jail" if the president is reelected. During a May 4 appearance on CBS This Morning, Nugent took umbrage with interviewer Jeff Glor's suggestion that Nugent will have a hard time attracting moderate voters for Mitt Romney:
TED NUGENT: I'm an extremely loving, passionate man, and people who investigate me honestly, without the baggage of political correctness, ascertain the conclusion that I'm a damned nice guy, and if you can find a screening process more powerful than that, I'll suck your d--k.
Nugent then turned to a female CBS producer and said, "Or I'll f--k you, how's that sound?" CBS' video bleeped out some of Nugent's words at the end of his tirade, but they were transcribed by TMZ.com.
CBS reported that "Nugent's wife told him after the interview ended that Nugent owed an apology to the producer. And Nugent did. He also called Glor Thursday and said that, after the interview, he was rushed to the emergency room and had a kidney stone removed." Just earlier this week, Nugent appeared on NRA News to suggest that he could play a role in convincing moderates to not vote for President Obama this fall:
CAM EDWARDS, HOST: I think between now and November, I think you would agree, that the most important thing that anybody listening could possibly seek to do is to make sure that on election day we elect somebody other than Barack Obama.
TED NUGENT: Correct. And so -- I know it's that middle ground, it's the moderates. We've already got the Second Amendment community. I hope we have the hunting community and conservation community. I hope we have the most productive community in America. But I will learn from, maybe the greatest articulator and believable and revered man in the history of individual freedoms, and that's Charlton Heston. And I know that's quite a leap going from the "Motor City Madman" to the supreme eloquence of Charlton Heston, but officially on Cam & Company right now today May 2, 2012, I vow to my fellow patriots that I will work hard to be as efficient and effective for that middle ground to understand the right to keep and bear arms and to gut the abuses in our federal agencies, including Fish and Wildlife and EPA and FDA and USDA etcetera etcetera ad nauseam. I will try to be more -- I hate the word moderate -- but effective to the moderates because they're the voting block we need to access.
Nugent's appearance on CBS was not, of course, the first time that the "Motor City Madman" had a rather immoderate meltdown.
In the fourth and final part of our series on the surge of right-wing extremist activity in the Flathead Valley region of Montana we look into the recent arrival of anti-government Patriot movement adherents, most notably Chuck Baldwin, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the most important figures in that growing movement.
God told Chuck Baldwin to move to Montana. Specifically, to Kalispell. God did this, according to Baldwin, sometime in the summer of 2010.
For 35 years Baldwin, a fundamentalist Christian, had lived and preached in Pensacola, Florida, railing in a syndicated column in recent years about U.N. gun control conspiracy theories, tyranny-minded globalists and FEMA internment camps.
Chuck Baldwin, a leader of the right-wing extremist
Baldwin is now one of the leading figures in the Patriot movement, which has grown explosively since the U.S. economic meltdown and election of President Obama in 2008. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, the number of Patriot groups in the country skyrocketed from 149 in 2008 to 824 in 2010. The SPLC describes such groups as comprised of "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.'"
Baldwin first aligned himself formally with the Patriot movement when he ran for Vice President on the far-right, anti-government Constitution Party ticket. After that his rhetoric, both from behind the pulpit and in his prolific writings, became increasingly militant and more concerned with gun rights and battling with globalists than with gay rights and the Rapture, previously his favorite topics.
Then in September 2010, Baldwin abruptly announced that he was pulling up stakes and moving to Kalispell along with his grown children and their spouses and homeschooled offspring.
At the time Baldwin and his brood of 17 resettled, unprecedented numbers of white supremacists were migrating to the region to support the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to establish a whites only homeland in northwest Montana. Baldwin's dire warnings of a looming epic battle between Patriots and "Big-Government globalists" in the U.S. mirrors in key ways longstanding white supremacist predictions of a war against ZOG, or Zionist Occupation Government.
"We believe America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm," Baldwin wrote in a September 2010 column titled, "Why We Are Moving to Montana."
This cataclysm, Baldwin wrote, "...will almost certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots. I would even argue that this fight has already started. And as this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive--at least in a state of freedom. And we believe that God has already put the love of liberty deep into the hearts of the people of the Mountain States; and we further believe that God is already calling (and will continue to call) many other freedom lovers to those states. One thing is for sure: we know He called us!"
The third part of our series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement details a series of recent threats made by longtime neo-Nazi organizer Karl Gharst. This section also provides background information on Gharst and other key PLE activists and reports on the Montana Creators, a PLE-allied branch of the neo-Nazi Creativity Movement whose members have repeatedly been spotted in recent months at gun shows near Kalispell, buying firearms while dressed in clothing displaying their group's neo-Nazi insignia.
Neo-Nazi Karl Gharst has declared Media Matters a
Media Matters for America is under indictment for treason to the white race. So is the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League and the Montana Human Rights Network.
This news arrived in a series of bizarre emails sent earlier this year over a six-week period by Karl Gharst, a neo-Nazi organizer who moved to Kalispell, MT as one of the of the most notorious members of the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which encourages white supremacists to form a community in the area. Gharst has a long history of making violent threats.
"I will see justice come to those who lay traps, slander and otherwise persecute good white people for exercising their God given rights," Gharst wrote in his email to Media Matters. "I promise!" Media Matters had previously contacted Gharst for comment on this series.
In the so-called grand jury ruling he emailed to Media Matters in late October, Gharst used arcane language typical of adherents to sovereign citizen ideology, a pseudo-legal system of beliefs, founded upon elaborate conspiracy theories, that is widely popular with members of the antigovernment Patriot movement as well as neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Sovereign citizens hold themselves above laws; typically the only legal authority they recognize is their own (illegitimate) common law jury system.
The Gharst email declared Media Matters and the other groups "Jewish criminal organizations" and "illegal operations of whom their intent and demonstrated actions are constitutional violations also violating the sovereignty of Montana by working against and contrary to the lawful and rightful citizens of the SState [sic] of Montana."
Gharst singled out by name and threatened several "agents" of Media Matters, the ACLU and an Alabama-based immigration rights organization, citing their "treason to the white race." "I and my appointed/sworn representatives will do all in my/our power...to ensure that [employees of Media Matters, ACLU and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama] are brought to justice at a time and place of our choosing."
In this second installment of our four-part series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to create a homeland for white supremacists in northwest Montana, we gauge the numbers of the PLE movement and examine its origins, strategies, and goals, which include promoting Holocaust denial.
Last month Media Matters e-mailed April Gaede, the spokeswoman for the Pioneer Little Europe movement, to ask whether she considered PLE a racist endeavor.
April Gaede, seen here during a 2005 interview with ABC, is urging
"Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white," she replied. "If a group of Jews wanted to move to an area that had a high concentration of Jews already, would that make them Jewish supremacists? If Blacks choose to associate and work with other Blacks to form a 'black racial community,' is that racist? Apparently only White people cannot work for the advancement of their race, while groups like La Raza are accepted as 'cultural groups.' What if the 14 words said 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for Native American children ' instead of 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for White children?' Would human rights activists call that racist?"
The "14 words" is a popular white nationalist slogan coined by David Lane, a member of the 1980s right-wing domestic terrorist group The Order. The group committed armed robberies, including a $3.6 million armored car heist, in part to fund the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, whose founder, Richard Butler, called for the mass migration of white supremacists to the northwestern United States after headquartering Aryan Nations in a northern Idaho compound in the 1970s. He branded the concept the Northwest Territorial Imperative. (Aryan Nations was crippled by a Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit in 2000; it has all but disintegrated since Butler's death in 2004.)
The current Flathead Valley-based PLE movement is the latest manifestation of the longstanding dream of white supremacists to carve out their very own piece of America. Gaede and other PLE activists targeted the Flathead Valley for some of the same demographic reasons Butler picked northern Idaho: historically its population is more than 95 percent white and politically conservative with a strong libertarian streak.
"Around here we have a live and let live mentality," says Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher. "That leads to some individuals with fringe beliefs finding refuge in the Flathead Valley."
In a four-part series released over the next two days, Media Matters will report on the recent influx of white supremacists and Patriot group members to the town of Kalispell, Montana, which has made the region the hottest flash point of right-wing extremism in the country.
At first glance the Pioneer Little Europe website seems like it could be the work of the Montana Office of Tourism. Photographs depict the rugged beauty of the Flathead Valley region near Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.
One image shows a young blond-haired girl playing in a meadow overlooking Kalispell, the largest town in the area, with a population around 20,000.
The site also features short news items about the Northwest Montana State Fair and a wildflower beautification program along with Kalispell job postings.
But then there's this: A scan of a full-page advertisement in a recent edition of the Flathead Beacon, the local paper, with photographs of 47 babies newly delivered in the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. All but one are fair-skinned with light-colored hair. "Wonderful white babies being born in Kalispell," the website reads. "What do the babies look like being born in your town?"
Pioneer Little Europe spokeswoman April Gaede's website asks,
Another item on the Pioneer Little Europe site depicts white families relaxing on the shore of a lake. A caption reads,"This is how white our beaches are, and I'm not talking about sand."
And that little girl in the meadow? Her name is Dresden Hale. That's Dresden for the German city firebombed by the Allied forces in World War II, and Hale for the 1990s leader of the neo-Nazi group World Church of the Creator, Matt Hale, who's doing 40 years in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
Dresden Hale is the youngest daughter of Kalispell resident and neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, the public face of the Pioneer Little Europe (PLE) movement. Launched in 2008, PLE invites "racially conscious" white Americans to relocate to the Flathead Valley to help create a heavily-armed Aryan homeland.
(Gaede's other two daughters, Lynx and Lamb, are identical twins who gained widespread media attention by performing neo-Nazi folk ballads as the musical act Prussian Blue. They have since renounced white supremacism.)
The PLE movement has brought dozens of white supremacists to the Flathead Valley. They are increasingly making their presence known by staging public events, openly recruiting and distributing racist literature, stocking up on firearms at area gun shows while dressed in neo-Nazi clothing, working for local anti-gun control and anti-abortion campaigns (according to Gaede), and issuing violent threats to perceived enemies, including Media Matters, which is now under "indictment" for treason to the white race.
The growing numbers of PLE white supremacists in the Flathead Valley parallels a recent influx to the area of ultra right-wing "Patriot" movement leaders and their followers. Their combined forces are rapidly transforming the region into the hottest flash point of right-wing extremism in the country.
Federal prosecutors in Alaska filed a motion Friday to deny bail to an officer of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia, a right-wing extremist sovereign citizens group, after she attempted to enter Canada in late October through a remote Yukon Territory border crossing.
Mary Ann Morgan, 53, was driving a truck containing virtually no personal effects but what prosecutors termed a "horde of documents" including detailed information on home-cooked explosives and ricin, an extremely lethal toxin derived from castor beans and weaponized using lye or solvent.
Prosecutors cited the fact that last week, four members of a militia group in Georgia were arrested for allegedly plotting to attack various government targets using ricin and explosives and said Morgan poses "risk to the public in general, law enforcement or the judiciary."
Also in the Chevy S-10 pick-up truck driven by Morgan was a .32 caliber Beretta handgun that Morgan, a convicted felon, is prohibited from possessing. Morgan was convicted in 2001 of Custodial Interference in the First Degree for violating a child custody agreement. Canadian law also bans private U.S. citizens from driving handguns across the border, and strictly prohibits the possession anywhere in Canada of easily concealable handguns including .32 caliber semi-automatics.
After discovering the handgun, Canadian Border Security Agency officers turned custody of Morgan over to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Alaska State Troopers. Morgan told Canadian border guards she was headed for a meeting about the U.S. Constitution being held in Montana, according to Canadian law enforcement sources in the Yukon Territory.
The motion identifies Morgan as secretary of the sovereign citizen Alaska Peacemaker Militia, part of a movement rooted in racism, anti-government extremism and bizarre conspiracy theories that is growing nationwide as part of an ongoing surge in right-wing militia activity.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "Sovereigns believe that they -- not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials -- get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes. Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials." The SPLC estimates there are currently about 100,000 hard-core sovereign citizen believers in the U.S.
Captain Bob Kolenda, director of the Kansas City Regional Terrorism Early Warning Group (KCTEW), confirmed in an interview with Media Matters that an analyst with his group warned more than a year ago of the potentially dangerous consequences of former Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh's novel Absolved.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the arrests of four Georgia men who were allegedly inspired by the book to plot terror attacks against federal employees and civilians. Kolenda, a 34-year veteran of the Overland Park Police Department, responded to the arrests by saying his group's analyst "hit the nail on the head" in highlighting Vanderboegh's novel.
Terrorism Early Warning Groups, also known as fusion centers, bring together local, state, and federal law enforcement as well as public and private organizations to share information and detect and deter terrorist threats. KCTEW has eight full-time employees, received funding from federal grants, and is supported by the Overland Park and Kansas City police departments.
Fox News has repeatedly featured Vanderboegh as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious in recent months, mainstreaming a former militia leader who once urged his readers to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices. Fox has yet to address their prior promotion of Vanderboegh in their reports on the alleged Georgia terror plot
In Vanderboegh's novel, which was self-published online, underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. In the introduction to Absolved, Vanderboegh calls the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry." According to the Justice Department, one of the alleged domestic terrorists repeatedly cited the novel as the inspiration for their plot.
In October 2010, an analyst for KCTEW produced a report warning that Vanderboegh's novel could inspire terrorist threats. The report detailed the book's plot, particularly its protagonists' "attacks on government facilities," highlighted Vanderboegh's history of extremism, and stated (emphasis added):
The stories told by Vanderboegh show that many in the U.S. harbor a belief that the U.S. government is planning, or will plan, a confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens. The degree to which he glorifies the killing of law enforcement personnel involved in fictional gun raids also shows the extent many will go to spread their ideology. Vanderboegh's and other works of literature have the possibility to inspire those with extremist beliefs to carry out similar attacks depicted in the writings.
Both the report and Kolenda stressed that possession of Vanderboegh's novel and membership in his extremist Three Percenters organization does not in and of itself indicate a propensity towards domestic terrorism. Nonetheless, Kolenda pointed out that the analyst produced the report because it was "his opinion that it could lead people to do things" of that nature.
Kolenda said that the report had been distributed to local law enforcement so that if they came across the book during their investigations, they would be informed as to its contents and author.
Media outlets are starting to notice the link between Fox News, Alabama-based blogger Mike Vanderboegh, and the alleged plot by four Georgia men to kill federal employees and civilians using explosives and the biological agent ricin.
By featuring him as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, Fox News has mainstreamed Vanderboegh, a former militia leader who urged his readers to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices . According to the criminal complaint against him, one of the alleged domestic terrorists repeatedly cited Vanderboegh's novel Absolved as the inspiration for their plot.
Absolved tells the story of underground militia fighters who declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. Vanderboegh has called the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry."
In a report published in The Boston Globe and on the websites of Yahoo News, CBS News, ABC News, and newspapers across the country, The Associated Press describes how Vanderboegh's novel allegedly inspired the terror plot and notes:
Last year, Vanderboegh was denounced for calling on citizens to throw bricks through the windows of local Democratic headquarters across the country to protest President Barack Obama's health care plan. Several such incidents occurred. Vanderboegh has also appeared as a commentator on Fox News Channel.
Likewise, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the alleged plot was "based on a novel by Fox News terrorism expert Mike Vanderboegh that detailed killing Justice Department attorneys."
As of yet, Fox has remained silent regarding their role in promoting Vanderboegh's views. After initial reports referenced Absolved but did not mention its author, Fox began noting that the book was authored by "the former leader of an Alabama militia" and flashing an image of the book onscreen, with Vanderboegh's name visible. Fox News figures have not spoken Vanderboegh's name on-air and certainly have not noted that he has previously appeared on their airwaves.
With the network's name being dragged through the mud through their connection to the Alabama extremist, it remains to be seen how long they can continue their silence.
Fox News is now actively concealing a link between an Alabama-based blogger repeatedly featured on the network as an expert and allegations of a domestic terrorist plot.
This morning on America's Newsroom, Fox News ran an extensive report on yesterday's arrest of four Georgia men accused of plotting an attack on federal employees and U.S. citizens using explosives, guns, and the biological toxin ricin. At the end of the segment, correspondent Jonathan Serrie pointed out that one of the defendants "allegedly cited the online novel Absolved, which discusses small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials," with the defendant allegedly "saying that the attacks would be based on events in that novel."
Charging documents indeed state that accused plotter Frederick Thomas repeatedly cited as an inspiration the novel Absolved, in which underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. But Fox's report neglected to mention the allegedly inspirational novel's author, who is no stranger to Fox viewers.
Indeed, the author, Mike Vanderboegh, has been mainstreamed by the network, which has repeatedly featured him as an expert on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious. Fox has identified Vanderboegh as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation," and has consistently failed to acknowledge his extremist views, actions, and affiliations.
Vanderboegh, a former member of the militia and Minuteman movements and now a leader of the "anti-government extremist group" the Three Percenters, which claims to represent the three percent of gun owners who "who will not disarm, will not compromise and will no longer back up at the passage of the next gun control act" but will instead, "if forced by any would-be oppressor, ... kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution."
The complaint against Thomas details a similar scenario:
THOMAS described a scenario in which he felt would be the "line in the sand" that would result in the activation of militias. THOMAS believed that soon, during a protest action, a protestor would be shot. It is his opinion the militias would act and respond by openly attacking the police. He then openly discussed having complied what he called the "Bucket List" which is a list of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he feels needed to be "taken out" to make the country right again."
Vanderboegh has stated that "another civil war in this country is the last thing I want,"writing in the introduction to Absolved that the novel is "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF," who "need to know how powerful" the "armed citizenry" "could truly be if they were pushed into a corner."
Fox News has repeatedly presented Vanderboegh as a credible source. Their failure to mention his authorship of a novel that allegedly inspired a terrorist plot is telling.
UPDATE: In a subsequent report, Fox's Serrie said that Absolved was written by "the former leader of an Alabama militia," and briefly flashed an image of the book's cover that showed Vanderboegh's name. Serrie did not note Vanderboegh's connection to Fox News.
Several earlier reports on Fox & Friends also did not reference Vanderboegh.
Four alleged members of a Georgia militia group were arrested yesterday relating to their alleged plot to kill numerous government officials. According to the complaint, one of the arrested repeatedly cited as the source of their plan the novel Absolved, authored by Fox News expert Mike Vanderboegh, the former militia member famous for urging his blog readers to hurl bricks through the windows of Democratic offices.
In Vanderboegh's novel, which was self-published online, underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. In the introduction to Absolved, Vanderboegh calls the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry."
The Alabama-based blogger was one of the first to report on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious. He has since promoted a variety of absurd conspiracy theories about the story.
In recent months, Fox News has mainstreamed Vanderboegh, treating him as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, featuring him in cable and online reports and identifying him as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation." Fox has not acknowledged Vanderboegh's extremist views, actions, and affiliations.
The self-proclaimed Toccoa, Georgia-based "covert group" was allegedly plotting to obtain explosives and silencers and to manufacture ricin, a biological agent. According to the complaint, the group planned to target for assassination numerous government officials, including judges and employees of the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service.
The complaint alleges that at an April meeting one of the accused, Frederick Thomas, said he "intended to model their actions on the plot of an online novel called Absolved":
THOMAS also explained to the others present that he intended to model their actions on the plot of an online novel called Absolved. The plot of Absolved involves small groups of citizens attacking United States federal law enforcement representatives and federal judges. THOMAS expressed his belief that they should consider a number of assassinations on various government officials, and he particularly expressed a desire to kill Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees.
The complaint also alleges that at a prior meeting, Thomas "mentioned a fictional novel he had read on-line in which an anti-government group killed a large number of federal Department of Justice attorneys, and then he stated, 'Now of course, that's just fiction, but that's a damn good idea.' " Thomas also allegedly linked his plan to Absolved during a June 9 meeting.
According to the complaint, in May, Thomas and a confidential government source traveled to Atlanta and "conducted surveillance" on ATF and IRS offices "to plan and assess for possible attacks," with Thomas discussing obtaining explosives and the best way to blow up the buildings. The complaints allege that from June through November, Thomas and defendant Dan Roberts negotiated the purchase of explosives from an undercover agent. The government also alleged that in October, the other two members of the group described to the confidential source plans to manufacture ricin and disburse it in U.S. cities.
Roberts' complaint describes the defendents as "members of a fringe group of a known militia organization, with the fringe group calling itself the 'covert group.' " According to FBI sources, the "known militia organization" is the Georgia Militia, a statewide militia with at least a dozen active chapters, or "battalions" according to its website. The Georgia Militia website identifies Toccoa resident Dan Roberts as both a "Captain" and the commanding officer of the Toccoa-based 440th Squad. Emails to address listed for Roberts were not immediately returned.
In a post to his blog yesterday evening, Vanderboegh linked to an article about the arrests, commenting, "Pretty geriatric 'militia.' What does ricin have to do with 'saving the Constitution'? The only idiots I ever heard interested in ricin were neoNazis."
For some time, the right-wing media has been attempting to brand Occupy Wall Street and related protests as anti-Semitic. In the latest example, conservative blogger Jim Hoft is pointing to video of heavily armed Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready patrolling the Occupy Phoenix protest and saying nice things about the movement.
Hoft sarcastically concludes, "Yup. They're just like the tea party."
It's worth pointing out that much of the rhetoric Ready spouts during the video -- decrying fiat money, saying that he and others were "exercising our Second Amendment right so that everybody can have a First Amendment right," claiming that Operation Fast and Furious was intended to "take away our rights" and the perpetrators are traitors who should be put to death -- sounds much more like the rhetoric of a conservative protestor than an OWS supporter.
And indeed, that's the problem for Hoft: Ready previously attended and reportedly spoke at Tea Party rallies.
J.T. Ready is not the only white supremacist figure to seek access to the Tea Party. American Third Position, a white nationalist political party founded by racist skinheads, have organized, co-sponsored, or freely distributed literature at no fewer than 10 Tea Party rallies in six states. The group has openly claimed that they see the Tea Party as "fertile ground" for recruitment.
A white supremacist couple accused of committing four murders in a two-week crime spree across three states were on their way to Sacramento, California to "kill more Jews" when they were arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer last week, according to law enforcement investigators.
The alleged victims of David "Joey" Pedersen, 31, and his 24-year-old girlfriend Holly Ann Grigsby include Reginald Alan Clark, a 53-year-old African-American man apparently targeted at random and shot to death in his pickup truck in Eureka, California. Pedersen referred to Clark in a recent jailhouse interview as a "dead Negro."
The pair also gunned down 19-year-old Cody Myers in Lincoln County, Oregon because his last name "made them think he was Jewish," Grigsby reportedly told authorities. Myers was a devout Christian.
According to court filings, Pedersen and Grigsby have admitted killing Clark and Myers as well as Pedersen's father and stepmother, who were slain September 28 in Everett, Washington. Pedersen has since claimed that Grigsby had "nothing to do with" the murders and that he had held her against her will; according to the charging documents Pedersen had written Grigsby a note in jail promising to take the blame for their alleged crimes.
Both alleged killers have long criminal records. Grigsby has five past felony convictions for identity theft and stealing cars. In May Pedersen was released from prison after serving seven years for assaulting a police officer, his third felony conviction. In 2001 he was convicted of threatening the life of a federal judge in Idaho.
In March 2010, right-wing blogger Mike Vanderboegh made headlines across the country after he urged his followers to respond to health care reform by breaking the windows of Democratic offices and then took credit after it actually happened.
Eighteen months later, Fox News has repeatedly featured the former militia and Minuteman leader as an "authority" on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious.
In January, Vanderboegh was among the first to break the story that ATF agents had knowingly allowed gun trafficking suspects to take weapons across the border into Mexico. According to Republican congressional investigators, the operation was intended to allow law enforcement to identify other members of the trafficking network that for years has directed assault weapons into the hands of Mexican cartels, with the goal of bringing those cartels down.
But according to Vanderboegh, the failed operation was actually part of a secret plot against the Second Amendment directed from the highest levels of government (a theory Fox News itself has at times promoted). He has also pushed bizarre theories linking the program to Hillary Clinton not running for President and to the so-called "Cloward-Piven strategy."
Vanderboegh has been featured in two packaged reports by Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse, the most recent of which aired on September 27; the blogger was also cited by the correspondent in a FoxNews.com article earlier this month. Fox has identified Vanderboegh as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation," leaving his extremist past, use of violent rhetoric, and propensity for conspiracy theories unmentioned.
Vanderboegh's extremism is no secret; he was the subject of an 1100-word, front-page Washington Post profile after he responded to the passage of health care reform by writing a blog post headlined: "To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW." In the post, he urged his readers that "if you wish to send a message that [then-Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows." As the Post reported in their profile of the former militiaman, "In the days that followed, glass windows and doors were shattered at local Democratic Party offices and the district offices of House Democrats from Arizona to Kansas to New York."
The Post found Vanderboegh "unapologetic," reporting that he told them "he believes throwing bricks through windows sends a warning to Democratic lawmakers that the health-care reform legislation they passed Sunday has caused so much unrest that it could result in a civil war." Asked about an incident in which a brick was hurled into the glass doors of a Democratic office in Rochester, NY, Vanderboegh said, "I guess that guy's one of ours. ... Glad to know people read my blog."
After the Post profile, Vanderboegh drew fire from the left, right, and center. MSNBC's Ed Schultz described him a "whacko," while colleague Rachel Maddow pointed to how Vanderboegh's "efforts to inspire violent action around the country [are] apparently derived from his belief that he leads millions of people who think the same things he does." Jonah Goldberg called him an "idiot" and a "buffoon" whose behavior "is simply wrong, reprehensible, and childish." The Daily Beast's John Avlon wrote that the "parallels, intentional or not, to the Nazis' heinous 1938 kristallnacht ... are hard to ignore."
Kevin William Harpham, a Washington State resident with long-standing ties to the white supremacist movement, pled guilty today in connection with the attempted Martin Luther King Day parade bombing in Spokane last January.
According to the Justice Department press release announcing the plea:
On March 9, 2011, Harpham was arrested and charged by complaint with the crimes of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive device. Today, Harpham pleaded guilty to two counts of a superseding indictment, charging Harpham with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempt to commit a federal hate crime. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March was attended by hundreds of individuals, including racial minorities. The explosive device placed by Harpham was capable of inflicting serious injury or death, according to laboratory analysis conducted by the FBI.
The backpack bomb planted by Harpham along the parade route contained shrapnel dipped in rat poison, and was discovered minutes before parade marchers arrived.
Harpham's plea agreement calls for a sentence of 27 to 32 years in prison and for lifetime court supervision following his release.
In March, we reported on Harpham's white supremacist ties:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Harpham was a member of the National Alliance, an infamous neo-Nazi organization, in late 2004. It's not clear when he joined the National Alliance or whether he's still a card-carrying member.
But an individual identifying himself as Kevin Harpham, who says he's a neo-Nazi who lives near Spokane, has been active on the crudely racist, anti-Semitic website Vanguard News Network since joining the online forum in November 2004.
Since then, Harpham has posted 1,069 comments to VNN using the moniker Joe Snuffy, slang for a low-ranking U.S. soldier. (Kevin William Harpham was apparently in the army in 1996-1997 and was based at Fort Lewis, Wash., the Southern Poverty Law Center reported earlier today.)
Harpham last posted to VNN on January 16, the day before the attempted MLK Day parade bombing.
Harpham is part of a wave of right-wing domestic terrorist plots in recent years, many conducted by similar "lone wolves."