In a November 6 post titled "Vote," ex-militia blogger and Fox News guest Mike Vanderboegh wrote, "At least later on you can say you tried everything else before you were forced to shoot people in righteous self-defense of life and liberty."
Vanderboegh, one of the self-proclaimed "midwives" covering the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Operation Fast and Furious "because nobody else would touch it," has repeatedly appeared on Fox News over the past two years to discuss the failed gun trafficking sting. Setting aside his use of violent rhetoric and threats of armed insurrection against the United States government, Fox News promoted Vanderboegh as an "authority" on the topic.
In the wake of the passage of healthcare reform in March 2010, Vanderboegh received national exposure after telling 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." According to The Washington Post, "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." Vanderboegh was unrepentant, telling the Post, "Glad to know people read my blog."
According to federal prosecutors, the plot of Vanderboegh's novel Absolved inspired four members of a Georgia militia to attempt to obtain explosives and manufacture ricin, a biological agent, as part of a plan to assassinate government officials. In Absolved, a deadly shootout between a man who has stockpiled weapons and law enforcement inspires a group of anti-government extremists to devise a widespread assassination campaign against government officials. In its introduction, Vanderboegh described the book as "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."
An investigation on shooting rampages by Mother Jones could not identify a single mass public shooting that was ended by an armed civilian, a violence prevention strategy that remains popular in right-wing media. In two instances, however, armed individuals who attempted to stop a shooting were wounded or killed. Mother Jones also deduced that successful attempts by armed civilians to stop public shootings in general, not just those incidents involving mass casualties, were rare.
The analysis conducted by Mother Jones, which examined 60 public shootings that have occurred in the United States over the last 30 years, stands in sharp contrast to baseless conjecture by members of the right-wing media that the solution to prevent mass shootings is a greater number of people armed in public.
More broadly, attempts by armed civilians to stop shooting rampages are rare -- and successful ones even rarer. There were two school shootings in the late 1990s, in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, in which bystanders with guns ultimately subdued the teen perpetrators, but in both cases it was after the shooting had subsided. Other cases led to tragic results. In 2005, as a rampage unfolded inside a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington, a civilian named Brendan McKown confronted the assailant with a licensed handgun he was carrying. The assailant pumped several bullets into McKown and wounded six people before eventually surrendering to police after a hostage standoff. (A comatose McKown eventually recovered after weeks in the hospital.) In Tyler, Texas, that same year, a civilian named Mark Wilson fired his licensed handgun at a man on a rampage at the county courthouse. Wilson--who was a firearms instructor--was shot dead by the body-armored assailant, who wielded an AK-47. (None of these cases were included in our mass shootings data set because fewer than four victims died in each.)
Appeals to heroism on this subject abound. So does misleading information. Gun rights die-hards frequently credit the end of a rampage in 2002 at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia to armed "students" who intervened--while failing to disclose that those students were also current and former law enforcement officers, and that the killer, according to police investigators, was out of ammo by the time they got to him. [emphasis added]
Mother Jones noted that 2012 is already a record year for mass public shootings in terms of the number of killed and injured. The right-wing media's response to each of this year's mass shootings has been the same: "If only more people would have been armed, it would have been prevented."
But even setting aside the fact that the United States already has the most heavily armed private citizenry in the world, and that laws allowing the concealed carrying of firearms in public are increasingly permissive and widespread, the bottom line is that there is no data to support the right-wing media's armed citizen theory.
Fox News reported Thursday that "two pro-gun advocates who reported extensively on the Fast and Furious scandal" have filed a complaint against Attorney General Eric Holder with the District of Columbia's Office of Bar Counsel. Somehow the network never got around to mentioning that one of those "advocates" is Mike Vanderboegh, the ex-militia blogger infamous for urging his readers to commit vandalism against Democrats and for inspiring an alleged terrorist plot to kill federal employees.
Last year, Fox News featured Vanderboegh in two separate reports on Fast and Furious, identifying him as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation." The network did not disclose Vanderboegh's past ties to the militia and Minuteman movements, history of conspiratorial rantings, or the fact that he made headlines in 2010 for telling his readers to respond to the passage of health care reform by breaking the windows of Democratic offices, then took credit after that occurred.
Fox ceased to cite Vanderboegh on-air after prosecutors in Georgia said that one of four alleged members of a militia group in that state had repeatedly cited Vanderboegh's novel Absolved as the source of their alleged plot to kill numerous government officials. 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 June, Vanderboegh predicted that if health care reform were found to be constitutional, it would trigger a violent insurrection against "government tyranny," stating, "You may call tyranny a mandate or you may call it a tax, but it still is tyranny and invites the same response."
But Fox correspondent William La Jeunesse included none of this context in passing on Vanderboegh's allegations on Happening Now:
Mike Vanderboegh, the ex-militia blogger who calls himself one of the "midwives" of the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, recently predicted that if the Supreme Court declared the health care reform bill to be constitutional, it would lead to violent insurrection against "government tyranny."
The blogger posted the statements, which come from a recent unpublished interview, the same day the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over his unwillingness to release documents related to Fast and Furious.
In the excerpts Vanderboegh posted on his blog "which deal with the decision today," he says of a then-potential decision upholding the health care law, "You may call tyranny a mandate or you may call it a tax, but it still is tyranny and invites the same response." He further predicts the response of his ilk: "If we refuse to obey, we will be fined. If we refuse to pay the fine, we will in time be jailed. If we refuse to report meekly to jail, we will be sent for by armed men. And if we refuse their violent invitation at the doorsteps of our own homes we will be killed -- unless we kill them first. ... I am on record as advocating the right of defensive violence against a tyrannical regime."
Vanderboegh gained fame in 2010 when he urged his readers to respond to the passage of health care reform by breaking the windows of Democratic offices, then took credit after vandals struck several such offices. The Alabama-based blogger has previously been part of the militia and Minuteman movements, and leads the Three Percenters, a group 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."
Vanderboegh was one of the first to break the story that ATF whistleblowers said that they had been ordered to knowingly allow gun trafficking suspects to take weapons across the border into Mexico. 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. He has said that he and a fellow blogger were the "midwives of the scandal" who introduced the whistleblowers to congressional investigators. He has theorized that the operation was part of a secret plot against the Second Amendment directed from the highest levels of government.
Last year Fox repeatedly hosted Vanderboegh on their air to provide expert commentary on the story. Then in November, four Georgia men were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kill federal employees and civilians using explosives and the biological agent ricin. According to the criminal complaint against him, one of the alleged domestic terrorists repeatedly cited Vanderboegh'snovel Absolved as the inspiration for their plot. Media subsequently noted that Vanderboegh had, in the words of the Associated Press, "appeared as a commentator on Fox News Channel." He has not done so since.
From the June 20 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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"RED ALERT: Deputy A.G. behind 'Fast and Furious' met with President Obama four times during the height of the operation" read the headline to a post in Doug Ross's DirectorBlue blog on Monday. The post then proceeds to weave a narrative suggesting President Obama was repeatedly meeting with a Department of Justice official "keenly aware" of the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious at "the height" of the operation.
Sipsy Steet Irregulars conspiracist Mike Vanderbough, quickly picked up Ross' post, asking "Well, well, well. What do you know about this, Mr. President?" Surely the intrepid journalists at Daily Caller cannot be far behind.
As underwhelming as it is to establish that a series of "meetings" happened without a bit of information about what was discussed, Ross doesn't even get the facts straight on that. A closer look -- scrolling right -- at the White House Visitor Records data Ross is citing strongly suggests he's established nothing more than Grindler's attendance at speeches and events at the White House where between one hundred and several thousand other people were present. Looks like it's to time to cancel the draft impeachment articles.
Ross' big find is that Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler is listed in the White House visitor log records that were recently released as having visited Obama -- "POTUS" -- four times. Grindler received a briefing on the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious and although the documents related to the briefing did not mention the controversial "gun walking" tactics and the Department of Justice has said the briefing did not include "the operational tactics that have since raised concerns" it was enough for Ross to posit that Grindler "was keenly aware of all aspects of Fast and Furious." Ross:
Item 3: Newly released White House Visitor Logs list Grindler as having visited the White House 40 times, but only four times with the President himself. All four meetings with the President occurred over a two-week period, between 7 May 2010 and 19 May 2010.
According to The Los Angeles Times, these dates just so happened to represent the run-up to "the height of [Operation] Fast and Furious":
Ross concludes: "So my question is this: What did President Obama know -- and when did he know it?"
Looking at the complete visitor log entries the whole thing falls apart instantly. The four meetings appear to actually be three visits to attend heavily-reported public or diplomatic events where many, many other people were present.
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.
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."
I suppose it was inevitable.
For months, right-wing bloggers have been linking the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious to a wide array of increasingly ridiculous conspiracy theories. The operation itself was a failed attempt to take down Mexican cartels that certainly deserves (and is receiving) scrutiny after many guns involved in the program ended up at crime scenes, but the right-wing media's preference for wild theories over solid facts has gotten well out of hand.
Now, they've decided that the "ultimate goal" behind the program was to -- try not to laugh -- collapse the system as part of the "Cloward-Piven strategy" and initiate a "coup de d'état." You may recall "Cloward-Piven" as the Glenn Beck-pushed conspiracy which claims that the motive force of the last forty years of progressive policy is an article written by two obscure college professors that calls for "collapsing the system" by overloading government services in order to implement new policies. After Beck repeatedly devoted his programs to attacking the surviving professor, Francis Fox Piven, she began receiving death threats.
What does that have to do with a failed operation aimed at stopping Mexican drug cartels? Pajamas Media blogger Bob Owens provides the following "speculation" (emphasis added):
Gunwalker purposefully increases social unrest (increased gun violence/destabilizing Mexico), with the possible result of overloading the U.S. public welfare system (more illegal aliens fleeing the violence in Mexico and Central America). Gunwalker's perpetrators could then use that influx to create an insurmountable constituency of poor seeking handouts from the Democratic Party. The hope of the strategy is to force a system-wide collapse of the current system, and then to rebuild the government in a variant of the strongest socialist model they think the public will accept.
Operation Fast and Furious doesn't make sense as a anti-cartel operation, but it makes perfect tactical sense as a way of implementing Cloward-Piven, something that President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Secretary Napolitano, and Secretary Clinton have long embraced as followers of those radicals and Saul Alinsky. Gunwalker is the start of a coup d'état against the republic by the very souls entrusted to guard it.
The idea that the Obama administration wants dramatically increased illegal immigration in order "force a system-wide collapse of the current system" is, of course, at odds with their record of increasing deportations and reducing illegal immigration.
(As an aside, it's interesting that Owens now has a problem with "a coup d'état against the republic," given that he previously called armed revolution the "morally-required alternative" if other efforts to repeal health care reform fail.
Fast and Furious blogger Mike Vanderboegh, who thinks that if Hillary Clinton doesn't run for president again it must be because "she's got some dirty Gunwalker underwear she doesn't want outed in public," is also highlighting Owens' conclusions.
It's almost as if these people are desperate to not be taken seriously. But that's pretty much par for the course for the right-wing media.
It's a shame that Owens is just teasing us with the reference to how Obama, Holder, Napolitano, and Clinton are "followers of... Saul Alinsky." I was looking forward to a detailed explanation of the Alinskyite tactics.