Militant group’s recruiting of soldiers worries watchdogs
Acosta: Obama ‘inherited’ civil liberties problems from Bush
A quickly-growing right-wing group that recruits serving soldiers and police officers and encourages members not to obey presidential orders has some watchdogs worried.
The Oath Keepers, founded earlier this year by a former staffer for congressman Ron Paul, say they aren’t a militia group like the many others sprouting up around the country, because they don’t need to be — their recruits are already members of the armed forces or law enforcement agencies, says a report from CNN.
CNN’s Jim Acosta reports that inductees to the group swear an oath of allegiance to the US Constitution that is modeled after the oath given to military recruits, but omits one key phrase: “I will obey the orders of the president of the United States.”
“Our role is not to be obedient to whoever happens to be the leader, our role is to defend the Constitution and the republic,” Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, a former army paratrooper and staffer for famed libertarian Ron Paul, told CNN.
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said the group is exploiting Internet rumors about plans for “concentration camps” for US citizens and speculation about gun control measures to recruit new members.
“Many of the Oath Keepers are people who believe that martial law is about to be declared at any moment, it’s right around the corner,” Potok said.
The group’s Web site lists 10 “orders we will not obey.” Some of the orders are things that are likely to make both libertarians and liberal critics of the Bush administration happy, such as “we will not obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people,” and “we will not obey orders to detain American citizens as ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ or to subject them to military tribunal.”
But other assertions betray a belief in questionable rumors circulating around right-wing corners of the Internet about FEMA concentration camps for US citizens or plans to radically expand the US government’s control over citizens’ lives.
“We will not obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state,” reads one statement, while another declares, “we will not obey orders to impose martial law or a ‘state of emergency’ on a state.”
ACOSTA: OBAMA ‘INHERITED’ CIVIL RIGHTS CONCERNS
CNN’s Acosta argued that President Obama’s problems with groups worried about civil liberties were first seeded by the Bush administration, which was heavily criticized by many on both sides of the political aisle for clawing back civil liberties.
“President Obama seems to have inherited some issues from the Bush administration that many libertarians, many folks in this so-called Patriot Movement don’t like,” Acosta said. “Things like the bailout, things like the Patriot Act. So in many ways President Obama is inheriting problems with these groups that he got from the Bush administration.”
Acosta also said that the group’s strategy of recruiting soldiers may “vindicate” a report from the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year that warned “right wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans.”
That report inflamed Oath Keepers founder Rhodes.
“They’re considered heroes, but when they come home, now they’re considered potential terrorists,” he said in a speech earlier this year.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors right-wing extremist groups in the US, recently stated that some 100 new “Patriot movement” groups have sprouted up around the country since President Obama took the oath of office. In an August report, the group said the Oath Keepers “may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival” because of the fact its members are currently-serving members of police forces and the military.