October 6, 2022

HIDDEN THREAT: New list shows police, politicians, & military as Oath Keepers members

HIDDEN THREAT: New list shows police, politicians, & military as Oath Keepers members

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With Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes currently incarcerated and awaiting trial on charges of seditious conspiracyrelated to his actions during the January 6th insurrection, membership in the right-wing militia is seeming less like a badge of misguided patriotism and more like belonging to a criminal street gang with a propensity for lawlessness and violence.

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It’s no wonder that so many people are upset right now after the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism found on a leaked Oath Keepers membership list the names of more than 370 people who currently work as police, sheriffs, or other law enforcement officials, as well as more than 100 people who are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Equally frightening are the more than 80 people on the Oath Keeper membership list who are either currently serving in — or running for — an elected political office.

The list that the ADL analyzed came from a “transparency collective” calling itself Distributed Denial of Secrets, a non-profit whistleblower site for news leaks founded in 2018, that is considered by some to be a successor organization to Wikileaks.

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The discovery of so many military and law enforcement personnel affiliated with the Oath Keepers has raised concerns about the divided loyalties of people who are ostensibly tasked with protecting the rule of law but have sworn an oath to an insurrectionist militia.

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“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the ADL’s report says.

According to The Associated Press:

“Appearing in the Oath Keepers’ database doesn’t prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or shares its ideology. Some people on the list contacted by The Associated Press said they were briefly members years ago and are no longer affiliated with the group. Some said they were never dues-paying members.”

“’Their views are far too extreme for me,’ said Shawn Mobley, sheriff of Otero County, Colorado. Mobley told the AP in an email that he distanced himself from the Oath Keepers years ago over concerns about its involvement in the standoff against the federal government at Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, among other things.”

Still, membership in an organization that has always promoted the belief that the federal government is out to rip civil liberties from its citizens — and portrays itself as the last bastion against tyranny — requires anyone who signed up to join the group to have a mindset that is anti-thetical to non-violent democracy.

And with more than two dozen members of the Oath Keepers militia facing criminal charges related to the January 6th insurrection, politicians whose names were found on the list are back peddling furiously.

Take South Dakota state Rep. Phil Jensen, for instance. Jensen “told the AP he paid for a one-year membership in 2014 but never received any Oath Keepers’ literature, attended any meetings or renewed his membership,” the news organization reported.
Jensen says he joined the Oath Keepers because he “believed in the oath that we took to support the US Constitution and to defend it against enemies foreign and domestic.” Still, although he says he’s severed ties to the group, he still refuses to condemn them, likely fearing blowback from the MAGA supporters in his district.
“Back in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group, I can’t speak to them now,” Jensen told The Associated Press.”
The AP also spoke with some of the police chiefs and sheriffs whose names appeared in the ADL’s analysis. All of them also said that they had severed ties with the group.
Nevertheless, their initial participation with the seditious militia makes their continued supervisory roles in law enforcement suspect in today’s polarized political climate.
Perhaps it’s time to remind each of these Oath Keepers who’ve ostensibly renounced their memberships of their more important oath: to defend the Constitution and our American democracy.
Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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