INSECURITY: Explosive new report exposes quisling infestation within this federal agency

INSECURITY: Explosive new report exposes quisling infestation within this federal agency

A new report delves into the connections between the Oath Keepers extremist group and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, discovering that hundreds of individuals have connections to both — a matter of particular concern as the leader of the militia group has been convicted of seditious conspiracy charges.

The Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), working together with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) obtained a roster of dues-paying Oath Keepers members and learned that more than 300 were in some way affiliated with DHS or related entities.

That’s a lot of Oath Keepers in positions to recruit and spread propaganda or to access delicate information and high-level training.

A large number of these are individuals who formerly served in the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Others are former or current DHS employees.

Of course, the Oath Keepers specifically seek to recruit from positions of power and law enforcement — they like to rope in police, military, first responders, and others who have, as the name suggests, sworn oaths to defend the Constitution.

The issue that arises is in their interpretation of that oath — and what actions they define as ‘defending’ — as the group’s participation in the January 6th attack makes clear.

The OCCRP’s report involves files that were “spirited away by a former member of the group’s inner circle,” and included financial information (including details about $750k income in membership dues alone) as well as the membership rosters.

It also details efforts to reach out to members listed, some of whom have since distanced themselves from the extremist group, and others who still expressed support.

On the current concern, the OCCRP explained:

“The new findings are significant because they come as the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security have each set up working groups in an effort to root out extremism within their ranks. The Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the Capitol building furthered fears about insider threats posed by federal law enforcement and military personnel belonging to extremist groups like the Oath Keepers.”

The report suggests the government is catching up to concerns that have been voiced by extremist watchdogs for some time.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for instance, warned in 2020, before the Capitol attack:

“The number of active duty police and military personnel who have publicly admitted to being Oath Keepers is very small; the number of closeted members may be larger. The Oath Keepers have had more success in recruiting former military personnel, which is a much larger pool to draw from; many Oath Keepers speak of past military service.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, too, has warned of the group’s extremism for years.

Their simple analysis of the militia group’s mission is as follows:

“The name Oath Keepers comes from the group’s core principle – that members vow to uphold the oath they took as law enforcement or military personnel – to ‘support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ The Oath Keepers urge members to obey the Constitution, as they understand it, even if that interpretation goes against that of U.S. lawmakers and judges.”

The conviction of founder Stewart Rhodes and others on charges stemming from January 6th, though, seems to be jarring the government into more formal recognition of the danger of Oath Keepers in the ranks.

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.