Friday, March 06, 2009

Will ex-military 'Patriots' form a more dangerous kind of militias?

[H/t Sara for the video.]

-- by Dave

One of the more disturbing trends we've been observing is the return of far-right "Patriot" rhetoric about government oppression with the election of President Obama. Fueled in no small part by mainstream right-wing talkers proclaiming we're headed into "socialism" -- not to mention a "radical communist" who must be "stopped" or else America will "cease to exist" -- the overheated rhetoric has been gradually getting higher in volume, intensity, and frequency with each passing week.

The initial concern that this raises is the possibility of a new wave of citizen militias, particularly when you have mainstream pundits like Glenn Beck out there helping to promote the concept. As Glenn Greenwald observed, the "Patriots" are back with a vengeance.

At least for the time being, however, there isn't any evidence of new militias forming, though we may see numbers growing within the coming months within existing units, particularly as Fox News and radio pundits start fueling right-wing anxieties.

However, we are starting to see a trend that's even more disturbing: Military veterans voicing Patriot-movement beliefs, including threats of violent resistance to the Obama administration.

One of them made the news recently:

A federal grand jury indicted a former Camp Lejeune Marine on Wednesday on charges that he threatened the life of Barack Obama, the U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed today.

Kody Brittingham, 20, formerly a lance corporal with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, was accused of making threats against Obama while he was president-elect, said Robin Zier, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the eastern district of North Carolina.

Brittingham was arrested by the Jacksonville Police Department on breaking and entering charges in mid-December 2008.

Naval investigators discovered a journal allegedly written by Brittingham in his barracks after his arrest by civilian authorities in December. The journal contained plans on how to kill the president, as well as white supremacist material, a federal law enforcement official said.

This is an example of why I've called the Iraq War "the Timothy McVeigh Finishing School": Inevitably, there are going to be competent killers either joining the far right from our military ranks -- especially if they've been recruited into those beliefs either before or during their service -- or enacting far-right "lone wolf scenarios," and they are going to have the ability to wreak a great deal of havoc.

Another vivid example is the above video, in which an anonymous "Marine" not only urges that citizen militias form to resist any new gun laws and possibly taxation, but also promises them that "there is a resistance" within the military as well.

Note also that the video opens with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Of course, this was the inscription on the T-shirt worn by Timothy McVeigh (picture here) at the time of his arrest for the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Remember, too, that there have already been concerns raised about the infiltration of neo-Nazis into the ranks of the military. If Patriot-movement beliefs -- which are only a few degrees removed from neo-Nazi beliefs anyway -- have become somewhat common in the ranks of the military, then the concerns raised then by the FBI hold true in this situation as well:

Military experience—ranging from failure at basic training to success in special operations forces—is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement. FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color.

... The prestige which the extremist movement bestows upon members with military experience grants them the potential for influence beyond their numbers. Most extremist groups have some members with military experience, and those with military experience often hold positions of authority within the groups to which they belong.

... Military experience—often regardless of its length or type—distinguishes one within the extremist movement. While those with military backgrounds constitute a small percentage of white supremacist extremists, FBI investigations indicate they frequently have higher profiles within the movement, including recruitment and leadership roles.

Reading the comments to the above Marine's video, you can see that he's not an isolated case:

This Marine is right on. Those now in power in Washington are hell-bent on destroying America and The Constitution. The Marine is right, America is a Republic, NOT a democracy, and what he says about laws that infringe on the 2nd Amendment is right. Any law that 'infringes' on the right to keep and bear arms is unconstitutional. This Marine is a patriot. Those that disagree with him, you know where the border is.

You only wish that's what he was. Everything he said int hat video is true. And if you weren't so blind to what is going on right now, ie. the government wanting to nationalize the banking systems, wanting to increase gun laws...not that there aren't over 20k already on the books, I could continue. The American people aren't free anymore, they just have a false sense of freedom, given to them to keep them complacent and happy as they go about their daily lives...but soon that will end.

I believe there is a mountain of truth to this video. Everyone I know is stocking up on guns/ammo/food. I was in the military and I think most servicemembers feel the same as him. They took the oath to protect and defend the constituion against all enemies foreign and domestic. Most military members are very patriotic and attuned to what is going on. When I was in, most everyone hated Clinton. I can only imagine what they feel toward Obama and the Congress.

The context in which this is bubbling up is perhaps the most troubling. We're seeing an increase in hate-group activity nationally. Much of the animus is directed at President Obama (see, for instance the "Birthers" -- led by Alan Keyes and his compatriots), and much of it is more generically directed at liberals and immigrants.

In any event, it isn't long after right-wingers name their "enemies" that we start seeing violence directed their way. And the most dangerous potential for this lies with the young men we've just spent years training how to kill.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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