Introduction: E. Stewart Rhodes is the founder and President of the growing, national non-profit organization Oath Keepers. The group supports members (current and former U.S. military and law enforcement) in efforts to uphold the Constitution of the United States should they be ordered to violate it. The Oath Keepers' motto is "Not On Our Watch!" Both sides of his family have a long tradition of military service. Nearly all of his uncles on both sides of the family served in the Army or Marine Corps during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and his father served as a Marine. After the Army, Stewart graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where his honor thesis focused on the political theory of James Madison. After college he worked on Rep. Ron Paul's (R, TX) DC staff. Stewart graduated from Yale Law School in 2004, where his paper, "Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status" won Yale's Judge William E. Miller Prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights.
Daily Bell: Give us something about your background. Where did you grow up and go to school?
Stewart Rhodes: I grew up partly in California, where my mother's side of the family were migrant farm workers, and partly in Nevada. After my service in the Army I worked as a professional sculptor and firearms instructor in Las Vegas, and I attended UNLV. I then worked for Congressman Ron Paul and then attended Yale Law School.
Daily Bell: You served as a U.S. Army paratrooper until disabled in a rough terrain parachuting accident during a night jump. What happened to you? Why did you join the US army?
Stewart Rhodes: I joined the Army right out of high school because I felt it was my civic duty to serve my country. My family has a long history of military service, and I followed in those footsteps. I served as an airborne reconnaissance scout until my accident. We were doing the same kind of parachuting that smoke jumpers do, which means jumping into tall trees intentionally while wearing a Kevlar suit and steel helmet, and then rappelling down on a rope. Smoke jumpers practice that so they can go where the fires are, right into deep forest. We airborne scouts did it so we could parachute into areas where the enemy would not expect paratroopers to land. It all went famously during daylight, and we did several successful jumps, but when we tried it at night … not so much. 😉 It was hard to hit the treetops in the dark, and several of us landed on the sides of the trees. My chute tore loose from the branches before I could rappel down and I fell about seventy feet. I ended up with a fused spine and a couple of steel rods in my back. Still, I have no regrets. Army Airborne made me the man I am today (to paraphrase a line from Starship Troopers). All kidding aside, my experiences in the Army did shape my mindset. Frankly, my parachuting accident was the second time I came close to dying while in service, and by all rights I shouldn't still be here, so for me this is bonus time – which makes it difficult for my enemies to intimidate me.
Daily Bell: When did you join Rep. Ron Paul's DC staff?
Stewart Rhodes: Right after I graduated college in 1998. I wanted to work in DC for a year before attending law school, but I wanted to work for an honorable man, who took his oath to the Constitution seriously. Congressman Paul was the obvious choice. He is beyond a doubt the most honorable man in Washington DC. I consider it a great stroke of good fortune and an honor to have been able to work for him even for just a year.
Daily Bell: You won a prize for the paper "Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status" at Yale. What was that about?
Stewart Rhodes: My 2004 paper (available at oathkeepers.org) addressed the dangerous and unconstitutional Bush Administration claims that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, can have anyone, even American citizens, black bagged and held in military detention and then, if he so chooses, tried by a military tribunal (made up of his hand-picked officers) and executed. Such a practice is a direct violation not just of the right to Grand Jury indictment and jury trial under our Bill of Rights, but also violates the Article III Treason Clause, which very clearly mandates what must be done with Americans accused of making war against their own nation or of aiding the enemy in wartime – they must be tried for treason, in an Article III court, before a jury of their peers, and there must be two witnesses to the overt act or confession in open court before the accused can be convicted and executed. The Bush Administration claimed that the powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief trumped the Bill of Rights, and his lawyers willfully sidestepped the Treason Clause.
Until Bush, only two other presidents in our history, Lincoln and FDR, claimed such a power. My paper compared the executive orders and actions of Lincoln, FDR, and Bush, to show how similar they were. Lincoln detained over 13,000 Northern civilians in military brigs, and had over 4,000 of those tried by military tribunals that answered only to him. Some of those tried by tribunal were then executed. Thankfully, the Supreme Court stuffed the "martial law genie" back into the bottle by ruling Lincoln's actions unconstitutional in Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866). In that case, the Lincoln Administration lawyers had this to say of the Bill of Rights:
These, in truth, are all peace provisions of the Constitution and, like all other conventional and legislative laws and enactments, are silent amidst arms, and when the safety of the people becomes the supreme law. By the Constitution, as originally adopted, no limitations were put upon the war-making and war-conducting powers of Congress and the President.
The Milligan Court rejected that argument in the strongest of terms, stating that "[n]o doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of [the Constitution's] provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government." But then FDR opened the martial law bottle back up when he made similar claims of absolute power. Not only did FDR detain over 100,000 Japanese-American citizens in military detention camps by Executive Order with no due process whatsoever, he also claimed the power to try citizens before his hand-picked military tribunal, and he did just that with one German saboteur who claimed to be a citizen. Unfortunately, the New Deal Supreme Court ruled that military trial of a citizen "constitutional" in Ex Parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942).
It is that Quirin precedent from 1942 that laid around "like a loaded gun" until it was picked up by the Bush Administration and used to construct the modern "enemy combatant" doctrine, which the Supreme Court substantially upheld in the 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case, ruling that"[t]here is no bar to this Nation's holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant." According to the majority on the Court, the mere labeling of a person as an "enemy combatant" removes the shield of the Bill of Rights and replaces it with a new judge-created system of minimal administrative process to "challenge" that designation. Scalia's dissent in Hamdi is particularly instructive on how dangerous and unconstitutional this practice is, and I recommend that readers of the Daily Bell take the time to read it (www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-6696.ZD.html).
Unfortunately, Obama has done nothing to refute, renounce, or disavow such claimed powers. To the contrary, Obama has merely continued Bush's reasoning, and now claims the power to assassinate any American citizen he thinks is an unlawful combatant in the war on terrorism, and he further claims that his citizens hit list is secret and that not even a court can review who is on it, and by what "secret" criteria he constructs his list.
The modern resurrection of these dangerous doctrines, which apply the international laws of war to the American people and treat them the same as foreign enemies on foreign battlefields, is one of the principle reasons I founded Oath Keepers.
Daily Bell: You also assisted teaching U.S. military history at Yale; why were you interested in military history?
Stewart Rhodes: Military history is directly linked to the fate of liberty, both for good and for ill. Our forefathers won our independence by force of arms as much as by arriving at a turning point in philosophical principle. Sometimes it is necessary to fight to be free. But military power can also be used to destroy freedom, as history shows, including the sad history of the 20th Century, where hundred of millions were slaughtered by their own governments. Whether we preserve this Republic may depend in large part on what the military does, or does not do. I thought it was essential for the students at Yale to understand that link.
Daily Bell: You are writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war to the American people. Can you tell us about it?
Stewart Rhodes: My book will build on the research I did at Yale to show how the laws of war, and the claimed powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief, are being turned inward, against the American people, and how the government now claims the power to treat American citizens the same as it treats citizens of Afghanistan or Iraq. From the detention of the Japanese-Americans during World War II, to the NSA spying on Americans without warrant (which was defended as being surveillance of the battlefield, since all the world, including the U.S., is now a "battlefield" in the war on terrorism), to the unlawful enemy combatant detentions during the Bush years, to the current claim that Obama can order secret assassinations of citizens, it all flows from the application of the laws of war to the American people. The book will also cover the creation of NORTHCOM and the domestic deployment of regular Army troops, as well as how the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA fit into this new military law overlay that is being placed upon us and over our Bill of Rights.
Daily Bell: You are a staff attorney with Jefferson Legal Foundation and have assisted in constitutional litigation in state and federal courts. When did you decide to become a lawyer? Why did you leave Ron Paul's staff?
Stewart Rhodes: I was a staff attorney with Jefferson Legal Foundation, which was founded by Joseph Becker (former Legislative Director for Rep. Ron Paul). But Joe decided to pursue other interests and unfortunately Jefferson Legal is no more. Perhaps, when I have more time, I may resurrect it.
I decided to become a lawyer while I was in college. I figured that whether I practiced law or not, it was necessary for me to get that education if for no other reason than to more clearly understand how the rule of law has been subverted by willful lawyers and judges. I have assisted, pro bono, in several gun rights cases (including a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court) and I do what I can, but I also understand that the rule of law in America is increasingly a farce. I left Ron Paul's staff because from the start I only intended to serve one year with him before attending law school. I wanted my "D.C experience" but with an honorable Representative, and I was fortunate to have had that chance. I have kept in touch with his staff, and I also volunteered in Nevada for his 2008 presidential campaign.
Daily Bell: You write the monthly Enemy at the Gates column for S.W.A.T. Magazine. What's that about?
Stewart Rhodes: Actually, I used to write the Enemy at the Gate column, but since founding Oath Keepers I have been too busy to keep up with that, and Claire Wolfe has taken that column back and is now writing for S.W.A.T. once more. It is a great column, that goes into all aspects of freedom, not just the right to bear arms. I highly recommend it, as well as all of Claire's work, wherever found.
Daily Bell: When did you decide to found Oath Keepers and why?
Stewart Rhodes: I decided to found Oath Keepers during the tail end of Ron Paul's 2008 campaign, when it became clear that he would not win the Republican Nomination. I concluded that if I could not help get a constitutionalist into the White House, the least I can do is to remind those in current service of their obligations to refuse unlawful orders, including unconstitutional orders. Once Ron Paul was out of the race, I knew that whoever wound up in power (whether McCain, Hillary, or Obama) was not going to be a defender of the Constitution, and so I figured that the best thing I can do for the cause of liberty is to get the troops to think about whether their orders are constitutional.
Frankly, all that I had learned during my research into "enemy combatant" status at Yale scared the hell out of me, and impressed upon me just how close we were to the destruction of our Republic. Also, as a student of military history, and as a veteran, I have always been very aware of the central importance of refusing unlawful orders.
In college I took a class on the Nazi Holocaust, where we read a book called "Ordinary Men," by Christopher Browning, about German reserve police who were not Nazi zealots but who nonetheless obeyed orders to kill entire Jewish families, even old people, women, and children. They "just followed orders" like "good Germans" were conditioned to. As the Nuremberg war crime trials reinforced, "I was just following orders" is not a valid defense.
I was also very aware of the My Lai Massacre, and how it was yet again an example of "just following orders." My Lai presents us with an example of both an oath breaker and an oath keeper. The oath breaker was Lt. Calley, who followed orders to kill women and children. The oath keeper at My Lai was Warrant Officer One Hugh C. Thompson, who saved the lives of scores of women and children by landing his helicopter and instructing his door gunner to fire upon any troops who continued to kill women and children, while Thompson herded survivors onto his helicopter.
I was also very concerned with what happened during Hurricane Katrina, when police, National Guard, and even active duty military obeyed orders to confiscate the firearms of citizens who were simply trying to defend themselves and their property.
It is the increasing domestic deployment of the military, and the applications of the laws of war domestically, against Americans, that has me most concerned. While the military gives service-members adequate instruction on the laws of war, they don't teach them about the Bill of Rights. Instruction only on the laws of war is sufficient if they are only used abroad, against foreigners, on a foreign battlefield. But as active duty troops are increasingly used here at home, they will run right up against the rights of Americans as protected by our Bill of Rights, and knowledge of the laws of war is not enough. They need to also understand the Constitution they swore to defend, including the Bill of Rights, so they can keep from violating it.
The Oath Keepers' motto is "Not On Our Watch!", and their stated objective is to resist, by any means necessary, those actions taken by the U.S. Government that it believes oversteps Constitutional boundaries. When did you decide this was a problem?
Actually, that's not exactly accurate. When it comes to the current serving police and military, we encourage them to simply stand down and refuse to comply with unlawful orders. We don't want active duty personnel to use "any means necessary" to resist, because we don't want to see a military coup in this country any more than we want to see a president usurp powers never granted and assume the power of a dictator. Military coups have been the bane of republics throughout history, with people running to the generals to protect them from usurping Kings and presidents, only to have the generals trample their liberty as well. Martial law is nowhere mentioned in our Constitution for good reason. It is not something the President can legally invoke, and it is also not something the military can invoke either, even with the best of intentions. And that is exactly what a military coup would usher in – martial law. Such an act by the military would be as unconstitutional and destructive of our Republic as anything a President can do. There is no authority for the military to overthrow even the worst President and to replace him with some general in sun-glasses doing his best George Patton impersonation. It is not up to the military to fix our problems. It is up to We the People to clean up our own mess.
I sometimes get angry emails from frustrated people asking "when is the military going to march on D.C. and clean out that den of vipers?" I respond by telling them to go look at Article 1, Section 8, and then answer the question of "what institution is tasked with enforcing the laws of the Union, repelling invasions, and suppressing insurrections?" It is not the standing army. It is the militia. And who are the militia? We the people. The Founders' answer to that ancient question of "who shall guard the guardians?" was that we the people should be our own guardians, in our militia. It is hard for an ambitious president, or an ambitious general, to oppress the people when it is the people themselves who are the source of military power. And that military power of the people was to be focused at the local level, right down to county militias that were part of the "militia of the several states." And recall that such state militia were deemed "necessary to the security of a free state." (Second Amendment). As Dr. Edwin Vieira has pointed out, that is the only time the term "necessary" was used in our Constitutional text. To be free, Americans must be armed, and the bulk of the military power must be in the hands of the people themselves within sovereign states.
And when it comes to resisting federal violations of the Constitution, it should be the sovereign states that take a lead role, not the military. That is the second point I make in response to questions of why the military doesn't "do something about Obama." When Jefferson (the author of the Declaration of Independence) and Madison (considered the "father" of the Constitution) acted in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts, they didn't pay a visit to George Washington at Mt. Vernon and ask him to come out of retirement and lead a military coup against the Adams Administration. They didn't ask the military to act. Instead, they went to the state legislatures and urged the states to resist. They wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (also highly recommended reading), which declared that any act by Congress contrary to the Constitution was null and void, and should be nullified by the states. And notice that they didn't go hat in hand to the federal courts (dominated by Federalists) and ask the courts to rule the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional. Jefferson and Madison asserted that the state legislatures had an independent right and duty to judge the constitutionality of federal laws and actions.
Again, the Founders' answer to that ancient question of who shall guard the guardians was that we should be our own guardians, in the form of an armed people, formed into state militia, within sovereign states, with the state legislatures taking the lead in resistance to federal usurpation of powers never granted. Our first line of resistance should be through our state legislatures. Madison and Jefferson showed us the way. The obligations of the military are to not be tools of internal oppression while protecting us against external threats. The rest is our responsibility.
Unfortunately the Founders' design is now nearly turned on its head as we no longer have state militia made up of the people, organized, outfitted, and trained. In addition, we no longer have sound money at the state level. So, our states are both militarily and financially weak, while we have a massive standing army and a National Guard which is now essentially just a reserve of that standing army. And because of the widespread ignorance of the Founders' design (which I think is done intentionally through the government schools), we have very sincere patriots who make the mistake of looking to that massive standing army as the savior of the Constitution, when it was never intended to serve that role.
Rather than jumping from the frying pan into the fire, with some military coup, we need to get back to the Founders' vision. So we tell the military to simply obey their oath sworn obligation by refusing unconstitutional orders, and to leave the rest to the people, while we encourage the people to reassume their responsibilities for their own security, rebuilding strong, sovereign states from the local level on up.
As for veterans, their responsibility is a bit different than the responsibility of the current serving. As we veterans are no longer under orders, and no longer part of the government, we are now part the people – who retain their ultimate sovereignty. We have a responsibility, along with the rest of the American people, to resist the destruction of our liberty and to rebuild our Republic. Though no longer under orders, we still consider ourselves to be bound by our oath to defend the Constitution. If you want to characterize any Oath Keepers as being willing to resist by any means necessary, it would be the veterans, not the active duty. However, we veterans will exhaust all peaceful and lawful means left to us before we ever consider taking up arms. As Jefferson said in our Declaration of Independence:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
We still have peaceful means of redress and correction, including resistance by our sovereign states, and it is incumbent upon us to exhaust all such remedies, just as the Founding generation exhausted all peaceful means of defending their lives, liberty, and property before taking up arms. But it really should go without saying that, just as with our forefathers, if we are left no other alternative but to fight, then by God we will. As our Declaration also says:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.
We modern Americans feel the same. That should come as no surprise, given our heritage. But such a conviction is not the exclusive property of Americans. The Swiss, for example, have a similar proud history of rebelling and overthrowing tyrants (in the legend of William Tell, he does far more than shoot an apple off of his son's head with a cross-bow – he goes on to shoot the local tyrant who forced him to risk his son's life). No people in human history have ever remained free without being at least willing, and able, to fight to preserve their freedom. As former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said:
"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
But a resort to arms will be only as a last resort. There is much that can still be done by peaceful means, and that is what we focus on, from the very local level on up, within our states.
Daily Bell: Why has Oath Keepers gotten so much publicity? Where you surprised by the reception?
Stewart Rhodes: You'd think that simply reminding current serving to keep their oath would be uncontroversial, but apparently the idea of keeping your word to simply obey the supreme law of the land is a very controversial subject. The first thing we did was to issue our Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey, which is from the perspective of active duty police and military. It was written with input from active duty of both types, including a current serving West Point graduate. That declaration caused quite a stir. But frankly, it is merely a restatement of the Bill of Rights (if I am "paranoid" then so were the Founding Fathers, who created their own list of "shall nots" called the Bill of Rights), with the addition of lessons learned from the horrific history of democide in the 20th Century. And yet I am called paranoid for simply pointing out the experience of the Founders, and also recent history, and for encouraging the current serving to draw some clear lines in the sand so that it won't happen again, here.
The reaction to Oath Keepers by the media is a sad testament of the lack of understanding of the simple legal obligation to refuse unlawful orders, and a testament to how ignorant Americans are of recent human history. It is also a sad reflection of the cynical cycle of American politics where each of the two major parties, when out of power, suddenly rediscovers the Constitution, but when back in power, they forget all about it and label anyone who simply quotes the Founding Fathers as "terrorists" or "traitors." Both sides do it. When the left was out of power during the Bush years, they loved my writings criticizing Bush, and Republicans branded me as a traitor because I dared to question what their man was doing. But now that the left controls the White House, with their guy doing precisely the same kinds of things Bush did, it is leftists who now call me a traitor and a dangerous subversive, while Republicans are more open to hearing my message. I haven't changed. My message hasn't changed. What has changed is their perspective. The left, during Obama's Administration, are acting with as much blind hubris and willful justification of the most outlandish claims of executive power as the neocons did during the Bush years.
Daily Bell: Do law enforcement officials perceive the problems that you perceive? How many? The majority? What do the FBI and the ATF think of your organization? Have you heard from them?
Stewart Rhodes: Many rank and file police officers understand what is going on, and are very much aware of how the Bill of Rights has been relentlessly eroded. I don't know what percentage are awake. I'd like to say it was half, but I think it is less than that. But that is the point of my organization – to wake them up, and the percentage that are awake and aware, and studying the Constitution, is growing. The efforts of Oath Keepers Board Member Sheriff Mack, in particular, are making real headway among the police and sheriffs. In addition to many active duty police and sheriffs personnel who have become members, we now have several current serving police officers within our Oath Keepers state leadership. And for each officer who openly joins Oath Keepers, I think it is safe to say that there are hundred and perhaps thousands more who are of like mind, but who prefer to stay under the radar by not joining. So I can say without a doubt we are making an impact. The same is true among the military.
As for the federal officers, we have not heard directly or officially from the FBI or ATF, but we have heard from FBI agents, through intermediaries, who tell us that many among the rank and file are sympathetic to our position, but they also tell us that the powers that be in Washington are not happy, and would love to try to make us look like a militia, such as the Hutaree, so they can more easily discredit us. We intend to make it hard for them to do that.
One interesting bit of "intel" we got was from someone within the NSA who told us that the "powers that be" are "concerned about the Oath Keepers effect if/when they decide to give certain orders, but have no way to quantify that effect." In other words, we are like an iceberg: there is a very visible, credible "tip" of active duty who have stepped up and signed their John Hancock by joining, but there are many more who have not joined, and are thus the great mass under the surface that is hard to quantify. "They" don't, and can't, know how big that mass is until they test it. I like causing that kind of uncertainty in the minds of the self-anointed power elites. Hopefully it will make them hesitate to attempt to pull the plug, thus buying us more time.
Daily Bell: Here are some points you and other Oath Keepers adhere to and some questions regarding these points: You will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people. Why not – what makes you believe this will be a problem?
Stewart Rhodes: Once a people are disarmed, they are nearly defenseless against oppression. That is something our forefathers understood, and it was the attempt to disarm them that finally led to the fighting that kicked off our Revolutionary War. Add to that example the many examples since of disarmed populations being tyrannized or even mass-murdered. It is a critical line in the sand that must not be crossed, and not just because our Second Amendment says so, but because it is a violation of the inherit, human right to self preservation, and because the lessons of history show what happens to people who allow themselves to be disarmed. And the wholesale disarmament during Katrina shows that it can, indeed, happen again, right here in America.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people. Isn't this being done all the time by the FBI, currently? And aren't the standards for wire tapping low and going lower? Isn't one of the big problems at the Federal level the pervasive fear of being wiretapped? Everyone goes along with the big government program for fear of being blackmailed?
Stewart Rhodes: Yes, you are correct. All of that is being done. We don't claim to be able to stop it right now, nor are we saying that all of the current police and federal agents won't do it. Obviously many will. But because it is going on doesn't mean we should simply resign ourselves to thinking all of them will just follow orders. We are tying to educate them so that more of them will refuse to take part. Our goal is to eventually reach a tipping point where enough of them will refuse to comply that the machine grinds to a halt. It is an uphill fight, which will take time. And what we have most in mind is the kind of sweeping, warrantless searches we saw during Katrina, and the wireless wiretapping by the NSA. Those are what we are most focused on. We focus first on the very worst violations, and then we will work our way down the spectrum.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as "unlawful enemy combatants" or to subject them to military tribunal. Why is this an issue? Are there plans to do this?
Stewart Rhodes: See my above discussion of my Yale paper. This is an issue because the United States federal government, during both the Bush II and Obama Administrations, has made the claim that the President can detain American citizens in military detention (with two U.S. citizens actually being so detained), and that it can try them by military tribunal. Yes, there are plans to do this, and not just within the Executive Branch. You also have the Military Commissions Act, which made no distinction between citizen and non-citizen. And now McCain and Leiberman are proposing their S. 3081, the Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act (www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-3081), which would further codify such military detention and military tribunal of citizens. Here is a direct quote which makes it very clear it would apply to citizens:
SEC. 5. DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL OF UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENTS.
An individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy belligerent under section 3(c)(2) in a manner which satisfies Article 5 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported, consistent with the law of war and any authorization for the use of military force provided by Congress pertaining to such hostilities.
Frankly, if that bill becomes law, it will be the equivalent to the Nazi Enabling Act, and will spell the end of America as a free nation. If enacted, I would consider it a declaration of war against the American people, and it should, and will, be treated as such by us veterans.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a "state of emergency" on a state. Who would impose this state of emergency? The federal government?
Stewart Rhodes: Yes. Several presidents have declared such states of emergency, with the most recent example being what happened during Katrina. There are plans now in place to utilize not just FEMA (which is now part of Homeland Security) but also NORTHCOM (and that means active duty military) in future domestic emergencies. Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution makes perfectly clear that the federal government can only enter into a state during an emergency after being invited in by the state legislature or by the governor of that state if the legislature cannot be convened during such an emergency. Absent such an invitation, federal troops should refuse to deploy within a state, regardless of what emergency is asserted. The Constitution guarantees a republican form of government, and that means we have a right to live under laws passed by our elected state legislature and governor, not under "emergency" or "martial law" imposed on us by a willful President, with military troops sent into our state without the invitation and consent of our state legislature. And even with the consent of our state legislature, any and all actions are to be judged according to their compliance with the Constitution.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty. Is this an issue within law enforcement currently?
Stewart Rhodes: It is an issue that is currently brewing, with several states passing sovereignty resolutions and firearms freedom acts, such as Montana's, that declare firearms made within that state to be exempt from federal law. There is also a movement afoot to pass "Sheriffs First" laws in the states that would require federal agents to seek the permission of the county sheriff before conducting investigations or arrests in that county, and would empower county sheriffs to arrest federal agents who violate that requirement. This is one way a sheriff could defend the people of a county against unconstitutional federal laws. Such resistance is in keeping with Jefferson and Madison's strategy of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws and actions, as made clear in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, and is also in keeping with the local resistance and defiance against the Fugitive Slave Laws. Such resistance is seen again, and again in our history, and during the Bush years we saw local towns and counties pass resolutions defying the PATRIOT Act, declaring that they would not comply with or support enforcement of the PATRIOT Act within their jurisdictions. Funny how the left loved such local resistance then, against Bush, but now scream and yell that those who wish to do the same against Obama are traitors and are somehow trying to resurrect the Southern Confederacy.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps. Again, on a federal level, is this a "working strategy" – something that has been discussed?
Stewart Rhodes: It is something that has happened in history, including our own, with the blockade of Boston. It is something we saw again in the 20th Century. Thus, it is something that we should guard against regardless of current plans. However, we have also seen very credible intelligence regarding such plans, such as assignment of special teams within the Houston Police Department who have been created for the express purpose of manning check-points around the city, with those teams being armed with select-fire M4 rifles (the same as are currently issued to the U.S. military). What are those teams for, if not to serve as a blockade force to keep people in and/or out of the city? That was confirmed by current serving Houston PD officers. We have also heard similar credible rumors (or "scuttlebutt" as it is known in the military) regarding both police and military training and preparations for such actions during civil disturbances. We have not been able to positively confirm those rumors, but we have received so many tips that we have to take them seriously. One or two rumors can be explained away. Multiple tips from multiple credible sources across the spectrum should not be ignored. The police and military in this nation are being prepared for massive civil unrest in America, with some of that training explicitly in anticipation of an economic collapse, and much of that includes training in methods of confinement and channeling of populations.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext. Are there camps already prepared for this sort occurrence in your view? Did Haliburton build them?
Stewart Rhodes: I have not delved directly into the evidence of the existence of such camps, so I cannot conclusively confirm their existence. There are others who have done so, who claim to have hard evidence, but I have not yet examined it. What I do know is that such confinement is a historic fact – it is what oppressive regimes do. And it was done to over 100,000 American citizens during WWII simply because they were of Japanese racial descent. So, it has happened here, it has happened all over the world, and it can happen here again. There are rumors that such camps are in existence now, and there has been legislation proposed to build such detention facilities, but the big picture to keep in mind is that massive detention facilities can be constructed on very short notice, as was done during World War II, when old Army bases were turned into detention camps to house the Japanese-Americans. All it takes is some barbed wire around old barracks. That is why I don't focus so much on whether there are current camps, but instead on teaching the current serving military and police that any such internment of Americans is a very serious violation of our Constitution that they must refuse to take part in. The point is for them to draw a line in the sand and make up there minds to never intern fellow Americans, whether the facilities currently exist or not.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to "keep the peace" or to "maintain control." Are there foreign troops operating regularly on American soil to the best of your knowledge?
Stewart Rhodes: The U.S. military routinely trains foreign troops on U.S. soil. In addition to the School of the Americas, there are ongoing exchange programs throughout the military where foreign officers come in to train, including with National Guard units during regional national guard exercises. So, yes, in that sense there have been and currently are foreign troops on U.S. soil. But not in the sense of entire foreign units being deployed here – not to my knowledge. The point of that part of our declaration is that, like internment, oppressive regimes throughout history have deployed foreign troops and mercenaries to quell domestic resistance and rebellion. In our own history, we can look back on how the British, during the American Revolution, used tens of thousands of Hessian mercenaries against the rebelling American colonists.
Not only would such a use of foreign troops be something that would not surprise me in the event of another American Revolution, given world history, but it would also be entirely in keeping with the political elites' love affair with the U.N. Many of my classmates at Yale were genuinely puzzled that anyone would oppose the U.N. for any reason. They loved the U.N. and saw it as a fundamentally benign and nearly sacred entity. They, like others within the American elite class, so love the United Nations that they are in a sense "autistic" when it comes to even grasping why other Americans would violently oppose any U.N. "peacekeeping" force on U.S. soil and they can't grasp why we wouldn't welcome such a U.N. force as wonderful, benign, brothers of the world, just here to help. I think the sincere blindness and inability of many of the political elite to even comprehend why Americans would resist such foreign troops makes it all the more likely that they would succumb to the temptation to invite them in – especially if those same elites have reason to doubt the loyalty of American troops or their willingness to fire on fellow Americans that the elites consider "dangerous terrorists." In short, both the evidence of history and the mind-set of our current elites make such use of foreign troops a distinct possibility if/when there are serious domestic disturbances within the United States. We want to inoculate our own troops, in advance, against going along with such a use of foreign troops, and we want them to decide, in advance, that they would actively fight against such foreign troops if they are ever deployed domestically, against Americans. That is when we would expect the current serving military to do far more than just stand down. They would have an obligation to repel the invaders.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies. Why would such orders be given? Was this something that happened in New Orleans during the terrible hurricane down there? Was Katrina a "dry run" in some sense for a federal government approach to handling civil disorder?
Stewart Rhodes: From ancient times to the starving of dissident and rebellious populations by both fascist and communist regimes in the 20th Century, starvation has been a weapon of war and oppression. In addition, we can see in our own history the confiscation of the gold of the American people by decree of FDR, through executive order during the Great Depression, we can see the confiscation of the property and possessions of over 100,000 Japanese-American citizens, again by FDR's command, during World War II, and going back even farther, we can see what the Union Army did not just to the rebellious South, but also to the American Indians, using total warfare strategies which included the destruction of food and farmland. Again, this is something that repressive regimes do, and we need to inoculate our military and police against any such attempts in the future.
And we can see a long list of Executive Orders that claim the authority to seize vital industrial plants, farms, stores of food and fuel, etc. Those Executive Orders exist. So, yes, I do take their very existence to be evidence of plans to confiscate essential supplies and property of the American people. Until they are repealed, we should take them at face value.
As for Katrina, it was a very "wet" run when it comes to how the federal government will handle any kind of emergency. We saw the wholesale violation of the right to bear arms, and wholesale confiscation of guns by both local police, federalized police brought in from elsewhere, federalized National Guard from all over the country, and even active duty troops. So, yes, it happened in Katrina, and likely will happen again, unless we get enough military and police to commit to not going along – "they" can't violate our rights without the cooperation of the police and military.
Daily Bell: You will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Again, it seems this is something that is happening with more frequency these days. Is it?
Stewart Rhodes: Yes, it is. The absurd "free speech zones" of both the Bush Administration and today are just an example. There is now afoot a move to control the internet, which is a vital instrument of free speech and free exchange of ideas and information. There is also a very concerted effort by the power elites to chill our speech by making us fearful that if we speak up, we will end up on some "list." Speech can be chilled by such a threat just as effectively as by making overt arrests that target dissidents. Just the threat of being on a list is enough. We should guard against any and all attempts to curtail our rights of free speech and association, from whatever party, under whatever justification. Without free speech, there is no possibility of peaceful resistance or peaceful remedy or redress of grievances. That is why I consider the destruction of free speech to be even more serious than the attempt to disarm the people and it needs to be a line in the sand that the military and police commit to not crossing. Otherwise, they leave the people no recourse but armed revolt.
Daily Bell: In the Southern Poverty Law Center's 2009 report The Second Wave: Return of the Militias, Larry Keller wrote that the Oath Keepers "may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival." Are you? What do you think of the SPLC?
Stewart Rhodes: I suppose that in some ways, yes we are "particularly worrisome" to the political elites. They tend to think that once they gain political power, by hook or by crook, that all the toys then belong to them – including the military and police – and that thereafter, they can do whatever they want. By our actions of teaching the current serving about their obligations to refuse unconstitutional orders, we are messing with the power elites' "muscle." We are messing with their "toys." When we teach the current serving about their obligations under their oath, and when we encourage them to study the Constitution and to think for themselves, we are throwing a very big monkey wrench into the plans of the power elites. So, yes, I suppose they are right to consider us "worrisome."
As for what I think of the SPLC, I think the SPLC is a particularly worrisome example of a modern Pravda, a far left propaganda arm of the power elites, that morphed from chasing KKK and skinheads into demonizing and smearing absolutely anyone who simply dares to quote the Founding Fathers and who takes following the Constitution seriously. The SPLC has placed on its "list" of "patriots" not just myself, but also Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Chuck Baldwin, and a slew of other people who simply advocate a return to strict obedience to the Constitution. That is all it takes to make their list (which I am proud to be on). The SPLC is now directly involved in training federal law enforcement, and the SPLC CEO, Cohen, now sits on the DHS Working Group for Countering Violent Extremism. SPLC is now overtly part of DHS. So, that should tell you something about what to expect out of DHS in the future. Frankly, I think it is good that the mask is slipping and they are being more overt about what they are doing. DHS is turning into the "ministry of truth," with SPLC personnel in charge of orchestrating the target lists, with the SPLC/DHS reports being the text equivalent of "ten minutes of hate" against demonized domestic dissidents. The goal of the SPLC/DHS is to convince all police that anyone who reads or quotes the Constitution is a potential cop-killer and terrorist.
Daily Bell: It has been said that "One of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality." What does this statement mean in your opinion?
Stewart Rhodes: As I said above, local resistance is both in keeping with our constitutional design of dual sovereignty – with the states (and all state officers) having the obligation to enforce those lines of sovereignty and the limits of the Constitution – and also in keeping with our history, starting with the resistance to the Crown by local and colonial legislatures, and then continuing on to state and local resistance to the Alien and Sedition Acts and resistance to the Fugitive Slave Laws. The modern equivalents are resistance to the PATRIOT Act, resistance to Real ID, resistance to federal marijuana laws, and resistance to federal "gun control" laws.
The sheriff has an important role to play because he is the highest elected law enforcement officer in his county, but a sheriff's obligations flow from the dual sovereignty structure – made abundantly clear by the Tenth Amendment – that all of us who swore the oath are obligated to defend. It is not just the sheriff, but all state officers (legislative, judicial, and executive) who must stand in defense of state sovereignty. The sheriff just happens to be a very important and potentially key officer because of his status as the chief law enforcement officer in his county. But his constitutional obligations and authority flow from the Tenth Amendment and from the design of the Constitution itself, not from his particular office. Still, one of the fastest ways we can truly impact liberty for the better is to elect strong constitutional sheriffs, and then back them up with a strong citizen posse. The next step is to form county militias within a structure of a state militia, and then elect a strong (brave, principled, and knowledgeable), constitutionalist governor. And it is also vital that we have a sound money alternative at the local and state level, so that we are not economically dependent on the Federal Reserve and the fiat money system it controls. We need economic, military, and resource independence and strength in the states to be in the best posture possible to resist federal usurpation and violations of our rights.
Daily Bell: Where do you go from here? Are you more or less worried about a federal response to civil unrest these days?
Stewart Rhodes: We Oath Keepers are now going to put more emphasis on the obligations of the veterans to restore and rebuild the Republic from the bottom up. Yes, we are more worried about a possible federal response to civil unrest these days because of the very likelihood – even certainty – of an economic collapse and resulting domestic civil unrest.
We think it is absolutely essential that those of us within the freedom movement in the U.S. have in place a sound-money alternative system to the fiat money system so that when it crashes, we have something else to fall back on. In addition to sound money at the local and state level, we must also have physical security at the state level (that means a posse in support of the sheriff, state defense forces and a true citizens militia, starting with county militia units), and food and fuel security at the state level.
If we don't have those three critical areas covered, then we will have a desperate American population that will be far more likely to go along with "martial law" (and a military that is also more likely to impose it) and desperate, hungry people who are more likely to accept whatever new world currency the power elites have waiting in the wings. Again, we hope to screw up their plans by actively engaging every American veteran in the vital mission of restoring the key infrastructure and institutions we have allowed to atrophy.
In other words, we want to see veterans work to get themselves and their families squared away on each of those three core needs – physical security, financial security, and food security – and thus prepared for the crash, and then we want the veterans to help their neighborhoods, their towns, counties, and ultimately their state become prepared, strong, and resilient, as the Founders intended us to be. We will encourage veterans to do that both in the private "civil society" sphere, through self-help, voluntary mutual aid, and voluntary community cooperation, and also in the public sphere, through pushing for official legislative action from the town level on up.
With the close assistance of Giordano Bruno of Neithercorp Press (neithercorp.us/npress/), we will be launching this initiative within the next few weeks. We are actively seeking the participation of several well known economists and alternative economics experts. If any of your readers want to assist, they can reach Giordano directly by email at Giordano@neithercorp.us.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the recent mid-term election results and the Tea Party in general?
Stewart Rhodes: I think the election results were a good sign of the discontent within the American population, and the internal struggle within the GOP between the neocons and unprincipled party loyalists on one side, and a loose coalition of Ron Paul Republicans, Barry Goldwater style traditional conservatives, and 912 and Tea Party people on the other side. It is literally a battle to the death since if the neocons and party loyalists maintain control and manage to get the recently elected freshmen Republicans to simply continue to play the game as usual, it will be the death of the Republican party. Constitutionalists are giving the GOP one last chance, and if they blow it this time, those constitutionalists will abandon it forever and will seek to build a third party (either strengthening an existing third party, or starting a new one). Also, this is the last chance in the sense that if the new crop of GOP politicians simply continue on the current trajectory set by the elites of both parties, that will likely be the end of the United States as we know it, given the rapid deterioration both economically and when it comes to our freedom.
As for the Tea Party, I take it as a very good sign of a revival of genuine patriotism (concern for the future of our nation), and a revival of sincere constitutionalism. Yes, there has been and currently are attempts by the old guard and neocons within the GOP to co-op the Tea Party and steer it into "just vote Republican – and by the way, here are our anointed candidates." But the failure of GOP leadership darlings to win primaries, such as Sue Lowden's defeat by Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Joe Miller's defeat of Murkowski in Alaska, shows that there is a very real internal struggle going on. The Ron Paul Republicans, for example, cannot be co-opted, and they have been joined by others who, though they would not support Ron Paul for the GOP presidential nomination because of his stance on the war, agree 100 % with the Ron Paul Republicans on nearly everything else. That coalition of constitutionalists are not going away, are not interested in compromising, and are in this fight to win.
However, I think that whatever the outcome of elections, and regardless of what Congress does or doesn't do, we are in for an economic crash. I am no economist, but that crash now seems unavoidable and I don't think you need to be an economist to see it. That is why I believe most of our energy and focus should be at the state level, and it should be focused on getting ourselves and our states as prepared as possible for a post-economic collapse world. Unless we have strong, resilient states, with strong resilient people in them, we will be susceptible to whatever plans the power elites have waiting in the wings to take advantage of the crisis that is upon us. They have something planned, that is certain. And we can be certain it will not be in our best interest or in the interest of human freedom and independence. What remains to be seen is whether those of us who believe in freedom will have an alternative ready to put into place to thwart their plans and ultimately reject their authority over us and free ourselves and our children from their grasp.
Daily Bell: Are you still growing quickly?
Stewart Rhodes: Yes. We now have over 10,000 dues paying members (most of them $30.00 per year annual members) and we gain hundreds more members each month. I expect that to increase exponentially once we launch our veterans initiative. Non-veterans (average citizens who have never officially served) can join as "associate members" as a way to show support for our mission, and we have a fair number of those as well. We also recently instituted life memberships at $1,000.00 each (either lump sum or payments) and I am happy to say I was pleasantly surprised at the response. In only a few weeks of offering life memberships, we have nearly thirty life members, and growing. However, I want to stress that while it is nice to see so many active duty, veterans, and concerned citizens joining Oath Keepers, and it certainly does take some funding to do what we do and having dues paying members helps, what really counts is that for every official member there are thousands of others who are of like mind, but who are part of the unknown and unknowable mass below the surface of the "Oath Keepers iceberg." I like it that way.
Daily Bell: Do you think the militarization of policing in the US can be reversed?
Stewart Rhodes: Yes, I do. Nothing is irreversible, though it may take an economic collapse and some serious restructuring of the relationship of the police with the community to do it. I think one way is to bring back the concept of the posse, with the sheriff dependant on the local population for aid. A revitalization of a real citizens militia, as an official county organization, will also help. Again, when we are our own guardians, we are both secure and free, and when we abdicate that core responsibility to "professionals" we reap what we sow. TANSTAAFL.
Daily Bell: Is it necessary to have so many police and Swat units, etc? Who is behind it?
Stewart Rhodes: No, it is not. Again, with a posse and a revitalized, official citizen militia, there would be sufficient military force in the population itself, organized and available to the sheriff and/or governor for any emergency, that such special police units in such great numbers would not be necessary. For the most part, it is the easy availability of federal grants, equipment, and training that is behind the militarization of the police and the abundance of SWAT type units. The drug war, of course, also plays a significant role in both the justification and a source of funding by means of asset forfeiture. Such militarization serves to drive a wedge between the police and the community, increasing an "us v. them" mindset in both the police – who begin to behave as if all citizens are potential enemies – and among the people who begin to see the police as an occupying force. Such a separation is reinforced and encouraged by DHS and by propaganda organs such as the SPLC. So, I think it is safe to say that the militarization of the police, and the increasing nationalization of local police and their increasing dependence on the federal government, is no accident, but is part of the intentional flipping of the Founders' design on its head – leading to weak people, in weak states, with a militarized, nationalized, police and military as part of a vastly expanded national power over them.
One of the chief goals of Oath Keepers is to break down that artificial barrier that is being erected between the police and the people, remind the police that they and their children will have to live under an increasingly tyrannical government too, if they go along with the destruction of the Bill of Rights, and remind both police and the citizenry that they should be allies in the restoration of our Republic, and that means a restoration of local independence and state sovereignty. In particular, when we get veterans and police talking, we really give the power elites heartburn, since there is a very real common bond and mutual respect between them, as they both took that same oath, and they both were willing to give their lives in service. Yes, some become police because of a power-trip. But most police joined the force with the best of intentions of serving their communities as defenders of the lives, liberties, and property of the people. We just have to remind them of that original purpose and show them how their higher purpose has been warped and disfigured, just as the purpose of the military is being warped and disfigured. The power elite want the police to be merely obedient muscle, to just "enforce" whatever laws they pass, without question. It won't be easy to counter that indoctrination, but we will not give up. We know we are engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of our police as much as for the hearts and minds of our military, and we will not forsake them and give them over into the hands of the enemy. They are us. In the end, we are all Americans. We just have to reach them, teach them, and inspire them to keep their oaths.
Daily Bell: Is it necessary to have a war on drugs?
Stewart Rhodes: No, it is not. And in particular, the federal war on drugs is not only unnecessary, but blatantly unconstitutional. Such matters should be left to the states, as is clear from the dual sovereignty structure of our Constitution, as expressed in both Article I, Section 8, and in our Tenth Amendment. The war on drugs has not only been used to expand the claimed power of the federal government under the Commerce Clause (see the Gonzales v. Raich decision) but also to erode the Fourth Amendment, erode property rights with the doctrine of asset forfeiture (whereby property is taken without due process by means of the absurd legal fiction that it is the property itself that has committed a crime), and to erode the independence of police and sheriff's departments across the country by making them dependent on federal money, gear, and training. A sheriff cannot be independent while also being dependant. And if a sheriff is dependant on federal money and gear, how likely is he to just say no to the feds in defense of the rights of his constituents? The time has come for local and state agencies to wean themselves from the federal perks, money, and supplies, and the time has come for the states to assume responsibility for deciding, on a state by state basis, how to handle the issues of recreational drug use. They are up to it, and the sky won't fall.
Daily Bell: Is the US inevitably headed down an authoritarian path. Do you fear the break-up US society?
Stewart Rhodes: The U.S. is clearly headed down an authoritarian path, but I don't think it is inevitable – not if we act to stop it. If we don't act, and act right away and decisively, then yes, we will lose our freedom on the United States. We are now about ¾ there, and all that is really missing is the right pretext – the right crisis – to go all the way. But we still have a window of opportunity to turn things around peacefully. It is a rapidly narrowing window, but it is still there. What will count is what we do now, between this moment and when the crisis comes. Certainly, we can see in history how oppressive regimes and would-be dictators use crisis to their advantage. But a crisis can also be a window of opportunity for the advocates of freedom. What will matter is whether we on the freedom team are ready for it.
I think a break-up of US society is very possible, so yes, I do fear it and the chaos and danger it would bring. I have children, and I am concerned for their safety. However, I am also concerned for their liberty, and if we have to go through turmoil and crisis so that the future of liberty is secured, then I feel the same way as Thomas Paine when he said "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." The United States is in the danger it is in because we, the American people, have been negligent in our obligations to be eternally vigilant in guarding our liberty, and we have neglected our duty to preserve those institutions of a free people that the Founding Generation learned were absolutely necessary to liberty. We have no one else to blame, and the only thing worse than letting it get this bad would be for us to leave it to our children and grand-children to fix. It is our mess, and we need to clean it up, now.
We can do it by first and foremost strengthening and preparing ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, our towns, our counties, and our states to weather the coming storm, so we can rebuild on principles of liberty and independence rather than being weak, desperate, hungry people who sell out our birthright of liberty and our sovereignty for a FEMA debit card (which would be a very easy way for the "new world currency" to be introduced).
Daily Bell: Can you recommend some books or other literature or websites so people can explore these subjects for themselves?
Stewart Rhodes: The Oath Keepers website can be found at www.oathkeepers.org. There we have our full length Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey, which provides examples and history. Also on the site are more written resources as well as video resources.
However, I think the very best place for anyone seeking an understanding of the American Republic is to start with the recommended reading list that Jefferson and Madison constructed for the students of the University of Virginia, which was founded by Jefferson. They agreed that all Americans would be well served by reading: John Locke and Algernon Sydney (the philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment in liberty); the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (our Founding texts); the Federalist Papers (what Jefferson and Madison considered the most accurate description of the intent of the drafters of the Constitution); and the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (where Madison and Jefferson further clarified the nature of the dual sovereignty Republic and showed how the states can constitutionally resist federal usurpation). I think we would be hard pressed to improve on Jefferson and Madison's reading list, at least as a foundation. I would only add the Anti-Federalist Papers, so we can see the concerns of those who opposed ratification, and perhaps some of the revolutionary statements of principle, such as the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms of July 6, 1775 (www.nationalcenter.org/1775DeclarationofArms.html), which further make abundantly clear exactly what they were fighting for, their resolve and spirit, and what our Constitution and Bill of Rights is meant to prevent from happening again. I would then perhaps add a good history of the American Revolution.
If a person were to read all of that, and to really think carefully about how each provision of the Constitution was supposed to work within a dual sovereignty system, and in particular thinking hard on how it was supposed to cure the supposed deficiencies of the Articles of Confederation (also recommended reading) while also preventing a repeat of the abuses that caused them to rebel against King and Parliament, the reader would have a very firm understanding of the American Republic, at least as it existed at the time of the Founding.
To that I would add Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience (thoreau.eserver.org/civil.html), some Lysander Spooner (especially his writings on jury nullification and the Constitution), and for a rather pessimistic modern take on the Constitution, read the excellent book by Kenneth Royce (a.k.a. "Boston T. Party"), called Hologram of Liberty: the Constitution's Shocking Alliance With Big Government. While I don't agree with Royce on everything (I think there was more of a split in intentions at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, leading to the resulting compromise – the nationalists did not get all they wanted – and a resulting degree of constitutional schizophrenia), Royce's book serves as some serious food for thought on the imperfections of the Constitution and how some of those may have been intentional. But I would also counter-balance that with a reading of The 5,000 Year Leap, by Cleon Skousen, which points out that however flawed our Constitution, our Republic is still light-years ahead of what human beings have suffered under since the dawn of time.
As for the responsibility of the sheriff, I would recommend Sheriff Richard Mack's book, The County Sheriff, America's Last Hope.
On the constitutional militia, and on how to revitalize it, I recommend Dr. Edwin Vieira's book, Constitutional Homeland Security: A Call for Americans to Revitalize the Militia of the Several States. Volume I, The Nation in Arms.
When it comes to sound money, I recommend Vieira's Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, which is currently out of print but is about to be republished. Meanwhile, you can find many of Vieira's articles on both the militia and sound money (including text of his model sound money state legislation) online by doing a Google search of his name and the topic of interest.
I also recommend the writings of Giordano Bruno at Neithercorp Press (neithercorp.us/npress/). Stay tuned to his website for upcoming info on a project to provide a plan for an alternative economic system that people can put into place as individuals and local communities, to circumvent the Fed's fiat system.
On the modern assault on our Bill of Rights, I recommend anything by Judge Andrew Napolitano (the good Napolitano!) and anything by James Bovard. Those who want to understand the dangers of enemy combatant status in particular can also read my Yale paper, which is online at oathkeepers.org/oath/2010/11/09/solving-the-puzzle-of-enemy-combatant-status-stewart-rhodes/
They can also read a shorter article on my findings that was originally published in The Warrior, the journal of Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers Academy, which is available online here: stewart-rhodes.blogspot.com/2006/10/enemy-combatant-status-no-more.html
And, finally, they can read my article on the Clinton era plan to use military tribunals on McVeigh and the militias, here: stewart-rhodes.blogspot.com/2006/11/clinton-era-proposal-to-use-military.html
Those are guaranteed to scare the you-know-what out of you. Then, read the text of McCain's Belligerent Detention Act and understand what a treasonous SOB he really is.
For personal preparedness, I recommend Boston's Gun Bible, by "Boston T. Party" and, in general, www.survivalblog.com and any of the books written by that blog's owner, James Wesley, Rawles. I also recommend anything written by Cody Lundin.
Daily Bell: Thank you for your time and good work.
Stewart Rhodes: Likewise. I consider the Daily Bell to be essential daily reading. Let freedom ring.
Words kind of fail of us when it comes to this interview. (That does not happen often.) We have written in the past about how the younger generation – especially in the US – has available to it a level of free-market literacy that is vaster than that of any previous generation. The knowledge that Stewart Rhodes shows us in this interview (some of it obviously written as well as extemporaneous) is positively mind-boggling.
Compare his words to any modern "conservative" American pundit – from George Will to Patrick Buchanan – and in our estimation you will begin to see what is occurring; some sort of quantum leap. Things that took old foggies decades to figure out are common knowledge nowadays among the younger free-market crowd. Times are indeed a-changing.
This brings us to another point we often try to make – that the Internet is a process not an episode. Here at the Bell we often get feedbacks bemoaning the larger lack of awareness among many in the West over elite plans that seem frankly … authoritarian. Yes, it is true that free-market thinkers sometimes tend to be gloomy; maybe an occupational hazard of thinking too hard about a variety of unpalatable subjects. And yet … Here comes Stewart Rhodes, a young man who has signed up 10,000 Oath Keepers. If there are 10,000 who have signed up now, there are probably another 100,000 waiting in the wings and another 500,000 who are sympathetic if only they were aware of the message.
The Internet, like a modern-day Gutenberg press, is truly, in our view, ushering in a kind of Renaissance, a rediscovery of knowledge that was purposefully obscured during the 20th century. For nearly 100 years, the Anglo-American power elite controlled most if not all of the venues of conversation in the United States and Europe. But with the advent of the Internet, that control has mostly crumbled and millions have been exposed to free-market thinking and Misesian human action (formally or not).
We will not bother to list all that is happening, but it is almost awe-inspiring. So many dominant social themes of the power elite are under concerted attack now that it is difficult to keep track of them all. The elite counterattacks, reconfigures its fear-based promotions and tries again, but still the swelling tide of knowledge beats back the propaganda and makes proponents look increasingly foolish.
Will the Internet be censored? The elite can try. There are bills moving through the American Congress right now. There is censorship already in Europe and Britain. And yet there is more unrest – and more knowledge of the West's fundamental problems – than even a year ago. Australia censors and a Tea Party blooms. Europe censors and protests escalate. China censors and protestors throw roses at the Beijing Google sign.
Human beings are tool-using creatures and tend to organize around believable narratives. The Internet is a powerful communicative tool and it has allowed a different and more ancient – truthful – narrative to emerge. This is a kind of double-threat for the elite that has dominated the Western conversation for so long – with the intention of creating global governance. Not only is the monopoly on information shattered, the larger sociopolitical narrative is being reconfigured in ways that are inimical to authoritarianism.
Seen from this view, someone like Stewart Rhodes is almost … (dare we say) insignificant; he is merely one more individual swept up in the larger free-thinking tide of the 21st century. But in another way he is one of the most important people in the world, a young man who has decided to take human action to support the cause of freedom; a person who is determined to be responsible for himself, while helping those around him. His organization is tremendous; his success is noteworthy; his courage is exemplary. He stands among many; and yet by himself as well – human action being both communal and individual.
PS: The Bell, like Stewart Rhodes, neither endorses violence nor anticipates it. Education and civil protest (hopefully lawful) are always preferable to violent activities, just as subsidiarity is preferable to centralization.
You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.
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