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What is a Sovereign Citizen?

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On February 6, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held a news conference about a growing problem faced by local law enforcement agencies.   According to the FBI, police all around the country have been contacting the Bureau with requests for information and training on the sovereign citizen movement.

Over the next week, the online reaction to the Bureau’s statements ranged from confused to outraged. Conservative pundits were wringing their hands, fearing that the FBI is going to target their Tea Party readership as enemies of the state, while liberal pundits expressed glee that the FBI now considers Tea Party supporters to be domestic terrorists.

For example, conservative commentator Glenn Beck aired a 12-minute segment on his show last week in which he concluded that there is no such thing as a sovereign movement, since he’s never heard of it, and that the government is using this fictional group as a boogeyman in order to do nefarious things to Glenn Beck’s fans.

“I’m in the news business. I don’t even know who they are. Sovereign citizens?” — Glenn Beck

Alas, Mr. Beck, sovereign citizens do indeed exist. And sorry, both sides of the political battle field, they aren’t the Tea Party.

The good news for Beck is that the overlap between his fan base and the sovereign movement is probably minor. The bad news for the rest of us is that state and local law enforcement agencies are having a heck of time educating their officers about how best to identify and deal with this very real and potentially violent group.

So what’s the definition?

The short answer:  a sovereign citizen is someone who believes that he or she is above all laws.

The long answer is a bit more complex.

Think about a law you don’t like. Any law, at any level of government. It can be a big law, like paying income taxes, or a tiny one, like licensing your pet Chihuahua with the county.

If you’re a member of the Tea Party movement, the solution to this bad law is to protest your opinion in DC and in other metropolitan areas, write angry letters to your Congressmen, and vote for politicians who agree with you that such a law should be scrapped as soon as possible.

If you’re a member of the sovereign citizen movement, your approach is a bit different. You start by looking for a combination of quotes, definitions, court cases, the Bible, Internet websites, and so on that justify how you can ignore the disliked law without any legal consequences. Be imaginative. Pull a line from the 1215 version of the Magna Carta, a definition from a 1913 legal dictionary, a quote from a founding father or two, and put it in the blender with some official-sounding Supreme Court case excerpts you found on like-minded websites. Better yet, find someone else online who disliked that same law and pay them $150 for a three-ring binder filled with their word salad research.

Et voilà, not only have you proven that you don’t have to obey the law you dislike, heck, it’s your patriotic duty to disobey it, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain un-American and is probably part of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy to ensure that Chihuahuas are slaves to the US government.

When you can pick and choose which laws to put through your special blender, you are effectively putting yourself above all laws.

So why are they a problem for state and local police?

Sovereign citizens are true believers. They generally entered the movement by buying into a scam or conspiracy theory that not only promised them a quick fix to their problems, but wrapped such solutions in a heavy layer of revolutionary rhetoric. Once a sovereign feels the flush of excitement and self-importance that comes from acting as the David to the U.S. government’s Goliath, they know, with all of their hearts and souls, that their research is correct, that their cause is just, and that anyone who disagrees with them is a criminal who deserves to be punished.

These sovereign citizens are also doomed to failure; the tax collector, prosecutor, and judge have all heard these same legal theories dozens of times already and understand that they are bogus.

When a person believes his cause is just, yet he meets failure over and over and over again, there comes a point where he has to make a decision: he can admit his theory is wrong and walk away, or he can fight dirty.

Non-violent retaliation against government employees and law enforcement is the most common response, and can take the form of filing false liens, filing bogus Forms 1099, sending threatening correspondence, suing government employees for millions of dollars, and cyber-stalking individuals in government who disagree with the sovereign’s legal theories.

Some sovereigns plot a violent revenge, hoping to inspire others in the movement to reach their breaking point sooner. For example, after twenty years of attempting to persuade the IRS and the Tax Court that his blender salad of legal theories was accurate, in 2010, private pilot Joseph Stack flew his airplane into an IRS building in [entity display="Austin" type="place" active="false" activated="true" deactivated="true" key="tx/austin"]Austin[/entity] Texas, killing one tax collector, and injuring thirteen others.

“I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.” — Joseph Stack’s suicide note

Other such planned events have included bombings, shootings, murders, and armed standoffs.

Most sovereigns who act violently, however, have no grand plan in place; they simply lash out when they’ve failed one too many times. Some commit suicide, but for most of them, the final straw can be something as small as being pulled over by a highway patrolman for having a busted tail light or something as big as being evicted from their home when the bank forecloses on their property.

Since most people don’t have any direct contact with government other than with local law enforcement, officers are at a particularly high risk of bearing the brunt of sovereign citizen anger.

Why do officers need training?

On the surface, sovereigns believe some pretty outrageous things, and to an outsider, their legal theories seem fairly silly. Up until the recent wave of violence, most police officers who encountered sovereigns found them more amusing than anything else. Following recent police shootings in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, officers now need to rethink their opinion of this group.

Also, sovereign citizens don’t call themselves that. In fact, if you ask a person if she is a member of the movement, she is likely to respond that the “sovereign citizen” label is an oxymoron, and that she is an individual seeking the Truth. She may then launch into a ten minute lecture about 18th century ideals of individual sovereignty. A non-sovereign simply answers, “No.”

Perhaps the most difficult hurdle for law enforcement is dealing with stereotypes. The first generation sovereign movement (from 1970 to 1995) was comprised mostly of middle-aged, high-school educated, white men with some military background, and hard-right, often racist values, located mostly in in rural communities west of the Mississippi. Today, the second sovereign wave (1999 to present) can include anybody: black, white, rural, urban, Asian, Hispanic, young, old, armed, unarmed, male, female, conservative, liberal, semi-literate, college-educated, from any walk of life. For example, dentists, chiropractors, and even police officers all seem drawn to the movement in recent years.

Sovereigns are also difficult to identity because there is no membership group for them to join, no charismatic leader, no organization name, no master list of adherents, and no consistency in the schemes they promote and buy into. There are hundreds of sovereign legal theories being peddled in seminars, in books, and on the Internet, and many of these theories contradict each other.

Conclusion

The sovereign citizen movement is big and is growing fast, thanks to the Internet. There are an estimated 300,000 people in the movement, and approximately one third of these are what I would call hard-core believers – people willing to act on their beliefs rather than simply walk away.

While there is no guarantee when it comes to officer safety, police departments do indeed need to teach their front-line officers how to identify sovereign markers and take appropriate precautions in case a particular encounter becomes a sovereign’s “final straw.”

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Domestic Terrorism, Sovereign citizens

 

Sovereign Extremist Injured in Texas Bomb Explosion

On June 20, 2012, a 33-year old Texan named Anson Chi was arrested and charged with a hideous crime. According to case investigators, Chi had manufactured a bomb in his parents’ home and was attempting to blow up an above-ground natural gas pipeline in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Plano, Texas. The bomb had gone off while Chi was standing over it, and the explosion caused a large, circular indentation in the strong, metal pipes. Natural gas began leaking out, but luckily for nearby homes, did not ignite. Chi, however, was badly injured by the blast.

When police later searched Chi’s bedroom, they found a bomb-making lab, and the investigators’ affidavit lists a chilling array of chemicals, fuses, containers, and equipment. They also found various manuals and anti-government books which lend a few clues about his motives. Anson Chi is a sovereign citizen.

The sovereign movement is often described as a “loosely knit” group of people who believe that they can pick and choose which laws apply to them and who get very, very angry when law enforcement and the courts disagree. While the people enmeshed in the movement may not see the factors that make them into a cohesive subculture, those who observe the movement from the outside recognize commonalities in the key events, core beliefs, and cultural influences that drive members to file frivolous legal documents, threaten government employees, and commit violent acts.

Chi’s online presence reveals that he is a fairly typical member of the modern sovereign movement. While first generation “patriots” like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols reacted strongly and violently to the Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas standoffs of the early 1990s, modern sovereigns like Anson Chi are more likely to be influenced by the 2007 Edward and Elaine Brown standoff in Plainfield, New Hampshire. The Browns refused to pay income taxes, and when they were convicted on tax charges, refused to go to prison, engaging the U.S. Marshals in a nine-month, heavily-armed standoff. Chi recorded a video of support for the Browns, parroting typical tax protester rhetoric and ripping up an IRS Form 1040 in anger.

In his TruthWorldOrder blog, Chi closely followed the criminal trial of tax protest leader Tommy Cryer, and on his personal website, he posted a professional resume where work experience was relabeled as “Paid Slavery” and his college degree as “Miseducation.” Chi’s list of past employment, all traditional software engineering jobs at various large companies, stopped in 2007, the year that Edward and Elaine Brown chose to take on the U.S. Marshals with preparations that included dozens of bombs and guns, and more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition. Thanks to a ruse by the Marshals, the Browns were arrested without shots being fired and are currently serving prison sentences of more than 35 years.

Chi’s MySpace page, deserted two years ago, is a ghost town of Ed and Elaine Brown-related posts, 911 conspiracy theories, Ron Paul campaign banners and placards, and even a silly photo of Chi, wearing a napkin crown on his sovereign head. On Facebook, he lists his interests as “Truthmongering, Reading, Writing, Martial Arts, Guns—the bigger, the better!,” rails against the Federal Reserve, the IRS, and President Obama, and lists the Zeitgeist movie as the source of his religious beliefs.

His YouTube account is a bit more direct. In addition to his pro-Brown video, he once posted a clip of protesters engaging police officers in a violent confrontation with the caption, “Police Cops Get Beat Up & Owned – Payback Is A B*tch For Pig Brutality!” Under the video, he continues the description, “Watch the police (pigs) get what they deserve—oink!” He concludes with a number of quotes justifying violent revolution, including one by a famous anarchist radical.

“Every individual who wants to save his humanity—and, indeed his skin—had better begin thinking dangerous thoughts about sabotage, resistance, rebellion, and the fraternity of all men [and women] everywhere.”—Dwight MacDonald

In 2008, Chi self-published a book, a quasi-memoir which ended with his imagined suicide. To promote the book, he called himself “an author, politician, model, activist–environmental, social, political–and retired engineer.” In contrast, according to the Dallas News, his neighbors saw him as a “glum,” “weird,” and “spooky” recluse.

Like most sovereigns, Chi has had several brushes with the law, including gun charges in California and petty theft in Texas. A probation violation hearing was scheduled to take place just a few days after he attempted to blow up the pipeline.

Anson Chi is currently facing one count of knowingly possessing an explosive destructive device, and additional charges may be added as the investigation continues.  Like so many “sovereign citizens” who don’t believe in taxes or the federal government, Chi is being represented by a taxpayer-funded public defender.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Domestic Terrorism, Sovereign citizens

 

Working for the Man: Anti-government extremists who cash government paychecks

Gloria Tatum-Wade | Source: Facebook

An interesting pair of news stories crossed my desk this week.

In North Carolina, a jury convicted a 62-year old woman named Gloria Tatum-Wade on seven counts of state income tax evasion. According to news reports of the trial, Ms. Tatum-Wade had filed a document with Guilford County claiming that she was exempt from all taxes because she was a sovereign citizen. Her employer? Until this brush with the law, the self-professed sovereign was a public school teacher at Northeast Guilford High School.

In an unrelated story, a New Jersey man named Charles Armstead (aka Rawus Jamus) was indicted in February on four counts of federal tax evasion. A public record search unearthed a UCC filing from 2001 filed by CHARLOS HAMIL ARMIS’TEAD, BEY against his “strawman” alter ego CHARLES LAVERN ARMSTEAD, a typical sovereign scheme. According to the indictment, the defendant had also filed “exempt” forms with his employer, the State of New Jersey. The source of his income? Mr. Armstead worked for the state as a probation officer.

When hypocrisy reigns supreme

Considering that sovereign citizens believe that the government is illegitimate and has no jurisdiction over them, it may seem a little surprising and hypocritical that members of this loosely knit movement would accept taxpayer money. In the past, when I’ve asked sovereigns how they can justify cashing government paychecks, pension checks, disability checks, unemployment checks, and welfare checks, the answers have been mixed. Some claim that it’s better to make changes from within government, while others say that bleeding the government dry is the fastest way to cause its collapse. Most, however, simply don’t think about it at all, even after I’ve broached the subject.

The following is a partial list of sovereigns who earned their money by working for various levels of government.

Central Intelligence Agency: When sovereign citizen Cassandra Harris pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2007, she’d already been employed by the CIA for thirty years and had been making frivolous tax defier and sovereign redemption arguments since 1999. Ms. Harris was sentenced to five months in federal prison.

Federal Bureau of Investigation: After spending 26 years with the FBI as a Special Agent, Jan Lindsey retired in 1995 and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he continued to work for the FBI for ten years as a contractor, even though he had become a vocal leader in the tax protest movement during this time. Lindsey pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2010 and was sentenced to probation.

Internal Revenue Service: In 2004, an email was passed around the tax protest community announcing the formation of the “Truth Team,” five IRS employees who had become leaders within the movement. The following is an excerpt from that email:

The “basketball team” roster now includes (in alphabetical order):
Joseph R. Banister, C.P.A., former IRS-CID Special Agent
Clifton Beale, CEP, A.S., B.S., MS-Taxation, Former IRS Revenue Agent and Appeals Officer
Paul Chappell, Attorney at Law, former U.S. Tax Court Clerk, IRS Chief Counsel Attorney
Sherry P. Jackson, C.P.A., C.F.E., former IRS Revenue Agent
John Turner, E.A., former IRS Revenue Officer

Our “bench” includes many other former IRS personnel who have yet to permit their names to be used publicly. The 5 “starters” anxiously await permission from the “benchwarmers” to announce their names so that they can come out onto the court and show the American audience what our IRS opponent is truly about. The “starters” are getting tired and taking lots of elbows, knees, and other cheap shots and we need a full bench.

Shortly thereafter, Banister was indicted (but a jury later found him not guilty,) Beale was enjoined from selling tax scams, the Tax Court fined Chappell $14,000 for relying on frivolous arguments, Jackson was indicted, convicted, and sentenced to four years in prison, and Turner faded from the movement’s limelight. Banister later lost his CPA license and was disbarred from practicing before the IRS, but he is still an active leader in the movement.

Police: Perhaps the most surprising yet fastest growing segment of government-employed sovereigns is state and local law enforcement. In 2008, I attended and blogged about the criminal trial of a DC Homicide detective named Michael Irving. Not only was his case remarkable because an elite officer within the DC police was so gullible and/or greedy that he bought into a sovereign scam sold by a car mechanic, but he was one of five homicide detectives in DC to do so. To top matters off, Detective Irving’s wife was a federal prosecutor. Other recent law enforcement sovereigns include Tom Laughlin, a Florida homicide detective who was fired when he attempted to secede from the US in 2011, South Carolina state trooper Mark Bolick who was prosecuted for failing to pay state taxes, and Minneapolis police officer Douglas Leiter, convicted of tax and conspiracy charges. Leiter is currently serving a ten-year sentence for tax fraud plus an extra 30 months for filing retaliatory liens against the prosecutors and court personnel in his case.

Military: Many, if not most, sovereigns who joined the movement prior to 2005 have had some military background, but a few career military officers stand out from the crowd. The recent arrests in the Georgia domestic terrorism case included one Navy veteran named Frederick Thomas who had worked for the military for thirty years. Thomas has been charged with conspiring to purchase a bomb and silencer and is awaiting trial. In an unrelated case, the Department of Justice published two press releases in 2011 announcing the criminal indictment of a Virginia plumber and a guilty plea entered by his wife. The wife, who was simply described as a “federal employee” had filed various sovereign documents with her employer. A little digging revealed why the DOJ might have been so uncharacteristically quiet on the wife’s occupation. Janet Jaensch worked as a naval engineer at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington DC in the Integrated Warfare Systems Engineering (SEA 05H) group. Like most federal employees who claim to be outside the authority of the US government, she pleaded guilty and was given probation, while her plumber husband was convicted by a jury in December 2011 and faces up to 12 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Alphabet Soup Agencies: FAA air traffic controller Anthony Carder bought into a tax defier scam, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to one year in prison. Former NASA civil engineer and famous golf course architect Ted McAnlis represented himself in his criminal trial, and is currently serving a 121-month sentence in federal prison. He hadn’t filed a tax return since 1977, had tried to hide millions of dollars in a fake church, bogus trusts, fake SSNs, and had even hidden income in his wife’s name. Georgia extremists Samuel Crump, a former contractor with the US Centers for Disease Control, and Ray Adams, a former lab tech with the Department of Agriculture, are currently awaiting trial in their criminal case, after being accused of plotting to manufacture a deadly biological weapon called ricin.

Politicians: And it isn’t just public employees that attempt to place themselves above the law while cashing government paychecks. Some lawmakers do it too. Idaho state senator Phil Hart is a long term leader in the tax protest movement and former Pennsylvania state senator T. Milton Street recently completed 26 months in federal prison after relying on sovereign citizen arguments during his tax trial. In Erie County, Pennsylvania, Councilman Ebert Beeman has tried to use multiple sovereign arguments to stop paying taxes, to avoid losing his home to foreclosure, to commit Social Security fraud, and to get out of his six arrests for driving without a license. His Social Security fraud criminal trial is scheduled to take place in March, 2012

Summary

School teachers, courtroom bailiffs, prison guards, federal employees, state employees, even a judge, have all gone down the rabbit hole into the strange world of sovereign citizen scams and schemes. While it’s tempting to simply write these people off as a bunch of foolish hypocrites, their positions within the government make their decision to join an anti-government group driven by phony legal theories and conspiracy theories particularly troublesome.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Domestic Terrorism, Sovereign citizens

 

Four arrested in plot to commit mass murder

Two weeks ago, I posted an article on the need for the federal government to take non-Islamic domestic terrorism more seriously because anger in the right wing extremist movement is currently reaching white-hot levels. Four days ago, four right wing extremists were arrested for plotting to kill government employees, law enforcement, and civilians living in five cities around the nation.

The following details were gleaned from FBI Affidavits, the federal indictment, and various public postings made by the defendants in the months leading up to their arrests.

The Players

  

Like most right wing extremists, Fred Thomas, Dan Roberts, Sam Crump, and Ray Adams were furious at the current state of the United States.

  • Frederick W. Thomas, age 73, thirty-year veteran of the US Navy with experience in explosives, also worked as an aerospace engineer with top security clearance.  Thomas was an Oathkeeper, a Three Percenter, and an active member of the TeaParty.  He was also the ringleader of the group.
  • Samuel J. Crump, age 68, former contractor with the US Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Ray H. Adams, age 55, former lab tech with the US Department of Agriculture
  • Emory Dan Roberts, age 67, retired sign maker and commanding officer of the 440th squad of the Georgia Militia

Thomas, posting under the name “Ahab,” wrote the following on the blog of the author whose book inspired the defendants’ plan.

There is no question that this Congress and this administration need replaced, en masse! If we rebell against them outside the ballot box, and we are successful, they will be hung from lamp posts up and down Constitution Avenue, which is proper for the wrongs they’ve committed against the people; but, who will guarantee we can roll back all the damage they’ve done, restore America to the Constitutional Republic that was founded with the signing in 1787? Will there be an America left when the blood stops running?

Crump even joined a Facebook page that prayed – presumably in a weak attempt at humor – for the death of President Obama.

DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN

The Plot

According to court documents, five men, all members of an extremist subgroup of the Georgia Militia that called itself the “Covert Group,” hatched a two-pronged plan. One member, unnamed in the court filings, was facing state felony charges some time prior to March 2011, and wore a wire at the various meetings held by the group, presumably in exchange for a reduced sentence.

  • Prong 1: Assassinate hand-picked people on their “Bucket List” with a particular focus on Department of Justice attorneys, federal judges, IRS employees, ATF employees, corporate leaders, and individuals in the press. To carry through on this plot, the defendants owned several guns, were purchasing and planning to steal silencers for those weapons, and had purchased what they thought was a powerful car bomb from what turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. Future plans to kill federal employees included blowing up the IRS building in Atlanta and the ATF building in DeKalb County “like Timothy McVeigh.”  The first assassination was scheduled to take place on November 2, 2011, but they were arrested before it could happen.
  • Prong 2:  Cook up enough of the toxic biological weapon ricin to distribute in five major cities with a goal of killing as many Americans as possible. The targeted cities named were Washington DC, Atlanta, GA, Newark, NJ, Jacksonville, FL, and New Orleans, LA.  Adams, a retired lab technician from the Department of Agriculture, would create the ricin with Crump, the retired CDC contractor.

The Reaction to the Arrests

Considering the chilling nature of the conspiracy outlined in court filings, I had expected a wave of press stories scrutinizing both the defendants who planned to commit mass murder and the movement that spawned them. After all, according to defendant Thomas, their acts of domestic terrorism were designed to act as a “line in the sand” to shock other extremists in the growing movement into launching similar attacks against the US government.  This was the same goal that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had when they bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Instead, I was dismayed by the press’ bizarre fixation on the age of the conspirators.

“Meet The Senior Citizen Militia Members Arrested In Georgia Bio Attack Plot”
“Four Elderly Terror Suspects Have Trouble Hearing Judge”
“Four Senior Citizens Plotted Killing Spree At A Waffle House”
“Elderly men charged in government attack plot”
“Keystone Pops”
“The geriatric terrorists: Georgia militia pensioners busted for ‘bucket’ hit list and plot to spray deadly ricin over U.S. cities”

The family of the defendants and the defense attorneys assigned to case (paid for tax dollars, of course) continued the refrain.

Yes that is my Father in law that is on the news, but i think it was all talk, Please dont Judge Sammy, or Me or Joey until we all know the truth, dont think he could harm anyone at his age – Crump’s daughter in law

and

These were just grumpy old men talking – Roberts’ defense attorney

The Rant

Does painting these men who plotted to commit mass murder as harmless old geezers make the plot by Americans to kill Americans more palatable?  Does pointing out the fact that they held a couple of their planning meetings in a Waffle House somehow make the plot less lethal because they must be nothing more than dumb Southern rednecks?

The men were 55, 65, 68, and 73 and all of them had backgrounds that added to the lethal potential of the plan.  Anyone who thinks that a man in the 55-73 year old age group is geriatric, incompetent, or too fragile to push a button detonating a car bomb needs to get out and mingle with the retirement age crowd a bit more.  Here’s a good place to start.

  • Secretary of Defense (just retired in 2011) Robert Gates: age 68
  • Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: age 73
  • Vice President Joe Biden: age 69
  • Attorney General Eric Holder: age 60
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: age 64
  • Former CA Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger: age 64
  • Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus: age 63

By playing up the harmless old kook card, the press is downplaying the seriousness of this extremist plot to kill both government employees and innocent civilians.

These harmless old kooks weren’t just talking trash at the Waffle House, they were ready to roll.  Their plan was to use a gun with silencer and/or car bomb on their first target(s) on November 2, 2011 (prong 1 of their plan) and prong 2 wasn’t far behind.  According to the affidavits attached to the search warrants, the FBI found the following at the defendants’ homes:

Laptop computer, castor beans, “white powder in a cup,” books on safety regulations, hazardous materials and emergency response, buckets containing seed pods, toxic plant guides, a container of acetone, castor bean plants, instructions for making ricin, some form of explosives, a machete and at least a dozen guns

The second part of the plan was only one ingredient away from having what they needed to manufacture a deadly biological weapon, a missing item that can easily be purchased at Amazon.com for $6.99/pound.  It is most commonly used in crafting homemade candles.

Some experts have opined that such unsophisticated retirees couldn’t possibly have succeeded in making ricin, but this is not the first time that a right wing extremist group has chosen this particular biological weapon as part of their domestic terrorism plans.

  • In 1992, four men in a tax protest group called the Minnesota Patriots Council successfully created a small batch of ricin which they planned on using on a US Marshal and sheriff’s deputy. They had ordered a “ricin starter kit” from a right wing magazine.  Like the Covert Group above, they had also planned to bomb federal buildings.
  • In 1993, right wing extremist Thomas Lavy was driving from Alaska to Arkansas. When his car was searched at the Canadian border, they found 20,000 rounds of ammunition, weapons, and enough ricin to kill 130,000 people.

There is no antidote for ricin, and the current defendants were far more qualified professionally (Department of Agriculture lab tech, contractor for the CDC, aerospace engineer, and militia leader) than the Minnesota Patriots Council or Thomas Lavy to successfully create the weapon.

Summary

Right wing extremists are spitting mad, willing to die for their cause, and willing to kill for it.  It’s time to take them seriously.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Sovereign citizens

 

Recent examples of right wing violence

In the last ten years, right wing extremists have been involved in several dozen violent and terroristic plots in the United States. A number of factors have contributed to this crime wave including the economic crisis, high foreclosure rates, election of a Democratic president, increasingly violent rhetoric among politicians, pundits, and on internet forums, and, ironically, the rise of the Tea Party movement. The majority of the recent events have come from adherents of the sovereign citizen movement, a loosely knit group of approximately 300,000 people who believe that they are above all laws.

The following is an incomplete list of the most recent stories – both terrorist-related and otherwise – involving the sovereign citizen, militia, and related movements.

 

2012

January, 2012:  When a police officer attempted to pull over sovereign citizen James Tesi during a traffic stop, he refused, and the officer followed him  to his home in Hurst, Texas.  According to police reports, he then emerged with his truck with a gun and started firing at the officer.  Tesi, who claims he is exempt from all laws as a member of the Moorish Temple – a black sovereign group – was wounded in the return fire, and has been released on bond pending his criminal trial.  Tesi was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

2011

December, 2011:  Sovereign citizen guru David Myrland, who had been arrested and charged with threatening to kidnap and kill the mayor of Kirkland, Washington, was sentenced to 40 months in prison.  


November, 2011:
 When sovereign citizen Mary Ann Morgan drove her pick up truck across the Canadian border from Alaska, police found an illegal weapon, pipe bomb making instructions, and a recipe for the biological weapon ricin.  Morgan’s criminal trial is scheduled to take place in March, 2012.

 

 

 

November, 2011:  Following a months-long armed standoff, farmer Rodney  Brossart and his sons were taken into custody and charges with eleven felony charges, including bail jumping and terrorizing a sheriff.

November, 2011:  Samuel Crump, Fred Thomas, Ray Adams, and Dan Roberts, right wing extremists ranging in age from 55 to 73, were arrested in Georgia and charged with planning a signficant terrorist attack against US officials, government buildings, and the general public.  The plot involved the use of guns, bombs, and the biological weapon ricin.

November, 2011: Armed with an AK47, Idaho extremist Oscar Ortega-Hernandez drove to Washington DC to kill President Obama.  He fired shots at the White House and was arrested by police.  Ortega-Hernandez was indicted in January, 2012 and is awaiting his trial.

October, 2011:  Sovereign citizen Darryl Tally Jr. was charged with hijacking a car at gunpoint in Little Rock, Arkansas.

October, 2011:  Unable to control his impulses to harm government employees, bank robber and sovereign citizen Kyle Richards informed the court that he was too dangerous to be sent back to prison.

September, 2011:  Sovereign trucker Martin Jonassen was charged with kidnapping, beating, and raping his 21 year old, homeschooled daughter. Even after his arrest, court documents show that he used the prison phone to call his wife and sons to convince them to pressure the daughter into recanting her statement to the police.  Jonassen currently faces criminal trials at both the state and federal levels.


August, 2011:
 Sovereign Erin Crawford was accused of kidnapping her 4 year old child in North Carolina.

August, 2011:  A sovereign named Laurine Arnold was charged with kidnapping her 5 year old grandson and hiding him in a Hare Krishna temple in Florida.  Arnold is currently awaiting trial.

 

 

June, 2011:  Militia leader David Burgert fired at two sheriff’s deputies before disappearing into the woods.  Burgert remains a fugitive at this time, and is facing two counts of attempted murder in Missoula, Montana.  Burgert had recently been released from prison where he had been sentenced to 8 years for attempting to assemble both the followers and the weapons to lead a revolution against the government.   He had called his group Project 7, and the plan had been to murder local sheriff’s deputies, judges, and elected officials, in hopes of inciting similar groups around the country to do the same.  Burgert was recently featured on “America’s Most Wanted” but remains a fugitive.

June, 2011:  When a Page, Arizona officer responded to a domestic violence call, there was a scuffle, and sovereign leader Bill Fouts attempted to grab the officer’s Taser. The officer then shot and killed Fouts.  Fouts was a leader in the Republic for the united States, a sovereign alternative government group.

 

May, 2011:  Larry Wayne Kelly was charged with shooting up a Florida seafood store with an AK-47 because he was angry that they were out of crawfish.  When he was apprehended, the police found a book called The Sociopath Next Door in the suspect’s car.  Kelly is awaiting trial and is being held on a sizable bond.

April, 2011:  Angry over a friend’s traffic court case, Florida sovereign Robert Chapman gave his friend John Ridge Emery, III a sealed envelope that was purported to contain anthrax to hand to the judge.  Both men have been charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction and are awaiting trial.

March, 2011:  White supremacist Kevin William Harpham was arrested and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possessing an unregistered explosive device.  Harpham’s plan, according to the federal indictment, was to detonate a backpack bomb filled with shrapnel dipped in rat poison at a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington.   In December 2011, Harpham was found guilty by a jury and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

 

March, 2011:  Sovereign leader Schaeffer Cox was indicted with four others for conspiring to kidnap and murder multiple State Troopers and state court officials. According to court filings, they scouted out the homes of the Troopers, and purchased grenades, machine guns, and assault rifles. They called their plot the “2 4 1” plan – kidnap two troopers or officials for every militia member arrested, and murder two for every militia member who dies in the struggle. Eight days after the state indictment, four of the defendants were also indicted in federal court, accused of conspiring to murder a federal judge, an IRS employees, and their families.  While the state were later dropped, additional counts were added to the federal indictment, and the defendants are scheduled to go to trial in May, 2012.

January, 2011:  Jared Loughner, whose online posts and videos display numerous sovereign markers, kills six, and injures 14 others, including his main target, a US Representative, in Tucson, Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

2010

September, 2010:  Militia member Victor Dewayne White was accused of shooting two officers and one citizen in Texas during a day-long standoff at his residence.


 

July, 2010:  Right wing extremist Byron Williams was pulled over for driving erratically by California police.  He was heavily armed and wearing body armor, and engaged them in a shootout, injuring two officers before surrendering. His plan was to kill employees at two charities, thereby acting as a catalyst in what he hoped would grow into a bloody revolution.

 

May, 2010: 16 year old sovereign Joseph Kane shot and killed two police during a traffic stop. Young Kane and his father, Jerry, were later involved in a shootout, injuring two more officers before dying in the gunfire.

April, 2010: Court-martialed Navy officer and “birther” Walter Fitzpatrick attempted to “arrest” a grand jury foreman in Madison, Tennessee because Fitzpatrick wanted the grand jury to indict President Obama for treason over his birth certificate.  Fitzpatrick was arrested again in December 2011 for trying to steal documents from a courthouse.

April, 2010:  A group calling itself the Guardian of the Free Republics issued a letter to all 50 state governors demanding that they step down immediately. 1,300 sovereign citizens signed on to act as “common law grand jurors.”

April, 2010:  Armed with an AK-47, Darren Wesley Huff drove from Georgia to Tennessee with plans to take over the Monroe County Courthouse.  According to law enforcement, Huff was angry that the grand jury had refused to criminally indict President Obama for failing to show his long form birth certificate. Huff was convicted on 10/25/11 and is scheduled to be sentenced in February, 2012.

March, 2010:  Anti-government extremist John Patrick Bedell, killed two security guards at the US Pentagon before he was killed.

March, 2010:  Brody Whitaker attempted to shoot two highway patrolmen during a traffic stop in Florida. He fled the scene and was arrested a few weeks later.  Update January 2012:  Brody was found guilty by a Florida jury and was sentenced to life in prison.

 

 

 

 

March, 2010:  Nine members of a Christian Patriot militia called the Hutaree were arrested for plotting to murder a significant number of law enforcement in Michigan.  According to court documents, the plan was to murder a police officer, and then ambush and bomb the sizable police funeral.  Updated February 2012:  The criminal trial has begun.

 

 

February, 2010:  Tax protester Joseph Stack flew his airplane into an IRS building in Texas, killing one government employee and wounding thirteen others.  Stack died in the crash.

 

 

January, 2010:  Tax protester/ militia leader Ed Brown was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison for engaging the US Marshals in a nine month standoff involving numerous guns, bombs, IEDs, and more than 60,000 rounds of ammunition.

 

2009

June, 2009:  White supremacist James Von Brunn killed a security guard inside the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Braun was shot by a second guard and died a few months later before he could be brought to trial.

May, 2009:  After arguing with his wife over where his acne lotion was kept, anti-government extremist Joshua Cartwright shot and killed two police officers in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Cartwright died in the gunfire.

May, 2009:  Arizona anti-government extremist Shawna Forde had a plan. She would rob suspected drug dealers, and use the money to fund a revolution against the US government. During a home invasion / robbery, Forde shot a family of three, killing the father and nine year old daughter, and wounding the mother. Forde and her accomplice, Gunny Bush, were convicted and on currently on death row, pending appeal.

 

 

 

May, 2009:  Right wing extremist Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in the doctor’s Wichita, Kansas church.  Roeder was found guilty and is currently serving a life sentence.

April, 2009:  When Pennsylvania extremist Richard Poplawski’s mother called police over an argument involving his dog, Poplawski grabbed his body armor and multiple guns, including an AK47, and waited to ambush the officers that answered the call.  He was convicted for murdering three officers and is currently on death row, pending appeal.

 

 

 

April 2009:  When Viola, Wisconsin deputies arrived at the home of sovereign citizen Robert Bayliss to serve an eviction notice for failure to pay property taxes, the anti-government extremist started firing at the officers. He surrendered after a violent, day-long standoff, was convicted by jury on 13 felony counts including attempted first degree murder, and was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

April, 2009:  Serial bank robber and right wing extremist Richard Bauer was sentenced to four life sentences in Gassville, Arkansas for aggravated bank robbery and kidnapping. Bauer believed that robbing banks was justifiable because they were in cahoots with the IRS.

April, 2009:  Sovereign citizen Andrew Stephen Gray was charged with weapons and drug violations. Twenty rifles, a machine gun, four silencers, two bulletproof vests and 9,000 rounds of ammunition were found in Gray’s storage locker. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence.

March, 2009:  A trio of prominent sovereign leaders was arrested in Las Vegas, CA.  Harold Call was charged with unlawful possession of a machine gun, gurus Sam Davis and Shawn Talbot Rice were charged with money laundering. Davis plead guilty in 2011 and was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison.  Harold Call received an 18 month prison sentence, and Rice was taken into custody in January 2012, after engaging in a stand-off with law enforcement.

February, 2009:  Minnesota sovereign citizen Robert Beale was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for conspiring with three other sovereigns to kidnap a federal judge. Beale had earlier been convicted on tax charges, and the new prison sentence was in addition to the 134–month sentence on that case. Two of his co-defendants are currently serving 24-month sentences.

January, 2009:  When anti-government extremist Ronald L. Struve failed to pay the rent on his Washington storage locker, the new owner found 37 machine guns, 2 grenade launchers, 54 high explosive grenades, 6 blocks of plastic explosives, 12 silencers, 25 feet of detonator cord, and 7 blasting caps. A search of his home turned up anti-government literature, an “End the Fed” bumper sticker, 7 machine guns, a Russian sniper rifle, and an AK-47 assault rifle. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence in California and is scheduled to be released in July of 2012.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Domestic Terrorism, Sovereign citizens

 

The Politics of Domestic Terrorism

It’s been quite a year for Islamic terrorism news. Bin Laden and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki were killed. There was a credible threat on 9/11/11 about a potential attack by Al Qaeda, and in Texas, a Muslim American soldier gone AWOL was apprehended with the makings of two bombs. Just last week, the underwear bomber plead guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction to kill 289 people on a commercial flight.

These were big news stories in the US, as well they should be, and the dialogue addressing the issue of Islamic terrorists has been robust on news shows, on the Internet, and in the halls of Congress.

In comparison, when terrorist plots, bombings, murders, and arrests involved non-Islamic villains, you could almost hear the crickets chirp.

Americans have a curious blind spot when it comes to home grown violence, a willful ignorance that is unfortunately mirrored in our political leaders, federal law enforcement agencies, and press.

The first problem is the terrorism label itself. When an Islamic radical intentionally flies a plane into a building, it’s clearly terrorism. When a Texas tax protester flies his plane into an IRS building, the FBI is quick to call it “a criminal matter … not to be considered terrorism.” When a US soldier who is also an Islamic extremist pulls out a gun and shoots 42 people at the Fort Hood military base, it’s terrorism, but when a 21 year old college drop-out shoots 20 people in Arizona, including a Congresswoman and a federal judge, he’s just mentally ill.

Why does it matter? Because we’re in a perfect storm for domestic terrorism in the US right now and the last time right-wing extremist anger, paranoia, and desperation reached these levels, Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds more.

The White House

The problem – a lack of meaningful dialogue – goes all the way to the top. On August 3, 2011, President Obama released an eight-page plan entitled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” The report, which was disappointingly short on practical solutions, contained a fatal flaw.

Throughout our history, misguided groups – including international and domestic terrorist organizations, neo-Nazis and anti-Semitic hate groups – have engaged in horrific violence to kill our citizens and threaten our way of life.

Today … al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents represent the preeminent terrorist threat to our country.

This may sound reassuring, but it simply isn’t true. While symbolic targets like DC and Manhattan may worry about future attacks by Al Qaeda, ask any police chief in the rest of the country and they’ll all say the same thing: it’s only a matter of time before the United States sees one or more significant acts of domestic terrorism take place at the hand of a right-wing extremist. Future Timothy McVeighs are a very real concern.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Interestingly, the White House didn’t always have its head in the sand when it comes to homegrown extremism.  In 2004, the DHS assembled an analytical team to monitor the various factions that make up the “patriot” community, and in 2009, this team issued a report to law enforcement agencies warning them of the rapid growth and inherent violent risk in the right wing extremist movement. Someone in law enforcement leaked the report to the conservative press, and, pressured by Fox News and conservative pundits, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano back-pedaled rapidly in an attempt to distance the Obama administration from the politically incorrect findings in the report.

In a move that may one day soon prove disastrous, the unit charged with monitoring non-Islamic, homegrown extremists – groups that could very well be incubating the next Timothy McVeighs – was dismantled.  Today, there is only one person in all of Homeland Security keeping track of a movement that has grown exponentially in recent years.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Once again, ask any police chief in the country about the flow of useful intelligence from the federal government to the state and local level on the subject of domestic terrorists, and you’ll hear a common complaint. Bound by complex rules, and a culture of secrecy, quite simply put, the Bureau does not play well with others. While there may be more analysts tracking the right wing extremist movement, such information rarely gets passed down to the local agencies most likely to encounters these groups.

Even with the introduction of Fusion Centers around the country, which were designed to facilitate communication between federal and local agencies, the complaint is the same.

We haven’t been properly briefed on these right wing extremists. We get a lot of information from the DOJ on Al Qaeda, but nothing on domestic terrorists.  – Police Chief, West Memphis, Arkansas

Local law enforcement

When Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols decided to bomb the federal building Oklahoma City, they didn’t live in the area. The target was chosen out of phone book.

On May 20, 2010, sovereign citizens Jerry and Joseph Kane shot four police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, killing two, before they died in a gun battle with law enforcement. The Kanes lived in Florida, had license plates from Ohio, and were traveling across the country from Las Vegas.

Thanks to the internet, the extremist movement is now national in scope, and must be monitored at the national level. Local police departments have absolutely no way of knowing what nightmares are heading their way and have to rely on federal agencies such as the DHS and FBI to keep them informed. With only one person monitoring an enormous movement, no intelligence reports on the subject have been produced by DHS since early 2009 and key information is no longer being provided to local law enforcement agencies, and the FBI close lipped policy means that any information provided is somewhat generic.

Congress

On March 10, 2011, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on domestic terrorism. The only issue addressed was the radicalization of Muslims in America, and no comparable hearings have been held on the issue of right wing extremism, even though the vast majority of domestic terrorist acts in the US involve non-Islamic terrorists.

While it may be politically incorrect to focus attention on extremists from only one side of the spectrum, simply ignoring that there’s a problem and a potential for mass casualties is irresponsible and dangerous.

Sometimes, to win a fight, you have to be willing take a few hits. If an unpopular report gets leaked to the press, the appropriate response isn’t to dismantle the team that wrote it and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

Conclusion

Maybe we’re too close to the issue of non-Islamic homegrown extremism to have a meaningful dialogue. Maybe the political environment is just too toxic to address the potential for right wing violence calmly. But we’d better find a way to deal with it quickly, because the consequences of ignoring it are too high.

Three months ago, news spread quickly about a bombing and mass murder in Oslo, Norway, and the press and pundits instantly assumed that it was the work of an Islamic terrorist. When it turned out to be a young Norwegian man with right-wing extremist beliefs, the comments made to the press by Oslo residents sounded eerily familiar.

I can’t believe this is happening in Norway.

Some of the Oslo comments went further.

It’s the kind of thing you’d expect in America.

Pay attention, DC.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Sovereign citizens

 

Jared Lee Loughner: Lost in Translation

On Saturday afternoon, my phone was hopping out of its cradle and email started pouring in. A gunman had just shot multiple victims in Tucson, Arizona, including a US Congresswoman and a federal judge, and everyone from friends to press to government employees wanted to know: Was the shooter one of “my guys”?

For more than 10 years, I have tracked, studied, and infiltrated various factions of the right-wing extremist world, including tax protest and sovereign citizen groups. There are approximately 300,000 of “my guys” in the US today.1

It was good question, and considering that 20 people had been shot resulting in six fatalities, it was an important question. Online battles were already raging on political websites and in the comment sections of various news articles. Cable news pundits were bending over backwards assigning blame to their political enemies, attempting to use the dead and wounded to score “points” over their opponents. This made it a smokin’ hot question.

So what’s my answer?

Yes, he’s one of my guys.

I downloaded and watched 22-year old Jared Loughner’s now-famous YouTube videos, grabbed a cache copy of his MySpace pages and postings, and have read as many articles quoting his friends and neighbors as I could find. There are a significant number of pointers that place him squarely within the sovereign belief system, and none so far that suggest that he isn’t a sovereign.

Is he insane? Maybe, and that will be for a judge and jury to decide, but it doesn’t change my answer or even make it any less likely.

Is he as insane as the press, sheriff, and pundits are making him out to be? Probably not. They just don’t speak his language or understand his obscure references, so they reasonably dismiss what they don’t understand as meaningless babble.

For example, James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal writes:

To the extent that the suspect, Jared Loughner, had political views, they were disjointed and impossible to categorize–think John Hinckley meets No Labels.

I disagree with Mr. Taranto.

Ironically, this is what the shooter refers to as “literacy” and “grammar” in his writings. Sovereigns have their own set of complex cultural references and vocabulary, which they think that outsiders are just too stupid to understand.

The Sovereign sub-culture is based on conspiracy theory

In general, a sovereign believes that every individual has more rights and power than any government agency or political body, but that sinister forces behind the government have systematically suppressed this secret knowledge in order to better enslave us all as “subjects.” Depending on the sovereign group, the conspiracy behind the government is run by rich bankers, the Federal Reserve, Jews, Zionists, the Pope, the Queen of England, or in one extreme case, shape-shifting reptiles.

Now, stay with me here.

Sovereigns believe that, if they could just get the combination of words right to expose the conspiracy, we could all live in a world of unlimited freedom with no traffic laws, taxes, debts, child protective services, or nasty ex-spouses. Our individual wealth would magically be unlimited, since people behind the government would no longer be using us to enrich themselves.

Different leaders within the movement sell different secret solutions to their flocks.

  1. Some believe that if the nation could just return to the gold and silver standard, all economic woes would end.
  2. Most engage in what I call “Founding Father worship” in which they take excerpts from the Constitution and American Revolution leaders and either misread them or twist them out of context to suit their purposes.
  3. Many think that the Federal Reserve is run by a secret cabal, and that banks commit fraud every time they loan you money. Therefore, a sovereign believes he’s not legally required to make mortgage or credit card payments.
  4. Earlier sovereigns focused on income taxes, and that has recently expanded to property taxes.
  5. Some of the more extreme preach a return to a more “racially pure” time where all community decisions are made by white men.

Sovereigns often don’t have a driver’s licenses or passports, and they may not register their cars or businesses. They often don’t pay income taxes or child support, and they get extraordinarily frustrated – even violent – when law enforcement attempts to infringe on their make-believe freedoms by daring to write them a ticket or file a tax lien on their assets.

Once such recent case of violence by sovereign, was the recent cop killings in West Memphis Arkansas, when 16 year old sovereign named Joseph Kane, fired on and killed two police officers during a traffic stop. Joseph and his father Jerry fled the scene and later died in a shootout where two more police officers were shot and wounded.

The new Sovereignty appeals to all generations and races

While the sovereign movement was started several decades ago by white supremacist leaders in Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas, in recent years, new joiners have been young and old, male and female, from all races and religions.

  • Sovereigns over the age of 60 most likely joined the movement following a personal bankruptcy or argument with government tax collectors.
  • Those in the 35 to 60 year old age group likely joined when they ran into trouble with a mortgage foreclosure or other debt problem.
  • The youngest and newest recruits are either 1) children of sovereigns who were indoctrinated into this absurd belief system by their family, or 2) they were introduced to the belief system through an online conspiracy source such as the “911 Truth Movement.” This last group believes that the Bush administration was secretly behind the tragic events of 911.

Loughner’s writings

The various YouTube videos posted by Loughner are filled with sovereign-type references.

If he’s like most sovereigns, at some level he knows his beliefs are inherently absurd, so he tries to bolster his conclusions with weak syllogisms, desperately trying to show that it was deductive reasoning that led him to his ideas, not gullible or weak thinking.

His fascination with the meaning of words, what he terms “grammar,” is very common in the movement, and fits into the belief that the secret to freedom can only be accessed through the right combination of words and quotes, a kind of magic incantation.

Many sovereigns suffer delusions of grandeur. Simply put, they believe that they hold the key to the secret knowledge because they’re so much smarter than the rest of us. Loughner labels this as “literacy.”
Faux number theory, the focus on the gold standard, new age practices, and the desire for an alternative currency are all common sovereign concepts.

All sovereigns believe in some form of conspiracy theory. Loughner may have thought that Congresswoman Giffords, as a political insider, knew all about the dark forces behind the government but was ignoring his attempt

to communicate with her using the magic incantation language. In his eyes, this would make her evil and treasonous, and the punishment for treason is death.

Sovereigns believe that they are part of some new American Revolution, and that violence is a necessary part of the revolutionary process. They want to be the spark that triggers the war that leads the nation to freedom.

Violent domestic terrorist such as Timothy McVeigh, tax protester Joseph Stack who flew his place into the IRS building in Austin, and New Hampshire sovereign Ed Brown, who engaged US Marshals in a heavily armed standoff in 2007, all used such language.

And, as for the mental illness issue, no one becomes a sovereign without some factor or triggering event that effectively turns off a person’s common sense switch. In ordinary circumstances, the sovereign belief system is patently absurd, and the ordinary person sees right through the whole conspiracy / magic incantation stuff as nonsense.

But not all sovereigns are mentally ill. In fact, most aren’t, according to the courts. They’re simply gullible, greedy, financially desperate, or anxious to feel powerful and important. And while most people who don’t speak sovereign think that their ramblings are incoherent, they actually follow a complex set of rules that is fairly consistent.

Conclusion

The world of sovereign extremism exists outside of our traditional political spectrum, so labeling someone like Loughner a left-wing extremist or right-wing Teapartier doesn’t make any sense. Sovereigns tend to be anti-government, but don’t really see much difference between a Republican politician and a Democratic. Both sides of the political aisle are seen as impediments to the sovereign notion of freedom.

Jared Lee Loughner may have acted alone but he is not alone in his beliefs.

1 [1] See my latest article “Sovereign Citizen Kane” in the Intelligence Report magazine, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and my Congressional Testimony before the US Senate for additional information on my research.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Sovereign citizens

 

Extremist radio, funny and frightening

Listening to online talk radio is like trying to navigate the Los Angeles freeway system at the peak of rush hour while hitting your forehead repeatedly with a hammer. Even if you make it to your final destination without shooting anyone, you worry that you’ll emerge from the car just a little bit dumber than when you climbed in.

The typical right-wing extremist show goes something like this: The host introduces himself and describes in titillating detail his most recent victimization at the hands of the evil feds – the US government apparently has an endless supply of silent, black helicopters and wastes billions of dollar annually bugging the homes and phones of small-time radio hosts – all because he’s determined to share “The Truth” with his vast army of listeners. His fans, all 42 of them, are thrilled to think that they’re in on some secret truthiness, and are therefore more than happy to overlook the obvious lies and exaggerations the show host slips in next. Just when you think the fibs about the topic du jour are so outrageous that the listeners will have to slap their knees and admit that the whoppers being told are truly funny stinkers, the show breaks for commercials.

And for pure entertainment value, there’s nothing better than the advertisers who peddle their goods on the extremist talk show circuit.

Worried about the impending apocalypse? Just buy gold coins, freeze-dried food, and a few dozen cases of ammunition from us and you’ll be the king of your county when the world economy collapses. Have the Jews rigged the Federal Reserve to ensure your financial failure? Here’s a $3,000 debt elimination package that guarantees you’ll never have to pay off your mortgage and credit card debt to those evil Jew bankers again. Cash only, please. Feeling like you’re coming down with the flu? A little colloidal silver in your water will make you right as rain again. Just because your skin turns permanently blue, it’s a small price to pay for thwarting the government’s plan to kill you with those sinister flu vaccinations. Angry with Uncle Sam for taking 191.4% of your hard-earned money each week? Quick, buy our detax toolkit and you can be a tax-free hero, just like the founding fathers, Ross Perot, and the Kennedy clan. Call now and we’ll throw in an offshore Ponzi scheme for free!

After the break, the host continues his lengthy rant on whatever news event or paranoid fantasy pissed him off that day, punctuated with occasional calls from supporters who tell him that he is obviously correct because they can’t find anything on the topic in the Illuminati-controlled, mainstream media.

The show invariably ends with an impassioned request for donations. Taking on the entire US government ain’t cheap, you know.

The topics may be racist and hate-filled, and the medical and financial advice may land the listener in a god-awful mess, but in general, most online talk radio shows are relatively harmless. Few of the hosts openly advocate violence, and even fewer have more than a couple dozen scattered listeners, many of whom are too paranoid to leave their homes because the black helicopters are hovering in the shadows and the airplanes overhead are spreading mind-control chemicals through their condensation trails. A host’s success is measured in terms of donations with the ultimate goal of having enough money come in to avoid that depressing get-a-real-job alternative. After all, it’s easier to collect unemployment or disability if you don’t have an employer reporting your earnings to those jack-booted thugs at the IRS.

But then there are the rare birds – the hosts that manage to gain a significant following measured in the thousands rather than dozens – who believe that the only solution to their paranoid problems is to hunt and kill the perceived enemy. Primary targets may include Jews, blacks, immigrants, UFOs cleverly disguised as famous people, gays, state and federal employees, and even strategic government buildings. While gathering donations is still a fundamental objective, these gurus have an ultimate goal of inciting others to do their dirty wet work for them, for free.

They’re not as funny as the other guys.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2011 in Sovereign citizens

 

New article on the Sovereign Citizen movement

On May 20, 2010, two “sovereigns” named Jerry and Joseph Kane murdered two policers and wounded two others over a routine traffic stop. To read more about that tragic day and the sovereign movement in general, be sure to check out my article in The Intelligence Report, a magazine published by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2011 in Sovereign citizens