The Daily Bell
is pleased to present an exclusive interview with E. Stewart
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.
Give us something about your background. Where did you grow up and
go to school?
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.
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?
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
When did you join Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff?
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.
You won a prize for the paper "Solving the Puzzle of Enemy
Combatant Status" at Yale. What was that about?
2004 paper 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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
You also assisted teaching U.S. military history at Yale; why were
you interested in military history?
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
You are writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war
to the American people. Can you tell us about it?
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.
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
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
You write the monthly Enemy at the Gates column for S.W.A.T.
Magazine. What’s that about?
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
When did you decide to found Oath Keepers and why?
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
Why has Oath Keepers gotten so much publicity? Where you surprised
by the reception?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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, 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
You will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that
asserts its sovereignty. Is this an issue within law enforcement
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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"
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.
Where do you go from here? Are you more or less worried about a
federal response to civil unrest these days?
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, 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.
What do you think of the recent mid-term election results and the
Tea Party in general?
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.
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.
Are you still growing quickly?
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.
Do you think the militarization of policing in the US can be reversed?
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.
Is it necessary to have so many police and Swat units, etc? Who
is behind it?
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.
Is it necessary to have a war on drugs?
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.
Is the US inevitably headed down an authoritarian path. Do you fear
the break-up US society?
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).
Can you recommend some books or other literature or websites so
people can explore these subjects for themselves?
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.
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,
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, 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
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
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. 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
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
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,
is available online.
they can read my
article on the Clinton era plan to use military tribunals on
McVeigh and the militias.
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
preparedness, I recommend Boston’s
Gun Bible, by "Boston T. Party" and, in general,
and any of the books written by that blog’s owner, James Wesley,
Rawles. I also recommend anything written by Cody Lundin.
Thank you for your time and good work.
Rhodes: Likewise. I consider the Daily Bell to be essential
daily reading. Let freedom ring.
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 Steward Rhodes shows us in this interview (some
of it obviously written as well as extemporaneous) is positively
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.
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.
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
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.
with permission from The