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