August 25th, 2009

Oath Keepers aim to curb federal power

Recently, in the aftermath of the Southern Poverty Law Center smear campaign which featured Oath Keepers, a reporter for the Bozeman (MT) Daily Chronicle interviewed both me and Elias (the Oath Keepers Montana Director). Below is the article. All in all, it’s not bad as far as the mainstream media goes, though there is a bit of the same old slight of hand of supposed guilt by association and “some say …” or some supposed “expert” says this or that.

One thing the reporter left out regarding the nutbag “Citizen Quizar” is not only was he not a member of our organization, he was also threatening to kill police officers – not very compatible with an organization made up of police officers and military. That’s not even an example of someone “taking it too far,” it is comparing apples to oranges. We are about the oath, period. We are about police and military keeping the oath by refusing unlawful orders and standing down, period. That’s it. Our political enemies have to do some pretty complex innuendo gymnastics to try to make it about something else. Perhaps what they are really worried about is that we just may keep our oaths – the horrors!
The comments to the article on the newspaper’s site are very illuminating – especially by those who have a problem with police and military simply keeping their oaths and reaffirming their commitment to do so. We invite you to go to the actual article and add your comments there. – Stewart Rhodes

Oath Keepers aim to curb federal power

By JESSICA MAYRER Chronicle staff writer

With a bushy red beard, impish grin and sandals, Elias Alias doesn’t look like a rightwing extremist.

“I am interested in personal freedom,” he said.

Sean Sperry/Chronicle Elias Alias talks about the Oath Keepers movement with a reporter recently.
Sean Sperry/Chronicle Elias Alias talks about the Oath Keepers

Alias is working to make Montana the first state in the nation to create Oath Keepers chapters in every county. Oath Keepers, after forming last spring, is comprised mostly of military and law enforcement personnel aiming to resist what it sees as a federal government overstepping constitutional boundaries.

“It’s time for the people to take the government back,” said the 62-year-old Alias, who, until the name change, was Franklin Shook.

Since former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School grad Stewart Rhodes founded the national organization months ago, state groups have rapidly sprung up, with highway patrolmen, military, county sheriffs, police officers and, according to the group, U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees signing on to stand against overreaching federal authority.

“I’m getting calls from all over this country from concerned people,” said Alias, who lives in Willow Creek and is the editor of a new publication, the Gallatin County Patriot. “The alarm is out there.”

While in office, President George W. Bush used the war on terror to make Americans afraid, Alias said. The goal was to expand executive power under the guise of national security concerns, he said. Under that leadership, the Patriot Act and other maneuvers skirting established legal protections eroded constitutional mandates. Those actions expanded federal authority over the states and increased surveillance of American citizens, Alias said.

“Fear should not be a part of our daily lives,” he said.

And now, President Barack Obama isn’t reversing those executive maneuvers, Rhodes said.

Before forming Oath Keepers, Rhodes — a former firearms instructor and Libertarian who served on Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s staff — had been warning folks for years about the dangers he sees in America’s increasingly centralized power structure.

But during the past several months, as a new administration stepped up, Rhodes’ message has started to resonate with a larger segment of Americans, he said.

“They’re kind of freaking out,” Rhodes said of the conservative flock.

Meanwhile, Alias, a Vietnam vet who speaks with a drawl befitting someone who spent most of his life in Tennessee, has also grown increasingly alarmed. He’s scared his grandchildren won’t have the freedoms he grew up with, he said.

So, he’s working to revive the concept of liberty in the American people.

“That shouldn’t be a threat to anyone,” he said.

But, it is.

Buzz is growing across the country as “patriot groups,” sprout up, some say mirroring a 1990s movement culminating in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. Fueled by frustration born of the ailing economy, federal bailouts and, according to the Department of Homeland Security, inauguration of the first black president, radical groups are taking advantage of the current political climate to recruit.

“We think there is cause for concern,” said Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network.

And the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks “extremist” activity throughout the country, in a report this month points to the Oath Keepers as a “particularly worrisome example of the Patriot Revival.” The SPLC further reports that it’s likely only a matter of time before some segment of the Patriot Revival becomes violent.

The Department of Homeland Security considers groups that reject federal authority in favor of local authority “rightwing extremists,” according to an April 7 “threat analysis” released by the agency.

And that doesn’t sit well with Alias.

“To call Americans with political concerns, ‘terrorists,’ is unacceptable,” he said.

Those who have sworn to uphold the Constitution are obligated to protect the country’s founding principles, regardless of what authority says, he maintained.

“I will honor the U.S. federal government as long as it operates within its constitutional bounds,” Alias said.

It’s no surprise some are dubbing Oath Keepers dangerous, Rhodes said. Demonizing political opponents is an easy way to stem dissent.

“Every oppressive government throughout history has labeled people as enemies of the state,” he said.

The group maintains it is nonviolent. But its Web site offers repeated references to the American Revolution and broaches the possibility of a second such event.

“If you, the American people, are forced to once again fight for your liberty in another American Revolution, you will not be alone. We will stand with you,” the Oath Keepers Web site states.

And with a message like that, some may grab hold and go too far, McAdam said.

That’s apparently what happened with Daniel Knight Hayden, who, after publicizing Oath Keepers material on MySpace and Twitter social-networking sites under the name Citizen Quasar, was arrested in April after posting online that he was “locked and loaded” on the way to a tax-day protest at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Hayden is not an Oath Keeper, Rhodes said. And targeting his group because one unstable person latched on is unfair. There is always potential for disenfranchised individuals to use political messages as an excuse to sound off, he said.

“Is that what they want, that we should just shut up shop because some nut might take it too far?” Rhodes asked.

Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. had the right idea, Alias said. He aims to educate people about how to protect the U.S. Constitution and their rights. Racism, violence and demonizing political opponents have no place within Oath Keepers, he said.

“People on both sides of the isle are good people,” he said. “They believe what they’re saying, what they’re doing, just like I do.”

But if active-duty Oath Keepers are given an order they deem unconstitutional, they will stand down, Rhodes said, pointing to government orders that should have been disobeyed, like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“It’s the people of this country who are responsible for keeping the government in check,” Rhodes said.

Jessica Mayrer can be reached at or 582-2635.


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27 Responses to “Oath Keepers aim to curb federal power”

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  1. 1
    Margaret Says:

    I think it is very heroic & honorable that you are doing this. Where do Oathkeepers stand on enforcing mandatory vaccinations? How do they know if they are lethal or not?

  2. 2
    Ben Gregory Says:

    AS THE FOLLOWING WORDS STATE IN OUR DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,HOW CAN ANY TRUE AMERICANS QUESTION THE ACTIONS OF OATH KEEPERS ACROSS AMERICA. “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. 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, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
    I Love my country. It is not the government of this country that I am concerned will take away freedoms, but the Leaders that are elected by us “Citizens” that hold office to run this country. The words above say it all. It is OUR RIGHT AND OUR DUTY as Americans to question and act when needed to protect OUR COUNTRY. This is what our Forefathers intended us to do. If our leaders are questioning our actions, they are questioning our Forefathers actions. THE REAL QUESTION IS WHO ARE THE TRUE AMERICANS.

  3. 3
    Richard Ocamica Says:

    I’m willing to bet that Daniel Knight Hayden was a plant. Way to easy.

  4. 4
    MSSouth Says:

    I honor you patriotism to my country and it’s founding principles. Just wish that a sub organization to the “Oath Keepers” could be formed for those of us that feel the same but have not or currently are not serving our Country.

    I wish you all well and hope that we will never need your assistance. Will be including this group of honorable Americans in my prayers.

  5. 5
    Paul Stramer Says:

    Please do not publish the article that I submitted yesterday.

    I have changed a few things in it that will be critical and it’s final form
    will be found here if you want to see it.

    My modifications should be in place at that link by the end of the day today 8 26 09

    Paul Stramer

  6. 6
    Brock Townsend Says:


  7. 7
    jane Says:

    To Elias Alias,
    “I will honor the U.S. federal government as long as it operates within its constitutional bounds,” Alias said.
    The federal government has for far too long operated WAY outside its Constitutional Powers and Authority (bounds). The government is now an “elective despotism”, the very thing the Framers worked so hard to guard against when writing the Constitution.

  8. 8
    anonymous Says:

    I agree, Margaret, that it is very heroic. These are the true patriots of this country. I, too would like to know the Oath Keeper stance on mandatory vaccinations. As a registered nurse and wife of a military physician, we are against injecting toxic poison into our children and believe it is a crime against humanity to force others to do so against their will.

  9. 9
    Elias Alias Says:

    To Jane – I totally agree that the U.S. federal government is operating outside its legal limits. For that reason, I cannot support the U.S. federal government as it presently stands. I am demanding that the U.S. federal government return to an honorable relationship with its own founding legal charter. That is precisely why the SPLC and MHRN are “concerned” – and that is why both of those groups are now exposed as tools of tyranny, useful “think-tanks” in the employ of the berserk, unlawful policy of this current imposter government.
    Thank you for acknowledging the government’s departure from its own rule of law. That is the problem. Oath Keepers is part of the solution. Thank you for your support.

  10. 10
    Elias Alias Says:

    To Margaret and “anonymous” – Please try to understand that Oath Keepers has one, and one only, very narrowly-focused mission, which is to inspire and educate all Oath Takers to become Oath Keepers. There are scores of major “issues” and “causes” which need immediate attention by all patriots, but it is imperative that Oath Keepers does not involve itself, as an organization, with specific social, governmental, political issues – as soon as we honor your request to make a stand about vaccines, Oath Keepers shall fail in its central mission. And I’ll be bold enough to state for you clearly – that mission is singularly more important right now in America than any one specific complaint or problem confronting the American people.
    So please understand that while I am totally in agreement with all present who want something done to protect Americans from this vaccine onslaught, I will not tolerate any inducement by anyone to distract from the Oath Keepers mission. I understand your message, and I totally agree with you, and I’m just as concerned about the problem of forced vaccinations as are you and others here. But Oath Keepers is not about to abort its mission by varying from its mission into specific needs for political action.

    I hope I’ve made this clear, and I hope that you understand that I am not being insensitive, but mostly I hope that you can come to see the value in Oath Keepers refraining from jumping onto the bandwagon of any and all specific threats or dangers imposed upon the American people by this insane U.S. federal government. One step in that direction will kill Oath Keepers. I truly hope you can come to see this. Thank you for your support – we need you and your support. And thank you for trying to understand why we cannot oblige your request for a policy statement on vaccines.

    Meanwhile, please do keep up the good work of alerting the American public about the dangers in vaccines. I promise you that I’m keenly aware of the severity of that threat. I support your good work in that area. Thank you!

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