By: Houston Criminal Lawyer John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair
The mainstream media over the past two weeks has been saturated with an endless stream of stories about Najibullah Zazi, a suspected Afganhani terrorist reportedly involved in a plot of bomb New York City’s mass transit system; Michael Fenton, an American converted to Islam who allegedly planted and attempted to trigger a fake vehicle bomb in front of a Springfield, Illinois federal court building with the help of undercover FBI operatives; and Hosam Maher Smadi, a Jordanian who also allegedly planted and attempted to trigger a fake vehicle bomb at a Dallas skyscraper with the help of undercover FBI operatives. All three allegedly terrorist plots were exposed by the FBI this past September following the arrests of these individuals.
These three individuals—all of whom were linked to what some in the media refer to as “radical Islam”—have become the most recent faces of the term “home grown terrorism” in the United States. It has become almost second nature for Americans to associate virtually every threat of terrorism with the religion of Islam. But do radical jihadists pose the greatest threat of terrorism in this country?
James G. Cummings is not a household name in America. He is certainly not as well known as Zazi, Fenton or Smadi. He was shot to death by his wife on December 9, 2008. Two months later an FBI field intelligence report from the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center was posted online by WikiLeaks which revealed that “radioactive materials” had been removed from Cummings’ Belfast, Maine home following his shooting death.
“On 9 December 2008, radiological dispersal device components and literature, and radioactive materials, were discovered at the Maine residence of an identified deceased [person] James Cummings,” WikiLeaks quoted the intelligence report as saying.
The report listed the following “dirty bomb” making materials found at Cummings’ residence: four 1-gallon containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide, and magnesium. In addition to these materials, the report stated that literature about how to construct a “dirty bomb” and other information about radioactive materials (cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60) were found at the residence.
Two immediate questions arise: how would an ordinary law-abiding citizen obtain such radioactive bomb-making materials and why would he have them stashed in his residence? To begin with, James G. Cummings was not an ordinary law-abiding citizen. He was a white supremacist cut of the same right-wing fanatical cloth as Timothy McVeigh and Randy Weaver whose hatred of the American government has been well-documented. At the time of his death, Cummings, a staunch admirer of Adolf Hitler and a former Texas resident, was about to join the National Socialist Movement, a race-hating group with a Neo-Nazi mindset, because he was “very upset” (according to his wife) about the election of Barak Obama as president.
While the FBI is normally talkative, and certainly liberal with its media leaks, following the arrests of jihadists in connection with some “terror plot,” the Boston office of the FBI declined to comment on the Cummings case. State and local law enforcement officials, including Maine’s governor and attorney general, also refused to “comment” on the Cummings case, leaving the public in the dark about any plans the white supremacist may have had for a “dirty bomb.”
This case is particularly significant because Cummings was a wealthy man. Associates said he made millions in “Texas real estate” and was the beneficiary of a trust fund set up by his father, the James B. Cummings Trust Fund, which generates $10 million in annual income. That kind of money can not only buy “dirty bomb” making materials but secure deep insider access into the nation’s political system as well.
The most recent edition of The Intelligence Report, a publication of the Southern Poverty Law Center, featured by article (“The Second Wave: Evidence Grows of Far-Right Militia Resurgence”) by Larry Keller which opened with retired FBI agent Ted Gunderson telling a gathering of anti-government “Patriots” in Pensacola, Florida that the federal government has established 1,000 internment camps throughout the country and is now storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta, Georgia,
“They’re there for the day the government finally declares martial law and moves in to round up or kill American dissenters,” he warned the crowd. “They’re going to keep track of all of us, folks.”
James G. Cummings and Ted Gunderson are not your typical political fanatics and outback survivalists like McVeigh and Weaver. These are mainstream politically conservative people who drifted away from the historical John Birch Society-like mindset into the never-ever land of “skinhead” Neo-Nazi ideology. They are part of an increasing trend of former law enforcement officers, military personnel, and war veterans who are joining anti-government groups like the Oath Keepers. This group was formed this past April in Lexington, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Revolution, and whose purpose is to “defend the U.S. Constitution.”
“We’re in perilous times … perhaps more perilous than in 1775,” Larry Keller quoted the man administering the oath to the Oath Keepers at the Lexington gathering.
The so-called “constitution defending” group chose April 19 not only because it was the date of the battle of “Lexington Green” but it is also the date of the Oklahoma City bombing and the fire destruction of the Branch Davidian compound in Wace, Texas by federal agents—both of which, as noted by Keller, are “seminal events in the lore of the extreme right, in particular the antigovernment Patriot movement.”
The election of Barak Obama has certainly given new energy to both the historical hate groups and far-right wing conservative groups, the latter of which has spawned the “birther” movement (led by Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy, repeated failed presidential aspirant Alan Keyes, and author Jerome Corsi who promote the incomprehensible belief that President Obama is “foreign-born”) and the rogue elements of the tax-protesting “tea party” movement. The Obama factor has so meshed these racist ideologies of these two groups that they are no longer distinguishable and their objectives have become one and the same: supremacy of the white race over all others.
A cancerous outgrowth of these two groups are a new breed of “sovereign citizens” who, as Keller pointed out, originated in this country in 1990s and who adopted the anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus ideology of the 1980s which holds that white people are a “higher kind of citizen” subject not to the government but “common law” while black people are “14th Amendment citizens” bound by the dictates of government.
“Increasingly,” Keller wrote, “[these new] sovereign citizens are claiming they aren’t subject to taxes—so much so that the Department of Justice last year kicked off a National Tax Defer Initiative to deal with the volume of cases. At the same time, more and more seem to be engaging in ‘paper terrorism,’ even though more than 30 states passed or strengthened laws outlawing the filing of unjustified property liens and simulating legal process (by setting up pseudo-legal ‘common law courts’ and ‘citizen grand juries’) in response to sovereign activity.
“A Michigan man whose company allegedly doubled as the headquarters of a militia group, for example, was arrested in May on charges that he placed bogus liens on property owned by courthouse officials and police officers to harass them and ruin their credit. In March, authorities raided a Las Vegas printing firm where meetings of the ‘Sovereign People’s Court for the United States’ were conducted in a mock courtroom. Seminars allegedly were taught there on how to use phony documents and other illegal means to pay off creditors. Four people were arrested on money-laundering, tax and weapons charges.”
Like most common criminals, this new breed of sovereign citizens believes criminal behavior is a legitimate response to government actions they do not like. For example, a 70-year-old Arkansas bank robber named Richard Bauer attempted to justify his criminal behavior to a jury by saying: “I’m a constitutionalist … every single act was justifiable.” It took a jury just seven minutes to reject that “constitutionalist” defense and find him guilty of bank robbery.
But don’t let the likes Richard Bauer lull you into thinking these groups are made up of just fanatical “wing-nuts.” The Oath Keepers was founded by Stewart Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate and former aide to Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul. “We know that if the day should come where a full-blown dictatorship would come, or tyranny—it can only happen if those men, our brothers in arms [the police, military and national guard], go along and comply with unconstitutional, unlawful orders,” Rhodes told Alex Jones, a conspiracy-minded radio host. “Imagine if we focus on the police and military. Game over for the New World Order.”
It is our firm belief that these New World Order conspiracy theorists, like James G. Cummings, pose a far greater “security threat” to our nation than the likes of wannabe terrorists Michael Fenton and Hosam Maher Smadi who couldn’t tell a fake FBI bomb from a real one. People like Cummings and Rhodes subscribe to a conspiracy philosophy popularized in the 1990s by a retired Phoenix cop named Jack McLamb who, according to Keller, established a group called Police Against the New World Order and produced a 75-page document entitled “Operation Vampire Killer 2000: American Police Action Plan for Stopping World Government Rule.” In fact, Keller quoted Rhodes as saying that the Oath Keepers are “hearing from more and more federal officers all the time.”
As ironic as it may seem, Oath Keepers do not feel “terrorists” are a “threat” to America’s constitutional system of government. Keller cited the example of a former Arizona sheriff named Richard Mack, who collaborated on a book with Randy Weaver. “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorism, it is our federal government,” Mack declared on his website. “One of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality.”
Keller pointed out that Mack-inspired conspiracy philosophy mirrors the tenets of the Posse Comitatus which hold that sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officials in America. “I pray for the day that a sheriff in this country will arrest an IRS agent for trespassing or attempting to victimize citizens in that particular sheriff’s county,” Mack told the Oath Keepers in a video.
Is there any wonder that a harmless school teacher working as a part time Census taker was recently found lynched off a rural back road in Kentucky in an area known for its views like those of the Oath Keepers and Posse Comitatus?
The contentious illegal immigration debate and an increasing racially diverse political system inevitably spawned by a multicultural society over the past decade has fueled the growth of these anti-government Patriot groups, especially in Texas. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that between 2000 and 2008 there was an increase in such groups from 602 to 928.
“This frequently happens when elections favor the political left and the society is seen as moving toward greater social equality or away from traditional societal hierarchies,” Keller quoted Chip Barlett, a long-time analyst of the radical right at Political Research Associates, as saying in that group’s June newsletter. “In this scenario, it is easier for right-wing demagogues to successfully demonize liberals [and immigrants].”
Border watch groups (such as the “Minutemen”) in Texas and other “border states” have also increasingly adopted the ideology and conspiracy theories of the anti-government Patriot groups. This explains why these border watch groups subscribe to the theory Keller described as a secret Mexican “Plan de Aztian” to recapture Texas and rest of the Southwest, and to yet another theory that the United States, Canada and Mexico are in cahoots to create a “North American Union.”
These theories would be comical if they were not so dangerous to both our political and legal systems. These “loonies from the boonies” pose a real threat to our fundamental notions of due process of law, and of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. What the Oath Keepers, the sovereign citizens, the “birthers,” and “Patriots” do not say is that when they defeat the so-called “New World Order” with the help of the military and law enforcement, they will replace it with a fascist, Nazi-like order that will return to prominence the ovens and mass graves for social control. And this prospect becomes even more alarming and threatening when you realize just how “mainstream” the New World Order conspiracy theorists have become. Keller explained:
“A remarkable aspect of the current antigovernment movement is the extent to which it has gained support from elected officials and mainstream media outlets. Lawmakers complaining about the intrusiveness of the federal government have introduced 10th Amendment resolutions (reasserting those powers not granted to the federal government remain with the states) in about three dozen states. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry raised the issue of succession several months after Obama’s inauguration—a notion first brought up there in the ‘90s by the militia-like Republic of Texas. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she feared that the president was planning ‘reeducation camps for young people,’ while U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), evoking memories of the discredited communist-hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy, warned of 17 ‘socialists’ in Congress, Fox News host Glenn Beck, who has called Obama a facist, a Nazi and a Marxist, even re-floated militia conspiracy theories of the 1990s alleging a secret network of government-run concentration camps.
“The original movement also had its mainstream backers, but they were largely confined to talk radio; today, Beck is just one of the well-known cable TV news personalities to air fictitious conspiracies and other unlikely Patriot ideas. CNN’s Lou Dobbs has treated the so-called Aztian conspiracy as a bona fide concern and questioned the validity of Obama’s birth certificate despite his own network’s definitive debunking of that claim. On MSNBC, commentator Pat Buchanan suggested recently that white Americans are now suffering ‘exactly what was done to black folks.’ On FOX News, regular contributor Dick Morris said, ‘Those crazies in Montana who say, ‘we’re going to kill ATF agents because the U.N’s going to take over’ – well, they’re beginning to have a case.’
“At the same time, players like the National Rifle Association, which in the 1990s publicly attacked federal law enforcement agents as ‘jackbooted thugs,’ are back at it. Two months before the election last fall, firearms manufacturers joined forces to promote NRA membership in a national campaign ominously dubbed ‘Prepare for the Storm in 2008.’
“Gun shows, too, are back as major venues for militia-like ideology. In a video produced in April by Max Blumenthal, senior writer at the online news site The Daily Beast, one man interviewed at a show said, ‘If Obama tries to get rid of our guns, it’s just a step away from trying to take away everything else.’ Another said show attendees were ‘preparing for the worst.’
“Patriot ideology also has crept into the anti-tax ‘tea parties’ that were staged by conservatives around the country in April and July. In addition to protesting government spending and taxation, some demonstrators called for the sovereignty of the states, abolition of the Federal Reserve (a long-time bogeyman of the radical right), and an end to ‘socialism’ in Washington. At the Jacksonville, Fla., July tea party, some protesters carried signs that compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler.”
As a criminal defense law firm, there are reasons for our concern: judges, law enforcement officials, and attorneys either have been assassinated or threatened with assassination by the anti-government Patriots. The FBI can continue to parade “in custody” video of radical “terror suspects” like Najibullah Zazi, Michael Fenton, and Hosam Maher Smadi before the American public as the face of the “terror threat” in this nation, but the reality is that our legal system faces a far greater threat from an array of mainstream and far-right radical New World Order conspiracy theorists demanding states rights or trying to figure out to build a “dirty bomb.” Our legal system is well-equipped to deal with those who cannot tell a fake bomb from a real one but is not so equipped to deal with mainstream media representatives and politicians who give moral and legal credence to racist ideologies (such as the anti-government Patriots or Oath Keepers) that is both dangerous to individuals (whether they are judges or abortion doctors) and subversive to the collective body politic. It is, in our humble opinion, borderline treason.
By: Houston Criminal Attorney John Floyd and Paralegal Billy Sinclair