June 9, 2010

Harry Reid has to be delighted with the outcome of the Republican primary in Nevada. After all, the onetime frontrunner, Sue Lowden, finally drowned in a sea of chicken feathers and psychotic denials.

In her stead, the winner was Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. And as TPM's Justin Elliott and Evan McMorris-Santoro reported this morning, Angle is also a fan of the Oath Keepers:

Back in April, Angle told TPMDC she was a member of the Oath Keepers at a press gaggle in Washington. On Monday, we decided to call Angle's campaign to confirm her relationship to the group. Angle's husband, Ted, picked up the phone.

"We support what the organization stands for," he told us. "Sharron does."

Members of Oath Keepers -- whose motto is "Not on our watch!" -- subscribe to a 10-item declaration affirming that they will not, for example, force citizens into detention camps or invade a state "that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union."

.... Angle's relationship with Oath Keepers hasn't been on the media radar, but she made a little-noticed attempt to woo the group's members at a speaking event last fall, Rhodes told TPMDC Monday.

Rhodes said the event with Angle was organized after she reached out to the Southern Nevada chapter of Oath Keepers. It was held in a clubhouse in Las Vegas. She spoke and "we asked her some pretty tough questions" -- about Hurricane Katrina, gun laws, and the Iraq War, says Rhodes.

"She's got a pretty good track record of being a pretty sincere Constitutionalist," Rhodes tells TPMDC, adding that Oath Keepers does not endorse candidates.

As Elliott and McMorris-Santoro point out, among the things the Oath Keepers believe is that high-ranking officials are secretly plotting to round up conservatives and place them in concentration camps.

But that's not all. C&L was one of the first news entities of any kind to report on the Oath Keepers, and we have a rundown on the things that they believe -- and by extension, beliefs that Angle apparently endorses:

Rhodes and Whittle are eager to portray the core of the Oath Keepers' creeds -- the "ten orders" they "will not obey" -- as involving merely ordinary rights that everyone naturally would stand up for, and in a way, that's true. But only deeply paranoid people would believe there is any reason to be concerned that these rights violations might be looming.

Here they are:

  • 1. We will NOT obey any order to disarm the American people.
  • 2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people.
  • 3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  • 4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  • 5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  • 6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  • 7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  • 8. We 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."
  • 9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  • 10. We 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.

You may also recall Justine Sharrock's superb in-depth report on the Oath Keepers for Mother Jones:

Oath Keepers is officially nonpartisan, in part to make it easier for active-duty soldiers to participate, but its rightward bent is undeniable, and liberals are viewed with suspicion. At lunch, when I questioned my tablemates about the Obama-Hitler comparisons I'd heard at the conference, I got a step-by-step tutorial on how the president's socialized medicine agenda would beget a Nazi-style regime.

I learned that bringing guns to Tea Party protests was a reminder of our constitutional rights, was introduced to the notion that the founding fathers modeled their governing documents on the Bible, and debated whether being Muslim meant an inability to believe in and abide by—and thus be protected by—the Constitution. I was schooled on the treachery of the Federal Reserve and why America needs a gold standard, and at dinner one night, Nighta Davis, national organizer for the National 912 Project, explained how abortion-rights advocates are part of a eugenics program targeting Christians.

Even more potentially problematic for a would-be United States Senator is the Oath Keepers' view of the role of federal authorities -- which, it seems is taken straight from the Posse Comitatus, a white-supremacist anti-federal movement that dominated the extremist right in the 1980s:

The Oath Keepers are similar to the tea party crowd in that they often disagree what their movement represents. While bred from the libertarian spirit that courses through the West, the Oath Keepers don't have a formal structure beyond the vague principles outlined in the 10 orders.

They say the sheriff is at the top primarily because he is the highest elected law enforcement agent in the land, directly responsible to the voters, and argue the Tenth Amendment gives the voters all power not expressly given the federal government under the Constitution.

The movement has gained traction, including in dozen or more sheriff's races around the West from Orange County, Calif., to the northern border.

"It is time for the sworn protectors of liberty, the Sheriffs of these United States of America, to walk tall and stand up for our Constitution and Bill of Rights," proclaimed Larimer County, Colo., candidate Carl Bruning in his campaign literature.

Someone will have to ask Sharron Angle if she believes that her local sheriff has more real authority under the Constitution than a United States Senator.

Among other things.

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