An Interview With Stewart Rhodes

The founder of Oath Keepers explains his vision and responds to his critics.

When you run down the list of issues the Oath Keepers are worried about, it reads much like a list of concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union. They don't like warrantless searches. They fear the powers the executive branch has claimed to classify American citizens as enemy combatants, to detain them indefinitely, and to try them before military tribunals. They worry that a large-scale terrorist attack similar to the one on September 11, 2001, could lead to the mass detention of Arab Americans or Muslims, just as Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. They worry about government crackdowns on political speech, protest, and freedom of assembly. Like the ACLU, they are concerned about the Army 3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team, a military unit that is training to deploy domestically in response to terrorist attacks or other national emergencies.

Oath Keepers was founded in 2008 by Stewart Rhodes, a Yale Law School graduate and a former staffer for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Rhodes, 44, labels himself a libertarian or constitutionalist. His organization's mission is to persuade America's police officers and soldiers to refuse to carry out orders they believe are unconstitutional. On its website, Oath Keepers lists 10 orders its members will always refuse, including orders to conduct warrantless searches, to disarm the public, to blockade an American city, and "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." Rhodes says his organization has about 30,000 dues-paying members.

The Oath Keepers are also staunch defenders of the Second Amendment. They worry about the forcible disarming of American citizens, which they say happened after Hurricane Katrina. They fear it could happen again in the event of another terrorist attack or major natural disaster. The Oath Keepers are pro-federalism, vowing not to carry out federal orders that violate state sovereignty. They ground their concerns in reverence for the Constitution, and they frequently cite the American founding as their inspiration. Most of them are conservative or libertarian. Some buy into conspiracy theories about President Obama's U.S. citizenship, or about the federal government's complicity in the September 11 terror attacks. Furthermore, they have put themselves in the national spotlight while a Democrat occupies the White House.

These latter positions have drawn suspicion and, at times, outright contempt from leftist groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lumps Oath Keepers in with militias and hate groups. (The Oath Keepers also have been denounced by conservatives such as Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin.) And in its March/April issue last year, Mother Jones published a scathing exposé that accused the organization of promoting treason.

Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko spoke with Rhodes by phone last month.

Reason: What is the purpose of Oath Keepers?

Stewart Rhodes: The mission of Oath Keepers is to persuade the guys with the guns not to violate the Constitution. I look at it as constitutional triage. I worked for a congressman; I've worked with judges. And it seems clear to me that judges and politicians don't really care about our rights that the Constitution is supposed to protect. So I'm focusing on the guys with the guns, the ones who ultimately enforce the laws, on educating them about the Constitution. I think most of them are honorable people, but there's an ethos, especially in the officer corps in the military, that focuses on following orders. It's almost as if they're taking the oath to uphold the Constitution to mean that you should categorically defer to the president. Now I think civilian authority is important, but if the president asks the military to do something that isn't constitutional, their loyalty is to the Constitution, not the president.

In the police context, some have the mistaken idea that you're always to enforce the law—leave it up to the politicians, lawyers, and judges to figure out what's right and what's wrong after the fact. That's not what the Founders intended, and that's not what the Constitution calls for. So the point of Oath Keepers is to remind the military and law enforcement that they are supposed to be thinking about the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, and they need to be thinking about the lawfulness of the orders they're given. And they actually have a duty to refuse when it's unlawful or violates fundamental human rights. The military has learned this overseas, with the Nuremberg trials, with My Lai, with Abu Ghraib. And they get training in the laws of war, so they know when to refuse unlawful orders in the context of a foreign battlefield.

But cops get very little training in the Bill of Rights. And when the military is used domestically—as we saw with Katrina, and as we're seeing more and more, they're also now butting up against the rights of American citizens. And they need to know what those rights are, and how they can be sure they don't violate them. They're not getting that training either. And I find that disturbing.

Reason: Oath Keepers has been described has a militia group, a hate group, even as an organization that promotes treason. Do you advocate violence or overthrow of the government?

Rhodes: Absolutely not.

Reason: Is there any scenario under which you would encourage your members to respond to a government policy with violence?

Rhodes: No. That's the strange thing about the criticism we get. The entire point of Oath Keepers is to advocate nonviolence. We're telling police and soldiers that if they're asked to do something unconstitutional, or asked to violate the rights of Americans, that they put down their guns. We just saw this with the Tunisian military, by the way, when it refused orders to fire on protesters.

Reason: One example you've given is the government's disarming of New Orleans residents after Katrina. So your advice to those officers would not have been to forcibly oppose the disarmament, but to simply refuse to participate in it?

Rhodes: That's correct. In fact, that happened during Katrina. There was a sergeant in the National Guard from Utah, Joshua May, who was deployed to Louisiana after Katrina. His unit was initially deployed in a rural area and got along fine with the residents there. But he was then deployed to New Orleans, and he had heard about the gun confiscations. And so Seargent May, on behalf of his entire unit, did a pre-emptive refusal. He sought out his commander and he told him, "If you give us orders to confiscate guns, we will refuse to enforce them." This was at least half the company. This went up the chain of command, and when it came back, they were told not to worry, that they wouldn't be asked to do that. Basically, Big Army blinked. There were no courts martial. No one was shot at dawn.

Reason: That sort of scenario seems less plausible in a police department.

Rhodes: Not necessarily. A good example is our vice president, Dave Freeman. He was a Las Vegas Metro police officer for over 30 years. And as a rookie, right out of the gate, he was doing a patrol with a senior sergeant, and there were three black men on the main strip, two of them trying to prop up a drunk buddy. And it was clear they were just trying to get him home. A commander showed up on the scene and told his officers to arrest them for the noncrime of what was then crudely called "nigger on the strip." Freeman as a rookie turned to the sergeant and said, "I'm not going to do that." And they let them go. Now the commander called him later and yelled at him. But he wasn't disciplined or fired. And in fact they never asked him to make an arrest like that again.

Reason: OK, that was a single incident from 40 years ago. But cops today who report other officers for violating a citizen's rights generally don't fare very well. The Blue Wall of Silence is pretty tight. Do you see Oath Keepers at some point providing legal aid to police officers who may suffer professional repercussions for doing the right thing?

Rhodes: Yes. We've already set up a legal defense team for that. We set it up after the case a few months ago where a newborn child was taken from its parents at the hospital by child protective services because the father was a member of our organization, which they wrongly called a militia.

Reason: Wasn't there also a history of abuse in that case?

Rhodes: It turns out it was a case of mistaken identity. They were attributing to the father abuse that had been committed by someone else. In the end, all the charges were dropped, and the child was returned to the parents. But we got involved because the father's membership in our organization was actually listed on the affidavit as one of the factors for taking the child away. If there were a history of abuse, the abuse should be the reason the parents lose custody. Membership in a political organization can never be a reason to take someone's children away. I don't care if it's Oath Keepers, the ACLU, the NRA, or anyone else.

But to answer your question, yes, we'd do the same for a police officer. We actually have a state police officer, he's our state chapter president in Pennsylvania, who refused an order to arrest some protesters on a college campus. They told him to arrest them, and he refused. So they suspended him and sent him home. He has already won in court on the order. He was right that it was an unlawful order, so he has saved his career. So he's now fighting the suspension in civil court.

It doesn't always turn out well. But when you take an oath you're not saying, "I'll abide by this oath only if it turns out well for me." You're saying that the oath is important enough that you'll abide by it no matter how things turn out.

Reason: You once worked for Rep. Ron Paul. Do you agree with him that the federal drug war is unconstitutional?

Rhodes: Yes.

Reason: So are Oath Keepers encouraged to refuse to enforce federal drug laws?

Rhodes: We try to focus on the sorts of issues that could fundamentally alter our constitutional system. So we're focused right now on the big picture stuff, the sorts of orders that could lead to the imposition of martial law, for example. So that's what our "Ten Orders We Will Not Obey" mostly address. But if a member asks, I'll tell them point blank that the drug war is unconstitutional. Under the concept of enumerated powers, most criminal law should be left to the states.

Reason: Oath Keepers seems to be primarily focused on the federal government. But state and local governments are certainly capable of violating the Constitution. Do you think the 14th Amendment allows the federal government to intervene if, say, a local sheriff is violating the rights of the residents of his county?

Rhodes: I don't think it allows it; I think it compels it. But that's not incompatible with the idea that the states should be left alone to make and enforce their own criminal laws. They should be free to do that. But if a state or local government isn't respecting the Bill of Rights, then yes, the federal government should intervene and investigate. Take Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona. I think he's a terrible sheriff. And I think it's really unfortunate that he's held up as some kind of a hero in parts of the freedom community. He's a constitutional disaster, a Bill of Rights disaster. So yes, in that case, you have a sheriff who's violating due process and who's violating the Eighth Amendment. There's definitely a role for the federal government to come in and say no.

But as long as they're respecting the Bill of Rights, it should be up to the people of each state, or each county, to determine what's legal and what isn't. Look at medical marijuana. It was just wrong of the Bush administration to say, "We don't care what the people of California want; we're going to step in and arrest this cancer patient, Angel Raich, under the Commerce Clause because she's violating federal law." That was terrible. We had made so much progress since the Lopez decision [the 1995 Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Gun Free School Zones Act] in turning back some of the Commerce Clause insanity, and all of a sudden this takes us right back to Wickard  [the 1942 decision that upheld federal crop quotas]. If Congress can regulate medical marijuana, it can regulate just about anything. But because it was a drug case, all the Republicans cheered the ruling, and you had [Antonin] Scalia going along with the liberals on the Court, and the result is an absurdly expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

Reason: So you favor federal intervention to prevent civil rights abuses; you strongly criticize Joe Arpaio; you oppose military tribunals, indefinite detention, and warrantless searches; you're anti-war...

Rhodes: Well, I'm opposed to unconstitutional wars. However, Oath Keepers stays neutral on Iraq or Afghanistan, although I think any soldier who chooses not to deploy on constitutional grounds should be allowed to make his case. It's not that the wars aren't important, but we want to reach as many active-duty troops as possible, so they don't violate our rights here at home. That's our priority.

Reason: But these are all positions you share with the left. Why do you think you've been characterized as far right wing? Is it the support for gun rights? Your membership does seem to be quite a bit more conservative than you are. It seems like many of them would disagree with you about Arpaio, for example. Is it just the timing of when you started Oath Keepers?

Rhodes: To be honest, I don't think it would make a difference what I did or said. The attack from the leftist media and leftist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center—I mean right out of the gate, before we had really even done anything, they tried to associate us with racists. I'm a quarter Mexican. I'm part Apache Indian. I'm hardly a poster child for white supremacy. I'd probably be killed if this country were run by white supremacists.

Reason: I think I read on one critical site that you're also part Jewish.

Rhodes: No, I'm not Jewish. But that's funny too. Because we don't tolerate anti-Semitism, there are some neo-Nazis who are certain that must mean I'm Jewish. You know, clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

But this is the problem. The critics don't actually challenge or criticize me for what I do or say. They criticize me for what they they want me to have done or said. So they can criticize me. When I did that interview with Chris Matthews of MSNBC, he asked, "So how many men do you have ready to fight the government?" I said, "What are you talking about? We don't want to fight the government." He said, "Well, aren't your members armed?"

Well yeah. They're cops and soldiers. That's the whole point. We're trying to make sure that the guys with the guns know that they can't follow orders that tell them to use those guns the wrong way. I mean, to say our members have guns is such a disingenuous way to scare people about what we're actually trying to do.

You know in that Mother Jones article, the reporter, Justine Sharrock, could have spoken with anyone who held a leadership position in our organization. We could have set her up with someone who is typical of our membership. Instead, she finds this private, the scariest guy she could find, this guy who talks about using violence against his fellow soldiers, and who poses for her with his gun, even though we explicitly denounce violence as an organization. It was just irresponsible. But you know we're trying to prevent the government from doing the things the Constitution prevents it from doing. And right now the Democrats are in control of the government. So I guess the liberal groups see us as an enemy.

Reason: There's one criticism of your group that's similar to those directed at the Tea Parties. You've said that Bush was just as hostile to the Constitution as Obama has been, indeed that most of the worst executive power grabs began under Bush. So why did Oath Keepers spring up only after Obama took office?

Rhodes: I just hadn't gotten the idea yet. I got the idea during the 2008 election campaign. I worked for Ron Paul during the primary, and when it became clear that he wasn't going to get the nomination, I started to think about what I wanted to do next. And that's when the idea came to me that I wanted to do something involving the military and the police. And that was no matter who became president. At the time we didn't know if it would be McCain, Obama, or Hillary Clinton.

But it's true. All of this began or really started to get worse under Bush. That's when you had this wave of unconstitutional federal power. In particular, I was worried about this claim that the president could detain American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants. A president who would make that claim assumes powers that could be used in so many other ways too. I wrote a paper on that issue while I was at Yale Law School, during the Bush administration, which actually won the Yale Prize for best paper on the Bill of Rights. I was an outspoken critic of Bush then. I had a blog at the time that was very critical of Bush and his assumption of unconstitutional powers. I called the neocons in the Bush administration "national security New Dealers." They expanded the power of the federal government at least as much as the New Deal did, but they did it through the lens of national security. The warrantless spying was unconstitutional. The detention of Jose Padilla was unconstitutional. The detentions without trial were unconstitutional. Most of the new powers Bush claimed were unconstitutional.

But now you have Obama, who has not only not renounced those powers but has expanded them. He also now claims the power to assassinate American citizens his administration deems enemy combatants with no oversight. That's just frightening.

At this point I do really wish I had started Oath Keepers during the Bush administration. It would have been a good test. My guess is that I'd have started with a lot of liberals joining up, and you'd have seen conservatives and neocons howling that I'm a traitor. I think it's just human nature and the cycle of politics. When the left is in power, they forget about the Constitution because it limits what they can do. So they characterize people who stand by the Constitution as reactionary or dangerous. But when they were out of power, they were citing the Constitution all of the time. They were quoting Ben Franklin about sacrificing liberty for security.

And it's the same for the right. The Republicans clamoring for the Constitution now had no respect for it when Bush was in power. They thought he could do no wrong.

Reason: Do you have any leftists or left-libertarians in your membership?

Rhodes: We have some, but they're few and far between right now. I wish we had more. And I suspect that when we get a Republican president again, we'll get more members who identify with the left. I do think more and more people are understanding that neither party has any fidelity to the Constitution, and you are starting to see some honest liberals and some honest conservatives who are more willing to criticize their own side while in power. I think you saw a lot of that in the Ron Paul campaign, where he ran on a platform that was very critical of his own party's president. On the left, you're seeing it now with people like Glenn Greenwald. I hope there's more of that.

Reason: You've also been accused of associating with people who spread paranoia or conspiracy theories. So let me ask you straight up: Do you think President Obama was born in the United States?

Rhodes: Oath Keepers doesn't get into all of that. I know some of our members think he isn't eligible to be president. Others think that's nonsense. I guess if he weren't constitutionally eligible you could have some chain-of-command problems. But for me that's all really beside the point. I care about how the structure of the federal government makes abuse possible. If Obama weren't in office, it would be someone else who had the potential to commit the same abuses.

Reason: What about the September 11 attacks? Do you think the government played any role in or had advance knowledge of the attacks?

Rhodes: Again, that's just something we just stay out of. We have members who believe that, or at least believe there should be an investigation. And we have members who think those members are crazy. We certainly don't promote the idea. But from my standpoint, it's just not a topic that's relevant to what we're trying to do, so there's no point in taking a position.

Reason: Do you personally believe in either theory?

Rhodes: Well I'm talking to you as the head of the organization, and the organization doesn't take a position on either of those issues. So I don't think my personal views are relevant. It just doesn't make sense to take positions on issues that may alienate some of our members and that aren't relevant to our goal, which is educating police officers and soldiers on the importance of not following unconstitutional orders.

Reason: Let's talk about a conspiracy theory often batted around on the right that's more aligned with your mission. Do you think the Obama administration is secretly planning to set up detention camps through the Federal Emergency Management Agency?

Rhodes: Well, something like that has already happened. Look at the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. That was done very quickly. All they had to do was string some wire up around old military barracks. So do I think there are detailed plans sitting in an office somewhere? I don't know, but that really doesn't matter. I'm concerned about the structures in place that could enable it to happen. So what I am concerned about is the creation of Northcom, which for the first time in our history is a standing military command for the deployment of standing military troops domestically. That's very dangerous.

And there is reason to worry about FEMA. From its start in the Reagan administration, FEMA was never just about emergency relief. It was about continuity of government, about governing during a disaster. The structures put in place by people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Oliver North during the Reagan administration, they contemplate the executive branch taking over all three branches of government during an emergency. I think that's very dangerous. And we saw later the limitless power Cheney thought the executive should have to fight terrorism. FEMA has always been part of that. And you have things like Garden Plot, which are actual plans to impose martial law in the event of a civil disturbance.

And remember that during the Bush years we saw prominent conservatives such as Michelle Malkin openly defend the internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II as being necessary—as though that would make it constitutional—with an eye toward doing the same thing with Muslim Americans. Malkin even wrote a book called In Defense of Internment.

So it isn't really about whether President Obama has specific plans for that sort of thing. It's about questioning the constitutionality of the structures in place that could allow it to happen, no matter who is president. And for us, it's about making sure soldiers and police know that if they're ever ordered to carry out something like the Japanese internment camps again, their duty is not to follow orders, but to respect the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.

Reason: Is there any scenario under which you think the government would be justified in quarantining or involuntarily detaining American citizens? For example, what if there were a smallpox attack in a major urban area?

Rhodes: I think it would be up to the state. Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution, for example, allows for the marshaling of federal resources to help states quell an insurrection, but only at the invitation of the state's governor. So that's why this is one of our 10 rules. Our members who are in the military won't follow orders to enter a state without approval from that state's legislature or governor. So if there were an attack, and the state governor asked for federal assets to come in to help set up a quarantine, that would at least be constitutional. I think I'd still have problems with it. I just don't like the idea of blockading cities, under any circumstances.

We saw some of that during Katrina, where you had troops and police officers who were preventing people from leaving the city. And that wasn't even a quarantine. Remember that? You had Shepard Smith of Fox telling the world, "They won't let these people cross. They won't let them go from there to here." Why was that? What possible reason could there have been for police officers and National Guard troops to not let people escape a flooding city? Were they afraid of what would happen if black people got out of New Orleans? That should never have happened.

Reason: On the Danziger Bridge, they shot the people who tried to get out.

Rhodes: That's right. I don't want that to ever happen again. So I'd really prefer the default position in the mind of a soldier or police officer to be that you simply don't block people from leaving or moving freely. In limited circumstances, like a smallpox attack, then maybe you reconsider. But the starting point should always be to let people move freely.

Reason: What do you make of what we've seen in Tunisia and Egypt?

Rhodes: I like it. What happened in Tunisia is an excellent example of the military doing the right thing. When Ben Ali ordered the senior military general to shoot the protesters, he refused, and the Tunisian military simply stood down and got out of the way. And without the military, the secret police were overwhelmed by the people, and the dictator was done. He fled for his life. Note that the Tunisian military did not remove the dictator in a coup, which would just lead to another dictator. But instead, they simply stood down and let the people of the nation decide their own fate. That was precisely the right thing to do, and I hope the military in Egypt does likewise. A military coup is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire, so we don’t want to see that. But we do want to see the military refuse to be tools of oppression. When the military withdraws its support, a dictator is powerless, just as happened in Romania when Ceausescu was overthrown in 1989. Mubarak is a dictator, and there is never any excuse for propping up dictators.  He needs to go, and he will, so long as the Egyptian military does the right thing.

Reason: The scenarios Oath Keepers is most worried about seem like those that are least likely to happen. If you're worried about constitutional rights, wouldn't you do more good to educate police officers about Bill of Rights violations like stop-and-frisk searches, SWAT raids for consensual drug crimes, civil asset forfeiture, and other ongoing, everyday abuses?

Rhodes: You have to start somewhere. Certainly the long-term militarization of the police, which I know you've covered, is a disturbing problem. And I think the drug war in general has been destructive of freedom in America. One thing to remember is that the 10 orders Oath Keepers won't follow isn't a comprehensive list. There are countless possible unlawful orders I'd hope our members wouldn't follow. But when I was thinking about starting Oath Keepers, I tried to think of what sorts of policies the Bush administration could implement that would do long-term, irreversible damage to the Constitution, and what orders officials would have to give to the military to implement them. So I think when we're talking about where to start, you start with the most potentially damaging policies, things like internment camps, martial law, detaining American citizens without a trial.

It's part strategy, too. These are also the issues where I think it's easiest to build a consensus. So we should start there. But the bigger idea is to get police and soldiers to at least start thinking about the Constitution, and that their first loyalty is to the Constitution and the rights of American citizens. Their first loyalty shouldn't be to their commanding officer. It isn't really about me coming down from the mountain with tablets inscribed with what orders you should and shouldn't obey. But there some core principles, things that should never happen, and things that the government should know we will never allow to happen.

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  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Rhodes has been denounced by everyone from Bill O'Reilly to Mother Jones. He has been called a racist, a conspiracy theorist, a violent revolutionary, and a treasonist

    What's not to like?

  • ||

    I imagine if they explicitly brought up the Bill of Rights they would be called pederasts, and probably pederasts of blind orphan kittens.

  • DADIODADDY||

    blind orphan kittens...tasty

  • MNG||

    This is a tough one. On the one hand what kind of moral agent would carry out an order that violates the Constitution they take an oath to follow? On the other hand what in the world makes them think each individual officer should be the determiner of what is constitutional or not? These are the same officers who can't seem to decide when it's necessary to shoot a dog or not...

  • Gregory Smith||

    Ever seen that Vietnam movie where a bunch of soldiers rape a gook girl except for that actor who now has Parkinsons?

    You'd be surprised what people do when they have the power of the state behind them.

  • "||

    Because real life is just like the movies!

  • Charles||

    That movie is based on real events.

  • Rather||

    Well, obviously the solution to preventing rape is to give every male Parkinsons' disease and acting lessons

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I am sure Birth of a Nation was based on real events.

  • ||

    gook girl

    What, "slope" is too racist for you?

  • Gregory Smith||

    I like using politically incorrect terms just like Archie Bunker. Got a problem with that?

  • ||

    My only problem is having a douchebag like yourself call yourself a "libertarian". Use whatever racist terms you want, moron.

  • Abdul||

    Epi once said that same exact thing to Ron Paul.

  • Rather||

    Epi, you remind me that even Satan has redeeming qualities

  • Gregory Smith||

    See? You called me a douchebag, so why can't I call a chink a gook or whatever I feel like it? Oh, I know "because they are a race." Gee, I guess common courtesy and respect must be given on a race basis, all hail the minorities, right?

  • prolefeed||

    maybe if you fucked an asian girl you could lose the racism and see asians as human beings who should not be gratuitiously insulted.

    i mean, it would be nice to have you get that epiphany without the sex, but good pussy has a way of cutting through all the noise and brainwashing.

  • Gregory Smith||

    I have slept with Asian, I enjoy them, but since I'm called things like "dipshit" and "douchebag," I like to return the love if you get my drift.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    As a beardless Buick jockey, I must object to stereotypes!

  • prolefeed||

    you're "returning the love" to people who are, to my knowledge, not Asian.

    i mean, you have the right to say whatever the fuck racist things you want, but it undercuts your credibility when you use words like "gook" without any provocation.

  • Rather||

    prolefeed, by your stadards Gregory would belong to the majority -the lack of credibility group.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Prolefeed, people will attack me no matter what I say, so why should I bother worrying about my credibility? Besides, truth is truth whether I use a slur or not.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Ever seen that Vietnam movie where a bunch of soldiers rape a gook girl except for that actor who now has Parkinsons?

    You'd be surprised what people do when they have the power of the state behind them.


    No, but I have seen a movie where some alien robots come from another planet and disguise themselves as cars.

    What should I learn from that?

  • ||

    That Michael Bay should stop getting money to direct movies.

  • ||

    "Gook girl"? This isn't 1973, man.

  • West Coaster||

    MNG, do you think any of the 10 orders they will always refuse *are* constitutional? Within that specific context--and its KISS underpinnings--I don't think it requires any of the members to determine constitutionality. That has already been done for them.

  • MNG||

    4 and 5 (would that make the Civil War unconstitutional?) seem iffy to me, and while I oppose warantless searches does that include stuff like exigent circumstances, consent searches and such?

  • WTF||

    (would that make the Civil War unconstitutional?)
    Do you think the Civil War was authorized by the Constitution?

  • ||

    MNG has this strange idea that the Constitution is the Bill of Sale from when the Federal government purchased the states. This makes him not a racist or something.

  • MNG||

    "To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions"

  • MNG||

    If a state government is behind the "insurrection" then the Constitution authorizes the whoop-ass to be released.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    It wasn't an insurrection, they simply left the Union. It was a war of Northern Aggression. How many Confederate leaders were tried for treason?

  • MNG||

    1. The feds were "execut[ing] the Laws of the Union"
    2. Firing on federal property does not count as aggression?

  • cynical||

    Building up troops within another nation's borders doesn't count as aggression?

    I suppose you also think Cuba would not be justified in attacking Guantanamo Bay if we started shipping in a ton of troops while some were talking about launching an invasion, and all of this after the Cuban government had requested removal of U.S. forces through diplomatic channels for a while?

  • Ragnar||

    Fort Sumter wasn't within South Carolina's borders. It was in a harbor and the land for the fort had been ceded to the federal government - in perpetuity - by South Carolina.

  • ||

    In perpetuity..sort of like union under the Articles of Confederation? Which could not be changed without all 13 states agreeing to such.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    It was a war of Northern Aggression.


    Damn those Federal troops for firing on Fort Sumter.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    The Confederates took the Union bait there, no doubt. But what they did in seceding was no different than the colonies cutting ties with England. And no, I do not endorse slavery.

  • prolefeed||

    individuals fired on Fort Sumter. those individuals, or at least those individuals who gave orders to those individuals to fire, were in the wrong and should have been punished.

    None of that abrogated the right of each and every state to secede from the Union for any reason whatsoever at any time.

  • ||

    If someone makes threatening statements to me and moves toward me in a menacing manner am I really supposed to let him hit me first?

    In the same way Lincoln refusing to negotiate for the return of Ft. Sumter and keeping troop stationed 500 miles from the nearest state border to be protected under common defense says to me SCs actions were justified. Further, they notified the command of Ft. Sumter that they were going to fire, and did not fire on those evacuating.

  • prolefeed||

    If someone makes threatening statements to me and moves toward me in a menacing manner

    This is not a cause for a NIOF violation on your part

    am I really supposed to let him hit me first?

    When his fist starts moving toward your face, then he has initiated aggression.

    Him talking smack to you and walking toward you in a manner you subjectively deem "menacing" is not a moral reason for initiating force.

    Now, if you told him that if he stepped within the reach of your fist, you would consider that an act of aggression and would retaliate, then arguably you would have a case of self-defense. But not if he was still too far away for his fist to hit you if he swung.

  • ||

    You're clearly missing the point. He is close enough to hit me if he swung, thus "menacingly", not the appearance of menacingly. Am I supposed to guess which one of his feints are real?

    So if this person refuses to leave my presence and keeps his fist cocked to swing at me, I will not turn my back on this person.

    This is what Lincoln did, he refused to acknowledge the southern states right to leave the union, and kept units of force in their sovereign waters. In terms of nations this is not a passive act, it is the refusal to allow a sovereign nation the ability to defend itself. If I have given someone temporary powers to use land to protect my properties, how is it not aggression when they refuse to vacate that property?

  • ||

    Idiot, insurrections can only happen within a state. A state choosing to leave the union is not insurrection.

  • ||

    >what in the world makes them think each individual officer should be the determiner of what is constitutional or not?

    Maybe the fact that when people swear only to obey, they end up committing mass murder on an industrial scale?

    American soldiers swear to preserve, protect and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They DO NOT swear to obey their commanders, no matter what they're told to do.

    -jcr

  • MNG||

    And the Constitution they swear to sets out a political and judicial process to determine what is Constitutional. And it doesn't say "whatever officers think"

  • Michael Ejercito||

    And the Constitution they swear to sets out a political and judicial process to determine what is Constitutional. And it doesn't say "whatever officers think"


    True, but at least they should follow binding Supreme Court precedent.

  • MNG||

    I 100% agree here. If they simply swore to follow binding SCOTUS precedent then that would be fine.

  • The Constitution||

    I don't find you agreeable.

    From Article III, Section 2

    In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

  • cynical||

    Why? SCOTUS gets it wrong, all the time. SCOTUS doesn't exist to constrain the government, it exists to rationalize it and justify it to those that care about the constitution. Sometimes they have to constrain the government in order to preserve the illusion of legitimacy necessary to rationalize it in other cases.

    Since the worst action we're talking about here is standing down, I don't see it as too much of a threat to our freedom. Obviously, a statist may see it as a threat to his capacity to restrict freedom...

  • assman||

    I strongly disagree. SCOTUS definitely gets it wrong. But it does not just act to rationalize government. It also acts as an independent check on government. The unfortunate aspect of the modern day SCOTUS is that it has become heavily politicized basically because of liberals.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I 100% agree here. If they simply swore to follow binding SCOTUS precedent then that would be fine.


    Officers who relied on the Supreme Court decision in Bowers v. Hardwick with respect to the constitutionality of anti-sodomy laws should be held blameless if they enforced such laws (assuming their respective state supreme courts had not ruled those laws unconstitutional.)

  • prolefeed||

    I 100% agree here. If they simply swore to follow binding SCOTUS precedent then that would be fine.

    There is no such creature as "binding SCOTUS precedent." A SCOTUS decision either is in full compliance with the Constitution as written, or it is at least partially unconstitutional and should be disobeyed.

    Shorter answer: members of SCOTUS are not our rulers.

    @MNG: if 5 out of 9 SCOTUS members said that it was OK to execute you without trial or evidence or anything because you were saying stuff they didn't much care for, would you say that "would be fine"? If not, under what circumstances would you lose your reverence for whatever the hell crap is said in a SCOTUS decision?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    @MNG: if 5 out of 9 SCOTUS members said that it was OK to execute you without trial or evidence or anything because you were saying stuff they didn't much care for, would you say that "would be fine"? If not, under what circumstances would you lose your reverence for whatever the hell crap is said in a SCOTUS decision?


    To be sure, the Supreme Court is imperfect.

    But how else do we decide disputes on whether something is constitutional?

  • prolefeed||

    To be sure, the Supreme Court is imperfect.

    But how else do we decide disputes on whether something is constitutional?

    The court and jury trying an individual case could try comparing the actual text of the Constitution to the law or act being examined for its constitutionality.

    Let's say SCOTUS says, in a bitterly contested 5-4 decision, that the First Amendment REALLY means that the government has a great deal of discretion in deciding what people can say, and can imprison people who say something government officials deem a bit too surly or irreverent.

    Under your standard, that means SCOTUS just changed the Constitution by their ruling, and basically there would be no appeal of that decision. I find that an appalling thing to accept.

    Under my standard, every judge in the country would have to examine that 5-4 SCOTUS ruling and decide if it makes sense in the case before them, and if it didn't make sense, they would ignore it. If SCOTUS persisted in their wrongheaded approach, then they would have tens of thousands of individual cases thrust onto their dockets by lower courts that rightfully decided the prior decision was not a valid precedent they were bound by.

    The good decisions would largely be accepted by lower courts, the bad decisions would be ignored en masse, and eventually SCOTUS would concede they acted unconstitutionally on the bad ruling and would overturn that decision and set a better semi-binding precedent.

    Or states, outraged by the actions of SCOTUS, would secede from the union.

    It wouldn't be as orderly as the current process, but orderly submission to tyranny is an overrated virtue.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The good decisions would largely be accepted by lower courts, the bad decisions would be ignored en masse, and eventually SCOTUS would concede they acted unconstitutionally on the bad ruling and would overturn that decision and set a better semi-binding precedent.

    Or states, outraged by the actions of SCOTUS, would secede from the union.

    It wouldn't be as orderly as the current process, but orderly submission to tyranny is an overrated virtue.


    The problem with ignoring

  • Michael Ejercito||

    stare decisis is that it increases uncertainty to how courtd would rule on questions of law that had already been answered by the Supreme Court.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    I 100% agree here. If they simply swore to follow binding SCOTUS precedent then that would be fine.

    That is why you are a horrible human being.

  • assman||

    "And the Constitution they swear to sets out a political and judicial process to determine what is Constitutional. And it doesn't say "whatever officers think""

    Actually it doesn't. The constitution never explicitly says that anybody gets to decide what is constitutional. The supreme court essentially said "we get to decide" in Marbury v. Madison.

  • ||

    MNG: "the Constitution they swear to sets out a political and judicial process to determine what is Constitutional."

    The constitution has no clauses or amendments relating to constitutional review.
    I'm not saying SCOTUS shouldn't be allowed to do it, I'm just saying you're flat-out wrong.

  • ||

    I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    as per the UCMJ, you do swear an oath to "obey" dumb ass

  • kbolino||

    The UCMJ does not compel a soldier to obey an unlawful order.

  • ||

    On the other hand what in the world makes them think each individual officer should be the determiner of what is constitutional or not?

    So you're OK with letting them determine whether to pull the trigger on that gun they're carrying -- but not to interpret the Constitution rather broadly? (I don't think we're talking about subtle Constitutional hairs to be split, here. Just whether you can, for example, go house to house searching for guns and seditious literature during an "emergency".)

    You OK with them tying their own shoes? Ordering whatever they like from McDonalds? Or do they need an officer to tell them how to do that?

  • ||

    "treasonist" ?

    neologism for traitor ?

  • Tim||

    Yeah, what is that? Someone whose actions are treasonish?

  • ||

    Old word. OED traces it back to 1796.

  • wingnutx||

    I prefer 'treasonator'.

  • hmm||

    Second paragraph:

    I too fear warrantless "earches"

    Not that I'm in any position to correct any form of grammar or spelling. Just a heads up.

  • West Coaster||

    Earches my eye...

  • cynical||

    Shit, now you've summoned Alice.

  • BakedPenguin||

    My rain is like a sieve...

  • wingnutx||

    Oh wow, man, what are you trying to do, tickle me?

  • Kirsten||

    Any federal employee enforcing federal anti-drug laws is not keeping their oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, no matter what organization they join or label they adopt.

    I get that it's more convenient to go after hypothetical possible future problems rather than to attack real and current problems such as the Drug War. However, if you want to be real "Oath Keepers", all of your members must STAND DOWN from anti-drug law enforcement.

  • MJ||

    Except that the "priesthood" of the Constitution has determined in cases like "Raich" that federal anti-drug enforcement does not violate the Constitution.

    It's hard to resist the tide when you have very little argument that is taken seriously by officialdom.

  • ||

    True. If Oath Keepers came out tomorrow and said they refused to enforce drug control laws, they wouldn't even have a job, and we'd thus have no more police officers who care about upholding the Constitution. This would be an even worse situation. Even LEAP seems to advocate reform and education over deciding stubbornly not to enforce existing law.

  • Kirsten||

    What a silly thing to say. If a police officer is enforcing federal drug laws for victimless offenses, he or she has already made clear that he or she does not care about upholding the Constitution. Those who do care about upholding the Constitution would be refusing. Where are these Oathkeepers?

  • P B||

    I think they are called baby steps for a reason. Just lie trying to cut federal spending, we need to show that little cuts a not the end of the world in order to make the bigger cuts that are necessary to balance the books.

  • MNG||

    Is there any state which does not have basically the same drug prohibitions as the feds, apart from medecinal weed?

  • ||

    What would states do if the federal government wasn't so heavy handed? If people could actually vote with their feet? If there weren't so many federal grants to the states to engage in the WOD?

  • Kirsten||

    Precisely. And then there is, of course, the matter of looking at each individual state's Constitution for some sort of authorization for this kind of criminalization by the state of individual peaceful activity. How many law enforcement officers are violating another oath by enforcing these laws?

    And, by the way, why the focus on keeping oaths- whether bad or good- rather than on upholding justice which might entail eschewing an oath taken to the contrary. I'd much prefer that law enforcement, the military, etc. uphold justice rather than some state-dictated oath.

  • prolefeed||

    Not every state has on their books every drug prohibition, and exact penalty thereof, that the feds do. So, "basically" doesn't cut it when you are talking about the many situations where the two sets of laws diverge.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Any federal employee enforcing federal anti-drug laws is not keeping their oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, no matter what organization they join or label they adopt.


    And what Supreme Court decision held federal drug laws to be unconstitutional?

  • prolefeed||

    And what Supreme Court decision held federal drug laws to be unconstitutional?

    Wrong answer. Show me where in the Constitution where is says that the WoD is an enumerated power granted to the federal government.

  • Kirsten||

    Yes, precisely, and I hope Michael will also explain why there was an 18th Amendment to the Constitution and subsequently a 21st Amendment.

  • mr simple||

    Southern Poverty Law Center, which lumps Oath Keepers in with militias and hate groups.
    Whom doesn't the SPLC label as a racist militia?

  • ||

    The NBPP for starters.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    Union thugs with baseball bats who don't wanna compete with no stinkin mexicans?

  • ||

    I would like to see "an order to torture or to inflict cruel or degrading treatment on a captive" added to the list of forbidden orders.

    Of course, this would probably require a general strike at a lot of U.S. prisons.

  • FreedomsAdvocate||

    As a former interrogator I probably should ask how you define 'torture'? Is being forced to listen to loud music or being deprived of your beauty sleep torture?

  • StatePowerAdvocate||

    What about being hugged repeatedly, partaking in some frathouse hazing, or taking a reclining shower?

  • ||

    I define it according to the Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan circa 1984.

    Your snarky tone merits no further response.

  • Rather||

    New here?

  • ||

    the CAT dont mean a thing, do wop do wop...

  • FreedomsAdvocate||

    Not meant to be too snarky; it is just that everyone talks about 'torture' and they don't seem to realize that it is highly subjective. In fact, if you think about it, it is very similar to 'terrorism' where one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

    For example, the UN treaty defines torture as '...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person...'. So what does 'severe' mean? Is being forced to listen to loud music an example of 'severe mental suffering'? If so, then I have tortured my wife numerous times!

    Just as any scientist demands objectively measureable criteria to validate an experiment, don't you think we need to do the same for a international treaty? This is how we get charged with specious violations by some of the worlds worst human rights abusers.

    Just something to think about.

  • MWG||

    "So what does 'severe' mean? Is being forced to listen to loud music an example of 'severe mental suffering'? If so, then I have tortured my wife numerous times!"

    If you lock your wife in a room and force her to listen to Metalica at 'full blast' in order to keep her awake for days, then yes, that is torture.

  • FreedomsAdvocate||

    So, we are using the supreme court's definition of 'pornography' to define torture, too? i.e., 'I know it if I see it.'

  • MWG||

    Not at all. Forcing people to stay awake for days on end does both physical and mental damage. Forcing your wife to listen to loud music does not. See the difference?

  • FreedomsAdvocate||

    You are right, and you said exactly what I am getting at; that the UN treaty does NOT go on to define it as 'harm or damage'. That is the flaw. USC 18 does:

    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality;

    Harm or damage can be measured. This is why waterboarding, for example, is not a chargeable offense. It does no 'harm or damage'. It is scary, for sure. But so it almost getting hit by a car. After a short while--and after you have changed your drawers--you are fine.

    Defined in this way, every interrogator I have ever worked with is against torture, too. If for no other reason than because torture doesn't work. It has been shown over and over again. During the Korea war, US troops had nails driven into their teeth. But the result was that they would say anything to get it to stop. Since the objective of interrogation (I am speaking of military/intelligence interrogations; not police interrogations. Police interrogations have completely different objectives.) is to gain actionable intelligence, having a source willing to say anything is totally unacceptable.

    So torture is both wrong AND counterproductive.

    But flawed documents such as the UN treaty are hugely harmful in that they give ammunition to regimes that do actually use torture to use against any nation that wants to sanction them.

  • ||

    It is one thing to imprison people, but to then force oneself on those people is wrong and trying to define torture misses the point. Have those people actually been tried and justly convicted? Stop trying to justify wrongdoing.

  • freedomsadvocate||

    As I said, I cannot talk about police interrogations. Those would be the ones that are tried and convicted. I am talking to a wartime use where the intent is to gain intelligence which can be used to defeat the enemy. And defeating the enemy is by definition saving your friends, countrymen and allies. Never forget, as no one who has been in a war will forget, that we are talking about people who are trying to kill you, in every way conceivable. They will take away everything you have, kill or enslave you family and destroy the country you are defending. It is not a moral game. The joke of the century is that at one time, they actually considered the lives of soldiers so minor that they decided to come up with 'rules of war'. Somehow to make the inhumane As a general concept I have come to believe that waterboarding and such should probably be illegal.The NOIF principle acknowledges 'or threat of force' as a valid justification for self defense.

  • freedomsadvocate||

    forget it, somehow this posted.

  • ||

    Here is the whole thing--

    As I said, I cannot talk about police interrogations. Those would be the ones that are tried and convicted. I am talking to a wartime use where the intent is to gain intelligence which can be used to defeat the enemy. And defeating the enemy is by definition saving your friends, countrymen and allies. Never forget, as no one who has been in a war will forget, that we are talking about people who are trying to kill you in every way conceivable. If they win, they will take away everything you have, kill or enslave you family and destroy the country you are defending. It is not a moral game. The joke of the century is that at one time, they actually considered the lives of soldiers so minor that they decided to come up with 'rules of war'. Somehow to make the inhumane humane.

    Methods such as waterboarding are only used in extreme circumstances. There is good reason for that. There is no magic point where an interrogator knows that 'if I go beyond this point, the Intel will be useless.' For one thing, every individual is different. All intelligence interrogations start with the simple, straightforward approach. From there, various means of trickery and manipulation are used to win the source to your side. To betray his side, if you will.

    Ideologically committed sources--and or highly intelligent sources-- are by far some of the most difficult to break (meaning getting them to talk *freely*; volunteer the information you need.) Some high-level German soldiers in WWII were interrogated for years before they broke. The only time an interrogator would chance using something like waterboarding is if he or she knows, beyond a doubt that the source has time critical information. Only in extremis would an interrogator risk getting bad information. Too many lives depend on both good and timely intelligence.

    As a general concept I have come to believe that waterboarding and such should probably be illegal. I say that because it should be done rarely if at all, and the interrogator must consider the information so critical that he or she is willing to risk a criminal conviction. You probably disagree, but morally, I think that it could fall under the NOIF principle which acknowledges 'or threat of force' as a valid justification for self defense. From what I understand, self-defense includes those around you.

    On another note, a reference to this whole issue was made to the Leiber Code. Two things; one, the idea of torture at that time falls much more in-line with my concept of torture than with the modern 'sleep deprivation and loud music is torture' view of today. After all, if you read the very next articles:

    17. War is not carried on by arms alone. It is lawful to starve the hostile belligerent, armed or unarmed, so that it leads to the speedier subjection of the enemy.
    18. When a commander of a besieged place expels the non-combatants, in order to lessen the number of those who consume his stock of provisions, it is lawful, though an extreme measure, to drive them back, so as to hasten on the surrender.
    19. Commanders, whenever admissible, inform the enemy of their intention to bombard a place, so that the non-combatants, and especially the women and children, may be removed before the bombardment commences. But it is no infraction of the common law of war to omit thus to inform the enemy. Surprise may be a necessity.

    They didn't play by the modern rules of war, either.

  • ||

    So, you have no problem with Al Qaeda "soldiers" waterboarding captured Americans if they think they have information that could save other Al Qaeda members' lives? After all, we're at war, aren't we?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    So, you have no problem with Al Qaeda "soldiers" waterboarding captured Americans if they think they have information that could save other Al Qaeda members' lives? After all, we're at war, aren't we?


    They did worse to Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg.

  • ||

    So, your answer to that is that we should be no better than the worst of our enemies? In the past, the United States has always tried to present itself as an example of the civilization and humanity that comes out of freedom. Now, there is a certain element (that has always existed, but that was mostly kept out of power in the past) who says that in the putative defense of our "freedom" it is acceptable for us to behave as if we were no better than the savages that threaten us. I'm sorry, but I believe that we are better than that.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Now, there is a certain element (that has always existed, but that was mostly kept out of power in the past) who says that in the putative defense of our "freedom" it is acceptable for us to behave as if we were no better than the savages that threaten us. I'm sorry, but I believe that we are better than that.
    reply to this


    Al Qaeda terrorists are not entitled to the protections of the laws of war.

  • ||

    So, in that light, there is nothing at all that limits our behavior when it come to the treatment of accused terrorists?

  • ||

    The point was that no one, police or army has the right to force themselves on others. Your arbitrary morals make you miss the point. Is someone attacking you with the intent to kill, then you may defend yourself or your country and kill that person. Torture?? Never, and any fuck that has engaged in it any level needs to be tortured himself, worthless piece of crap.

    I'm also guessing that you somehow think invading other countries is protecting your own. How? Unless the recognized government of a country has actually invaded another one, how is it self defense?

  • ||

    How about we define it as something we have prosecuted as War Crimes in the past. You know, like water boarding.

  • MWG||

    Out of curiosity, when has the US prosecuted as a War Crime, someone for water boarding?

  • ||

    Japanese POW camp Commanders. Do I need to google it for you?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Japanese POW camp Commanders. Do I need to google it for you?


    So then it would be illegal to waterboard POW's.

  • ||

    ---"After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

    Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

    In this case from the tribunal's records, the victim was a prisoner in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies:

    A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession."---

    Washington Post, 4 Nov 2007. Do the rest yourself.

  • DK||

    Devastating reply. Winner = Cunctator. Finish him!

  • The Unborn||

    We feel that waterboarding should be safe, legal, and rare.

  • Juice||

    Also:

    http://balkin.blogspot.com/200.....ility.html

    The Army is the oldest of the nation's institutions, antedating the Presidency, the Congress and the courts. It played a unique role in defining and unifying the nation and in fixing the traditions with which the country has been associated since its founding. First among these may well be the tradition of humane warfare, articulated by George Washington after the Battle of Trenton, December 24, 1776. "Treat them with humanity," Washington directed with respect to the captured Hessians. He forbade physical abuse and directed the detainees be quartered with the German-speaking residents of Eastern Pennsylvania, in the expectation that they would become "so fraught with a love of liberty, and property too, that they may create a disgust to the service among the rest of the foreign troops, and widen the breach which is already opened between them and the British." (Things unfolded exactly as Washington envisioned). Washington also set the rule that detainees be given the same housing, food and medical treatment as his own soldiers. And he was particularly concerned about freedom of conscience and respect for the religious values of those taken prisoner. "While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of hearts of men, and to Him only in this case are they answerable."

    Under Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, Washington's orders were expanded in the world's first comprehensive codification of the laws of war, General Orders No. 100 (1863), also called the Lieber Code. Among other points, Lincoln clarified what was meant by "humane" treatment. It could under no circumstance comprehend torture, he directed in article 16.
  • ||

    Right, like they adhered to the Lieber Code. Like the US constitution that was ignored to conquer the southern states, so too was the Lieber Code followed only as long as no one was inconvenienced.

  • Cruz||

    What internet interrogator also hasn't done is read anything about the history of torture. Maybe he is just a KBR Contracted Interrogator. The Spanish used to force people to walk all throughout the day and night as a way of keeping them awake. Severe Sleep Dep causes great suffering psychologically as well as physiologically.

  • ||

    if that was addressed to me, you can watch me on TV. Although that was onlly on my few years in SERE.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/fr.....N_S20kjSJE

  • Rather||

    "Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding."

    That was not torture.
    The fact is that the Japanese engaged in real torture: Green Cross aka unit 731

  • Rather||

  • ||

    damn..

  • ||

    At a time like this, when whether the Egyptian police and military will fire on Egyptian protesters is cause for so much anxiety and speculation...

    There shouldn't be any question but that having people in various uniforms who will promise ahead of time not to fire on us should we someday need to protest a vicious dictator of our own--is a good thing!

  • ||

    Too many folks would say we'll never have to protest a vicious dictator. It's just impossible.

  • Establishment Politician||

    Absolutely not! Think of the implications for stability.

  • ||

    Okay, I just spent the weekend in the land of the leftist internets and I can honestly say that I feel a bit disoriented. Apparently, groups like the Oath Keepers are just "ultra right wing" militia movements that can't stand the idea of a black president. I've seen website after website cataloging just how violent right wingers/libertarians are (yes, they actually categorize people this way). The lists basically put any white supremacist crime under the designation of "right wing violence," so now apparently the term "right wing" can be applied to anybody from libertarians to white supremacists, and any trait of any of the groups under the banner can be extended to every single person the left disagrees with.

    I actually got in an argument with somebody who claimed that the fact that "right wingers/libertarians" are more violent is a scientifically proven truth. Why? Apparently they did a study that showed that people who tend to identify with conservative issues tend to be more easily startled. Basically, this person responded to any argument that I had with, "Hey, this is science! I don't need your opinion!"

    Normally, I'd agree that conservatives are assholes, but this is a clear attempt by the left to whitewash any dissent. Also, the fact that they believe that libertarians and Nazis belong under the same banner makes my skin crawl. Why don't we simply define "right wing" to mean "anybody who disagrees with the left." "Ultra right wing" can be defined as "seriously disagreeing with the left."

    None of these words seem to mean anything concrete at all.

  • Warty||

  • ||

    Considering that they are actively attempting to change the meaning of "libertarian", does this surprise you at all?

  • Juice||

    They already did it to "liberal".

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Why don't we simply define "right wing" to mean "anybody who disagrees with the left.

    Ummm, that's been the working definition of "right wing" among statist parties for years.

    It's sort of like how "deregulation" doesn't mean that regulations were removed, but that there weren't enough regulations put in place at the time. Take Dubya who gave us the heftiest Code of Federal Register since Nixon and Sarbanes-Oxley and yet has somehow become the champion of deregulation.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Just remember "not left = ultra-right wing racist anarchist woman-hater kicker of puppies". It's that cut'n'dried.

  • ||

    criminals shot-up the city post katrina after the police deserted. the disarming was temporary but necessary & didnt harm the 2d amendment since one could leave the city & keep one's weapons. odd that the oath keepers cite the founders since the natives were forcibly ejected from their lands & native allies were betrayed after the revolution. the oath keepers i know are birthers & crank conspiracy theorists.

  • Gregory Smith||

    The disarming was necessary? For whom? For the CRIMINALS you wanted to protect? Is FASCISM ok if its temporary?

    Amazing how people accuse me of not being a libertarian yet you think it's ok to deprive the law-abiding majority of their RKBA just because guns scare you after a hurricane.

  • MWG||

    "Amazing how people accuse me of not being a libertarian yet you think it's ok to deprive the law-abiding majority of their RKBA just because guns scare you after a hurricane."

    Uh... OhioOrrin has never claimed to be a libertarian... quite the contrary.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Thanks for the info, MGW.

  • ||

    the criminals & wannabes were stealing guns moron. nobody i know around tulane was disarmed. this mainly effected the 9th ward & surrounding areas.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Right, so if guns were illegal nobody would make guns. Hmmm, well, drugs are illegal, so I guess nobody makes drugs. Think, Ohio, think!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Orrin will side with authority, at all costs. He's kinda simple that way.

  • Juice||

    BS, people in nicer neighborhoods were disarmed.

  • ||

    While I myself am not a member of the Oath Keepers I am a sympathizer and not only to I believe The President is native-born I also believe the US Government had no part in 9/11.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Unfortunately, Obama is American-born. We know for sure because The Clintons didn't use the issue during the primaries.

  • ||

    So under what delegated power to the federal government is the confiscation of weapons allowed? What part of KEEP and bear arms do you not understand?

  • ||

    Oh, FFS. You know shit about Katrina, so kindly STFU and go shove your head back up Ohio's ass, ass.

    Guns were confiscated from both rich and poor neighbourhoods. You obviously missed the video footage of people being better armed then the cops, let alone footage of an old lady getting shit-tackled by brainless military-garbed gestapo for showing them her revolver in a non-threatening manner. Not only were there cops there, but military and Blackwater; not only snatched weapons, but kept them.

    Accusing you of wanting to disarm law abiding citizens to get raped by armed criminals is not hyperbole. It's a flat fact.

  • mr simple||

    You have to like a guy that busts out Stealer's Wheel in the middle of a conversation.

  • Mark||

    Any group that draws the ire of the SPLC AND Bill O'Reilly is my kind of group!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Pretty much what I was thinking.

  • ||

    On the other hand what in the world makes them think each individual officer should be the determiner of what is constitutional or not?

    They already do, at least implicitly. It just so happens that they decide every damn thing they feel like doing is Constitutional.

    Seriously, as agents of the state, they derive the legitimacy of their actions from the legitimacy of the state. In the US, that legitimacy is derived from the Constitution. By acting in their official capacity, they are stating, implicitly, that what they are doing is legitimate for the state to do. That is, what they are doing is Constitutional.

    Not to mention that, as adult human beings, they are, in fact, responsible for everything they do. "I was just following orders" cannot be recognized as a defense.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Not to mention that, as adult human beings, they are, in fact, responsible for everything they do. "I was just following orders" cannot be recognized as a defense.


    Only in regards to criminal statutes.

    The Constitution is a bit vague. For example, in 1986 the Supreme Court upheld anti-sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick . Was it wrong for police officers to rely on Bowers to justify enforcing anti-sodomy laws?

  • prolefeed||

    The Constitution is a bit vague. For example, in 1986 the Supreme Court upheld anti-sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick . Was it wrong for police officers to rely on Bowers to justify enforcing anti-sodomy laws?

    The Constitution isn't vague. You're confusing SCOTUS decisions, thinking they are part of the constitution. They are NOT. The Constitution says what it says, the federal government has only a few defined powers it is allowed to exercise, and SCOTUS decisions either affirm that wording or are wrong (and usually those decisions are at least partially, and often wholly, wrong.)

  • Juice||

    Uh, the constitution is way vague, dude. Like, on purpose.

  • prolefeed||

    "Congress shall pass no law" is vague?

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." is vague?

    "shall not be infringed" is vague?

    Gimme an example of that alleged vagueness.

  • kbolino||

    Unfortunately, there are (at least) two very important examples of vagueness:

    "Cruel and unusual punishment"
    "Unreasonable search and seizure"

    Furthermore, while "Congress shall make no law" is not in and of itself vague, it fails to address abuses in practice by the executive branch.

  • ||

    Wouldn't an Oath Keeper officer conflict with the ruling about qualified immunity in Pearson v. Callahan?

    If an officer knowingly refuses an order on the grounds it is unconstitutional, shouldn't that remove the ambiguity in the order that would normally keep a public official from being liable?

  • prolefeed||

    the case a few months ago where a newborn child was taken from its parents at the hospital by child protective services because the father was a member of our organization, which they wrongly called a militia.

    Reason: Wasn't there also a history of abuse in that case?

    Rhodes: It turns out it was a case of mistaken identity. They were attributing to the father abuse that had been committed by someone else. In the end, all the charges were dropped, and the child was returned to the parents.

    I remember that thread. Haven't read all the comments upthread here -- curious if anyone here has backed down from their assertions on that prior thread and admitted they were wrong?

  • ||

    Here's the thread. It's like a mighty, surging ocean of fail on the part of Wonkette trolls.

  • J Peron||

    First, to the moron who doesn't understand the difference between things like calling someone a moron, and calling someone a "gook."

    When you, sir, are called a moron, the insult is meant for you and only you. There is no class of self-identified people who label themselves morons, usually because they are too moronic to realize they are morons. In other words, people who refer to you as a moron are ONLY insulting you, perhaps because you earned it. But "gook" or any other of the racial epithets that you like to use, hence the reason some people think you a moron, are actually insults to a large group of people, the bulk of who have done nothing to you and are not part of the conversation.

    In other words, when you use racial slurs you are managing to insult vast groups of people. When others call you a moron they are only referring to you. If you can't see the difference, as apparently you can't, that may justify the name-calling used against you.

    Did anyone notice the contradication, perhaps lie, by Rhodes in the interview? He referenced the case in NH of the man whose kid was taken over child abuse charges. He claims the child was "taken" "because the father was a member of our organization." Radley notes the abuse charges were the real reason and Rhodes then says it mistaken identity and the father was really innocent. (Perhaps, perhaps not, that isn't important here.)

    Rhodes started out claiming membership was THE reason for this. Then he admits it was mainly abuse and retreats to claiming that "membership" was listed "as one of the factors for taking the child away." That is a big step down, but also a lie.

    The affidavit was widely reported in the press and only abuse was the reason for the custody issue, not membership in Oathkeepers. What the affidavit said was that the father was a member and may be armed. It was a warning to authorities that the father was armed and could create a shoot out if he wished. But his membership was NOT listed as a reason for the custody dispute. But claiming it is, apparently is a publicity stunt for this group.

  • zoltan||

    He was trying to be "edgy".

  • MWG||

    Thanks for the reply.

  • MWG||

    Damn! That was meant for Cunctator above.

  • ||

    Military and police are asked to do all sorts of things not specified by the Constitution. Doesn't seem practical to me to have every gun toter trying to interpret whether something is unconstitutional or not. Even the Supreme Court has split decisions where the members can't agree.

  • LarryA||

    Have you read the ten orders? These aren't "maybe sorta unconstitutional depending on circumstances according to a 5/4 SCOTUS decision” issues. Using warrantless searches to round up a minority, impose a gag order, confiscate their firearms, and bus them off to a concentration camp is Unconstitutional. Period.

    That shouldn’t be a difficult call for anyone, much less a cop or soldier.

  • JTWilliams||

    For all of the hyperventilating coming out of the left wing foundations and the corporate left, you'd think these guys were about to go berzerk if ticketed for a rolling stop! No American should support any of the issues that the OathKeepers are seeking to defend against. Between the militarization of police and the federal omnipotence in all law enforcement affairs, there needs to be a line drawn in the sand. Not a threat of violence, just a warning of non-compliance. The OathKeepers are patriots, concerned only with the types of authoritarian tactics enacted by tyrants. And the laws/plans already on the books are worthy of all of our concerns.

  • ||

    >…leftist groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center…

    Please, I admire your work, but take a few minutes to study the differences between leftist and liberal, between right-wing and conservative, etc. Don't emulate wingnut radio by conflating very different terms.

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