Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes Wants to Recall Montana Legislators Who Voted for the Defense Bill [Updated]


Stewart Rhodes, the controversial founder of the controversial "libertarian" (declares the Huffington Post) group Oath Keepers would like to recall Montana Sens. Max S. Baucus and Jonathan Tester (Democrats) and Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg because they voted for the National Defense Authorization Act. And in theory, Montana law and the 10th Amendment would allow for it if only because it is not explicitly disallowed by the Constitution.

The Oath Keepers and their overstated supposed penchant for FEMA Camp-style paranoia seem tailor-made allies for criers of wolf like radio host Alex Jones, who has the most dire interpretation of the NDAA. But even people who dwell well outside of bunkers, such as Jacob Sullum, have noted that the actual powers of the bill are disturbingly opaque at best.

Nothing from the Oath Keepers' press release reads very controversially, yet this short Huffington Post piece ends by reminding the dear reader just what sort of people they believe we're dealing with.

Huff Po:

The Oath Keepers is an organization made up of current and former U.S. military and law enforcement personnel committed to upholding the U.S. Constitution. They have been criticized in the past for adopting extremist views and language, and for their supposed ties to white supremacist and militia groups. The movement was characterized in a 2009 Southern Poverty Law Center as "a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival."

Ire over the implications of the indefinite detention provision has been widespread across the political spectrum. All things considered, the rhetoric of the fledgling recall campaign is reserved. Earlier this month, a failed Tea Party candidate from California raged against the measure, writing in a Facebook post that Obama's signing of the bill was grounds to "assassinate the f—– n—– and his monkey children."

Apparently this racist fellow was a former Libertarian councilman who was investigated by the Secret Service for his remarks. Has Rhodes ever been investigated by the Secret Service? Is there any compelling reason at all to pay Rhodes the exceedingly backhanded compliment of implying that at least he hasn't advocated presidential assassination and the murder of children lately? The juxtaposition is bizarre and implies a desire to equate two completely unrelated people.

Kicking out elected officials should happen more often, so why not actually delve into whether it's constitutionally feasible to do so? The NDAA is a great excuse to find out if it can be done. It has never been done on the federal level, and it's perhaps legally dubious, but the power to recall officials apparently rests within Montana law — one of only nine states which grant this power —and which states the following requirements for recalls:

3) Physical or mental lack of fitness, incompetence, violation of the oath of office, official misconduct, or conviction of a felony offense enumerated in Title 45 are the only grounds for recall. A person may not be recalled for performing a mandatory duty of the office that the person holds or for not performing any act that, if performed, would subject the person to prosecution for official misconduct.

Violation of the oath of office, says Rhodes and his supporters, is what occurred when these men voted to pass the NDAA, which violates various amendments such as the 6th Amendment's requirement for a speedy jury trial. Rhodes also believes that support of the NDAA qualifies as treason on the legislators' parts. 

Still, with Congress at a historically low 11 percent approval rating, throwing them all out shouldn't be a sign of radicalism. But this just won't happen. And that's partially because of the strange continuing narrative from folks at places like the Southern Poverty Law Center; those who make sure we don't forget that leaning a wee bit towards the paranoid in matters of government is a much bigger blot on your record than merely voting to erode Americans' rights.

Check out Radley Balko's excellent Feb 2011 interview with Stewart Rhodes and Jesse Walker in the May 2010 American Conservative on how "The Oath Keepers have more in common with Henry David Thoreau than Timothy McVeigh."

Reason on suspicious anti-government types who like federalism; and Reason on the NDAA.

Addendum: This is the second time I've been overly sarcastic and sloppily insulted Stewart Rhodes when I intended to defend his organization (or at least him, since he usually comes off excellently in interviews, particularly the above one by Radley Balko). There are some signals in this post that I was being sarcastic (and obviously anyone who has read my writing realizes my sympathies lie with Mr. Rhodes) but I mucked it up and what is obvious to me — that the media narrative of the paranoid Montanan being more of a threat than the leviathan state is tired and completely absurd—was not obvious in my bad writing. Sincere apologies, Mr. Rhodes.