The Oath Keepers on Edward Snowden

"We need more to stand up."


The Oath Keepers are a coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials who have pledged not to obey unconstitutional commands. They're extremely controversial, with critics accusing them (inaccurately) of fomenting terrorism and (more accurately) of attracting people with an affinity for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric. Since they were launched in the first year of the Obama administration, they are also sometimes accused of being unconcerned with the constitutional violations of the Bush years.

The latter charge doesn't match what I've observed in my reporting about the group. Still, I was interested to see how they would react to the unfolding NSA story. In particular, I wondered whether they'd see Edward Snowden's decision to leak the PRISM documents as the sort of disobedience they champion, and I wondered how much their discussion of the story would extend to Bush-era as well as Obama-era surveillance.

Wonder no more. Stewart Rhodes, the group's founder, has emailed me a statement about Snowden:

He is an example of what needs to be done by anyone who has knowledge of such gross violations of our rights. We need more to stand up, because this is surely the mere tip of the iceberg of the infrastructure for a police state that is being built over us.

This is about far more than supposed attempts to ferry out al Qaeda operatives. This is part of a growing Stasi and Checka style surveillance police state which tags, tracks, and prepares plans to detain dissidents with the "Main Core" database of millions of Americans who the regime considers a "threat."

And this is also really about the absurd claim that the U.S. is a battlefield and the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to the President's "surveillance of the battlefield." That was the claim of neocon, government-supremacist Bush lawyers, like John Yoo, and that idea that the Bill of Rights is trumped by Executive war powers has also been the consistent claim of Obama lawyers such as Harold Koh, justifying even the targetted killing of Americans.

And that absurd view, that so long as they call it "war' they can sidestep the Bill of Rights and act like Stalin, is shared by both Republicans (like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, and Rep. Peter King), and Democrats like Harry Reid (who tells us it's been going on for seven years, so don't worry about it).

Unless we the people purge out these oath breakers from BOTH parties, we will find ourselves in a nightmare dictatorship and we will have to fight to throw it off. Sweat now or bleed later. Purge them all.