In this second installment of our four-part series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to create a homeland for white supremacists in northwest Montana, we gauge the numbers of the PLE movement and examine its origins, strategies, and goals, which include promoting Holocaust denial.
Last month Media Matters e-mailed April Gaede, the spokeswoman for the Pioneer Little Europe movement, to ask whether she considered PLE a racist endeavor.
April Gaede, seen here during a 2005 interview with ABC, is urging
"Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white," she replied. "If a group of Jews wanted to move to an area that had a high concentration of Jews already, would that make them Jewish supremacists? If Blacks choose to associate and work with other Blacks to form a 'black racial community,' is that racist? Apparently only White people cannot work for the advancement of their race, while groups like La Raza are accepted as 'cultural groups.' What if the 14 words said 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for Native American children ' instead of 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for White children?' Would human rights activists call that racist?"
The "14 words" is a popular white nationalist slogan coined by David Lane, a member of the 1980s right-wing domestic terrorist group The Order. The group committed armed robberies, including a $3.6 million armored car heist, in part to fund the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, whose founder, Richard Butler, called for the mass migration of white supremacists to the northwestern United States after headquartering Aryan Nations in a northern Idaho compound in the 1970s. He branded the concept the Northwest Territorial Imperative. (Aryan Nations was crippled by a Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit in 2000; it has all but disintegrated since Butler's death in 2004.)
The current Flathead Valley-based PLE movement is the latest manifestation of the longstanding dream of white supremacists to carve out their very own piece of America. Gaede and other PLE activists targeted the Flathead Valley for some of the same demographic reasons Butler picked northern Idaho: historically its population is more than 95 percent white and politically conservative with a strong libertarian streak.
"Around here we have a live and let live mentality," says Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher. "That leads to some individuals with fringe beliefs finding refuge in the Flathead Valley."
In a four-part series released over the next two days, Media Matters will report on the recent influx of white supremacists and Patriot group members to the town of Kalispell, Montana, which has made the region the hottest flash point of right-wing extremism in the country.
At first glance the Pioneer Little Europe website seems like it could be the work of the Montana Office of Tourism. Photographs depict the rugged beauty of the Flathead Valley region near Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.
One image shows a young blond-haired girl playing in a meadow overlooking Kalispell, the largest town in the area, with a population around 20,000.
The site also features short news items about the Northwest Montana State Fair and a wildflower beautification program along with Kalispell job postings.
But then there's this: A scan of a full-page advertisement in a recent edition of the Flathead Beacon, the local paper, with photographs of 47 babies newly delivered in the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. All but one are fair-skinned with light-colored hair. "Wonderful white babies being born in Kalispell," the website reads. "What do the babies look like being born in your town?"
Pioneer Little Europe spokeswoman April Gaede's website asks,
Another item on the Pioneer Little Europe site depicts white families relaxing on the shore of a lake. A caption reads,"This is how white our beaches are, and I'm not talking about sand."
And that little girl in the meadow? Her name is Dresden Hale. That's Dresden for the German city firebombed by the Allied forces in World War II, and Hale for the 1990s leader of the neo-Nazi group World Church of the Creator, Matt Hale, who's doing 40 years in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
Dresden Hale is the youngest daughter of Kalispell resident and neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, the public face of the Pioneer Little Europe (PLE) movement. Launched in 2008, PLE invites "racially conscious" white Americans to relocate to the Flathead Valley to help create a heavily-armed Aryan homeland.
(Gaede's other two daughters, Lynx and Lamb, are identical twins who gained widespread media attention by performing neo-Nazi folk ballads as the musical act Prussian Blue. They have since renounced white supremacism.)
The PLE movement has brought dozens of white supremacists to the Flathead Valley. They are increasingly making their presence known by staging public events, openly recruiting and distributing racist literature, stocking up on firearms at area gun shows while dressed in neo-Nazi clothing, working for local anti-gun control and anti-abortion campaigns (according to Gaede), and issuing violent threats to perceived enemies, including Media Matters, which is now under "indictment" for treason to the white race.
The growing numbers of PLE white supremacists in the Flathead Valley parallels a recent influx to the area of ultra right-wing "Patriot" movement leaders and their followers. Their combined forces are rapidly transforming the region into the hottest flash point of right-wing extremism in the country.
In the latest example of their conspiratorial and irresponsible coverage of the topic, this morning Fox News asked whether the failed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Fast and Furious operation was "an act of treason." Fox offered no evaluation of their immensely serious and factually unsupported suggestion that American law enforcement officials were possibly guilty of conspiring against the country.
On America's Newsroom, Fox "straight news" anchor Bill Hemmer read a viewer's question about whether Fast and Furious "constitute[s] a treasonous act." He then asked Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), "is this treason, what's the definition?" Gosar declined to define or make any assessment on the matter, saying only "we're trying to get all the facts on this" before explaining the actions Congress can take to remove government officials. Hemmer then moved on to Gosar's efforts to get Attorney General Eric Holder to resign.
During the segment, Fox aired a caption which asked, "Is Fast And Furious An Act Of Treason?"
Merriam-Webster defines treason as follows:
The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family.
There is simply nothing that suggests that the mistakes in Fast and Furious were part of any effort to overthrow the government or do anything similar. Any suggestion otherwise is grossly irresponsible.
For more Media Matters coverage of gun violence and extremism, visit our Gun Facts microsite.
Previously Media Matters has noted gun lobby efforts to falsely suggest that guns used by Mexican cartels come from anywhere but the United States, except for the guns involved in the failed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation Fast and Furious. During a visit to the National Rifle Association's (NRA) radio program Townhall.com's Katie Pavlich took the argument a step further, suggesting that we just get rid of all federal law enforcement efforts to stop gun trafficking to Mexico.
Riffing off NRA radio host Cam Edwards, Pavlich quipped that getting rid of the ATF and Department of Justice was the way to end gun trafficking to Mexico.
PAVLICH: My whole thing has always been through this process, you know, if you really want to stop trafficking of guns into Mexico from America get rid of ATF and DOJ because they are the number one supplier of guns to Mexican drug cartels at this point.
Pavlich's claim that the federal government is the top supplier of drug cartels is flat-out false. Overall 64,000 U.S. guns have been traced from Mexican crime scenes in the last five years. The ATF has seized more 10,000 firearms and more then 1.1. million rounds of ammunition headed to the southwest border in the same period. In the last 2 years on the Mexican side of the border, 20,504 or 70 percent of the total firearms submitted to be traced were U.S. sourced. In July The Washington Post reported 227 guns associated with Fast and Furious has been recovered in Mexico, which if included in the trace data for the last two years would be less than one percent of the total. During those same two years only one percent of the guns were traced to anywhere other than the United States.
You could dismiss the line as a joke, but Pavlich's suggestion to eliminate ATF and DOJ largely mirrors the attitude and faulty facts used by the gun lobby and the right-wing media. The loudest critic of Fast and Furious doesn't think the ATF is constitutional no matter what tactics it employs. The NRA has done everything in it's power to weaken the ATF and has showed sustained hostility to their mission. They've spent years blocking a permanent director for the ATF, including President Bush's nominee.
The suggestion that Fast and Furious guns constitute the vast majority of U.S. guns arming the cartels is absurd and ignores a serious and ongoing issue. Eliminating the ATF would eliminate virtually the only mechanism to prevent guns from being trafficked.
Many conservative states have few state laws enabling law enforcement to fight gun trafficking. As documented by Mayors Against Illegal Guns' Trace The Guns project, Arizona state law doesn't have a straw buying statute that would let state prosecutors target the criminals that bought the guns in the Fast and Furious operation. Without federal government efforts there's few mechanisms to fight gun trafficking, since states like Arizona show little interest in combating gun trafficking.
On October 4 it was revealed that during the Bush Administration an ATF operation named Wide Receiver included the controversial "gun walking" tactic that was used during the more recent Fast and Furious investigation. The failed Fast and Furious operation resulted in many guns falling into the hands of Mexican cartels and has been at the heart of the National Rifle Association's ongoing calls for Attorney General Eric Holder's resignation as well as a chorus of conspiratorial accusations against the Obama administration.
Right-wing bloggers responded to the news that something similar might have happened during the Bush years with an immediate and sustained scramble to deny that Wide Receiver was anything like Fast and Furious. Using a more creative dodge Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse dealt with the possible embarrassment of Bush-era gun walking by just suggesting operation Wide Receiver happened at "about the same time" as Fast and Furious in Fox News segment last week.
Today La Jeunesse continued the knee-jerk defense of Wide Receiver by omitting key facts about the case in a segment that aired on Happening Now.
Discussing today's Senate Judiciary hearing where Holder testified about gunwalking allegations and other issues, La Jeunesse pushed defensive talking points about Wide Receiver:
LA JEUNESSE: Democrats went back to 2007 to blame gun walking on President Bush first and they failed to say however that Operation Wide Receiver was similar but different then Fast and Furious in that we told Mexico it was happening and agents tried but often failed to surveil the weapons and then they stopped the operation. John as know in Fast and Furious there was no attempt to stop it. Only with the death of Brian Terry did they and we did not tell Mexico.
The defense of Wide Receiver comes even though internal Department of Justice e-mails confirmed Wide Receiver involved the controversial tactic of letting guns "walk."
La Jeunesse is simply wrong that "there was no attempt to stop" Fast and Furious. In January indictments were issued for 20 Fast and Furious suspects. La Jeunesse suggests this just this was only in reaction to the murder of border agent Brian Terry, which were brought considerable attention to Fast and Furious after it was revealed that 2 guns associated with the operation where found at the murder scene. But recently disclosed e-mails show that before Terry was murdered, prosecutors had already planned to issue indictments within weeks.
In the e-mail written on December 14, 2010 at 1:21 p.m., Patrick Cunningham, chief of the criminal division for the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office, asks if the indictments of Fast and Furious suspects were still planned for January 6 and 7, indicating previous plans to make arrests in the case. Terry was murdered that evening.
ATF whistleblowers involved with Fast and Furious have suggested that similar indictments could have been issued much earlier, but that doesn't mean there was no never any intention to indict the suspects in Fast and Furious.
Last year, the National Rifle Association identified what was to them a crisis: "certain military base commanders, exercising arbitrary authority given them under military law and regulations, have issued orders violating military personnel's Second Amendment rights." NRA was particularly worried about restrictions on privately-owned firearms that soldiers kept off-base.
In response, NRA pushed a law which top military commanders fear puts U.S. troops in greater danger of suicide. Under the law, adopted as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, the Defense Department may not "prohibit, issue any requirement relating to, or collect or record any information relating to the otherwise lawful acquisition, possession, ownership, carrying, or other use of a privately owned firearm" by a member of the Armed Forces.
According to the Army's second-highest-ranking officer, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, this prevents commanders from engaging in important discussions with soldier about weapons safety, which may put them at higher risk of suicide:
"I am not allowed to ask a soldier who lives off post whether that soldier has a privately owned weapon," [Chirarelli] says.
While commanders are permitted to ask troops who appear to be a danger to themselves or others about private firearms - or to suggest perhaps locking them temporarily in a base depot - if the soldier denies that he or she is thinking about harming anyone, then the commander cannot pursue the discussion further.
Nearly half of all soldiers who commit suicide use a firearm, General Chiarelli points out. He added that "suicide in most cases is a spontaneous event" that is often fueled by drugs and alcohol. But "if you can separate the individual from the weapon," he added, "you can lower the incidences of suicide."
The problem, Chiarelli said, is that "we have issues in even being able to do that."
Active duty Army suicide rates have more than doubled since 2004. According to a new report from the Center for a New American Security, "[f]rom 2005 to 2010, service members took their own lives at a rate of approximately one every 36 hours."
Chiarelli's analysis is backed by public health experts who say that some suicides are preventable. According to Harvard School of Public Health professor David Hemenway, "Studies show that most attempters act on impulse, in moments of panic or despair. Once the acute feelings ease, 90 percent do not go on to die by suicide."
Federal prosecutors in Alaska filed a motion Friday to deny bail to an officer of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia, a right-wing extremist sovereign citizens group, after she attempted to enter Canada in late October through a remote Yukon Territory border crossing.
Mary Ann Morgan, 53, was driving a truck containing virtually no personal effects but what prosecutors termed a "horde of documents" including detailed information on home-cooked explosives and ricin, an extremely lethal toxin derived from castor beans and weaponized using lye or solvent.
Prosecutors cited the fact that last week, four members of a militia group in Georgia were arrested for allegedly plotting to attack various government targets using ricin and explosives and said Morgan poses "risk to the public in general, law enforcement or the judiciary."
Also in the Chevy S-10 pick-up truck driven by Morgan was a .32 caliber Beretta handgun that Morgan, a convicted felon, is prohibited from possessing. Morgan was convicted in 2001 of Custodial Interference in the First Degree for violating a child custody agreement. Canadian law also bans private U.S. citizens from driving handguns across the border, and strictly prohibits the possession anywhere in Canada of easily concealable handguns including .32 caliber semi-automatics.
After discovering the handgun, Canadian Border Security Agency officers turned custody of Morgan over to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Alaska State Troopers. Morgan told Canadian border guards she was headed for a meeting about the U.S. Constitution being held in Montana, according to Canadian law enforcement sources in the Yukon Territory.
The motion identifies Morgan as secretary of the sovereign citizen Alaska Peacemaker Militia, part of a movement rooted in racism, anti-government extremism and bizarre conspiracy theories that is growing nationwide as part of an ongoing surge in right-wing militia activity.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "Sovereigns believe that they -- not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials -- get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes. Sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence, usually directed against government officials." The SPLC estimates there are currently about 100,000 hard-core sovereign citizen believers in the U.S.
The federal government has alleged that four Georgia militia members who are accused of plotting to kill federal employees modeled their plan on right-wing blogger Mike Vanderboegh's online novel Absolved, which depicts underground militia fighters who declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. Vanderboegh is not alone in promoting such insurrectionism: several right-wing media figures, including other gun rights bloggers, have suggested the possibility of political violence or revolution as a means of responding to progressive policies.
Give him points for consistency. When National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre seizes on a talking point, he doesn't let it go, no matter how ridiculous it seems to be.
In September, LaPierre told the Conservative Political Action Conference-Florida that there is a "massive Obama conspiracy" in which the president plans to "lull gun owners to sleep" by not passing new restrictions on guns, then repeal the Second Amendment. His claim was widely mocked as "crazy" or "paranoid" by critics who noted that LaPierre's "conspiracy" was based on no evidence and was frankly bizarre.
Now LaPierre has taken to the pages of The Washington Times to offer the same bizarre claim:
The Obama administration [...] hatched a political conspiracy to deceive Americans and hide its true agenda to dismantle the Second Amendment and our freedom. By delaying its anti-gun legislative agenda, it's tried to dupe gun owners into believing our fundamental freedom is safe.
The political calculation of the White House is clear: Deceive the voters and get re-elected at all costs and then, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling the Second Amendment and destroying American freedom forever.
I have bad news for President Obama and his advisers. Gun owners aren't fools - and are not fooled.
NRA members and gun owners see through this Obama conspiracy and know the president has been setting the stage to gut the Second Amendment, quietly and behind the scenes.
Later in the op-ed, LaPierre pushes the baseless conspiracy that the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious was intended "to bolster its claims that straw purchasers in the United States were the cause of Mexican drug cartel violence." He also promotes the falsehood that the Obama administration supported "a United Nations treaty that could severely restrict or effectively ban civilian ownership of firearms worldwide."
LaPierre concludes that "[a] second Obama term will mark the end of the Second Amendment, as we know it. That is a fact." But the real truth is that he's willing to say anything to raise money and consolidate his organization's power.
Captain Bob Kolenda, director of the Kansas City Regional Terrorism Early Warning Group (KCTEW), confirmed in an interview with Media Matters that an analyst with his group warned more than a year ago of the potentially dangerous consequences of former Alabama militia leader Mike Vanderboegh's novel Absolved.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced the arrests of four Georgia men who were allegedly inspired by the book to plot terror attacks against federal employees and civilians. Kolenda, a 34-year veteran of the Overland Park Police Department, responded to the arrests by saying his group's analyst "hit the nail on the head" in highlighting Vanderboegh's novel.
Terrorism Early Warning Groups, also known as fusion centers, bring together local, state, and federal law enforcement as well as public and private organizations to share information and detect and deter terrorist threats. KCTEW has eight full-time employees, received funding from federal grants, and is supported by the Overland Park and Kansas City police departments.
Fox News has repeatedly featured Vanderboegh as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious in recent months, mainstreaming a former militia leader who once urged his readers to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices. Fox has yet to address their prior promotion of Vanderboegh in their reports on the alleged Georgia terror plot
In Vanderboegh's novel, which was self-published online, underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. In the introduction to Absolved, Vanderboegh calls the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry." According to the Justice Department, one of the alleged domestic terrorists repeatedly cited the novel as the inspiration for their plot.
In October 2010, an analyst for KCTEW produced a report warning that Vanderboegh's novel could inspire terrorist threats. The report detailed the book's plot, particularly its protagonists' "attacks on government facilities," highlighted Vanderboegh's history of extremism, and stated (emphasis added):
The stories told by Vanderboegh show that many in the U.S. harbor a belief that the U.S. government is planning, or will plan, a confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens. The degree to which he glorifies the killing of law enforcement personnel involved in fictional gun raids also shows the extent many will go to spread their ideology. Vanderboegh's and other works of literature have the possibility to inspire those with extremist beliefs to carry out similar attacks depicted in the writings.
Both the report and Kolenda stressed that possession of Vanderboegh's novel and membership in his extremist Three Percenters organization does not in and of itself indicate a propensity towards domestic terrorism. Nonetheless, Kolenda pointed out that the analyst produced the report because it was "his opinion that it could lead people to do things" of that nature.
Kolenda said that the report had been distributed to local law enforcement so that if they came across the book during their investigations, they would be informed as to its contents and author.
Media outlets are starting to notice the link between Fox News, Alabama-based blogger Mike Vanderboegh, and the alleged plot by four Georgia men to kill federal employees and civilians using explosives and the biological agent ricin.
By featuring him as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, Fox News has mainstreamed Vanderboegh, a former militia leader who urged his readers to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices . According to the criminal complaint against him, one of the alleged domestic terrorists repeatedly cited Vanderboegh's novel Absolved as the inspiration for their plot.
Absolved tells the story of underground militia fighters who declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. Vanderboegh has called the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry."
In a report published in The Boston Globe and on the websites of Yahoo News, CBS News, ABC News, and newspapers across the country, The Associated Press describes how Vanderboegh's novel allegedly inspired the terror plot and notes:
Last year, Vanderboegh was denounced for calling on citizens to throw bricks through the windows of local Democratic headquarters across the country to protest President Barack Obama's health care plan. Several such incidents occurred. Vanderboegh has also appeared as a commentator on Fox News Channel.
Likewise, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the alleged plot was "based on a novel by Fox News terrorism expert Mike Vanderboegh that detailed killing Justice Department attorneys."
As of yet, Fox has remained silent regarding their role in promoting Vanderboegh's views. After initial reports referenced Absolved but did not mention its author, Fox began noting that the book was authored by "the former leader of an Alabama militia" and flashing an image of the book onscreen, with Vanderboegh's name visible. Fox News figures have not spoken Vanderboegh's name on-air and certainly have not noted that he has previously appeared on their airwaves.
With the network's name being dragged through the mud through their connection to the Alabama extremist, it remains to be seen how long they can continue their silence.
Mike Vanderboegh, the Alabama-based blogger and former militia leader whose novel Absolved allegedly inspired four Georgia men arrested yesterday over an alleged plot to kill numerous government officials, is denying any responsibility and lashing out at Media Matters and other outlets who reported on that story.
Vanderboegh also reports that he suspects that one of the alleged plotters, Frederick Thomas, had posted comments on Vanderboegh's blog.
In one post, Vanderboegh wrote:
My as-yet-unpublished novel Absolved, for the uninitiated, begins with the premise that the ATF, for political agenda reasons of their own, has staged a deadly raid on the wrong Alabama good old boy from Winston County and what happens in the unintended consequences of that stupidity. There is nothing in there about ricin, or terrorist attacks on civilians (unless you count the forces of the federal government) or deliberate targeting of innocents. And did I mention that it is FICTION? [...]
Absolved is fiction. I hope it is a "useful dire warning." However, I am as much to blame for the Georgia Geriatric Terrorist Gang as Tom Clancy is for Nine Eleven.
Vanderboegh has also stated that the reaction to the story has motivated him to get Absolved printed and thanked Media Matters for "writing my dust jacket ad copy" by referring to the book as "Blood-Soaked."
In several conversations recorded by a confidential government source, Thomas allegedly said that he intended to model the actions of the group on Vanderboegh's novel. His self-proclaimed Toccoa, Georgia-based "covert group" was allegedly plotting to obtain explosives and silencers, to manufacture the biological agent ricin, and to target for assassination numerous government officials, including judges and employees of the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service.
Vanderboegh has been promoted by Fox News as an "authority" on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious on several occasions. While the network has repeatedly reported on the alleged Georgia plot, they have yet to address their hosting of Vanderboegh, the alleged inspiration for it.
Fox News is now actively concealing a link between an Alabama-based blogger repeatedly featured on the network as an expert and allegations of a domestic terrorist plot.
This morning on America's Newsroom, Fox News ran an extensive report on yesterday's arrest of four Georgia men accused of plotting an attack on federal employees and U.S. citizens using explosives, guns, and the biological toxin ricin. At the end of the segment, correspondent Jonathan Serrie pointed out that one of the defendants "allegedly cited the online novel Absolved, which discusses small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials," with the defendant allegedly "saying that the attacks would be based on events in that novel."
Charging documents indeed state that accused plotter Frederick Thomas repeatedly cited as an inspiration the novel Absolved, in which underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. But Fox's report neglected to mention the allegedly inspirational novel's author, who is no stranger to Fox viewers.
Indeed, the author, Mike Vanderboegh, has been mainstreamed by the network, which has repeatedly featured him as an expert on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious. Fox has identified Vanderboegh as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation," and has consistently failed to acknowledge his extremist views, actions, and affiliations.
Vanderboegh, a former member of the militia and Minuteman movements and now a leader of the "anti-government extremist group" the Three Percenters, which claims to represent the three percent of gun owners who "who will not disarm, will not compromise and will no longer back up at the passage of the next gun control act" but will instead, "if forced by any would-be oppressor, ... kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution."
The complaint against Thomas details a similar scenario:
THOMAS described a scenario in which he felt would be the "line in the sand" that would result in the activation of militias. THOMAS believed that soon, during a protest action, a protestor would be shot. It is his opinion the militias would act and respond by openly attacking the police. He then openly discussed having complied what he called the "Bucket List" which is a list of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he feels needed to be "taken out" to make the country right again."
Vanderboegh has stated that "another civil war in this country is the last thing I want,"writing in the introduction to Absolved that the novel is "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF," who "need to know how powerful" the "armed citizenry" "could truly be if they were pushed into a corner."
Fox News has repeatedly presented Vanderboegh as a credible source. Their failure to mention his authorship of a novel that allegedly inspired a terrorist plot is telling.
UPDATE: In a subsequent report, Fox's Serrie said that Absolved was written by "the former leader of an Alabama militia," and briefly flashed an image of the book's cover that showed Vanderboegh's name. Serrie did not note Vanderboegh's connection to Fox News.
Several earlier reports on Fox & Friends also did not reference Vanderboegh.
Four alleged members of a Georgia militia group were arrested yesterday relating to their alleged plot to kill numerous government officials. According to the complaint, one of the arrested repeatedly cited as the source of their plan the novel Absolved, authored by Fox News expert Mike Vanderboegh, the former militia member famous for urging his blog readers to hurl bricks through the windows of Democratic offices.
In Vanderboegh's novel, which was self-published online, underground militia fighters declare war on the federal government over gun control laws and same-sex marriage, leading to a second American revolution. In the introduction to Absolved, Vanderboegh calls the book "a cautionary tale for the out-of-control gun cops of the ATF" and "a combination field manual, technical manual and call to arms for my beloved gunnies of the armed citizenry."
The Alabama-based blogger was one of the first to report on the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious. He has since promoted a variety of absurd conspiracy theories about the story.
In recent months, Fox News has mainstreamed Vanderboegh, treating him as an expert on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, featuring him in cable and online reports and identifying him as an "online journalist" and an "authority on the Fast and Furious investigation." Fox has not acknowledged Vanderboegh's extremist views, actions, and affiliations.
The self-proclaimed Toccoa, Georgia-based "covert group" was allegedly plotting to obtain explosives and silencers and to manufacture ricin, a biological agent. According to the complaint, the group planned to target for assassination numerous government officials, including judges and employees of the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service.
The complaint alleges that at an April meeting one of the accused, Frederick Thomas, said he "intended to model their actions on the plot of an online novel called Absolved":
THOMAS also explained to the others present that he intended to model their actions on the plot of an online novel called Absolved. The plot of Absolved involves small groups of citizens attacking United States federal law enforcement representatives and federal judges. THOMAS expressed his belief that they should consider a number of assassinations on various government officials, and he particularly expressed a desire to kill Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees.
The complaint also alleges that at a prior meeting, Thomas "mentioned a fictional novel he had read on-line in which an anti-government group killed a large number of federal Department of Justice attorneys, and then he stated, 'Now of course, that's just fiction, but that's a damn good idea.' " Thomas also allegedly linked his plan to Absolved during a June 9 meeting.
According to the complaint, in May, Thomas and a confidential government source traveled to Atlanta and "conducted surveillance" on ATF and IRS offices "to plan and assess for possible attacks," with Thomas discussing obtaining explosives and the best way to blow up the buildings. The complaints allege that from June through November, Thomas and defendant Dan Roberts negotiated the purchase of explosives from an undercover agent. The government also alleged that in October, the other two members of the group described to the confidential source plans to manufacture ricin and disburse it in U.S. cities.
Roberts' complaint describes the defendents as "members of a fringe group of a known militia organization, with the fringe group calling itself the 'covert group.' " According to FBI sources, the "known militia organization" is the Georgia Militia, a statewide militia with at least a dozen active chapters, or "battalions" according to its website. The Georgia Militia website identifies Toccoa resident Dan Roberts as both a "Captain" and the commanding officer of the Toccoa-based 440th Squad. Emails to address listed for Roberts were not immediately returned.
In a post to his blog yesterday evening, Vanderboegh linked to an article about the arrests, commenting, "Pretty geriatric 'militia.' What does ricin have to do with 'saving the Constitution'? The only idiots I ever heard interested in ricin were neoNazis."