|Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, according to transcripts |
of FBI recordings, told militia members, "I know
you're ready to die, but you have to be ready to kill,"
The annual Bear Paw Festival held every summer in Eagle River, Alaska, is better known for its pie-eating contests, carnival rides and dog-owner lookalike fashion shows than for controversial displays of right-wing militancy.
But last summer, as Tea Party Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Miller shook hands on the sidelines of the Bear Paw parade rout, he was trailed by his campaign Humvee and roughly a dozen supporters wearing Miller campaign t-shirts and openly armed with semi-automatic pistols and AR-15 assault rifles.
The gun-toting Miller supporters included participants in the Southcentral Alaska division of the Second Amendment Task Force, a combative anti-gun control group founded in Fairbanks in April 2009 by Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, the militia leader arrested earlier this month along with four militia compatriots for conspiring to murder State Troopers, a federal judge and an IRS agent, among other serious crimes including the illegal possession of heavy machine guns, silencers and explosives.
At the time of last summer's Bear Paw festival, Cox was in the midst of a two-year radicalization process during which he transformed himself from a Ron Paul campaign worker, Tea Party activist and libertarian philosopher operating on the fringes of mainstream politics into a hard-core militia extremist, steeped in paranoia, who disavowed entirely the political process in favor of armed conflict and revolution, including allegedly the targeted killings of law enforcement officers and public officials.
Cox, a fundamentalist Christian who grew up in Fairbanks and was home-schooled from an early age, first appeared in the public sphere in 2008 when he ran for Alaska State House. He lost. Also that year, according to an online bio, he "Led the Ron Paul campaign for Alaska" and became a founding board member of the Interior Alaska Conservative Coalition, "a grass roots movement of citizens regardless of party affiliation who promote conservative values and a return to Constitutional Rule of Law."
Early in 2009, Cox founded the Second Amendment Task Force (2ATF) in Fairbanks. On March 28 of that year, according to internal 2ATF emails obtained by Media Matters, the group hosted a "Constitution Crash Course," at University Baptist Church in Fairbanks." The emails indicate that 2ATF was aligning itself with the national Tea Party movement. Cox exhorted 2ATF members to mail "tea bags or pictures of tea bags," to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D.C. (the White House).
According to Eddie Burke an Anchorage conservative talk radio host and prominent Tea Party organizer, Cox had trouble making inroads or friends with Tea Party leaders in Anchorage that spring. He demonstrated a habit of refusing to relinquish the microphone at meetings and frequently strayed from the topic at hand into rambling diatribes about gun control, state sovereignty, abolishing the Federal Reserve and other topics that had little to do with the stated purpose of the meetings, such as reining in earmark spending. He dominated the discourse and veered wildly off-topic even if it was a panel discussion and Cox wasn't on the panel.
"The more I got to know him [Cox] the more I began to realize he was too far out there for me," said Burke.
Townhall columnist and talk radio host Andrew Tallman finds a rather inflammatory way to emphasize his dislike of the government:
[T]he government itself is made up of people: real, morally flawed people. Since bad people with power are capable of far greater evil than bad people without it, our country is predicated on the belief that we have more to fear from sinners in government than we do from sinners with personal freedom.
Remember, the government has guns, too. And their misuse of them in history has been exponentially worse than anything private individuals have done. But because Gail Collins has unshakeable faith in the inherent goodness of Government, she doesn't mind trusting its guns. As for me, I'd rather take my chances with the Jared Loughners of the world.
Anti-government right-wingers usually stick to denouncing Department of Education bureaucrats; Tallman goes further and suggests he sees the U.S. military and law enforcement personnel as a greater threat than Jared Loughner. Good to know.
I have to hand it to the Daily Caller: They provide great stenography. If you're a right-winger and you want your claims credulously repeated, they're the ones to talk to -- especially if you want your partisan leanings disguised.
In the latest example, Tucker Carlson's vanity project devoted nearly 1,300 words to a hit piece attacking Loretta King, a career lawyer at the Department of Justice. The article is based on quotes from five conservatives who Daily Caller reporter Caroline May says are "wondering whether her guide is the law or racial politics." Incredibly, May carefully hides the right-wing backgrounds of all of those critics.
While May interviewed three right-wing King critics for the piece and quoted from statements by two other right-wing critics, she gives no indication that she attempted to find any King defenders. Instead, she provides comments from DOJ spokespersons that deal with specific issues with which King was involved, and reports that "King declined to comment to the DC" (it's not particularly surprising that a mid-level DOJ staffer refused to comment on the record for a right-wing publication's hit piece).
It's also worth pointing out that the Caller piece opens with a glaring error on a basic fact. The article is titled "Critics contend Assistant Attorney General Loretta King motivated more by racial politics than the law." May reports in the article's first sentence that King is "a little-known assistant attorney general." But King isn't an assistant attorney general; she's one of several deputy assistant attorneys general who report to Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights. She served for a time as acting assistant attorney general back in 2009, but that tenure ended in October of that year when Perez was sworn in.
It's telling that the Caller feels the need to fib about King's position in order to justify their article. I'd say this effort is embarrassing, but we're talking about the Daily Caller here.
It wasn't surprising to see John Lott scrambling to Big Government to make a factually challenged case that the Obama administration is an enemy of gun ownership. As the gun lobby's apologist-in-chief, John Lott needed to explain why the National Rifle Association (NRA) refused to meet with the Obama administration, despite agreeing with the policy President Obama laid out in a recent editorial.
To support his assertion that "The Obama administration has been a consistent opponent of gun ownership," Lott claimed that the Obama administration "enacted a ban on the importation of semiautomatic guns," then cited an article about an administration action that blocked the bulk sale of surplus military rifles from South Korea.
The State Department's decision blocking the bulk importation of these particular surplus military firearms is not in any way a "ban on the importation of semiautomatic guns." The importation of semiautomatic guns hasn't been banned, nor do any of the Obama administration policies suggest doing so.
Lott also criticized Obama for a request made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) citing an out-of-date article, saying that the Obama administration has "also imposed much more extensive reporting requirements on sales of long guns."
In fact, the Obama administration has not imposed the regulation in question. The proposed regulation by the ATF has been repeatedly delayed by the Obama administration, which most recently rejected the ATF's request to enact the proposal as an emergency regulation. The administration will decide on approval in April, if no further delays occur. If enacted the proposal would require gun shops along the Mexican border to report multiple sales of certain classes of rifles, such as AK-47s or AR-15s, made within a five-day period.
The gun lobby's case against the Obama administration has regularly been short on facts, and it's no surprise that Lott wants to get in on the action. We've debunked Lott's various assertions on background checks and guns shows, and many questions regarding his apparent disregard for scientific rigor, creation of a fake internet persona and allegations that he fabricated survey results have been documented (here, here, here, here, here and here).
You probably won't read it on Big Government, but the reality is Obama is proposing a small, but important, technical fix to the National Background Check System that even the NRA supports.
EDITORS NOTE (4/5/2011):
The photo of John Lott has been changed.
J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky have a problem. For some time now, these right-wing operatives and former Justice Department lawyers have been beating the drum over the Obama Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panthers pseudoscandal. With that manufactured controversy continuing to fall apart, they are now desperately lashing out at perceived enemies in a frantic attempt to salvage it.
According to them, the decision by senior career lawyers at DOJ to drop charges against some of the defendants in the case demonstrates racially biased corruption. These claims never stood up to scrutiny, and now, according to Adams' DOJ sources, the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility is preparing to issue a report that will find that the attorneys who overruled Adams and his trial team did not act improperly.
Adams and von Spakovsky are responding by declaring that "the fix is in" and that the report is a "whitewash" (yes, they both use the exact same language). They are also attacking OPR and its head as "partisan." The irony is thick.
|Donny Eugene Mower|
On March 9, the day before the much-hyped Peter King hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in America began in Washington, D.C., federal agents in Washington state arrested an apparent neo-Nazi on charges of planting a bomb on the route of a Martin Luther King Day parade. Two days later, five members of a"sovereign citizen" militia in Alaska were arrested for plotting to murder State Troopers and a federal judge.
Compared to the political theater of the King hearings, these busts of accused right-wing domestic terrorists received scant media attention. Even less publicized was the arrest, also on March 9, of another accused right-wing extremist who allegedly firebombed a Planned Parenthood clinic and vandalized an Islamic center in Madera, California.
The case of Donny Eugene Mower further illustrates the narrow-mindedness of Rep. King and his conservative media cheerleaders for focusing on Muslim domestic terrorists to the exclusion of all other violent extremists, including white supremacists, militia members and anti-abortion radicals.
According to the federal criminal complaint against Mower, he admitted to throwing a Molotov cocktail through the window of the Planned Parenthood clinic in the middle of the night last September 2. No one was injured, but the damage was extensive.
Mower left a note at the scene: "Murder our children? We have a 'choice' too. Let's see if you can burn as well as your victims." The note was signed "ANB," short for American Nationalist Brotherhood. The same entity had claimed responsibility for menacing letters posted outside the Madera Islamic Center.
The first of those messages appeared last August 18: "No temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB." At the time Fox News and others were feverishly manufacturing outrage at the supposed "Ground Zero mosque" in New York City.
Two days later, according to investigators, Mower threw a brick at the Islamic center, causing minor damage, and then returned his focus to the Planned Parenthood clinic, posting another threat: "Murdering children? That is your choice? Reap your reward. ANB."
On August 24, another message appeared at the Islamic center: "Wake up America. The enemy is here. ANB."
While painting President Obama as hostile to the Second Amendment, Glenn Beck repeated old falsehoods about Obama's record on gun issues. In reality, Obama has expressed support for the individual right to bear arms, and he has loosened gun restrictions as president.
From the March 16 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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National Review Online blogger and conservative judicial activist Gary Marx accused Obama judicial nominee Caitlin Halligan of having "a very troubling record of dismissing the Second Amendment" during her time as New York state solicitor general. In fact, Marx's attack consists of criticism of Halligan for doing her job as solicitor general by filing briefs on behalf of the state of New York, and neither of the cases Marx cites deal with Second Amendment issues.
As reported earlier, Francis "Schaeffer" Cox and five members and associates of a Fairbanks, Alaska, militia group were arrested yesterday for allegedly plotting to kidnap or kill Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks judge.
Last year, Cox was arrested on a misdemeanor firearms charge. During a December 10, 2010 pre-trial hearing before District Judge Jane Kauva, Cox made this statement: "There are a lot of people out there who would just as soon come and kill you in your home at night as argue with you in your court by day."
His comments were captured in a video espousing Sovereign Citizen ideology that was circulated among right-wing groups online.
Earlier in the same pre-trial hearing, Cox said in open court:
"Soulless federal assassins have made threats on the lives of my wife and children. This, coupled with your long established and well documented practice of refusing to ascertain the truth leaves me but one inescapable conclusion: You are rebellious impostors to reduce [sic] us under absolute despotism."
The following week, Cox returned to the Fairbanks court house and tried to serve a different judge with a sovereign citizen arrest warrant.
|Francis "Schaeffer" Cox Photo from Anchorage Press|
Five members and associates of a Fairbanks, Alaska, right-wing militia group were arrested yesterday for allegedly plotting to kidnap or kill Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks judge.
The five include Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, the founder and leader of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. Cox also founded a pro-gun group and advocates armed resistance to gun control.
Cox and the other defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit arson, in addition to gun charges and other crimes.
According to an Alaska Department of Public Safety statement, an investigation of the militia group "revealed extensive plans to kidnap or kill Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks Judge."
"Cox et. al. had conspired a plan to launch an attack on Alaska State Troopers and Court Judges. Investigation also revealed that extensive surveillance on troopers in the Fairbanks area had occurred, specifically on the locations of the homes for two Alaska State Troopers. Furthermore, Cox et. al. had acquired a large cache of weapons in order to carry out attacks against their targeted victims. Some of the weapons known to be in the cache are prohibited by state or federal law."
Also arrested were Lonnie Vernon, Karen Vernon, Coleman Barney and Michael Anderson.
An arrest warrant for Cox was issued last month when he failed to show up for a court appearance on a separate weapons charge.
I previously reported for the Anchorage Press the unusual circumstances surrounding that gun charge and Cox's subsequent bizarre court appearances in an article on the Alaska militia movement last December:
"Back in March, right around the time he was organizing his militia ... Cox responded to a distress call on the Liberty Bell Network, an online community of anti-New World Order conspiracy theorists, which sends out mass email bulletins whenever one of its members feels his or her constitutional rights are being violated."
"In this case, a Liberty Bell Network member in Fairbanks claimed that police were conducting a warrantless search of his residence. (Police said they were responding to a 911 hang-up). Cox arrived on the scene armed with a concealed Ruger .380 semiautomatic pistol. Alaska state law requires that anyone carrying a concealed firearm must immediately notify any law enforcement officer they come into contact with of the concealed weapon.
"Cox, who doesn't regard state or federal laws as valid, did not do so and was subsequently charged with a crime."
Cox is a self-declared "sovereign citizen," a movement that preaches violent resistance to the federal and Alaska state government.
In a major report covering the rise of the sovereign citizen movement in recent years and the corresponding violence against law enforcement officers, the Southern Poverty Law Center last fall characterized it as a "sprawling subculture" of "hundreds of thousands of far-right extremists who believe that they -- not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials -- get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and who don't think they should have to pay taxes."
Cox is also the founder of the Alaska-based Second Amendment Task Force, a "pro-gun rights" group. Its website details a supposed United Nations-orchestrated conspiracy to deprive Americans of theirs constitutional right to bear arms.
Yesterday, as conservative media hyped the commencement of Rep. Peter King's contentious hearings on Muslim radicalization in America, details continued to emerge about Kevin William Hardham, the 36-year-old Army field artillery veteran accused of planting a "weapon of mass destruction," along the route of a Martin Luther King Day unity parade route in Spokane, Washington earlier this year.
The backpack bomb Hardham allegedly planted contained shrapnel dipped in rat poison. It was discovered just minutes before hundreds of MLK Day marchers arrived. Hardham appears to have a long track record of fantasizing about politically and racially motivated violence in various online extremist forums.
The attempted MLK Day bombing in Spokane was hardly an isolated incident. Right-wing domestic terrorist plots and extremist violence are on the rise in America. Earlier this year the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) released a report analyzing domestic terrorism statistics reported by the FBI and other crime agencies since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The MPAC report shows that since 9/11, right-wing extremists including neo-Nazis and other white supremacists have been involved in 63 domestic terror plots, while radical Muslims have been involved in 45.
Meanwhile, the number of hate groups tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) topped 1,000 this year for the first time since the SPLC began counting such groups in the mid 1980s, and the resurgent antigovernment militia movement is exploding, with more than 300 new groups forming in the last year alone.
SPLC Intelligence Project director Mark Potok attributes this dramatic increase in right-wing extremist activity to three factors: "Resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the government's handling of the economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at various minorities."
July 27, 2008
Unemployed truck driver Jim David Adkisson opens fire on the congregation of a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two people and seriously wounding six. Adkisson tells police he targeted the congregation because its members included gay men and mixed-race couples. A suicide note that Adkisson left in his car outside the church describes the attack as a "hate crime," "a political protest," and "a symbolic killing."
"I'd like to encourage other like-minded people to do what I've done," Adkisson wrote. "If life ain't worth living anymore don't just kill yourself. Do something for your country. Go kill liberals."
Adkisson pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
October 22, 2008
Two white power skinheads are arrested for allegedly plotting a multi-state robbery and murder spree that would have culminated in an attempt to assassinate then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were later charged with conspiracy, possessing a sawed-off shotgun and threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon a major presidential candidate. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 14 years and 10 years, respectively.
The skinheads told police they formulated their plot in Bells, Arkansas, after shooting out the windows of a black church. According to a written statement they provided to investigators, the skinheads planned to rob gun stores and kill 88 non-whites, beheading 14 of their victims.
Those numbers are significant in the white supremacist movement. Eighty-eight stands for "Heil Hitler," as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. The number 14 refers to the number of words in the white supremacist catchphrase coined by domestic terrorist David Lane: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."
"The final thing we had discussed was dressing in white tuxs [tuxedos] with a top hat and trying to assassinate Obama. We did not plan on living past that day," Cowart wrote in his statement. "One day, while riding in my car, Paul told me that he wanted to go to a predominately [predominantly] black school and kill as many as he could."
A Secret Service agent testified at Cowart's sentencing hearing that in dozens of chat messages found on his computer he discussed wanting to kill African-Americans and start a race war.
December 9, 2008
Law enforcement investigators find radioactive materials and other components for making a "dirty bomb" in the home of Belfast, Maine neo-Nazi James Cummings after Cummings is shot to death by his wife, who told police she killed her husband after years of physical and mental abuse.
According to an FBI field intelligence report from the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center, investigators found containers of uranium, thorium, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon, along with neo-Nazi materials, including a completed application to join the National Socialist Movement, a major neo-Nazi group.
A local painter who worked inside the Cummings residence earlier in 2008 told police that Cummings expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and showed off the swastika flag hanging in the house.
Amber Cummings reportedly told police that her husband was "very upset" over the election of President Obama, was in contact with white supremacist groups, and had been mixing chemicals in their kitchen sink.
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is the last person a responsible media outlet should have on its airwaves to comment on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). That's because LaPierre once referred to ATF agents as "jack-booted government thugs" and reportedly called for "lifting the assault weapons ban to even the odds in the struggle between ordinary citizens and 'jack-booted government thugs.' "
But that's just what Fox News has done. Today, Fox News did a report on a controversial ATF program that appears to have allowed weapons to flow into Mexico and hosted LaPierre to discuss the issue. LaPierre proceeded to attack the ATF and other federal government officials.
The man arrested today in connection with the attempted Martin Luther King Day parade bombing in Spokane, Washington, appears to have longtime connections to the white supremacist movement.
Kevin William Harpham, 36, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and receiving and possessing an improvised explosive device.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Harpham was a member of the National Alliance, an infamous neo-Nazi organization, in late 2004. It's not clear when he joined the National Alliance or whether he's still a card-carrying member.
But an individual identifying himself as Kevin Harpham, who says he's a neo-Nazi who lives near Spokane, has been active on the crudely racist, anti-Semitic website Vanguard News Network since joining the online forum in November 2004.
Since then, Harpham has posted 1,069 comments to VNN using the moniker Joe Snuffy, slang for a low-ranking U.S. soldier. (Kevin William Harpham was apparently in the army in 1996-1997 and was based at Fort Lewis, Wash., the Southern Poverty Law Center reported earlier today.)
Harpham last posted to VNN on January 16, the day before the attempted MLK Day parade bombing.
Ten days before that, Harpham offered shelter to violent neo-Nazi activist Craig Cobb, a part-time resident of Kalispell, Montana who is a fugitive from justice in Canada, where he's wanted on hate crimes charges.
"Craig, if you read this and you need a place to stay for the winter I have an empty basement with a couple rooms, a bed and bathroom you can live in till spring," Harpham posted. "I live in Washington not too far from Kalispell."
Kevin William Harpham was arrested today in a rural area south of Colville, Washington, just across the Idaho panhandle from Montana.
A white supremacist website founded by Cobb in 2007, Podblanc, features tribute videos to "lone wolf" white supremacist killers, including Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, who in July 1999 went on a three-day shooting rampage targeting Jews and non-whites. Smith killed two people and wounded nine before turning his gun on himself.
On Jan. 8, Cobb apparently posted a message to supporters on VNN encouraging them to follow the examples of lone wolf terrorists such as Joe Stack, who flew a small plane into a building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas in 2010, and James von Brunn, the neo-Nazi who killed a security guard after he opened fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2009.
"Ask all to seriously internally take direct personal action upon furthering Our Cause, doing something they haven't yet done before, or repeating something that has been highly effective," Cobb wrote.
Cobb wrote there was a "small chance" he'd take Harpham up on his offer of basement space.
Harpham wrote about lone wolf violence in response to an August 2009 article in USA Today that reported, "Federal authorities have launched an effort to detect lone attackers who may be contemplating politically charged assaults." Harpham wrote: "A lone Wolf would be hard pressed to compete with the level of destruction the jew bankers are doing to the country right now."
Fox figures and guests have continued their aggressive promotion of Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) upcoming hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims.