Thanks to the many of you who drew my attention to this god-awful, pitiful excuse of American so-called "journalism."
I present it in its entirety, right down to the promo link for SPLC at the bottom. My email response to Ms. Sullivan follows.
Officials see rise in militia groups across US
By EILEEN SULLIVAN Associated Press Writer
Posted: 08/12/2009 12:51:18 AM PDT
WASHINGTON—Militia groups with gripes against the government are regrouping across the country and could grow rapidly, according to an organization that tracks such trends.
The stress of a poor economy and a liberal administration led by a black president are among the causes for the recent rise, the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says. Conspiracy theories about a secret Mexican plan to reclaim the Southwest are also growing amid the public debate about illegal immigration.
Bart McEntire, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told SPLC researchers that this is the most growth he's seen in more than a decade.
"All it's lacking is a spark," McEntire said in the report.
It's reminiscent of what was seen in the 1990s—right-wing militias, people ideologically against paying taxes and so-called "sovereign citizens" are popping up in large numbers, according to the report to be released Wednesday. The SPLC is a nonprofit civil rights group that, among other activities, investigates hate groups.
Last October, someone from the Ohio Militia posted a recruiting video on YouTube, billed as a "wake-up call" for America. It's been viewed more than 60,000 times.
"Things are bad, things are real bad, and it's going to be a lot worse," said the man on the video, who did not give his name. "Our country is in peril."
The man is holding an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, and he encourages
viewers to buy one.
While anti-government sentiment has been on the rise over the last two years, there aren't as many threats and violent acts at this point as there were in the 1990s, according to the report. That movement bore the likes of Timothy McVeigh, who in 1995 blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people.
But McEntire fears it's only a matter of time.
These militias are concentrated in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and the Deep South, according to Mark Potok, an SPLC staff director who co-wrote the report. Recruiting videos and other outreach on the Internet are on the rise, he said, and researchers from his center found at least 50 new groups in the last few months.
The militia movement of the 1990s gained traction with growing concerns about gun control, environmental laws and anything perceived as liberal government meddling.
The spark for that movement came in 1992 with an FBI standoff with white separatist Randall Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Weaver's wife and son were killed by an FBI sniper. And in 1993, a 52-day standoff between federal agents and the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, resulted in nearly 80 deaths. These events rallied more people who became convinced that the government would murder its own citizens to promote its liberal agenda.
Now officials are seeing a new generation of activists, according to the report. The law center spotlights Edward Koernke, a Michigan man who hosts an Internet radio show about militias. His father, Mark, was a major figure in the 1990s militia movement and served six years in prison for charges including assaulting police.
Last year, officials warned about an increase in activity from militias in a five-year threat projection by the Homeland Security Department.
"White supremacists and militias are more violent and thus more likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks on the scale of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing," the threat projection said.
A series of domestic terrorism incidents over the past year have not been directly tied to organized militias, but the rhetoric behind some of the crimes are similar with that of the militia movement. For instance, the man charged with the April killings of three Pittsburgh police officers posted some of his views online.
Richard Andrew Poplawski wrote that U.S. troops could be used against American citizens, and he thinks a gun ban could be coming.
The FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism, Michael Heimbach, said that law enforcement officials need to identify people who go beyond hateful rhetoric and decide to commit violent acts and crimes. Heimbach said one of the bigger challenges is identifying the lone-wolf offenders.
One alleged example of a lone-wolf offender is the 88-year-old man charged in the June shooting death of a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/
Dear Ms. Sullivan,
I left this comment at the San Jose Mercury News site, and only just discovered that you work in the AP office in DC. You will be getting, no doubt, much negative feedback on your story. My comments are rough as well, but perhaps better informed than the run of the mill. Feel free to respond. I promise I won't bite.
Sullivan's story is remarkable for its utter lack of balance. It is a new low, in fact, in state-run media coverage of the constitutional militia movement. Indeed, in the almost sixteen years that I have labored in that movement, it is the worst I have ever seen.
First, other than referring to a youtube video, there is not one -- NOT ONE -- member of a militia quoted in the story. Ms. Sullivan, with all the resources of the San Jose Mercury News and the Associated Press couldn't find ONE to interview to respond to the ATF/SPLC charges?
Not even one?
Second, the Southern "Poverty" Law Center is hardly the honest broker of "expert" information Ms. Sullivan's article portrays them to be. Long criticized by watchdogs of non-profit organizations for its methods and even by left-wing commentators for its tactics, its own hometown newspaper, The Montgomery Advertiser ran a seven-part expose of SPLC in the 90s called "Marketing the Militias." Ms. Sullivan should know, if she did only a modicum of research, that the SPLC has recently been criticized by Carol M. Swain, Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University and a widely recognized expert on race relations, immigration, black leadership and evangelical politics who is also a member of the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and a recent appointee to the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She wrote that the SPLC had strayed "beyond its original purpose and engages in actions antithetical to its goals. Rather than monitoring hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has become one. "
Third, the article is filled with the same imprecise language, illogic, conflations and elisions of the "militia scare" of the 1990s that SPLC did so much to promote for their own fundraising purposes. Professor Robert Churchill, the author of "To Shake Their Guns in the Tyrant's Face" (University of Michigan Press, 2009), the first honest scholarly examination of the modern militia movement called this "the Narrative of 1995," dubbing it "an American 'Brown Scare.'" Well, welcome back to the Brown Scare. Ms. Sullivan seems to have signed on as its willing tool.
Fourth, had she done more research Sullivan would have discovered that in the 1990s, the constitutional militia movement was antithetically opposed to neoNazi and Identity terrorists, some of whom ( notably Michael Brescia and the support network for the Aryan Republican Army bank robbery gang) the militias had to embarrass the FBI into arresting. We went so far as to put up "Unwanted by the FBI" posters in Philadelphia to force their hand and make them pick up these terrorists. This was covered at the time by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph. We fought the racist terrorists in a cold war at street level, where we risked our own hides, and you know what? We never tried to use lies to pimp a dime out of anybody for it, unlike SPLC, which is their stock in trade.
These are all facts. If Ms. Sullivan was anything more than a PR flack for the ATF and the SPLC she would have discovered them.
If she would like to revisit the subject, have her contact me. I know a few real constitutional militia folks. They are not the useful but mute cardboard cartoon characters that the unholy alliance of the ATF and SPLC portrays for the purpose of advancing their own self-justifying narrative -- and, not coincidentally, their budgets.
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126