By Tom Burghardt,
Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights
"Utilizing the Leaderless Resistance concept, all individuals and groups operate independently of each other, and never report to a central headquarters or single leader for direction or instruction...participants in a program of Leaderless Resistance through Phantom Cell or individual action must know exactly what they are doing, AND EXACTLY HOW TO DO IT."
-- Louis Beam, "Leaderless Resistance," (text from CyberspaceMinuteman BBS, (312) 275-6326)
"THE FUNDAMENTAL RULE GUIDING THE ORGANIZATION OF THE FREE MILITIA IS GENERALIZED PRINCIPLES AND PLANNING BUT DECENTRALIZED TACTICS AND ACTION." "What is meant by this key statement is that the whole Militia must be committed to the same cause and coordinated in their joint defense of a community. Thus, there must be allegiance to a higher command. But specific tactics should be left up the individual elements so that compromise of a part does not compromise the whole. Furthermore, all training and combat actions should be up to the smaller elements, again so that isolation or decapitation does not render the smaller units inept."
"The way a balance between these competing concerns is achieved in the Free Militia is to organize all elements into 'cells.'"
-- NA, "Field Manual Section 1: Principles Justifying the Arming and Organizing of A Militia," 1994, Wisconsin, The Free Militia, p. 78
SAN FRANCISCO (April 23) The political context for the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, can be deciphered through a careful reading of key Christian Patriot texts. The bombing is almost a textbook case of what Aryan Nations/KKK leader, Louis Beam has termed "leaderless resistance." While we are appalled and horrified by the terrifying loss of life, it was only a matter of WHEN, not IF, the violent fascist underground would resort to car or truck bomb tactics. To a lesser degree and on a smaller scale, factions within the direct action anti-abortion movement have systematically applied Louis Beam's "leaderless resistance" or "phantom cell" doctrine for a number of years. The relative successes of their pursuit of terrorism as a means of effecting political change has come at a price, however. As anti-abortion violence has increased, the political fall-out for the movement has led to a steep, precipitous decline in public support and the mobilization of their constituents.
In other words, while the dialectics of terrorist praxis will increase the visibility of "the cause" in the public's mind, it also sharpens the inherent contradictions as well as factional disputes within the movement's support base. This process is underway within the direct action anti-abortion movement. I would hazard a guess and say that a similar process will take place within the broader Christian Patriot and Militia movement as a result OF Wednesday's bomb attack.
However, it should be noted that the "Army of God" and anti- abortion groups allied with Christian Patriot militias and political parties are far less concerned with winning support or creating mass organizations than they are with destroying women's access to reproductive health care. Anti-abortion terrorism in this case, is a tactic tied to a broader strategy of diminishing reproductive health care to the vanishing point.
In this respect, anti-abortion recourse to terrorism as a tactical modality for waging low-intensity warfare, has been successful. Why is this the case? As the pool of abortion providers begin to shrink due to escalating terror, those who continue to work in the field are subject to increasing levels of psychological and actual violence. Inevitably, the pressures and stresses have led abortion providers to throw in the towel. Abortion remains "legal," however, women find it increasingly difficult to obtain. Terror in the case of anti-abortion violence is sharply-focused on an immediate goal.
While this presents far-right political parties with obvious problems, the dual-tier nature of fascist organizations have resolved this contradiction in a number of unique ways. For example, international and domestic fascist groupings utilize legal, above-ground organizing in combination with illegal, underground terrorist cells that attack opponents, and sharpen contradictions within class society. The relationship between the terrorist Combat 18 group to the British National Party (BNP) is instructive in this regard. On the one hand, the BNP functions like any other political party; it distributes propaganda, recruits prospective members, organizes around sharply-focused campaigns such as opposition to immigration. Combat 18, the BNP's loosely-affiliated terrorist front, attacks opponents, attempts to infiltrate and break-up Leftist marches, compiles data on vocal opponents and organizations, physically attacking their opponents on the street, in their homes, etc.
Louis Beam's "leaderless resistance" or "phantom cell" tactic is but one of a constellation of methodologies used by fascism to achieve political goals. While we can say that the majority of adherents of Christian Patriot groups would oppose the Oklahoma City bombing, the net effect of terror, sharpen the social/political contradictions within capitalist society and strengthen the call for authoritarian, State solutions (i.e., political repression) on all fronts. As a political methodology, a fascist "strategy of tension" relies on the psychological effects of terror to magnify the localized effects of severe loss of life so that, like a stone hurled into a pool of water, shock-waves ripple from the epicenter of the attack to the furthest reaches of the State. While Christian Patriots and other far-right forces in the U. S. are a minute proportion of the population, the ideological underpinnings of Patriot ideology has struck a receptive cord among millions of Americans.
The ideological fervor of thousands of "state citizens" and "freemen," and their willingness to resort to violence to achieve their political goals, spring from the same sources as the white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements throughout North America: race hatred, anti-Semitism, violent xenophobia, and their desire to create a (white) fundamentalist "Christian Republic" in the United States.
The same can be said of the demonizing rhetoric freely disseminated by "mainstream" politicos in both capitalist parties. This does not mean that the Republican Party's "Contract With America," is a "fascist" document. It does mean, however, that the draconian solutions it proposes in terms of the role of the State and civil society, calls for rapid privatization in all social spheres save one -- the State's immense repressive police and military apparatus.
Left and Progressive researchers have pointed to the severe danger posed by the convergence of anti-abortion extremists, armed racists, queer-basher's, anti-Semites, advocates of "state citizenship," "Wise Use" movement attacks on environmental activists and the demonizing rhetoric of the far-right's paranoid conspiracism. Though these so-called "fringe elements" have been identified as potential, and actual, sources for terrorist violence, these warnings have largely gone unheeded, even within Socialist and leftist circles.
As long as the victims themselves were "marginal" in the eyes of "mainstream media" and terrorist industry "experts," domestic right-wing terror could easily be consigned to the back pages; a quick plunge down Orwell's memory hole would do the rest.
Apparently now, the self-fulfilling prophecies of the Christian Patriots and their phantom war against the capitalist "New World Order" have come to pass, with terrifying and tragic results. What will follow, is anyone's guess.
The massacre in Oklahoma City however, did not emerge from a political vacuum. The Christian Patriot movement in general, and individual Militia units in particular, have circulated training manuals that rely almost exclusively on a cell structure organizing model, termed "leaderless resistance" by Aryan Nations leader, Louis Beam.
Three years ago, in the aftermath of the Ruby Ridge stand- off in 1992, a hastily convened meeting of the emerging Patriot movement was held in Colorado. Sponsored by Christian Identity leader, Rev. Pete Peters, and his "Scriptures for America" organization, the conclave sought to formulate a strategy to combat the "New World Order." Many observers point to this meeting as a key factor leading to the subsequent rise of the armed Militia Movement. According to the "Special Report on the Meeting Held in Estes Park, Colorado October 23, 24, 25 1992 During the Killing of Vickie and Samuel Weaver By The United States Government," more than 160 leaders of the Christian Identity and Christian Right movements came together to denounce the murders at Ruby Ridge. Peters' "Special Report," published Beam's "Leaderless Resistance" text in its entirety.
Key racist and Patriot leaders who attended the summit included anti-Semite, Red Beckman; Aryan Nations leader, Louis Beam; Aryan Nations founder, Richard Butler; Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America; Christian Patriot leader, Frank Isabell; New Mexico Identity figure, Earl Jones; and Charles A. Weisman, a racist publisher and author whose book, "America: Free, White and Christian," is a source for much of the Patriot movement's racialist theories of "state citizenship." (for further background on the complex interrelationship among Christian Patriot militias, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the racist religion of Christian Identity, see: Robert Crawford, S.L. Gardner, Jonathan Mozzochi, R.L. Taylor, "The Northwest Imperative: Documenting A Decade of Hate," 1994, Coalition For Human Dignity, Portland, Oregon; Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, Seattle, Washington)
Other key figures involved in the rise of the Militia Movement who have been central players in the Pete Peters/Christian Patriot network, include retired Lt. Col. James "Bo" Gritz and retired Phoenix Police officer, Jack McLamb. Gritz has gone on since the Estes Park meeting to create what he terms "Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events" training seminars or SPIKE teams. Gritz, who denies that he is a racist was the Populist Party candidate for President in 1992.
The Populist Party was a political vehicle for the far-right that was founded by anti-Semitic publisher, Willis Carto, the director of the Liberty Lobby. "The Spotlight," the Liberty Lobby's flagship publication regularly features reports on the Militia Movement as well as "exposes" on the capitalist "New World Order." (for further background on Gritz and Carto, see: Michael Novick, "Front Man For Fascism: 'Bo' Gritz and the Racist Populist Party," 1993, People Against Racist Terror (PART), P.O. Box 1990, Burbank, CA 91507 and Scott McLemee, "Spotlight on the Liberty Lobby," "Covert Action Quarterly," Washington, D.C., Fall 1994, Number 50) Jack McLamb is the director of an outfit called Police Against The New World Order (PATNWO). McLamb is a far-rightist and author of "Operation Vampire Killer 2000," a book filled with crack-pot conspiracism and paranoia. However, the "mission" of McLamb's organization is the active recruitment of police and military personnel to far-right groups and organizations. McLamb calls on police and the military to aid the efforts of Christian Patriots. (for further background on McLamb see, "Patriot Games: Jack McLamb & Citizen Militias, 1994, Coalition for Human Dignity, Portland, OR)
The fiery apococalypse visited on the Branch Davidians by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993, only fueled the paranoid conspiracism of the far-right and further accelerated the rise of the Militia Movement. According to published reports, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building was meant as a retalitory strike by a Christian Patriot miltia cell for the destruction of the Branch Davidians.
There is no justification on any level whatsoever, for the hideous truck bombing in Oklahoma City. However, the paranoid conspiracism of an armed militia cell allegedly connected to the Michigan Militia, was fueled in part, by the criminal handling of the Branch Davidian stand-off in Waco. Failure to analyze the political and what one can only term, mythological, underpinnings of Patriot ideology, will only lead to confusion as to their motives. While their terrorist act is reprehensible, it was hardly the work of "crazed" individuals. These were people who were trained, organized and motivated to carry out a monstrous act of political revenge.
The origins of the contemporary Christian Patriot and Militia Movement is racist and fascist to the core. The fascistic political views of Peters, Beckman, Gritz, Beam, the Trochmann's and McLamb are also key ideological components of "mainstream" Militia groups.
The Michigan Militia was founded in April 1994. The key figures in the organization are Rev. Norman Olsen, a Baptist minister, abortion foe and ex-military man and "intelligence specialist," Mark Koernke. According to reports, the Michigan Militia is the largest and best organized faction in the country. It is claimed that approximately 12,000 people are members of the Michigan Militia.
Koernke's broadcasts originate from Nashville, Tennessee and are carried by shortwave radio station, WWCR. The "Intelligence Report" is transmitted daily. Transcripts appear regularly on the Internet; posted by John DiNardo's "The People's Spellbreaker" can be found on the following Usenet newsgroups: <alt.conspiracy>, <talk.politics.guns>, <misc.survivalism> and <alt.politics.usa.constitution>. The content is a standard mix of far-right conspiracy theories, reports of ubiquitous sightings of "black helicopters," and other sundry items of interest to Christian Patriots.
Koernke travels around the country, appearing at "Preparedness Expos," and has been a key popularizer of the Militia Movement. The Michigan Militia, however, is hardly the "mainstream" group that Norman Olsen would have us believe. When asked by reporters whether McVeigh or Terry Lynn Nichols, who surrendered to federal authorities Friday in Herington, Kansas, or his brother, James Douglas Nichols, had any involvement with the Michigan Militia, "Commander" Olsen said: "Not that we know of." Olsen also denied that the Michigan Militia had anything to do with the Oklahoma bombing: "We denounce the entire incident as an act of barbarity. It's totally alien to everything we believe. We are totally defensive. We do not engage in terrorism. We do not believe in answering the tyrant brutality with more brutality." (Robert D. McFadden, "Links in Blast: Armed 'Militia' And a Key Date, "New York Times," Saturday, April 22, 1995, p. 1) Last year however, three members of the Michigan Militia were arrested in Fowlerville, 25 miles east of Lansing, the state capital, after their car was found to contain "700 rounds of ammunition, loaded rifles, night-vision goggles and other military-type gear." (David Willman, Richard A. Serrano, Ralph Frammolino, Paul Feldman and Eric Lichtblau, "Facing the Fear of an Enemy From Within," "Los Angeles Times," Saturday, April 22, 1995, p. 1)
While the three Michigan Militia members failed to appear for their arraignment, "30 to 40" uniformed militia members did show up in court. According to Fowlerville chief of police, Gary Krause, the militiamen taunted police with threats of future violence. (Willman, et. al., ibid., p. A18) Another faction within the Christian Patriot network with close ties to Olsen and Koernke, is the Militia of Montana (MOM).
"Taking Aim," MOM's newsletter printed the following announcement on the significance of April 19: "1. April 19, 1775: Lexington burned; 2. April 19, 1943: Warsaw burned; 3. April 19, 1992: The fed's attempted to raid Randy Weaver, but had their plans thwarted when concerned citizens arrived on the scene with supplies for the Weaver family totally unaware of what was to take place; 4. April 19, 1993: The Branch Davidians burned; 5. April 19, 1995: Richard Snell will be executed." (Robert D. McFadden, op. cit., p. 8) Richard Snell was a white supremacist member of the terrorist group, The Order, executed in Arkansas on Wednesday. Snell had murdered a black police officer and a Jewish businessman a decade ago. MOM's newsletter said Snell would be executed "unless we act now!!!" While the article did not call for violence to free Snell, the Trochmann family are hardly strangers to the most extreme factions of the white supremacist movement.
The Weaver shooting was the spark that led to the formation of the Militia of Montana. According to reports, in September 1992, John Trochmann helped found the United Citizens for Justice; a support group for Randy Weaver. Another steering committee member was Chris Temple, a regular writer for the racist newspaper, "Jubilee," the flagship publication of the Christian Identity movement published in California. (Daniel Junas, "Angry White Guys With Guns: The Rise of the Militias," "Covert Action Quarterly," Washington, D.C., Spring 1995, Number 52, p. 23)
While the Trochmann's deny that they're white supremacists, in 1990, MOM commander, John Trochmann was a featured speaker at Richard Butler's Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. Trochmann has admitted travelling to the white supremacist compound on at least four or five occasions. (Junas, ibid.) What then, is the operational mechanism that ties so-called "fringe groups," to the wider Christian Patriot and Militia Movements?
For a paramilitary strategy to be successful, especially when the particular combat unit or cell, is connected to a larger organization such as a Militia or an anti-abortion group, a mechanism must be created that will immunize the leadership from prosecution on the one hand, while allowing the cell an unlimited operational range on the other hand. "Leaderless resistance" is that strategy.
According to Wisconsin's Free Militia, a paramilitary organization with ties to anti-abortion leader, Rev. Matthew Trewhella, the founder of Missionaries to the Preborn, and a National Committee member of Howard Phillips' United States Taxpayers Party, the cell structure is the most efficacious method for carrying out operations.
"We use the term 'cell,' because a cell is the basic building block in any living organism. Just as all life, growth, and reproduction is based on living cells, all Militia 'life' is centered around its cells. The identities of cell members are known only within the cell and by their immediate superior. All basic training is done within a cell. All codes, passwords, and telephone networks are determined and held in confidence within the cell. All fortified positions are determined, prepared and concealed by the cell. All combat orders are executed by the cell as the cell sees fit within its own context. So the Free Militia IS its cells." (emphasis in original, "Field Manual Section 1," op. cit., p. 78)
The cell structure of the Free Militia is further diversified so as to ensure specialization of function in combination with tight security precautions. These four-fold differentiations within the organization are: 1. Command, 2. Combat, 3. Support, and 4. Communique cells.
So as to facilitate their efficient capacity as an urban or rural fighting team, "Combat cells provide the patrolling and fighting capability of the Free Militia. Each cell consists of about eight able-bodied 'minutemen' with its own leader, communications, rendezvous points, staging areas and standing orders. They execute the orders of their command cells and do all their own training within the combat cell itself. They are the 'arms' of the Free Militia." (ibid., p. 80) Regarding the "phantom cell" type organization and any potential response by paramilitary activists, Louis Beam writes: "Since the entire purpose of Leaderless Resistance is to defeat state tyranny (at least as far as this essay is concerned) all members of phantom cells or individuals will tend to react to objective events in the same way through usual tactics of resistance. Organs of information distribution such as newspapers, leaflets, computers, etc., which are widely available to all, keep each person informed of events, allowing for a planned response that will take many variations. No one need issue an order to anyone." (Beam, op. cit.) If indeed, Timothy McVeigh is connected to the Michigan Militia or any other far-right paramilitary outfit, the nature of these organizations contain within their essential structure, the plausible deniability necessary to protect leadership cadres from prosecution.
In this respect, Rev. Norman Olsen's denial of involvement in the murderous bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building may indeed be an accurate. Leaderless resistance doctrine not only seeks to immunize paramilitary leaders from prosecution, but forge clandestine relationships among cadres "who know what to do" when the time is ripe.
Will the fall-out from this heinous act of terror lead to the unraveling and destruction of the Christian Patriot and white supremacist militia movement, or will "true believers" react to the situation through "a planned response that will take many variations"?
One fact is certain, however, tens of thousands of "angry white guys" have taken it upon themselves to restore "the Crown Rights of King Jesus," by any means necessary.
Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights (BACORR)
750 La Playa #730
San Francisco, CA 94121
Office: (415) 252-0750
Fax: (415) 431-6523
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