Hacked Data Exposes Law Enforcement Officers Who Joined Far-Right Oath Keepers Group
from the more-transparency-inflicted-on-secretive-groups dept
Some more unsettling news about law enforcement’s close relationship to (or at least professional tolerance of) far-right groups linked to the January 6th raid of the Capitol building has come to light, thanks to transparency activists Distributed Denial of Secrets.
Email accounts linked to several key members of the Oath Keepers — four of whom are currently facing charges for their participation in the attack on the Capitol — have been hacked, exposing communications between the Oath Keepers and law enforcement officers seeking to join the group.
The law enforcement officers described what they could offer the Oath Keepers:
“I have a wide variety of law enforcement experience, including undercover operations, surveillance and SWAT,” one wrote on the membership application.
“Communications, Weapons, K9 Officer for local Sheriffs office 12 years to present,” another wrote.
“â€‹â€‹I am currently working as a deputy sheriff in Texas,” a third typed.
These men, who had sworn to uphold the law, signed up to join an armed, extremist, anti-government group.
The five gigabyte trove of data includes emails, chat logs, and lists of donors and members. According to USA Today’s examination of the data, more than 200 current and former law enforcement officers approached the group to become members. At this point, it only appears 20 of those are still employed as officers. Another 20 retired at some point after joining the group.
The Oath Keepers have long courted law enforcement officers and military members, finding some sort of solidarity with government employees who also swear oaths and carry guns. But joining the Oath Keepers requires members to swear a new oath — one that conflicts with their other oaths and, presumably, supersedes their ongoing obligations to the public at large. On the list of things to be sworn to are promises to never disarm citizens, refusal to recognize state of emergency declarations, and a longer list of fresh-off-the-crack-pipe assertions like never assisting the government with putting American citizens into concentration camps.
The oath also says Oath Keepers will engage in a bloody revolution if the government decides its should start doing any of the things on the list.
If you the people decide that you have no recourse, and such a revolution comes, at that time, not only will we NOT fire upon our fellow Americans who righteously resist such egregious violations of their God given rights, we will join them in fighting against those who dare attempt to enslave them.
Somehow, this group decided the Trump Administration was the government they could trust, leading to some federal charge-accumulating Revolution Lite at the US Capitol. This same group of insurrectionists — ones known to be supportive of police officers — decided even cop lives didn’t matter when it came to stealing back an election Donald Trump claimed was stolen.
That’s all very concerning. Even prior to the Oath Keepers presence during the DC raid, the oath promising to turn on the government the moment it threatened certain freedoms should have warned officers of the law that joining this group would be extremely problematic. And yet, it managed to attract a couple hundred potential members who didn’t see any conflict between sworn oaths, even if it theoretically meant they’d be killing their own brothers in blue if Obama finally sent someone for the guns.
Officers verified to be two-timing the rule of law with the Oath Keepers unsurprisingly don’t want to talk about it. Eben Bratcher, operations chief for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, claimed the group didn’t do much for him other than clog up his email inbox and stated he “did not recall specifics.” Fortunately, the Oath Keepers’ server remembers.
A note attributed to Bratcher on the sign-up list reads, “We have 85 sworn officers and Border (of) Mexico on the South and California on the West. I’ve already introduced your web site to dozens of my Deputies.”
Another officer, Michael Lynch of the Anaheim Police Department, claimed his membership lapsed years ago. However, he’s now being investigated by his department for (at least temporarily) joining the group — something he did while touting his years of undercover and SWAT team experience.
This is a clear conflict of interest. Cops like these can either remain cops and fulfill their obligations to the American public or they can join a group that aligns itself with an imagined version of the Constitution — one that comes with conspiracy theories and implicit threats of violence attached. That the Oath Keepers would want cops in its ranks is unsurprising. Sadly, the fact that some cops would feel right at home with an unhinged paramilitary group is equally unsurprising.