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Over 300 ‘oath keepers’ may be current or former DHS employees: POGO

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  • A leaked membership list suggests oath keepers have infiltrated the Department of Homeland Security.
  • More than 300 members of the paramilitary group describe themselves as current or former DHS employees.
  • DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Just weeks after Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy for attempting to violently overturn the 2020 election, a leaked list of members of the paramilitary group has revealed that potentially hundreds of Far-right extremists have infiltrated federal law enforcement, the Project on Government Surveillance reported Monday.

Launched in 2009, the Oath Keepers attempted to recruit from the military and law enforcement from the outset with the ostensible goal of upholding the U.S. Constitution and having its members refuse unlawful orders, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which calls him an “extremist”. band. In practice, this has meant, like January 6, rejecting the rule of law – court orders and democratic processes that thwart far-right political goals – in favor of conspiracy and resistance theories. army.

More than a decade of recruiting has led the group to amass at least 306 members who have described themselves as “current or former employees of the Department of Homeland Security,” according to POGO, who reviewed the group’s leaked membership documents in partnership with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

DHS agencies include US Customs and Immigration, the Transportation Security Administration, and the US Secret Service. Most of the self-declared DHS employees claimed they were retired, but at least one claimed to be an active Secret Service agent; another said he was a Border Patrol supervisor, according to documents reviewed by POGO.

The full list of members, which Insider reported in September, includes more than 38,000 names.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, deputy director of research, reporting and analysis at the SPLC Intelligence Project, said the Oath Keepers have managed to present themselves publicly as a “constitutionalist” group, but have always been extremist and conspiratorial, seeking law enforcement and military recruits for the perceived credibility it would lend to an otherwise fringe organization. But he also targeted veterans and police, as their skills could come in handy in an armed struggle.

“It’s a real manipulative tactic, targeting people for a particular skill and then dragging them into a violent, ideological movement,” Carrol Rivas said in an interview.

That they apparently found success within DHS ranks is “unfortunately not surprising,” she added, citing the department’s role in immigration enforcement – a senior Border Patrol agent said. promoted the far-right “replacement theory”, while the ICE union endorsed former President Donald Trump – and founded in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks a period of heightened Islamophobia. The nature of its work and the overt sympathies of some of its members have made it a more receptive target for extremist recruitment, explained Carrol Rivas.

“It was flawed from the start and it continues to be flawed,” she said.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The revelation of possible far-right infiltration of federal law enforcement comes after the Department of Defense released a report last year detailing its own efforts to combat such “extremist activity” in its own ranks. Under guidelines issued last December, soldiers are now prohibited from being active members of an extremist group or sharing their content on social media.

It also follows an FBI warning that white supremacists continue to “represent the primary threat” of deadly domestic terrorism, accounting for more than half of all politically motivated killings over the past decade.

Do you have a topical tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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