Oath Keepers

Oath Keepers

Oath Keepers is an American nonprofit organization[1] that advocates that its members (current and former U.S. military and law enforcement) uphold the Constitution of the United States should they be ordered to violate it.[2]

The Oath Keepers' motto is "Not On Our Watch!", and their stated objective is to resist those actions taken by the U.S. Government that overstep Constitutional boundaries.[3]


Organizational history

The Oath Keepers were founded on March 2009 by Stewart Rhodes and incorporated in Las Vegas, Nevada as a non-profit corporation.[4][5] Rhodes is a Yale Law School graduate, a former US Army paratrooper, and a former staffer of Congressman Ron Paul.[6] The Oath Keepers as a group have grown to include chapters in many states across America.[7]

"Orders we will NOT obey"

The Oath Keepers feel that their sworn oath to the American Constitution, grants them not only the right, but the duty to refuse unconstitutional orders. The Oath Keepers organization has published a list of orders that they claim they will not obey, the list is as follows:

1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.

2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people

3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.

4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.

5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.

6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.

7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.

8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control."

9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.

10.We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

Constitutional Basis

The 10 points of the Oath Keepers Oath are based on fundamental language in the United States Constitution, including upon the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, popularly known as the 'right to bear arms'. They also have basis in upholding the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects the people from warrantless searches and seizures of their property, the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects people from detention or arrest of their person without a Writ of Habeas Corpus (an arrest warrant), and the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides for states rights and sovereignity.

Report by the Southern Poverty Law Center

In the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) 2009 report The Second Wave: Return of the Militias, Larry Keller, a writer for the SPLC, wrote that the Oath Keepers "may be a particularly worrisome example of the Patriot revival."[8] Keller described Richard Mack, an Oath Keeper, as a "longtime militia hero"[8]:7[9] and quoted him as having said, "The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government… One of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality."[8]:7 Mack, a former sheriff, responded by denouncing the SPLC's claims.[10][11] Rhodes, the founder has countered the SPLC claim of racism by pointing out that he's one quarter Mexican and part Native American [12]

Rhodes has appeared on several TV and radio shows to discuss Oath Keepers.[1] Lou Dobbs talked with Rhodes on his radio show and criticized the SPLC for "perpetuating the same kind of intolerance it claims to condemn."[1] On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Matthews and Rhodes discussed both the SPLC report and issues involving the Oath Keepers and extremists.[7]

Additional Reports

MSNBC's political commentator, Patrick J. Buchanan, quoted Alan Maimon in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, as saying "Oath Keepers, depending on where one stands, are either strident defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia.” Mr. Buchanan explained their existence on the alienation of white America, concluding that "America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right." [13]

Historical Justifications

Oathkeepers cite the following events surrounding troop deployment during Hurricane Katrina, as examples of justification for military personnel and peacekeepers to reaffirm their oaths to defend and protect the US Constitution.

  • During the Katrina emergency, military presence was ordered to blockade the city of New Orleans, which resulted in the refusal to allow stricken residents to leave to places of safety, water, food and shelter. [14] These actions were later condemned as rights violations by the ACLU. [15]
  • At the orders of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans Police, the National Guard, the Oklahoma National Guard, and U.S. Marshals searched resident homes at gunpoint, confiscating lawfully-owned firearms, and evicting the residents. "No one is allowed to be armed. We're going to take all the guns," said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police during the announcement made on national television. Under pressure from civil rights organizations and a subsequent class action lawsuit supported by the National Rifle Association, the city of New Orleans returned the confiscated firearms. The lawsuit was dropped. [16] [17]
  • Government holding areas of Katrina evacuees, and warrantless dragnet sweeps and searches in FEMA camps, were condemned as human rights violations by the ACLU. [18]

As legal scrutiny continued over the orders to confiscate legal firearms or arrest the movement of evacuees, Oath Keepers located military and police personnel who had refused the original orders on their belief they were unlawful, including a military intelligence detachment of the Utah National Guard under SSG Joshua May. Said SSG May in an April 2010 Oathkeepers interview "I'd like to put a challenge out to my fellow servicemen..know your Constitution, know why you put your hand up and said 'Yes I will.' You need to understand that and what your obligation to that is. If you remember your oath, you solemnly swore to do that, so help you God. Take it seriously."

Unlawful Orders

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 809.ART.90 (20), makes it clear that military personnel need to obey the "lawful command of his superior officer," 891.ART.91 (2), the "lawful order of a warrant officer", 892.ART.92 (1) the "lawful general order", 892.ART.92 (2) "lawful order". In each case, military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey Unlawful orders. Criminal prosecution and courts martial are applicable for military personnel who obey unlawful orders, as seen in United States vs Keenan, and the Court-Martial of Lt. William Calley, both of whom defended on the grounds of the Nuremburg Defense/ Superior Orders and both of whom were found guilty of murder. More recently, defendants involved in the scandal at Abu Grahib prison also raised the Nuremburg / Superior Orders Defense, with the result that eleven soldiers were found guilty and convicted in spite of defending that they were 'just following orders'. However, military personnel who disobey what they believe to be unlawful orders, do so at their own risk and may be subject to court martial proceedings. [19]

Similar Organizations

Among organizations indicating similar strong support of the US Constitution include the ACLU, whose mission statement is listed as "The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. These rights include:

  • Your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
  • Your right to equal protection under the law - protection against unlawful discrimination.
  • Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
  • Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.

The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities. "

It is to be noted that the ACLU does not provide services in defense of the 2nd Amendment.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Maimon, Alan (October 25, 2009). "Ready To Defend: Oath Keepers speak out at inaugural conference". Las Vegas Review-Journal. http://www.lvrj.com/news/oath-keepers-speak-out-at-inaugural-conference-65931467.html. Retrieved October 25, 2009. 
  2. ^ Justine Sharrock (March/April 2010). "Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason". Mother Jones. http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/oath-keepers. Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  3. ^ Anthony Wile (November 21, 2010). "Stewart Rhodes Interview". The Daily Bell. http://www.thedailybell.com/1541/Oath-Keeper-Stewart-Rhodes-on-the-Rise-of-Authoritarianism-and-How-US-Law-Enforcement-Can-Take-a-Stand-for-Freedom.html. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  4. ^ Acosta, Jim (November 18, 2009). "Who are the Oathkeepers". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/11/18/am.acosta.militia.oathkeepers.cnn. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Incorporation Information for the Oath Keepers, Inc.". Nevada Secretary of State (State of Nevada) E0559982009-3. October 22, 2009. http://sos.state.nv.us/sosentitysearch/CorpDetails.aspx?lx8nvq=s8EtUq7rLzqNBvRDF%252b%252fglQ%253d%253d&nt7=0. Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  6. ^ Maimon, Alan (October 18, 2009). "Ready To Revolt: Oath Keepers pledges to prevent dictatorship in United States". Las Vegas Review-Journal. http://www.lvrj.com/news/oath-keepers-pledges-to-prevent-dictatorship-in-united-states-64690232.html. Retrieved October 24, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Nugent, Karen (October 23, 2009). "Ready to Protect: Former Bolton Chief Focuses On Constitution". Telegram & Gazette. http://www.telegram.com/article/20091023/NEWS/910230399/1101. Retrieved October 24, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c Keller, Larry (August 2009). "The Second Wave: Return of the Militias". A Special Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (Montgomery, Alabama): pp. 5–10. http://www.splcenter.org/images/dynamic/main/The_Second_Wave.pdf. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  9. ^ Fausset, Richard (September 18, 2009). "Oath Keepers organizer sees need to sound an alarm". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oath-keepers18-2009sep18,0,6253659,full.story. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Sheriff Richard Mack (RET) Responds to Southern Poverty Law Center Smear Attack on Oath Keepers and on Sheriff Mack" (Press release). Oath Keepers. August 14, 2009. http://oathkeepers.org/oath/2009/08/14/sheriff-richard-mack-ret-responds-to-southern-poverty-law-center-smear-attack-on-oath-keepers-and-on-sheriff-mack/. Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Jon (September 2, 2009). "Local man appears on Internet news show". Eastern Arizona Courier. http://www.eacourier.com/articles/2009/09/03/news/doc4a9dc7f4de6b2834182643.txt. Retrieved November 3, 2009. 
  12. ^ . http://reason.com/archives/2011/02/07/an-interview-with-stewart-rhod/2. 
  13. ^ "Alienated and Radicalized". MSNBC. October 20th, 2009. http://buchanan.org/blog/alienated-radicalized-2641. 
  14. ^ Grow Sun, Lisa (June 2011). "Disaster Mythology and the Law". Cornell Law Review. 
  15. ^ "On Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, ACLU Sees America's Reputation as Human Rights Leader Diminished". ACLU. August 29,2006. 
  16. ^ "NRA to Settle Suit Over Katrina Gun Seizures". USA TODAY. October 8, 2008. 
  17. ^ "N.O. Police Return Guns Confiscated Post-Katrina". FOX. April 19, 2006. 
  18. ^ "Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: U.S. Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". ACLU. 
  19. ^ Tully, Matthew (October 30, 2010). "Act carefully before responding to questionable order from commander". Army_Times. 

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