Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
An organization that charges its members with following the U.S. Constitution and protecting the American life and American people says a social services agency’s report that cited the name of Oath Keepers used “unsubstantiatied” and “unsupported” information, and it wants a retraction.
The agency took custody of a newborn baby at a hospital in a case that cited the father’s alleged participation in “Oath Keepers,” which the state described as a militia, among its reasons for taking the child.
However, Oath Keepers officials said they do not constitute a militia and the political affiliations of the parents have no business being cited in an affidavit alleging possible child abuse or neglect.
“This poorly conducted investigation used unsubstantiated and unsupported information regarding our organization. A journey to our website, and a reading of our bylaws, could have easily confirmed what we are and are not,” said letter, delivered today to state officials.
“We are an association of current serving and retired police, military, and emergency personnel. We are not a militia. Our goal is simply to educate all current service personnel on their obligations under the law and in particular our Constitution.”
“The use of a father’s political association and his gun ownership is also important to many other Americans who don’t even associate with Oath Keepers because what happens in this case can impact the free speech and association rights of all of us, across the nation, of whatever political or social orientation,” said Rhodes, chief of Oath Keepers.
He organized a protest in New Hampshire at a court hearing scheduled for the parents involved today, and said, “Whether it is a criminal or a civil proceeding, the political affiliations of the accused are both irrelevant and prejudicial. For example, if I had a criminal defense client accused of beating his wife, what relevance would his NRA membership have to the question of whether he beat his wife?
“And what relevance would there be if he were a tea party member, or belonged to a 912 group, or was a member of Rush Limbaugh fan club, or a member of Glen Beck’s ‘Insider Extreme’ which includes a message board? Or what if he were a member of the ACLU, or Answer, or ACORN, or Code Pink, etc.? What relevance would any such associations have to the question of whether he assaulted his wife? The political associations of the accused in a child endangerment case are no less irrelevant to the question of whether [the father] or the mother are guilty or whether the child is endangered,” Rhodes said.
His organization’s members are law enforcement officers, military and former military members and others who affirm they, in light of fears about creeping socialism in the United States, will not obey orders to disarm Americans, conduct warrantless searches, detain Americans as “enemy combatants,” impose martial law, invade any state, blockade American cities, put Americans in detention camps and other violations of the Constitution.
Rhodes himself is a U.S. Army paratrooper injured in an parachuting accident, a former firearms instructor and a former member of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s Washington staff.
The organization’s board of directors includes Army veteran Sgt. Dave Freeman, Army veteran Capt. Chauncey Normandin, Navy veteran Capt. Gregory Gooch, Celia S. Hyde of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, all retired.
Others are Marines, members of the Air Force, local law enforcement and even of the U.S. Army Special Forces.
The demand letter says, “As police officers, we have been called all manner of vile names by criminal suspects, but nothing compares to the offensive assertion that to associate with us and our military counterparts is child endangerment. We respectfully request that any reference to Oath Keepers be removed from your affidavit by whatever mechanism New Hampshire law allows or requires.”
The letter said, “On behalf of all of the active duty and retired police and sheriff personnel within our organization, as well as our military and firefighter brothers and sisters, we demand that you remove the offensive verbiage in the affidavit filed by your investigator, Dana Bickford, which states, ‘the Division became aware and confirmed that Mr. Irish associated with a militia known as ‘he Oath Keepers …”
“By so listing the political associations of a parent as a reason to take a newborn baby from her mother’s arms, the affidavit politicizes child protective services. That politicization was unfortunately furthered by the judge in this case who adopted Bickford’s entire affidavit as the court’s ‘findings of fact’ setting forth the reasons for issuing the order to take the baby.”
The letter explains Oath Keepers members “have seen first-hand the heart-rending abuse that children can suffer at the hands of dysfunctional adults. It is to prevent such abuse that child protective services is given great latitude and power. Politics has no place in this process precisely because of the immense power you wield. All that should matter is the welfare of the children, not the politics of the parents. Such politicization not only hurts the families and children involved, but also chills the speech of other parents who now will worry that their political affiliations will be used as grounds for taking their children,” the letter said.
It is signed by Capt. Chauncey Normandin, retired from the Lowell, Mass., police department; Sgt. David Freeman, retired, from the Las Vegas police department; Chief Celia S. Hyde, retired, of the Bolton, Mass., police department; retired Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack; and almost half a dozen actively serving law enforcement officers in Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah and others.
The father, Johnathon Irish, told WND that the affidavit signed by Child Protective Service worker Dana Bickford seeking government custody of newborn Cheyenne said the agency “became aware and confirmed that Mr. Irish associated with a militia known as the ‘Oath Keepers.’”
“Mr. Irish was court ordered to attend Ending the Violence with Scott Hampton, however, to date, has not completed this program,” the court affidavit states. “The Epsom Police Department stated they were very familiar with Mr. Irish, as they have responded to multiple calls, which involved Mr. Irish and firearms, one of which resulted in a pending charge for possession of a concealed weapon without a permit,” the document states.
“The division became aware and confirmed that Mr. Irish associated with a militia known as the, ‘Oath Keepers,’ and had purchase several different types of weapons including a rifle, handgun and taser,” the court documents said.
Rhodes said Oath Keepers is not a “militia,” but it wouldn’t make any difference if it was, because voluntarily being part of an organization is not yet illegal.
That such circumstances could develop in the United States that would lead toward citizen incarceration and the like has been suggested by the government itself, in an earlier DHS document that cautioned about the possibility of violence from a variety of “extremists,” a label that apparently now is being applied to Irish.
WND reported when a Department of Homeland Security report warned against the possibility of violence by unnamed “right-wing extremists” and singled out returning war veterans as particular threats. The report characterized the extremists as people with concerns about illegal immigration, increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, abortion and the loss of U.S. sovereignty.
The report, “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” dated April 7, 2009, stated “threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.”
However, the document, first reported by talk-radio host and WND columnist Roger Hedgecock, went on to suggest worsening economic woes, potential new legislative restrictions on firearms and “the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
The report from DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis defined right-wing extremism in the U.S. as “divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
Most notable was the report’s focus on the impact of returning war veterans.
“Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists,” it said. “DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities.”