NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has earned quite a following, sometimes in unlikely quarters. The latest evidence comes in the form of this billboard recently installed inside the subway station that serves the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. The billboard was paid for by the Oath Keepers, a “patriot” group founded in 2009 not long after President Obama took office. The controversial organization, founded by a former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) staffer and associated with former militia leaders, encourages members of the military and law enforcement to swear an oath of loyalty to the Constitution, and not necessarily to the Commander in Chief. The Oath Keepers pledge to essentially turn on the US government if they think they’re being ordered to do things that they think are unconstitutional, such as, for instance, taking people’s guns away.
They arrived on the scene with much fanfare and were often staples at tea party and Second Amendment rallies organized around opposition to the tyrannical Obama administration. Their ranks are filled with Birthers, Truthers, and others who see black helicopters lurking at every turn. Their highest profile associates have been people like Mike Vanderboegh, the former Alabama militia leader who urged followers to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic offices to protest the passage of healthcare reform. (Some actually did.) But the Oath Keepers have since dropped out of the limelight, the dictatorship they were preparing for never quite materializing.
But the group has reemerged with a new project, which involves billboards like the Snowden one at the Pentagon Metro station. The Oath Keepers initially set out to put up billboards around military bases to “Educate Troops About Their Oath Bound Duty to Refuse Unconstitutional Orders,” and to “counter the propaganda of the domestic enemies of the Constitution,” according to their website. So far this year, they’ve installed one near the Twenty Nine Palms Marine base in California, with plans to target Ft. Hood, in Texas, and Ft. Rucker in Alabama.
The first billboard went up last year across from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, in response to a retired Army colonel who enraged tea partiers and gun activists with a paper he wrote describing a hypothetical scenario in which the military might have to intervene on US soil. The hypothetical involves an “extremist militia motivated by the goals of the “tea party” movement” that takes over a town in South Carolina and starts an insurrection. The “tea party insurrectionists” in the paper sound a lot like the Oath Keepers, who took great offense to the paper and responded with a billboard screaming, “Colonel ‘Red Coat’ Benson, The Tea Party is Not the Enemy. Soldiers! Honor Your Oath. Refuse To Fire On Americans.”
Apparently the Oath Keepers have found a hero in Snowden, and decided to jump to his defense before moving on to billboards at Ft. Hood and elsewhere. The Pentagon billboard says that Snowden “honored his oath,” and it urges others (presumably all the spies and military officers on the Metro) to follow their oath to the Constitution, too. Last month, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes explained to Reason why the group might be so sympathetic to Snowden (who, like Rhodes, was a Paulite):
He is an example of what needs to be done by anyone who has knowledge of such gross violations of our rights. We need more to stand up, because this is surely the mere tip of the iceberg of the infrastructure for a police state that is being built over us.
This is about far more than supposed attempts to ferry out al Qaeda operatives. This is part of a growing Stasi and Checka style surveillance police state which tags, tracks, and prepares plans to detain dissidents with the “Main Core” database of millions of Americans who the regime considers a “threat.”…
Unless we the people purge out these oath breakers from BOTH parties, we will find ourselves in a nightmare dictatorship and we will have to fight to throw it off. Sweat now or bleed later. Purge them all.