After two weeks of controversy, the state of Missouri has repudiated and withdrawn a report that labelled supporters of former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr, and Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin as possible domestic terrorists.
The report, entitled “The Modern Militia Movement,” was prepared Feb. 20, 2009 and distributed to state law enforcement personnel by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC)
MIAC describes itself on its website as a “fusion center”: a “public safety partnership consisting of local, state and federal agencies, as well as the public sector and private entities that will collect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence to the agencies tasked with Homeland Security responsibilities in a timely, effective, and secure manner.” (1a) It is one of more than 50 such “fusion centers” set up under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) auspices following passage of the 9/11 Commission Act in 2007. Besides DHS, federal agencies participating in MIAC include the FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Secret Service. (1b)
The MIAC report was classified as Law Enforcement Sensitive, not for release to the public. (2) However, a copy was leaked to radio talk show host Alex Jones, who broke the story Mar. 11 on his radio show and his website, Infowars.
According to the Infowars expose:
The MIAC report does not concentrate on Muslim terrorists, but rather on the so-called “militia movement” and conflates it with supporters of Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, the so-called patriot movement and other political activist organizations opposed to the North American Union and the New World Order… MIAC claims members of a “rightwing” militia movement organized in the 1990s …”continuously exploit world events in order to increase participation in their movements. Due to the current economical and political situation, a lush environment for militia activity has been created”….
MIAC notes many of the political issues cited by the so-called patriot movement — the Ammunition Accountability Act, the impending economic collapse of the government, the possibility of a constitutional convention, the North American Union, Obama's “Universal Service Program,” and the implementation of RFID — issues that are not limited to the patriot movement but are shared by a wide array of political activists. (3)
On its last page, under the heading “Political Paraphernalia”, the report states:
Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitutional [sic] Party, Campaign for Liberty, or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate: [sic] Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr.” (2)
“Not only is this assertion baseless, it is outrageous and very dangerous,” Missouri Libertarian Party (LP) spokesman Mike Ferguson wrote in a prepared LP statement Mar. 15. “It is also misleading. Libertarians oppose the violence, racism and extremism of the 'militant militia' that MIAC expresses concern about. Anyone who understands basic libertarian thought knows we adamantly oppose any violence for political purposes…. This incorrect document has the potential to stifle political free speech that opposes the two larger political parties' policies. This is dangerous for anyone who wants to be part of our political and social discourse.” (4)
Baldwin wrote in his syndicated column on Mar. 17:
Do you not see how dangerous this kind of slanderous labeling can become? It could affect your flight status when you try to board an airline. It could affect your application for sensitive jobs. It could affect your adjudication before a court or judge. It could make you a target for aggressive law enforcement strategies. It could affect your being able to obtain a passport. It could affect one's ability to purchase a firearm or receive a State concealed weapon permit.
This is very serious business! We are not talking about private opinions. We are talking about law enforcement agencies. And remember, most law enforcement agencies share these types of reports; therefore, how many other state police agencies have similar reports floating around? Probably several. Plus, how do we know that this report was not influenced by federal police agencies? We don't.
Rest assured, I do not plan to take this lying down. As one who is personally named in the above report, I demand a public retraction and apology from the MIAC and Missouri State Police. I can tell you that my family is extremely distraught that their husband, father, and grandfather would be labeled in such a manner. I am also not ruling out legal action. In addition, I am discussing an appropriate response with Ron Paul and Bob Barr. (5)
Missouri Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon was asked about the MIAC report at a Mar. 20 press conference, and responded by defending both report and agency. “Getting information, especially public information, out of our fusion center out to local law enforcement agencies is what we do every day and we're going to continue to do,” said Nixon. “Any way they take that information and can analyze what the threat levels are is important to make sure the public stays safe.” (6)
State law enforcement officials also defended the report, saying it was being misinterpreted. “All this is an educational thing,” said Lt. John Hotz of the state Highway Patrol. “Troopers have been shot by members of groups, so it's our job to let law enforcement officers know what the trends are in the modern militia movement.” (7)
On Mar. 23, Infowars reported that Baldwin, Paul, and Barr had jointly written Nixon to “respectfully demand” that the report “be immediately removed from any and all websites associated with or maintained by the state of Missouri or any agency thereof, including the MIAC;” that “said document no longer be circulated by the state of Missouri” and the state explicitly repudiate the references to the three former Presidential candidates. (8)
Missouri Public Safety Director John Britt replied by fax the same day, apologizing to the former candidates and promising to have their names deleted. “Portions of that report may be easily construed by readers as offensive to supporters of certain political candidates or to those candidates themselves,” wrote Britt. “I regret that those comments were ultimately included in the final report issued by the MIAC…. While the intent of the report was only to identify certain traits that are sometimes shared by members of militia organizations, this report is too easily misinterpreted as suggesting that militia members may be identified by no other indicator than support for a particular candidate or political organization…. I have ordered that the offending report be edited to excise all reference to Ron Paul, Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin.” (9)
State Lieutenant-Governor Paul Kinder rejected that apology as insufficient in a Mar. 25 press conference, and called for Britt to be suspended. “Under the guidance of the present director, who apparently must think it is Nixon's secret service, the Department of Public Safety has taken on the new and sinister role of political profiling,” Kinder said. He also asked the state legislature for an investigation. (10)
Following Kinder's remarks, Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. James F. Keathley released a memo stating that “I have ordered the MIAC to permanently cease distribution of the militia report.” (10)
The next day, Nixon also disassociated himself from the report and MIAC. “”I was not governor when the MIAC was formed,” Nixon said. “I was not governor, I did not hire any of the people there and nobody in my administration — the director of public safety — saw this stuff before it went out.” Nixon called that lack of oversight “simply not acceptable.” (11)
Despite the report's withdrawal, many people in the targeted groups have concerns that similar reports may still be circulating in other states. Last month, reports Infowars, “the ACLU issued a news release highlighting the activity of a fusion center in Texas as the 'latest example of inappropriate police intelligence operations targeting political, religious and social activists for investigation,' in particular 'Muslim civil rights organizations and anti-war protest groups.'” (3)
Similarly, reports the website United Liberty: “In 2007, the Alabama Department of Homeland Security issued a similar report. It was later removed.” (12)
Others have drawn parallels with the Clinton-era Phoenix, Arizona, FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force report that explicitly designated “defenders” of the Constitution as “right-wing extremists.” (13)
As well, LewRockwell.com has reported (so far without corroboration by any other source) that the Constitution Party has been labelled a “terrorist organization” in Pensylvania. (14)
If not for the leak to Alex Jones, the media and public would never have learned about the MIAC report. By the same token, the media and public have no way of knowing how many, if any, similar reports have been prepared by other “fusion centers” and are still in circulation, being used to train law enforcement personnel in how to spot a “domestic terrorist.”
Maybe it's time to take those Ron Paul bumper stickers off the car.
(1a) “What is MIAC and why it is needed?“, Missouri Information Analysis Centre (accessed Mar. 28, 2009).
(1b) “Participating MIAC Agencies,” ibid.
(2) “MIAC offers retraction,” Joplin Independent, Mar. 26, 2009.
(3) Kurt Nimmo, “Secret State Police Report: Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, Libertarians are Terrorists,” Campaign for Liberty, Mar. 11, 2009.
(4) “Missouri Libertarian Party Condemns Missouri Highway Patrol Training Document as Political Profiling,” Op-Ed News, Mar. 18, 2009.
(5) Chuck Baldwin, “Missouri State Police Think You And I Are Terrorists,” Right Side News, Mar. 17, 2009.
(6) “Update: Gov. Nixon Blames previous administration for militia report,” KRCG, Mar 20, 2009.
(7) “Missouri report on militias, terrorists draws criticism” (Associated Press), Kansas City Star, Mar. 14, 2009.
(8) “Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr Send Letter to Missouri Gov. in Response to MIAC Report,” Campaign for Liberty, Mar. 23, 2009. http://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog.php?view=14035
(9) Chad Livengood, “Agency apologizes for militia report on candidates,” Springfield News-Leader, Mar. 25, 2009.
(10) “Highway Patrol chief retracts militia report; will change review process for MIAC reports,” Prime Buzz, Kansas City Star, Mar. 25, 2009.
(11) “Nixon distances administration from production of MIAC report; supports changes announced yesterday,” Prime Buzz, Kansas City Star, Mar. 26, 2009.
(12) Jason Pye, “MIAC Report: Ron Paul Supporters Labeled Domestic Terrorists?,” United Liberty, Mar. 16, 2009.
(13) Paul Joseph Watson, Kurt Nimmo & Alex Jones, “Police Taught: Informed Citizen = Terrorist Threat,” Pacific Free Press, Mar. 21, 2009.
(14) Bill Anderson, “Left-Wing Blowback,” LRC Blog, Mar. 19, 2009.