Last night CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a chilling segment titled “Oath Keepers: How a militia group mobilized in plain sight for the assault on the Capitol.” The reporting shows how the public activity of this far-right militia made clear they were on a dangerous escalation that would lead them to play a significant role in the white nationalist attack on January 6. They characterized the group as being “armed and in plain sight — broadcasting plans to mobilize,” saying “if you were looking for a roadmap to January 6, all you had to do was listen.”
The segment put the spotlight on the founder of the Oath Keepers: Stewart Rhodes who has been a leading anti-immigrant voice for years, noting “Photos and phone records place Stewart Rhodes on the Capitol steps on January 6, communicating with Oath Keepers before they breached the doors. But no charges have been brought against him.”
Last week, we learned from the Washington Post that on January 6, 2021, during the insurrection at the Capitol, Rhodes was in direct contact with Kenneth Harrelson, who was recently indicted. Harrelson was allegedly part of the group described as “armed supporters of President Donald Trump [who] were waiting across the Potomac in Virginia for orders to bring guns into the fray.” He was communicating with Rhodes throughout the day:
It is ‘the strongest evidence that the government has presented that there was a quick reaction force outside the District of Columbia, the location of the quick reaction force and that members of this conspiracy provided weapons to this quick reaction force,’ he said. Harrelson, he added, ‘clearly is prepared to have weapons at the ready for violent conduct.’
Harrelson was a high-ranking member of the Oath Keepers, prosecutors said, in regular contact with group leader Stewart Rhodes. While members use the jargon and trappings of a paramilitary organization, in practice the group is made up of loosely connected chapters united by a right-wing ideology.
In spite of the open-armed radicalism of the Oath Keepers and its leader, Rhodes is still welcomed by Republicans. On March 26, he was a keynote speaker at a “We The People Stand For Border Security” anti-immigrant rally held by Texas Republicans. Rhodes shared the stage with Allen West, the chair of the state GOP, and “used his Texas speech to accuse immigrants of lawlessness in south Texas.” Meanwhile, GOP Senators were in McAllen holding their own anti-immigrant stunt by fear-mongering with gunboats.
To recap: Rhodes was cavorting with Texas Republicans to spew anti-immigrant messages and falsehoods despite his alleged role in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which included the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Finally, the segment also had one member of the Oath Keepers who stated, “We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us. We can blend in with our law enforcement.” The ties between law enforcement and anti-immigrant groups run deep. Last week, a group of sheriffs signed an anti-immigrant letter to President Biden, which was organized by FAIR, an SPLC designated hate group whose “leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements.”