Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rifle-Wielding Man And Gun-Toter In NH Belong To Same Right-Wing Group

AZ Assault Rifle-Wielding Man And Gun-Toter In NH Belong To Same Right-Wing Group
By Justin Elliott - August 21, 2009, 5:45PM
Chris Broughton, the man who brought an assault rifle to an Obama event in Arizona earlier this week, and William Kostric, who protested outside a presidential forum in New Hampshire armed with a handgun last week, are both listed as "team members" of the Arizona chapter of the We The People organization.

The group is committed to "restoring Freedom and Constitutional Order through the exercise of popular sovereignty by all possible non-violent means."

Kostric, whose residence on the chapter page is listed as Scottsdale, AZ, has reportedly moved to New Hampshire because he thought Arizona's gun laws were becoming too strict.

Broughton, whose full name was reported today by the Arizona Republic, told the newspaper he "wasn't seeking a personal spotlight by arming himself and strolling through crowds of Obama supporters."

"I don't want to be Joe-the-Plumber. ... I'm hoping my 15 minutes are over," said Broughton, who walked around outside the Obama health care event with a loaded AR-15 and a pistol, and took part in a pre-planned interview that was put on YouTube.

Ernest Hancock, who conducted the interview with Broughton at the event and is also tied to the 90s-era Viper Militia, later cited the Kostric episode in his explanation for the show of arms-bearing.

But the apparent connection between Kostric and Broughton was not previously known.

TPMmuckraker has reached out to both men seeking comment.

The We The People organization exists to fight a government that "continues to systematically plunder our People's wealth, ignore constitutional checks and balances and destroy the last vestiges of Freedom."

The group's seeks to develop a "constituency committed to a nationwide, pro-active, non-violent, mass-movement, with the goal of achieving ordered Liberty through citizen vigilance and government accountability. As an organized force of 'constitutional activists,' the WTP Congress is organizing into 'ward republics' in every county, with a "Citizen Vigilance Center" in every State Capitol." The centers' architecture would be based on Monticello.

Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man.august 15th 11:42 A.M.

Heavily-Armed '90s Militia, Linked To Anti-Obama Activist, Resisted 'New World Order'
By Justin Elliott - August 19, 2009, 2:35PM

Let's delve a little bit deeper into the black helicopter-infested world of the Viper Militia -- the 90's era group whose members ended up in federal prison and whose most prominent friend and defender, Ernest Hancock, staged the show of arms-bearing at an Obama event Monday.

A portrait of a feckless group of paranoid, right-wing, minimum wage-earning weapons enthusiasts -- 10 men and two women -- emerges from press accounts at the time.

Take Dean Pleasant, the Viper member whom Hancock called his good friend in an interview with TPMmuckraker yesterday. Pleasant couldn't hold onto jobs at Kathy's Donut Farm (too "lackadaisical," even though he always brought his Glock to work) or a part-time gig at military supply store Allied Surplus (where he was caught stealing "inexpensive items").

Others made a living with maintenance work and used furniture sales. They had formed a clique of like-minded gun enthusiasts with the name SHF -- Suicidal Hippie Fucks -- and even had t-shirts made with an SHF logo, according to contemporaneous press accounts.

None of which sounds so scary, until you consider the group's stockpile of
unregistered submachine guns, over 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, an "adapter for a grenade launcher," a riot smoke grenade, dynamite, detonation cord, gas masks, body armor, a machine gun, 550-yard range rockets, and how-to manuals for grenade launchers and propellants.

All of that was seized by the Feds, noted in inventory lists submitted in court, and reported by the press at the time. And keep in mind, the case was unfolding soon after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people.

The federal probe into the Vipers started when a deer hunter reported an encounter with a group of camouflage-clad, heavily-armed men in Tonto National Forest north of Phoenix.

An informant infiltrated and secretly taped the Vipers, who were committed to resisting the "New World Order." He participated in a session in which militia members detonated explosives and used illegal automatic weapons in the desert outside Phoenix. The group members took an oath to "enter into mortal combat against enemies of the U.S. Constitution."

The Vipers were arrested in July 1996.

They were initially charged with plotting to blow up government buildings around Phoenix. But the charges were reduced to various firearms and explosive charges. At the same time the charges were reduced, the AP noted in October 1996, "A videotape showing militia members touring federal buildings in Phoenix and allegedly explaining how to destroy them already has been withdrawn by prosecutors after defense lawyers noted that it was made in 1994, before most of the Vipers even knew one another."

Ultimately, 11 of the Vipers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to six years.

Like today's gun-wielding anti-Obama protesters, the Vipers feared government encroachment by a Democratic president The father of a one militia member recalled him saying, "You should be happy you won't be around in 30 years. The way we're going, we've got to stop it. I hope we'll change presidents and stop the One World Order."

Sometimes the militia members' paranoia degenerated into anti-Semitism. One Viper Militiaman "would talk about conspiracy theories behind gun control laws, and how the world was being run financially by this secret conspiracy composed of Jews," recalled a former teacher of his from a Phoenix weapons academy.

Libertarian Reason magazine published a lengthy piece in late 1996 arguing the charges against the Vipers were overblown.

"These guys were more likely to show up late for a shooting match than to blow up buildings," the chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1996. "It's a Keystone Kops kind of thing."

Anti-Obama activist Ernest Hancock, who helped run a Web site, the Viper Reserves, dedicated to defending the Viper Militia and getting their story out (see a cached version here) was quoted in the same story. He told the Inquirer: "These people were really, really, really ready to go up against the federal government," he said. "Were they actually going to do it? No."

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