The armed anti-government play-warriors who built a military force around a racist redneck rancher in Nevada have split into rival factions and are now at the brink of civil war, calling each other crazies and traitors and spreading rumors that Eric Holder planned a drone strike on them.
For nearly a month, organized groups of militiamen as well as gun-toting "independents" have descended on Bunkerville, Nevada, ostensibly to protect Cliven Bundy, the curmudgeon cattleman who grazed his cattle on federal land, owed feds more than a million in fees, and famously shared his opinions on "Negroes" with America.
The feds gave Bundy his cows back and avoided an armed confrontation, but freemen in search of a hot discharge of their firearm loads remain encamped around his land, occasionally setting up checkpoints to intimidate local drivers in the name of freedom.
In this Waco-wacko Woodstock of woolly-bully mountain men, the irony and the insanity spiked last weekend when leaders of the most prominent militia group, the Oath Keepers, began complaining of armed madmen "in the camp running amok." They eventually pulled back from their positions, claiming they had received intelligence suggesting that the Obama administration's attack drones were incoming.
That "redeployment" pissed off other armed patriots who stayed behind in Nevada, who now call the Oath Keepers and their prominent leader, Stewart Rhodes, cowards and traitors who might actually be working for the U.S. government. "They committed a deliberate act of desertion," Blaine Cooper—a de facto leader of the remaining militiamen—said in his own video, embedded at the top of this post.
In the video below and a post on the Oath Keepers site, Rhodes defended his actions, though he now concedes the drone rumor may have been "psyops" by Uncle Sam:
We got the phone call, a guy from Texas called up and said hey, I've got contacts in DOD who've called up and told me that Eric Holder, the AG, has given approval for a drone strike on the ranch, on the entire area, including the Bundys' own personal home.
While trying to vet that "intel," several Oath Keepers attempted to offer an offsite hotel room to a woman who was staying in the Bundy camp with her two children. "She got angry and said that we weren't trusting God enough, and that's her mission to be there, God wanted her to be there," Rhodes says in his video. "And that's fine. But she started yelling and screaming."
That started a series of conflagrations between different militiamen that apparently frustrated Rhodes. In the video he complained of an "increasingly deteriorating situation" in the camps, due to "a bunch of hotheads" whom he thought weren't stable enough to carry out the armed struggle against the United States government in the Nevada desert. "We could see they were a ticking time bomb and they weren't under sufficient command and control," he said. "We wanted to pull out."
The Oath Keepers' website said even though the drone attack hadn't panned out, it was reasonable to fear that it might:
Considering how bizarre that listing of government sins-against-the-people really is, it's not such a far reach to understand why a threat of a war-on-terror-styled attack in retribution for the Bundy cowboy defeat of the BLM gov-thug soldiers earlier this month is not such a far-fetched idea after all.
Bullshit, said Cooper. "You're lucky that you're not getting shot in the back," he says to the "traitors" who left the camp, "because that's what happens to deserters on the battlefield." [Note: It is, in fact, against U.S. military law to shoot a deserter in the back on a battlefield.]
In the video posted by Cooper, he leads several votes against the Oath Keepers with other militia leaders including New Hampshire 9-12 founder Jerry DeLemus and "Booda Bundy Bear," who identifies himself as a "self-employed tattoo artist" on Facebook. Booda recently posted two pictures of himself—one with the Bundy family, at left, and another patrolling the ranch:
In their video, the three men and more than a dozen comrades vote unanimously to brand the Oath Keepers as traitors and deserters, musing on their motives for leaving. Cooper said there were two possibilities:
There is very good evidence to show that the Oathkeepers came here with an intention in mind and that was not to support the objectives, it was to coopt this entire thing and build membership at the very least...
At the very worst, it was provocateurism deliberately sent in here by the other side to drive a wedge into our cohesion. Which would mean that they work for the other side, and they're REALLY a bunch of motherfuckers.
Opinion on who to back in the militias' war of words seemed divided online. "Those oathkeepers just gave up their intel," one friend of Cooper's wrote on his Facebook wall. "now the Pentagon is going to search for the leak.. not smart..and they sound like they are back pedaling on what they did..they are doing what government does best and makes the militia look like a bunch of unorganized thugs."
But Robert Casillas, a fellow Oath Keeper and former Marine, added to Rhodes' account of the mavericks in the desert: "It's a bunch of crackpots… These kids, they're playing war out there, and they don't know what they're doing."
That sounds like the sanest thing anyone in this Twin Peaks of patriotic tinderboxes is capable of saying, though if you watch the video you'll see Casillas didn't seem completely sane while saying it. And in any case, dude believed a drone strike on Nevada ordered by Eric Holder was plausible, so keep that in mind.
Which is a shame. All these hardened breadfruits seem made for each other—from the tactical cargo pants up to the leaky sieves that hold their soggy thoughts and theories mostly in place.
But the conflict lines have been drawn, and now the anti-government resistance and pro-Bundy defense force seems irreparably broken. Sane armed people with a disagreement might be able to find common ground; crazy unarmed people might, too. But disagreements among crazy armed people have a weird way of not ending in a vocal consensus.
"They're not allowed back on this ranch," Cooper said of Stewart's group, angrily raising his arms. "They're to stay the hell out of here under fear of fist fire."