Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keeper founder and president, announced “Operation Sabot 2016” yesterday on the group’s website. Rhodes, whose organization recruits from the military, law enforcement and emergency first responders, boasts “significant capabilities” to conduct covert intelligence operations to ensure the election is not “stolen” from the American people.
“[W]e call on you to form up incognito intelligence gathering and crime spotting teams,” Rhodes instructed. “And go out into public on election day, dressed to blend in with the public … with video, still camera, and notepad in hand, to look for and document suspected criminal vote fraud or intimidation activities.”
Rhodes did not specify where the Oath Keepers has enough members to monitor polls, but for nearly three years, he has actively mobilized extremists nationwide to respond in a moment’s notice. His call to action, at the end of a campaign season that has seen violence (here, here and here) is a cause for concern.
While the Oath Keepers claims to be non-partisan, Rhodes admits his fears that election tampering – if it comes at all – will come from the Left.
“[W]e are, indeed, most concerned about expected attempts at voter fraud by leftists,” Rhodes says before widening his scope to include all voters. “But we will spot, document, and report any apparent attempt at vote fraud or voter intimidation … as is our duty.”
The Oath Keepers are well known for showing up heavily armed in instances of social crisis. Staking out polling stations to thwart voter intimidation is likely to cause more problems than it solves, especially given the group’s own history of frightening locals. Even more worrisome, coming at a time of increasing racial tensions, likely armed, mostly white men secretly patrolling voting stations looking for “suspicious” activity is incredibly worrisome.
Regardless, the group truly believes it’s obligated to do it.
Among other obligations recognized by the Oath Keepers is its ten “Orders We Will Not Obey.” These “orders” echo fears that are central to the America’s antigovernment movement – that the government will enact mass gun confiscation, impose martial law, blockade American cities turning them into concentration camps and usher in a “New World Order” of globalist elites.
With these paranoid conspiracy theories as a driving force behind the Oath Keepers, it seems unlikely the group’s claims of non-partisan and patriotic altruism are sincere. For many in the antigovernment movement, Hillary Clinton, or “Hitlery” as Rhodes likes to call her, is the embodiment of these worst fears.