Militia Groups and Law Enforcement

By McBride, J. T. | Law & Order, February 2016 | Go to article overview

Militia Groups and Law Enforcement


McBride, J. T., Law & Order


By 1990, the U.S. Justice Department officially acknowledged the existence of 200 militia-type groups throughout the nation. Known as potential threat elements (PTE), these groups include a wide variety of anti-tax, free-grazing, survivalist, Constitutional, sovereign, para-military, patriot, right-wing, animal activist and racist-related entities.

After the tragic Oklahoma City bombing, federal and state units that surveilled potential threat elements (PTE) became more 'stealthy.' As a result of this policy change, several highly motivated private organizations stepped in to monitor extremist entities while making their observations public.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has tracked PTEs and potentially dangerous organizations for years and is a popular data source for media industry authors. An article in USA Today published in 2013, for example, indicated that SPLC officials had identified more than 1,300 domestic PTEs (representing an 800 percent increase over 2008 when Obama had been elected).

This year's SPLC militia report counted 276 PTEs or a 37 percent increase in militia units between 2014 and 2015. Data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Center for Public Integrity (including an article by Jim Turtle and Alex Lancial in 2014) reinforce these growth contentions. All of these 'tracking' organizations see these groups as posing an immediate threat to public safety, liberty and social.

If so, why didn't these para-military groups rally to support Amon Bundy's protest militia in the recent standoffnear Burns, Ore.? One answer may lie in the different methodology used by public and private militia 'trackers.' Private monitors tend to classify any and all para-military units as dangerous while broader federal guidelines recognize both state-authorized and pro-government militias, in addition to PTEs.

Several states' constitutions allow for both public state defense forces and private militia in addition to state National Guard units. Obviously none of these 'good' militias had any interest whatsoever in responding to Oregon Bundy's call to confront the feds.

Second, extremist units of all types have been alerted to enhanced government scrutiny since the 2014 Cliven Bundy 'standoffin Nevada. Homeland Security's Office for Community Partnerships (OCP) is said to be tracking domestic and foreign extremism, but the full extent of government surveillance efforts remains unknown. …

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