A brouhaha has been bubbling in Missouri over the last month, with a lot of anger and confusion over a report released by the the Missouri Information Analysis Center. MIAC is a so-called “fusion center” for local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to collaborate on domestic security issues. In the report, it was noted that “it is not uncommon” for supporters of Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and Chuck Baldwin (i.e., supporters of constitutionally limited government) to join violent anti-government militias. The report also suggests that domestic militias often subscribe to radical ideologies rooted in Christian views and opposition to immigration, abortion, or federal taxes.
The controversy has been aired on blogs, cable news programs and conservative radio, however much of what was written was hearsay or conspiracy theory. Finally there is something substantive to report: according to the Springfield News-Leader, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) has called on Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to place Department of Public Safety Director John Britt on administrative leave pending an investigation of a controversial report profiling members of militias issued by Britt’s department.
According to Kinder, “the report unfairly maligns Christians, anti-abortionists and advocates for protecting our borders and supporters of certain political candidates as potential threats to the public safety.” He noted the report makes no mention of environmental terrorism or Islamic terrorism. The News-Leader also said that Britt has issued an apology letter to 2008 presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr.
RLC-endorsed State Representative Jim Guest said he will introduce an amendment to the Department of Public Safety’s budget barring the agency from using “state or federal funds for political profiling.” Guest said he doesn’t consider Britt’s letter to Barr, Baldwin and Paul a true apology. “This really was not a letter of apology … [i]t was a letter of regret that they had included these words in there.” Guest and a half dozen House Republicans attended Kinder’s press conference. Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat elected last year, has publicly defended the MIAC report.
According to the Kansas City Star, “Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. James F. Keathley released a memo saying the report did not meet the patrol’s standard for quality and would not have been released if it had been seen by top officials. Said Keathly, ‘I have ordered the MIAC to permanently cease distribution of the militia report’. In the future, Keathley wrote, reports from the center will be reviewed by leaders of the Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety. The patrol will also open an investigation into the origin of the militia report.”
These days, when you thinks of a militia, the Michigan militia that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols associated with in the mid-1990s comes to mind immediately. Of course, McVeigh went on to bomb the Murrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1996 — a violently anti-libertarian act. However, the Michigan Militia was formed as a result of two other events that disturbed constitutionalists and libertarians (including Barr, Baldwin, and Paul supporters) — the government’s actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
According to Justice Antonin Scalia, in his opinion written in the Supreme Court case won by RLC member-plaintiff Dick Heller (see: Heller v. DC, 2008), “[a] militia in colonial America consisted of a subset of ‘the people’ — those who were male, able-bodied, and within a certain age range.”
Regardless of what one thinks of either definition of a militia, the MIAC report highlights a growing and oft-overlooked phenomenon: government tracking and profiling of non-violent American citizens.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Thanks to Lt. Governor Kinder, Rep. Jim Guest, and thousands of Missouri citizens who wrote to their legislators, action will be taken against those in charge of profiling innocent Missouri citizens.