American Morning

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November 16th, 2009
05:50 AM ET

Militias: Patriots or Extremists?

By Jim Acosta

Out in the woods, 30-minutes from the nearest city, the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia meets for training once a month.

Armed with a small arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, the question that crosses your mind at one of these exercises is: training for what?

That depends on who you ask.

Our visit with the militia is the first installment of our three part series on something called "the Patriot movement."

The members of the militia in Michigan would certainly call themselves patriots. The folks at the civil rights organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center prefers to use the word "extremists."

Critics of the modern-day militia point out how some of the members of this movement are highly secretive. For example, we contacted nearly a dozen militias for permission to observe their exercises. The militia in Michigan is the only one that said yes.

Watch: Patriots or Extremists? Video

Still, some of its members would not give us their names. Others wore masks.

Then there are the members' constant fears the Obama administration will eventually take away their gun rights.

Another member told us he thinks the president could be "dangerous for the nation."

In nearly the same breath that member said he hopes the militia's training exercises would give some in Washington "pause."

Not to worry, says the group's leader Lee Miracle. A military veteran and postal worker, yes postal worker, Miracle says he urges respect for the president.

He's out to change the way the world views militia groups. We get an up-close look at his family in part two of our series. A family Miracle refers to as "Lee and Kate plus eight plus a gun rack." That's because they have eight kids and 22 guns in the house. And the kids take part in militia day.

In part three of our series, we go to Las Vegas to go behind the scenes with an organization called "Oathkeepers." It's a group of ex-law enforcement officials and military veterans who say they've sworn an oath to the Constitution, not the president. The president they're referring to, of course, is Mr. Obama.

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Filed under: Controversy • Patriots or Extremists
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