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.

Share your thoughts with us here at amFIX.

Filed under: Controversy • Patriots or Extremists
soundoff (504 Responses)
  1. Mike

    I don't know any of these guys well enough to say if they are nutcases or not. However, I see many nutcases on this website who automatically relate the existence of a militia with racism. Fact check: The Michigan Militia existed long before the Obama administration. It is not surprising that they resist him, considering that the group is generally anti-government. May I also point out that Obama is becoming unpopular with many Americans for many legitimate reasons, and I have yet to hear complaints about his race. Democrats can play the race card over and over again, but soon, Obama is going to have 100% Democratic support and 0% everyone else. They will surely continue to remain utterly clueless as to why this happened.

    November 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  2. Jackson

    Maybe these guys should join the Army or stay in the Army, they don't make any sense.

    November 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  3. JohnQpublic

    Dont forget militias like this were what founded this country. They serve their countrymen, they make decisions based on the good of the neighborhood, not for the good of reelection. If you truly believe the government will always be there to protect you, your are living in a dream world.

    November 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  4. JFrankfort

    In response to the comment that Obama is in talks with the UN about a global gun ban. This is not all. Here is a link to what you are referring to:

    The talks are about cracking down on illegal arms dealers. This has nothing to do with taking away your guns, it has to do with stopping guns from getting into the hands of criminals, gangs and warlords. Do you want more unaccountable guns in the hands of these people? This in no way infringes on your guns or your gun shop's right to sell them legally.

    I actually believe in the importance of militias and am proud to live in a country that protects their right to exist...but that doesn't mean that some of their members aren't nuts (just as it doesn't mean that all or even most of them are).

    November 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  5. RG

    Sure, they're patriots until they do something criminal, like has happened many times in the past. Militia, KKK, call it what you will.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  6. Steve

    Obviously some of the people here cannot read, nor have paid attention to this article. Some of the people in the militia are ex law enforcement and veterans. Nothing wrong with them starting a militia as it is a right we all have. First thing people of color think is racism, I say get a grip. Blacks as much as whites are racists, and I'm not totally caucasian myself. On another note, the Democrat Party can rob, cheat and steal from the very people they are supposed to be helping in the form of increased taxes. It's no wonder people are angry in this country and tea parties are coming back around, history tends to repeat itself, just in a more modern time....

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  7. jellybean

    Patriots or extremists? Shame on you for pretending this should even be up for debate. These people are ignorant, paranoid, and armed to the teeth. What is scarier than that?

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  8. annie

    Hmm these people give off a vibe that they want to start the next civil war. Lol just watch something happens in 2012, they started it. Reminds me of that tv show Jericho. Creepy people.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  9. John

    Whitehawk, there's nothing in Article 1 Section 9 that even refers to the President, much less there being a rule against him accepting "head chair" of a council between nations.

    There is, however, one interesting line: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Remember a President who did that? Hint: it was a very short time ago.

    Keep up your petty nitpicking, though. Thinking people see right through it.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  10. Davio

    These men are patriots, its an americans right and duty to defend the constitution under all circumstance. It is our constitutional right to have a well regulated militia, the liberal idiots who wrote on this wall saying that these men are racist have no platform to say such a thing. It is our constitutional right to bear arms, do you not wonder why that was included in our constitution? Its because if the government begins to infringe on our rights it is our duty to this country we oust them. Every dictator that has ever come to power, including hitler, stalin, ect has taken away the peoples arms so that the masses would be unable to do anything as things got progressively worse. Im not saying Obama is doing anything of the sort, im just defending the rights of the people to defend ourselves. And for those people who think legal guns is the cause of gang violence and gun violence are wrong, its very easy to obtain an illegal gun, you can bet no gang member has ever filled out a form to get a legal gun. The constitution and the rights it gives us are timeless.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  11. oldtimer

    After reading many of these comments, i see this country is already lost. Many here think that their elected officials have their best interests in mind. Far from the truth. They seem to dismiss as nuts etc. people that have a deep concern for the welfare of this country. I really wonder how they would feel when the government turns on them, and their freedoms all disappear. Would they turn to the militia or just bend over and take it.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  12. RL

    As of Jan 2011, the online retailer I buy my ammo from will no longer be shipping to California and many other online retailers as well. Let's see who do we have here in California? Pelosi and Boxer...what a pair! Of course Obama is not directly looking to ban guns in the open and all at once. He's doing it through other means. It will be a three step process to disarm every legal U.S. Citizen. Well guess what folks, if that happens, you think that all the criminals are going to turn in their guns because Obama says so? Good luck with that one. What are you going to protect your family with? Yourself? A butter knife? There are not enough police officers to protect every citizen or have a 3 minute response time. If we did have a police officer for ever 10 people, then people would complain that we are a police state...blah, blah, blah. You keep bringing race into it and it has nothing to do with race. There may be a select few who are motivated by race, and that is their choice and their right to believe what they want. You call us gun-nuts and extremists...however, when the fecal matter hits the oscillating rotator, this is one gun-nut/extremist that will turn his back on you. NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  13. Brian

    for those who feel these men are not patriots let me quote a few of my favorite Thomas Jefferson quotes, one of our greatest founders:

    "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. "

    "For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. "

    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. "

    November 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  14. Carz

    Patriotism and defense of the constitution means aligning oneself with democracy. In a democracy you may not always like the results of an election, but you go along with it since it's the will of the majority. These clowns do not care about democracy or the constitution. They are upset because the majority does not think as they do, and has not voted for who they voted for. They would usurp majority rule if they were able.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  15. Michael

    They are driven by fear. And that has never been good for anyone.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  16. skanman

    I think most of these individuals mostly just want to dress up in war costumes, run around the woods, and play kiddie games with real bullets. However, as a group, or a so-called "movement", they can be dangerous and threaten my liberty as much as any other extremists, be they left, right, christian, muslim, or whatever. Therefore, I hope the children stay in the woods where they have fun and the FBI can keep an eye on them so they don't hurt someone...

    November 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  17. Militarymale

    I guess its a little late to ask the obvious questions to everyone who says everything is fine but hell i will give it a shot here are a few.

    1. Where is the pledge of allegiance in the schools each morning
    2. Where is the american flag that use to be in every classroom
    3. When is the status of americans going to be honored over illegal immigrants.
    4. When are americans that obey the laws rights going to be upheld over a criminals
    A. Criminals can get a college education paid for by the state
    (does your child get this or you have to work to pay for it)
    B. You get one chance to convict the criminal and if he finds a loop hole he is free and cant be charged with the same crime twice.
    (however if you find them guilty they get to fight it over and over again to try to get off.

    Just a few minor ones i thought i would bring up.

    Your rights who cares apparently you dont

    November 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  18. J Spinella

    Stop always jumping to racism. Just because they want to form a militia and upkeep their rights, doesnt make them a racist. And right on to the individual hit spot on target about the british crown.

    They do need to be monitored, and if they do get out of ljne and harm anyone, then they need to face justice, but right now, they are much safer then gangs, and i mean gangs of all color.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  19. tiredofit

    I am so sick of every person who doesent agree with obama is a rascist. Obama is black and hes president no need for any more excuses to equal rights. The whites are the ones being punished here. I believe the man has no right to be in office. He is on more talk shows and sporting events then being in his office. Do your job obama and maybe half of america wouldent feel the need to start organizations to protect ourselves. Theyre should be more groups just like this one!!!

    November 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  20. jcoldwater

    I don't know first hand, but I expect that if any of you who think these people know little about the Constitution went and talked to them, you would be surprised. What they don't understand, is how our representatives use the Constitution to justify everything that the government does.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  21. Barb

    These people are NOT patriots. If what they are doing is not illegal, why do they wear masks? There have been NO rights infringed by the Obama administration; where were these people and their guns when the Bush administration–who DID curtail rights–were engaging in illegal wiretaps and lying about the case for war in Iraq? Are these people stupid? Is it because Bush is white and Obama is not? Better wake up and see the future: caucasians will not be the majority within a few years. However it will still be America, and ruled by laws.

    To paraphrase Jefferson's warning about slavery, however updated: I tremble for my country when I see how a divisive abandonment of facts leads to an irrational fear of change. These people have other real things to fear–an increasingly violent America where firepower is considered the way to resolve problems and insecurities. Yes, they should watch a lot less Fox 'News'.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  22. DownriverDem

    Ignorant white men who don't have a clue. No Dem (Obama included) has ever come after their guns. Many Dems own guns too.

    They just can't accept a duly elected president who happens to be half black. I am white and we are not going back. All these folks want to do is return to the 1950s and early 1960s. Demographics will do them in and they don't even realize it.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  23. William Penn

    They are cowards. If they were so invested in patriotism, they would enlist and serve in the armed forces, but of course that's risky, whereas playing weekend soldier in the forest is not. These militias stem from the remnants of the KKK, various Neo-Nazi groups, and the like. They constitute the environment in which homegrown terrorism thrives. They are not different from Islamic terrorists; if anything, right now they represent a clearer and even more present danger. BTW, the ignorance of these "wannabe constitutional scholars" is shocking. From conspiracy theorists to assassins and terrorists there is only a step in this regard.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  24. CB from California

    I believe there is a point missed here:

    It's not about what rights have been taken away, its about what rights could be taken away. The militia exists in their mind as a preventive measure, should the government move to take away rights.

    To the idiot who rants about how these guys are idiots, and "are not in Iraq" and should use the pen, not the sword, think about this: The jews in Nazi Germany were intimidated out not only by force, but by laws passed by the Nazis. I don't claim its likely, but consider what happens if one political party garnished enough clout to change the rules and permanently subjugate the minority; how do you ink your way out that?

    November 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  25. Tony


    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  26. William Baldwin

    If our founding history were any clue, then they are both patriots(lovers of country not nation) and extremist.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  27. Michelle

    Militia were here before Obama and they will be after Obama. Quit calling any group primarily comprised of white people racists. We don't all any of the so called minority group's racist yet they do not include whites unless they are white haters. And this country is not led by a black man. He is bi-racial. His mother was white not black.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  28. Tom ran

    Beer, Beef Jerky, Machine Guns. Thank God I don;t live near those retards.

    If they really were brave...they'd go to Iraq. Not shoot cows at nearby farms.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  29. Joe

    "Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom." -JFK

    Militias is not only patriotic, but American.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  30. Tdave

    These guys are just gun worshippers, pure and simple. They have thousands investing in assault rifles and camo gear and dream up scary sounding scenarios to justify their militia activities. I don't fear them any more than a non-militia whack job.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  31. Julie

    By the way, we the people have a right to protect our lives liberty and freedoms. I am wondering if Sotero agrees with that as her answer seemed to not come forthcoming when asked if she thinks the people have a right to defend themselves. Please get the answers from those who wanted this article printed. I think the poster Gary needs to enlighten the rest of us on exactly what he is speaking about. By the way, I am a grandma in Texas. I don't have a clue what this administration is doing and none of it makes a lick of sense whatsoever.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  32. Benji

    They're nuts. Thanks to the Second Amendment, we're all screwed until these crazies die off.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  33. Jon

    They're losers.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  34. Denise

    Why is it that whenever a bunch of white people do something, it's racist???? It's OK to have black this, black that, hispanic this, hispanic that, but let a bunch of white crackers get together, and OMG, they gonna kill somebody!! It's OK to to be racist towards a white person, because hey, that white person deserves it!! He/she earned it!! Oh, and by the way, I voted for Obama. I was nervous wreck thinking McCain would become president. I think MY president (Obama) will be one of the most revered presidents of our history, and is making a lot of positive strides in healing our country in different ways. And, OMG, I'm a cracker with 8 rifles (prefer the 22 w/ scope) and 10 shotguns!! Gonna go target practice this weekend!!! As a sport, you morons......

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  35. jo

    If they like to play war they need to enlist and go to Iraq and Afghanistan and if the taliban and terrorist. These are kids in adult bodies and want to play war. Cowards, scared to go into real battlefield.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  36. les parkinson

    all of these "patriot " bozos put together wouldn't last 30 seconds in a conflict with a single basic Marine or Army platoon. Add in 1 Blackhawk copter and it might take 15 seconds.
    These are the children the other kids wouldn't let play toy soldier with them in their childhood.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  37. Tommy B.

    Sounds like a bunch a rejects with old ideas. If they had a life they would not spend it "training" or pretending they are of any importance. There are thousands of more effective ways to help our country that people are doing every day.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  38. Steve

    They are extremists and terrorists. And I find it funny that we heard about the Michigan Militia during the Clinton years, then they "dissappeared" during Bush/Cheney...and now, suddenly, our so-called "patriots" pop up again. Funny, it's always during Democrat presidents that they feel the need to intimidate others.
    They are no better than what we are currently fighting. They don't have a political, ideological leg to stand on, they don't take part in the process and laws that the REST OF US follow and abide by, so they resort to threatening people with camo and guns. Cowards, just like al Qaeda. And if you call these guys patriots, then Al Qaeda members are freedom fighters. You can't have it both ways, just because you agree with one and not the other.
    AND, why aren't these guys in Afghanistan or Iraq? I wonder what a soldier fighting overseas thinks when he sees these clown walking around pretending to play GI Joe as he's dodging real bullets and IEDs. These guys are fighting the very country he's fighting for. You should be REAL proud.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  39. citizen A

    They're threatening terrorism because they lost the election.
    Why else would they wear masks?
    It's like people showing up at events where Obama is speaking. If anyone tried that under Bush, they disappeared, or are at Guantanamo.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  40. Kim

    It is interesting how these people justify racism, none of these people were so up in arms about George Bush & Dick Cheney and their lies, sending Americans to a war based off greed & lies. Now an African American is president attempting to get health care for the unfortunate (Something that Europeon countries have done for years!!).
    These clowns have to hide behind their masks, & someone said it bests go to Iraq/Afganistan & fight – shoot your guns there & show how brave you are.

    Your ancestors were not the greatest role models, they misinformed you and now you suffer the consequences of their ignorance. I'll pray for you and your children so they don't suffer from your ignorance.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  41. Andrew

    im sorry but this irrational fear that the government is going to become an enemy to these people such that an armed militia is needed to protect them is pretty ludicrous. I completely respect their right to do anything they want but they are fueled by an irrational fear whose closest relative is racism, pure and simple. Groups like the KKK rose during reconstruction in the late 19th century for similar reasons; What they are doing is legal but I cant approve...they think the constitution is being violated right now? id love to see them all, especially the new members take a constitutional literacy test. I wonder how much they would know about amendment 13,14 and 15.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  42. Michael E.

    I think that we need militias. I know this may sound crazy coming from a 30 year old black male but they do serve a purpose. the down side of this is they serve there own purpose first. it's not the USA but their own sepretist vision of the USA and this is fact. There are things that have been taken away in past administrations that they somehow overlook yet the rumor of new gun legislation has been taken as a call to arms. If these militiamen were patriots you would be hearing of them rounding up the enemies of the state that we know are here. forgive me for being so judgemental but this isn't happening because hey, no one wants to lock up family.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  43. Phil

    Another example of how those that "claim" to be "Patriots" do so only when one agrees with THEIR agenda.

    Thes groups are simply American versions of the Taliban!

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  44. Jeff

    These people are wack jobs, plain and simple. I suspect some of people are also affliated with neo nazi or white power groups and the KKK. These nut bags have always been around and the downward spiral of our economy and (the fact they don't like black people) gives these poorly educated people false ammunition to further their extremist views. I think these groups need to be monitored closely by the FBI, Homeland Security and all levels of law enforcement. Lets not forgot that Timothy Mcveigh was part of these circles, an American traitor who killed innocent children and in my eyes is no different than Muslim extremists. We the people of this country need to report any and all activity that these people engage in. They are the threat to this Nation and the security of our families. Never forget Oklahoma City people. It is this ilk that fosters this type of insane fear and extemist views. I'm sure drug use is also involved with many of these people, scatch the surface Im sure you will find a few meth labs or backwater stills. These people need to be identified and their backgrounds checked, That is why they hide their faces, they are criminals. Using fear and false patriotism to further their radical agendas.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  45. Scott

    I agree with you Dan Corrone. These folks have no business doing what they're doing. They're acting stupid and ignorant and using a corrupted view of the Rights afforded to us in this nation. Just because they walk around acting like badazzes spewing weak justifications based upon ideaologies that have been taken WAY out of line by our forefathers, they do what they do. They have no training or teamming to understand what a true military like the U.S. Army works at living - day and night. They THINK they know, but they do not. They're living on borrowed time until something or someone does something stupid and then innocent people will die. And within these groups, there is little control for any one individual to maintain law and order. If any one of us were to walk upon these folks in the woods up here in Michigan, we'd be shot and left to die. These folks have a very corrupted and evil view of the world. They don't want to help but only to serve their selfish needs in thinking that they are better than you, me, and the military. They're a bunch of stupid rednecks and hillbillies. I ought to know; I've been a resident of Michigan for 47 years and these numnuts are dangerous.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  46. Ryan

    I think it's a sign of distrust of the federal government and not necessarily Obama that feeds into this kind of movement. What people perceive is an increasingly involved Federal Government that tramples States and Individual rights in the name of "security" and "protection" while providing little of either. The Katrina debacle is a textbook example of our country doing many things TO the people of this country, but very little FOR anyone. And that same indignation exists in Blacks as well as Whites. What happened to the largely black populace of New Orleans and the greater area was a travesty. Would you trust a government like that?

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  47. Lance

    These people are just playing "soldier" while justifying it by acting like they think they are defending "The Constitution". Are they? Of course not. They are on the border of being domestic terrorists. They would only die foolish deaths in a real conflict with the agencies of OUR government.

    Most are whackos who feel unempowered, and their guns are like a security blanket for them. And most probably believe their rhetoric. In the big picture, America doesn't need more protection from the government by a bunch of white guys who feel disenfranchised, with no checks or balances on their behavior or trigger finger, no accountability to an electorate, and very little grounding in reality.

    After all, they think running around in camouflage with some unlicensed automatic weapons is holding some bizarre winning hand against the helicopters, snipers and listening devices of the FBI, the numbers and teargas of the police authorized to enforce laws in their home states, the desires of their fellow citizens for the judicial system to decide our conflicts - they are about as far from reality as one can be.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  48. owen lovelace

    the michigan militia was around a long time before president obama like around the time michigan and ohio bacame states yes there may be extremists in many militias but maybe thats a fact because they are not maintaned by the right people our gov't not maintaned by the right people could be a bad thing also before everyone starts shooting down their own rights you should look at the bigger picture and the world we live in today not everything is all peaches and cream in the world

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  49. Ron

    Boy, are these guys tough. But apparently not tough enough to join up and go to war. These overage fat, white guys are nothing more than people with too much time on their hands. The leader, a Postal worker (why am I not surprised?), are looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Drink your beer, shoot at small animals, and then hope your child doesn't get into your 22 guns and end up shooting a neighbor's child. Disgusting.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  50. Boulder Liberal and Proud of It

    Or are they terrorists, or terrorists in the making?

    There is every evidence that these are disturbed, fearful, unstable people.... just the kind of nut cases who should NOT possess firearms!

    Call them what you will... automatic, semiautomatic... it doesn't matter;
    civilians should not possess these weapons. It should be a felony to possess them... and the same with ammonium nitrate!

    Many observers around the world believe that our (once?) great nation is dying; the evidence is there is great abundance: the corruption of Washington, which has become acceptable and expected; corporations essentially running country; a highly toxic food supply; toxic water; declining educational standards (for example, 1 in 5 Americans can't find America on the map!); declining resources while population merrily grows.

    There is nothing new in all this; empires like species rise and fall. I hope Barack Obama can revive a dying patient.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  51. Jim

    If these guys are worried about their country, let them join the army and go into real combat and fight in the war their hero, George Bush, lied us into! These racist jerks wouldn't last 5 minutes in real combat! Hell, we have to send them back home to Mommy the first time an RPG landed within a mile of them. One good Army sniper team could take out an entire state"militia" without ever being seen! Their hero, George Bush, that draft dodging jerk used his Daddy's position in government to keep him out of going to Vietnam like a real patriot. Hell, he didn't even finish his obligation in the Air National Guard! I might add that a lot of real patriots, members of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, volunteered and served with distinction in Vietnam while Georgie hid behind his Daddy.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  52. Mr. Adams

    They're clowns. A bunch of overweight losers. Pretty funny actually. "Just the fact that we're out here gives them pause." Yeah sure. The local boy scout troop looks more dangerous than these guys.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  53. john Macdonald

    Freedom to bear arms, written into the constitution, was written at a time when there were less idiots roaming the streets and should be ammended.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  54. Andy W

    If they want to defend the constitution then don't they need to obey all laws. Or are they saying they want to defend with guns their own version of the constitution, regardless of laws that are properly passed that they may or may not like?

    Also, I'd hate to stroll in those woods (is it a park?) when they're practicing patrols. What are they shooting at, or pointing at, in the woods when they're pointing their guns (is it loaded guns?) everywhere? At the firing range, are they picking up their bullet casings, or are they trouncing themselves on other local citizens' constitutional rights to have a clean environment?

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  55. Gregg

    I'm confused at how this is racism. I remember hearing all about these guys all the way back to the Reagan administration. I'm also not sure why they're suddenly so news-worthy.

    While none of the guys in THIS story are white, I'd be surprised if there weren't some blacks or latinos or asians in these groups too.

    I wouldn't partake in this sort of activity myself, but if some guys and gals out there feel that they want to do this, then it's their right. I think these guys would have more fun if they used paintball guns though.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  56. Jason

    I think militias and gun ownership do make us stronger as a nation. However, it's just a shame that these kinds of activities are often a front for racism and other forms of bigotry.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  57. JG

    These groups did not "form" since Obama became president. Some of these groups have been around for decades. Certainly some of the ideology is a little shaky but they are not a threat to anyone.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  58. Mac

    The only reason AG Eric Holder isnt going after our guns yet is it would be suicide for the dems in 2010.Obama like all liberal dems do not believe inthe right of private firearm ownership.The facts can be checked with your fingers.Rham Obama Biden Holder and Clinton have all supported anti firarm measures.And the SPLC calling these people extremist is funny.I guess if they wer around in 1775 they would have called George Washington and extremist.
    One more thing is what these people are afraid of is complete government control of their lives.And the governments track record managing things is pretty sorry.If I pass a bad checks due to insuf funds they will put me in jail.When government does it its good fiscal policy.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  59. S

    They are patriots until the point that they demean anothers constitutional rights to enforce thier own beliefs, then they become terrorist.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  60. Steve

    I see many people here asking why they need to hide their faces. Thats obvious, they fear retaliation and many of your comments confirm it. I am wary of such groups, however, if they are not harming anyone who cares? The Consitution and Declaration of Indepence affirm the rights of such groups to exist. You would do yourself a world of good in reading the Constitution and the Declaration before commenting on such topics.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  61. Rickey Spallone

    I do believe in the right to own guns. I also believe groups like this pose a larger threat to our country right now than al Qaida. These militias are not dangerous because they own guns, rather, because they believe the racist garbage and the neo-conservatism propaganda they have been spoon fed by their parents, fox news, and extremist web sites.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  62. Erica

    Whether or not we think they're extremists or patriots, if they want to be in a militia, it is their right and they shouldn't be begrudged for exercising that right.

    My opinion though:
    The real patriots are our men and women fighting and dying for all of our freedoms and rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, not these guys playing soldier in the woods.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  63. L Josephs

    A lot of people who are against this are saying "go enlist, they're doing it to feel strong, they want power" But they aparently didn't read the article where it says multiple times that the peope in here are EX- LEO and Military. Its true that our oaths are to the consitution and not to the president, but it doesn't mean that its against him. Obama's already infringing on property rights (money) and 1st ammendment rights (media's censored to hell, fox attacked until no one takes it seriuosly.) Racism has nothing to do with it. The only people who think that race is an issue are themselves racists. Some people are beyond even considering it a factor, but others have it integrated with their lives.

    These people are just excersising the ENTIRE 2nd Ammendment. If you don't believe in the consitution, then don't complain if other people do while you live in this country.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  64. blackpeoplesrights

    Where were these militia when Blacks were having their rights trampled upon? Oh yes . . . they were the ones doing the trampling. It is new new KKK trying to disguise r8cism as patriotism.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  65. "Patriot"

    What a wonderful idea to teach kids and teenagers how to handle guns and shoot people. Beautiful. Very nice. Lets hand eveyone an AK-47 to "protect" themself. Heck, why not hand granades? Why not a bomb? Keep it up and keep hiding behind the "First Amendment Right".
    We should stop crying and feeling sorry whenever some kids goes to school and shoots up other kids and teachers. Hey, its his "First Amendment Right to bear arms" right.
    Hey, heres an idea. Why not we should give all our kids some sort of firm arms. They need to "protect" themselves in school, right?

    November 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  66. Signal to Noise Ratio

    Most are extremists only a very few are so-called patriots. Do to them like many in other countries do, cut off their heads.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  67. Chas

    ...also, this is not racism as others have stated. I don't care what color the President is. i care about the constituion. Personal point: My first choice for President was Condi Rice. But she didn't run.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  68. Julie

    Why does CNN report this and not give a report on the real terrorist? I just think we are going in the direction to turn the blame on Americans and not where the blame really is. I don't believe a word of this article the way it is told. I would like to hear the other side of this. These men are not the terrorist. Remember the warning that was issued about those who might be extremist and even the teabaggers who just want their country to remain a free country without socialism were in the mix. Why bring this up. Are any of them muslims in this article? Just wondered since that is who attacked us

    November 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  69. Chadd

    How can you judge them unless they act? Someone compared them to Al Qaeda! How does training themselves make them the same as a group who slaughters both the military of their enemy and innocent civilians. Some people seem to forget that the reason we won the Revolutionary War is because of militias. I'm not saying they are necessarily good. But training to defend yourself does not make you good or bad. What they do with that training is what determines if they are patriots or not.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  70. Brian

    If they were Muslim, we'd arrest them all immediately.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  71. Jerry

    I prefer to rely on the Supreme Court for an interpretation of what is and isn't constitutional, not some shadowy weekend warrior with an agenda to sow. When these groups become obsessed, things like Oklahma City happen, so there is a legitimate law enforcement reason to keep an eye on them. But, at the same time, I think the right to bear arms does in some way add an element of protection, perhaps not against one another but against foreign intruders and criminals. I think it should come with more emphasis on lifetime teaching of the constitution though because it is too easy to rile up the ignorant into misquided rage.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  72. individual thoughts

    How sad for those of you who believe everything Obama tells you. Maybe some of you should start to pay attention to the facts and not what they tell you on t.v. We'll see what Obama's plan is and I think some of you are going to get a slap in the face! Stand strong in our right to bear arms!!

    November 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  73. Becks

    They are adults living out childrens' fantasies of "shoot 'em up." Where were they when the Constitution was truly being undermined by illegal domestic surveillance? They don't actually know what the Constitution is, or what it does, and I find them to be both dangerous and foolish – neither of which is patriotic.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm |
  74. Mike

    Why is it an either-or? Why can't they be Americans who are exercising their right to bear arms and assemble as they wish?

    CNN, stories like this (and what it tries to insinuate) are the reason you continue your freefall in the ratings race. Keep up the good work!

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  75. Phil

    They are a dangerous fringe goup that needs to be constantly monitored!

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  76. G.

    They are neither. The polarization implied by the question in the title of this article is exactly what the problem is here. Republican or Democrat, our Presidents have been allowing or urging an increase in the size of government for decades. It is sad that Americans continue to divide themselves irrationally. I believe in the 2nd Amendment, and I worry about it just as much as I worried about freedom of speech during the Bush years. But to imply that the Constitution is ever not threatened is a joke. It's strength is our strength and as long as we look for superhuman leaders to either carry all the blame or do al the idealizing we are doomed. I would like Obama to talk to these Americans, and acknowledge them.

    But another real joke is that the military has the capability to crush a homeland insurgency at will. So though I respect the militia men i think they have a false sense of security. Again I trust in the Constitution, but I the most important thing is not that we demonstrate ALL our rights, no just the bearing arms but also political action. I love that Americans stood up for Obama but will all those Americans sit down when another Republican leads? That's the biggest joke of all...

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  77. Peter - Atlanta

    The effectiveness of the self proclaimed militia can be described to two words – "Ruby Ridge." Who are they kidding? If the tyrannical government wants to do something, it will. There is no justification for this nonsense, they are just boys with toys.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  78. Wil

    A couple points:

    Where were the armed militias during Jim Crowe when Blacks were being persecuted against by the government on the Local and Federal level?? According to the 2nd amendment the militias should have gone to arms against the US government based on how their FELLOW AMERICANS were being treated....oh...wait....THE MILITIAS themselves werent treated that way so no reason to get the Assault Rifle.
    What does the total number of militias in this country (if they can come together) think they are going to do against the National Guard and their weaponry?? Sounds like suicide to me.
    If it is about survival, then Kudos. They are training themselves to be able to defend themselves in the event of a cataclysm (hope that is spelled correctly). Preparedness is great.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  79. Norm

    They may be patriots, but the truth is, the army would come in and blow them away if they were doing anything against the law.
    Let's not forget Waco Texas. Very disillusioned patriots.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  80. Peter Sabatino

    We have the right to bear arms against a crooked Government, including our own. Think of the Militia movement as a potential 'bail out plan' for the American people...

    November 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  81. GB

    I always thought that the militia was now the National Guard, and that it was the job of the state and not the individual to form a militia.

    But what's in a term like "militia"? I won't complain until somebody dies. Then I'll complain.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  82. Ambrose Slade

    These guys have been around for a long long time. They didn't form simply because our new president is black. They have always doubted whoever the president tends to be. Have they killed anyone? I don't think so. It is still a free country. Leave them alone. And no, I don't own a single gun.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  83. deforge

    kind of ironic that these 'personal-rights-preserving militias' didnt spring up around the time of the previous president, when we lost a whole chunk of them.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  84. REAL American

    These are the same white right terrorists who gave us the Oklahoma City bombing. Of course, to them, that's patriotic. Funny how losing an election turns these people. Just six years ago, they were telling us that if you didn't agree with the president (i.e., their president) you were unpatriotic. They're nothing but a bunch of mass murderers waiting to happen (and you'll see it when one or more tries something and then claims they were "patriotically defending the constitution" when trying to assassinate our president or blow up one of our bases). You don't have a right to be in a private militia group. Look at the 2nd Amendment. It's called a state militia for a reason. If these paranoid folk want to be in a militia and exercise some citizenship, they should take off their masks, grow a couple of stones, join our armed forces and earn the right to wear a real uniform. You would've thought that we'd learn our lesson after the '90s. I guess not.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  85. Jim McDonald

    Just part of the American gun culture at work. I agree with you Gary. twenty-two guns in one house! Give me a break. Boys with their toys playing grown up. Thank God we free of this mindless culture in Canada.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  86. Dave

    It has nothing to do with racisim.
    Slowly, one item at a time, the government is chipping away at our freedoms. Instead of aggressively enforcing the exsisting gun laws and putting criminals behind bars forever, they make more restrictive laws for the honest people.
    God bless them, I hope their ranks swell.
    One coment said that minorities have malitias as well, they are called gangs!
    Only these gangs sell drugs in their own neighborhoods, intimidate their own people. They are thugs. But it is not politically correct to criticize them, so they continue to destroy their own and are pretty much left unchecked.
    The malitias are honest hardworking people with a job, that want to uphold the consititution.
    Our present attorney general has already said he does not believe in the second ammendment rights of honest citizens.
    That is why there are growing malitias.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  87. Eric Martin

    I guess they forgot about the part that says "I will obey the orders of the President of the United States."

    As an active Soldier I am offended by these "patriots."

    November 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  88. Colin

    these people are a bunch of biggot nutcases, afraid an African American president poses a threat to their 'white America.' It's great they want to gear up and train to fight, but how about they fight the drug cartel problem in Mexico, famine and genocide in Africa, or free trade? They are just a bunch of undereducated hillbilly trash.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  89. Spiros

    "Patriots – Americans have always had the right to be in a militia. And the Bill of Rights should be upheld. The right to bear arms is key in maintaining a government that should be by the people and for the people. If tyranny happens, Americans have the right to defend themselves."...and other similar comments are a load of crap!!!
    where are we? in the stone ages? "tyranny"...where are you man?do you even know the real definition of it?

    November 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  90. Mike Fairbanks

    These people are fakes, pure and simple. They get their courage from a bottle and their toughness from a gun. If the Bush Administration had requested Americans to turn in their guns, these militia-types would be the first ones in line to submit, right after Hannity and Limbaugh told them to. Real men have real jobs and don't have time to run around playing army men.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  91. JS Elder

    Patriots. Extremists are those who go on shooting rampages and attack their fellow man. These men are preparing for a defense of their–and your–rights.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  92. Chas

    Patriots; and I'd like to join them. Americans are devoted to the Constitution, not the President. I personally believe the President may be a strategic plant from the MiddleEast. Extreme? Maybe, but I'd rather be skeptical and safe than sorry.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  93. JacklynD

    This is theoutcome of so much misinformation, misrepresentation, hatespeak and fearmongering by the right wing and the right wing media. Facts are irrelevant.

    No rights have been lost and realistically the president of the United States couldn't take away any of their rights even if he so desired. Only our legislative branches can do that and nothing is on their agenda even close to suggesting such a thing.

    Right now the only right being assaulted is women's right to choose. Maybe we should be up in arms.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  94. Easy

    The exact phrase is "WELL-REGULATED MILITIA" that means exactly what it says. If we (the left) would have formed "Militia's" in the 60's there would have been a blood bath. If you are going to be a defender of the Constitution then you should actually read the Document and defend ALL of the Constitution, not just the part that suits ya. Putting together an armed group with the pretense of over-throwing the Duly Elected Government is Treason not the act of Patriots. refer to Article III, Section 3 – Treason
    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  95. Bandit Keith

    I get a freaking laugh out of the people who call this racism. You guys are so dumb, it's mind numbing reading your comments. I have to read a book to get my IQ back up. The only reason racism still exists is because morons like you play the race card everytime someone does something against a black man. It's not racist, they don't like Obama because he's screwing up our country. They would be doing the same exact thing if Obama was white. This is why everyone is voting Republican now, is because you guys haven't had a year, and more than half the country hates democrats already.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  96. Partriot

    Look up the word Patriot and look up Patriotism in the dictionary. Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism any nation will find. IF your government chooses to invade on those rights guaranteed us by our Bill of Rights, that same Bill allows us to fight back in the form of a militia. The Patriot Act is the cornerstone to removing these rights from all of us. There are comments about racism, etc., but it's nothing to do with that at all. It's a group of people that believe in preserving the rights we share as Americans.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  97. Paul

    Typical that CNN would infer things these people never said or did. I also think it's typical that CNN slants the topic to demonize and villify people excrcising their constitutional rights. I never felt the need to join any militas yet I believe they have every right to exist wether they are left or right. CNN is showing their editorial colora again and those are of opression and disdain for our form of government and our constitution.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  98. Jordan

    I would consider them to be Patriots if they were not so secretive and extremist. I own about 12 guns, but I am not stomping around a camp training for World War 3. I keep them for recreational protection purposes. If you really want to be a patriot then just join the military. You may disagree with the government or the people in charge of you, but you can be proud that you are actually helping the country.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  99. Al

    Well, the Second Amendment requires that militias be "well regulated." I wonder if these militiafolk conveniently forgot that part of the Constitution.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  100. Buzz

    My son is a United States Marine. He is a patriot. These people are losers.

    November 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
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