By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
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By Melanie Asmar
"It's the American way," Boswell says. But profits don't change the fact, he adds, that Hillary Clinton was secretly indicted on April 17 for financial wrongdoing and that two Justice Department attorneys confessed to having planned and financed the Oklahoma City bombing and then were spirited out of the country.
"It's documented," Boswell says. "The facts will come out."
The sign for the meeting in the pleasantly moldy Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in downtown Denver reads "Welcome, Patriots and Militia!" But it refers to campaigners in a domestic war.
Tables are lined with a bewildering assortment of brochures and tapes, a brew of fundamentalist Christianity, libertarian-style tracts, merchandise order forms and cranky newspapers filled with anti-government propaganda.
Among the fliers is a "Prayer of Agreement to Bind the Enemies of America," which starts: "In the holy, blessed Name of the Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, by the Power of His Blood and with the full authority vested in us, from our Seat in the heavenlies, at the right Hand of God, All Mighty: We now bind and gag the councils of the governing demons of Hades, who meet to devise plans against us or any members of our families...We also put you to shame, turn you back and bring all your meetings to a state of confusion! This we speak in the full Power and Authority of Jesus Christ, to all who desire our hurt..."
If that's too heavy, you can order a spiffy nylon jacket for $30 that says Civil Rights Task Force (CRTF on the back), a shiny gold badge for $80 or business cards for only $76. Boswell's American Law Club offers a "sovereignty training course" for $145 and a "V.I.P. Educational Fellowship Self-Study Program With Guidance" for $550. Freebies on another table include two "fact sheets" from Pat Robertson's 700 Club that unravel the mysteries of the U.N. and AIDS.
The sixty people who filter past the tables gather in small groups to informally discuss, with quiet certainty, the fact that the federal government blew up its own building in Oklahoma City.
This is not a prosperous crowd. Several profess that they are embroiled in difficulties with the government over taxes or other legal tangles. Some obviously work hard, with their hands, for a living; others have the look of the hardly-working-but-not-by-choice. Other patriot meetings elsewhere in Colorado--they gather in Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, among other places--have had a more sinister feel. The Weld County Patriots, who used to meet every Tuesday in a pizza parlor outside Greeley, regularly wore guns--men and women. No one in this mostly male group is obviously packing iron.
But as the session gets under way, a chilling presentation is made. A man identifying himself only as "Richard" warns the crowd that he has been approached in the past three months at these meetings by people who wanted him to either assassinate someone, help plan an assassination or help build explosives. Government agents, he believes, are probably behind such talk. "Be very careful," he says. "It's a setup. Just say no."
Several others relate their seemingly futile legal battles against various government agencies. More such fights are in the offing. Mark Boswell, who runs the meeting, urges people to buy those nice "CRTF" jackets (which purposely look identical to jackets worn by ATF and FBI agents) and wear them into courtrooms. Once there, these patriots are to tell the judge that he is being watched and graded by them on his performance. Boswell is marketing the jackets and assorted badges and other gewgaws from the deceptively named U.S. Civil Rights Task Force, based in Fremont, California.
The main speaker of the evening is a patriot named Dale Pond from Fort Collins, where he runs a barter network that uses its own paper "money" emblazoned "In Each Other We Trust." He passes the "bills" around the audience. The aim is to set up an alternate economy, something separate from the corrupt system in which most people are trapped. Literature on one of the tables in back advocates that such a system could be based on the "Hebrew-Judaic Commercial Code," which supposedly states that "a workman is worthy of his hire." The idea is that labor is the key toward valuing a product or service.
But there's not much labor involved in another idea Pond is hawking. It's a plan from the North American Freedom Council in Boonville, Indiana, to make millions of dollars for ordinary patriots by filing unconventional "non-commercial judicial liens" and acquiring "security drafts" through the banking system. Some patriots have landed in jail for filing false liens against judges, prosecutors, politicians and corporations, but Pond insists this is a completely different plan and has a chance of working.
It's easy to participate, he tells the group: Simply send a credit-card bill and several hundred dollars in cash to the Freedom Council, which will take care of all the paperwork, filing a multimillion-dollar lien against the bank that issued the credit card and somehow collecting on it.
"This is a God-given opportunity here," Pond says. "We've got a huge patriot movement, and everybody's dead broke. Here's funding for the patriot movement. We're going to have billions coming in this summer. This is going to be a short-lived thing; we're going to get in and get out."