They reported that “[a]bout 10% of the Oath Keepers are active-duty military, and around two-thirds are retired military or law enforcement,” and that “[s]everal Oath Keepers present at the Jan. 6 attack were veterans,” some of whom used a military formation to breach the Capitol.
In addition, a growing number of military personnel are involved in domestic terrorism, and an increasing number of extremists have military ties, Bloom and Moskalenko reported.
Those former military members may have taken an oath to protect the U.S. and its Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, but they are finding that constitutional protections go only so far.
“Far-right extremists or other hate groups can claim they are just venting or even fantasizing – both of which would be protected under the First Amendment,” wrote Amy Cooter, a scholar of extremism and militias at Middlebury’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism. “For this reason, seditious conspiracy charges have historically been hard to prosecute.”
Cooter noted that Rhodes did not enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but his conviction “suggests that the jury believed that Rhodes’ texts and other communications incited others to violent, undemocratic action in a way that requires accountability.”
Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives.
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