The Guns 'n' Religion Right Blames "Muslim" Obama for the Murder of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle
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By Alex Constantine
“The Legend,” as deceased Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle was widely known, was something of an adult Eric Cartman, a pathological liar with an overblown ego.
His shaggy dog stories about Jesse “The Body” Ventura have led to a $1.8 million jury judgment in the cable conspiracist’s favor.
The NPR blog reports: “The jury on Tuesday determined that Ventura was the figure described as a ‘celebrity’ Navy SEAL in Chris Kyle’s 2012 book American Sniper. The SEAL was called ‘Scruff Face’ in the book, but Kyle later identified him as Ventura, who became a professional wrestler and one-term independent governor after leaving the Navy. Kyle wrote that in 2006 he had decked Ventura in a bar in California, after Ventura said that he hated America and that Navy SEALs ‘deserve to lose a few.’
“Ventura denied having said any such thing and said the account had hurt his career, as well as his standing among the community of SEALs. Kyle died last year, but Ventura sued his estate.
“‘The verdict will tell the world Chris Kyle’s story was a lie,” said David Bradley Olsen, Ventura’s attorney. ‘One-point-five million people have bought the book. Millions more heard Fox TV trash Jesse Ventura because of it. And the story went viral on the Internet and will be there forever.’ …”
Tuesday’s edition of the Washington Post exposes Kyle — who was shot dead in 2012 by a stressed-out Marine vet — as a classic spinner of war yarns:
The so-called deadliest sniper in American history nurtured a comic book narrative. He was the “true American badass,” as one journalist called him, who dipped, wore big boots and affected an aw-shucks Texas swagger. With 160 confirmed kills under his belt and a beautiful family behind him, he became the stuff of military legend. He wrote a best-selling book. Statues were erected. Millions made.
And then there were his stories — some of which smelled fishy. “There were a lot of things he told people that are really unverifiable,” journalist Michael J. Mooney, who wrote a book on Kyle, told The Washington Post.
Like the one about how he and a bud went down to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and picked off dozens of bad guys. Or the one in which he took on two armed Texans bent on stealing his truck and shot them both dead. …
Post writer Terrance McCoy might consider that “The Legend” was a covert hit man, a professional killer whose only regret in life was that he hadn’t wasted more people.
It’s not all that unexpected that he also had a tendency to bend the truth. And poseurship is a common right-wing trait, after all.
But there are those on the far right who idolized the living “Legend” as they do Rambo. In their minds, Kyle was not a false, jingoistic, two-dimensional “patriot” who wrote his own self-serving comic book script and passed it off as his life, but a paramilitary icon, a lead-spitting hero.
And the same self-defined patriots can’t stand the president of the United States. Far-right-wing commentators at The Blaze website suggest that there was more to Kyle’s death than the media have let on, that he was a casualty of the despised Obama junta:
Sargint Rock – Jun. 3, 2013 at 3:11pm
People, infowars.com broke the story monthes ago that the Marine had never been in combat and was in the motor pool. I’m talking interviews with those who knew him.
Kyle was eliminated just as all the Seals on that Chinook were!
Payback time from the Muslim in Chief!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The-Right-Rider – Jun. 4, 2013 at 8:57am
I bet my bottom dollar obama or someone associated professionally with him was in some way involved with kyle’s murder.
This is starting to remind me of the kennedy assasination more and more. The government is notorious for their cloak and dagger bs operations, especially when they want to work around the Constitution to make people they don’t like disapper.
Kyle ended up on al-qaeda’s hit list for obvious reasons, and given that obama is a muslim i’m pretty sure that common ground started some kind of talks between our muslim in chief and the muslim fundies in the mideast.
If barack obama isnt the antichrist he probably has him on speed dial.
relligionkills – Jun. 3, 2013 at 5:02pm
His wife is absolutely correct. The Vet and sniper are war heroes. The reason I say this is beacuse they fought for the American people, and The United States. There is no way they would attack each other. No matter how crazy the Government says one is. they know and respect one another. Another fuuughed up cover up. Off with his head. …
curmudgeon60 – Jun. 3, 2013 at 5:25pm
Manchurian candidate! Said this right off the bat! god has NO mercy on the Chicago Obama Mafia admin!
brovet – Jun. 3, 2013 at 3:28pm
I consider myself as conservative as the word can mean but I sure am troubled by all the conspiracy nuts who have posted here. The guy that killed Kyle was a dirt bag who wanted his truck. If you are unprepared for danger and relaxed, a five year old can take you out. …
b@man – Jun. 3, 2013 at 2:51pm
You can bet the truth is stranger than fiction with this administration. We know they intended to murder ALL of the folks in Benghazi and failed.
KumiHo – Jun. 3, 2013 at 1:25pm
In a country where it is actually being suggested that stopping offensive speech to Muslims trumpts the 1st Amendment, yes, I find this completely plausible. Particularly when you consider who this government is in bed with, the number of SEAL Team Six members that are already dead, and that Sharia REQUIRES a death for a death of a Muslm. Out in left feild? Sure. Plausible? Without a doubt.
thesavagenation -Feb. 10, 2014 at 2:15am
That’s the last you ever heard of that story. Instead they’re focused on lawsuits from former wrestlers.
Associated Press, July 31, 2014
WASHINGTON — CIA officers improperly accessed Senate computers, read the emails of Senate staff, and exhibited a “lack of candor” when interviewed by agency investigators, according to a declassified CIA inspector general’s report.
The document, released Thursday by the CIA, is a summary of an internal CIA investigation that prompted CIA Director John Brennan to abandon his defiant posture in the matter and apologize to Senate Intelligence Committee leaders.Brennan has convened an internal accountability board chaired by former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., that will examine whether the CIA officers should be disciplined, said his spokesman, Dean Boyd.The agency officers searched Senate computers without permission for information gathered in the course of a Senate investigation into the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The summary of a classified report on post-9/11 detentions and interrogations that accuses the CIA of misconduct is expected to be made public soon.
Five agency employees improperly accessed Senate computers in an effort to track down certain documents, the inspector general found. Then, after Brennan ordered a halt to the review, the CIA office of security began a “limited investigation” that led to surveillance of Senate emails, the report said.
Three information technology staff “demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities” in interviews with CIA investigators, the report said.
The CIA inspector general shared his findings with the Justice Department, which has so far declined to pursue criminal charges against the CIA employees, officials said.
The inspector general concluded “that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between” the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to a shared classified computer network, Boyd said. The shared network had been used by Senate aides to access classified files on CIA interrogations. The CIA penetration occurred after the aides got ahold of documents that the CIA claimed were internal, but which showed that some CIA officials shared misgivings about the treatment of al Qaida detainees.
Brennan informed Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the senior Republican on the committee, “and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the (inspector general’s) report,” Boyd said.
Feinstein said the probe proved what she had announced in an unusual, long speech on the Senate floor in March, that the computers were searched “in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers.”
The apology was a turnabout for the CIA director, who until this week had dismissed the notion that the CIA did anything wrong.
After Feinstein complained about the CIA’s penetration of committee computers, Brennan said, “When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.” He added, “CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that.”
By all accounts, the spying flap and the larger dispute over decade-old CIA practices have poisoned relations between Senate Democrats and the CIA.
On Thursday, Democrats pressed Brennan to publicly apologize.
“I am concerned about the director’s apparent inability to find any flaws in the agency he leads,” said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. “I also believe the administration should appoint an independent counsel to look into what I believe could be the violation of multiple provisions of the Constitution as well as federal criminal statutes.”
The CIA released few details about the investigation by agency inspector general David Buckley. People on each side of the dispute, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to go beyond official statements, offered divergent descriptions of its findings.
Senate aides familiar with the matter say the CIA used classified “hacking tools” and created a fake user account in an effort to retrieve documents the CIA believed the Senate staffers had improperly accessed. However, a U.S. official familiar with the inspector general report disputed that hacking tools were used.
At the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest defended Brennan, pointing out that the CIA director “is the one who suggested that the inspector general investigate in the first place” and saying Brennan continued to enjoy the president’s confidence.
Mississippi Burning Killings: Religious Terrorism?
Samuel Holloway Bowers, the first Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi and the mastermind behind the slayings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, 50 years ago, did not fit the caricature of a backwards racist. College educated as an engineer at the University of Southern California and at Tulane University, associates described him as an ideologically driven strategist.
“He is very intelligent. I have no question about that,” Thomas Tarrants, once the self-described chief terrorist for Bowers, told journalist Patsy Sims for her book The Klan. “And I believe he was like I was, indoctrinated, brainwashed … Absorbed into an ideology that took on the awe of a holy cause and blinded his mind to everything else. I think Sam believes what he is doing is right and has the sanction of God.”
Tarrants later renounced racism and is currently an ordained, evangelical minister. But at one time he saw himself as occupying the same unique space as Bowers in the counter-revolution against integration and desegregation: that of a holy warrior. As Bowers described it, in 1994, to theologian Charles Marsh:
“There are two really powerful figures in the world: the priest and the preacher. I think I came here as a priest, though not a preacher. A priest is interested in visible, public power relations; this is what makes him powerful as a warrior. A preacher is an evangelist; he will tell people what to do. But the priest will arrange the means and operations to implement this into concrete action. When the priest sees the heretic, he can do only one thing: he eliminates him.”
Scholars, if they pay any attention to it at all, have been confused by Bowers’ open professions that religion drove his activities. Religion, to many historians, was simply a cover for white supremacists of all stripes to retroactively justify their racial animus — epitomized by the ritual burning of the cross. Even as a rare exception to this mindset among scholars, Marsh still viewed Bowers through the prism of mainstream Christianity, where religion is one motivating force behind Bowers activities, but where Bowers used creative interpretations and rationalizations of the Bible to justify his actions. Anyone who accepts communism — which for Bowers included almost anyone in or who supported the civil rights movement — had embraced a Godless ideology and relinquished God’s grace. In this rendering, Bowers is still a reactionary, vigilante racist, but one who attempts to sincerely reconcile his actions with his conventional, Christian faith.
But new research suggests religion not only drove Bowers’ violent activities, but that it influenced his tactics, in ways that were opaque not simply to outside observers, but even to rank-and-file members within the White Knights, the group Bowers led from 1964 through 1968. Bowers made a point of hiding his true motivations, according to Delmar Dennis, a high-ranking White Knight who became the FBI’s most important informant on the group. “The typical Mississippi redneck doesn’t have sense enough to know what he is doing,” Dennis described Bowers as saying to him privately, “I have to use him for my own cause and direct his every action to fit my plan.”
The historical record now makes it clear Bowers’ plan involved a goal for a holy race war, one the Klan leader hoped to provoke himself. Marsh, and other experts on Bowers, recognize that as of 1967, Bowers had embraced a radical interpretation of Christianity — referred to as Christian Identity theology or the Christian Identity Movement — that devalued minorities as sub-human, and that saw Jews as Satanic conspirators against Anglo-Saxon whites. What many have failed to see was that, in the hands of a militant like Bowers, this theology became the driving force behind his strategy and tactics, as surely as the goal of creating a transnational, Islamic caliphate drove Osama Bin Laden. Unlike Bin Laden, Bowers had to hide this ideology from most of his conventionally Christian Klan members, and “use” them to “fit” his plan. Moreover, the record indicates Bowers likely embraced this theology early in his tenure as the head of White Knights, possibly before he became its leader. Evidence suggests Bowers possibly planned the “Mississippi Burning” killings with this religious worldview as his guide. Viewed through the lens of religious terrorism, the killings of Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, become even more dark and twisted than they appeared at the time. Bowers plans appear to be more ominous than simply trying to thwart the Freedom Summer set to begin shortly after the three civil rights activists disappeared.
Samuel Holloway Bowers (Photo: FBI)
That Sam Bowers was a devoutly religious Christian for the duration of his tenure as the leader of the White Knights is without question. In his excellent book, God’s Long Summer, Marsh traces Bowers’ interest in religion to his military experience during World War II, one that was bolstered in 1955 after Bowers experienced a moment of mystical intensity” when “God spoke to him.” As the leader of the White Knights, which formed circa 1963-1964, Bowers always carried a Bible, always began every meeting with a prayer, and, even as he commanded a group the FBI believed to be the most violent Klan organization in the nation, always insisted “a Solemn, determined Spirit of Christian Reverence must be stimulated in all members” of the White Knights.
But what seems like a fundamental contradiction to anyone familiar with the nonviolent teachings of Jesus Christ in the New Testament was, to Bowers, something consistent with the worldview of a rapidly growing and militant Christian sect: the Christian Identity Movement. It now appears possible this radical offshoot of Christianity may have gained purchase with Bowers by 1964, the year he took command of the newly formed White Knights, and may well have played a key role in motivating and shaping the contours of the Mississippi Burning killings.
When at its peak of influence from the late 1940s through the 1960s, the heart of the Christian Identity Movement was, geographically, in Southern California. But it had originally begun in the 19th century in Victorian England, and was called British Israelism. At its core, the Christian Identity Movement argued Anglo-Saxons, and not Semitic Jews, were the true chosen people of the Bible. The idea gained currency in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The timing of its spread from the eastern to western United States in the 1920s and 1930s pushed the movement in a notably racist and anti-Semitic direction. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was perhaps the largest fraternal organization in the United States, with a national reach and membership in the millions, in part because of xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment that extended, in no small part, to the recent wave of Jewish immigrants. One of the most vocal, early supporters of the Christian Identity Movement was W.J. Cameron, a media figure who worked closely with Henry Ford on his nationally syndicated Dearborn Independent, and who used the publication to spread virulently anti-Semitic ideas.
Hence by World War II, some in the American Christian Identity Movement embraced a darker version of its Anglo-centric theology. Anglo-Saxons were not simply God’s chosen people in this version: Jews were literally Satan’s spawn. Under a new interpretation of the Book of Genesis, shaped primarily by the Rev. Gerald Smith, Anglo-Saxons were the offspring of Adam and Eve, through the bloodline of Seth; contemporary Jews, on the other hand, were the offspring of Eve and the Serpent (e.g. Satan) through the bloodline of Cain. The popular perception that Jews were the Chosen People, and that Jesus Christ was Jewish, was a lie of cosmic proportions, part of a literal, Satanic conspiracy to subvert God’s will. Known as the “two-seed theory” this new interpretation of the creation story became the foundation of a militant variation of Christian Identity theology, one that also held other nonwhites — Africans and Asians — descended from the “beasts of the field,” the animals who roamed the world before Adam and Eve. These other groups, referred to as “humanoids” or “mud people” by those in two-seed Christian Identity theology, were manipulated by Jews in the service of Satan.
The alternate interpretation of humanity’s beginning also implied an alternate interpretation of the final days of humanity’s judgment by God, what conventional Christians refer to as “The End Times.” Like many millennial Christians in modern America, Christian Identity adherents believe the second coming of Jesus Christ will be marked by a period of tribulation — plagues and other calamities — and ultimately a spiritual war between the forces of Satan, led by the anti-Christ, and the forces of God; God will triumph, and Jesus Christ will return for his 1,000 year reign in the Kingdom of God. But in the radical version of Christian Identity theology, this end-times conflict will be a holy race war where Anglo-Saxon whites do battle against Jews and the “mud people.” The outcome will be a racially pure world or a racially pure America. Unlike the end-times view popular in fundamentalist, evangelical circles, those who adhere to this more militant version of Christian Identity do not believe in a rapture — a time, before the tribulation, when God will spare believers of his plagues by removing them from the secular world. Instead, most radical Christian Identity believers argue God’s “elect” must take an active part in bringing about and participating in this spiritual war, serving as soldiers for God. For this reason, they frequently stockpile weapons and food in preparation for the End Times. More relevant to the discussion of Bowers and the Mississippi Burning murders, they also are willing to engage in provocative acts of violence in hopes of hastening the End Times.
If Gerald Smith was most responsible for developing the ideas for this racist version of Christianity, then his pupil, the Rev. Wesley Albert Swift was most responsible for its growing popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Swift refined Smith’s theological ideas, but most importantly, spread them, through the power of his oratory and the magic of communications technology, to a much wider audience. A Klan member, Swift’s home of Lancaster, California, where he founded the Christian Identity congregation known as the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, became the epicenter for radical Christian Identity theology. Radio broadcasts of his sermons reached thousands. A network of radical racists created a tape distribution network for those who could not listen to Swift’s teachings directly. In Mississippi, by the mid-to-late 1960s, those on Swift’s mailing list were playing them to others at “listening parties” in places like Jackson. By 1965, a mailing list for Swift’s taped sermons included almost 100 people across North America and in Europe. They included the names of leaders of some of the most violent reactionary groups in America, concentrated in groups like the National States’ Rights Party. Formed in 1958 by J.B. Stoner and Edward Fields, both formerly of the Christian Anti-Jewish Party, almost every senior member of the National States’ Rights Party was on Swift’s mailing list or an actual minister in Swift’s Church of Jesus Christ Christian.
The National States’ Rights Party provides an interesting prism with which to view the differences between conventional Klan groups fueled mostly by reactionary desire to protect the “Southern Way of Life,” and the less-well known groups that had a religious motivation and worldview. As such, it becomes a frame-of-reference from which to evaluate Sam Bowers’ actions in planning the Mississippi Burning murders 50 years before.
Scholars of terrorism often group terrorists into two groups: nationalist-secular terrorists, who have a limited set of practical, political goals, and ideological terrorists (including religious terrorists), who have a more pro-active, far ranging agenda to radically re-shape the world order. Rarely do racist groups fall under the latter category, but the National States’ Rights Party clearly did. This is obvious from two facts: the willingness of the National States’ Rights Party to engage in actual acts of violence against Jews and Jewish targets, and their willingness to plan violence as provocations rather than responses to the civil rights movement. In the case of anti-Jewish violence, Stoner, who once argued that Adolf Hitler did not go far enough in killing Jews, was widely believed to have masterminded a national wave of bombings against Jewish targets in the South — synagogues — in the late 1950s. Notably, the actual bombers in the 1958 attack on the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple in Atlanta, fingered Stoner as the chief plotter, only to recant their testimony once KKK leader James Venable — a friend of Stoner who shared an Atlanta law office with the National States’ Rights Party co-founder — became their attorney. The attacks on these temples made little sense as a reaction to the civil rights movement. Southern Jews had more or less acclimated themselves to the system of white supremacy in the South, “keeping their heads below” the water so to speak, for fear they, too, would be subject to the same kind of violence visited upon Southern blacks. Whereas Northern Jews (including Schwerner and Goodman) became important cogs in the civil rights movement, Southern Jews, in the words of scholar Melissa Fay Greene — author of a book on the Atlanta temple bombing — only “occasionally, and from a distance, lent moral support but were little involved in the civil rights struggle.” Stoner’s extreme positions favoring anti-Jewish violence were seen as unnecessary by even die-hard segregationists, and resulted in his being forced out of KKK groups in Tennessee.
The same ideology pushed the National States’ Rights Party to extremes on racial violence as well, but not without a purpose. A case in point is a planned attempt to the assassinate Martin Luther King, Jr. in the wake of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963. That the bombing already killed four young girls was already regarded, by the Klan in Alabama, as a major mistake— one that likely was not planned, but that resulted from a problem with the detonation of the explosive devices. For those who sponsored the bombing, the regret had less to do with the horrific nature of the act than with the public relations nightmare it caused, both within and outside Alabama, including the second major race riot in the history of Birmingham. The first such riot occurred the previous May in response to the simultaneous bombing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s room at the A.G. Gaston motel in downtown Birmingham, and of the home of King’s brother, A.D. Yet FBI records show several leading National States’ Rights Party members planned to assassinate Martin Luther King when he came to eulogize the four young bombing victims— an action that would almost certainly have provoked even greater civil disorder and federal intervention. This kind of extremism was one reason why even the arch-segregationist Bull Connor, Birmingham’s commissioner of public safety, resented the National States’ Rights Party. But this level of extremism had a purpose that apparently went beyond simply deterring the civil rights movement.
Tarrants, of Mobile, Alabama, a high school dropout in 1963 who became an ardent member of the National States’ Rights Party, and later the chief terrorist for Sam Bowers, would describe this purpose years later:
Part of the strategy was to create fear in the black community — but it was more important to produce racial polarization and eventual retaliation. This retaliation would then swell the ranks of whites who would be willing to condone or employ violence as a viable response to the racial problem.
Several of the individuals who plotted the attempt on King were mentors to Tarrants, and all were followers of, and some were even ministers for, Wesley Swift and his Church of Jesus Christ Christian. Recalling his associates, Tarrants would say of his time with them, “our hope and dream was that a race war would come.”
According to FBI informant Delmar Dennis, Bowers privately echoed this same line of thinking to him, saying “he was trying to create a race war” by “engendering hatred among whites in the same manner as it was being fomented by leftist radicals among blacks.”
Unfortunately, Dennis is not clear on the timing of this revelation, although the context suggests it was in 1964. That Bowers shared the same vision as Tarrants and his Christian Identity mentors may not be an accident. Bowers could have been influenced by the same kind of ideology at roughly the same, impressionable age as when Tarrants became enthralled by Swift. Sixteen years before Tarrants dropped out of high school to become a true believer in the white supremacist cause, Bowers was an engineering student at the University of Southern California. There is no direct evidence, either way, that Bowers was exposed to Swift’s message at a time when Swift was beginning his ministry. But Marsh describes Bowers returning home in the late 1940s and studying religion alongside Nazi ideology after his stay in California.
What is without question is that within 20 years, Bowers was undoubtedly under the sway of Wesley Swift and the Christian Identity Movement, as were many in Mississippi. When Bowers set-up a covert hit team in 1967, one led by Tarrants, FBI documents show White Knights leaders referred to it as “the Swift Underground.” According to investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, Tarrants and Bowers enthusiastically discussed Swift’s latest sermons even as they planned their wave of violence in the fall of 1967. But more than anything, it was the target of Bowers’ outrage in 1967 that pointed to the influence of Swift — Jewish leaders and synagogues. Bowers continued to attack black targets — something that was also consistent with Christian Identity theology — but expanded his violence to include Jewish institutions at a rate not seen since Stoner’s late, 1950s wave of temple bombings. Again, this made little sense outside of religious impulse. While Rabbi Perry Nussbaum, a target of one of the attacks, was a rare, outspoken supporter of civil rights within the South, he had done so for several years prior to the attack. Why not target Nussbaum before the civil rights movement delivered on its promise of anti-discrimination protections and voting rights in 1964 and 1965?
As it turns out, Bowers may well have wanted this kind of action in 1964. FBI documents show Bowers attempting to convince the White Knights to move in anti-Jewish direction as early as 1965. According to informants, Bowers tells the group there are two of kinds of KKK groups, those that target “n—–s” and those that target Jews. He hoped the White Knights would focus on the latter, as Jews, in Bowers estimation, were the root source of the racial problems in the South. But Bowers could not convince his rank-and-file members to target Jews. To the average racist, blacks, outside agitators, and the federal government were the obvious threat to white supremacy, not Southern Jews, who, again, were largely silent in the face of Jim Crow. It was only after the success of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, had diminished his membership to a few hundred hard-core followers that Bowers could redirect his efforts against Jews, and then, only with a closely-controlled group of Swift followers who, like Tarrants, shared Bowers’ anti-Semitic sensibilities.
For Bowers to target Jews in 1964, however, he had to align his Christian Identity worldview within the general framework of violent resistance to integration in general. Modern scholars even have a name for this kind of combination of secular-nationalist and ideological terrorism: hybrid terrorism. The evidence suggests the killings of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney may have been an act of hybrid terrorism, representing an act of reactionary, vigilante violence for the actual perpetrators, those who wanted to stop Freedom Summer before it started, but representing a pro-active, religious terrorism for Sam Bowers, the man who plotted the crime, in hopes of stoking a racial holy war. The vigilantes likely never knew what motivated the mastermind.
There are three lines of evidence that suggest that, while the actual perpetrators of the awful crimes of June 21, 1964, were not religious terrorists, the attack itself was shaped by Sam Bowers’ religious worldview (likely without the actual perpetrators’ knowledge). Bowers’ rhetoric before the crime, his plan to hide and bury the bodies before the crime, and his post-crime rhetoric all point to the influence of Christian Identity theology on the Mississippi Burning killings.
Bowers rhetoric on June 7, 1964, two weeks prior to the killing of the three activists, foreshadowed to his followers — most of whom had no idea the Mississippi Burning attack was “in the works” — that a ground-breaking event would transpire in near future. Bowers’ certainty there would be violence and federal intervention within days of the speech, suggests the possibility he had the killings on his mind when he spoke to the rank and file. Many experts believe planning for the crime had begun as early as May, after Mickey Schwerner began his work in Meridian on behalf of the Congress for Racial Equality. Two elements of this speech are worth highlighting and point to the likelihood Bowers saw the Mississippi Burning killings as a potential entree point to the kind of cycle of violence Swift followers, like Tarrants, believed would escalate into an end-times race war.
First, in the speech, Bowers actually references the cycle of violence described by Tarrants, where the races are polarized to the point of an actual race war. After beginning with a prayer, Bowers tells his audience “this summer … the enemy will launch his final push for victory here in Mississippi.” Bowers then speaks in military terms, saying the enemy will have “two basic salients” the first would be massive street demonstrations and agitation by blacks in many areas at once, designed to provoke “black militants into counterdemonstration and open, pitched street battles” that would then lead to a “… decree from the communist authorities in charge of the national government … declaring martial law.” Bowers then outlines the White Knights’ plan-of-response — a combination of outwardly “legal” resistance alongside local authorities, but with a “secondary group” who use guerilla tactics as part of a “swift and extremely violent hit-and-run” strategy. To the rank-and-file to whom he was speaking, Bowers presented this as an unfortunate but necessary (and imminent) future; but again, he was addressing people who never confronted anything like Christian Identity theology at their churches on Sundays. More to the point, Bowers would surely know federal intervention of any kind in the South, especially in Mississippi, was bound to be offensive to his audience. These were many of the same people who violently attacked National Guardsmen sent by President John F. Kennedy to protect James Meredith, when the latter integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962. To openly welcome such intervention would be anathema to a group of people schooled in the idea that the Northern military occupation of the South during Reconstruction was a travesty of the first order.
If anything, Bowers’ actions after the Mississippi Burning killings only would have courted the federal intervention most of his followers would have abhorred. Bowers escalated the violence in Mississippi— more than 20 bombings occurred during Freedom Summer— at a time when public polls showed the general public favored massive federal intervention in Mississippi if the violence in that state persisted. When he placed a moratorium on violence in response to the growing presence of federal law enforcement, Bowers only stopped bombings in counties subject to intense law enforcement scrutiny. In fact, he specifically asked for violence to increase in outlying counties to divert the FBI’s resources. Whether that violence was simply a general reaction to Freedom Summer, or an effort to provoke further federal intervention, or both, is impossible to say from the available evidence.
But one aspect of plotting the Mississippi Burning killings certainly suggests Bowers was creating the very conditions likely to generate federal intervention, and thus per his comments to Delmar Dennis, a racial holy war. This was the decision to bury the three men deep beneath the earthen dam at Old Jolly Farm.
Many scholars believe the decision to use the dam was conceived as far back as May, a level of planning that itself was odd. Certainly, disposing of bodies was not unknown in Klan violence. But it was almost always ad hoc — as is evidenced by the bodies discovered in the Mississippi swamps and marshes during the search for the three missing activists. To make arrangements to carefully bury bodies weeks in advance of a crime is largely unknown in the annals of racial violence. It stands in contrast to the wanton disposal of the activists’ vehicle — found burnt out shortly after the men were reported missing. This incongruity — disposing of the bodies but not the car — makes little sense in terms of tactics, and the juxtaposition has baffled scholars. But it makes perfect sense if the goal of the crime was, in Bowers’ mind, to invite greater and greater federal intervention in Mississippi, in hopes of escalating violence. Allowing the vehicle to be discovered, but carefully hiding the bodies, would all but guarantee that federal law enforcement would spend days, if not weeks, searching through Mississippi to find the three men. This is exactly what happened. And recall that during the same time that there was an ever expanding federal intervention to find the men, when the media attention was at its peak, the White Knights only expanded their reign of terror, antagonizing not just law enforcement, but the good will of the entire nation. Other evidence, explored in my co-authored book The Awful Grace of God, raises the possibility that Bowers hoped the Mississippi Burning killings would coincide with, and possibly help bring about, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (if he came to protest the crime). It is too speculative to explore here, but such a follow-up killing, if successful, would certainly have triggered massive rioting, possibly national in scope, and was consistent with the documented (and failed) attempt on King’s life by Swift followers in 1963, after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
But the most convincing evidence Christian Identity theology was motivating Bowers in planning the Mississippi Burning killings comes in his rhetoric immediately after the bodies were found. Many scholars have pointed to the comment by Bowers, shortly after the crime, that the attack on the three civil rights workers was the “… the first time that Christians had planned and carried out the execution of a Jew.” This is in keeping with the prevailing view of the crime, that its chief target was Schwerner, who had worked in the Klan stronghold of for weeks before Freedom Summer. The more telling rhetoric, however, comes from the earliest pieces of propaganda produced by the White Knights in the wake of Freedom Summer. In the fall of 1964, several weeks after law enforcement found the bodies of the three men in an earthen dam at Olen Burrage’s property, Bowers produced another edition of the Klan Ledger. “The ‘long, hot summer’ has passed,” the periodical read. Referring to the civil rights activists who worked to register black voters, among other things, Bowers claimed they had “no laurels to their credit, and the general public of Mississippi has had a fill of their very existence … For the success of our struggle against this scum, we offer our thanks to Almighty God, our Creator and Savior.” What followed was an extended rant, theological and political, directed at civil rights sympathizers, the federal government, but primarily Jews. It is here that the early Christian Identity influence on Bowers is obvious.
The rant begins by referencing two sections of the Book of Revelations. Chapters 2:9-10 and Chapters 3:9. These passages reference the “Synagogue of Satan” and those who “lie” and “say they are Jews.” As the late scholar of the Christian Identity Movement Chester Quarles has noted, these specific New Testament passages are foundational texts for two-seedline Christian Identity adherents, who argue modern Jews are “imposters” who serve Satan and the anti-Christ as part of a cosmic conspiracy. If there is any doubt this is the thinking of Bowers, the Klan Ledgercontinues: “Today’s so-called Jews persecute Christians, seeking to deceive, claiming Judea as their homeland and they are ‘God’s Chosen … They ‘do Lie’, for they are not Judeans, but Are the Synagogue of Satan!” It adds: “If a Jew is not capable of functioning as an individual, and must take part in Conspiracies to exist on this earth, that is his problem.” Passages also reference “Jew consulting anti-Christs” and assert that “Satan and the Anti-Christ stalk the land.”
Again, anti-Semitism was common to Klan groups in the 1960s. But it was often in the same form as anti-Semitism the world over — the blood libel that claimed Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. The refusal of Jews, the chosen people of the Old Testament, to accept Christ as their messiah is the other, longstanding grievance leveled against Jews by hostile Gentiles. What distinguishes Christian Identity from other forms of anti-Semitism is the blatant rejection Jews were ever the Chosen People, that they were ever in a position to accept Christ as their savior in the first place. Under two-seed theology, Jews have conspired to convince the world they are the Chosen People, when, in fact, they are the offspring of Satan. Swift, and his followers, frequently referred to Semitic Jews as imposters. That this line of thinking is evident in a periodical so close to the Mississippi Burning killings strongly suggests Bowers had accepted this idea before 1967.
More to the point, that these killings themselves were framed by rhetoric predicting a major racial conflict (on June 7, 1964) and rhetoric (in October 1964) that is integral to Christian Identity theology suggests the strong possibility Bowers had racial Armageddon on his mind when he plotted the Mississippi Burning killings. The care that went into hiding the bodies, and the fact violence persisted even while public opinion shifted in favor of federal intervention, only amplifies this theory. The men who falsely jailed, shadowed, kidnapped and shot Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney in cold blood likely never were exposed to Bowers’ religious ideology. But if Bowers hid this motivation from his followers, certainly he had to hide it from the media, and thus obscure it from the scrutiny of future scholars and historians. Even decades later, when he, in rare, candid moments, exposed his religious zeal to those like Marsh, Bowers was doing so at a time when federal and Mississippi authorities were finally targeting older racists for prosecution in decades-old civil rights cold cases. If he was being coy for legal protection, it was for good reason: In 1998, Bowers would finally be convicted for ordering the 1966 murder of NAACP activist Vernon Dahmer. Bowers died in prison in 2006, one year after Edgar Ray Killen became the last person prosecuted for his role in the Mississippi Burning killings. But if the theory described here is true, studying that horrible act of domestic terrorism may have more relevance to our current struggle against foreign terrorism than perhaps we’d like to admit, suggesting we may not only need to re-examine the motives behind some of the most provocative acts of racial terrorism in American history, but challenging the assumption that religious terrorism is exclusively the domain of radical extremists of the Islamic faith.
Stuart Wexler is the co-author, with Larry Hancock, of the Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the e-book, Rebels, Redbaiters and Religious Radicals: New Insights Into the Birmingham Church Bombing and Modern Racial Terrorism. He is starting an Indie Go Go campaign to turn his research into a documentary.
A few days back thea Economist published an essay which dismissed the idea of fascists in Kiev as an illusory product of Russian propaganda. This is a narrative which the editors at the Economist have put forth on a number of occasions. Of course, they’re not alone. A less flagrant article published by the New York Times editorial board used a weird double negative to assert that “Russian leaders prefer not to accept that the C.I.A. did not engineer the preference of many Ukrainians for what they see in the West.”
All the world’s a stage wrote Shakespeare. Are readers supposed to categorically assume that U.S. intelligence has played absolutely no role in the coup d’état? So far the bulk of the American media’s coverage of the Ukraine deftly sidesteps the CIA’s role.
Yet all of the signs are there. Former CIA Officer John Stockwell explained that “stirring up deadly ethnic and racial strife has been a standard technique used by the CIA.” Students of history (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile and Nicaragua) will also recognize many of the hallmarks of a covert destabilization operation.
Witness senator John McCain sharing a stage with Oleh Tyahnybok in the early days of the coup, CIA director Brennan’s discreet visit to the Ukraine (buried near the end of a Reuters brief), the taped phone call where Victoria Nuland essentially selects who would replace the deposed president, or the disproportionate number of high-level officials in the new government linked to neo-fascist groups.
This last point is particularly telling and worth highlighting because the CIA has a well-documented history of supporting authoritarian regimes. If the far-right represents only a small contingent of the Ukrainian electorate, as we’ve been told by allegedly credible sources like Timothy Snyder, how exactly did they end up with so many powerful government slots?
A report by FAIR provides unsettling details:
The new deputy prime minister, Oleksandr Sych, is from Svoboda; National Security Secretary Andriy Parubiy is a co-founder of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party, Svoboda’s earlier incarnation; the deputy secretary for National Security is Dmytro Yarosh, the head of Right Sector. Chief prosecutor Oleh Makhnitsky is another Svoboda member, as are the ministers for Agriculture and Ecology.
As far as current CIA operational details are concerned the corporate media has enforced line discipline across the board. This shouldn’t come as any surprise as the media’s penetration by the intelligence community has been public knowledge since the days of the Church Committee Report. In fact, in May of this year the White House (in a screw-up of epic proportions) accidentally leaked the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan to roughly 6,000 reporters.
The White House asked reporters to dutifully “zip it” and that’s exactly what they did. The one reporter who dared to cross the line and mention the station chief’s name and in print, Ted Rall, was summarily fired before he got the chance. Never mind that this sort of information is all over the Internet.
There’s very little doubt that Russia is lending support to rebel forces in the West. At the same time the tendency of news outlets like the Economist, owned in part by wealthy financial interests, to faithfully shun introspection with regard to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict reflects the elite mindset of exceptionalism.
To understand the forces at work, consider a passage from Chapter 7 (page 324) of Tragedy and Hope, an unusual book written by Georgetown professor named Carroll Quigley back in the 1960s:
The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, western elites largely did away with a countervailing ideological alternative and were one step closer to realizing their goal of corporate state capture. The pieces on Brzezinski’s grand chessboard were rearranged. The interests behind the imperial brain trust, the team that conducted the CFR’s War and Peace Studies, saw their opening. Karl Rove aptly crystallized the prevailing mindset:
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
The empire has its sights on expansion. Despite promises made to Gorbachev decades ago by then Secretary of State James Baker that NATO wouldn’t expand into former Soviet countries, that’s exactly what’s been underway. Putin can see this happening and if he’s meddling in the Ukraine, it’s only because he’s following the CIA’s lead.
Bill Blunden is an independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry include information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including “The Rootkit Arsenal” and “Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, and the Malware-Industrial Complex.”