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Most severe charges against “Oath Keepers” due to revealing chat messages

Stewart Rhodes — founder and leader of the organization Oath Keepers — was arrested Thursday on a charge of seditious conspiracy, because of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 10 other Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy. They allegedly organized an armed attack to stop the lawful transfer of power to the new president Joe Biden.

The group has failed in almost every way. Including a total intelligence failure when it came to their communications and overall understanding of America and its power structures.

If you read the actual indictment you can clearly see that electronic evidence is at the heart of this case. There are numerous communications, often times through the Signal cellphone app, that sound pretty obvious. Only a few of the people charged actually ditched their phones after the capitol storm. Most simpy deleted files. Deleted files can be recovered. It’s not the same as burning incriminating papers. It appears they used their everyday phones for this and not throwaway phones.  It is unclear at this point how exactly all these chats were gathered.

Deleted file recovery is only one option of many. Some Oath Keepers may have been government informants or turned into cooperating witnesses providing the chats. The phones of these people may have had spyware installed that circumvents the encryption of the Signal app. The group primarily wanted to recruit former police officers and military servicemembers. They wanted to be special and do special things on January 6th. But they failed at an elemental level which is secure communications.

If you study the work of government intelligence agencies and their actual spies, you will see that it is extremely hard most of the time to convict a spy. You may realize that someone is definitely a spy, but proving actual crimes is way more complicated. Spies nowadays use a mix of old school techniques and their modern forms. A dead drop for example can be digital. A hidden device that you can walk by in order to wirelessly receive or transmit data. Coded messages can be split up files transmitted in different ways. Professionals do not use simple throwaway phones because the phone companies can detect unusual phone behavior. A so called burner phone is used differently than a normal phone. Intelligence agencies used shortwave radio antennas in the past broadcasting strings of numbers that an agent could receive and decode.

The oath keepers apparenty used their normal, daily cell phones with the Signal app, believing they were covered. When the capitol storm failed they allegedly deleted some chats and kept their phones.

According to the indictment, the plotting for violence began just after Biden won the election.

On Nov. 5, Rhodes told an invitation-only message group of Oath Keepers leaders: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit,” Five days later, he published a call to action titled, “WHAT WE THE PEOPLE MUST DO,” suggesting his organization follow the example of an anti-government uprising in Serbia, the court filing says.

Stewart Rhodes denies involvement in Jan. 6 attack He insists that Oath Keepers who did go into the Capitol “went totally off mission.” He is throwing them under the bus. But given the sensitive nature of the chats being quoted in the indictment it may soon be the case that higher ranking Republicans and media figures will throw him under the bus to protect themselves. Depending on what Rhodes knows about higher ranking people he could get them in trouble. It is likely the Oath Keepers would not have gone this far without the impression of having powerful forces backing them. Rhodes said he has grown disillusioned with Trump, accusing the former president of not supporting members of the Oath Keepers charged in the Jan. 6 investigation.

“All of the people that are being unlawfully detained or denied bail, they’re being abandoned by Trump. … He didn’t pardon anybody while he was still in office,” Rhodes said, adding that he also thinks the former president should have helped with the Jan. 6 defendants’ legal defense.

The last successful federal sedition prosecution came 26 years ago, when Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the “blind sheikh,” and nine others were convicted of plotting to blow up the United Nations, the FBI building and bridges and tunnels between New Jersey and New York, part of an effort to change U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

Over the past year, the Justice Department has charged more than 700 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. The FBI is seeking to arrest more than 200 more.

It’s not clear how investigators gained access to the messages used in the arrest of the far-right group leader, Stewart Rhodes, and other defendants. Representatives for the Signal app, the Department of Justice, and Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Responsible for the Signal app is matthew Rosenfeld, ak.a. Moxie Marlinspike. He had preiously served as Twitter’s head of cybersecurity. Between 2014 and 2016, Marlinspike worked with WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google to integrate the Signal Protocol into their messaging services. Also relevant to Signal is a man namens Brian Acton who is a billionaire who has worked with Whattsapp and Yahoo.

It becomes very clear that radical activists do not have safe means of communications and have no concept of professional safe communications. This problem extends to many organizations. There is reason to assume that many people have been compromised. It makes no sense for intelligence amateurs to try and compete with government professionals in that way. The Oath Keepers apparently did not understand that the Democrats simply won the election. They derive their information from their own ideological political bubble. They do not understand how Republicans have been stringing patriots along for decades, how even the old John Birch Society, the foundation of the modern patriot conspiracy movement, was just a tool financed by Koch industries.

Decades ago retired general Smedley Butler was approached by a person linked to the DuPont family and company. The proposed plan was a march on Washington D.C. and a soft coup. Butler did not trust this man and reported this encounter. Timothy McVeigh was a fairly standard rightwing patriot conspiracy activist who, as early as the 1990s, feared a takeover of the new world order. It is now 2022 and there still is no open dictatorship because for the ruling class it is much more prefereable to control the left and the right and the main conspiracy narratives and have the political pendulum swing back and forth. Patriots had been told decades ago by the birch society bestselling conspiracy books to trust rightwing billionaires and military and intelligence people and politicians. One day the big revolution was going to come, or the open takeover by the international bankers. It never happened. Patriots today feel like Tim McVeigh 30 years ago. Neither McVeigh nor todays patriots understand the politival system properly, they don’t ubnderstand how intelligence works. They don’t understand the history and the hidden history of  the conspiracy media they have based their world view on.

Oath Keeper membership has been estimated at approximately five thousand members. Oath Keepers claimed 35,000 members in 2016. In September 2021, hackers breached the group’s servers to acquire a large cache of information, some of which was released to press outlets, including the contact information of 38,000 apparent members. Dozens of elected officials were also found to be linked to the group.

The capitol storm made the group famous and they saw a lot of new applications or inquiries for memberships. At the same time Emails and chats sent in the wake of Jan. 6, reveal hundreds of people demanding that their memberships be canceled or their names removed from Oath Keepers’ mailing lists. Two members of the Oath Keepers handling the group’s IT in that period saw their inboxes swamped by members complaining that they couldn’t log in or had other technical problems. The stolen records paint a picture of organizational chaos slowed by technological problems, poor communication, and a fragmented, aging membership unsure about the direction the group is headed to.

What do we take away from this:

  1. Do not use commercially available standard devices and apps for potentially incriminating communications
  2. Do not seek or maintain membership in an organization which is mismanaged and is based on an outdated, manipulative world view.
  3. Do not trust promises of backing by higher republican circles. The GOP is not here for you. The two political parties are controlled by one ruling class
  4. Read actual books by serious authors about the topics you are interested in. Do not get your ideas from the internet.
  5. Research the hiden history of conspiracy media. Don’t get pressured into action by wild apocalyptic claims that you have to act right now and do crazy things.

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