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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sheriff Morgan's Unconstitutional Funding of Religious Groups

On August 28, 2015, Mr. Alex J. Luchenitser, Associate Legal Director, and Mr. Ian Smith, staff attorney, for Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United), sent a letter to Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan reporting a complaint first raised by CJ's Street Report regarding Sheriff Morgan using "the Law Enforcement Trust Fund to fund religious activities and proselytization," according to the group's letter.

The lawyers for Americans United wrote to Sheriff Morgan, "Because the grant of taxpayer dollars to proselytizing religious organizations violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution, we ask that you refrain from using Law Enforcement Trust Fund monies to fund such activities and organizations in the future."

Specifically, Americans United cited the instances of Sheriff Morgan using the Law Enforcement Trust Fund monies to provide $7,000 to Youth-Reach Gulf Coast, $5,000 to the Men's Barn Meeting, and $4,500 to Teen Challenge, according to CJ's Street Report articles.

Americans United cited several U.S. Supreme Court decisions prohibiting providing public money for religious activity or that support religious programming, even if in the latter case the items paid for are secular.

Americans United stated that "the grants also violate Article I, [section] 3 of the Florida Constitution, which states that "'[n]o revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.'  This provision renders the Florida Constitution even more restrictive of public aid to religion than the U.S. Constitution."

Furthermore, Americans United pointed out, "State agencies can violate the Florida Constitution even when the benefits they provide to a sectarian institution are considered indirect....Grants of taxpayer dollars to religious groups that proselytize are in direct violation of the plain language of the Florida Constitution."

Americans United requested a response from Sheriff Morgan within 30 days.

Perhaps the Escambia County Board of Commissioners should take a closer look at Sheriff Morgan's use of Law Enforcement Trust Fund monies to fund religious groups and activities to determine what penalties, if any, are linked to such unconstitutional and unethical behavior by Sheriff Morgan.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Justice or Else!" Community Meeting


On August 27, 2015, Rev. Isaac Williams of the Greater True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in Pensacola, opened his church for a community meeting hosted by the Nation of Islam.  The community meeting had three items on the agenda: the October 10, 2015, twentieth anniversary of the Million Man March, this time called "Justice or Else!"; a follow-on economic boycott of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" modeled on the Montgomery Bus Boycott; and, the need to create a new school in Pensacola catering to African-American children with the purpose of teaching them at a high academic standard as well as their true African and African-American cultures.

The meeting was hosted by Sister Candace Muhammad.  The panelists included Sister Tarah Muhammad, Mrs. Carol McIntosh, educator; Ms. Kenita Mitchell, teacher; and Brother Tarus.

L-R: Ms. Mitchell, Mrs. McIntosh, and Sister T. Muhammad

Moderator/Host: Sister C. Muhammad

"Justice or Else!" Million Man March

This march will occur in Washington, D.C. on October 10, 2015.  The original march took place on October 16, 1995.  The aim of this march is to bring together men from all races, nationalities, ethnicities, and religious beliefs, to demand that the federal government address the issue of police killing people in local communities, especially people of color, who are disproportionately more likely to be killed by the police.  People of color are more likely to be over-represented in the prison population due to the War on Drugs.

Brother Tarus told the assembled community members and activists, "We have to bring balance and justice for all humanity; not just black; not white; not brown; not Asian; not indigenous; but for all humanity."  When asked how he defined justice, Brother Tarus stated, "Justice is fairness irregardless of race or creed."

While the aim of the "Justice or Else!" march is to pressure the federal government into action, the equally important aim is to send these men back into their communities to link up with women activists and begin a process of change in their communities.

What is the Else?  The Economic Boycott

The Nation of Islam plans to build on the model of the Montgomery Bus Boycott which severely hurt the bus company.  Anyone familiar with the history of civil rights actions in Pensacola led by Reverend H.K. Matthews, head of the the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in northwest Florida, and the NAACP in Pensacola in the 1960s and 1970s knows that economic boycotts forced many businesses to begin employing African-Americans.  Even the threat of a boycott was sometimes enough for local stores and businesses to begin hiring African-Americans.

Sister Candace briefly highlighted that the idea of an economic boycott of companies, is what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his very last speech on April 3, 1968, known as the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech (see Cornel West, editor, The Radical King, pp. 265-75).  In that speech (pp. 270-1), King spoke of the economic power of the Black community.  At that time, the Black community had an annual income of $30 billion per year, making the Black community "richer than all the nations of this world, with the exception of [the] nine [richest]."  King declared, "Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal....And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."

In his last speech on the last full day of his life, King called for the movement and the community to use the power of an economic boycott of Coca-Cola, Sealtest milk, Wonder bread, and Hart's bread, to further the cause of economic justice for the sanitation workers and to "redistribute the pain."  As King put it, "We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring practices; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike.  And then they can go downtown and tell [Memphis] Mayor Loeb to do what is right."

The Black community now has between $1.1 and 1.3 trillion dollars of economic power that generally leaves the Black community quickly.  Dr. Sinclair Grey writing at the Financial Juneteenth website reported on a study conducted by the NAACP in 2012 that found that a dollar spent in the Asian community circulated within that community for a month; in Jewish communities, about 20 days; in white communities, about 17 days; and, in Black communities, about six hours.  In other words, only two cents of every dollar is spent on Black businesses.

The major aim after the "Justice or Else!" march is to boycott "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" which primarily benefit major corporations.  The aim is not to spend those dollars in Black businesses.  Rather, it is to save the money in order to boycott Christmas, and, if necessary, begin to celebrate Kwanzaa and its seven principles--unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, purpose, creativity, and faith.  If one must celebrate Christmas, celebrate it with a family meal and love and not consumerism, according to the Nation of Islam panelists.

In other words, the aim of the NOI strategy, consistent with the aims of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 is to achieve equal justice under the law through economic pressure for justice.  According to the speakers, the greatest strength of the Black community is unity, the ability to come together and stand together as a community.

An Alternative School for African-American Children

There is a well-grounded belief (pdf) in Escambia County's Black community that the school system is failing our children.

Several panelists noted that the poor educational outcomes of Black children cannot and should not be laid solely on the shoulders of parents.  Educating a child is a community effort.  Mothers and fathers may be exhausted from working two jobs to make ends meet; the village model of raising children is broken; there are not enough resources in the Black community to address the unfunded needs.  On the other hand, Black children are not treated fairly by teachers, principals, or the Sheriff's deputies.

Mrs. McIntosh, an experienced educator and expert on the local school system, noted that the community needed to understand the policies and procedures that effect our children, and, they must know not only the problems, but also have solutions at hand.  Ms. Mitchell, a substitute teacher in the district, noted that many times concerned parents and community activists intervene too late in the process.  There is a great need to attend school board meetings and parent-teacher meetings.  But, not all parents are equipped to do so.

There is also a need, these activists suggested, to reconsider what the children are learning.  The panelists and community members attending eventually reached a consensus that an alternative school could provide the answer to helping the children.

Brother Tarus suggested there is a need for a new curriculum so that Black students learn real Black history and culture.  For example, students should know that they were not freed by President Lincoln, but, like Nat Turner, they freed themselves.

Mrs. McIntosh noted that the standards needed to be raised in the schools and that schools are changing the way they teach and the technology they teach with.  Both have the potential to leave Black parents and students behind.  Moreover, while the schools do a very good job of teaching academic subjects, they do a poor job of teaching Black culture.  The latter, however, must come from the community.

Ms. Mitchell noted that parents and the community must teach the students.  The many churches in the Black community could be opened to take children in after school where they could get additional instruction.  She also noted the existence of a nation-wide group of educators and parents who participate in African-centered home schooling that caters to all religions, but where the common ground is culture.

The consensus of the panel was that while white teachers were very competent in teaching academic subjects, they really did not understand how Black children learned in school and did not really understand why Black children behaved the way they do or how to bring them back into focus.  The cultural understanding of Black children is simply lacking.  Moreover, the lack of Black teachers overall and Black male teachers exacerbates the problem of cultural ignorance.  Nor could they really teach Black history and culture.

The consensus model appeared to be the Muhammad University of Islam which the Nation of Islam suggested had very high academic standards, taught children that what they were learning had the purpose of making them independent and entrepreneurial, while also teaching them about their culture and history.

Brother Tarus suggested a sort of "college bowl" contest between similar grade-school children (third grade, for example) from a Muhammad University of Islam school and Pensacola Christian Academy in order to test academic achievement and standards.

Whether considered from the perspective of police violence against Black people, black-on-black crime in neighborhoods, poverty, health care, or a poor educational outcomes, the Black community senses that it is in a state of crisis.  They feel they are in a race against time to save their children, not only from violence, but from being left behind as economic globalization picks up momentum.  As one panelists put it, if we do not do something to save our children, "The alternative is death."  Another panelist stated at the end of the two-hour discussion, "We must change the way we think or nothing will change."  Another panelist stated, "We must incorporate our children into every decision we make."

Concluding Observation

The emphasis on separatism is an issue that can be divisive or made to be divisive.

But, as I listened to the discussion by the panelists and questions and comments from the audience, I was struck by the missing historical context.

Catholics, at one time a reviled religious/ethnic group(s), created their own education system, from grade school to university.  The most famous Catholic university is, of course, Notre Dame, but there is also Loyola University, and many other fine institutions of higher learning populating the Big East in basketball.  They created their own hospital system.  They created their own charities.  And, in almost any state where Catholics take football seriously, there is almost always a Sacred Heart High School that is a state champion.  Now, these institutions are open to anyone, but they began with the purpose of self-defense.

Anyone familiar with reading either a history of the Jews or a history of the Jews in America will know that the Jews created numerous social welfare organizations that helped immigrants get a foothold in whatever country they were emigrating to.  In America, Jews created great yeshivas and invested heavily not only in Jewish businesses, but Jewish schools, Jewish universities, Jewish medical practices and hospitals, and Jewish charities.  While many of these institutions are Jewish, they are now open to anyone or cater to anyone in need.

But, the point is simply this.  At one time or another Catholics and Jews were despised in this country and to protect themselves they created their own institutions for self-protection.  Conservative Protestants like to strut and crow about American Exceptionalism, but the history of Protestantism has been one of hatred and bigotry.

As Allan Lichtman observed in the Introduction to his book, White Protestant Nation, "The vanguard of American conservatism in the 1920s, however, shared a common ethnic identity: they were white and Protestant and they had to fight to retain once uncontested domination of American life" (p. 2).  Lichtman continued, "Both religion and race have mattered for conservatives who view nationhood as anchored in white, native-stock peoples and their distinctive culture.  Since World War I, conservatives have been cultural, religious, and at time racial nationalists, dedicated to protecting America's superior civilization from racially or culturally inferior peoples, foreign ideologies, sexual deviance, ecumenical religion, or the encroachment of a so-called one-world government" (p. 4).

Many people love the Santa Claus version of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his seeming call for a color-blind America in his misnamed "I Have a Dream" speech.  But, in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here, excerpted in Cornel West's The Radical King, King wrote that "Black Power, in its broad and positive meaning, is a call to black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals" (p. 192).

Whether you are a Black separatist, progressive Democrat, or even Tea Party conservative, there is a sense that the current system is fundamentally flawed towards the ruling oligarchy.  Ordinary people are expendable and redundant.  But, for the Black community, there is also the real, everyday danger that this system is fatal to Black people and poses an existential threat to all--whatever their religious beliefs or lack of beliefs, their social class standing, their gender, or their sexual identity.  It is this sense of crisis and threat driving the need to seek protection in institutions that Black people control and that serve the needs of Black people as they want to be served.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Threat Assessment: Geoff Ross Militiaman


On August 9, 2015, a Geoff Ross, a retired Senior Chief (Navy) blasted out an email to his "thousands of people that follow me across the nation," including the intended victims of his wrath, regarding the "Santa Rosa County Communist Party 'Meet and Greet'" that is upcoming in Pensacola on August 31st.  Ross also named the Pensacola News Journal "the local Daily Pravda" and the "Marxist voice of Pensacola."  He called its editor, "Comrade" Lisa Nellessen (not Neillessen as he spelled it) the "Communist representing the Pensacola News Journal" and used violent-laden language in calling her a "Democrat cockroach."

Cockroaches, of course, are to be exterminated, which is why right-wingers refer to their opponents using what David Neiwert calls "eliminationist" language (The Eliminationists--How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, 2009).  He called the League, the "League of Women Communists."

The object of Ross's ire and bile?  A meeting co-sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters, and the Escambia Youth Justice Coalition, the latter includes Keyontay Humphries who is also the northwest Florida regional coordinator for the ACLU.

As CJ's Street Report noted back in May 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Escambia County's school system specializes in suspending, expelling, and imprisoning Black youth at rates far higher than for white youth.

While Florida leads the nation in suspensions, Escambia County has a higher suspension rate than 72 percent of Florida's counties.  Similarly, while Florida leads the nation in arrests of students, Escambia County has a higher arrest rate than 80 percent of Florida's counties.

Black students comprise 35 percent of the total student body, yet account for 65 percent of out-of-school suspensions, 80 percent of expulsions, and 76 percent of school arrests.  Black youth are arrested at a rate four times higher than the rate for white students.  Black students are less likely to graduate from high school, less likely to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and, less likely to be enrolled in Advanced Placement classes.  Only 12 percent of the teachers are Black and only one percent of the elementary school teachers are Black men.

Clearly, our Black youth are not well served by the Escambia County school system.  The upcoming meeting on August 31, 2015, is the latest community-wide effort to strategize, organize, and mobilize to save our children.

Thus, Geoff Ross's eliminationist email rant about "communists" trying to do something about the "School to Prison Pipeline" deserves further examination, especially since he may be planning to disrupt the event.  According to his email, his last paragraph was, "If you want to join this miscreant group of rectal sphincters for dinner on Aug 31st the phone number to call is 850-XXX-XXXX. Time to look at the menu.  I am hungry."

The data presented below, all based on the writings of Geoff Ross, paint a picture of an angry white man with a gun in the grip of conspiracy theories that the President of the United States, indeed the entire federal government, is run by communists and that he must lead an army of patriots to reclaim the Constitution and his country.  He is a person of interest who certainly bears watching.

   Geoff Ross, LinkedIn profile.

Who Geoff Ross Is

According to his own biography published on the Dr. Rich Sweir website, where he has published numerous articles, Ross is a native of Fort Walton Beach who retired from the Navy in 2002.  He served on the USS Holland and the USS Orion; both are submarine tenders.  He served in Italy from 1990 to 1993, and, was stationed in Pensacola between 1987 and 1990.  He earned five decorations, including "the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal."  None of this is in dispute and is accepted to be true.

He also claimed that he had performed "body guard duties for dignitaries like Governor Palin, Colonel Bud Day, Governor Rick Scott."  He also noted that he "Worked for a year at a Fox News radio affiliate as a political commentator.  Now works as the East Coast Event Coordinator and Fox News liaison for the Combat Veterans for Congress PAC."  Again, we accept that this is true.

Geoff Ross, Fund Raiser and the IRS

While his biography is accepted to be accurate and true, his interpretation of his biography reveals that Ross seemingly invents facts.  Perhaps he hopes that this will boost his status in the right-wing movement.  Here, we examine his claims regarding his charity, The Rogue Patriot, Inc., and the facts.

On his LinkedIn biography, Ross claims that he founded "The Rogue Patriot Group, Inc." in 2008 and ended the group in 2013.  His group was "Incorporated [sic] in the state of Florida."

While he did file paperwork establishing this non-profit group in Florida, he did not do this in 2008.  According to Florida's Secretary of State's database for business entities, The Rogue Patriot, Inc. (actual form) was founded in 2011.  It was dissolved for failing to filing a business report after December 31, 2013.

According to Ross's own account of the accomplishments of The Rogue Patriot, he "raised $17,547" at the August 21, 2010, "US Constitution and Freedom Rally I" featuring Islamophobe Brigette Gabriel, president and founder of Act for America.  This rally was two years before he legally incorporated The Rogue Patriot, Inc. in Florida.

A second "US Constitution and Freedom Rally II" held on March 17, 2012, "raised $16,443.29."  Another "Evening with Bridgette Gabriel and Friends" held on September 11, 2012, at the Abundant Life Church in Fort Walton Beach attended by 388 people "raised $10,145.00."  An event to raise money for "America's Mighty Warriors" at the same venue on February 16, 2013, "raised $3,017.60."  An event apparently in honor of Seal Team 6 on August 3, 2013, "raised $1,000."  There was one more event after his charity may have expired on January 9, 2014.  No dollar amount for funds raised was given.

A search of Guidestar and the National Center for Charitable Statistics, revealed that Ross apparently has not filed a form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service for The Rogue Patriot, Inc., EIN 454010089.

Geoff Ross, Imagination Extraordinaire

According to Ross's own biography on the Dr. Rich Swier website, he served onboard two submarine tenders and was stationed at La Maddelena located on the island of Sardinia.  I was stationed at the U.S. National Intelligence Cell in Naples supporting the Commander, Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH), Commander, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, and Commander, Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe, and participating in Joint Task Force Provide Promise, from 1992 to 1995, when I transferred to the European Command's Joint Analysis Center at Molesworth, England.

According to his LinkedIn biography, Ross somehow managed to provide "SEAL Team support operations in Bosnian conflict" and he now claimed he had "Forward deployed in Sicily and Sardinia Italy. Total 6 years."

Also on his LinkedIn biography, Ross stated that he had spent "4 years recruiting SEALs, pilots, NFO's, Intelligence Officers.  Mission complete."  Granted he served as a Navy recruiter.

How is this possible that Ross supported SEAL team operations in the Bosnian conflict?

On the Swier website he stated that he served in Pensacola from 1987 to 1990, was on a submarine tender with Sixth Fleet in Italy from 1990 to 1993, and, served at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center from 1993 to 1996.  The Navy's training center is located in Panama City, Florida, and has been since 1980.  Navy divers are "part of the Navy Special Operations (NSO) community," according to a Wikipedia article, but how does that qualify Ross for "SEAL Team support operations in Bosnian conflict"?  By his own admission, he was located in Italy for only three years, with only one year (1992-1993) covered by the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  How does he account for the other three years and the SEAL team operations?

This claim appears to be a fantasy and an extension of a small fact, he helped train Navy divers in some capacity because he was stationed at a training center where this activity occurred.

But, with Ross, it just gets better and better.  Ross claims he has hung out with Central Intelligence Agency operators, has CIA sources, and has command authority regarding at least 25 retired Special Operations personnel. Oh yeah, buckle up.

In November 2013, Ross reported the results of a phone conversation with his USAA insurance agent.  Supposedly, the insurance agent told Ross over the telephone that he had a pond in his backyard.  According to an email quote attributed to Ross, "'I did not tell my insurance company I put in a Koi pond.'"  Ross then made the rather fantastic claim, "'Using my superior skills of decisive intellect and previous life hanging out with CIA operators I conclude these people took aerial pictures of my house to see if I am adding improvements, pool, etc.  I am so isolated out here surrounded by trees etc. the only way to see in my back is from above.'"

Did he "hang out with CIA operators" while on the submarine tender or at the diving center?

In November 2014, Ross claimed that he himself was a "spy" and that he had CIA sources that provided him--wait for it, public information that was two years old!

In November 2014, Ross claimed that the National Security Agency had hacked his personal computer.  According to Ross, "I found six established listening posts on my trusty liberal bashing Collectivist crushing operations center in my bunker in Navarre."  In response, Ross claimed that "I sent this column to: The NSA, NSA SELinux Team the math wizards at the NSA (I know I got your e mail address) hey spies like us right?, Google, Facebook, CIA Langley and Fox News New York" [emphasis added].

In the same article he claimed, "The listening posts set up on my computer have mysteriously vanished after I sent out my public email disclosing their presence to the NSA, FACEBOOK and GOOGLE. POOF they are gone. Imagine that. I wonder if the NSA got irritated that I outed them publicly."

Also in November 2014, Ross claimed that a CIA source told him about information that Ross then further researched to come up with the claim that "Holder’s wife and sister-in-law co-own this abortion clinic through a family trust."  That is not true.  They owned the building that housed an abortion clinic.  But, that is not important.  What is important is that the information was at least two years old.

Ross claimed in the November 2014 article that "I phoned my pal in the CIA just to catch up on old news.  He tells me that Eric Holder’s wife Sharon is the co-owner of an abortion clinic in Georgia.  Really?  Well I did some research...."

Essentially, all the information Ross reported that he had acquired or been tipped off to by his "CIA pal" had been published by October 31, 2012, at two connected websites, LifeSite News and Human Events.

Like many others tuned into right-wing conspiracy theories regarding the New World Order and the imposition of martial law by the federal government--the basis for forming the Ron Paul-linked Oath Keepers--Ross claimed on April 7, 2015, that a military exercise in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was "Definitely a Marshal [sic]  Law drill."

In the same article Ross informed his readers that he "spoke to the Governor of Florida, "in regards to the military special forces operations folks rounding up civilians in Fort Lauderdale as a training exercise with support from the Fort Lauderdale Police Dept."  Ross also claimed that "I also spoke to my friends in the CIA and they said this exercise was definitely not good in regards to the good order of the city and the constitutional ramifications."

Ross also informed his readers that "I told the Fort Lauderdale Police Department the blow back was coming, its now going to hit the fan.  I just turned on the fan."  Ross also claimed that a "full scale investigation is now underway by Governor Scott and I am working with folks from Tallahassee taking statements."  Ross claimed he was able to "bring a hammer down" on the exercise.

And, it gets even more fantastic.

"Jade Helm" was a military exercise scheduled for the summer of 2015 in Texas and six other western states.  According to Bill Morlin's summary of right-wing concerns for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the "exercise, called ‘Jade Helm,’ is tantamount to martial law, they say, where special operations forces from four branches of the U.S. military will secretly train and further militarize local police, blending in with local populations and gearing up for an eventual battle to disarm Americans."

Bob Cesca, writing at Salon noted that Governor Abbott (Texas) positively responded to the conspiracy theory by having Texas officials and the Texas State Guard monitor the Department of Defense exercise and, in effect, "is figuratively wrapping his state in a gigantic tin-foil hat.  Abbott’s unprecedented move is one more chilling sign that the gonzo ideas imagineered by radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones are hemorrhaging into mainstream American politics and beyond."

But, below the level of Alex Jones are the foot soldiers of the conspiracy theory, namely people like Geoff Ross, who put Jones' ideas into action.

On April 3, 2015, one month before Bill Morlin wrote about the right-wing response to Jade Helm, Geoff Ross apparently wrote an email that was published on the All News Pipeline website in which Ross was now identified as a "United States Special Ops Veteran."  It is not clear if Ross identified himself as a "Special Ops Veteran" or the publisher just assumed that Ross had to be one in order to deploy such an element inside Washington, D.C.

According to the email, Ross again claimed that he had "called the Chief of Police in Fort Lauderdale," had "called the special operations team in the Fort Lauderdale police department," and, had "called Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base."

Ross further claimed that he had operational control of a Special Operations element.  According to Ross, "I am now deploying 25 retired Navy SEAL, DELTA and Rangers into the Capital to practice 'stuff' too.  If they can practice we can practice.  Lastly I called Governor Scott and let him know what was going on and to remind him of his authority to implement a militia to protect the citizens from a federal Martial Law attempt."

Ross further claimed that this Special Operations element "will go to Washington DC on tourist visa's [sic] visiting the formerly Communist controlled Capital building.  That is all I will say on that.  They will wander around and be tourists.  They may pop in and visit a few Congressman or maybe they won't.  Or, maybe they will.  The 1st Amendment is about to be exercised.  Body cams in place.  They practice we practice.  We all practice.  They visit us.  We visit them."

Coming full circle, Geoff Ross's claim that he was "deploying 25 retired Navy SEAL, DELTA and Rangers" to Washington, D.C., caught the attention of Alex Jones' InfoWars website.  Paul Joseph Watson and Joe Biggs reported that a "post attributed to Navy veteran Geoff Ross asserts that he has arranged for 25 retired Navy SEAL, DELTA and Rangers to travel to Washington DC to conduct exercises similar to those described in the Jade Helm documents."

Ross and Operation American Spring

In late December 2013, Right Wing Watch began reporting on the efforts of conservative activists--Jim Garrow, Erik Rush, and Paul Vallely--"demanding the overthrow of President Obama."  The key organizer was Harry Riley.  Riley believed that millions of Americans would participate and that the federal government would respond with violence.  Riley opined that "'we must begin the second American Revolution.'"  Garrow believed that Obama would use the ruse of being in contact with extra-terrestial aliens to boost his popularity.

In January 2014, Right Wing Watch reported that Harry Riley, a retired Army colonel, indicated that he "has the support of 'a number of high ranking military leaders,'" including retired general Paul Vallely.  Operation American Spring was inspired by the Egyptian Spring that overthrew President Mubarak, according to Riley.

Thus, anyone expressing support for Operation American Spring is clearly supporting a populist overthrow of the existing federal government.

At the same time that Right Wing Watch was reporting on the national leaders of Operation American Spring, Geoff Ross was announcing his role in mobilizing the Patriot militia.

In January 2014, Ross announced that "I am in the process of notifying and contacting all legal and constitutionally created militia groups across the United States to mobilize on Washington DC for Operation American Spring."  Ross claimed that 1.8 million people had "responded in kind and are mobilizing and or supporting this effort."  Ross stated that they wanted "10 million."  Of course, "supporting" means virtually anything you want it to mean, which essentially means nothing.  Ross boasted, "We have the resources, the money the training and the Constitutional protections to take this country back.  And we will.  You have pushed us too far Mr. President, now you will see who runs this country.  It is we the people."

A few days after that post, Ross claimed that "Militias across the United States are responding and mobilizing to the call to protect our Republic."  He also issued "rules of engagement" for the operation including: "No weapons.  No ammunition. Follow all rules of the road.  Comply with all constitutional requests of local authorities.  Travel in groups of 4 or greater."

In the same article noted above, Ross stated the real objective of Operation American Spring:  "Treat this event as a peaceful, Constitutional occupation of Washington DC to ensure the Communist forces understand we are prepared to stay on station until Mr. Barry Soetoro has been impeached and or removed from office by the Congress and or Joint Chief’s of Staff for treason against the United States."

A few days after article, Ross published another article indicating that "We expect you to be removed and or impeached from office as per the authority vested in us ‘We the people’ using ALL our constitutional means and we are going to use them."  He further claimed that "We will not leave our posts in Washington until the President has been removed from office for constitutional treason."  Ross was planning to be in Washington, D.C. at rally or prayer point three.

In November 2014, Ross personally called for a coup against President Obama.  According to Ross, "It is time for Americans to peacefully surround the White House as the Constitution allows until President Obama has been removed from office by the Congressional Master at Arms."  This call in November 2014 for Obama to be removed from office suggests that Ross was in contact with the national organizers of Operation American Spring.

You do not have to be a constitutional lawyer, as the president is, to figure out that having the Joint Chiefs of Staff or Congressional Master at Arms remove the president from office is called a coup d'etat and is not actually in the U.S. Constitution.

In early April 2014, about five weeks before Operation American Spring was to commence on May 16, 2014, Ross published an interview with retired Army colonel Harry Riley.  According to Riley, "'Our ‘movement to action’ is a grassroots movement by non-partisan Americans committed to Constitutional principles, responding to an unresponsive and dismissive cabal of duly elected, but oath-breaking officials, who ignore the Constitution, in fact are purposefully destroying the US Constitution.'"  In Riley's view, the political leadership of the country is "leading the United States toward a socialist, Marxist, totalitarian form of slavery.  It must stop.'"

Riley confirmed that the purpose of Operation American Spring "calls for the replacement of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Holder."  These elected and constitutionally appointed officials were expected to "voluntarily resign."  Operation American Spring sought to put "boots on the ground by the millions in Washington, D.C. and plan to stay until we get an acceptable resolution."  And while Riley suggested that his operation was "non-partisan," his objective clearly came from the far right-wing:  "We believe this may be our last opportunity to turn our nation back to a Constitutional Republic, as ordained by our Creator."

In January 2014,  Jim Garrow, one of the organizers, clearly stated that the purpose was to provoke a military coup.  Right Wing Watch quoted Garrow from his interview on the Pete Santilli radio show:  "'I’m not calling for—well, yes I’m calling for the military to restore our Republic.  Is it a military coup?  I would say that it’s probably the most orderly fashion to do this.'"

Later in January 2014, Garrow again stated that the purpose was to foment a military coup against the Obama administration:  "'It’s time to revolt.  Frankly, it is.  It is time to overthrow that which is illegal.  So we have an interesting scenario: you either accept that this gentleman is in fact eligible to be president or you don’t accept that.'"  Later in that interview Garrow stated, ""Yes a coup is very close and it should be.'"

In late January 2014, Harry Riley told Alan Colmes that he planned to bring "'10-20 million people in Washington, D.C.'" and that they planned to ""shut the city down.'"  In late 2013, retired general Paul Vallely indicated to a Tea Party group that "'I don’t want to be criticized for starting a revolution, but I’d certainly head it if we had to.  We all love a good fight if it’s worth it, right?'"

In the end, the turn out for Operation American Spring fell about "9,999,900 short of its guarantee of 10 million attendees," according to Right Wing Watch.

That it was a spectacular and predictable failure does not negate the fact that Geoff Ross knowingly and willingly was backing an extra-constitutional military coup against the federal government.  He is certainly no constitutionalist, his protestations to the contrary.

Threat Assessment of Geoff Ross

It would be easy to dismiss Geoff Ross as a fabulist and fantasist.  Certainly, his claims to being a spy, hanging out with CIA operators, having CIA sources, and having operational control of a Special Operations element consisting of Special Ops retirees would almost certainly qualify him as a nutter, as the British would say.  One might say that his grasp on reality is tenuous at best.

But, he is also a person who is filled with anger and motivated by conspiracy theories about Agenda 21 (here, here, and here)--the belief that global elites operating through the United Nations are seeking to control American soil and enslave Americans.  He is also a firm believer that President Obama is an illegitimate president, as well as a communist Muslim.

In May 2011, Ross published a letter in the Northwest Florida Daily News.  It was so unusual that the daily quoted from it a few months later:  "'The elephants and the donkeys have procreated the bastard son of Satan, and this creation has morphed into a collective headed by a communist Muslim called Barack Hussein Obama. ... The Antichrist has arrived and he is prepared to destroy the United States!'"

In December 2013, Ross called on the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, and other federal law enforcement agencies, "to stand down and refuse to initiate any actions against we the people."  This demand was predicated on the assertions that "his father was a Kenyan/Marxist/Muslim disqualifies him from holding the office of president."  Ross went on to claim that President Obama has "no constitutional authority for protection from you due to his constant evisceration of the US constitution, his illegal status in the country and his relationship with illegal immigrants infesting this nation.  We must also include his treasonous association with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas and his arming of Al Qaeda forces in Syria."

In July 2015, Ross called on conservative Christians and Republicans to "Buy more weapons and ammunition.  You will need them one day.  Maybe not today or next month or next year, but—trust me—you will need to be well armed and prepared to protect this nation and your families from the satanic communist forces that are massing and scheming to take us down."

Ross uses dehumanizing and eliminationist-type rhetoric when talking about Democrats and liberals.  He has claimed to have some unspecified association with an as yet unidentified "Santa Rosa militia."  He has claimed to have operational control of a Special Operations element consisting of retired operators.

In the past few years we have come to understand and realize that angry white men with guns motivated by anti-government hatred, fear, paranoia, and a sense that the federal government poses an existential threat to them personally induced by conspiracy theories are indicators of a potential threat to innocent people attending a political gathering, watching a Hollywood blockbuster, or attending Bible study in a church.  That does not mean that Geoff Ross is a potential terrorist.  No indicator list can determine or predict who specifically will commit a terrorist act or when he will commit such an act.

But Geoff Ross certainly bears watching as a person of interest--especially since he indicated that he may attend the event in Pensacola put on by groups he feels are part of an extensive communist conspiracy to enslave him that reaches all the way up to the Oval Office.  He already feels that the U.S. Constitution does not exist and that he must reclaim both the Constitution and his country.