Rutherford Institute

An Exercise In Projection: John Whitehead Warns Of Government 'Paranoia'

Every since the Obama administration announced the creation of a new position within the Department of Justice that is to be focused on countering domestic terrorism, right-wing activists have been whipping up fears that the government is going to start persecuting Christians and conservatives.

On the American Family Radio's "Focal Point" program yesterday, guest host Janet Mefferd dedicated two segments to discussing this new supposed threat with John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, who declared, without a hint of irony, that the creation of such a position is rooted in government "paranoia." That is, the paranoia that government officials supposedly have about conservatives.

When Mefferd demanded to know what authority the government has to "go after right-wing extremists as a pre-crime target ... This is a violation of the Constitution," Whitehead responded by chalking it all up to government paranoia and then proceeded to warn that the Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling millions of rounds of ammunition that it plans to use against American citizens.

"We're dealing with some paranoid people," he warned. "When you have the Department of Homeland Security, which we know now, several years ago, purchased 1.6 million hollow point bullets for their agents; they were not looking out toward ISIS."

Whitehead went on to claim that a local police chief he knows of has likewise been stockpiling military-style weapons and equipment in preparation for the possibility of having to put down an uprising of local citizens, prompting Whitehead to warn gun owners not to post anything on social media about owning weapons because SWAT teams are just itching to carry out violent raids against perceived threats, such as the names of eight million gun owners which he claims are being cataloged and stored in databases so the government knows who to "round up in times of emergency."

Right-Wing Activists Claim DOJ Domestic Terrorism Chief Will Target Veterans And Conservatives

Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced the creation of a new position for a “domestic terrorism counsel” to fight homegrown extremism, which DOJ national security head John Carlin said could be “motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate — anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs” because “when it comes to hate and intolerance, no single ideology governs."

So, naturally, WorldNetDaily reported on the story today with the headline “New Obama Czar Will Hunt ‘Right-Wing’ Extremists” and interviewed a pair of right-wing activists who warned that it is all a plot to “target” and “intimidate” political opponents in the “old Soviet model.”

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton told WND that the new position will “become the vehicle through which the Justice Department can target those who oppose the Obama agenda,” adding, “If a totalitarian leftist had to write a description for a government operation to suppress his enemies, this would be it.”

The Rutherford institute’s John Whitehead, meanwhile, warned that the DOJ will use the new position to go after gun owners, veterans, “abortion activists, tea-party activists [and] constitutionalists.”

Somehow, this reaction does not surprise us. After all, when the Department of Homeland Security released a report on domestic right-wing terrorism back in 2009, right-wing groups raised a stink, leading to the “gutting” of the DHS unit investigating such attacks.

As the Obama administration comes down to its final months in office, look for more brazen, racially charged steps that target law-abiding American citizens who express political views that don’t line up with those of the administration, Fitton said.

“This is going to become the vehicle through which the Justice Department can target those who oppose the Obama agenda,” he said. “This is a solution in search of a problem.”

“The fantasy of right-wing extremists trying to overthrow the government has always been a liberal fantasy,” Fitton said. “They write books off it. They make movies off it and raise money off it. Now they’re endorsing it as reality, and it’s truly frightening.”

By shifting resources away from international terrorist organizations and putting them into a new focus on domestic lone-wolf “extremists,” the Obama administration is sending a message to its enemies, Fitton said.

“The term ‘anti-government views’ ranges from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump, in my estimation. When they talk about ‘racist views,’ are they talking about La Raza (The Race), or are they talking about people opposed to the immigration crisis at our border?”

“This is a leftist fantasy,” he continued. “If a totalitarian leftist had to write a description for a government operation to suppress his enemies, this would be it.”


“Anybody with a gun now, in my opinion, is an extremist, at least as viewed by this government,” Whitehead said. “You’re going to be watched. Be careful what you say on Facebook. The wrong kind of joke will put you on the extremist list, because the government agents – I will tell you this – they do not have a sense of humor.”

If you want to see the future of law enforcement, watch the film “Minority Report,” a drama about “pre-crime” fighting police engaged 24/7 with a population addicted to social media and the Internet, Whitehead said.

“They’re already saying ‘we’re going against violent extremists,’ but who are they?” Whitehead said. “Well automatically under the Obama administration you are an extremist if you own a gun.”

“So we’re dealing with an entity that has no idea about representative government. They’ve made up their mind who constitutes an extremist, and an extremist is a terrorist, an enemy of the state,” Whitehead said. “Veterans are already on the list, as are abortion activists, tea-party activists, constitutionalists. I know the vets are because we have them calling us every day.

“These are all things that should be debated openly, but now you’re having cities moving into U.N. programs, police being federalized and internationalized and now targeting their own people as enemies of the state,” he added. “I’m a student of history, and I see us repeating history. We’re following the Chinese model, which is basically the old Soviet model.”

Jailed AZ Pastor Unfairly Stuck in Arpaio's 'Concentration Camp'

Yesterday we wrote a post noting that John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, which is representing jailed Arizona pastor Michael Salman, was complaining about the conditions in which Salman is being held within the infamous tent city jail compound created by "America's Toughest Sheriff" and Birther extraordinaire Joe Arpaio.

Whitehead is now making the rounds on right-wing radio programs to plead Salman's case and stopped by AFA's "Today's Issues" where he complained that Salman was being held in a "concentration camp":

He's in Tent City. If you don't know what Tent City is, I'm telling your listeners, go Google it - it is a concentration camp. It has stun fences, electric fences, no air conditioning, people live in tents on the ground and men have to wear pink underwear to humiliate them. There's no air conditioning; it's a 145 degrees there. So that's where he's at.

The Right's Sudden Concern About Arpaio's Prison Camps

Over the last few weeks, Arizona pastor Michael Salman has become a Religious Right cause célèbre and the current poster boy for religious persecution. In the Religious Right's version of events, Salman has supposedly been harassed and persecuted by local officials for years simply because he wanted to hold bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and was found guilty of dozens of code violations, resulting in a sixty day jail sentence, which Salman is now serving ... and about which his supporters are now complaining:

Pastor Michael Salman is serving his 60-day sentence for holding a home Bible study in Tent City Jail, a prison compound in Maricopa County, Ariz. The Phoenix pastor’s attorney describes conditions there as similar to the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

“This is where you would put Osama bin Laden, not Michael Salman,” says Rutherford Institute founder and attorney John Whitehead in an interview yesterday with International Christian Concern (ICC).

“The temperature there has been around 140 degrees, and there is no air conditioning. They’re [living] in tents. They have stun fences … barbed wire … large German shepherds walking the perimeter, armed guards and facial recognition software so that the prisoners are studied all the time.”

According to Whitehead, Salman has reported being imprisoned with “really hardened criminals.” He is unsure why the pastor has been specifically sent to Tent City. In late June, the jail was the focus of thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office to express their disapproval of the allegedly prison camp-like conditions.

It should be noted that this Guantanamo-like prison camp in which Salman is currently serving his time just so happens to be the system set up by the Right's hero, "America's Toughest Sheriff," and Birther extraordinaire Joe Arpaio.

Oddly, nobody on the Right seemed particularly concerned about the conditions in the compound until now. 

The DHS Conspiracy Reaches the Illogical Nadir

Remember back in 2009 when the entire Religious Right movement began falsely claiming that the Obama administration was targeting conservatives by labeling them potential domestic terrorists based solely on a footnote in a Department of Homeland Security report ... a report that was written during the Bush administration by a gun-owning, anti-choice Republican Mormon?

This ridiculous claim has long been an established belief among the Religious Right, so it was only a matter of time before they started warning that National Defense Authorization Act is really a way for Obama to round-up anti-abortion activists and imprison them indefinitely without trial:

Constitutional experts warn a new law that allows the president to permanently detain U.S. citizens without trial could be used against pro-life activists, who have already been defined as potential terrorists in documents by some government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.

“This law can apply to pro-lifers, yes,” said John W. Whitehead, a constitutional attorney and founder of The Rutherford Institute. Whitehead told the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) “would allow the military to show up at your door if you’re a ‘potential terrorist,’ and put you in military detention where seeing a lawyer is difficult.”


[Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation] who told her organization is currently studying the NDAA, added that the law states “enemy territory is anywhere.” The Senate rejected an amendment from Dianne Feinstein limiting permanent detention to those captured “abroad.”

“If it’s within the discretion of the government under the National Defense Authorization Act, of course it will be used by the government to intimidate and silence pro-life people, especially those who are in the public forum,” Cody said.

Supreme Court Rejects Church-State Appeal

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal of a lower court decision which upheld the policy of the Fredericksburg, Virginia, City Council requiring that the official prayers recited at the beginning of its meetings be non-sectarian. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by a member of the City Council, Rev. Hashmel Turner, who claims that he has a constitutional right to offer a sectarian prayer as the Council's official opening prayer. The City Council and Mayor were represented in the case on a pro bono basis by Terence Rasmussen and Robert Rolfe of the law firm of Hunton & Williams and by attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation.

"Parental Rights"

"Parental Rights" is a phrase often used to mask a right-wing agenda to undermine the rights of children.

Sabotaging Science: Creationist Strategies in the '90's

This report examines the increasingly sophisticated strategies that creationists use in an effort to inject their ideas into public school science curricula

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