Accused Insurrectionist Thomas Caldwell Claims to Have Top Secret Clearance

Yesterday, Thomas Caldwell — the man accused of being part of an Oath Keeper conspiracy on January 6 — submitted a motion fighting detention. In it, he claims all the accusations against him are false, there’s no evidence that he breached the Capitol (presumably based on certainty that his wife, who was allegedly with him, won’t testify to that fact), and that his bad back prevents him from doing things like walking into the Capitol.

The Oath Keepers have a reputation of ordering underlings to do their dirty work, and that may be what Caldwell is claiming here.

It is noteworthy that despite reports of over 100,000 photo and video recordings of the incidents on January 6, 2021, the Government has not identified and photo or video that shows Caldwell in the U.S. Capitol Building, on the grounds, after overcoming any barrier or other evidence of restriction, in the vicinity of any damaged property, or in any chamber of Congress. Further, the Government has not identified any time, place, or specific content of any alleged agreement that Caldwell alleged participated in that would meet the definition of a conspiracy.

But the more interesting move is — in an effort to suggest his military background means he wouldn’t engage in a conspiracy with a militia that focuses on recruiting former military — Caldwell’s claims to retain (still!) clearance.

After retiring from the Navy, he worked as a section chief for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2009-2010 as a GS-12. He also formed and operated a consulting firm performing work, often classified, for U.S. government customers including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Personnel Command.

What classified work and military experience does HUD require?

In another case where an insurrectionist had Top Secret clearance, DOJ pointed to that as reason why the person should be detained.

In any case, what is clear is that Caldwell believes Congress is full of traitors because they followed the Constitution, and he advocated similarly storming Capitols around the country.

Even with his bad back.

64 replies
  1. Silly but True says:

    Reference HUD Handbook 1750.1, National Security Information — a product of Reagan’s 1985 National Security Decision Directive 197 (NSDD-197), “Reporting Hostile Contacts and Security Awareness.” The National Security Council required HUD to implement a response.

    Apparently, foreign enemies and agents use cover of public housing.

    HUD is a primary contact for US government who may encounter such operatives and may be the one in position to see something and say something.

    • BobCon says:

      HUD also deals with drug enforcement and financial fraud to a non trivial degree.

      He may well, however, be conflating security work involving clearance with a much bigger basket of clients.

      • harpie says:

        Wasn’t there something about Barr somehow using HUD to police the demonstrations in DC last year? I’m probably misrembering…

      • Silly but True says:

        Yep. This was also a thought; it may be correct as written and we’re reading too much into it:
        “ He also formed and operated a consulting firm performing work, often classified, for U.S. government customers including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency [consulting, perhaps some classified], the Department of Housing and Urban Development [consulting, nothing classified, but perhaps there was], the U.S. Coast Guard [consulting, some classified], and the U.S. Army Personnel Command [consulting, all classified and often].”

        I’d be hard-pressed to describe a composite summary any different without knowing specifics of each agency’s engagement. It sounds like drug side is most likely, especially when you lump the DEA in with USCG interdiction with Army Personnel Cmd.

        • timbo says:

          Hi might have just been contract security for all those places. Many or all of them may give you preference for those sort of contract jobs if you have a security clearance of some sort.

  2. Zinsky says:

    Interesting. from Caldwell’s motion, he sounds like a physical wreck. He doesn’t sound like a well-conditioned athlete, ready to rappel from the pinnacle of the Capitol to save democracy from the “Deep State”, that he sounds like he spent a lifetime inside. He claims to have fused spinal discs, a bad knee and reconstructed shoulder, sleep apnea, chest pains and PTSD. I’m sure the taxpayer-funded, socialized medicine he receives from the VA covers all of it at little cost to him. A man who has been treated so badly by his government… Sad.

    What I find intriguing is the conspiracy charge against Caldwell et al under 18 USC 371. In paragraph 28 of their indictment, Caldwell talks about [Person Three], being “committed to being the quick.reaction force anf [sic] bringing the tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don’t have to try to schlep weps [sic] on the bus. He’ll bring them in his truck day before.” I have to assume the reference to “tools” refers to weapons and “schlep the weps” means carry the weapons. Plotting the interstate transportation and concealment of weapons in anticipation of committing an assault on the U.S. Capitol seems like a pretty big deal to me. I guess we will see.

    • madwand says:

      This is what I originally thought, if weapons were to be used, they would have been brought in before the insurrection in order to be available to use. This would have implied a hostage situation and extended siege of the Capitol. Four hundred well trained riflemen (the equivalent of two rifle companies essentially) with hostages could have held that building for a considerable period of time. Something interfered with that scenario, possibly that no hostages were taken, and the NG and Capitol Police regained control of the Capitol.

      It seems for Mr Caldwell, getting both a retirement pension and VA pension for honorable service in the Navy wasn’t enough, he had to overthrow the government that was giving him that.

  3. skua says:

    the Government has not identified and photo or video that shows Caldwell in the U.S. Capitol Building

    At this stage of proceedings is the defense meant to have access to any evidence (images) that show Caldwell inside the Capitol?

    • My Uncle Fred says:

      As noted in posts on other Caldwell related threads, Thomas has either scrubbed most of his and his consulting business’ web presence (including pictures), or he has avoiding having it created in the first place. In fact, its only been a short while since the prosecution has released a pictures of him. So there’s that.

      Also the Oath Keeper’s claim he isn’t a member, but conversations of his and others seem to clearly identify him as a player (my words) coordinating with other Oath Keeper leaders.

      Further, the Feds have quoted electronic conversations in which Caldwell mentions that he’s proud of his wife for joining him (I believe he says inside the capital) and how she’s tough and put up with the teargas and whatever else was going down. This indicates that both of them were inside and participated in the melee despite any claims of physical infirmity. However, it is likely that he didn’t participate in the physical violence (both to protect his interests and possibly his back). Unless the defense can quash this converstation, it would seem to directly contradict their motion fighting detention

      It should be noted that Caldwell could perform his role at the FBI, despite his injuries. This speaks somewhat to how well he adapts to his injuries. Further, he chooses to live on a rural horse farm where one can assume he has to engage in a certain amount of physical activity. Likely there are other examples from his day to day life which contradict the motion to dismiss.

      IDK retirement qualifications for federal agencies or the Navy. Someone here suggested that the qualified for two of them: 1) as a vet; 2) as a disabled vet. I would propose a possible 3rd, which would have come from the FBI.

      As a disabled vet, he also pulled in millions federal contracts. What information is still available about his business suggests that he was an IT body shop. Accordingly his classified work may be no more than providing contractors who had to pass security screening in order to be employed in various federal agencies. And this reading would be consistent with the appearance that he constantly lies by exaggeration.

      Net net, I think his defense is wishful and that he’s in lots of trouble.

      • P J Evans says:

        He’s likely going to be in deep doo-doo for the claim that he was an “FBI section head”. Also his storiesmake me wonder about his actual clearance level. TS generally gets a decent background check, and compartmented is deeper.

        • posaune says:

          I’ve never heard of ANY section head in the Civil Service being a GS-12. Most are GS-15 or SES. His story just doesn’t compute!

      • Silly but True says:

        “Find you someone who loves you like Mrs. Caldwell loves Mr. Caldwell and you’ll be happy.”

      • Xboxershorts says:

        Aside from his freedom, he will also likely lose that pension. And the disability add-on that can be very significant (My brother’s 100% disability nets him about $2800/mo).

        And unless that horse farm is paid off, that means he’d also likely lose that.

        He screwed up big time. Got sucked into a cult and it destroyed him.

      • Bob's My Uncle says:

        Horse farm seems a generous description. Although almost 20 acres with what appears to be two-trailer houses tied together as the abode (2 bedrooms; two baths) there is also a slime-green pond I wouldn’t let any horse drink from. The outbuilding (shed or barn) seems to have solar panels next to it. Survivalist camp seems more like it.

  4. harpie says:

    Bad back and all… Caldwell still had dreams!

    1/1/21 CALDWELL to CROWL [on Face Book?]

    [PERSON ONE] never contacted me so [PERSON TWO] and I are going our way. I will probably do pre-strike on. the 5th though there are things going on that day. Maybe can do some night hunting. […]

    “This is a good location and would allow us to hunt at night if we wanted to. […]

  5. Greg Hunter says:

    What seems to be clear to me is that the US Government will gladly cut deals with right wing governments or people to wage the drug war. I would expect that this may be the case with this individual.

    From Afghanistan to Enrique Tarrio; lather, rinse repeat. I am convinced ending the Drug War would solve a great number of problems ranging from privacy, immigration, #2A and public health, while bringing in revenue to deal with those that have issues.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Money could also be saved from counterproductive educational programs such as the “Just Say No” project. I read this book in 2010 and found it useful. I think it might have renewed relevance in our current political climate. Here’s one example of a review:

      “The Seven Triggers of Fascination” – Matthew May, 2/19/10

      “I have just finished reading Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation , by Sally Hogshead. “
      “Her goal in conducting a study of 1,059 Americans over the age of 18 was to define the role of fascination in our lives, and measure it in tangible terms. “Without fascination,” Sally says, “we can’t sell products, persuade shareholders to invest, teach students to read, or convince our own kids to stay off drugs.”
      …”And did you know …that the billion-dollar “Just Say No” program actually increases drug use among teens, by activating the same “forbidden fruit” syndrome as a Victoria’s Secret catalogue?”

      “If you want to know why you’re captivated by some people (but not others), why you recall some brands but forget the rest, and why certain people can get you to change your behavior, Fascinate will fascinate you.”

      • Stacey says:

        Thanks for that link to the 7 triggers article! I went there because I thought it might answer another raging question of our time and it did not disappoint.

        Here’s the 7 triggers:

        Lust: the anticipation of pleasure, which we crave.

        Mystique: unanswered questions, which intrigues us and makes us want to solve the puzzle.

        Alarm: the threat of negative consequences, which demands immediate response.

        Prestige: symbols of rank and respect, which earn us status and admiration.

        Power: command over people and things, which draws our focus.

        Vice: rebellion against rules, which tempts us toward “forbidden fruit.”

        Trust: certainty and reliability, to which we give our loyalty.

        How many of you while reading through that list noticed that it so perfectly paints the brand picture Donald Trump paints of himself to his audience?

        I was particularly intrigued by this connection because of his communication style where every time he opens his mouth ‘vague tremendousness in a cloud of potential’ comes out that in my mind says absolutely nothing of value on the topic, but to his peeps triggers fascination precisely because it is so imprecise as to nail down nothing but allows them to imagine whatever they most want to imagine. Which is how con men con their men, so there’s that.

        Just because I think it fits as well, it also perfectly describes the mechanism of action for the allure of the Qwazies that fall down these CT rabbit holes. ESPECIALLY when you understand that the Q-drops that people decipher function on game theory with a sense of ‘figuring out a puzzle’ and getting social kudos for coming up with the most wow option for how to interpret a thing that by design makes no fucking sense this side of reality.

        I think it fits the click bait things all up and down the sides of news sites that are all worded with this mysterious fascination characteristic in mind, too.

        Anyway, Savage Librarian, that was a wonderful contribution! I will go and download that book at my next opportunity, because it tickles my psychology background immensely! I’m fascinated by it ;-)

        • Eureka says:

          lol Stacey you turned this all serious when all I wanted to do was say your porn name is your first most-enticing trigger-with-a-Y, plus your second one.


          Lusty Mystique

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          “…in my mind says absolutely nothing of value on the topic, but to his peeps triggers fascination precisely because it is so imprecise as to nail down nothing but allows them to imagine whatever they most want to imagine…”

          Yep. All of his complaints are like that as well: “it’s disgraceful”, “I’ve been treated more unfairly that any other president”, “the collusion was from the a democrats”, all leaving blanks which his supporters’ minds fill in.

          “…Q-drops that people decipher function on game theory with a sense of ‘figuring out a puzzle’…”

          As has been pointed out, it’s nearly impossible to change their minds with facts since they did not come to their conclusion by facts. It fells very much to me why urban legends take hold, people feel special, they think “now I know something unique, something that sets me apart from the masses”.

  6. BobCon says:

    Clearance requires a lot of disclosure, and he may end up wishing he didn’t have it.

    Usually the feds don’t have the resources to chase down every statement on a disclosure form and evaluate its truthfulness, but they may be a lot more motivated with him.

      • person1597 says:

        Anthem for an engineering student…

        “Nothing is easy, you’ll find that the squeeze won’t turn out so bad.
        Your fingers may freeze, worse things happen at sea, there’s good times to be had.
        So if you’re alone and you’re down to the bone, just give us a play.
        You’ll smile in a while and discover that I’ll get you happy my way.
        Nothing’s easy.”

      • vvv says:

        “Locomotive Breath.”

        I know someone, about the first time he herbed, was in the back of a panel van (no chairs, just a rug with 3-4 other teen guys trying to sit and balance) driving in circles around a mall that was under construction.

        It seemed to last hours – days, even.

        So I heard …

        “No way to slow down.”

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah. People forget about Tull. It was not just Ian Anderson, but the axe man, Martin Barre, was absolutely incredible too. The whole band. Just amazing live back in the day. It is like Bowie Ziggy time, if you didn’t see them back then, it is really hard to describe how mind blowingly good they really were.

          • Lawnboy says:

            One of my first vinyls, and caught his tour a couple years back. One off the list. The prostrate examination was not expected!

  7. P J Evans says:

    If his back is that bad, what is he doing going to a demonstration and then walking a mile or so to the Capitol to demonstrate for another couple of hours? (My back ain’t in great shape, and after an hour it tells me I need to sit down.)

    • PeterS says:

      And if he says on Facebook that he was inside the Capitol, then I wonder quite where the burden of proof lies.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      The McNabb link shows about 5 contracts in the 2004-2007 period, but then nothing. Three of them (for DOJ) seem to be linked, that is, one job, but renewed a couple of times. Links to supposed company website either turn up a plastics company with a website in Spanish (top of page), or a notice that the domain-name is available for purchase (bottom of page). Then in 2009-10 (one fiscal year) he’s a SC with the FBI. Sounds like more contract work, but through a different company. It would be nice to have more information on whatever companies, consultancies, he’s created, but I lack the skills to do that search.

    • My Uncle Fred says:

      In one of Caldwell’s Zello messages, He signs off as: “Spy.”

      I have to go back and research dates and name, but he had an IT ‘consultancy.’ The breadth of claimed areas of expertise, of a company with two employees (he and his wife) indicates that he was placing contractors, not doing the work himself or by employees under his direction.

      • My Uncle Fred says:

        The Caldwell’s company was Progressive Technologies Management. Their website was but this is now owned by a Spanish language plastics mfg.

        You can find evidence of Progressive Technologies Management at:

        Their claimed areas of expertise include:
        – Business Intelligence
        – Enterprise Architecture
        – FEAF (Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework) compliance
        – Application development/integration
        – Design and implement web and DB information systems including Cognos, Oracle, .asp and .net

        7/23/2004 – 7/23/2004, US Army Special Ops Command – $1,440.57
        9/30/2005 – 9/29/2007, DEA – $2.5mm
        9/27/2004 – 9/26/2007, Dept of Justice – $2.499mm
        9/29/2006 – 9/28/2007, Dept of Justice – $1,499,996
        6/10/2005 – 6/12/2006, Dept of Justice – $219,300

        There’s no clear significance to the following facts:
        – What was provided to Army Spc Ops in a single days work, for one person (assuming common consulting rates for the time), that required an outsource? Or was it a situation which didn’t work out?
        – Most Justice and the one DEA contract have September start/end dates. I don’t know if September is part of a Federal planning year or otherwise. Could it signify that the DEA and Justice contracts are related? Certainly the time-frames overlap closely.
        – While the DEA contract is a nice round number, the Justice contracts look like they were trying to get close to the round number without hitting it. Was this to stay within budget? An attempt to avoid a level with additional oversight? Or something else?
        – The last noted Justice contract was in excess of $200k earned over two days. This could be legit, but looks suspicious. Figure 10 or more consultants for two days. No time to ramp up or down.

        • My Uncle Fred says:

          More questions related to dates….

          Why did the money train stop after 2007?

          Why/how did he two years later (2009) become a Section Chief at the FBI?

          Why did he leave the FBI after two or less years (2010)?

        • blueedredcounty says:

          The Federal Government fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30.

          It was part of the reason for the timing of the shutdown in 2013. When the Republicans in Congress triggered that, it was the start of the fiscal year, which means some things had to shut down immediately (because there was zero budget money) but other things with multi-year pre-commitments kept going. And certain people were furloughed while others worked without pay.

      • Stacey says:

        He sounds like he worked at the Walter J Mitty company if you ask me :-)

        And his injuries may be a little worse when used as an alibi than when ignored as a criminal. Just a thought.

  8. Jon Marcus says:

    Paragraph 4, bottom of page 3: “Caldwell was arrested on January 19, 2009…” 2009??! Typo? Can’t any of these bozo’s lawyers (or their paralegals) type?

  9. Spencer Dawkins says:

    I clicked on the court filing, but it didn’t list a defense attorney’s name (no surprise, but I did check).

    “In another case where an insurrectionist had Top Secret clearance, DOJ pointed to that as reason why the person should be detained.”

    An experienced defense attorney might not have emphasized that … is this another personal injury lawyer like the one Trump just added to the impeachment defense team?

  10. Don_Macaroon says:

    Long time fan of EW and the site, first time commenting. I note that his Motion denies that he was in the Capitol or breached any perimeter, and that this denial is being (possibly) asserted in-part because he believes his wife will not testify to the contrary, and can’t be compelled to testify because of spousal immunity. I am not familiar with Fed. Crim. Proc. – but is it correct that she can waive spousal immunity at any point, and he cannot prevent her from doing so? Lots of spouses are probably re-thinking their partner choices after 1/6 and she may be one of them, especially if she is or might be facing charges down the road. Further, having submitted a Motion stating he was not inside the Capitol grounds, how boned will he be if the DOJ submits tangible evidence (photo/video, e.g.) or testimony from another charged defendant or Capitol PD that he WAS in the Capitol. On the civil side it would be very bad thing for any party that is caught affirmatively lying to the Court in a Motion. What additional leverage or charges might the DOJ have under my hypothetical? Thanks in advance all.

    • bmaz says:

      There are exceptions, but generally, the defendant spouse (I take it in this case Caldwell) can affirmatively assert it. Nothing is necessarily cut and dried until a court rules on it though.

      • Don_Macaroon says:

        Interesting, and thanks for the reply bmaz. I will follow this defendant more closely. It seems to be a big risk to claim you were not on Capitol grounds unless (1) it’s the truth, or (2) you are extremely confident you will be un-identifiable because of a face-covering and generic clothes (in the event your face was captured in photos/videos pre-riot) AND you are sure about that spousal immunity thing! The FBI must have thousands of videos and photos remaining to be reviewed. Pass the popcorn.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      The government has already quoted 1/6 messages from him claiming to be in and around the Capitol, and earlier messages stating that he plans to be there, and so forth, so for his lawyer to claim he was never there, his defense would seem to be, yeah, I was lying when I said all those things. Doesn’t sound like a winning strategy, as in – why should we believe you now? As well, the government cites a video he sent, and then tried to unsend, which might mean that they have a copy of the video.

      • Silly but True says:

        He’s going to harp on distinction that he was so overcome with expression of democracy he wanted to wander on over to the Capitol grounds and express his speech without entering.

        If he uses this and did enter, he’s going to be on CCTV/camera and will be burned.

        If not, DoJ already spilled beans those like him may be difficult yo prosecute and he may be betting on that.

        They have his communications by now; if he conspired in writing they’ll burn him for that too.

          • Don_Macaroon says:

            I confess I forgot all about the “Father of the US Navy” and went straight to rock ‘n roll!

              • Alan Charbonneau says:

                I saw Zep in August 1971 (Fabulous Forum, Inglewood CA) and May 1975 (San Diego Sports Arena). Absolutely phenomenal.

                I also got to see The Who perform Quadrophenia at the Anaheim pond, in the 90’s, long after Moon the Loon had departed this planet. Zach Starkey (Ringo’s son) played the drums and Billy Idol was the Ace Face. What a tremendous experience.

                I only wish I could’ve seen Keith Moon live – his concert films are amazing. Check this out:
                @1:22 it gets seriously energetic.

                • bmaz says:

                  Saw them in mid to late 70’s sometime in Tempe. Remember sleeping/standing in line at Gammage to get the tickets, not sure where the show was, think was at the activity center. Moon could pound the skins crazy good.

    • PeterS says:

      Possibly the motion is not denying he was in the Capitol at all, but is denying he was in the Capitol “after overcoming any barrier or other evidence of restriction…”.

      As noted, he said on Facebook that he was there. After 6 January he used the word “storm” to explain his entry, which doesn’t help any “I just wandered in” defense.

    • blueedredcounty says:

      I am not a lawyer, so I do not know the specific rules about this. However, Duncan Hunter (Convicted but pardoned – CA) and his wife were both charged for using campaign funds for personal expenses. It’s ironic, because Margaret Hunter’s abuse of the campaign funds was so bad (and supposedly not known by Duncan or aides) that a campaign finance manager threatened to quit if she was not reigned in. But she ultimately testified against him, which the published stories and court documents imply happened after she found out some of his spending was on mistresses.

  11. John Lehman says:

    My take is ;
    the man’s a cosplayer among cosplayers.
    They’re all assuming the world’s not wise to them and their arrested development…it includes their leader.
    Life isn’t a game.

  12. P J Evans says:

    It’s come out that among all the other stuff Caldwell had was a firearm that looked like a cellphone. Didn’t this kind of weapon come up here at some point? (He also was trying to find people with boats who could ferry weapons across the Potomac, with the idea of landing them “near the Capitol”.)

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