The Passport and the Antifa Hunt: The Militia Counter-Stories Emerge

In both the case against Proud Boy Leader Ethan Nordean and accused Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, the defendants are arguing that the government has made errors about their activities.

With regards to the former, Nordean’s wife submitted a sworn declaration stating, among other things, that the passport the government has pointed to as evidence that Nordean might flee was not — as the government claimed — on the dresser by the bed, but instead inside a jewelry box on the dresser. She also claimed that Nordean received a Baofeng radio on January 7, the day after the insurrection, and that to her knowledge, he “did not possess” one before that date.

The government responded with a picture showing that, at a time they claim precedes the search, a picture they took to show the weapons they had secured shows the passports were on the dresser.

Additionally, she claimed that Nordean’s cell phone “was without power” on the day of the insurrection, which is irrelevant to why he stashed it in the drawer or whether it would have useful evidence.

Ms. Nordean responded with her own picture showing that, in a picture taken on December 8, 2020, the jewelry box was closed.

This would be a matter of he-said she-said, FBI agents against the wife of a suspect, except for one thing. In her original affidavit, Ms. Nordean tries to rebut the government’s focus on the Baofeng (the government claims the Baofeng he got on January 7 is a different one than the one he used the day of the riot, but in any case the one they seized was set to the channel used by the Proud Boys during the riot), she noted that “it is [her] understanding that his mobile phone was without power throughout January 6, 2021,” a detail the defense relied on to suggest, first of all, that the government was purposefully withholding that detail, and that that — and not the evidence of the Proud Boys discussing obtaining the radios and using a specific channel — is why the government had focused on the Baofeng.

But it does the opposite. A bunch of the Proud Boys brought live cell phones to their insurrection on January 6. William Chrestman appears to have tried avoiding using cell coverage, but got geolocated using his Google account. For Nordean to spend an entire day his phone powered off suggests an operational security that many of his buddies didn’t have. It certainly suggests he might have the wherewithal to search for a passport he might make use of, suggesting it’s possible that he, not the FBI, took the passports out of the jewelry box (though they would have been out there for a day because, per Ms. Nordean, Ethan wasn’t home the night before the raid.

Meanwhile, Thomas Caldwell says the government has similarly misunderstood everything about his involvement in an insurrection. There’s a claim he makes that I find quite compelling: that Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl hid out at his home — and tried to lose a tail on the way there — to hide from the press, not the FBI.

Contrary to the Court’s understanding, Caldwell informed FBI agents that Watkins and Crowl contacted him—not vice-versa–and requested to come to his farm to get away from the media, not law enforcement.22 That is, subsequent to a New Yorker article that identified Watkins and Crowl as being involved in entering the Capitol, their small town Ohio residences were surrounded by scores of media. 23

22 Undersigned counsel reviewed over a thousand social media messages in discovery. Multiple messages from Watkins and Crowl express a desire to run away from the media throng that descended on their small Ohio hometown. Not one message evinces an intent to avoid authorities, who had not yet charged the two with a crime. In fact, Watkins’ mother, who is not a suspect in this case, fled Ohio and hid from the media in Florida. Also, discovery confirms that Watkins and Crowl reached out to Caldwell, not vice-versa.

23 Similarly, the Government’s claim that Caldwell advised Watkins and Crowl to “avoid law enforcement” by making sure that they were not followed to his farm is misplaced. Caldwell’s concern was that the pair weren’t followed by the media to his farm. Caldwell did not want a hundred reporters camped outside his farm.

But in the rest of the filing, Caldwell spins a fairy tale while at the same time he admitted he spends a lot of time spinning fairy tales.

To put his personality in more context, Caldwell is an amateur screen writer. Specifically, Caldwell has written screenplays with military style plots.17 Undersigned counsel has read a couple of these screenplays, which are heavy on hyperbolic military language. To give the Court a sample of his writings, in one screenplay Caldwell depicts a “dog fight” between rival aircraft, with one pilot radioing out “Buzzard One, this is Slingshot, I got two bogies on my six; say again, two bogies on my six; May-day, May-day.” What the Government misunderstands is that Caldwell’s language and personality center around his military career and his addiction to Hollywood.18

Ultimately, the fairy tale Caldwell spins in this filing is that he didn’t conspire to interfere with the vote count, but instead was just aiming to hunt Antifa.

He explained his contacts with the Oath Keepers, who he viewed as a self-styled group of patriots who sought to protect Trump supporters from Antifa and who provided security at Trump events. The concerning social media posts Caldwell made, he explained, all referred to fear that Antifa would attack Trump supporters on January 6th . 21

21 This fear was well-founded. In fact, contrary to the Government’s suggestion that Antifa is a virtuous group with a few bad apples, this organization is a domestic terrorist organization that has taken over cities like Portland and Seattle, burned buildings and churches, killed and injured police officers, defaced and destroyed public monuments, and violently injured hundreds of Trump supporters across the country. In fact, just a month before the Capitol was breached, Antifa attacked elderly Trump supporters at a December rally in Washington.

As part of this fairy tale Caldwell argues that the government has the timeline of the Zello chats included in the evidence against him, and therefore mistook a plan to guard people like Roger Stone for a plan involving the Capitol.

The Court placed great weight on this evidence, as it purported to show a specific, contemporaneous plan to breach the Capitol. In court papers, the Government described the Zello communications as follows:

“At the approximate 5 minute mark, the voice believed to be [codefendant] Watkins reports, “We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan.”

“At the approximate 7 minute 44 mark, an unknown male states, “You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud.”

The voice believed to be WATKINS responds, “We are in the mezzanine. We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it . . .[.]” ECF 1-1, ¶27 (ZMF-21-119) (second criminal complaint) (emphasis added).9

The latest indictment includes the same chronological representation, only without time-stamps. The Government’s inference is clear: The Oath Keepers had a plan to invade the Captiol and arrest elected officials, discussed this “invasion plan” at the “5 minute mark,” and were inside the Capitol a few minutes later executing the plan (at the 7:44 mark). Unfortunately, the Court has been misinformed by the Government. Upon receipt of discovery, undersigned counsel discovered that the Government’s Zello evidence actually consists of a National Public Radio (NPR) report, which aired random snippets of Zello communications. The above timestamps the Government referenced are time-stamps in the NPR report, not from Zello. In other words, the referenced Zello communications did not take place 2 minutes and 44 seconds apart in real time.

Ironically, after listening to these Zello communications, the Government’s smoking-gun proof of premeditation fizzles. Specifically, it is clear that the communication regarding “sticking to the plan” happened several hours before the Capitol breach, and probably in the very early morning, as there is no crowd noise in the background. 10 By contrast, the second Zello communication (from inside the Capitol) had substantial background noise.

10 Published reports suggest that as many as 500,000 demonstrators showed up to the rally. The fact that the audio reveals no crowd noise suggests that this particular Zello communication happened before hundreds of thousands of rally-goers entered the streets of Washington.

I’ll return to the temporal claim later. But there are several things that mark this story as a fairy tale. First, he’s complaining that the male voice has no background noise whereas Watkins’ does have background noise. Caldwell is comparing messages from different people in different places.

Moreover, while he nods to the NPR original of this (which he doesn’t cite, but I assume is this WNYC interview), he doesn’t acknowledge two sets of texts that the government has yet to rely on (but surely will), which make it clear the plan was prospective and tied to the Capitol. First, from two blocks away, Watkins reports that everyone is marching on the Capitol.

MILITIA What kind of numbers do we have going into the capital? Any estimates? What percentage of the crowd is going to the capital?

WATKINS One hundred percent. Everybody’s marching on the capital. All million of us. It’s insane. We’re about two blocks away from it now and police are doing nothing. They’re not even trying to stop us at this point. [END CLIP]

And then, a block away, Watkins informs her interlocutor that she’s going to go silent because “Imma be a little busy.”

WATKINS Yeah, we’re one block away from the Capitol now. I’m probably going to go silent when I get there because Imma be a little busy.

INFORMANT Hey, my girlfriend is at the Capitol right now and she said that cops are coming in from the right of the building. [END CLIP]

Even assuming the rest of the excerpts are a jumble (and I expect we’ll get clarity on this point shortly), it’s clear that Watkins’ objective is the Capitol, not guarding Roger Stone.

But there’s one more part of the texts that make that clear: the channel name. “Stop the Steal J6” The Oath Keepers didn’t arrange radio communications to keep Roger Stone safe. They arranged radio communications to stay in touch as they jointly assaulted the Capitol.

But there’s a bigger tell in this filing of fairy tales, the filing that argues Caldwell’s communications can’t be taken literally because he lives in a fantasy world, presents a claim that he believed Antifa presented a serious threat, and then claims that Caldwell’s denials must be believed because, “The word of a 20-year military veteran with no prior criminal record is evidence, and it is strong evidence, of his innocence.” Caldwell tells a fairy tale about the crimes of which he is accused.

Caldwell absolutely denies that he ever planned with members of the Oath Keepers, or any other person or group, to storm the Capitol. Caldwell absolutely denies that he obstructed justice. 3

The issue as to whether Caldwell violated 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(1) (Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds) is still being researched by undersigned counsel. Obviously, however, this charge is the least of the Court’s concerns in weighing the factors under the Bail Reform Act.

Caldwell is personally accused of two counts of obstruction. The first, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1), accuses him (like Graydon Young) of attempting to delete damning Facebook content, an accusation this filing rebuts.  But he is singularly and as part of the conspiracy also accused of violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(c)(2), 2. The object of the conspiracy is not, as Caldwell would suggest, to storm the Capitol. It was, instead, to stop the electoral vote count.

The purpose of the conspiracy was to stop, delay, and hinder Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote.

This is an accusation his entire fairy tale story doesn’t deny, nor does his narrative about his own actions that day (or the planning leading up to it) rebut the claim.

As I’ve said, at least one part of Caldwell’s story may well be true: that Watkins and Crowl were hiding out from the press, not (yet) the FBI. But none of Caldwell’s re-imagining of the record even attempts to rebut that he and his terrorist buddies were attempting to interfere with the counting of the vote as laid out in the Constitution.

Then again, Judge Mehta may not be his desired audience. Instead, his claim this was all about Antifa may be an attempt to feed GOP efforts to deny they encouraged a terrorist attack on the Capitol.

Update: Took out a reference to Nordean’s phone in his daughter’s drawer. That was William Chrestman, not Nordean. I thought I had removed it.

Update: Beryl Howell granted Nordean home detention yesterday, judging that the government (which backed off some of its earlier claims about Nordean’s role) had not proven that Nordean had directed the breach of the Capitol.

54 replies
  1. PeterS says:

    Cory Nordean is bold to state in a sworn declaration that “the agents found the passport in a jewelry box” if that’s not accurate. Though she does refer to a specific passport belonging to an ex-boyfriend, whereas the government refers to “the passports” plural. I’ve no idea if this is significant. 

    In any sane world, Wray’s testimony yesterday about Antifa’s non-involvement would squash any GOP efforts to use this talking point. But…

    (Avoiding the media is one part of a defense I can certainly sympathise with)

    • subtropolis says:

      There were two passports on the dresser. One belonging to her, and another issued to someone who bears a strong resemblance to her husband.

  2. P J Evans says:

    “The word of a 20-year military veteran” also includes Michael Flynn’s lies.
    Isn’t that passport that Nordean’s wife claims was in the jewel box the one that has another man’s name on it?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Such a plea to blind patriotism is one of the refuges of scoundrels. I’ve known a few grifters, fibbers and opportunists in the service while I was there, although I’ve seen more in civilian life. Anyhow, the 20-year claim (like Flynn’s) is designed to shut down investigations like the old “word of a gentleman” could do in Victorian England (it’s how more than a few nobles got off the hook, including a Prince of Wales on what was a murder rap), but the clear and direct evidence contradicting him shows he violated his oath.

      It’s just like Michael Flynn (and his son) did. Any of these seditionist jamokes who still are reservists or subject to orders may find themselves in courts martial as well, once the civilian side is done, if for no other reason than to “dismiss” them (for officers) or downgrade the separations to dishonorable discharge and/or bad conduct discharge (aka the “big chicken dinner”) for the enlisted. The consequences include removal of various benefits including the pension, funeral and flags on the grave.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’m also looking like this >< at claims about looking for Antifa. That's not their job; that's for law enforcement, after investigations start and warrants are issued. They were out to cause trouble or kill.

        • ducktree says:

          Not to mention their hallucinations about “probable cause” of treason and election fraud.

          They spend too much time playing War Craft in their own minds without ever touching down on the surface of reality. (Which we all know us just a collective hunch. h/t Lily Tomlin)

        • Knox Bronson says:

          I just found out a second cousin of mine was arrested last month, having been photographed and identified as being inside the rotunda during the insurrection. He is a guy who has been angry at the world since he was five years old. He ran with a biker gang in Washington state. His sister tells me his story is that he was there to disarm Antifa during the riot. I’m sure there are or will be others claiming the same BS story.

    • Hika says:

      To all those “Oath Keepers” who want to lean on their military service as evidence of good character, the rebuttal is Timothy McVeigh (honorably discharged and a Bronze Star too).

  3. Charles R. Conway says:

    Ms. Nordean’s photo of her “sleeping” husband, offered to show the absence of Passports on the dresser is hilarious. Are we to presume she often photographs him sleeping, or merely right before the FBI gets there?

    • John Paul Jones says:

      It’s an odd photo. Husbands and wives are always a deep mystery to outsiders, so I wouldn’t necessarily place much weight on her taking that photo. The time when it was taken will be the most important data point. The original digital file will contain lots of data as to time and place, so if she faked it, they will quickly know.

      I mean, who knows? Maybe he snores and the shot is part of a video taken to prove to him just how loudly he snores. Then too, the cat and the human make a nice parallel construction for the shot, and it’s cute. Could be lots of reasons.

      • P J Evans says:

        It looks more like a motel room than like any bedroom I’ve been in. Very, very impersonal. (I’m also wondering what that is under the mattress in the first pic. It doesn’t go to the corners, and it’s tied under the mattress.)

        • dadidoc1 says:

          I agree. Something isn’t right about the room and the bed. It’s almost like there is a gun safe or a safe room under the bed. The door frame outside the bedroom door looks like something you might find in an office building.

          • John Paul Jones says:

            I ran the image through Photoshop but I wasn’t able to bring out much detail in the shadowed room beyond, but what I was able to bring up kind of suggests bathroom-ness. I don’t know how to put an image into a comment, so apologies for that.

            • P J Evans says:

              It’s more like – everyone I know has pictures on walls and, often, books visible, on a table if not elsewhere. These people – no pictures, not even the kind they sell on street corners, no books, maybe a TV on one of the walls we don’t see. Possibly they do all their living in another room.

        • Leoghann says:

          The FBI claims to have taken that first photo. Surely they would have known if they were in a motel room or a commercial building, photographing a cleverly-staged room.

          • PeterS says:

            Ah, but these are photographs are more important than you think! We can tell the Apollo moon landing was faked because the American flag appears to be flapping as if in a breeze in the photograph supposedly taken from the airless lunar surface.

  4. subtropolis says:

    I’m curious as to whether Nordean’s wife affirmed that the passport had belonged to her ex, as Nordean claimed. He said that she’d kept it as a keepsake, and the resemblance to himself was entirely a coincidence. (Or, evidence that she has very specific tastes.) I’d think that the FBI would be working to find the individual who’d been issued it in order to get the story straight.

    “But there’s one more part of the texts that make that clear: the channel name. “Stop the Steal J6” The Oath Keepers didn’t arrange radio communications to keep Roger Stone safe.”

    I agree, but the logic here is a bit shaky. Stone was appearing at a rally titled, “Stop the steal”, after all. The channel name, by itself, isn’t all that incriminating.

  5. Matthew Harris says:

    For years, a large part of right-wing discourse online has been what I call “whack-a-mole”, and which I have also heard referred to as the Gish Gallup or “The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle”. The basic idea is that in online arguments, the ring-wing troll will pop up bad faith arguments in rapid succession, because they can make arguments faster than someone can refute them. So someone arguing in bad faith about climate change will say “Maybe it is an urban heat island” “Maybe it is solar cycles” “Maybe it is volcanoes”…which can also be good-faith arguments about climate change, but are not. The point is that it takes 30 seconds to type out “Climate change is an artifact of urban heat islands”, and it might take 15 minutes to an hour to check on that and explain that research has been done on that and suggested that it is not. (It actually takes two or three minutes to check the Wikipedia article, but a bit longer to look at the underlying debate)

    So for right-wing trolls, throwing out as many glib arguments as fast as possible is just part of the way they talk and think. “My wife kept her ex-boyfriend’s passport” is a story that on its face seems ridiculous. (I mean, it is within the realm of possibility, but…) But for the right-wing troll, it is as natural as saying “Obama and Clinton sold Uranium to the Russians”.

    The problem for these people is that while spinning stories as quickly as possible in Facebook comment threads is an irrefutable strategy, it is not going to work at all in legal arguments, where there is clear evidence of where they are and what they are doing.

    • subtropolis says:

      Yeah, the right-wing lies have become beyond appalling. And I thought the situation was really bad ten years ago! When Trump was elected it was a victory for trolls everywhere. And now, the Republican Party itself has gone wayyyy off the deep end. I’m not terribly optimistic about the future.

      Still, there’s a difference between all of that and lying to the FBI. (Not least, because they will not be deterred by more lies. They will find out the truth about that bogus passport.)

    • skua says:

      The perfector of the propaganda method you describe is Bjørn Lomborg who runs interference (so very well) for those who want anthropogenic-climate-change ignored*.
      His practise is revealed at a website Lomborg-errors
      It works, just as you say, in social media. And also in science articles [search: Lomborg Scientific American].

      * Did you see what I did there? – BL may currently claim to understand climate change to be anthropogenic and a serious problem – but he now works to get specific interventions rejected or delayed.

    • Tom Marney says:

      Matthew: I’m convinced that many of them believe that doing that actually constitutes winning the argument, as opposed to giving them a dishonest rationale for claiming they have.

      • Leoghann says:

        Based on the believe that they’ve won the argument if they’ve shut you up. (See also, “owned the libs.”)

      • Matthew Harris says:

        I agree, for a lot of people, social media is now the prime way to access reality, so if an argument is successful by the standards of social media, that is reality for them.


    I am 20-year retired Navy veteran (mostly as a reservist, rank O-4E, with prior active service in the Army), naval intelligence (1635), as well as former senior civilian intelligence analyst for the Department of the Army.

    I found Caldwell’s lawyer’s rebuttal to the government to be hilarious.

    For example, “hunting” is an offensive term. It can be in a protective mode, for example, protecting the fleet at sea while hunting for enemy submarines, but hunting is going on a search and destroy mission. A paramilitary unit “hunting” for terrorists, which is what the Oath Keepers organization considers antifa to be, is not a passive act

    A recon mission is to go out to get information for a SALUTE report–Size, Activity, Location, Unit, Time, Equipment–and is designed to avoid all contact with enemy forces.

    Caldwell’s lawyer claims that a “quick drive” around DC was “‘doing reconnaise’ or ‘going hunting.'” No, they are two different military operations. I can understand his lawyer not knowing, but Caldwell almost certainly should know the difference. And so should federal prosecutors.

    Now, whether or not Caldwell could actually do anything physically, his mindset is one of “hunting antifa” is intending to do violence.

    Caldwell, like many of the Oath Keepers, could very well live in a fantasy world.

    In the “First Superseding Indictment” there are two specific mentions of training for the upcoming January 6th event. Watkins says there is going to be a week-long training in Ohio. That training is the first week of January. And, Crowl, who lives in Ohio, attends training in North Carolina. Crowl’s training occurs in mid-December 2020. The Oath Keepers from North Carolina travel from NC to Washington DC to hook up with the Oath Keepers from Ohio.

    In military terms, this could be significant. In essence, Watkins as the commander of the Ohio Militia, is thinking of putting together a task force consisting of two units of Oath Keepers. They would need to discuss face-to-face and/or some other way what their joint objectives are, task force mission orders, their rules of engagement, how they will recognize each other, how and where they will meet up in DC, and how they will communicate.

    Those things did not have to be decided in North Carolina in December, but no task force is going to be thrown together on the day of an operation. That would be absurd.

    Watkins may have already had a commander’s intent and course of action in her head that she wanted to share with the North Carolina Oath Keepers unit.

    For example, in the government’s Feb 11th motion for pre-trial detention of Watkins, the government claimed that on October 26th she told a recruit there was training coming up in January that would include one week of training for new recruits who can make or a crash course over two days on “‘urban warfare, riot control, and rescue operations.'”

    Now, riot control can be taught in a couple of hours. But, urban warfare and rescue operations cannot. In one sense, she is a fantasist living in a fantasy world of her own making. But, Watkins’ claim of what they wanted to teach over the week or the two days has virtually nothing to do with Caldwell’s claim that he went to DC to protect anybody from antifa. It is clear from the intended militia training that it had nothing to do with crowd control or crowd protection or VIP protection, and everything to do with conducting an offensive military operation inside Washington DC.

    Why did Crowl go to North Carolina in mid-December to train when Watkins could have told him that she planned to hold training in Ohio, an hour north of where they lived, in early January, and, in fact, throughout December, as she told a new recruit in late October, according to government Feb 11th motion?

    It makes no military sense. But, federal prosecutors may want to probe these travels and training a bit more.

    However, making no military sense seems to be the apparent MO of Oath Keepers.

    In the superseding indictment, on Dec 30, 2020, Watkins and Caldwell are exchanging text messages and she wonders if the “NC boys are coming.” About 2 hours later, Caldwell tells Watkins that he spoke with Person 3 who told him that there are “40+ people coming from NC.”

    Crowl becomes an important piece of this puzzle. Why did he go to train in NC in mid-December and why didn’t Watkins have any idea of what the “NC boys” were up to?

    I am not saying there isn’t a conspiracy to obstruct the Jan 6th counting of the Electoral College votes. But, what I am suggesting is that this batch of Oath Keepers may be incompetent. The reason things go badly for them inside the Capitol is that whatever planning they did do was not done well enough. Failure of their military plan does not mean they did not have a military plan. Nor does it mean that they did not engage in the alleged conspiracy to “stop the steal.”

    Indeed, the main thing their leader, Stewart Rhodes talked about for months, and certainly in November through January 6th, was “stopping the steal” and preventing an “illegitimate” President Biden from taking office.

    But, what it does suggest is that if you are a low-ranking military person suddenly having the command of a militia unit, it does not mean you know diddly squat about military planning. And Caldwell, a LCDR (O-4), seems not to have known either.

    The FBI and federal prosecutors are probably not looking for a plan–which there may not be a plan in the military sense–but a conspiracy in which they agreed on their objective to stop the counting of the Electoral Votes.

    On the issue of doing protective services, Roger Stone did have Oath Keepers as bodyguards. They were photographed. On Feb 14th, the NY Times had a story, “First They Guarded Roger Stone. Then They Joined The Capitol Attack.” But the 6 who guarded Stone were not from Ohio. And in the NY Times story, 2 of the bodyguards later meet up with the Ohio Oath Keepers, “including two who were charged with conspiracy.”

    So, Watkins’ Oath Keepers did not do security for Roger Stone. Nor, did they do security at the Jan 6th rally at the Ellipse. They had to take off their camo stuff to be even near (like 50 feet) from the stage. So, they were not doing security there. Thus, “sticking to the plan” appears to have nothing to do with crowd control, crowd protection, or even scouting for antifa as the body of the crowd moved towards the Capitol.

    Caldwell’s new lawyer has spun out a fantasy of his own.

  7. The Old Redneck says:

    The passport being in the jewelry box may not be as silly as it sounds. If there is an issue about the scope of the warrant, and whether the passport was in “plain view,” I could see where they would claim it was put away.
    Otherwise, I can’t imagine any competent lawyer wasting a judge’s time on that.

  8. Zinsky says:

    Excellent investigative reporting, as always. Passport in jewelry box or not doesn’t seem like a material point to me. The fact Nordean and his wife had familiarity with Baofeng radios and the fact his cell phone was off all day January 6th seems super suspicious and indicative of planning and premeditation. The lengthy description of Caldwell as a showboat and a sort of dweller in fantasyland supports some of my previous comments on other threads about Caldwell and this Watkins person being very pathetic, self-hating ingrates who, on January 6th, 2021, betrayed everything they supposedly stood for all of their lives up to that point. Sad.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Baofeng radios are pretty common — as a brand. The prepper’s friend — cheap. The company sells a wide range of hand-held and mobile radios. The radios in question could be anything from simple, inexpensive FRS/GMRS (Family Radio Service / General Mobile Radio Service) units to highly programmable radios capable of operating anywhere within the the VHF-High and UHF land mobile and maritime mobile frequencies — which includes all kinds of government, military, commercial, and amateur frequencies.

      FRS/GMRS radios might not indicate much — some families use them to keep touch on outings. They would be safer to carry at a public “event”.

      The programmable radios offer much more opportunity to set up nets anywhere on the spectrum where there are gaps in frequencies used by legitimate license holders or federal assignees. But if seized, the radios’ programming could be more indicative of a higher level of planning. That risk would be part of the planners’ calculations.

      (From a technical perspective, some of the Baofengs are horrible.)

  9. Manwen says:

    While Oathkeepers appear guarding Roger Stone around 10:00 a.m. on the 6th, I wonder what the plan was. While they were going to the Capitol to stay with the “plan,” Roger Stone, like the man who pardoned him for his crimes, claims he was nowhere near the Capitol. The Hill reports on an ABC story:
    “Since Jan. 6, photos have surfaced of various insurrection participants posing alongside Stone, ABC News reports. Conspiracy charges have also been made against group members for their role in the deadly event.
    Stone has maintained his innocence in the Capitol riot, insisting that he had no knowledge of the planned attack and that he “never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport” that afternoon”.
    I cannot quite comprehend how invading the Capitol protected Roger Stone who was lounging in his hotel room before leaving for the airport. This sounds like a very odd plan to protect the man who was not with them.

    • P J Evans says:

      He was outside the hotel with them; there’s a photo. “The hotel grounds” apparently means their full property, including the entrance where the public can come and go (and take photos of guests who are also in the entrance).

    • Leoghann says:

      The picture of Stone outside the hotel provides plausible deniability. He could have only been there for the time required to take the photo. Same with cell phone location–Nordeen wanted to leave his off, so his location was not known; Stone could have left his in his hotel room, to indicate he was there instead of wherever he really was.

      • Manwen says:

        I do not mean to imply that I trust Roger Stone to be telling a truth. I merely meant to expose a tension between Stone’s claims of not being anywhere near those who claimed to be defending him. I assert no ability to discern truth from lie between those arrested for the insurgency and their muse. I simply noticed the inconsistency between the defendants and the object of their protection. I also do not assume that Stone was anywhere near the consequences of his actions that might put himself in danger.

  10. Geoguy says:

    I had never heard of Baofeng radios until this post and comments. Raven Eye noted that the radios are programmable to use “…anywhere on the spectrum where there are gaps in frequencies used by legitimate license holders or federal assignees.” I saw this note for Baofeng radios in the Wikipedia entry for List of Amateur Radio Transeivers: “Illegal marketing and distribution in the United States[edit]
    The FCC cited the Houston, Texas based importer Amcrest Industries which owns and operates Baofengradio US for illegally marketing UV-5R, “capable of operating outside the scope of its equipment authorization,” the FCC Citation said, which is outside of its Part 90 authorization granted. The FCC asserts Amcrest marketed “UV-5R-series FM hand-held radios capable of transmitting on “restricted frequencies.” “Marketing a device that is “capable of operating outside the scope of its equipment authorization,” is not allowed.[7]” Apparently the radios work well in schools and hospitals which could be like the Capitol; a multistory maze of corridors and rooms.

    • bmaz says:

      Right? The things are a LOT for the money. More frequencies will now be monitored as a result. I may buy one of these. Not sure what would need it for, but cool.

    • Raven Eye says:

      To be a little more accurate, many radios sold to amateur operators (Hams) can be modified to transmit and receive outside the ham bands. One of the uses is for operators who participate in the Army or Air Force Military Affiliate Radio Systems (MARS), which provide contingency communications support for the DoD and the services. Back in the day, modifications might have been done physically (snip a particular wire, remove/lift a surface-mounted resistor or capacitor, etc.).

      Now, “modifications” are likely to be through software along the same lines that a radio is prepared and programmed for the frequencies used by a commercial, government, or NGO customer – usually by a technician or a responsible trained individual. In the case of some of the cheap radios, some of those radios are pretty much wide open and potentially cover all of the VHF and UHF bands. Their advertising tends to “simplify” information regarding which Part of the FCC’s regulations would be in effect for specific users and use cases.

      The downside of cheaper radios is that they may tend to fall short in terms of selectivity and/or sensitivity, which makes them less suitable for high RF environments (downtown areas of large cities) or interior spaces with dense walls and overheads. Some Baofengs have been found to not meet their claimed output power, and in at least a few tests were found to be putting out more power to harmonic frequencies than the primary (“tuned”) frequency.

    • RobertI says:

      A bit of contextual information about “push-to-talk” radios. Common FRS radios are restricted to 22 narrowband channels around 462 and 467 MHz in the UHF band. GMRS radios are allocated 30 channels, most of which are shared with FRS radios and can use somewhat higher power levels for longer range. The trade-off is that, in the US, you need a license for GMRS (which is not hard to get) and are required to identify transmissions with the FCC-allocated call-sign. These are very specialized short range radios and, even with some technical skill, I don’t think worthwhile modifications to change operating frequencies to other bands would be feasible.

      There are also unlicensed bands, in the US, primarily around 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz. 2.4 GHz is used for Wi-fi and Bluetooth. Wi-fi also can use a portion of the 5.8 GHz unlicensed band. Nevertheless, in North America only a very small fraction of the radio spectrum is available for legal use by unlicensed operators and there are severe restrictions on power levels.

      In other jurisdictions, unlicensed bands may be different and there may be more flexibiliy for sharing spectrum between different classes of users. Radios such as the BaoFeng UV-82HP have capabilities far beyond those of radios legally available in North America for unlicensed operation. For example, the UV-82HP and many similar radios can operate over significant portions of the VHF and UHF bands (136-174 MHz UHF: 400-520 MHz). There are also select-able power levels to allow the operator to make trade-offs between battery life and range. These sorts of radios are widely used by groups such as the Taliban – they provide significant capabilities, are portable, readily available at low cost and don’t require much training.

  11. e.a.f. says:

    Where was the passport? On the dresser or in a box on the dresser. It may matter to a judge but to me, it was very close at hand and he could have used to leave the country. Its that simple. My question is, why have the passport with you any how. Most of us keep our passports at home. We don’t go walking around with them, hell you could loose it. In Canada people frequently go from one province to another and they don’t take their passports with them, so why would an American who is travelling from one state to another take their passport?

    That is a wierd picture of the guy on the bed. He still has his shoes on. If he really was tired and wanted to rest, you’d have thought he would have taken his footwear off.

    The first picture, that mattress looks like its bowed, as if there is something under it.

    Given what I’ve read over the years about how people are treated if they don’t pay a fine, thrown in jail for a couple of weeks or left in jail because they can’t afford bail for up to 2 years, what is the big deal about keeping this guy in jail until he goes to trial. It wasn’t like it was a unpaid parking ticket.

    In my opinion, they are grasping at straws.

  12. greenbird says:

    there are days – like this one, ending right now – when i need to shake my head real hard to stop feeling dazed and confused, plus even concerned that too many of my buttons are coming loose. i should steer clear of fairy tales, i guess.
    this is no fairy tale. it’s quite a good job, and will be used heavily.
    Election Integrity Partnership’s report, a pdf link and citation info link:
    jj mcnab’s link to same:


    I am not an expert on radios. But, in the course of doing other research on Oath Keepers, the group published 7 articles on communications between March 2016 and March 2017.

    In March 2016, Stewart Rhodes announced that Oath Keepers wanted to standardize national training on communications with 3 levels of skills and radio operators having a ham license.

    In October 2016, Rhodes announced the Highway Recon Team for truckers and other vehicle operators to pass “intelligence” to Oath Keepers. In this article, they implied that the Baofeng UV-5R would be desirable because it was cheap and easy to use with your ham license.

    They had 3 posts in March 2017 from 3 different instructors on using radios. It is not clear why they had 3 different instructors, but it appears that the radios were not standardized. In fact, one instructor, NCSouth who blogs at the brushbeater dot org website wrote on the Oath Keepers blog that the Baofeng “is a waste of money…but you’ll still buy them.”

    Near the end of March 2017, Oath Keepers published two articles on radios. On March 20th, Oath Keepers wrote, “the Baofeng radio(s) are a great way to get a decent beginner ham radio in your hands.” They recommended the Baofeng UV-5R radio because it did not have compatability issues with accessories.

    The Baofeng radio could also be programmed through the keypad but that was a “pain.” They suggested programming the radio through your personal computer using a specific programming interface cable using a “free and easy CHIRP program.” They also recommended the 14.5 inch whip antenna and throwing away the stock antenna. They closed the article by noting that the 5 watt Baofeng “can reach across the county.” Indeed, with the whip antenna the range is between 20 and 25 miles. And, if you connected with the American Redoubt Radio Operators Network (AmRRON) you could communicate on a regional or national basis.

    In the government’s rebuttal to Cory Nordean’s claims, the government indicated that Ethan Nordean’s Baofeng radio had a “larger antenna and a larger battery, as well as a second, longer style blade-style antenna.” And, Nordean’s radio was programmed to the same channel used by Proud Boys on January 6th. The larger antenna and battery is relative to the radio that Nordean’s wife claims he received on January 7th.

    Thus, it should be clear that Nordean upgraded his Baofeng and went through the trouble of getting the special interface cable and CHIRP to program his radio to a specific frequency that it is highly unlikely to have been tuned to by chance.

    I am not suggesting that Nordean was communicating with Oath Keepers. I used the Oath Keepers articles to show that Oath Keepers recommended that specific radio in order to standardize training across the country for Oath Keepers units. But, what Nordean did was consistent with the advice national Oath Keepers was recommending to its own members.

    Given the range of 20 to 25 miles, Nordean may have been communicating with other Proud Boys a good distance away from the Capitol building, or within the Capitol itself. The government’s March 1st court filing opposing Nordean’s release reported that “Arrangements were made to program and distribute multiple Baofeng radios for use by Proud Boys members to communicate during the event.”

    I’ve saved, thanks to EmptyWheel, virtually all the key court documents. Only Nordean and unnamed Proud Boys had Baofeng radios. All the other mentions of communication devices are rather vague, except for the Oath Keepers using Zello.

    Which brings up and interesting point. If the Proud Boys were using Baofeng radios exclusively and Oath Keepers were using Zello walkie-talkies exclusively, then the only way they could communicate and coordinate is if a Proud Boy and an Oath Keeper were sitting in the same hotel room and sharing their communications with each other. Otherwise, they are on two separate communications nets. Or, they were co-located inside the Capitol building. But, I have not noticed that they were co-located in the building. I could have missed that.

    So, where was everybody located in those hotels on January 6th?

    • bmaz says:

      I dunno, but this is really interesting information, and are great questions. I’d never even heard of a Baofeng radio before all this came up. Just took a look at them….they really are inexpensive! Man, wish had these when used to snow ski in Colorado and houseboat on Lake Powell. Had only marine radios for the latter. A more powerful one in the actual houseboat, and a handheld that went into the ski boat. Think I still have the Midland handheld somewhere. This worked okay, but certainly not great. And for the price of the Midland, you could buy 3-4 of these Baofengs, so kind of impressive.

    • Raven Eye says:

      20-25 miles…If I’m on a mountain top and you’re in an aluminum canoe in the middle of Lake Tahoe — maybe.

      The performance these guys were wishing for is, most likely, wishful thinking. Baofengs are notorious for pushing less power out the antenna than advertised, and then wasting a bunch of that power through harmonics (bad engineering). And the performance of “rubber ducky” antennas on handheld radios is dependent upon a lot of factors — including how you hold the radio. Not that it can’t happen, but there is a little “magic” in propagation.

      Even a good quality handheld ham radio may have problems in dense urban areas. In the early 90s my Kenwood was useless in Manhattan, and barely usable on Governor’s Island — no good in downtown Honolulu either. DC might be a little better these days with more agencies going into 800 MHz and 900 MHz trunked systems, and the sharp reduction in commercial paging systems.

      I agree with the NCSouth that “the Baofeng ‘is a waste of money…but you’ll still buy them’.”

    • harpie says:

      Here are three hotels that have been mentioned in the coverage:

      1] Comfort Inn/Ballston, Arlington Va.
      [See my comments here:

      [OATHKEEPERS] 61. KELLY MEGGS paid for two rooms, each for two people, at the Comfort Inn Ballston from January 5-6 ,2021 . The rooms were reserved under the name of PERSON THREE.
      [This is the person from NC, who, according to CALDWELL “is committed to being the quick reaction force and bringing the tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don’t have to try to schlep weps on the bus. He’ll bring them in his truck day before.”]

      2] Hilton Garden Inn [DC] 815 14th St NW [bet. H and I St’s NW]
      [about 3 blocks east/ne of Lafayette Sq.]

      62. KELLY MEGGS also booked two rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., from January 5-7, 2021. KELLY MEGGS paid for one of the rooms.

      3] Willard [Intercontinental] [DC] 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
      [2 blocks east of White House]
      [STONE was seen entering on 1/5 evening, and outside the hotel on 1/6 morning;
      Alex JONES was seen here on 1/5 evening;
      Rudy GIULIANI was seen leaving 1/6 morning.]

      There is also, of course, TRUMP’s very own hotel on Pennsylvania Ave.

    • harpie says:

      On page 35 of the Federal Protective Services FOIA docs MARCY links to at this post:

      FPS states on January 3, that

      Numerous protest permits have been approved by the US Park Police and several Hotels are sold out during the nights of the 5th/6th – Holiday In Alexandria and Capitol; Hyatt Place – all indicators of large crowds.

      – – Holiday Inn [DC]: 550 C St. SW;
      – – Holiday Inn Alexandria [there are several, don’t know which one]
      ie: Old Town: 625 First St. Alexandria;
      – – Hyatt Place [DC]: 400 E St. SW

  14. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Something on the evening news tonight, about militias storming the Capitol tomorrow, and ‘removing Democratic lawmakers’…

    And I was thinking… even if nothing actually happens tomorrow, the militia loons have already scored points on this one… their message is getting out and being repeated over and over again… Dems have to think they’re a target, again…

    And the rest of us are on edge… again…

  15. PeterS says:

    So the end of this chapter of the Nordean story is that Howell ordered his release, saying the government had presented only “weak” evidence tying him to specific acts of violence during the Capitol riot.

    Nordean’s attorney said the photo in the ex-boyfriend’s passport “bears no physical resemblance to Nordean”. I have no idea how true that is, though I guess they both have heads and ears.

    (I still find it hard to believe the wife would lie in a sworn declaration about a detail like the location of a passport)

  16. klynn says:

    A little OT

    Due to the irresponsible interview by 60 Minutes which will air soon, here’s some contact information:

    524 W. 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019

    SWITCHBOARD: 212-975-4321
    NEWSLINE: 800-CH-2-NEWS (800-242-6397)
    FAX: 212-975-9387
    (Note: Story ideas should be faxed to the attention of “Assignment Desk.” News releases should be faxed to the attention of “Planning Desk.”)
    ASSIGNMENT DESK: 212-975-5867, [email protected]
    STATION SERVICES: [email protected]
    CBS2’s DIGITAL EDITORIAL STAFF: 212-975-7675, by email or via Facebook

    And of all days to announce and share a clip of the interview. I refuse to link to the interview.

    Marcy states the concern best:


  17. Manwen says:

    I do not mean to imply that I trust Roger Stone to be telling a truth. I merely meant to expose a tension between Stone’s claims of not being anywhere near those who claimed to be defending him. I assert no ability to discern truth from lie between those arrested for the insurgency and their muse. I simply noticed the inconsistency between the defendants and the object of their protection. I also do not assume that Stone was anywhere near the consequences of his actions that might put himself in danger.

  18. Joe Stewart says:

    Regarding the channel name, “Stop the Steal J6”, J6 refers to DoD Joint Staff positions (e.g. J1 is Personnel, J2 is Intelligence, J3 is Operations, etc), and J6 is communications / cyber.
    They clearly picked that name for their channel – they didn’t name it “Stone Protection Channel”….

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