Thomas Caldwell’s “Storming the Castle” Ploy Succeeds

Judge Amit Mehta just released Thomas Caldwell to home confinement in the Oath Keeper conspiracy case.

Caldwell’s attorney, David Fischer, made some easily rebuttable arguments about Caldwell’s honesty, which I’ll return to. Fischer also tried to convince Judge Mehta that Caldwell was operating out of a sincere belief that he was defending against Antifa, not arming against the US government; I’ll return to that too (Judge Mehta had no patience for that ploy). While Mehta did come away believing Caldwell had been more cooperative than prosecutors had suggested, that’s not why he released Caldwell.

It’s important background, that in Fischer’s motion to reconsider Caldwell’s detention dismissed several references Caldwell made to “storming” the Capitol as an allusion to the fictional narrative of The Princess Bride.

Some of the lines that the Government cites in its papers are straight from Hollywood. The best example is “storming the castle” and “I’m such an instigator.” These are classic lines from the 1980s classic movie The Princess Bride.

Fischer suggested Caldwell’s own use of the same word everyone else used to describe assaulting the Capitol was just fiction.

The claim is important because the key reason that Caldwell got bailed is because of a feint that Fischer made in his motion for reconsideration. He argued that there is no evidence that Caldwell planned in advance to storm the Capitol.

On January 6th, at the urging of former President Donald J. Trump, hundreds of thousands of disgruntled, patriotic Americans came to Washington to protest what they viewed as an unfair election. Caldwell joined this protest to exercise his First Amendment right, a right he defended for 20 years in military service. 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 word of a 20-year military veteran with no prior criminal record is evidence, and it is strong evidence, of his innocence.


In short, despite having an army of federal agents working around the clock intensively investigating for almost three months, the Government has not provided the Court with a confession, witness statement, or physical evidence backing up their claim that any person or group had a premeditated plan to storm the Capitol. Caldwell asks rhetorically: Doesn’t the Court find it odd that the Government hasn’t outlined the specifics of the premeditated plan? What time was the “invasion” scheduled to begin? Who would lead the attack? What was the goal once the planners entered the Capitol?


The Government’s fanciful suggestion that right-wing tactical commandos were waiting in the wings to storm the Capitol is one for the ages.

In response to Judge Mehta’s questions about this claim, AUSA Kathryn Rakoczy conceded that the alleged co-conspirators didn’t have hard and fast plans as to what would happen before the event. This was a plan made of “possibilities,” which included the possibility (the facetious excuse offered by Caldwell) that other groups would resort to violence if Vice President Pence threw out the vote and the Oath Keepers would have to respond with force, or that President Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act and the Oath Keepers would come in to institute martial law. As Rakoczy described, they were “watching and waiting to see what leadership did” to achieve the goal of preventing the vote count, which goal the “government submits was unlawful and corrupt.”

They were waiting to see what leadership did. When leadership did what they referred to as “nothing,” they did take matters into their own hands. They were waiting and watching to see what was happening.

So when asked to respond to Caldwell’s misrepresentation that he was charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol, Rakoczy responded that it wasn’t certain they would storm the Capitol; the group was prepared to act, they just weren’t sure how — given the uncertainties of the day — they would act.

Based on that response and his conclusion that Caldwell actually had never entered the Capitol, Judge Mehta ruled that Caldwell was differently situated than the other defendants insofar as the evidence that he participated in the conspiracy (to storm the Capitol, Fischer said) was weaker given that he never did enter the Capitol.

Only later, after Judge Mehta had announced his decision, did Rakoczy point out the problem with this argument: Caldwell is not charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol. As she noted, the language Fischer kept quoting about storming the Capitol came from a background paragraph of the superseding indictment:

23. As described more fully herein, CALDWELL, CROWL, WATKINS, SANDRA PARKER, BENNIE PARKER, YOUNG, STEELE, KELLY MEGGS, and CONNIE MEGGS, planned with each other, and with others known and unknown, to forcibly enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and to stop, delay, and hinder the Congressional proceeding occurring that day.

The actual conspiracy as charged was to impede the certification of the Electoral College vote.

24. [… the defendants] did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown, to commit an offense against the United States, namely, to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, that is, Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote, and to attempt to do so, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c)(2).

Purpose of the Conspiracy

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

This is a problem I saw going in (though I doubted that Fischer would be able to confuse Mehta as well as he did).

But the results of this hearing, particularly given Rakoczy’s answers, reveal something about the way this conspiracy is charged (and the ones most of the Proud Boy are charged).

They assume the any action conspirators took would be effectuated on Congress, that that was the only eventuality conspirators were planning for.

The conspiracy is all built off an obstruction charge which itself, while valid, is fairly inapt. It likens the counting of the vote to a trial, which legally holds, but doesn’t get at the scope of what co-conspirators (and Trump) were trying to accomplish. The focus — Caldwell’s, as well as those who actually did storm the Capitol — was all on Congress, because that was the next event in question (just as the previous December mob had been focused on the electoral certifications in the states). But the goal was not (just) to stop the certification of the vote count on Congress. The ultimate goal was to ensure that Trump would remain President, via whatever means. And as Rakoczy acknowledged, one possibility that co-conspirators Kelly Meggs and Jessica Watkins believed might happen was that Trump would declare martial law, and the Oath Keepers would become the glorious army to save their fantastic dreams. That would have had the effect of preventing the certification of the electoral vote, but it would have (if successful) been a more direct route to the actual goal of the conspiracy: to keep Trump in power and prevent the lawfully elected President from taking over.

That’s why Fischer’s ploy worked: because all the planning wasn’t primarily about the Capitol. It was primarily about Trump.

This charge is built like it is, I’ve always been convinced, because no one has yet made the commitment to charge seditious conspiracy (ideally in parallel with this conspiracy). The real goal, after all, was to overthrow the democratic system, and impeding the vote count was just one means to achieve that conspiracy. The conspiring that started even before the election was about overthrowing democracy, not just January 6.

This may not be a fatal weakness for these conspiracy charges. Now that prosecutors have seen Fischer work this feint so well, they’ll be better prepared for it from others.

But one reason it worked is because the real goal of the conspiracy — the one that Caldwell’s lawyer all but conceded to today — was to do whatever it took to prevent the lawfully elected President from taking power.

63 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    I’m surprised that this hasn’t been pushed more by the DOJ lawyers. (It isn’t like it wasn’t fairly obvious to most of us.)

    • Rugger9 says:

      This is interesting in that it would appear to me that the more broad “keep DJT” plan would be easier to prove than the narrower “stop the EC vote count” plan. After all DJT himself made it clear as noted above that his continued power was the goal regardless of how he got there.

      IANAL, but was this missing the forest for the trees outcome due to a custom of keeping the charges specific and focused? There has to be a reason the DOJ went this way.

      • Arabiflora says:

        My guess is that DOJ has been waiting for Garland to get fully read into the evidence and cases, it’ll be up to him to charge and pursue the larger seditious conspiracy charges. When you go for the king, losing is not an option.

    • Cugel says:

      The problem all along is that as you point out, the correct charges all involve “seditious conspiracy” and the truth is Trump launched and led a seditious conspiracy designed to keep him in power, and these insurrectionists were merely the self-appointed foot-soldiers in that conspiracy. But, the Justice Department is not going to indict Trump on a charge of leading a seditious conspiracy even though he is clearly guilty.

      And how plausibly can the rest of the Oath-Keepers and other scum be tied to seditious conspiracy, when the conspiracy wasn’t theirs. It was Trump’s and they were just responding to his “orders” and waiting for his call to action. When they got it “go down to the capitol” and “be strong” then they went to try and find Mike Pence and “force him to do the right thing.” They would have tried to hold Pence and Pelosi and other Congresspeople as hostages and threaten to kill them unless they certified Trump as the winner.

  2. skua says:

    because no one has yet made the commitment to charge seditious conspiracy (ideally in parallel with this conspiracy)

    This gauge on where DoJ is at is important – the human drama of some prosecutor’s failure no so much.

    I wonder if the delaying of Garland’s appointment by Senate GoPers was done so as to delay the day on which decisions like “charge seditious conspiracy” would be made?

    • bmaz says:

      People in our comments are out of their minds. The entire matter is 65 days old. And y’all are whining about the hanging rope not being strung up yet. All the minute by minute microanalysis from news reports and release pleadings is NOT evidence. The last big conspiracy case I was involved in had somewhere near 100+ defendants. It took the govt nearly somewhere around two years to bring it in.

      Folks really need to get a grip and chill out. The critical AG was sworn in literally like yesterday. Step back a tad. News articles and release pleadings are NOT evidence, not yet anyway. Take a chill pill.

      • Hopeful says:

        I’m with BMAZ on this ( if I understand correctly).

        No hurry to make arrests and haul everyone in.

        Sure, get the dangerous ones off the streets ASAP.

        For the rest, let them stew…….

        Let everyone know that the investigation will be very methodical. It will take time to be very thorough.

        Announce: “If you were there we will eventually come to you to ask you to explain yourself, the statute of limitations for these types of offenses is 5 years.” Give them a couple of years of worrying.

        They are very smug in their righteousness; let them contemplate the ramifications for awhile.

        • BobCon says:

          A big part of the issue is that prosecutions aren’t really policy, and there are a lot of issues around 1/6 which need to be dealt with by policymakers and not law enforcement.

          The FBI can investigate crimes by Oath Keepers and prosecutors can bring them to court, but the broader question of Oath Keeper recruitment and propaganda in police departments and the military need to be dealt with through laws and regulations and public exposure.

  3. Sandor says:

    “As Rakoczy described, they were ‘watching and waiting to see what leadership did’ ….”

    “The real goal, after all, was to overthrow the democratic system, and impeding the vote count was just one means to achieve that conspiracy. The conspiring that started even before the election was about overthrowing democracy, not just January 6.”

    Some of the insurrectionists, taking the expansive view:

    His state
    Is Kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
    And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
    They also serve who only stand and wait.”
    — John Milton (1608–1674)

  4. greengiant says:

    The demonization of antifa has been an effective GOP scam for years. 10,000 counter protesters and it
    is all about antifa. The right wing bringing firearms and other weapons to protest areas also has a history.
    Proud boys and their associates bring firearms to the university of Washington and a parking garage in Portland in 2018. Carrying a pistol was Ethan Nordean. IIRC to be jumped into the Proud boys you had to claim you clocked an antifa.

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      I strongly agree about the demonization of “Antifa”, and Ron Johnson’s statement yesterday that he wasn’t frightened on January 6 because he knew that the people(1) attacking the Capitol “loved their country”, but “if Trump had won” (2) and the crowd had been BLM(3) and Antifa (4) trying to stop the vote(5), THAT would have been scary, is the clearest statement of demonization I’ve seen.

      Whenever I hear the word “Antifa” on social media, I try to remember to ask, “you mean antifascists, right?”

      I hope that catches on.

      (1) mostly white people,
      (2) can they say “if Trump had won” out loud now?,
      (3) mostly black people,
      (4) people dressed in black

      I think all of that’s worth pointing out, but don’t want to distract from “Antifa = antifascists” in this comment.


    Groups such as Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters are very familiar with a concept within Fourth Generation Warfare of “mission orders.”

    Christian Right strategist, William S. Lind, part of an earlier effort to have the US Marine Corps adopt maneuver warfare as their warfighting doctrine, wrote the seminal article on Fourth Generation Warfare in 1989. Among the operational principles of 4GW was “mission orders.” Lind suggested that 4GW “will require even the lowest level to operate flexibly on the basis of the commander’s intent.”

    In Lind’s 2014 4GW novel, Victoria, Chapter 8, Lind described the concept of mission orders in a little more detail in the guise of a discussion between two characters: “‘In the German Army, an order didn’t tell you what to do, it told you what result was needed…. Mission orders turn everyone’s initiative and imagination loose, which is very powerful—far more powerful than an army of automatons with everyone doing only what they are told.'”

    Lind’s concept, if not borrowed from John Boyd’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action Loop schema, is consistent with Boyd’s idea of implicit guidance and control. Frans Osinga, provided a detailed analysis of Boyd’s ideas by going beyond the hundreds of briefing slides that he left behind.

    According to Osinga’s analysis, “Boyd advocates an agile cellular organization–networked through ideology, experience, trust, aim and orientation pattern–that thrives in uncertainty and fosters innovation, creativity, and initiative….[H]e advocates a command arrangement with some explicit control mechanism and feedback loops, but one that is in particular reliant upon *implicit* ones formed by common frames of reference, shared ideas, shared experiences, trust, etc. If everyone understands clearly, and is attuned to, the organization’s purpose and/or the commander’s intent, explicit communication beyond the objective is superfluous. Because of the shared outlook one knows what to do and what one can expect of others, be it supporting units, higher commands, etc.”

    Who is the commander and what is the commander’s intent? The commander in this case is Donald J Trump and his intent was to stay in power.

    Stewart Rhodes, the commander of Oath Keepers, also expressed a commander’s intent to Oath Keepers.

    Here is Rhodes, on November 10, 2020, issuing a “call to action” regarding a “Million MAGA rally” on November 14th. Rhodes wrote of a Quick Reaction Force to oppose Antifa forces: “Oath Keepers will also have some of our most skilled special warfare veterans standing by armed, just outside D.C., as an emergency QRF.” This is the same procedure for the January 6th insurrection.

    Rhodes then went to state that the real commander and the real commander’s intent would come from Trump: “Our men will be standing by, awaiting the President’s orders to call us up as the militia.” Rhodes in the same time frame would repeat this on Alex Jones’ show.

    On November 12th, in a private chatroom for Oath Keepers members, Rhodes wrote that everyone is going to DC to show Trump “he has large amount of supporters backing him in face of everyone calling for him to concede.”

    And then, Rhodes let’s the cat out of the bag when he tells dues-paying Oath Keepers: “This needs to be our version of the color revolution and we should focus on sustaining in DC with replacement waves until our President is lawfully declared President again for a second term.”

    Rhodes, on the Liberty Roundtable radio show, on January 5th claimed the entire US government was illegitimate–in effect, a puppet government of the communist Chinese acting in concert with American communists: “So, the system from top to bottom and all the branches have been taken over by enemies foreign and domestic. And that is just the reality. It’s way worse than Lincoln’s days and the Civil War. This is far far worse. So, you’ve got people who are in the back pocket of China, who are bribed like the Bidens or blackmailed by Biden’s son, so that’s all over. And all the agencies and all the branches, the Chinese have sent money to buy these soulless politicians who only care about political power and money. That’s where we are at.”

    A little later in the radio show he claims: “We are dealing with a total war by a foreign power that is using domestic puppets that are trampling on the people’s rights. And that should sound familiar. That’s exactly what the Founders dealt with…. So, that’s what we’re facing now, very much like the Founding Fathers. We have no representation in this government because it is stolen, just as they had no representation in Parliament. So, we are being terrorized, our rights are being violated, without the consent of the governed.”

    I would suggest that the FBI and federal prosecutors are looking for plans as if Oath Keepers at any level–like the Watkins unit–is going to make a formal operational plan with annexes for intelligence, terrain, and enemy forces, with friendly courses of action.

    Right-wing paramilitary forces most likely do not operate that way. Oath Keepers and Three Percenters seeing themselves as 4GW combatants fighting a Fourth Generation War. It is not your uncle’s Army.

    When prosecutors tried to convict the Army of God, they failed for one notable reason. The could not conceptualize that an organization’s structure would simply be ideas. Jennifer Jefferis in her eye-opening book, Armed for Life (p. 45) noted: “the Army of God successfully constructed an ideological frame that wrapped the members tightly in it as any organizational hierarchy could have…. This is most clearly seen when the ideological frame of the organization casts violence as a responsibility, rather than a right, and makes questioning or the rejection of violence the questioning and rejection of God.”

    Scholars of religion have observed and reported how easy it has been for conservative Chrisitans to equate Trump and God and see Trump on a divine mission.

    Trump cast the 2020 election in apocalyptic terms–the end of America as Christians and conservatives knew it. Rhodes supported Trump in calls for a civil war (see my article at Political Research Associates) and also cast the outcome of the election in apocalyptic terms. In fact, for Rhodes the government was already in the hands of Chinese communists.

    For Caldwell and others to claim they were going to DC to fight Antifa, they truly believed that. But, that was not why they were going. Rhodes told them they were going to DC to ensure Trump got a second term and they were prepared to use a “heavy” Quick Reaction Force to make it happen–if their commander-in-chief ordered them to.

    Federal prosecutors will have to have their come-to-Jesus moment and indict Donald Trump for this insurrection. Then, and only then (but I’m not a lawyer so take this with a gigantic does of skepticism) will prosecutors be able to tie Oath Keepers and Three Percenters into the real conspiracy–overthrow the election and install Trump as president.

    But, first, I suggest the prosecutors need to get themselves up to date on Fourth Generation Warfare.

    • Justlp says:

      Thanks for this info. Very interesting. I have never heard of 4th gen warfare before. Kind of scary to consider when put in juxtaposition with these violent white supremacist militia groups.

    • Zinsky says:

      Excellent research work on Rhodes and the Oathkeepers. Did you compile this yourself or what sources did you use? I wouldn’t attribute too much January 6th planning or cerebral thinking by DJT about “4th Gen warfare”. The man is dumb as a rock and reads and writes nothing, by all accounts. He just knows he has an army of brain-dead dirtbags who will follow him anywhere and do anything for him. Trump just wanted the certification of the EC results stopped, preferably by his trained eunuch Mike Pence (which never made any sense whatsoever), and I don’t think these doorknobs, including Rhodes, had much idea what came next. Execute Pelosi? Keep other Democrats as hostages? Set up a new, all-Republican government? Declare Trump Holy Emperor? Huh? These losers had no idea….

      • JAMES SCAMINACI says:

        Yes. I compiled it myself. I wrote two articles on 4GW, “Battle Without Bullets” and “Battle With Bullets” for Political Research Associates. I’ve been interviewed by Paul Rosenberg and Chauncey DeVega at Salon on 4GW. And, I’ve published at least 5 articles (book chapters) at academia dot edu on 4GW and/or Oath Keepers.

        But, I think you missed the point not only of my comment but a whole slew of writings by Wheeler. Trump articulated a clear intent to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. That was the goal. That was the conspiracy. It does not matter what intellectual deficiencies Trump or his followers have.

        • bmaz says:

          “Trump articulated a clear intent….”. Lol, that is the kind of foolish statement that a person who has never had to prove (or disprove) intent as a crucial element in court makes. You know, things are a little different with real judges and the FRCrP involved.

        • Thom says:

          I’ve been reading EW for sometime and never commented. I don’t disagree with your comment, but why are you so unnecessarily rude sometimes? It would be foolish to try to define your intent, but it’s certainly right there on the nose.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there “Thom”, and welcome to comments. So, you have been a long time reader, but just decided to chime in to gripe about me? That is your story? Anybody else, or just me?

          Can you identify anything, and I mean anything, I said in that response that was inaccurate? No, you will not be able to do that. Now I have to go console a 20 year old son of one of my best friends, whose father died from Covid last night. Thanks for your help.

        • Thom says:

          I specifically said I don’t disagree with you.

          My observation was only that you rush down commenter’s throats quite a lot with little to no provocation. Your reply to me only reinforces that point of view.

          I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s father.

        • bmaz says:

          “My observation” is for you to please go to hell. And please take your cheap and fake sympathy and screw off.
          You are an interloper, trying to sow discord and screw with people. Sorry, I’ll have none of that. I am just too tired.

        • PeterS says:

          Why on earth would you come into someone’s living room just to tell them you think they’re rude? How about finding another living room that you prefer (the internet’s a big place), or creating your own room.

      • Sandwichman says:

        Trump has met with Lind and Lind has bragged about Trump following some of his strategy suggestions. Don’t underestimate Trump’s criminal mind. He is stupid on a lot of stuff because to him that isn’t what matters. What matters is what brings him power and wealth. Period.

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      That’s a very helpful comment, at least for me.

      I do note that with the ability to project “And all the agencies and all the branches, the Chinese have sent money to buy these soulless politicians who only care about political power and money. That’s where we are at” onto the Chinese, Rhodes displays an AMAZING ability to look at the US government and miss the obvious. If any politicians were soulless, it wasn’t the ones he was thinking of.

    • Mitch Neher says:

      The description given of Fourth Generation Warfare reads an awful lot like The Norse Raids–possibly even The Hun Invasions.

      Are we headed for a New Dark Ages?

      Please don’t tell me that we’re already there.

      We have global telecommunications via satellites in low Earth orbit for crying out loud!

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        This country plunged into the current dark age in the early 1980s, when the big economic lie of “supply-side” economics began reversing the gains of working class Americans. The growing inequality was fueled politically with culture wars, the delayed reactionary clampdown post-civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Trump was merely the apotheosis of those trends, the Ugliest American. This is the first time in forty years I see any light dawning.

    • bidrec says:

      Q. What is the importance of the last man in the chain of command?

      A. He makes decisions at his own level.

    • PeterS says:

      What’s the difference between 4GW and a few groups of deluded rightwing thugs with guns? If not much, does introducing 4GW add a lot; if there is a difference, it isn’t 4GW.

      P.S. elseweb someone said “on close examination, the wars our ancestors fought were not so very different from the so-called evolved insurgencies of 4GW”. 

      • skua says:

        Functionally, delusion weighs heavily against effective coordination. So if such cordination is found with people and groups such as Roger Stone, the Parkland Police, the senior levels of USCP, M. Flynn – which has not happened so far – then 4GW would seem a real poss.
        As to elseweb – differences between 3GW and 4GW would necessary for 4GW to be a valid concept. Similarities between 4GW and the Huns or whoever do not appear the invalidate the concept – though maybe you can explain why they do?

        • PeterS says:

          So I can think of 4GW as minus 2GW? Personally, I don’t find adding “warfare” to the conversation that useful. We have “terrorism” already.

        • skua says:

          Pls tell us more about the downsides of including “warfare” in the convo. It makes me uneasy but I don’t know why.
          I suppose if widespread coordinated seditious conspiracy if found to be using the concept THEN it would possibly useful.

        • timbo says:

          It is interesting to compare the language and jargon used by these insurrectionists and the BLM marchers of the previous summer. Seems like a lot of violent jargon and an acknowledgement by many of these insurrectionists about the willingness use of force, and also the willingness to use it in specific, disciplined way up to a point. In this, there seems to have been some planning. What I would be really interested to hear is precisely who some of these insurrectionists considered too crazy (if any) to participate in their respective coordinated groups that day. For instance, has anyone heard any of those arrested say anything negative about the bombs placed at the GOP and DP HQters on Jan 6? I ask because it is unclear to me what was on and off the table for many of these folks when it came to violence and mayhem. But surely, if they were disciplined groups, there was criteria in order to be considered part of the group and planning, right? So, what was that criteria, both specifically and generally? Seems like some of it was that folks should have gone to a boot camp or group coordination training of some sort. Were there folks who went and were then excluded from later events and protests, etc? (All interesting questions when it comes to intent and the discipline in any group that professes to be protesting government actions or activities in a coordinated fashion, violent insurrectionist or no.)

      • JAMES SCAMINACI says:

        The difference between 4GW and thugs with guns is that the Christian Right has pushed the GOP to delegitimize the federal government, a secular interpretation of the Constitution, the Democratic Party, and Democratic Party voters since 1980. This is a very long war. It has entered a new stage. If there was one group of influencers very visible around Trump it was his ideological backers in the Christian Right. The militia formed in the 1990s was the Christian Right’s armed wing.

        Scholars have noted it. Any number of political scientists know that the GOP has rejected the legitimacy of government and the Democratic Party. They just have not written that it was part of a strategy executed through the Christian Right’s Council for National Policy with billionaire backers. Jane Mayer and Nancy MacLean understood the billionaire part. Anne Nelson understood the CNP part.

        • madwand says:

          Yessir I have read all three and Katherine Stewart also, the Christian right backed by billionaires, well said and accurate. I certainly would also like to understand what the guys like Jeffress and White etc were doing on the days preceding January six and what part they played in it. I can see them going for the brass ring easily.

        • Peterr says:

          “the Christian Right has pushed the GOP to delegitimize the federal government,”

          I disagree. The Christian Right wants to baptize the federal government, making it the instrument for imposing their twisted view of Christianity on the nation. This is why they want to delegitimize “a secular interpretation of the Constitution, the Democratic Party, and Democratic Party”. The most obvious example is the push to outlaw abortion nationwide, but also the fight over marriage equality.

          In their eyes, the federal government exists to impose their faith. For that, deligimitazation is the last thing they want.

        • timbo says:

          Yep. That’s the difference between co-opting and true revolutionary intent. Many of the folks arrested from groups like the Oath Keeps seem to have their political idealism formed in a miasma of psuedo-Jeffersonian militialist confusion, sprinkled with the idea of “1776” being an ideal point to return to… a revolutionary concept, not revanchist where the Constitution is concerned. So, the Christian Right may well be interested in cooption, while many of these radical organized groups that were there on Jan 6, there inside the Capitol disrupting the Congress, aren’t so much interested in maintaining the Constitution as to returning to a period of ferment and turmoil from the period of the Revolutionary War itself. Or maybe they just don’t care to know the history of the period between 1776 and the end of Washington’s second term as President well enough to know the difference?

          (Meh. They doth make my head and heart hurteth so!)

        • skua says:

          There is an unfindable doco out there that has, from memory, Barry Goldwater as promulgating the idea that “politics is social warfare”. Marx probably preceeds Barry with his “class struggle” idea? (Highly ignorant of Marx am I.)
          I’m worried that the differentiation between “social warfare” and “hot warfare” could be lost in the current fraught social environment. That collapse would produce even higher emotions and even more clouded thinking. Such a decline would favour Trumpists.
          (Your posts are much appreciated.)

        • timbo says:

          I doubt they’d ultimately favor Trumpists… but more those who seek to use Trumpism as a launching platform for their own grand ambitions, that which comes after Trump and his demi-incompetent corrupt family are swept aside. Trump is/was not a Hitler as much as he’s a Hindenburg.

    • madwand says:

      I agree with most of what you say, Germans, using strategies and tactics developed under guys like Guderian, who themselves used the highly mobile campaigns of the Mongols as their examples, attacked successfully with highly mobile army groups in the Polish, French, and Russian campaigns. Interestingly Liddell Hart lists six exceptional leaders in his book “Great Captains Unveiled” and two are Mongols.

      When someone is advocating 4th Generation Maneuver Warfare as their guide they are advocating highly mobile dispersed units at all levels under creative and innovative leadership also at all levels capable of acting and accomplishing missions independently and in support of the overall strategic concept. On January 6th state capitols were on the list to be attacked by the insurgents but it apparently couldn’t be put together, one of the reasons I thought there had to be a military mind behind all this also. But it would indicate organization at the state and local level is still problematic.

      A few thoughts, one, where was the armed Quick Reaction Force on January 6? At the end of the day it was, if it existed, still outside DC. Two if the mission was to keep Trump in power by either overturning the EC or by coup it obviously failed on both counts. Another question I still have is what stopped them, what exact circumstances led the leaders to call it off. Trump knew the game was up when he released his video, my guess is there were no hostages, no leverage, no armed takeover of the Capitol, no way of forcing the issue, therefore no success and as long as Trump remains unmolested by law and authority he remains a very present danger.

      • JAMES SCAMINACI says:

        One thing that stopped them were the Capitol and Metropolitan police forces. When the insurrectionists were about to enter the House side, a single gunshot that killed the woman turned them back. I’ve read accounts where the insurrectionists actually believed the police would be on their side and they were shocked at the resistance from the police.

        I think the other thing that stopped the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys was that they were waiting for further instructions from Trump. I am only guessing but I think they expected Trump either to declare martial law or invoke the Insurrection Act. Certainly, Stewart Rhodes, head of Oath Keepers, kept calling for months for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act so that the actions of the militia would be “legal.”

        But, I think we need much more data about Trump and the January 5th meeting of all the movers-and-shakers of “Stop the Steal” at the Trump Hotel. We need much more data about Oath Keepers and Proud Boys before and during the insurrection. This will take awhile to piece together.

        Where was the QRF? Well, Rhodes said there would be a QRF at the November 2020 “Million MAGA rally.” I assume there was a QRF for the December rally. Almost certainly, Watkins, Crowl, and Caldwell know where the QRF was located, or, more likley how to communicate with them. Almost certainly Rhodes would know. Rhodes described the QRF as composed of the most experienced special operators in Oath Keepers. In other words, the QRF is not the standard Oath Keeper.

        • madwand says:

          The best I can see here is maybe ten people at a rally point, and it would make sense to have more than one rally point. However they were billed as a QRF against Antifa which never happened, not as a unit to secure the capitol and have Custers last stand. Additionally QRF’s are deployed to turn the tide of the battle. So my feeling is again the battle was lost if it was a coup so why deploy it if it existed in any concrete way, and they may have thought they succeeded in preventing a vote. And further instructions from Trump was to go home and we love ya. If there was an objective beyond stalling the vote, it was apparent around 4:30 that was not going to happen.

        • timbo says:

          Then the Army finally acted. Seems like the Army/DOJ waited until after the political moment had passed away from the rioters before allowing the Guard to intervene.

    • BobCon says:

      Prosecutors should indict Trump for issues related to the attack on the Capitol if they can, but they shouldn’t if they can’t. I was very critical of the people who urged last December that Biden pardon Trump on the grounds that they had no idea what evidence would emerge about Trump’s crimes.

      But I have the same reservations about any talk of indicting him too. Until we know what the evidence is — evidence that will stand up in court — it is pointless to argue definitively one way or the other.

      I think it is entirely possible that evidence of crimes will emerge in other unrelated areas, and it’s always possible that he has, despite all appearance, successfully insulated himself from even tax fraud charges. We won’t know for a while, and I’d add that prosecutions aren’t the be all and end all. Policymakers, not prosecutors, have a lot of heavy lifting to do too.

      And I’d also add a cautionary note about talk about 4GW. The history of military thinking is about as bad as the world of MBAs when it comes to these things. In the same way that Harvard Business School types preached the brilliance of just in time manufacturing only to see implementations fail in real world conditions, you get people who try to preach the gospel of 4GW or asymetric warfare or the OODA loop or other supposedly new paradigms.

      And like a lot of preachers, when the gospel turns out to be errant, you see a lot of post hoc explanations why the failure was really a success or why the supposed adherent was really an apostate.

      You also get people who try to capture opposing successes as “really” embodying adherence to their mantra, and I am sure there are people who try to say someone like Rick Rescorla and his heavily regimented, hierarchical, nonwavering Seven P approach that saved many lives on 9/11 was really exercising a 4GW approach, in the same way that you get MBAs insisting that a regimented hierarchical Japanese management practice is really an example of some kind of bottom up, creative approach.

      Which is not to say there isn’t a point to thinking about 4GW or how certain people on the right might want to implement it. It’s just worth looking at this with a ton of carefulness, watch out for the buzz words, and don’t be afraid to laugh when the pants fall down.

      • timbo says:

        4GW seems to be a rhetorical hand-holder for folks who want to imagine that they can be more important in the grand scheme of things than is likely to occur. It appeals to the sense of pragmatic utilitarianism that permeates US social mythologies. Oh, it can be pragmatic to follow orders, but what glorious orders if the orders allow one to take conditions on the ground into account! “You too can be an official trickster for the President!”

    • gmoke says:

      Thanks for the Frans Osinga reference. I didn’t know that such a work had been written about John Boyd’s theories and practices. 4GW is important, possibly critical, to this century’s development (or lack thereof). I’ve added Osinga’s book on Boyd to my book wish list.

      Much appreciated.

    • vicks says:

      Nailing Trump down for giving a direct order has been an issue since he suggested a certain favor Russia could do for him if they were “listening”
      Michael Cohen used the term speaking in “code” to describe how Trump’s people knew how to grease the wheels for his grifts, and I think there are dozens of examples of Trump’s words and tweets that resulted in his wishes being carried out without an explicit order.
      It’s a squishy concept, but the pattern is there, and Trump’s building and then later remaining in power seems to be the one constant (shared) goal no matter what target or topic a “call to action” was imbedded in.
      A lot of time has been spent analysing Trump’s speaking style and vocabulary it would be interesting to see that same info in the context of a leader potentially giving “mission orders”

  6. John Lehman says:

    Much, much clearer now what the center of the scheme was.

    “Keep me president”….was the battle the basis of the battle cry…”keep him president”….

    • John Lehman says:

      Phrase edit:

      Trump…“Keep me president”….was the basis of their battle cry…”keep him president”….


  7. PeterS says:

    I’ll be interested to see how the courts deal with people “operating out of a sincere belief” that they were defending against Antifa rather than attacking the government. This sounds like another “my client is an idiot” defense. 

    Can you conspire to do X if you believe you’re doing Y? Can a delusional belief be sincere? Presumably it can be, but perhaps that’s irrelevant if the behaviour has the effect of impeding certification (?).

    Also, when saying above that Trump declaring martial law “would have had the effect of preventing the certification of the electoral vote”, does that mean that’s what OKs believed or that’s what the effect would actually have been? I assume the former.

  8. Chetnolian says:

    To look again the the actual post, is there not a possibility that the political down side of formally prosecuting a conspiracy to defeat democracy is that justice might demand that if you prosecute the foot soldiers you should prosecute the leader? I know they are by and large not admirable people, but Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are entitled to be treated the same as everyone else, including DJT. One for Merrick Garland to ponder?

  9. chum'sfriend says:

    “The Government’s fanciful suggestion that right-wing tactical commandos were waiting in the wings to storm the Capitol is one for the ages.”

    ““Oath Keepers will also have some of our most skilled special warfare veterans standing by armed, just outside D.C., as an emergency QRF.” This is the same procedure for the January 6th insurrection.”

    This would be part of the Quick Reaction Force.  I hope the feds got license plate numbers and cell phone data from this location.

  10. janinsanfran says:

    Caldwell’s lawyer makes reference to “hundreds of thousands of disgruntled, patriotic Americans came to Washington to protest.” Crowd pictures don’t look to me as if there were more than 15,000 at the most. Is there an agreed crowd size number on this event? All I found was a academic expert saying he couldn’t even estimate. Weird. The media estimate all the time.

    • timbo says:

      Yes, I’m glad a scrolled down here before commenting about that! It seems obviously that if counsel is going to make such a stipulation that perhaps that flourish should have been mentioned by the judge as being highly questionable? Seems like that sort of “flourish” might cause the court to wonder about what other “flourishes” with the truth said counsel might be bringing into the court room… but Mehta ate it up?

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