OpSec Confusion on the Oath Keeper Conspiracy

I write a lot about the comms the Oath Keepers used to plan insurrection. There was the post about how they figured out, too late, not to plan an insurrection on Facebook; of the five counts of obstruction on the Oath Keeper indictment released Sunday, two pertain to Facebook. Then there was the post where I cataloged how many social media platforms were described in the last iteration of the indictment against them.

  • leadership list on Signal they appear to have obtained from either Watkins and/or Kelly Meggs
  • Open channels on Zello, possibly separate ones for each large event
  • Telephony chats and texts, including during January 6
  • MeWe accounts
  • Way too much blabbing on Facebook, followed by a foolish belief they could delete such content
  • Parler for further blabbing
  • Stripe for payment processing (possibly for dues)
  • GoToMeeting for operational planning

The remaining three obstruction charges pertain to this social media activity, one — for Joshua James — specifically describing his attempt to delete and burn the “[S]ignal comms about the op.”

Add hand-written ProtonMail attachments to the toolchest

It turns out I should have included ProtonMail in that list, because both the addresses to which Laura Steele sent her vetting application to join the Oath Keepers on January 3 were ProtonMail addresses, but the government only laid that out in their unsuccessful bid to keep her detained, in an attempt to use its encryption to ascribe to her that operational security.

On the evening of January 3, 2021, Defendant Steele emailed a membership application and vetting form to the Oath Keepers of Florida.4 She copied Defendant Young on the email, and wrote: “My brother, Graydon Young told me to submit my application this route to expedite the process.” Under the section for “CPT Skill Sets (Community Preparedness Team) Experience or Interests,” she checked “Security.” Under “Skillsets,” she wrote: “I have 13 years of experience in Law Enforcement in North Carolina. I served as a K-9 Officer and a SWAT team member. I currently work Private Armed Security for [company name redacted]. I am licensed PPS through the North Carolina Private Protective Services.”

Within 10 minutes, Defendant Steele sent another email, this one directly to Defendant Kelly Meggs’s email account at Proton Mail, again copying Defendant Young. She again attached her application and vetting form, and wrote: “My brother, Graydon Young told me to send the application to you so I can be verified for the Events this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.”

The following day (January 4), Defendant Steele sent the same materials to yet another Oath Keepers email address at Proton Mail. On her email, she copied co-defendants Kelly Meggs and Graydon Young.

4 The email recipient was actually a Florida Oath Keepers account at “protonmail.com.” Proton Mail is housed overseas (in Switzerland) and offers end-to-end encryption. “Even the company hosting your emails has no way of reading them, so you can rest assured that they can’t be read by third parties either.” Mindaugas Jancis, ProtonMail review: have we found the most secure email provider in 2021?, CyberNews, Mar. 4, 2021, at https://cybernews.com/secure-email-providers/protonmail-review.

But Proton is not going to help if one side of a communication is on Gmail or some other email service on which FBI can serve a subpoena. Which may explain how the government obtained this email from the newly indicted Joseph Hackett in the latest superseding.

41. On December 19, 2020, HACKETT sent an email to YOUNG with a subject line “test.” The body of the email stated: “I believe we only need to do this when important info is at hand like locations, identities, Ops planning.” The email had a photo attached; the photo showed cursive handwriting on a lined notepad that stated: “Secure Comms Test. Good talk tonight guys! Rally Point in Northern Port Charlotte at Grays if transportation is possible. All proton mails. 7 May consider [a rally point] that won’t burn anyone. Comms – work in progress. Messages in cursive to eliminate digital reads. Plans for recruitment and meetings.”

7 Based on the investigation, “proton mails” appears to refer to the company “ProtonMail,” which offers encrypted email services.

I’ve not seen anything that suggests the government has obtained Proton Mails from the Oath Keepers conducted entirely on the platform; that may have to wait until someone involved decides to cooperate. But I’m not sure how writing the most sensitive messages on what sounds like dead tree paper before sending it adds to the security.

DOJ’s selective understanding of encryption

One of the more aggravating pieces of confusion in the new indictment, however, comes not from the alleged conspirators but from the government.

The last item in a list of Manner and Means employed in the conspiracy is the use of “secure and encrypted communications.”

Using secure and encrypted communications applications like Signal3 and Zello4 to develop plans and later communicate during the January 6 operation.

The first overt act describes Stewart Rhodes laying out what I am calling the “Antifa foil” on a GoToMeeting meeting.

At a GoToMeeting5 held on November 9, 2020, PERSON ONE told those attending the meeting, “We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don’t guys, you’re going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody – you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”

As a result, the following footnotes appear on the bottom of the same page.

3 Signal is an encrypted messaging service.

4 Zello is an application that emulates push-to-talk walkie-talkies over cellular telephone networks. Zello can be used on electronic communication devices, like cellular telephones and two-way radios.

5 GoToMeeting is an online meeting site that allows users to host conference calls and video conferences via the Internet in real time.

Start with Zello: It can be secure. But it wasn’t, as used by the Oath Keepers, the day of the insurrection, because it was an open channel. Indeed, the reason we know about it is because journalist Micah Loewinger was following along in real time. Plus, anything saved onto a phone will be accessible once the phone is compromised, just like Signal will. (From the discovery letters shared with the Oath Keepers — the most recent of which is over a month old — the government appears to have initially relied on WNYC’s published versions of the Zello chats. But this superseding indictment includes time stamps from Watkins’ Zello exchanges, which suggests they’ve obtained a more reliable copy since then.

Signal, DOJ says, is encrypted. I have no problem with that. But they started compromising the Signal chats as soon as they exploited Jessica Watkins’ phone. And the latest indictment seems to rely on the exploitation from another of the more involved participants — it’s where the new details on the Quick Reaction Force come from (here’s my rough capture of the communications we’ve seen referenced to date).

What I find annoying is that, after treating Signal and Zello as super spooky applications, DOJ then treats GoToMeeting like a normal tool, just “an online meeting site that allows users to host conference calls and video conferences via the Internet in real time.”

But it is also end-to-end encrypted and has a number of other security features that are necessary for its use by mainstream businesses and health care providers. That said, it is centralized and probably responds eagerly to legal process, which is the distinction DOJ really intends by this. That is, it’s not encryption that makes the use of these apps a useful marker of a conspiracy, it’s decentralized security, security that the Oath Keepers didn’t use with Zello the day of the insurrection. Plus, for a conspiracy indictment, as opposed to other criminal charges, the use of G2M suggests a bureaucratization that should be more useful to prove the case.

In any case, with this fourth indictment, DOJ added content from G2M that was probably meant to be secure: Stewart Rhodes’ “Antifa foil” comments. An initial production of G2M had been provided to defendants by April 9, with a second attempt on April 23. So it may be that it has taken some time to reconstruct whatever full production they might receive from the various Oath Keeper accounts.

The money is the metadata

That said, it is amusing seeing the conspirators try to add a layer of security to the already secure ProtonMail while they’re laying a trail of travel plans that knots them all up into a network. Here are just some of the fleshed out details from the indictment:

79. On January 4, 2021, HARRELSON and DOLAN departed Florida together in a vehicle rented by DOLAN and traveled to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.


82. On January 4, 2021, PERSON TEN checked into the Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, Virginia. The room was reserved and paid for using a credit card in PERSON ONE’s name.


85. On January 5, 2021, PERSON ONE and MINUTA separately traveled to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and checked into the Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, Virginia.


90. 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.

90. 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.

91. KELLY MEGGS also booked two rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., from January 5-7, 2021. KELLY MEGGS paid for both of the rooms, using two different credit cards.


93. HACKETT paid for a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, D.C., from January 5-7, 2021. The room was booked in the name of PERSON SIXTEEN.


95. MINUTA, using his personal email address and his personal home address, reserved three rooms at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., under the names of MINUTA, JAMES, and PERSON TWENTY. A debit card associated with PERSON FIFTEEN was used to pay for the room reserved under MINUTA’s name. A credit card associated with JAMES was used to pay for the room reserved under JAMES’s name.

Kelly Meggs, by paying for what appears to be the QRF room and another for Person 3 to tend the weapons, would tie the Floridians staying in the DC Hilton Garden with a group coming from at least three states at the Ballston Comfort Inn (and that’s before you consider the surveillance footage that shows others dropping off weapons). Minuta, by reserving three rooms at the Mayflower, would tie Joshua James, Person Twenty, and Person Fifteen to the group, including Minuta, staying at the Vienna Hilton Garden, which includes Rhodes and Person Ten. And there’s at least one known payment — from some unidentified person to James’ wife — that doesn’t show up here.

Post 9/11, it’s hard to hide hotel travel, especially retroactively, after engaging in a terrorist attack, but it doesn’t help that the Oath Keepers didn’t compartment their network at all. So all the encrypted messaging and meeting apps in the world could not hide that this was a network that spanned (thus far, but I’m holding out hope they’ll roll out the first Mississippi defendants any day!) at least seven states.

Update: I’ve taken out a reference to the Ohioans walking Isaacs back to a hotel in DC. They did separate early but it was not to take him back. Thanks to Benny Bryant for the correction.

36 replies
  1. Eureka says:

    I’d like to place the comedy-drama masks icon here. Laughter — oh, but the tears (the insurrectioning and the gov’s framing of our corporate-co-op surveillance state and all that).

    • Rayne says:

      Well, fortunately in the age of emoji we can get close without uploading more graphics: 😃😧

      I hate to think where we’d be if they’d used better opsec.

      • Eureka says:

        Yay, Rayne, thanks for spiffing things up — that’s what I’m talkin about!

        Now if only the days of our lives were just a soap opera…

        I half (or better) think that Person One blew off that Breheny guy (he of Faraday bags) to the last minute _because_ he was better (if not enough so) at organizing and the opsec, too threatening to P1’s lackadaisical militiahood. Thank goodness, as you say.

      • timbo says:

        I keep saying these guys were not the A-team…

        But who might be the A-Team is the bomber for the DP and GOP party HQs…still no publicly acknowledge hard clues on who that might have been means it’s sitting in a hot case file at the moment. If there isn’t any real leads then it’ll go in the hot cold case file too. They really need to catch the person who planted those bombs. And get the details on precisely why those bombs were planted in such a manner that the CP were distracted exactly when they should not have been on Jan 6.

        • Rayne says:

          Think the bomber was still a sub-class with a 0-for-2 batting average.

          True A-team won’t make anywhere near this many mistakes. I would not be one bit surprised if folks aligned with Eric Prince have been mounting an A-team and watching all of this closely. This is the kind of thing which disturbs my sleep.

        • timbo says:

          That’s assuming that the bombs were supposed to go off. Had they gone off then there would have been a quicker military response in the Capitol… with whatever that would have meant given the likes of Mike Flynn’s brother being involved, etc. So, it’s great they did not go off for any number of reasons. In this, I thank that bomber for their seeming incompetence.

          And, yeah, Prince needs to be purged from our body-politic sooner. He and his ilk are dangerous gangsters that the US has coddled for too long…

          I was disheartened to see that the Army seems uninterested in investigating Flynn’s advocacy for military coups in this country. While there is a policy of not investigating 1st Amendment statements made by retired generals, perhaps that policy should be revisited ASAP, given his statements and given the instability of his ilk. At least cut off his pension if he’s going to continually make recommendations that are against his oath. Not sure why the Army wants to encourage their officers to retire and then advocate overthrow of the civilian government… but it ain’t a good look, especially when the civilian government is paying the pension of someone who doesn’t really seem to take their oath to defend the Constitution and civilian rule seriously at all. No reprecussions there means basically encouragement of more bad behavior and tactics by folks like Flynn.

  2. JJ Stick says:

    Are any of the indictments seeking Criminal Forfeitures for the cost of damage done to the Capitol? Will there be a separate Civil Forfeiture case?

    • subtropolis says:

      Sue the organizers of the Ellipse rally? And Humpty Dumpty, of course, given that he was inviting everyone to march on the Capitol. He — through someone at the White House — had become involved with the planning for the rally, after all.

      What does the law say about such responsibilities of rally/protest organizers? I can imagine that it could set a terrible precedent. But, he did specifically call on them to leave the rally and travel to the other location where the damage was done.

  3. Roberta says:

    Are any non-RW groups equally well-organized for Resistance if a wider insurrection comes? In my humble circle, very few Libs and Dems or even Indivisible types are using these apps

    • timbo says:

      If they were, and they were A-team material, they naturally wouldn’t mention it in their brochures. Thus, you can paranoidially expect that there are people keeping opsec all about you with confidence. :D

      Frankly, the whole thing demonstrates how modern tech makes communications more instantaneously and historically robust… if one is fat and lazy in covert operations. The A-team folks will likely not be entirely dependent on 3rd party private tech companies for some or all of their sensitive communications. Look for people who know how to stay away from full reliance on incidental tech that they themselves do not control fully and completely… “and ye may find the grail that ye seek!”

      • Leoghann says:

        Criminals and conspirators have been communicating one-on-one, face-to-face, since time immemorial. These guys were foolish and lazy. I believe they were, as a group, so convinced that the federal government was a dysfunctional, inept collection of rubes and gold-brickers that they could get away with anything, no questions asked.

        • P J Evans says:

          And also, I suspect, convinced that there were people in government who would rise up, like they expected the general population to do, and overthrow the *elected* government in order to re-install the Biggest Loser.

  4. BobCon says:

    They’re obviously learning as they go along, and the next eruption will be more secure — at least for the inner circle.

    I really wonder how the security compares to the earlier invasions of state houses, and if there are signs if those probings of the system yielded lessons being applied to 1/6.

    For that matter, I wonder how productive investigators of state actions such as statehouse invasions, the Whitmer kidnapping plot, and election interference will be in building conspiracy cases. A less effective security system would seem to offer easier access, if those cases are followed up fully.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      This Twitter thread shows how incompetent and laughable the Whitmer kidnapping suspects were. If they learned from this “probing”, the lesson was “don’t hire the three stooges to run a kidnapping”.

      I love “Honor system that nobody is wearing a wire”

  5. Rugger9 says:

    These are all interconnected people, ideologically, and I find it interesting that the vast majority of them got the message to leave the guns outside even though most of these groups are known open carry ammosexuals. That points to an overarching direction IMHO, and the strings need to be pulled.

    The MI and other statehouse assaults were in part 1/6 dress rehearsals (and notice many of those bozos were carrying then) to iron out coordination.

    OT, on Flynn, bmaz and I had discussed the idea of hauling him back into the military a couple of months back for the pleasure of a UCMJ general court martial for dismissal from the service. That would wipe out Flynn’s benefits BTW since it is the officer’s version of a dishonorable discharge. The TL;DR answer is no, Flynn cannot be dragged back in and bmaz pointed to a precedent that explored that very question (not on Flynn, though) in the DC Circuit IIRC.

    Has Flynn done things in clear violation of the oath of office and the UCMJ? Yes. As a retiree over 60 (IIRC) he’s pretty untouchable since he’s not a 5-star (who cannot retire, and we haven’t had any for decades). Prosecute for sedition, and IMHO fine him for the Capitol damages which ought to cut into his pension.

    • P J Evans says:

      I keep pointing out elseweb that he’s doing seditious speech, not the t-word. But as long as he’s doing it in officially-private conditions and not openly inciting violence or immediate action, he can’t be charged, because 1A.

    • Marc In Denver says:

      I agree that 1A probably protects Flynn (and his pension), but 5 USC 8312 lists a number of spying/treason/sedition and s/t/s-adjacent offenses that could result in pension forfeiture, if convicted.

      • P J Evans says:

        They haven’t gotten to the charging, let alone conviction. (I hope it happens, but until then…)

    • BobCon says:

      There were also a couple of Stone-involved rallies in DC prior to January 6 which were pretty clearly organizational and planning efforts. They were feeling through the process of how to communicate, how to make sure their people knew what they could and couldn’t carry, how to get around, and what kind of response from law enforcement they could expect.


      That’s what led to Enrique Tarrio eventually being arrested, but the police response in prior rampages was largely about containment and not about control, investigation or preparation for the future, which all came back to haunt everyone on 1/6.

    • Rayne says:

      MI’s armed statehouse insurrection April 2020 helped plant the idea that the governor was vulnerable, setting up conditions for the conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Whitmer. I don’t think MI or other states have taken this seriously enough. Can’t help laughing at this image, but “Meal Team Six” could maim and kill with their ego-boosting, dick-substitute toys:

      • Leoghann says:

        It’s not just the overpriced Cabela’s artillery. Lifted F-250 Superduties can maim and kill too!

  6. JamesJoyce says:

    I sat on a grand jury.

    All the idiots were convicted after indicting themselves using communication technology which “fingered” the entire lot…

    Those who assaulted Capitol sought to attack and obstruct democracy, communicated…

    Deja Vu

    Those who destroyed Reichstag by fire 🔥 did same, then attacked Weimar’s frail Republic.

    After a decree “rights” were under assault as “voting rights” are under assault at US State Level, today based on fraudulent allegations of voter fraud, which is a: “fraud.”

    This assault on democracy is predicated on “fraud” as the assault on “Weimar Republic” was all predicated on fraud, enabled by assault on Germany’s Parliament, in 1933 as allegation of voter fraud are just that, a fraud.

    Flynn’s continued assertion of stolen election is untenable and a lie tantamount to burning his oath to, while doing same to Constitution “🔥.” as Reichstag burned…

    The historical comparison is valid yet missed..

    Flynn should have said instead…

    “The Russians coming…”


  7. subtropolis says:

    “But I’m not sure how writing the most sensitive messages on what sounds like dead tree paper before sending it adds to the security.”

    It’s right there in the cursive: “to eliminate digital reads.”

    Presumably, the concern was about keyword snooping, à la NSA, giving them away while they were still in the planning stages. Given that gMail content IS scanned that’s not an entirely ridiculous assumption. I suppose that they might wonder whether Google has its own Room 641a with a direct line back to the FBI. Given that these types are often busted because of leaks during preparations, I think I can understand their thinking. The cursive was less about long-term cover than about keeping the Feds in the dark about their plans, lest they be rolled up _before_ they can get underway.

    Once again, their actions suggest a belief that they had little to fear from repercussions. With a good mix of just plain, fucking stupid, as always.

    Thankfully, they don’t seem to have twigged to steganography. It would have been a simple matter to hide their planning inside of a digital image, with the hidden text further encrypted if they so desired. Doing so might have gone some way towards covering their tracks afterwards, as well.

    • P J Evans says:

      Steganography requires both skill and knowledge. Not sure this lot has that much of either.

  8. Alan Charbonneau says:

    Part of the cursive writing says “…All proton mails. 7 May consider…”
    The use of “7 May” is not colloquial American English, in which month precedes day (as in May 7th). Is the use of the European convention for dates having the day preceding the month also used in the US military?

      • P J Evans says:

        That’s how I read it. The footnote number would have been superscript in the original.

    • dwfreeman says:

      And it could also be code for covert operational planning as in the reference to the 1961 book and 1964 film Seven Days in May or 7 May. The story concerns a military-political cabal’s planned takeover of the US government.

      The drama builds over a 1970 right wing military plot discovered as the president is about to sign a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union and reflects the fragility of preserving democracy in the face of political paranoia. The movie was released months after the murder of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Kennedy, who was given an advanced copy of the book in 1962 by co-author Fletcher Knebel only months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, personally urged the film’s making by director John Frankenheimer.

      Knebel and fellow journalist Charles W. Bailey got inspiration for their book from an interview with US Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay who went off the record to castigate Kennedy for his alleged cowardly handling of the failed Bay of Pigs landing by 1400 Cuban exiles seeking to overturn the Castro Cuban government in April 1961. The CIA backed secret operation never received full military and White House support and then failed its mission. Although Kennedy accepted public blame for the botched invasion, privately he excoriated CIA and military planners for failure to fully inform him about it.

      That same year, Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had been forced to fire US Army Gen. Edwin Walker from his command in Europe after it was learned that Walker had been indoctrinating US troops with John Birch Society literature describing Kennedy and former president and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as closet communist agents.

      Walker would later lead white supremacist supporters in blocking the admission of James Meredith to University of Mississippi in Oxford. Kennedy’s brother, Bobby, his attorney general complained that Walker posed a potential threat to civil unrest “getting them all stirred up. If he has them march down with guns, we could have a hell of a battle.”

      Walker would then play a minor role in the lead up to Kennedy’s assassination, insisting to the Warren Commission that alleged Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had fired shots into Walker’s Texas home. He was asked about the attempt on his own life but not his hostile relationship with the deceased president. Walker remained a committed conservative political activist, but in the 70’s he was arrested twice after fondling undercover police officers in restrooms near his home.

      Kennedy, who never saw Seven Days in May, wanted the film made because of its chilling message and the backstory it shared with the Cold War events and internal conflicts with his own military and intelligence leaders that led to the brink of nuclear war. The story would also resonate with his own demise with echos from its real life publication.

      Kennedy reportedly told his aide Pierre Salinger and author-journalist David Talbot that he wanted Seven Days in May made as a political warning to his successor with the message never trust your generals even in military matters. In October 1963, filming on the movie was completed, but in Dallas its storyline was eerily prescient. Walker gave an anti-Kennedy speech then led rioters to disrupt an appearance by UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Protestors ran down aisles holding American flags upside down as one man shouted, “Kennedy will get his reward in hell. Stevenson is going to die.” Stevenson was hit on the head by a placard from a protestor. The incident was reminiscent of a brawl featured in the movie between rival picketers outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue as baton-wielding police move in to break up the melee.

      The day before Kennedy’s murder, Paramount Pictures which was denied permission to photograph the Pentagon for the film, planned to release but decided to pull an featuring a line from one of the fictional coup plotters, noting, “Impeach him, hell. There are better ways of getting rid of him.”

      A week after the assassination, Walker goes on the attack to defend Dallas and the right. “Dallas,” Walker insists, “has been set up. The assassination was an attack against super-patriots. Pravda, Castro and The Worker started malicious and deceptive attacks on the conservative right. That continues to spread.”

      • bmaz says:

        Frankenheimer was so proud of that movie. And he should have been, it is fantastic. Perfectly filmed and perfectly acted. I still have a Betamax copy of it somewhere, but of course no longer a Betamax. And quite the double header right on the heels of The Manchuruan Candidate, also kind of pertinent at this point. Only two years later, John did the epic Grand Prix. What a run of directorial greatness.

        And, having said that, have always thought the book by Knebel and Bailey was even better, even though the film pretty true to it. The grittiness is even more palpable in the book, in all the characters, but especially Sen. Ray Clark and his venture out to the desert to the secret ECOMCON base. Simply great.

        • dwfreeman says:

          A few other movie notes: Frankenheimer was a close family friend of the Kennedys.

          When Bobby Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, on June 5, 1968, Frankenheimer had dropped him off at the hotel that day for his speaking engagement. The hotel, demolished in 2005, had once housed the grounds of the Coconut Grove night club. It also served to host a number of academy award ceremonies.

          Frankenheimer, who as you noted also directed Manchurian Candidate, a multi academy award winner, directed a number of outstanding films, including the 1998 thriller Ronin, set in France and starring Robert De Niro as a former CIA agent who joins other stateless contract agents or ronin (masterless Japanese samurai warriors) in tracking and foiling the exchange of a box containing unknown contents and prevent it from falling into international Irish terrorist hands. The mystery surrounding the mission, the roles and trade craft of those involved in an elaborate scheme filled with French Connection homage car chase scenes capping an enigmatic ending, is classic Frankenheimer fare.

          Kennedy’s strong interest in the making of Seven Days in May led to Kirk Douglass production company buying film rights to the book and a Rod Serling screen adaptation that featured a cast including Douglass, Burt Lancaster, Frederick March and Ava Gardner, an all-star list of liberal talent.

          Kennedy played a minor role behind the scenes, alerting Frankenheimer through aides that if he wanted to shoot near the White House, he would leave for his summer residence in Hyannis Port, Mass., for a weekend shoot. Upon reading an advance copy of the book, Kennedy quickly read it, shared it with a circle of insiders and intimates including his brother.

          Although he thought the book’s dialogue was awfully “amatuerish,” the president’s character too vaguely drawn, the traitorous depiction of Gen. Scott made a strong impression on him. That’s why he wanted the movie made, to warn his successor. “Don’t trust the military men, even on military matters,” Kennedy acknowledged.

          The Defense Department never cleared it for any location shoots at the Pentagon. Serling’s script was expected to be rejected based on the subject matter and thus never submitted for “oonsideration,” as the government censorship process was then known. And Frankenheimer wound up improvising for establishing shots by working around official government approval.

          One day, the director put a camera covered with a black cloth inside the back of a station wagon. Then he had Douglass drive up and park near the Pentagon wearing his Marine colonel uniform where he was remarkably saluted by three officers mistaking him for a superior officer. The ruse enabled Frankenheimer to obtain both entrance and exit shots. “We were gone in about five minutes,” he said.

          Besides Seven Days in May, Kennedy also assisted the production of Frankenheimer’s Manchurian Candidate, one of his favorite thrillers, which he privately screened at the White House in August of 1962. Based upon a 1959 novel by Richard Condon, when United Artists wavered in making the film concerned about its subject influencing Cold War tensions, Kennedy signaled as a favor to its star Frank Sinatra that he supported the studio project sealing production approval.

      • P J Evans says:

        Never saw the movie, but I’ve read the novel.

        (Small book rec here: Patterson’s novels with Clinton for WH background. They’re actually not bad.)

  9. Retired guy says:

    Thank you for these analyses. From my watching, some possible threads:

    1. Why didn’t the OK team have gas masks, as many other rioters had. This need would have been obvious, even if the plan was just brawling with antifa as they meleed with cops on the street. Conscious omission or poor plan? The retreat after the first teargas, evacuating apparently disabled Isaacs suggests a new story.

    2.Where are the “40+ North Carolina guys” suggested to be coming up on busses the morning of Jan 6? No NC OKs have been arrested, as far as I can tell Was it just fabulation by Caldwell and his friend Person 3? Are they not arrested because they had better operational security and no local hotel receipts? Did the NC leaders see this was a bad idea and bailed, leaving Person 3 at the hotel waiting for the call to deploy that never came?

  10. Midtowngirl says:

    Admittedly, my comment would have been more at home following Marcy’s post discussing the fourth superseding Oath Keepers indictment, but I missed the boat.

    I’ve come across a video that might be of interest – an interview with an as yet unindicted Oath Keeper, Jeremy Brown, from Florida. He states that he was on the “VIP security detail” on the 6th, alongside Harrellson, Watkins, Meggs and others. He describes their movements from the rally at the Ellipse, to gearing up with their kits, to picking up their VIP along the way to the the Capitol (golf cart is assumed). He also says they used handheld radios for “internal” comms.
    The good stuff starts at around 23:55.


    Enjoy! And I’m looking forward to see if this helps fill in some empty spaces! :)

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