Cross-posted from Merge-Left

In January, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others were shot, six of whom were killed by a rightwing anti-government zealot, Jared Loughner. The right was not responsible, we were told, because Loughner wasn’t involved in the most current and popular manifestation of rightwing paranoia, and besides, “both sides do it”.

It was a ridiculous pair of arguments then, and it’s even more ridiculous now that a small group of Alaska-based rightwing activists, at the center of a much wider network, has been arrested for plotting to murder law enforcement officers and at least one judge–and their Congressman, Don Young, has publicly endorsed one of their seditious documents, thereby violating his oath of office, and starkly illustrating how mainstream Republican Party officials collaborate with and encourage violence-prone extremists in their base.

As reported by the Anchorage Daily News on March 12:

Militia members charged in ’241′ plot to kill judge, troopers
Court documents detail plans for revenge.


Federal agents made extensive recordings of Fairbanks militia members plotting to kill or kidnap judges and Alaska State Troopers and burn their houses, according to documents filed in court Friday.

Four leaders of the Fairbanks-based Alaska Peacekeeper’s Militia — Francis “Schaeffer” Cox, 26, Lonnie Vernon, 55, his wife Karen Vernon, 64, and Coleman Barney, 36 — are charged with conspiring to commit murder, kidnapping and arson. They are also charged with hindering prosecution and possession of illegal weapons.

The four are in jail in Fairbanks. Bail for Cox was set at $3 million. Barney and Karen and Lonnie Vernon were each held on $2 million bail.

Lonnie Vernon called the 17-page criminal complaint “hearsay on paper,” according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Vernon is charged in a separate federal case for threatening the lives of a federal judge and one of his family members, according to the federal indictment.

The militia members amassed high-powered weaponry, including grenades and .30- and .50-caliber machine guns, with which to carry out retaliatory strikes against law enforcement officials, according to court documents.

The indictments for Cox, Vernon, Barney can be found here (pdf) and for Vernon here (also pdf). The first indictment includes the following text:

COX spent a considerable amount of time logically (in his mind) justifying his actions, stating that “at this point, without any further provocation” he would be “well within my rights to drill [Superior Court Judge] McConahy in his forehead”.

The ADN article contains a wealth of further details about the case, but this passage is arguably the most crucial:

“At that February 12th meeting COX specifically unveiled his “241″ (two for one) plan which called for his militia to respond to attempts to arrest or kill him by responding against state court or law enforcement targets with twice the force and consequences as happened to him or his family,” according to the criminal complaint. “If he was arrested, two state targets would be “arrested” (kidnapped). If he was killed, two state targets would be killed. If his house was taken, two state target houses would be burned.”

At that meeting, according to the charges, Cox admitted that the militia had too few members to carry out Plan 241 and they should avoid launching it until they were better prepared. He directed the members at the meeting to sign up for Twitter accounts so they could see the posts from his account, 00SchaefferCox. Cox planned to initiate Plan 241 on Twitter, the documents say.

Cox has been laying out his case for sedition for at least several years now, apparently making it only a matter of time before some encounter with law enforcement set the clock ticking for a violent confrontation. A domestic violence incident in early 2010 was plea-bargained down from a felony to a misdemeanor, but Cox was not about to back down on another almost-simultaneous charge for “approaching a police officer and failing to disclose that he was carrying a concealed gun”, which went to the very core of his rightwing ideology. A Media Matters post on the arrests noted:

Cox is a self-declared “sovereign citizen,”  a movement that preaches violent resistance to the federal and Alaska state government.

In a major report covering the rise of the sovereign citizen movement in recent years and the corresponding violence against law enforcement officers, the Southern Poverty Law Center last fall characterized it as a “sprawling subculture” of “hundreds of thousands of far-right extremists who believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials —  get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and who don’t think they should have to pay taxes.”

Cox is also the founder of the Alaska-based Second Amendment Task Force, a “pro-gun rights” group. Its website details a supposed United Nations-orchestrated conspiracy to deprive Americans of theirs constitutional right to bear arms.

According to a post at Political Correction, in June 2009 (almost a year before his legal troubles began) Cox posted a video (included with the post) which included Congressman Don Young signing a declaration that stated, in part:

[S]hould our government seek to further tax, restrict or register firearms or otherwise impose on the right that shall not be infringed, thus impairing our ability to exercise the God-given right to self-defense and precedes all human legislation and is superior to it, that the duty of us good and faithful people will not be to obey them but to alter or abolish them and institute new government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to us shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness. [Emphasis added.]

This statement signed by Young clearly conflicts with his oath of office. From the Office of the Clerk of the House:

Updated in accordance with the Congressional Record, November 16, 2010.


The oath of office required by the sixth article of the Constitution of the United States, and as provided by section 2 of the act of May 13, 1884 (23 Stat. 22), to be administered to Members, Resident Commissioner, and Delegates of the House of Representatives, the text of which is carried in 5 U.S.C. 3331:

    “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” [Emphasis added.]

has been subscribed to in person and filed in duplicate with the Clerk of the House of Representatives by the following Members of the 111th Congress, pursuant to the provisions of 2 U.S.C. 25: ….

  • Don Young (At Large)

Young has been in Congress, repeatedly swearing or affirming this oath since 1973. The case against him is open and shut. There is only one question to be asked and answered: Is Don Young above the law or not?

p.s. The post at Political Correction carries an update in which a Don Young spokesperson completely fails to address the issue of sedition and violating his congressional oath:

Rep. Young’s communications director, Meredith Kenny, said the video shows Rep. Young signing the letter at an “open-carry day” in Fairbanks in the spring of 2009. At the open carry day, gun rights activists appeared in public openly wearing handgun in holsters.

“Rep. Young attended not because of anything having to do with Cox  – nor is he in any way affiliated with Cox — but because he has always been a vocal and staunch defender of the Second Amendment,” Kenny said.  “Congressman Young stands strong with gun owners of America, and will always defend the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans.”

Young’s spokesperson is continuing Young’s pattern of engaging in seditious behavior while pretending otherwise. Now that it’s come to the point of very nearly shedding the blood of those sworn to carry out and defend the law of the land, it’s way past time for Don Young to be publicly expelled from their midst. He is an enemy of the United States Constitution, not an upholder of it.

About the Author

Paul Rosenberg

Paul Rosenberg is not a dirty hippy. He bathes once a month, whether he needs it or not. An erstwhile programmer, he was a freelance op-ed and book review writer from 1994/96 to 2002, and has been a staff writer & editor at Random Lengths News, an alternative bi-weekly in the Los Angeles harbor area from 2002 to date. His October 2002 story “Iraq Attack-The Aims and Origins of Bush’s Plans” shared the Project Censored #1 Censored Story award for 2004.

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