The suspects in Sunday's shooting spree in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of two police officers and a shopper were a young married couple who espoused extreme pro-gun and anti-government views on their Facebook pages and who had spent time at the ranch of Cliven Bundy, whose standoff with the federal government made him a cause celebre in the so-called "patriot" movement.
The suspects, who killed themselves at the scene of their shooting rampage, have been identified as Jerad and Amanda Miller.
In a chilling Facebook message published a day before the shootings, Jerad Miller declared, "The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it."
Jerad Miller was eager to support Bundy, who was confronted by federal officials after years of refusing to pay grazing fees. On April 9, he wrote on Facebook:
I will be supporting Clive Bundy and his family from Federal Government slaughter. This is the next Waco! His ranch is under seige right now! The federal gov is stealing his cattle! Arresting his family and beating on them! We must do something. I will be doing something.
During his time on Bundy's ranch, he told a reporter: "I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that. I really don't want violence toward them, but if they're gonna come bring violence to us, if that's the language they want to speak, we'll learn it." Not long after the couple made their pilgrimage to Bundy's ranch, Miller noted on Facebook that he and his wife were asked to leave because of his criminal past:
I was out there but they told me and my wife to leave because I am a felon. They don't seem to understand that they are all felons now for intimidating law enforcement with deadly weapons. So don't tell you that they need people. We sold everything we had to buy supplies and quit our jobs to be there 24/7. How dare you ask for help and shun us dedicated patriots.
Jerad Miller's Facebook "likes" include the NRA, American Patriot Media Network, Support the 2nd Amendment, The Patriot Party, Rand Paul 2016, Ron Paul, the Washington Examiner, Legalize Weed, Draft Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, American Crossroads, and Allen West.
In a June 2 Facebook post—something of a manifesto—Jerad Miller indicated that he supported the arguments of the anti-government patriot movement that claims freedom and liberty in the United States are currently threatened. He wrote:
We can hope for peace. We must, however, prepare for war. We face an enemy that is not only well funded, but who believe they fight for freedom and justice. Those of us who know the truth and dare speak it, know that the enemy we face are indeed our brothers. Even though they share the same masters as we all do. They fail to recognize the chains that bind them. To stop this oppression, I fear, can only be accomplished with bloodshed. May the best men of our beloved nation stand and fight tyranny, without fear and without regret. May we stand proud as free men instead of kneeling as slaves. May we offer our children a free and just world with our blood, sweat and tears as payment. Let our wives and lovers take vengeance upon our enemies in our absence. We cannot fail in this endeavor of Liberty, if we do we risk leaving our orphaned children to the will of tyrants. We, cannot with good conscience leave this fight to our children, because the longer we wait, our enemies become better equipped and recruit more mercenaries of death, willing to do a tyrants bidding without question. I know you are fearful, as am I. We certainly stand before a great and powerful enemy. I, however would rather die fighting for freedom, than live on my knees as a slave. Let it be known to our children's children that free men stood fast before a tyrants wrath and were found victorious because we stood together. That we all cast aside our petty differences and united under the banner of Liberty and Truth. May future generations look back upon this time in history with awe and gratitude, for our courage to face tyranny, so that they could live happy and free.
A few days later, Miller shared a photo that proclaimed, "The police have never attacked a pro gun rally."
On her YouTube page, Amanda Miller liked videos called, "Shooting Cops," "Citizens Can Shoot Police," and "When Is It Okay To Shoot a Cop." She posted a video of Jerad Miller interviewing people at the Bundy ranch. Her Facebook page contains photos of a woman posing with guns and she shared a picture of the "best coffee table ever"—it was a table with a drawer full of guns.
A sample of their posts is below:
Jerad's posts from June:
Jerad's post from May:
Jerad's posts about attending the Bundy rally in April:
From Jerad and Amanda Miller's wedding day:
YouTube Likes from Amanda
Here's Jerad interviewing people at the Bundy Ranch standoff:
The Bodyguard Blanket™ was developed by Steve Walker, a father of two elementary school students who was horrified by the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead. In the 14 months following Newtown, there were at least 44 school shootings. "We wanted our children to have a layer of protection immediately," Walker told Oklahoma NBC affiliate KFOR. "They can be stored in the classroom, and, when seconds count, they can be easily applied."
It comes in both child and adult sizes and is designed to be bulletproof, made from the same materials that US soldiers and law enforcement wear, the manufacturer's website claims. The manufacturers estimate that the blankets provide protection against "90% of all weapons that have been used in school shootings in the United States."
The blanket is intended to be strapped on a child's back like a backpack. When the child crouches in a ball and huddles up next to other children, they form a kind of human shield, like how the "Romans and the Greeks used to lock together," managing partner Stan Schone told KFOR. (The blanket is also being marketed toward schools that might want to protect students from tornado-induced flying debris.)
Each blanket costs a little under $1,000, but the creators told KFOR they hope to offer discounts for large orders. There is also an option to donate blankets to "schools, daycare centers, churches, and other organizations located in your community." In any case, there's sure to be a market.
On Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the guest speaker on Rev. E.W. Jackson's semi-regular conference call, during which Jackson, a tea party activist, said that President Barack Obama has "Muslim sensibilities" and that gay Americans "want to destroy us."
During the call, Paul generally gave routine answers to questions on abortion, border security, and the size of the military. One caller did ask Paul if he supported Obama's recent declaration that June was LGBT Pride Month and if he believed homosexuality is an illness. The question was reminiscent of a tweet Jackson wrote in June 2009, when Obama designated June as Pride Month: "Well that just makes me feel ikky all over. Yuk!"
"I don't think that there's really a role for the federal government in deciding what people's behavior at home should be one way or another," Paul said. "It's not something the federal government needs to be involved in."
After Paul left the conference call, Jackson said he suspected the caller who asked about Pride Month was trying to harass them. "Thank god he was respectful," Jackson said. "But I just want to encourage everybody, that they are going to talk about us like [we're] dogs because all they know is hatred, because all they know is anger and bitterness, because there's something wrong with them on the inside…And by the way, they also want to destroy us…We are in a fight for our very lives, for our survival."
Jackson then discussed Obama's announcement of the release of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier captured in Afghanistan. He said that the president "could not help but smile" when Bergdahl's father, Robert, said "allahu akbar—or whatever it is they say" at the press conference.
Jackson continued: "I have been roundly criticized for saying the president has Muslim sensibilities. That’s not my statement—that’s just a statement of fact…In this situation you would think he would have restrained himself. But he could not help but smile when that man said 'Praise be to Allah.'"
(Bergdahl actually said "Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim," which translates to "in the name of Allah, most compassionate, most merciful.")
Jackson has a history of extreme statements. In two interviews in October 2012 with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality—which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group—Jackson accused homosexuality of "killing black men by the thousands." He added that liberal activists who support gay marriage "have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching, and slavery and Jim Crow ever did." Of gay people, he said:
Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex. So they can’t see clearly...Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies.
In those interviews, Jackson also said that the president "seems to have a lot of sympathy for even radical Islam, unwilling to call it terrorism, unwilling to deal with it."
Paul has made controversial remarks about same-sex marriage. After the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, he said, "It is difficult, because if we have no laws on this, people will take it to one extension further—does it have to be humans?" Paul later said he was joking.
Paul's office did not reply to requests for comment on Jackson's claim Obama possesses "Muslim sensibilities."
Ken Bennett, the Arizona secretary of state best known for threatening to leave President Obama off the ballot in the state if Hawaii didn't produce verification of Obama's birthplace, is now a leading candidate in the Republican primary to become the state's next governor.
Bennett, who insists that he's not a birther, sent a request to Hawaiian officials for verification of Obama's birthplace in the spring of 2012, about a year after the White House produced a detailed copy of Obama's birth certificate. Bennett was following in the footsteps of Joe Arpaio, the controversial Republican sheriff of Maricopa County, who had launched his own investigation into the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate the year before. (Arpaio ultimately concluded that the birth certificate released by the White House was "definitely fraudulent.") Bennett asked Hawaii to provide "a verification in lieu of a certified copy of a birth certificate." (As Alex Koppelman points out in The New Yorker, a die-hard birther would never be satisfied with "verification in lieu" of a birth certificate.) At first, Bennett told CBS 5 that he looked into the issue on the request of "a constituent." (He told Mother Jones this week that he received "thousands" of emails from constituents.) Bennett told Phoenix station KFYI that if Hawaii refused to comply with his request, it was "possible" that that he would exclude Obama from the ballot.
Update 2, Friday, 8:35 AM EDT: In an interview published in the Washington Post, Edward Snowden said the NSA's email release "is incomplete and does not include my correspondence with the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s Office of Compliance [or] concerns about how indefensible collection activities such as breaking into the back-haul communications of major US internet companies - are sometimes concealed." He added, "The fact is that I did raise such concerns both verbally and in writing, and on multiple, continuing occasions - as I have always said, and as NSA has always denied."
Update 1, Thursday, 2:25 PM EDT: The NSA has released the email it received from Edward Snowden on April 5, 2013. In the email, Snowden posed questions regarding a training session. He asked whether presidential executive orders supersede federal laws. He also asked about Department of Defense regulations and Office of Director of National Intelligence rules, wondering which has greater precedence. This email did not refer to any concerns about NSA surveillance programs. Three days later, the general counsel's office replied that EOs "cannot override a statute" and that DOD and ODNI regulations "are afforded similar precedence." The email noted, "please give me a call if you would like to discuss further."
The National Security Agency is firing back against former contractor Edward Snowden, who insists he reported his concerns about illegal surveillance activity directly to the agency in writing before leaking his treasure trove of super-secret documents. The NSA says it will today release an email it received from Snowden that undercuts his assertion.
Snowden has maintained that he alerted intelligence officials internally more than "10 times" about his concerns about NSA activities prior to becoming a leaker. Last night, as part of its interview with Snowden, NBC reported that two US officials confirmed that Snowden had sent at least one email to the NSA's general counsel raising "policy and legal questions." The network's revelation drew attention; the Intercept's Glenn Greenwald called it the "biggest news" from the interview. After all, NSA officials have previously denied that Snowden reported wrongdoing to senior officials. In a speech on April 15 in Tampa, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that "Snowden isn't a whistleblower." He asserted that Snowden "could have reported [concerns] to seniors at NSA…he chose not to go to any of those places."
Now that NBC has confirmed that Snowden did contact the NSA legal brass—undermining the NSA's previous claims—the agency is acknowledging that it heard from the contractor before the leaks. But it is claiming that Snowden's communication with the general counsel's office does not back up his story.
On Thursday, in an email sent to Mother Jones, NSA spokeswoman Marci Green Miller said that the NSA has "found one email inquiry by Edward Snowden to the office of General Counsel asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed. The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed. There was not additional follow-up noted."
She added, "There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations. We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims."
She noted the NSA will make the email public later today.
Given that Clapper and the NSA previously denied that Snowden had made any contact with the higher-ups, the agency's discovery and release of this email will certainly be seen as somewhat suspicious by some. But Snowden's claim and the NSA's response are now good material for his next interview.