At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, lawyer Stewart Rhodes, founder of controversial “patriot” group Oath Keepers, told a legal reporter that he was rejected for a 2003 clerkship with infamous federal appeals court judge Jay Bybee—co-author of the Bush administration’s Torture Memos. “Of course I didn’t get the clerkship,” Rhodes said. “But I didn’t want it anyway.”
The subject of our March/April cover story “Age of Treason,” Oath Keepers urges members—mostly active-duty soldiers, police officers, and military veterans—to disobey a set of orders they consider unconstitutional infringements on American liberties. Rhodes says his lack of faith in Bybee stems not from his approval of torture, but from his actions, along with lawyer John Yoo, “justifying applications of the laws of war even on American citizens. I find that very dangerous.”
Rhodes and his organization have drawn praise or attention from right-wing icons like Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, and a coterie of GOP congressional representatives and 2010 candidates. But speaking to Rhodes on his program last week, Bill O’Reilly suggested that some of the group’s ideals invite anarchy.
Bybee remains on the bench, and although Congress says it intends to hold hearings on the Torture Memos, key details of the case remain mysterious. But when Bybee eventually leaves his robe behind, it looks like there won’t be an Oath Keepers membership waiting for him.