In two recent unpublished studies, the Homeland Security Dept. and the National Counterterrorism Center has classified the “sovereign citizen” movement just as much of a threat to national security as Islamic extremists and white supremacists. The sovereign citizen movement has attracted little media attention, but the FBI considers them as an “extremist antigovernment group”. According to Casey Carty, the Bureau’s head of the sovereign citizen unit, members of this movement are tying up courts in every state with nuisance lawsuits and property liens.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non profit organization based in Montgomery Alabama, more than 100,000 Americans have aligned themselves with the movement. People who follow the sovereign movement protocol claim that they are not subject to local, state, or federal laws and some do not acknowledge the authority of courts or police. Citizens who adhere to “sovereignty” believe that the U.S. is under martial law, some of the constitutional amendments are invalid, and that the American dollar has been worthless since Treasury went off the gold standard during the Great Depression.
The FBI is most concerned about the belief that they are entitled to use force to resist arrest and fight police. “We are focusing our efforts because of the threat of violence”, said Stuart R. McArthur, deputy assistant director of FBI Counterterrorism Division. Until recently, federal officials had steered clear of any extensive focus on right-wing extremist groups. Congress complained about the “unnecessary” focus on sovereign citizens following a Homeland Security Dept. report that such groups might seek to recruit disgruntled military vets returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. For an election year, sounds like a hot topic.