Joseph Rice - The Warlord and the Sugar Pine MineJul 032015
warlord (noun) - A warlord is a person who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to the presence of armed forces who are loyal to the warlord rather than to a central authority.
Warlordism frequently appears in failed states, states in which central government and nationwide authorities have collapsed or exist merely formally without actual control over the state territory. They are usually defined by a high level of clientelism, low bureaucratic control, and a high motivation to prolong war for the maintenance of their economic system.
When Joseph Rice initiated the Sugar Pine Mine operation, one of the first videos posted on the website of Josephine County Oath Keepers featured him making a crude and grandiose statement, "If it doesn't come out of my mouth, it's bullshit."
This was the setup ensuring that whatever Joseph said would be the official 'truth'. Any contradictory facts would be labeled false by the group, allowing him to choose the information to present. In this way, Joseph set the stage to secure absolute control of the message and the groupthink, regardless of the facts. Anyone contradicting Mr. Rice could then be attacked for 'lying'. Anyone asking questions would be labeled a traitor.
Oath Keeper officers who resigned from the Josephine County chapter have bravely provided notarized and sworn affidavits to help us see past the wall of words Rice uses to craft an image of himself.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
The official Treasurer for Oath Keepers of Josephine County, at the time the Sugar Pine operation began, was Catherine Austin. She had been appointed by Joseph after he asked for volunteers at a Thursday Fairgrounds meeting and she stepped forward. Later at the large meeting which included guests Sheriff Daniel and the District Attorney Ryan Mulkins, Joseph asked her to stand up and identified her as Treasurer to all the guests which numbered around 100. Thus she was clearly the Treasurer in the eyes of the public. However, she was never given access to or control of the funds of the Josephine County Oath Keepers, like any Treasurer should. Although a Josephine County Oath Keepers bank account had existed for some time, Austin's sworn affidavit indicates that she was never allowed to access it.
Affidavit of Catherine Austin (Former Treasurer)
Oath Keepers National has a set of standard policies that are right and proper when setting up an organization that will have accountability. The role of Treasurer is to manage the bank account and revenues, also to ensure there is no misappropriation of financial assets. The duties of Treasurer are spelled out on the Oath Keepers National Bylaws posted at their website:
Section 4.09. Treasurer. The treasurer shall be the chief financial officer of Oath
Keepers, subject to the supervision and control of the Board, and shall have the custody of all the funds of Oath Keepers. Unless otherwise restricted by the Board, the treasurer shall be entitled to endorse on behalf of Oath Keepers for collection all checks and other instruments, deposit all money for the credit of Oath Keepers in such bank or banks or other depository as the directors may designate, and sign all receipts and vouchers for the payment of money by and on behalf of Oath Keepers. Unless otherwise restricted by the Board, the treasurer may have the custody and control of deeds, leases, easements, certificates of shares of stock, bonds, securities, evidence of debt, instruments, and such other property and evidence of ownership of property belonging to Oath Keepers as the Board shall designate, and shall sign all papers required to be signed by the treasurer by law, by these Bylaws, or by the Board. The treasurer shall regularly enter or cause to be entered in the books of Oath Keepers, to be kept for that purpose, full and accurate accounts of all amounts received and paid on account of Oath Keepers and, whenever required by the Board, the treasurer shall render a statement of any and all accounts. If required by the Board as a condition of appointment, the treasurer shall furnish a fidelity bond in such amount and with such surety as shall be approved by the Board, to secure the faithful performance of the duties of the treasurer and for the restoration of all books, records, and other property belonging to Oath Keepers in the event of the treasurer’s death, resignation, retirement or removal from office. The expense of such bond shall be borne by Oath Keepers.
After it became clear to her that she would never get the information or accountability she needed to do her job, Catherine resigned and Anita White was appointed by Joseph to be Treasurer. Like Catherine, she too was not given the required access to accounts to fulfill her duties. Both of them were given the responsibility of the title, but not the means to fulfill those duties.
Furthermore, Anita White witnessed the handling of money by the JoCo Oath Keepers leadership in ways that troubled her. She relates this in her sworn affidavit:
Affidavit of Anita White (Former Treasurer)
Anita also resigned, in concern that the money was not being handled properly, and having no power to remedy it. The end result is that donations were unaccounted for. Anyone who donated and wanted to have some accounting of where his charitable donations went has no chance of finding out. Similarly, the IRS will be unable to determine how the funds were spent or how much was received.
Both Anita and Catherine were Treasurers, as evidenced by emails from them to others in the course of their duty which are from email@example.com, and by public occasions and meetings where they were introduced as such by Joseph Rice.
Refer back to the definition of a warlord at the top of this article, describing "a high motivation to prolong war for the maintenance of their economic system."
Despite the Sugar Pine Mine operation having ended by mid-June, with a barbecue and festivities to celebrate its completion, the Oath Keepers JoCo website, as of July 4, 2015, still features a Paypal donation button prominently at the top and a Status section saying, "We are still seeking donations to cover travel and fuel expenses along with a myriad of other expenses to continue operations."
Even more inappropriate, according to George Backes (one of the Sugar Pine Mine owners), the Miners Legal Defense Fund Paypal donation button at the Oath Keepers JoCo website does not link to the mine owners' bank account. The mine owners still do not have direct access to their own donations.
Why is this continued fundraising for a non-existent operation given precedence over raising funds for the Miners' legal defense?
FOLLOW THE STATEMENTS
Joseph Rice sought sources of money for the Chapter. As many members of the JoCo Oath Keepers will recall, last December Viken Nokhoudian made a presentation to the JoCo Chapter at two of their regular Thursday meetings. It was about his cellphone app, an emergency alert system. Viken offered to make Oath Keepers a partner in the project and share revenue with both the local Chapter and National. It was very well received. Members could see the benefit to the local Chapter, to the national Oath Keepers, and to like minded people everywhere.
It was agreed that Oath Keepers National should be encouraged to make it happen, and Viken was told he would be put in touch with the right people at National to make a presentation about it to them.
What actually happened is that Bruce McFarland made the presentation, without Viken being present, and with Bruce claiming any financial profit for himself. This was admitted to in emails included below that state that they knew and admitted it was Viken’s invention, that there were several named witnesses to Bruce’s making the presentation without him, and that Viken was to have no part of the project. Thus Bruce used his position of authority as Assistant Coordinator, with the support and approval of Joseph Rice, the Coordinator, to take Viken’s website and emergency response idea and present it to the National Oath Keepers for his own personal profit:
Date: Fri, 15 May 2015 09:18:46 -0700
From: Bruce McFarland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was the one who proposed the template driven system to Stewart and the attendees of the national call the OK JoCo leadership team was on.
This would be commercial endeavor and I should be paid for my efforts… There is a provision to provide monies back to National and to our OK JoCo chapter for our efforts.
And Joseph Rice confirms the presentation of Viken's work, without Viken present or even being informed of the presentation, in his later email:
Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2015 12:45:06 -0700
From: Coordinator <email@example.com>
To: Viken Nokhoudian firstname.lastname@example.org
During a statewide conference call three things were pitched to Stewart, COAPT, Template Driven Websites and your Rescue Responder app. Witness to this was myself, Rob Lee, Bruce McFarland, Larry Cook, Mitch Williamson and Doug Burnell. You would have also been witness to it, but choose to remove yourself from the conference call early.
Viken was never even informed of the conference call, nor was he on it. He never gave permission for anyone to present his idea. Is this behavior acceptable to Oath Keepers? From the Oath Keeper Bylaws:
“All Oath Keepers Members and Associates shall possess and maintain high moral and ethical standards and uncompromised integrity for continued membership in Oath Keepers... Oath Keepers and its members are responsible to maintain the integrity and honor of this organization. Oath Keepers shall have a zero tolerance policy for actions that bring disrespect, dishonor or disrepute on Oath Keepers...” http://oathkeepers.org/oktester/bylaws/
Viken also raised concerns about serious security holes in the web and email services managed by Bruce McFarland. For a year and a half Viken had insisted the vulnerabilities, which gave outside parties easy access to the server to install their own software or otherwise manipulate its contents, should be fixed. During the Sugar Pine operation, the website was apparently repeatedly hacked, with unauthorized images and content appearing, among other concerns.
Viken initially made Joseph Rice aware of the problem, even providing an outside PCI scan report to prove the problem existed. Joseph Rice repeatedly insisted, in written statements to his Leadership team, that Viken had produced no evidence for his claims. Yet, below is the security scan that Viken personally sent to Joseph Rice when he first raised the security concerns. As the reader can see, the server configuration ranks very low in security, with plain-text FTP being one of the greatest vulnerabilities allowing intrusion.
Server Security Scan (05/15/2015)
Despite being provided with documented proof of the security problems allowing hacking of the server systems, Joseph Rice repeatedly told his leadership team, Oath Keepers Director Jeff Ford and Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes that no such proof had been provided.
Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 13:13:03 -0700
From: Coordinator <email@example.com>
To: Viken Nokhoudian firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: email@example.com, Jeff Ford <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Stewart Rhodes <email@example.com>
I am launching an investigation into your allegations against Assistant Coordinator Bruce McFarland, which appear to be false and slanderous in nature. I take your allegations very seriously and you have yet to provide any written documentation or evidence supporting your position.
During the course of this investigation please do not attempt to enter the Sugar Pine Mine, Staging or attend Oath Keeper of Josephine County functions as your will be barred and turned away.
Why would Joseph Rice and Bruce McFarland leave the operation open to outside hacking and snooping of supposedly confidential data? Why would they attack their internet services professional, the chapter's own Webmaster, for trying to have the problems corrected? Why would Joseph Rice deny the existence of Viken's evidence to his own leadership team, and hide it from them?
Notably, Rice's claimed "investigation" included preventing Viken from physically showing the proof to the leadership team, under threat of force.
Here is Viken’s sworn affidavit regarding his experiences with Bruce McFarland and Joseph Rice:
Affidavit of Viken Nokhoudian (Former Webmaster)
Webmaster Resignation - Oath Keepers Josephine County
As this documentation shows, Viken repeatedly requested a small leadership meeting to present his evidence of theft of intellectual property as well as the security problems. Both were urgent, as they presented an immediate threat to the operation. Joseph Rice refused to allow the meeting.
Rice even went so far as to claim in writing, on 5/16/2015 and 5/17/2015, that Bruce had resigned from Oath Keepers entirely and was no longer the Assistant Coordinator. This claim was clearly false, as Bruce has continued in the capacity of Assistant Coordinator, has continued appearing at Oath Keepers meetings in that capacity and is still listed as of July 5 on the website as the Assistant Coordinator. This falsehood demonstrates the extent to which Rice would go to shield McFarland from scrutiny.
Date: Sat, 16 May 2015 09:35:49 -0700
From: Coordinator <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Viken Nokhoudian <email@example.com>
Bruce has resigned due to this....
Subject: Re: Security
Date: Sun, 17 May 2015 11:17:19 -0700
From: Joseph Rice <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Viken Nokhoudian <email@example.com>
Vik, I do not think your understand. Bruce has resigned from Oath Keepers completely. Bruce is not in leadership, nor affiliated with Oath Keepers any longer.
Rice finally allowed a hearing, weeks after the Sugar Pine operation had ended, but would not allow Viken Nokhoudian to attend to present any evidence or witnesses supporting his concerns. Instead Rice invited only his closest associates including Bruce McFarland to the hearing, and hand picked what was presented. Of course the result was predictable, based on only the information and people Rice and McFarland allowed. It fit the classic definition of a “Kangaroo Court”:
A kangaroo court is a judicial tribunal or assembly that blatantly disregards recognized standards of law or justice, and often carries little or no official standing in the territory within which it resides. Merriam-Webster defines it as "a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted". The term may also apply to a court held by a legitimate judicial authority who intentionally disregards the court's legal or ethical obligations. A kangaroo court is often held to give the appearance of a fair and just trial, even though the verdict has in reality already been decided before the trial has begun. Such courts are typically run by authoritarian governments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_court
Joseph Rice talked a great deal about "due process" during the mine operation, and how the Oath Keepers and other patriot groups would lay down their lives for it.
So why did he actively prevent due process when he was in power? Why did the other Oath Keepers leaders take part in the sham hearing? Is this what passes for leadership and due process in Oath Keepers of Josephine County?
FOLLOW THE ACTIONS
Joseph Rice not only ignored Viken’s warnings of security holes, but actively attacked Viken for providing proof of them. He denied the proof and claimed that Viken was only trying to personally attack Bruce McFarland. Why?
The handling of incoming donations and the finances was concealed from one Treasurer after another. People's property and rights were taken without recourse. Is this the sort of accountability any reputable organization tolerates? Is this the way a responsible leader would act?
“Circumstances do not make the man. They reveal him.” Given the definition of a warlord, provided at the top of this post, is Rice an aspiring warlord?
A warlord is someone who is a law unto himself and is ready to use his power to get what he wants. By use of a 'crisis', he obligates everyone around him to do his bidding to defend against a real or imagined threat, giving himself great power and control over assets that would not otherwise be acceptable. The greater the sense of crisis, the more power he is given by his followers. He amasses resources and then doles out financial and other favors selectively, or punishments, to maintain his grip on power. A warlord believes and acts as if the crisis and his leadership role in it exempts him from normal rules of conduct or morality.
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel
Joseph Rice and Bruce McFarland were able to amass power in the form of money, resources, and unquestioning followers during the “crisis”. We can see the kind of people Mr. Rice and Mr. McFarland are, as revealed by their empowerment during the Sugar Pine Mine operation. How did they handle their power over people? Did they use the donations and volunteers with respect for the giver’s sacrifice? Were they accountable? Did they protect the basic Constitutional rights of their supporters? How did they treat the very people who had given so much?
As "Mouse" Prosen says:
"We've got men and women here who have surrendered everything and left it behind. Their Families! They left behind their jobs! They left behind their futures for this!"
Was this operation done in good faith with the Oath Keepers and other patriots? Were the supporters of the operation just pawns in play for other ambitions? Was the true purpose to ensure the Miners' property and legal defense, or to collect resources for Joseph Rice's own agenda?
We swore our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to upholding certain principles, not to blindly follow a self-proclaimed leader. Those who would assume responsibility for coordinating an Oath Keepers chapter must be open to greater accountability than any other.