This might only help a handful of people, but it is a topic I find extremely important. With the politicians and media constantly shoveling muck, I think it crucial that people understand and apply critical thinking to everything. In my travels and conversations, I find that not many people know how or do not care to sift through the rhetoric and fallacies employed to manipulate them. My hope is for others to question and analyze everything then perhaps they would break free of the herd and begin thinking for themselves.
As I was doing research for another article, I came across a website with a whole pile of funny smelling stuff. The website provided information on a group which it identified as a “Terrorist Organization.” Well, as the site is associated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), I thought we would take a closer look.
Though I am not going to give an exhaustive or technical tutorial on critical thinking (click here for more information), I would like demonstrate how a few questions help determine if the information has a bias. The nature of the research and data development this site is supposed to provide, academically, it should contain little to no bias. However, if there is a bias, what is the purpose of the program? And more importantly, why are we taxpayers funding slanted information? If you do not want to ask questions and dig deeper, enjoy your blissful existence among the bleating herd.
The website belongs to program called START, which is funded by DHS. (You can read more about this group in my article Hang Together or Hang Separately. Though the research is conducted by University of Maryland, you will see that they clearly advertise the link with DHS. Below is the profile they have posted on a group called 3rd Continental Congress (3CC). My questions and notations are indicated in red.
The 3rd Continental Congress was (past tense, why is this group identified as a “terrorist” group if it disbanded before this study began?) a loose (this suggests a casual tie or perhaps a lack of cohesion/organization between groups. What is the reader to believe? Which is it? Is this an organization that requires a threat assessment or are they a group held together with bailing wire and bubble gum?) alliance of militia and patriot groups in the United States. More a term for a meeting, rather than an actual terrorist group (as opposed to a pretend terrorist group? If this group is not an “actual terrorist group,” why are they profiled on this site? Is the “report” suggesting there is something nefarious about “militia and patriot groups”? If not, then the report suggests that Americans might be considered “terrorists” if they have meetings some arbitrary group disagrees with.), several members and participants of 3rd Continental Congresses have been indicted on charges relating to terrorism. Like most so-called “Patriot” (the use of phrases like “so-called” along with the parenthetical presentation of “Patriot” casts a derogatory and dubious light, which demonstrates a mockingly derisive attitude. Further the word patriot denotes a love and loyalty to a nation. Is START and DHS suggesting that it is unpatriotic to be concerned about a Government that frivolously spends tax dollars on wasteful programs (START included) and works toward abolishing or infringing upon their freedoms?) organizations, the 3rd Continental Congress was staunchly (Is this adjective necessary? Does it add value to the “analysis?” Does it indicate that other organizations might be less opposed?) opposed to the United States government, which it views as corrupt and oppressive. The name “3rd Continental Congress” is a reference to the legislative bodies of the 13 colonies which would eventually declare their independence from Great Britain.
The 3rd Continental Congress first met in October 1996 in Kansas City, Missouri. According to news estimates (is this the source of this in-depth analysis? Because the media and internet always have the right information. They can always be trusted right? Methodology and sourcing are extremely important when trying to determine the veracity of any argument), delegates from as many as 11 states (so maybe it was 10? Or maybe 20? Can any of the “data” gleaned from this report be trusted? Or is this the equivalent of tossing cow pies from the hip? Are they figuring if they throw enough manure down range something is bound to stick?) attended the conference, including members of the Republic of Texas, the Michigan Militia, and the 1st Mechanical KS Militia. In April 1997, the Congress met again with an estimated 200 members present. Among those attendees were two undercover FBI agents.
During the 1997 Congress, several extremist attendees split off (how many are several? This analysis identifies a group of at least 200; is the 3CC replete with “terrorists” or did a handful of people split off? If the report is identifying the whole group of 3CC as “terrorists,” doesn’t that make them ALL “extremists?” Or is the splinter group “more extremerer?” Or perhaps a Cobertesque “more extremisty.” And clearly an “attendee” is not a smoking gun. Wouldn’t you have to prove membership before you could indict the organization?) from the main group and discussed the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. (It is contradictory to advocate that a group is a “loose alliance”, “more a…meeting” “than an actual terrorist group,” yet acknowledge that acts were committed by a breakaway group whose association implicates the whole. The logic, if you could call it that, fails to rise to the level of assigning “terrorist” status. A NY Times article describes some arrests but not indicate an association with 3CC. Splitting off indicates they went in a different direction or disassociated themselves from 3CC at least to some degree. If this is a splinter group do their values, principles, and actions comport to those of 3CC? Unless these extremists acted under the orders of 3CC, this contradicts the premises that 3CC is a terrorist organization. Without evidence, it is illogical to suggest the splinter group committed bad acts, therefore the 3CC is a “terrorist organization”) This unnamed group of individuals (Now they are a “group of individuals?” Forget that the phrase is oxymoronic; the analysis now disassociates these “terrorists” from 3CC, by identifying them as “individuals” or acting independent thereof. If the analysis is offering the arrests of these “individuals” as evidence against 3CC, why does the analysis put a separation between the two? This is the data the DHS, thus our Government, paid for and will likely rely on to identify groups or people as “threats to national security. Is this the “intel” they will use when they want to use drones against “terrorists?”) met several times in 1997 with attendees including Kevin and Terry Hobeck from Ohio, Bradley Glover and Michael Dorsett from the 1st Mechanical KS Militia, Ronald Griesacker from the Republic of Texas, and the two FBI agents who had attended the 1997 Congress. From this infiltration (very James Bond-ish. Read this sentence without this prefatory clause. There is no need to sex up the information of an analysis with spies or ninjas. Well, unless you’re me and you analyzing the analysis!), the FBI was able to foil a July 4th attack on Fort Hood mainly planned by Glover and Dorsett, and was able to uncover a huge (how huge is huge? For someone that does not own guns that could mean three or four guns and a thousand round of ammunition. For a gun enthusiast that could amount to a laughable amount that you would only use to go grocery shopping) cache of weapons held by the Hobecks. All members of this splinter group (Again, with the splinter group, what happened to the 3CC? I seemed to have missed how this program justified identifying 3CC as a “terrorist organization.” If this group is 3CC, where is the qualifying information that links them to being under the direction of 3CC. Or that most of members were involved, which would explicitly show concurrent goals in line with the actions of the splinter group) eventually rounded up on weapons charges and were sentenced to various jail terms.
(As stated, the “evidence” is unsupported and contradictory. The dubious “method” of “analysis” would allow any group to be painted as a “terrorist organization.” We indict a group that has been stealing money through coercive tactics, to finance efforts to take away or disrupt the freedoms of America. The funds are also used to fund foreign nationals, who they have aided and abetted by sheltering them within the United States. The group has now developed plans to utilize weapons of mass destruction, kidnapping, and brain-washing upon American citizens. Of course I am referring to the United States Government.)
The “analysis” continues under a section titled Current Goals, but it clearly shows that after the arrest of the splinter group (still identifying them as separate groups) the 3CC faded away. While they identify one attempt to revive 3CC, the “report” concludes that this attempt did not gain traction and the 3CC remains inactive. This begs the question why this is a “Terrorist Organization.” It stands to reason that, if reformed, it likely would be comprised of different people, possibly with dissimilar goals as the first.
In no way do I intend this to be an academic and/or complete exercise in critical thinking. I wanted to give you an example of the many questions and observations I have as I look through information. As you can see, there are a lot of questions to ask. The point is for people to ask and investigate. Maybe you already employ your own critical thinking, or you want to learn more, either way work on your skills and pass them on to the sheep!
ipsa scientia potestas est