The crowd was full of familiar faces from patriot rallies and town hall meetings, with an impressive showing by luminaries of the rising patriot movement. There was Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who had refused to enforce the Brady Law in the mid-'90s. Also present was Mike Vanderboegh, whose Three Percenter  movement styles itself after the legendary 3 percent of American colonists who took up arms against the British. Rhodes singled out Marine Charles Dyer, a.k.a. July4Patriot—whose YouTube videos  advocate armed resistance—as a "man of like minds." When Rhodes finished, Captain Larry Bailey, a retired Navy SEAL, Swift Boater, and founder of the anti-antiwar group Gathering of Eagles , asked the crowd to raise their right hands and retake their oath—not to the president, but to the Constitution.
RHODES' TIMING WAS impeccable. Twelve days earlier, the Department of Homeland Security had issued a report  warning that a black president, weak economy, and high unemployment rate had created a "fertile recruiting environment" for right-wing extremists—"disgruntled" vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, the report noted, could bring combat know-how to domestic terrorist groups. Predictably, veterans groups went ballistic, and the report itself became a potent Oath Keepers recruiting tool. "The No. 1 focus of DHS is not Islamic terrorists—it is me and you," Rhodes told followers. "They will unleash the government against you, silence you and suppress you!"
Oath Keepers collaborates regularly with like-minded citizens groups; last Fourth of July, Rhodes dispatched speakers to administer the oath at more than 30 Tea Party rallies across America. At last fall's 9/12 march on Washington, he led a contingent of Oath Keepers from the Capitol steps down to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Afterward, Oath Keepers cohosted a banquet with the hawkish Gathering of Eagles. This February, a member of the group organized a Florida Freedom Rally featuring Joe the Plumber and conservative singer Lloyd Marcus. ( Sample lyrics : Mr. President! Your stimulus is sure to bust / it's just a socialistic scheme / The only thing it will do / is kill the American Dream.)
Rhodes has become a darling of right-wing pundits. In a column last October, Pat Buchanan predicted  that "Brother Rhodes is headed for cable stardom." Glenn Beck has cited the group  as a "phenomenal" example of the "patriot revival movement," while Lou Dobbs declared  that its platform "should give solace and comfort to the left in this country." Conspiracy-radio king Alex Jones even put an Oath Keepers segment, including footage of the Lexington speech, on his hit DVD Fall of the Republic. "I can't stress enough how much your organization is scaring the globalists," he told Rhodes  on his show.
All this attention has put Oath Keepers on the radar of anti-hate groups. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League  and the Southern Poverty Law Center  both name-checked the group in their reports on rising anti-government extremism. "They think the word 'patriot' is a smear," Rhodes countered during his Dobbs segment. SPLC's Mark Potok "wants to lump us in with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and of course make the insinuation that we're the next McVeigh." But such attacks have only raised Oath Keepers' profile. After a combative Hardball interview in October—host Chris Matthews asked Rhodes  whether Oath Keepers had the "firepower to stand up against the federal government"—the group says it gained 2,000 members in three days.