Earlier this month, retired Marine Sargeant Rand Cardwell logged the following report at OathKeepers.org:
"A fellow veteran contacted me concerning a new and disturbing development. He had been utilizing a Mormon cannery near his home to purchase bulk food supplies. The man that manages the facility relayed to him that federal agents had visited the facility and demanded a list of individuals that had been purchasing bulk food. The Manager informed the agents that the facility kept no such records and that all transactions were conducted on a cash and carry basis. The agents pressed for any record of personal checks, credit card transactions, etc., but the manager could provide no such record. The agents appeared to become very agitated and after several minutes of questioning finally left with no information."Now here is a key point: Cardwell concludes by saying "I contacted the manager and personally confirmed this information."
This report went viral on alternative news sites and created quite a bit of consternation among Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes gave an interview on the Alex Jones show about this and similarly alarming federal encroachments occuring around the country. Church headquarters was flooded with calls from Members wanting to know what our leaders were planning to do about this invasive encroachment on church sovereignty.
And then suddenly...the cannery director recanted his story. There had been no visit from federal agents after all, he insisted. In fact, suddenly the good brother could not even recall having spoken to anyone from Oath Keepers about it. Sargeant Cardwell's source had turned into Sargeant Schultz. The manager knew nothing. Nuuuh-THING!
It didn't take long before bloggers everywhere declared the incident had been "a complete and total fabrication." How did they know this? They called the cannery and no one answered, or they heard from someone else who said they heard it was a hoax, proof positive for some people that the whole thing was made up.
It didn't help that some websites that ran with the story changed the headline, distorting a simple visit by two agents into some massive "federal raid." Among the hub-bub, it was nearly impossible to come to an intelligent conclusion about what happened because the manager by now had clammed up. The corporate Church's public relations department issued a terse denial, and that was that.
With their source no longer willing to go on the record, OathKeepers did the honorable thing and pulled the story. Ironically, this was further proof to the cynics that the story had been retracted. But that's not what Oath Keepers was saying. This is:
"We have pulled this story about the Mormon cannery being visited by federal agents because the source of the information at the cannery is now denying that he ever told us that event occurred.
"From now on, we will NOT post any such story based on what we are told by other people unless, and until, they are willing to go on video or at least on an audio recording with their info. That way, in case someone starts to crumble under the public attention or other pressures, and wants to deny what they told us, we have video or audio proof.
"We get all kinds of scary intel, all the time, and we rarely pass it on because we don’t have confirming documentation. In this case, we were relying on a confirmed eye witness who is now denying it. We will not do that again without a recording.
"We still welcome such tips, but unless you are willing to go on recorded record, using your name, we will not pass it on to the public, but will instead use it only for our own knowledge and internal analysis among our leadership with the caveat that it is not for public dissemination. Otherwise, we risk having people flake on what they told us, and that makes us look bad. People who send us information often times don’t realize the kind of public attention they may wind up experiencing, or the kinds of pressures they may come under behind the scenes. Another consideration is the real possibility that a person could be threatened with prosecution under the USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001 for making public the fact that they were contacted by Federal agents demanding private records. We need witnesses to be willing to go on recording right up front so they cannot later recant.
"We will always respect the privacy and anonymity of sources, as we have done in this case, but will simply not run such stories in the future without video proof AND someone who is willing to be identified in the story. Anonymous tips will be used only for internal analysis.
"NO SUCH STORY WILL BE POSTED ON THIS SITE AGAIN WITHOUT VIDEO OR AUDIO OF THE EYE WITNESS(S) SO WE CAN PROVE THEY TOLD IT TO US -No matter how urgent or important the information. As far as we are concerned, without such a recording, we will not consider it a real source, but just scuttlebutt.
"Thus, now that we no longer have an eye witness willing to stick with his story, we no longer have a story we feel comfortable having on our site and we have pulled this story so we are not accused of still disseminating it."(Although pulled from OathKeepers.org, the original post has been cached here. You might want to read it before it's gone for good. You'll note within the piece that Sargeant Cardwell claims to have gone to the cannery and confirmed the story with the manager in person.)
Is The Story Credible?
OathKeepers was formed largely as a response from veterans and active duty military personnel who saw a dangerous precedent following hurricane Katrina, when the army was sent door to door in a New Orleans neighborhood that was unaffected by the flooding. News cameras were on hand to record the soldiers pulling citizens from their homes, cuffing them on their front lawns, then ransacking their houses and stealing their weapons. To many observers, the most fearful thugs and looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were the ones sent in by FEMA.
Here is the statement of purpose from the Oath Keepers website:
Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath we swore, with the support of like minded citizens who take an Oath to stand with us, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God. Our Oath is to the Constitution.
Our motto is "Not on our watch!"Are you wondering where the real soldiers are today, the men of honor and integrity? You want true patriots? These are your guys. Men who take their oaths seriously are the ones you want standing between you and tyranny. Conversely, they are the men most feared and despised by corrupt politicians and banker puppets, because they will not allow themselves to be used like Stalin's army or Hitler's Storm Troopers if ordered to turn their guns on their fellow citizens.
It's no wonder Homeland Security classified returning veterans as potential terrorists. Most of these poor saps were told they were being sent overseas to defend America's freedoms, yet when they came home they found many of those freedoms had been stolen in their absence. Soldiers like these are a threat to tyrants, because they are awake. And they are pissed off.
If you want to understand what motivates the men who took the Oath Keeper's pledge, it's not about what they'll stand for, it's what they won't stand for. There is a list of ten important items, and you can see them here.
The Tennessee Waltz
The reason rumors of federal agents asking questions at a Church cannery in Tennessee are so credible is because we know that in Madison County Tennessee last month, as reported on Nashville's News Channel Five, state health officials had been going door to door inquiring about resident's personal food storage. The program was sold as a means of encouraging the populace to be prepared for emergencies, but it clearly was was a program of interrogation to ascertain just who in the area had stockpiles of food, and how much they owned. I reported in greater detail on this "assessment" program just this morning in another venue .
If bureaucrats in Tennessee would go door to door asking prying questions about random people's private stockpiles, how much of a stretch is it to believe the same inquiry could have been made at a Church facility in the same state? Not much of a stretch at all.
I don't believe Sergeant Cardwell made up the story of federal agents making inquiries at the cannery. I know enough about this guy to trust him at his word. So if the cannery manager denied ever saying anything about a visit from the feds, the question is, why? Something or someone must have put the fear in him.
Of course, there's always the possibility that the manager just made it all up when he was chatting with the original member veteran. If so, is it reasonable to believe he would repeat the incident in detail to a total stranger who calls to confirm it for publication? Does this sound like the actions of a responsible Church administrator? I think it is more likely he was relating an actual incident that he himself found to be an incredible overreach of authority, and that he was appalled, as anyone would be, that government agents would show up unannounced at a Church facility fishing for information without so much as a warrant or a reason.
So why the sudden reversal? Why back off the story?
Those of us in the Church know that no one who works for the Church makes these kinds of decisions without receiving instruction from on high. After the story exploded on the net, someone somewhere had to have sat this guy down and told him to ix-nay on the ory-stay. Let's just put this on the shelf, shall we, brother?
So who was it who leaned on him? Was it someone high up in the Church, or someone in government? Or could it have been both?
What I wonder about is the conversation that took place between the cannery manager and his masters at Church headquarters? If the manager was telling the truth about the visit, why didn't the Church back him up? LDS, Inc pays its lawyers hundreds of millions of dollars a year to defend against all manner of petty nuisance suits. Wouldn't this have been a great opportunity to take a stand against the whore of Babylon herself?
But I guess that's just wishful thinking.
Failing In Our Mission
We have all heard about the threefold mission of the Church:
To proclaim the gospel
To perfect the Saints
To redeem the dead.
You may not remember this, but there used to be a fourth one: "To put evil underfoot." But that was such a long time ago that after making a cursory search on the internet, I can't even find it referenced anymore.
The mission of the church these days no longer includes putting evil under foot, but instead just rolling over and letting evil have its way. "Don't make waves" has been our unofficial motto ever since we got our fingers burned by the feds back in 1890. Now we prefer to just go along to get along.
As President Hinckley put it when asked about the Mormon Church's reaction to the violent persecution being heaped upon the Branch Davidian Church by the United States government, "We don't get involved with them. If the law chooses to take care of them, that's the law's basic right. We just plow our own furrow and go forward."
In other words, the modern Church of Jesus Christ prefers to remain oblivious to the injustices swirling all around it. We don't just plow our own furrow, we plow it with blinders on. Hinckley's cavalier dismissal of a group of Christians who were murdered by their own government reminds one of the words of Martin Van Buren to Joseph Smith, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you."
We seek in vain for any institutional Church objection when the US government steps out of line, even when that encroachment occurs on our own Church property.
Do I believe the testimony of Oath Keeper's Rand Cardwell over the denial of that anonymous Mormon cannery manager? Yes I do. The only thing I don't know is who got to that guy and convinced him he should forget what he saw and heard with his own eyes and ears? Was it the men in black from Washington D.C, or the men in black from Salt Lake City?
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