March 25th, 2009
04:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Missouri official apologies for linking militias to candidates

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A Missouri official apologized to Rep. Ron Paul for a report linking him to a militia group."]
(CNN) - The head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety has apologized to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and two other former presidential candidates for a state law enforcement report linking militia groups to the candidates. State officials killed the report late Wednesday.

The report connected the three to often-armed militia groups by saying militia members are "usually supporters of former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr."

Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas, unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president then announced his support for other third-party presidential candidates. Baldwin ran for president on the Constitution Party ticket, and Barr was the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate.

The report, prepared by the state's Information Analysis Center, was sent to police departments around the state. Public Safety Director John Britt said the intelligence report, was intended to "identify certain traits that are sometimes shared by members of militia groups."

But it generated controversy when a copy of the report was leaked publicly.

Page 7 of the report said "militia members most commonly associate with third party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr."

In a letter of apology to the former candidates, Britt wrote that "portions of that report may be easily misconstrued by readers as offensive to supporters of certain political candidates or to those candidates themselves. I regret that those components were ultimately included in the final report."

"This report was too easily misinterpreted as suggesting that militia members may be identified by no other indicator than support for a particular candidates or political organization," Britt said. "This is an undesired and unwarranted outcome."

Britt told the candidates the "mistaken inclusion of this information" would be edited out of the "offending report." He said the updated report would drop all references to political parties or candidates' names.

But late Wednesday, state officials decided to kill the entire report.

State Highway Patrol Superintendent James Keathley said, "Law enforcement officers require intelligence of the highest quality and the report in question does not meet that standard. For that reason, I have ordered (the agency) to permanently cease distribution of the report."

Keathley ordered a new process for overseeing intelligence reports, requiring the superintendent and director to review the content before they are sent to department.

A spokeswoman for Paul, Rachel Mills, told CNN the congressman considered the original report a "grave infraction, but was pleased to receive the retraction."

Missouri Libertarian Party spokesman Mike Ferguson said, "This is a case where the government has responded to the public's objection, re-evaluated a controversial practice and responded by addressing the problem."

He said the report's intentions were proper, saying the party "shares the Department of Public Safety's goal to keep our highway patrol troopers safe as they perform the important and dangerous work of law enforcement. The party stands ready and willing to be part of any discussion that will help avoid conflicts like this in the future."

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder called Wednesday for Britt to be put on immediate administrative leave while the report is investigated. He supported calls for the director to be subpoenaed by the Missouri legislature to answer questions about it.

Kinder questioned the report also including references to anti-immigration and anti-abortion organizations. A spokesman for Kinder said, "We're not juvenile enough to believe there are not extremists in any organization," but he said other groups with radical fringes were not included. He said the types of groups mentioned were supportive of conservative causes.

The spokesman, Gary McElyea, said the updated report would still include references of those type of organizations, saying, "This doesn't do anything to alleviate the concern of conservatives."

Kinder also expressed concern Britt had not read the report before it was sent to the departments.

Paul's spokesperson would not comment on whether Paul wanted any action taken against the director.

Filed under: Bob Barr • Ron Paul
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Theresa

    It was deliberate. Keep the public awareness and cry out when out liberties are being eroded by legislation or by police or any other governmental force!
    Great link to youtube, you bon't be disappointed. This guy was on Glen Beck today over this clip.

    March 25, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  2. Mike Connor

    Ron Paul seemed to be mocked and not taken seriously during the election, but I am amazed at how many interviews I see him doing now giving his point of view on this financial fiasco. Kudos to him, other members of congress need to listen to him.

    March 25, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. arithmetic is liberal

    This is why over-generalizations are BAD, mkay?

    I realize that in the past, I have used the "McVeigh argument" in relation to far-right wing organizations and their selective news feed from the mainstream specifically AM radio.

    But we need to remember, especially those of us on the left or far-left, that if we demonize these groups, and characterize them according to our stereotypes, then we are one step further away from uniting the country for the common good.

    We as a people need to learn one fundamental value: to evaluate eachother and ourselves based on merit, not broad sweeping generalizations. Not every supporter of Ron Paul is a shoeless hick, not every supporter of Ralph Nader is a birkenstock wearing hippie.

    I truly believe down to my core that if you sat me down with Kevin in Ohio or MIssissippi Mike or TCM or any other person whose view stand diametrically opposed to mine that we could find some common ground to stand together on.

    At least we can certainly glean the lesson that the Missouri Department of Public Safety learned the hard way.

    March 25, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |