The Gadsden flag, reputedly co-opted by the Sovereign Citizen group
  • The Gadsden flag, reputedly co-opted by the Sovereign Citizen group
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Mysterious FBI and Homeland Security aircraft are already buzzing San Diego County, trolling for "terrorists, spies, and serious criminals,” according to FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano.

Bill Gore

Bill Gore

Now comes Sheriff Bill Gore, a former FBI Special Agent in Charge himself with a controversial reputation stemming from his leadership of Idaho's Ruby Ridge massacre, looking for help locking down miscreants among the county's so-called Sovereign Citizens.

Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, 1992

Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge, 1992


Though not everyone agrees, the home-grown Sovereign Citizen movement is said by some in law enforcement to present more danger than terrorism from abroad.

"Sovereign Citizens believe the government is operating outside of its jurisdiction and generally do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or governmental regulations," says an unclassified introduction to the movement put out by the FBI in November 2010.

"They subscribe to a number of conspiracy theories, including a prevalent theory which states the United States Government became bankrupt and began using citizens as collateral in trade agreements with foreign governments."

The document adds, "Individuals who adhere to this ideology believe their status as a sovereign citizen exempts them from US laws and the US tax system. They believe the US Federal Reserve System, the Treasury Department, and banking systems are illegitimate. Therefore, one of the perceived 'benefits' of being a sovereign citizen is not paying federal or state taxes."

Notes another FBI dispatch, "Not every action taken in the name of the sovereign citizen ideology is a crime, but the list of illegal actions committed by these groups, cells, and individuals is extensive (and puts them squarely on our radar)."

According to the bureau, sovereign citizens "commit murder and physical assault," "threaten judges, law enforcement professionals, and government personnel,” and "engineer various white-collar scams, including mortgage fraud and so-called 'redemption' schemes.’”

The alert adds that, "while sovereign citizens sometimes use or buy illegal weapons, guns are secondary to their anti-government, anti-tax beliefs. On the other hand, guns and paramilitary training are paramount to militia groups."

Despite that difference, a variety of violent incidents blamed on sovereign citizens has made news, including the 2012 slaying of a Louisiana police officer, attributed by authorities to members of the movement.

Most recently, the Ohio Dispatch reported on April 6 that a 26-year-old alleged member of the group lost both hands when a bomb he was allegedly making to rob a bank prematurely exploded.

But figuring out exactly who is a true sovereign citizen and their status in the movement has proven tricky for many jurisdictions.

"'We believe these guys are an isolated cell' not associated with a wider operation," Battalion Chief Steve Martin, a spokesman for the city of Columbus Fire Division, told the Dispatch.

To step up his game in San Diego, Sheriff Gore has issued a request for quotation, soliciting a "training provider for Sovereign training courses" to help local law-enforcement snoop around for bad guys.

The program is to be run by the San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center, described by the document as the county's "all crimes, all hazards fusion center," which specializes in high-tech intelligence-gathering and other undercover activities criticized by some.

A fusion center in Utah drew fire from this February after the federally funded center warned agents to watch out for people displaying Gadsden "Don’t tread on me" flags during the January funeral for LaVoy Finicum, killed during the Malheur Wildlife Refuge stand-off in Oregon.

“Law enforcement should remain vigilant and aware that confrontation with these potentially volatile persons may include more than one individual,” advised the fusion center.

“These individuals may adhere to a sovereign citizen ideology, and may not recognize law enforcement as a legitimate authority.”

The group has apparently modified and utilized the Grateful Dead's "Steal Your Face" logo

The group has apparently modified and utilized the Grateful Dead's "Steal Your Face" logo

Another symbol cited by the center, noted, was “a slightly altered version of a picture popular with fans of the Grateful Dead; the guide does not note this potential source of confusion, describing it only as ‘common sovereign citizen imagery.’”

According to the Gore solicitation, which lists no price for services, the contractor will "equip law enforcement and other first responders with the skills and tools necessary to proactively identify potential Sovereign Citizen Individuals and the radical beliefs of such individuals."

Experience should include "instructing local, state, regional, federal and military students at a strategic, tactical and operational level on Sovereign Citizens and their beliefs, with specific emphasis on the radical beliefs."

Among other things, the course will "include instruction in identifying recognizable behavioral indicators of [a] potential sovereign citizen, how to effectively handle and de-escalate and encounter with a sovereign citizen and how to directly counter a sovereign citizen’s threat, in order to proactively prevent a potential violent attack."

Adds the document, "The course/instructor should be cognizant of the possibility that a small percentage of students may be prone to stereotyping on this issue and stress that stereotyping/racial profiling aside from being illegal is a poor strategy."

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swell April 11, 2016 @ 5:40 p.m.

Terrorists among us! Be afraid, citizens, they're out to get us. They look like ordinary people but they are evil and must be stopped. Thank goodness for aggressive law enforcement who will spare no tax dollar to save us from this insidious disease in our midst. Now, when you see your neighbor searched, beaten and hauled away to god-knows-where, you can breathe a little easier knowing that another Sovereign Citizen has been uncovered.


Ponzi April 11, 2016 @ 9:57 p.m.

Gore is a loser. Are there term limits for sheriff. There should be. He's a weasel that hides behind everyone else. He had intelligence information on the Lemon Grove based terrorists that were suspicious. He did nothing. It could be said that he is an element that permitted 9/11 to occur. His hubris and non-cooperation was one of the intel gaps that let 9/11 happen. Do San Diegan's even know who they are voting for during the Sheriff race? A coward, liar and insubordinate?


Visduh April 12, 2016 @ 8:52 p.m.

If he were a loser, he'd be just another old retired fart on a golf course now. What I never determined is how he managed to ingratiate himself here with the establishment and get to be sheriff with nearly no opposition. But however he pulled it off, he's our elected chief law enforcement officer in the county. We all should shudder a bit and resolve to insure that he gets no further terms in office, and that his successor isn't cut of the same cloth.


qpodad April 12, 2016 @ 5:07 p.m.

So they don't believe in governmental authority but their handbook includes the "TM" indicator? Who do they think would assist them in protecting their trademark if another group uses the same or similar trademark. Hilarious and yet scary how dumb these folks are. AND they don't pay taxes but DO drink the gov't supplied clean water, have sewer and electric services, and travel on public my world they would be called a mooch and not welcome. Pathetic.


monaghan April 12, 2016 @ 7:32 p.m.

I never knew that Sheriff Gore was on the scene at Ruby Ridge. Ouch.


qpodad April 13, 2016 @ 1:44 p.m.

He was Bureau Chief of the Seattle FBI office. He denied giving the orders to shoot (i.e. the highly-criticized "rules of engagement" created specifically for Ruby Ridge) BUT he then refused to testify before congressional investigators about the standoff and deaths of the 14 year old son and the wife (who was killed while holding her baby). Class act, Mr. Gore!


Founder April 13, 2016 @ 6:22 a.m.

Wow, now we have to watch out for sovereign citizen's as if we did not have enough to worry about.

I wonder if Big Corp.'s are considered sovereign citizen's since they don't feel they need to pay taxes and they sure don't like the US Gov't telling them what to do?

Any one know who we should ask for an offical listing of all the groups that we should be knowledgable about, since I'm sure that ignorance of the Law is no excuse?


Ponzi April 13, 2016 @ 9:56 p.m.

Gore was in charge in San Diego (FBI) when the Saudi terrorists were living in Lemon Grove and Clairemont. The Islamic professor who housed them in Lemon Grove was an FBI informant. Gore was dispatched by higher officials to investigate possible terrorists cells in San Diego. He had these leads. He was lackadaisical and dropped the ball on investigating why some visa holding students taking flight school dropped out midway, when the landing sessions of the course would resume.

In fact Gore is a central figure in the failure of intelligence to thwart 9/11. Gore is a failure that let some of the 9/11 hijackers to thrive UNDER HIS WATCH. Gore is a disgrace and why San Diego votes this coward back into office... only God knows.


monaghan April 14, 2016 @ 11:01 p.m.

Probably Gore was voted back into office because no one knew the details of his involvement at Ruby Ridge or his (lack of) involvement with those 9/11 terrorists who lived here and took flying lessons. I mean, I was alive and alert for both these disasters, but this is the first time I've ever read such explicit allegations made against the Sheriff. Where was all this information obtained? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it wasn't the Reader or the Union-Tribune.


qpodad April 15, 2016 @ 2:16 p.m.

@monaghan the Wikipedia article on Ruby Ridge has many citations . You can also Google "Bill Gore Ruby Ridge" and you will see many articles. The FBI special rules of engagement for Ruby Ridge were far more aggressive than the usual. And Bill Gore would have had to sign off on them. But hw refused to discuss them under oath.


qpodad April 15, 2016 @ 2:18 p.m.

Takeaway from the article linked above:

The FBI's Standard Rules of Engagement: Agents are not to use deadly force against any person except as necessary in self-defense or the defense of another when they have reason to believe they or another are in danger of death or grievous bodily hard. Whenever feasible, verbal warning should be given before deadly force is applied.

The FBI's Revised Rules of Engagement, Assumed in Force at Ruby Ridge: 1. If any adult male is observed with a weapon prior to the announcement, deadly force can and should be employed, if the shot can be taken without endangering any children. 2. If any adult in the compound is observed with a weapon after the surrender announcement is made, and is not attempting to surrender, deadly force can and should be employed to neutralize the individual. 3. If compromised by any animal, particularly the dogs, that animal should be eliminated. 4. Any subjects other than Randall Weaver, Vicki Weaver, Kevin Harris, presenting threats of death or grievous bodily harm, the FBI rules of deadly force are in effect. Deadly force can be utilized to prevent the death or grievous bodily injury to oneself or that of another.


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