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Clinton staged the Oklahoma bombing to divert attention from the Whitewater investigation and the death of Vince Foster, whom the militias believe Clinton had murdered. In the Senate, two Republicans, Larry Craig of Idaho and Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina, have also taken up the militia’s cause. They both wrote to Attorney General Reno asking ‘about reports that federal law enforcement agencies were training at Fort Bliss in Texas. Strom Thurmond also wrote, inquiring about militias, as did representatives Robert Dornan of California, Mac Collins of Georgia, and James Hansen of Utah, “passing on concerns” of militia groups. WASHINGTON’S TIES to the far right do not stop with the militias. Both Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi and Missouri Congressman Mel Hancock have gone on record as backers of a little-known conservative organization, the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has ties to David Duke’s Louisiana campaigns and is viewed as a successor to the old, dreaded white Citizens’ Councils of the 1960s. When the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation in 1954, Southern racists turned to the Citizens’ Council to preserve segregation and the Southern “way of life.” In Mississippi, the council became a powerful political machine, pushing Ross Barnet into the governorship, and creating an atmosphere where violence became an accepted way of life. Blacks were targeted both physically and economicallythose people connected to the NAACP were often fired from their jobs. And it was the Citizens’ Council that played an open and instrumental role in raising the money and putting together the defense for Klansman Byron de la Beckwith when he was accused of the 1963 killing of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Beckwith was a Citizens’ Council member and called the group “my first love.” The council shut down in June 1989. But Robert Patterson, who headed. Mississippi’s Citizens’ Council, told Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson Clarion -Ledger in 1994 that the council’s beliefs are still alive. Patterson pointed to the Council of Conservative Citizens as picking up where the Citizens’ Councils left off. Started in St. Louis in 1985, the COCC boasts a membership of 80,000 to 100,000 members across 24 states. Speakers at its gatherings have included former Alabama governor Guy Hunt, as well as Lott and Hancock. The COCC has received an enthusiastic endorsement from Patterson. “The liberal trends in our government over the past 40 years have been brought about by well-organized and highly financed liberal and minority pressure groups,” he writes in ,a blurb for the group. “Conservatives in our country must organize permanently to counter these actions. Organization is the key to victory.” The COCC supports the use of the confederate symbol in Southern flags and opposes affirmative action and racial quotas. It is vehemently against the United Nations, and, according to a poll cited in CCOC literature, favors legislation “requiring English be used as the official language in the U.S.” Not surprisingly, it is opposed to the Martin Luther King holiday. The Mississippi chapter, which has 7,000 members, built its membership base from an old white Citizens’ Council mailing list, and as Bill Lord, the field coordinator for the state, told the Clarion -Ledger, many former Citizens’ Council members have joined the new group. “We try to elect conservatives running for office and work to raise money for office…and private schools,” he said. “We call ourselves ‘the voice of the no-longer silent majority.’ ” Last year, the Conservative Citizens hit the headlines in North Carolina with a Confederate flag-draped meeting dinner at a Winston-Salem hotel, hosted by conservative Mississippi state senator Mike Gunn. The dinner featured Kirk Lyons, attorney for David Duke and Aryan Nations. \(Lyons is a prominent figure on the far right. He was married by Aryan Nations head Richard Butler at Nations headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and is generally viewed as a roving ambassador of “goodcalled together by A.J. Barker of Clemmons, North Carolina, former chairman of the Populist Party, which backed David Duke’s 1988 presidential campaign, and it featured Republican Harold. Brubaker, the new Speaker of the state’s House. Brubaker told the Raleigh News & Observer he attended at the invitation of Gunn, whom he had met through the American Legislative Exchange Council, a New Right organization that organized conservative support in statehouses across the nation during the last decade. Brubaker claimed he had never heard of the Council of Conservative Citizens before Gunn asked him to speak and mistakenly thought it was a mainstream conservative group. The direct mail company run by Gunn and his wife did work for Duke’s 1991 Louisiana governor’s race. In 1990, Gunn had worked for Duke in his senatorial race, and indeed, Duke supporters appear to be scattered throughout the Conservative Citizens group, as do various adherents of the racialist Christian Identity groupings and and former members of the far-right Populist Party, and members of other racist groupings, including the National Association for the Advancement of White People. THE MOST VISIBLE LINK between Congress and the far right is Larry Pratt. Pratt is a former member of the Virginia state legislature, and, during the 1980s was a fixture of the New Right scene. In 1980, Pratt led a New Right walkout of a White House conference on the subject of family. Pratt objected to the conference’s support for the right to abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and what he interpreted as its pro-gay attitudes. Pratt later founded the 250,000-member English First, a group that sponsors rightwing efforts to block bilingual education. In the late 1970s, he became executive director of Gun Owners of America, a lobbying group that argues that Americans not only have the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but should be able to own arms to protect themselves and their property. Gun Owners and English First share offices in Springfield, Virginia, just outside Washington. One of Pratt’s lesser-known credits is his role as a catalyst for the modern militia movement. In his 1990 book, Armed People Victorious, Pratt argued that the civil defense patrols of Guatemala provide a model for a people’s militia that could play a role in the war on drugs. “The history of the United States for years before and after the founding of the Republic was the history of an armed people with functioning militias involved in civil defense \(or police United States has forgotten its successes in this area, other countries have rediscovered them. It is time that the United States return to reliance on an armed people. There is no acceptable alternative.” What Pratt failed to point out, however, is that the Guatemala patrols are extremely controversial, being adjuncts of the army and widely accused of committing human rights abuses. He also cited the success of the Alsa Masa vigilante group in the Philippines, galvanized in the late 1980s by retired general John Singlaub, who at the time was head of the World Anti-Communist League. Organized to provide support for Cory Aquino from the right, Alsa Masa only succeeded in turning out troops of killers. In 1992, Pratt attended a meeting of farright-wing leaders in Estes Park, Colorado. It was organized by Pete Peters, a Christian Identity minister and, along with Pratt, it featured Richard Butler, former Klan leader Louis Beam of Texas, and far-right attorney Kirk Lyons. The meeting was intended to help relaunch the then-flagging far-right movement and to plan how to react to the ATF shoot-out with Idaho white supremacist Randy Weaver. At the meeting, Pratt argued for the creation of Continued on P. 16 10 JUNE 2, 1995