Attorney: Accused ‘Oath Keepers’ Capitol rioter a disabled vet who worked for FBI, holds top-security clearance

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WASHINGTON, DC- A Virginia man claimed to be the leader of a so-called “far-right” militia group is denying any involvement in the January 6 ruckus at the US Capitol, an incident far-left Democrats are referring to as an “insurrection” and for which they’ve launched another impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump, the New York Post is reporting.

In a court motion filed on Monday by attorney Thomas Plofchan, Thomas Edward Caldwell is claiming that he worked as an FBI section chief from 2009 to 2010 following his retirement from the United States Navy as a lieutenant commander.

Caldwell is being accused of having a “leadership role” in the Oath Keepers, described by some as being a militia group.

Caldwell, 66, also holds a top-secret security clearance dating back to 1979, his attorney’s motion states, which required numerous background checks, while also running a consulting firm that did classified work for the United States government, Plofchan’s motion said.

“He has been vetted and found numerous times as a person worthy of trust and confidence of the United States government, as indicated by granting him Top Secret clearance,” the motion read. 

The motion seeks to have Caldwell released from custody ahead of trial based on charges that he had allegedly coordinated with two other Oath Keepers to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, citing his military career while insisting a “service-connected” injury to his shoulder, back and knees would have prevented him from any involvement in storming the Capitol.

Caldwell had failed back surgery in 2010 after having retired from the Navy as a “disabled veteran.”

He was also later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the filing states.

Caldwell denies being a member of the Oath Keepers and was arrested on Jan. 19 on charges of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted buildings or grounds.

He is part of a group of some 200 people who have already been charged in the Jan. 6 incident, protesting the certification of Biden as president.

Prior to January 6, Caldwell had posted a message on social media which read:

“It begins for real January 5 and 6 on (sic) Washington, DC, when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on Capitol Hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. The kettle is set to boil.”

The Post noted that it’s unknown if Caldwell was hired directly to work as an FBI section chief, or if he had other positions in the FBI.

The filing notes that he was paid as a GS-12 level federal employee, a designation generally held by “white collar employees in mid-level positions” earning up to $86,000 annually, according to a federal compensation website.

According to WUSA, that salary range is much lower than the expected salary one would expect of a section chief, according to WUSA.

Mr. Caldwell has been locked up in Virginia since his arrest. As of Tuesday, federal prosecutors had not filed a response to Plofchan’s motion, with no hearing date set to adjudicate the filing, WUSA said.

The Post reached out to Plofchan for comment, but the call was not returned as of press time, they said.

Meanwhile, FBI officials refused to comment on the claims contained in Plofchan’s motion.

“It is FBI policy not to comment on personnel matters,” FBI officials told the Post in a statement.

According to federal prosecutors, Oath Keepers are a rather large, but loosely organized group of “militia members” who believe the government has been taken over by a “shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights,” according to court documents.

While the group accepts “anyone” as new members, they focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first-responder personnel, prosecutors said.

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Meanwhile, last month we reported on the Biden administration ordered a full assessment of domestic terrorism in the aftermath of the US Capitol incident, focusing on “right wing” domestic terrorism.

He made no such mention of BLM or Antifa “left wing” terrorism. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

WASHINGTON, DC – President Joe Biden has ordered a full assessment of the risks posed by domestic terrorism in the shadow of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The “domestic violent extremism (DVE)” assessment was announced during a Friday press briefing.

New White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:

 “The January 6th assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat.

The Biden Administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve.”

The assessment will be conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, led by newly confirmed Avril Haines, working with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, Psaki said at the briefing.

The administration’s focus on DVE is a clear acknowledgment that officials view the domestic unrest plaguing the United States in the past year, culminating in an attack on the United States Capitol on January 6 as a growing and concerning threat.

The review and plan put forth by the administration involves the Director of National Intelligence, which was created following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to prevent international terrorism. This pivots the attention of the government agency from external to internal terrorism threats.

Psaki said the “key point” being made by the administration is that they want facts to develop policy:

“We want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy. So, this is really the first step in the process. We will rely on our appropriate law enforcement and intelligence officials to provide that analysis.”

In addition to the threat assessment, the administration plans to develop its capability within the National Security Council (NSC) to confront the threat of domestic terrorism, including a review of the government’s information-sharing capabilities. Psaki said:

“The NSC will undertake a policy review effort to determine how the government can share information better about this threat, support efforts to prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks, and more.”

Psaki said she wanted to assure Americans that the administration’s actions would protect citizens’ rights while increasing government capabilities to monitor and counter domestic threats.

“We are committed to developing policies and strategies based on facts, on objective analysis, and on our respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities.”

“We need to understand better its current extent and where there may be gaps to address so we can determine the best path forward.”

The third step in Biden’s plan involves coordinating relative parts of the federal government to enhance and accelerate efforts to address DVE.

Addressing reporters following the briefing, Psaki said the President wanted to conduct the review and develop the DVE policy as a priority:

“It is a priority (of the administration to insure that we are assessing what is happening in government and if we could do it better. Clearly, more needs to be done. That is why the President is tasking the national security team to do exactly this review on his second full day in office.”

The announcement of the review and plan by the Biden administration did not make mention of violent protests and riots in cities across the nation over the summer by left-wing groups including Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

The attack on the Capitol on January 6 resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer. The attack has led to the second impeachment of President Donald Trump and renewed a debate over whether there should be laws created specifically for domestic terrorism.

Thus far, terrorism policy and laws have focused mainly on international terrorism. Discuss and debate about the need for new laws to deal with domestic extremism have been sparked previously by school shootings and homegrown attacks like the one at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people.

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