IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Extremists unmasked: Project exposes Oath Keepers hidden in plain sight

An Anti-Defamation League project has exposed people who registered as members of the violent paramilitary group ... and their public-facing professions.


On Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League unveiled a research project that uses a leaked membership list from the Oath Keepers militia to expose the extremists in our midst. 

Along with the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers are among the most prominent, heavily armed extremists known to have taken part in the deadly mob that tried to delay certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory during the Jan 6. siege of the Capitol. 

The Oath Keepers’ founder, Stewart Rhodes, is set for trial later this month on a seditious conspiracy charge in connection with the attack. 

According to the ADL, the Oath Keepers’ membership list was leaked by a collective known as DDoSecrets. That’s an online activist group that specializes in leaks about law enforcement and other powerful officials. The ADL sifted through more than 38,000 names to find hundreds of people who registered as Oath Keepers who worked in public-facing roles across the country. We’re talking law enforcement officers, first responders, military personnel, even government officials — all of whom saw fit to connect themselves to an extremist paramilitary organization.

We’re already beginning to see reverberations, as news outlets from several states begin to pore over the names. 

Using an interactive map on the ADL’s website, you can click to see the number of people who registered as Oath Keepers in your state, including a breakdown of how many the ADL reports as working in any of the public-facing roles I mentioned. The picture, in totality, depicts a non-negligible number of people — many tasked with keeping their fellow citizens safe — who have a fundamentally exclusionary view of who deserves to be considered a full citizen in America. Or, at bare minimum, they have no problem counting themselves among those who do feel that way.

The ADL noted that some people may have joined the Oath Keepers “because they were sold a watered-down version of the group, and some may have disavowed the group since signing up.” But the ADL doesn’t excuse these people either, adding that it’s also “important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up.”

Here are some of the ADL’s key takeaways: 

  • More than 600 people on the list were found to work as elected officials, law enforcement officers, military members or first responders.
  • With 3,301 registrations, Texas was home to more Oath Keepers sign-ups than any other state. 
  • New York was the state with the most law enforcement officers who registered as Oath Keepers, with 45. (No surprise here.)
  • Illinois was the state with the most first responders who registered as Oath Keepers, with 15.
  • And Virginia — with 15 — had the most members of the armed forces who registered as Oath Keepers. Back in April, I reported on a House Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing that spoke to this exact problem: extremist groups seeking out service members. In his opening remarks, the committee chair, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., explained, “Having veterans among their ranks also gives these groups an air of credibility. It allows them to project a false appearance of patriotism and duty that belies their true anti-government views and racial, ethnic and religious hatred.”