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“”I can assure you that if I was ever convinced that it was God's Will for me to commit an act of violence against the laws of our land, I would hesitate only long enough to, like Gideon, be certain. I would then do all within my power to accomplish what I felt he required of me. … If God does call me into the Phineas Priesthood … my defense will be the truth as inspired by the messiah.
|—2000 Fellowship of Eternal Warriors recruitment letter|
James G. Gritz (last name rhymes with "frights"), usually better known as Bo Gritz (born 1939), is a former Green Beret officer. He served during the Vietnam War, and made a name for himself in the 1980s by conducting several
joyrides private missions to locate POW-MIAs purportedly held in Vietnam and Laos. He went on to become a significant figure in far right conspiracy theorist circles.
He ran for the office of vice president with klansman David Duke in 1988 and for president in 1992, both on the Populist Party ticket. His 1992 slogan was "God, Guns and Gritz", and included such well-informed policies as opposing the global government and New World Order, ending all foreign aid, abolishing the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve System, and fixing the national debt by just printing money. And you thought the 2016 clowns were ludicrous. He is also a radio host.
His early 1980s missions under such names as Velvet Hammer, BOHICA, and Operation Lazarus have no shortage of critics accusing him of being a huckster and his missions mostly shams, but he was able to woo some high-profile donors like Clint Eastwood and H. Ross Perot. During a 1986 mission he interviewed the drug kingpin Khun Sa in Burma, who convinced him of heavy CIA involvement in Southeast Asia heroin trafficking. Armed with a videotape of the Khun Sa interview, Gritz returned promoting a conspiracy theory that the U.S. government was deliberately covering up the continued existence of live U.S. POWs in Southeast Asia in order to cover up its involvement in the drug traffic there. In 1989 when returning from another of his POW-MIA missions, he was arrested for using a false passport; Gritz claims he was told that George H.W. Bush himself had given the order to "get Bo Gritz". He gained a brief inexplicable following on the left due largely to the CIA drug trafficking allegations coming out of the Khun Sa interview, which were also promoted by the Christic Institute. Another brief alliance circa 1988 was between Bo Gritz and Nevada industrialist Paul Fisher (of Fisher Space Pen fame) promoting Fisher's idea for a graduated asset tax on the wealthy. His actual political leanings however were already lurching hard in the other direction.
At some point during the late 1980s he gravitated toward the extreme right wing. He began promoting New World Order conspiracy theories, spoke alongside David Barton at Bible conferences sponsored by Peter J. Peters, ran for president in 1992 on the Populist Party ticket (a party founded in 1984 by Willis Carto whose 1988 presidential candidate had been David Duke), taught a course on survivalism skills for the end times — SPIKE (Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events), and perhaps most famously was the mediator between the government and Randy Weaver during the Ruby Ridge standoff. During this time Gritz was nominally still a Mormon, but as those associations indicate he was increasingly close to the Christian Identity religion. He was later booted out of the L.D.S. church and converted openly to Christian Identity.
His 1992 presidential campaign manifesto (the "Bill of Gritz") regurgitated nearly every conspiracy theory of the far right in vogue at the time: FEMA concentration camps; fear that bar codes are the mark of the beast; Clinton, Bush and Perot were all pawns of the Council on Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission; Kennedy was assassinated because he was about to abolish the Federal Reserve and have the Treasury Department begin printing United States Notes. His campaign literature featured prominent use of the term sheeple, and a ludicrous plan to have the Treasury Department mint a single $4 trillion coin and pay it to the Federal Reserve, which would both instantly pay down the federal debt and because the coin would be hyper-inflationary and ultimately worthless, force the Fed into insolvency. (What effect his plan to magically extinguish the national debt and abolish the Fed at the same time might have on the rest of the economy wasn't mentioned.)
His subsequent activities included attempting to start a "covenant community" in Idaho dubbed Almost Heaven which featured heavily in a Louis Theroux documentary. Founded in 1994, by 1999 Almost Heaven had floundered and was described as looking "a lot like a trailer park" with old vehicles sitting in weeds, laundry flapping in the wind, and "no trespassing" signs. Gritz himself had already left and returned to Nevada after a divorce and failed suicide attempt. He also twice tried to repeat the success he had as a negotiator with Randy Weaver, first as a mediator during the standoff with the Montana Freemen in 1996, then attempting a search to find fugitive Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph in 1998. Both failed.
- The Citadel: A more recent "covenant community" attempt in Idaho. They should note that this has already been tried, and failed.
- Mary Stewart Relfe, one of Bo Gritz's go-to sources for authoritative information on the Mark of the Beast
- Eustace Mullins, another of his favorite go-to sources
- "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again." Yes, really.
- For example, "A Legend in His Own Mind"
- A 1991 speech of his in Palo Alto, CA is on YouTube in four parts where he seems to recognize this, and flips back and forth between speaking to the concerns of the left-wingers and right-wingers in the audience.
- The Christic Institute was a 1980s group, part of the Central America solidarity movement opposed to Reagan Administration policy toward Nicaragua and El Salvador. They increasingly got caught up in pursuing allegations the CIA was funding the Contras by trafficking in drugs, and finally in allegations of a grandiose conspiracy theory about a "shadow government" led by, among others, Oliver North.
- Loius Therous Weird Weekends: Survivalists, doco features interview with Bo Gritz and various other residents, including the armed morning patrol looking out for UN troops and some roller disco, watch here http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/louis-theroux-survivalists/
- Nicholas K. Geranios. Almost Heaven is paradise for patriots Idaho "covenant community" no radical hotbed. Deseret News. 1999 November 6.
- Anthony DeBartolo. A Warrior Brought Down By Love. Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1999.