Barkun briefs executives on “Bundy militia”-style crises

Political scientist and domestic terrorism expert recently advised the Colorado Federal Executive Board Council on resistance movements.

Barkun, MichaelFollowing the recent San Bernadino attack and the militia occupation of public lands in Oregon, U.S. federal executives recently sought advice from the Maxwell School on the management of such crises. On February 9, Michael Barkun, professor emeritus of political science, briefed the Colorado Federal Executive Board Council (CFEB) on emergency preparedness in relation to independent, resistance movements such as the so-called “Bundy militia” in Oregon. Barkun has written at length on apocalyptic groups, political extremism, and the relationship between religion and violence. He has served as a consultant to the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group and currently serves on the academic advisory board of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

For organizations preparing for such contingencies, Barkun said, “There is little likelihood that intelligence will be available on lone wolf perpetrators before they act.  The difficulty, of course, is how to separate truly dangerous people from the much larger number who are harmless. . . .  Those who have made threats before are an obvious risk category. Those with particularly inflammatory, publicly accessible websites constitute another.” 

Furthermore, Barkun noted, just as certain people and groups are more likely to pose a legitimate threat, so too are certain institutions at a higher risk of being targeted. Organizations serving potentially inflammatory purposes such as tax collection, abortion services, or — as in the case of Oregon — federal land management, are more likely to draw the ire of these extremist individuals and groups.

CFEB acts as a conduit organization for U.S. government federal executives in its region — one of a number of such federal executive boards throughout the country. It promotes intergovernmental collaboration and communication with local communities, workforce development, and emergency preparedness. In monthly intergovernmental meetings focused on continuity of service to communities, CFEB emphasizes the practical steps government officials can take to prepare for the unexpected. 02/19/16