After releasing a 180-gigabyte treasure chest of data from far-rights' preferred domain registrar, and web host, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), a non-profit journalist collective, has uploaded a cache of data allegedly stolen from the far right, anti-government Oath Keepers.
Oath Keepers are most well-known for their presence at demonstrations for far right causes and standoffs with public land managers across the country. They also show up with guns at Black Lives Matter marches. The Oath Keepers are a group made up of concerned citizens who aim to preserve the peace, protect constitutional rights from a dictatorial government, and protect local businesses from looting. However, they operate as unlicensed, armed to-the-teeth vigilantes that encourage vigilante violence and raise tensions wherever and whenever they travel. The Washington Post reports that Oath Keepers' founder Stewart Rhodes is less a militia leader than an adept rifter who can rile up extremists. Other segments of the far right, such as white supremacists have dismissed them as delusional boomers.
Numerous Oath Keepers were present at the mob attack on the Capitol Jan. 6, hoping to stage a coup that would win Donald Trump a second term. There are at least 22 alleged members of the group or their affiliates facing federal charges. Media reports also show that they had made extensive preparations for violence the day before the riot. Rhodes has not been indicted. Prosecutors claim that Rhodes was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and that he communicated at least 19 times by phone with Oath Keepers throughout the riot. This seems to contradict his claims that no members of the group had coordinated their actions with him.
A hacker released a cache of Oath Keepers internal data to DDoSecrets. It contains a vast amount of information about Oath Keepers and its members. The leak contains approximately 10,000 emails. It includes the email archives of each chapter and some of its leaders, such as Rhodes. The leak includes messages from Rocket.Chat, the group chat service. These messages were sent between June 2020 and mid-September 2021.
An additional file containing approximately 38,000 email addresses is labeled "membership list". Many of these entries can be linked to names, physical addresses and phone numbers. However, it's not clear which entries are related to current or past Oath Keepers. This number is comparable to an internal Oath Keepers figure cited by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, but it is significantly higher than the Anti-Defamation Leagues estimate that there are approximately 1,000-3,000 Oath Keepers. Emma Best, co-founder of DDoSecrets, told the Daily Dot the members list and other financial files will only be made available to journalists.
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Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project's June analysis didn't give a guess as to the organization's total membership. However, it noted that Rhodes has managed to gain a minor celebrity status within Republican circles and have used that to draw disproportionate attention from media.
Gizmodo reached out to Oath Keepers for comment and confirmation, but didn't receive an immediate response. We will update this post once we get one.
Many far-right trolls relied on registrars willing to anonymously register websites. Joshua Alayon, a Florida realtor, was fired after he was revealed to be the owner of numerous racist and anti-Semitic websites. Although the DDoSecrets group that released the data claimed to be affiliated to Anonymous, the Daily Dot reported that there is no evidence that the Oath Keepers release was part the same operation.
The Oath Keepers shut down their website within a week of the failed Capitol insurrection. Rhodes claimed that LiquidWeb, the hosting company, had terminated the contract because it was under pressure from leftists. The Oath Keepers moved to Epik where they found poor security practices that included the storage of large amounts of user data, including usernames and credit card numbers, as well as passwords, in unsecure formats. It is easy to see how the hackers may have obtained account credentials, or other information that could be used to access the Oath Keepers internal records.
Best explained to the Daily Dot that the Oath Keepers leak gives a rare view of the group's members, donors, structure, and operations in the months preceding and immediately following the January 6th attempted insurrection. Although there will be some questions, the information it provides about the largest far-right group that includes former and current law enforcement officers and military personnel will fuel national and local journalists.
Gizmodo downloaded the Oath Keepers data files and will be looking at its contents.