Ernest Hancock, the online radio host who staged an interview with an assault rifle-wielding associate at the Obama event in Arizona yesterday -- and was himself armed with a 9 millimeter pistol -- was a vocal supporter and friend of right-wing anti-government militia members who were convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges in the 90s.
And in an interview today with TPMmuckraker, Hancock said he still believes the Viper Militia case was "manufactured" by the same government that manufactured Waco and lied to its people about 9/11.
The federal government initially accused the Arizona Viper Militia of plotting to blow up federal buildings, which the twelve-member group cased on videotape.
In July 1996, after a grand jury indicted the suspects, federal agents "seized about 90 high-powered rifles and hundreds of pounds of a bomb-making compound from the shabby bungalow of a man whom officials identified as the ordnance specialist of a local paramilitary group," the New York Times reported at the time.
Hancock, who in recent years designed the famous "Ron Paul rEVOLution" graphic, was an oft-quoted defender of the militia members. The tapes of the government buildings, he said at the time, were purely "educational."
"They don't have criminal records," another press account quoted Hancock, who knew all twelve militia members, as saying. "They just like their guns. And in Arizona, gosh darn it, that's normal."
Reached by TPMmuckraker at his home in Arizona today, Hancock said he continued to believe the Viper Militia case was a fraud.
"I was good friends with Dean Pleasant, one of the guys that did five and half years," Hancock said, who added the entire case was "made up."
"I've been feeling this coming again," he continued. "It's the same people. It's Rahm Emanuel, it's Janet Napolitano. It's Hillary Clinton. All these were the same people that were doing it back then."
Napolitano, who later became Arizona governor and is now secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was the prosecutor in the Viper Militia case.
"This militia scare is what got them their crime ban. It was all manufactured," said Hancock, scoffing at the term "White Al Qaeda," which he said he's been seeing in the local press.