We are in an especially tense time for civil liberties as the NDAA 'indefinite detention' bill makes its way through Congress, so when a story went viral over the weekend of Feds raiding a Latter Day Saints food storage facility in Tennessee and demanding customer lists, alarm bells went off and some folks got riled up.
But now it looks like this raid on LDS food storage never occurred.
The news desk at the Blaze was skeptical of the raid story from the outset. It was single-sourced to the organization called "Oath Keepers," who are "active servicemen devoted to upholding their oath of guarding the republic and protecting individual liberty."
Oath Keepers did not initially name any sources and there was no corroboration from local news outlets of their post on the alleged food raid.
The Blaze received dozens of tips and requests, however, for more information on this story. We had direct contact with at least one prominent LDS church official, and a number of sources who indicated that they had heard nothing about this story through their channels.
As of late Monday, Oath Keepers had pulled the food storage raid story from their website, and gave an explanation that stated:
"We have pulled this story about the Mormon cannery being visited by federal agents because the source of the information at the cannery is now denying that he ever told us that event occurred."
So the Feds didn't kick down doors and confiscate lists of private citizens who want to prepare themselves with stored food in the event of an emergency such as a power outage or flood. This is good news, to be sure.
But the full context to the story does not seem to end there. It turns out authorities have been poking around and asking Tennesseans about their emergency preparations, even going door-to-door with questionnaires.
Local Nashville news broadcasters at WTVF-TV reported on house-by-house Metro Public Health department efforts to check on citizens' emergency preparedness, including the off-putting line that "The county still wants to know exactly what you are doing to start thinking ahead:"
In addition, a terrorism watch precursor pamphlet from the "Bureau of Justice Assistance" has been circulating the internet that targets completely legal, commonplace behaviors for many conservatives who want to be ready for an emergency. The bulletin lists sweeping generalizations about who might be a terrorist, and many of the indicators revolve around food storage and emergency preparedness.
The Blaze called one of the phone numbers listed on the flyer, and it is in fact a direct line to a joint terrorism analysis fusion center in Colorado. When asked for an official comment on the distribution of the flyer, a fusion center officer declined to comment and stated that any request would have to be made in writing.
The list of concerning activities includes this list below, which notably suggests possessions of waterproof match and meals ready-to-eat (MREs) could be cause for concern:
Store owners are encouraged to call authorities if any of these activities occur and raise their suspicions.
While Congress decides whether under the NDAA U.S. Citizens can be sent to military prison without the benefit of a trial based only on suspicion, further government attempts to compile lists of private emergency preparations and campaigns that single out self-sufficient citizens under the guise of counter-terrorism guidelines could heighten distrust of federal authorities.
But at least they haven't raided any LDS food storage facilities. Not yet.