Soldiers based at Fort Bliss in Texas joined a secretive group called ‘Dark Horse,’ which one member explained “was to support and defend the Constitution, and was designed to fight alongside the military if need be, if the government ‘goes corrupt.’”
Sounds intense, but is it criminally extreme? The answer, it turns out, is no.
As first reported Monday by CAAFlog, the military law blog, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals last month confronted several related cases arising from the Dark Horse organization. Two enlisted men had been convicted of, among other charges, violating an Army order by belonging to an “extremist” organization.
Specialist Christopher L. Moyers and Pfc. David W. Oliver successfully challenged those convictions, as the Army appellate court concluded Dark Horse did not meet the definition of “extremist” as spelled out in Army regulations.
The group has had its militia-like moments, including special patches, ranks and uniforms.
But here’s the bottom line, as spelled out by the court’s three-member panel:
“There was no evidence introduced at trial indicating that Dark Horse advocated racial, gender, or ethnic hatred or intolerance; advocated, created, or engaged in illegal discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, or national origin, or advocated the use of or use force or violence or unlawful means to deprive individuals of their rights under the United States Constitution or the laws of the United States, or any State,by unlawful means,” the court stated.
Moyers was represented on appeal by William Cassara; Capt. Jack Einhorn was on the brief for Oliver. Oliver gets off, while Moyers’ conviction on other charges remains intact.