Missouri patrol names new leader for information center under fire for militia report

JEFFERSON CITY | The Missouri State Highway Patrol on Monday replaced the director of an intelligence center which has been under fire after producing a report suggesting militia members often support certain political candidates.

The patrol's superintendent, Col. James Keathley, announced the personnel change at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing after more than a month of angry complaints from conservatives. The change came less than a week after Keathley was questioned by the same panel of lawmakers about the information center and its modern-militia report.

Lt. David A. Hall, who first joined the patrol in 1993, now takes over the Missouri Information Analysis Center. Hall rose through the ranks in the patrol's Drug and Crime Control Division in northeast Missouri and transferred to Jefferson City-based Troop F in 2007.

Besides the new director, Keathley said the information center also will report to a member of the superintendent's staff.

"I don't see us releasing another strategic report of this nature any time in the near future," he said. "Those are going to be scrutinized extremely heavily from this point forward."

The Missouri Information Analysis Center collects intelligence from state and federal agencies to combat terrorism and criminal activity. It was created under former Gov. Matt Blunt, and earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon helped lead a tour of the Jefferson City fusion center for U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The controversial report says that some militia members subscribe to militant anti-abortion or anti-illegal immigration movements. It also notes that members usually support presidential candidates such as Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas; Libertarian Bob Barr; and Constitution Party member Chuck Baldwin.

Neither Keathley nor a Highway Patrol news release announcing the change in directors at the Missouri Information Analysis Center mentioned former director Van Godsey. Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. John Hotz said Monday that Godsey was transferred to another spot in the Division of Drug and Crime Control, but he had no further details.

Godsey is not a uniformed member of the patrol.

Nixon, a Democrat, last month blamed the report's contents on "overzealousness" while defending police intelligence-gathering and suggesting that the information center could see personnel changes. Nixon's comments came after Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder called the militia report "political profiling" and demanded that disciplinary action be taken against Nixon's director of public safety.

Since then, House Republicans added to the state budget a prohibition on using state money for "political profiling." Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Gary Nodler said Monday that he found some elements in the report detailing how historic flags can be used as militia symbols to be "inappropriate and offensive."

"It really is an affront to people who are patriots," said Nodler, R-Joplin.

Responding to a request by The Associated Press for other reports written by the Missouri Information and Analysis Center, the patrol on Monday released copies of the militia report and 10 others. The patrol redacted some portions of the reports and refused to provide copies of five others. Hotz said the withheld reports contain operational techniques and procedures.

The reports that were not provided deal with the New Black Panther Party, the National Socialist Movement, the Volksfront-White Supremacist group, illicit use of digital music players and anarchist tactics.

Those that were released contained historical background of various groups and movements.

A January 2009 report examining unorganized militias and modern "committees of safety" had a couple of apparently redacted sections under the heading of "Committees of Safety in Missouri."

The remaining paragraphs said "there is already an indication that extremism is alive and well within the Committees of Safety. Given the foul reputation the militia movement has with the general public, their leadership may use the Committee of Safety as a front."

Another report, about the Asatru-Odinism religion and its use by white supremacists, specifically warns that every practitioner is not a white supremacist. The July 2007 report states that knowing how the religious beliefs can be used to justify racism could help police understand white supremacists' mindset.

"Being an adherent to Asatru-Odinism does not in any way make a person more inclined to being a white supremacist. On the contrary, those who are affiliated in such a manner usually start as white supremacists and make the move to Germanic paganism based on those initial beliefs," the report states.