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Thu May 30, 2024, 10:10 AM May 30

Off Leash: Inside the Secret, Global, Far-Right Group Chat [View all]


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In his book In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, Erik Larson cites a cable sent to the State Department in June 1933 by a U.S. diplomat posted in Germany that provided a far more candid assessment of the Nazi leadership than the one that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration was then conveying to the public. “With few exceptions, the men who are running this Government are of a mentality that you and I cannot understand,” read the cable, which was written five months after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor. “Some of them are psychopathic cases and would ordinarily be receiving treatment somewhere.

I’ve thought about that passage from the cable many times over the past several weeks as I’ve been reading excerpts from a private WhatsApp group chat established last December by Erik Prince, the founder of the military contractor Blackwater and younger brother of Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education during President Donald Trump’s administration, who invited around 650 of his contacts in the United States and around the world to join. Prince, who has a long track record of financing conservative candidates and causes and extensive ties to right-wing regimes around the world, named the group—which currently has around 400 members—“Off Leash,” the same name as the new podcast that he’d launched the month before.

Among the group’s hottest topics:

• The “Biden Regime,” which a consensus of Off Leash participants who weighed in view as an ally of Islamic terrorists and other anti-American forces that needs to be crushed along with them and its partners in the deep state, such as former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, who “deserves to burn in hell,” Lara Logan shared with the group chat.

• The shortcomings of democracy that invariably resulted from extending the franchise to ordinary citizens, who are easily manipulated by Marxists and populists. “The West is at best a beautiful cemetery,” lamented Sven von Storch, whose aristocratic German family fled the country after World War II to Chile, where their son was raised before returning to the land of his ancestors, where he married the granddaughter of the Third Reich’s last de facto head of state, who was convicted at Nuremberg.

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