A look at the "sovereign citizen" movement

Byron Pitts reports on a movement the FBI now considers one of the nation's top domestic terror threats

Prior to this incident, Chief Paudert had never heard anything about sovereign citizens. "I called around, Byron, talked to many departments. Nobody knew about sovereign citizens," he explained.

Today, the sovereign citizens are Paudert's obsession.

At roll call on a day we were with him, he stressed to his officers the importance of knowing who they are and dangers they pose. "If Brandon and Bill had known these were sovereign citizens, they would be with us today. They didn't know," he told his officers.

"They're willing to die for what they believe in. These international terrorists that bombed the twin towers, they were willing to die for their beliefs. The sovereign citizens, the Kanes, are the exact same thing," Paudert told Pitts.

"What is a sovereign citizen?" Pitts asked J.J. MacNab, who has been studying sovereign citizens for a decade.

"Sovereign citizen, in its simplest form, believes that he is above the law," she explained.

MacNab has testified before Congress and is writing a book about the movement. "He has a twisted sense of history and he thinks that people who lived in the 18th century were free of all legal constraints. And they want to return to that time now," she said.

Jerry and Joe Kane were part of an anti-government movement whose roots date back to the racist Posse Comitatus of the 1970s and the Montana Freemen of the 1990s. Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols was a sovereign citizen. And tax filings by actor Wesley Snipes, convicted of tax evasion in 2008, include numerous examples of sovereign language.

"(The) Average sovereign citizen today is 30-35, and is in economic dire straits. They've probably lost their job. They've probably lost the wife," MacNab said.

Asked if they're paranoid, she told Pitts, "Many are."

"Conspiracy theorists?" Pitts asked.

"Most are," she replied.

"Do you trust the government? I would argue that it's un-American to trust the government," Alfred Adask, who has been a sovereign citizen for 28 years, told Pitts.

Adask is what's called a sovereign "guru," one of the movement's leading voices. A roofer by trade, Adask once published a magazine critical of the legal system.

"Why is the sovereign citizen movement growing?" Pitts asked.

"What's driving people to it is they're beginning to understand that the government has moved away from fundamental principles that this nation was built on. Where are the limits in limited government? The sovereignty movement is attempting to rediscover those limits and reassert them," Adask said.

Adask told Pitts he is eligible for Social Security but that he is not collecting on his benefit.

Asked why not, Adask said, "If you take these benefits you wind up being in the status of the subject rather than a sovereign."

"You pay taxes?" Pitts asked.

"When they're due," he replied, adding, "You don't necessarily - it's not true that everyone has to pay taxes."

Adask told Pitts the IRS has come after him for back taxes, but that he did not pay.

"You don't like this government very much, do you?" Pitts asked.

"I think the government has gone far beyond its Constitutional limits," Adask said. "They think, 'Hey, we're the government. We can do anything.' And some people are saying, 'No, I don't think you can.'"