Patriot or domestic terrorist? The interview with Cliven Bundy's former bodyguard

In a place where prisoners often watch what they say, inmate #46153-086 is unfiltered and unabashed in his beliefs.

"I speak my mind.  I don't beat around the bush," Schuyler Barbeau said.

Since his arrest in December, Barbeau has been behind bars at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center.

"I knew this was coming one day. I speak out against government tyranny and injustice and eventually, when you speak out loud enough for long enough, the government's gonna notice you and I got myself noticed," said Barbeau.

Barbeau is charged with owning an assault rifle with a barrel that is too short, In a phone conversation from behind bars, Barbeau shared his defense and his determination to uphold the Constitution.

"The Second Amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. What's the definition of arms? Arms is any weapon, swords, knives, guns, missiles. Anything is arms. It's an all-inclusive term and the gun that I had, the rifle I had, falls under that definition of ‘arms.’ So I have the right to keep and bear it."

Barbeau's public comments about bearing arms are part of the government's case against him. An FBI confidential informant claims he threatened to "lynch" public servants, "remove a judge" and "shoot" law enforcement officers.

"Saying stuff about shooting guys, shooting law enforcement whatever, yeah, I did say that stuff,” Barbeau said. “But anytime I said anything like that, it was purely in, in self-defense. I would never hurt anybody and any of my friends and family, anybody that knows me could testify to that, that I'm not out to try to hurt people. But I will defend myself.”

To better understand Barbeau's physical and philosophical transformation requires going back in time to a humble beginning on the flag-lined streets of Stanwood, Washington.

"He was kind of quiet," said his mother Stacy Barbeau, who describes him as a boy who struggled in school, but drew a clear distinction between right and wrong. "He was very strong-willed and he had a very strong sense of what he felt was right."

The Barbeau family worshipped at the local Assemblies of God church and Schuyler attended youth group at Calvary Chapel in Cameno Island.

"We were all raised to be Christian and to believe in God and to believe in Jesus Christ and that was his foundation," said brother Justin Barbeau. "His second Bible became the Constitution."

After leaving Stanwood High School, Barbeau joined the Marines, then the National Guard as a demolitions expert.

"I think it was within the National Guard that he started to rub shoulders with some of these folks who are in these kind of more Patriot group movements," Justin said.

In its case against him, the government said Barbeau told a confidential informant he stole blasting caps and detonation cord from the National Guard and hid them somewhere in the thick brush off a road in Monroe.

"They say that he stole some and has possession of them and has the intention to use them to blow up federal facilities or whatever to use them in a negative way," Justin said.

Schuyler Barbeau's knowledge of explosives, combined with a Facebook post praising Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, provide the government with a troubling narrative. In an Oct. 12  post, Barbeau wrote about McVeigh, "That guy killed 168, ya he's my hero. Hes (sic) the only person I know that didn't like how the federal government is, and actually did something against them."

Those comments are part of the FBI's case outlined in December. "We recently arrested an individual on a domestic terrorism charge and that has caused us some concern. In the sense, how are his followers, his friends, how are they going to react?" said Frank Montoya Jr. of the FBI office in Seattle.

The reaction from Barbeau's friends was immediate indignation with an online call for action. "Semper Fi Schuyler. We're comin’ brother. We're comin," said militiaman Jon Ritzheimer. Some of Barbeau’s friends showed up at his first appearance in federal court.

Barbeau maintains he is no danger to the public.

“Not to the public,” Barbeau said. “Only to those who wish to do harm. I consider myself to be a protector of people, like a sheepdog against the wolves.”

His desire to protect people "against the wolves" became increasingly fervent two years ago when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters clashed with federal law enforcement over federal grazing rights. Barbeau left the National Guard, his job at Boeing in Everett and his passion for bodybuilding to become Bundy's personal body guard.

"Wherever Cliven went, Schuyler went,” said Justin Barbeau.

Schuyler Barbeau also felt a calling to protect the U.S.-Mexico border. He joined the federal fight over Sugar Pine gold mine in Oregon, showed up to protect the owner of an animal rescue ranch in Anacortes targeted by animal rights groups and challenged public officials in Skagit County who he believed weren't legally in office.

Barbeau’s family maintains Schuyler is a patriot and should not be a prisoner.

“This is Schuyler's life. This is his reputation and in 10 seconds you can totally destroy what that person's about,” Justin Barbeau said. “They try to create a profile and they pick and choose bits and parts of people's lives and they say, 'Oh this person, he has, Schuyler has a really long beard now. Oh he has a long beard and he was a demolitions expert in the Marine Corps. He's a trained killer. Now he's toting guns and looks, is a body builder.' He's pursuing a career in body building and so he fits the profile of what they want to label him as, a domestic terrorist.”

As Barbeau waits for his trial on the weapons charge in May, the government builds its case against a man who they believe is dangerous.

"The only people I'm a threat to are people who have evil intents, you know, bad guys if you want to call them that,” he said. “So I try to avoid violence at all costs. You know, ‘cause I don't like violence. But I will defend myself and I will defend others against injustice. I'm not gonna censor my freedom of speech. I'm not gonna be afraid of the government. Thomas Jefferson once said, 'When the people fear the government there's tyranny. But when the government fears the people, there's liberty.' And I want freedom and liberty. That's all I want."

If convicted, Barbeau could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.