A few days ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued this overwrought and yet nebulous warning.
The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security has issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin due to a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration. Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.
- Throughout 2020, Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protest activity. DVEs motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities.
- Long-standing racial and ethnic tension—including opposition to immigration—has driven DVE attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.
- DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.
- DHS remains concerned that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.
- Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.
- DHS, as well as other Federal agencies and law enforcement partners will continue to take precautions to protect people and infrastructure across the United States.
- DHS remains committed to preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, identity or political views.
This is equal parts nonsense, progressive spank bank material, and outright falsehoods. At no point was Homeland Security ever concerned about “preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce” conservatives. You only have to look at the BLM and allied groups rampaging through cities and carrying out targeted killing of opponents–all conducted without DHS doing more than mumbling some bullsh** about Antifa being an “idea”–to see the falsity of the statement.
It wasn’t met with hosannas.
Wow what an overblown segment. So a sweatshirt and some bogus credit card with Trump’s name on it amounts to domestic terrorism? I can’t believe after covering Russiagate that Herridge doesn’t see a Democratic political op like this in plain sight. https://t.co/4Zm7H2qfC2
— Julie Kelly 🇺🇸 (@julie_kelly2) January 28, 2021
Julie Kelly is absolutely correct. The CBS segment is a joke. Right after Catherine Herridge reports there are NO credible threats behind the warning, the video slings crap against the wall hoping some of it will stick. The elements of proof: one guy who entered the Capitol carried a “White Privilege” card; another wore an “American Supremacy” hoodie.
Where were these dramatics last spring/summer, when people actually died as a result of rioting? https://t.co/VnL841nnJ7
— A Strange loop (@Recursion_Agent) January 30, 2021
My friend Kyle Shideler at the Center for Security Policy has some trenchant observations in DHS’s Unintelligible Threat Bulletin.
It is unclear exactly to what this refers. The term Domestic Violent Extremist (DVE) was established as a joint term by the DHS and FBI following a requirement inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act which mandated a standardized definition.
Curiously, while the Bulletin claims the definition of DVE is provided within the DHS Lexicon, in fact it does not appear at the attached link. Instead, only the phrase “domestic terrorism” appears. A note on the FBI/DHS NDAA report notes that DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis uses the phrase “domestic terrorist” interchangeably with the phrase “domestic violent extremist.”
It seems unlikely the new bulletin refers to the multiple months of Antifa-led attacks against police precincts, ICE facilities, and courthouses, including attacks as recent as this week. DHS briefly utilized the term “Violent Antifa Anarchist Inspired” (VAAI) to refer to individuals responsible for attacks on Portland’s Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal facilities. A 2016 report from Obama-era DHS described Antifa as the primary instigators of violence at public rallies.
The bulletin may refer to claims by the FBI that incidents similar to the violent January 6th U.S. Capitol riot were likely to occur at State capitols, alleging “a huge uprising” around the country on or around Inauguration day. Over 25,000 U.S. National Guard troops were dispatched to Washington D.C. as a result of alleged threats, in a move widely panned as a political theater. No incidents occurred.
Most troubling is the way that Homeland Security has created wrongthink as a potential terrorist act.
Yet the bulletin would appear to be advancing the claim that irrational beliefs and delusions –such as belief in lizard people, a view Warner allegedly held—can be classified as a political motivation. This is problematic for several reason, even as we acknowledge that the Nashville bombing revealed a serious vulnerability which may be exploited by future threats.
For one thing it places DHS in the position of adjudicating what constitutes a “false narrative,” and likely into extending its search for potential terrorists into the realm of constitutionally protected speech. It also runs the risk of attempting to frame otherwise legal speech or even mere internet rumor as somehow constituting criminal incitement or support for terrorism.
By this rationale, a “false narrative” is pretty much whatever law enforcement and the Intelligence Community declares it to be. So, in 2018 a meeting that claimed that the FBI had targeted the Trump campaign for illegal surveillance would have been a possible target for domestic surveillance and the subject of a DHS threat advisory because everybody knew that could never happen (if you doubt me, read some of the garbage that appeared on this site during that time period).
And there was this intriguing catch:
Lastly the DHS bulletin contains a reference to three Homegrown Violent Extremist attacks against government officials in 2020 but the actual incidents go unidentified. Homegrown Violent Extremist (HVE) is a DHS euphemism usually meant to refer to individuals inspired by Al Qaeda or the Islamic State but who were not formally members of a foreign terrorist group.
Some of this is just Security Theater and ass-covering. Our vaunted FBI and Department of Homeland Security missed the Capitol Riot which, upon examination, looks a lot less like a spontaneous act than we’re told (see New Information About the Capitol Riot Demolishes the Media Narrative and Asks Questions That Need To Be Answered), and so they are issuing threat warnings with the change of the weather. We were warned about violent extremists during Biden’s installation as president. We’re now warned about violent extremists as the farcical non-impeachment of President Trump begins. Next week we’ll be warned of another nefarious action planned. And, of course, we’ll be entertained with periodic tales of investigative derring-do as insurrectionists and seditionists are rounded up by the basketful.
As I’ve pointed out in two previous posts (see The FBI’s Campaign Against Some Rightwing Groups Looks Exactly Like J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO Scandal and The Democrats and the Deep State Won’t Be Content With a Biden Presidency, They Are Going to Punish President Trump’s Supporters) what is slowly and inexorably being revealed is an attempt by the left, by the Democrats, and by the national security apparatus to marginalize if not actually criminalize effective dissent from the drift towards an abrogation of US Constitution, in particular, the Bill of Rights, and its replacement by the administrative state.
Much like the vague warnings about new and more exotic varieties of Wuhan virus that will require a bigger, longer, and uncut version of the current fascistic regime of facemasks and lockdowns and the targeting of religious gatherings, these ethereal warnings about extremists, those villainous persons who don’t read The New York Times and who break out in hives when exposed to CNN and MSNBC, waiting in the wings to make us throw away our facemasks and follow laws established by Congress and state legislatures are calculated to impose control over citizens and fundamentally change the way America is governed. If a federal agency can label you as a potential terrorist based on your disagreement with the conventional wisdom, then we are really only a step and away from the government disarming and detaining them.