Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
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8 hrs ago
Dr. Frank Luntz
Aug 05, 2021
By Straight Arrow News
President Biden calls his strategy to counter domestic terrorism a plan to keep Americans safe. However, Contributor Ben Weingarten says it’s quite the opposite and that Americans have reason to worry about how the White House is targeting attacks on the homeland.
If you care about liberty and justice, you should be very concerned about the Biden administration’s new strategy for countering domestic terrorism.
The government’s first role is to protect the life and limb of the governed.
But when you entrust the government with such an awesome power, it comes with awesome responsibility.
While keeping us safe, government must preserve our rights.
This strategy purports to keep us safe, but in reality, it reads more like a potential War on Wrongthinkers, than a War on Domestic Terrorism.
It could easily eviscerate our rights, while the national security, intelligence, and law enforcement apparatuses are sicced on Americans whom they perceive to be their political adversaries.
Think this is an exaggeration?
Here are ten reasons–and there are many more–why Americans of all political stripes should be very concerned about this plan.
First, it doesn’t clearly define who the targets of the strategy are, which means those targets could be limitless.
It tells us that “Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (principally those who promote the superiority of the white race) and militia violent extremists are assessed as presenting the most persistent and lethal threats.”
It also refers to threats rooted in “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.”
The problem is, you can take all sorts of perfectly reasonable and justified positions on any number of issues, and be branded an extremist or a bigot today.
And the fine line between being “critical” of government or “anti-government” is never defined, and seems to only cut in one direction.
The strategy is based on an intelligence community assessment that does much the same.
If you believe President Trump was a racist, who supported racist policies, and that what happened on January 6th, no matter how shameless it was, at the Capitol constituted an unprecedented domestic terrorist attack on the level of Pearl Harbor or 9/11, which is an asinine comparison, carried out by the president’s domestic terrorist supporters, then couldn’t the tens of millions of Trump voters easily be branded actual or would-be domestic terrorists, or supporters of domestic terrorism?
Are you terrorist-adjacent if you believe in laws to strengthen voter integrity, or the imperative to defend the sovereignty of the country, or you oppose Critical Race Theory and Wokeism in all of its forms throughout all of our institutions?
The reason it’s not an exaggeration to make these points is not only because of the Biden administration’s maligning of the president and his supporters, or the Woke climate of the day, but because the document itself says that:
“Newer sociopolitical developments–such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID–19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence–will almost certainly spur some DVEs [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year.”
They’re not talking about Antifa or violent adherents to Black Lives Matter, let alone the seemingly non-MAGA perpetrators of hate crimes occurring in overwhelmingly blue cities across the country.
The second reason you should be concerned about this strategy is that by all accounts, it would seem to apply a political standard—it would seem to seek to weaponize government against people on the basis of their beliefs—which is incredibly chilling. Obviously. How do we know this?
Well, besides the points I just highlighted, there’s little indication the strategy considers any of the groups involved with the mass of violence and property destruction perpetrated during the riots of last summer as domestic terrorists.
The closest it comes is a throw-away line about concern about “anarchist violent extremists.” There’s no clear focus on Antifa, or again violent BLM supporters, nor are their acts ever raised, while January 6th is referred to again as “an unprecedented attack against a core institution of our democracy.”
The closest the document comes is acknowledging an “anti-authority violent extremist [who] ambushed, shot, and killed five police officers in Dallas” in 2016.
But that “anti-authority violent extremist” killed those cops at a BLM protest, and the shooter reportedly frequented radical black nationalist websites and read their materials, yet was characterized again here as “anti-authority.”
His acts in other words are not characterized according to his ideology because his ideology doesn’t fit the ideology that the Biden administration wants to target when it comes to its domestic terrorism strategy.
The fact is, if you care about domestic terrorism, how can you possibly ignore the mass of violent acts perpetrated for political reasons across America’s streets over the last year? That’s the government definition effectively of terrorism.
And how can you seemingly be pursuing them to such a lesser degree, again, than those involved with January 6th, where the vast majority of people have been charged with glorified trespassing, not carrying arms—no matter how deplorable the violent acts of a small percentage of those on the Capitol Grounds.
The third reason to be concerned about this domestic terror strategy is that it’s totally silent on jihadists domestic terrorists.
The implication is that the threats of those who have killed more Americans than any other cohort on U.S. soil over the past 25 years don’t rise to the level of concern. How could the administration possibly turn a blind eye to that threat?
The fourth reason to be concerned about this strategy is that it doesn’t substantiate why the government should be engaged in such a domestic operation—why it requires such a massive use of resources, and deserves this kind of pervasive, all-of-society response as the Department of Homeland Security describes it, that’s being discussed.
If you don’t define the threat, and you don’t explain why that undefined threat merits such an extraordinary response, it’s a recipe for disaster, for threatening liberty and violating justice.
The national security apparatus has done zero – nothing in recent years to give us confidence that we should take it at its word about its threat assessment, especially when it’s dealing with political actors—far from it, it’s shown itself to be hyper-politicized given the myriad abuses and failures it’s demonstrated and particularly against its critics.
And the government itself seems to acknowledge this with a fifth major reason for concern:
The strategy admits that the government has infringed upon our civil liberties before, but doesn’t say how it will protect them this time.
It reads, quote:
“Past U.S. Government prevention efforts have had a mixed record. We need to do better – better at protecting rights and freedoms while still pursuing the goal of preventing individuals from harming their fellow Americans through terrorism or other criminal activity.”
It talks about respecting laws, and working with stakeholders to achieve it, but really, does that instill confidence in you when you’re talking about a government both equipped with the most sophisticated technology in the history of man, the most invasive technology ever, and endless resources, and it’s charged with putting them to use by an administration that is seeking to pursue these kinds of ends?
Sixth, and this is deeply creepy, the strategy aims to get Americans to report on their family members. That’s the stuff of the third world. A senior administration official noted in a press briefing that:
One of the things we’re talking about is the need to do something in this space, like the “See something” — “If you see something, say something” concept that has been promulgated previously by the Department of Homeland Security. This involves creating contexts in which those who are family members or friends or co-workers know that there are pathways and avenues to raise concerns and seek help for those who they have perceived to be radicalizing and potentially radicalizing towards violence.
Of course people should be vigilant about threats to the country, but again this all comes down to subjective views about what constitutes radical and “radicalizing.” And unlike, say Jihadism, there’s no clear threat doctrine here. And shouldn’t we assume that essentially the administration wants kids to report on their parents who listen to talk radio and have questions about the legitimacy of the last election? Do you think we’re that far from the FBI receiving those kinds of calls under this sort of paradigm?
Seventh, the strategy delegitimizes the military by casting it as a source of violent extremism as part of this whole wokeism campaign that works against making it the toughest fighting force in the world. And that argument about the military being a potential hotbed of extremism is never substantiated.
In fact, CSIS, (Center for Strategic & International Studies) the think tank, who’s report is cited by many who believe in the Biden domestic terror strategy detail that “less than four ten-thousandths of a percent of all active-off duty troops and reservists were involved in domestic terrorism.” It’s a diminimist percentage of a percentage that’s being talked about here used to smear and undermine and demoralize the entire military.
Eighth, the strategy leaves the door open to potentially using foreign governments to surveil American citizens. How does it do that? Well it says,
“Appropriate elements of the intelligence and law enforcement communities have already identified, and are now implementing, more robust information exchanges with foreign partners regarding the foreign connections to the U.S. domestic terrorism threat and those partners’ own experiences addressing any comparable threats within their countries. The U.S. Government has…prioritized obtaining from foreign partners credible intelligence and law enforcement information regarding international support for domestic terrorism in the United States…”
Isn’t it clear that this could easily be a back door to using foreign agents to surveil Americans?
Ninth, the strategy puts the federal government in the role of combatting “disinformation,” however it defines it, and partnering with Big Tech in general, and seemingly in part specifically around information or disinformation warfare, I guess. The First Amendment issues are obvious, as are the Big Brother aspects of government telling us what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable viewpoints. What’s a conspiracy theory and what’ s fact? This after we just heard that the Wuhan lab leak for months was a conspiracy theory and social media censored any arguments around it and now it’s ok and mainstreamed among the establishment.
The report notes that:
“The Department of Homeland Security and others are currently funding and implementing or planning evidence–based digital programming, including enhancing media literacy and critical thinking skills, as a mechanism for strengthening user resilience to disinformation and misinformation online for domestic audiences.”
“We will work toward finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories that can provide a gateway to terrorist violence,” the report notes.
I’m not sure what part of the Constitution countering the influence and impact of supposedly dangerous conspiracy theories—as defined by political actors—falls under.
And last but not least, the strategy seems to make leftism, under the guise of opposition to racism, a national security imperative. That is, the “equity” agenda, as opposed to an “equality agenda,” is essential to countering terrorism. The report states that:
tackling the threat posed by domestic terrorism over the long term demands substantial efforts to confront the racism that feeds into aspects of that threat. We are, therefore, prioritizing efforts to ensure that every component of the government has a role to play in rooting out racism and advancing equity for under–served communities that have far too often been the targets of discrimination and violence. This approach must apply to our efforts to counter domestic terrorism by addressing underlying racism and bigotry.
So anti-racism is now a national security strategy. Anti-racism which is of course, racism in practice.
We’ve already established that the government has never established that the threat of racist violent extremists in this country is as great as it says it is. But what is clear is that “equity,” in the eyes of the anti-racists who demand it, seeks to equalize outcomes in society so that every group as they define it is represented in every aspect of American life in proportion to their population. And they claim it’s because all disparities in outcomes in society are attributable at the end of the day to racism and bigotry. Facts to the contrary. Logic to the contrary.
Equity demands a radically progressive, often racist, agenda. Anti-racists have no qualms about discriminating against people on the basis of race, to fix the disparities they see in society on the basis of identity as they define it. Bigotry is fine, in other words, if it evens the scales in the eyes of the bigots. As Ibram X. Kendi, godfather of anti-racism writes:
“The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
President Biden repeatedly tells us, lectures us, we are systemically racist. Anti-racism would seem to be systemically racist, just in the opposite direction.
Equity not only has nothing to do with domestic terrorism, but imposing it erodes liberty and justice, and threatens to tear the country apart.
This whole strategy ought to disturb every single American. It could easily prove a strategy for persecuting political dissidents and in the process destroy the fabric of our republican system. And that few if any among our political leaders are saying or doing anything about it, only makes the outrage greater.
Americans of good faith of all political stripes, must demand answers for our political class about what this strategy really consists of in practice, what it’s based in, and why we shouldn’t expect that this is going to allow the government to run rough shot over the rights of anyone which could be used against anyone of any political stripe if put in the hands of their political opponents.
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