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Tag: violent extremism

Under Trafficking Probe, Gaetz Likens FBI To ‘Worst Days Of Soviet Union’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) compared efforts by the FBI to combat violent extremism to actions taken by the former Soviet Union, which he called a "repressive security state."

Gaetz appeared on the conservative Newsmax TV's Cortes & Pellegrino to discuss a recent tweet that was released by the FBI.

In the July 11 tweet, the FBI wrote, "family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence" and gives advice on signs to look out for to "prevent homegrown violent extremism."

Gaetz criticized the tone of the tweet.

"This harkens to a darker day," said Gaetz. "Back during the worst days of the Soviet Union, 1 out of every 3 of the folks in that country was providing some sort of information to a centralized governing authority and so snitching really is a tool of the repressive security state."

Gaetz also claimed later in the interview that the tweet wasn't "really a sincere attempt to engage in law enforcement" and "is an attempt to identify people based on their politics."

Despite Gaetz's allegations, neither the FBI's tweet nor the document the tweet links to suggests reporting people over their political beliefs.

The agency is currently in the midst of a massive investigation of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, when several violent extremists supporting former President Donald Trump breached the building in an attempt to overturn Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election. Over 500 people have been arrested and charged with federal offenses.

In recent months, Gaetz has repeatedly attacked the FBI. Along with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), he has even pushed a baseless claim that the agency organized the Capitol attack. He has also suggested that the FBI was to blame for the COVID-19 viral outbreak.

Gaetz's attack on the FBI comes at the same time that he has been under federal investigation relating to the possible sex trafficking of an underage girl.

Gaetz has not been alone in attacking the FBI for investigating violent extremism. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TX) recently described the tweet in question from the FBI as "over the top."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

With Trump Gone, Security Agencies Can Confront Violent Far Right

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

President Joe Biden's administration is expanding new grants from the Department of Homeland Security to target and prevent right-wing domestic terrorism after years of such efforts being effectively stymied by Donald Trump — and the department is ramping up its plans to combat what experts say is the greatest terrorist threat facing America today.

According to an NBC report, although the department's Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism prevention originally directed some funding to these grants toward the end of Trump's time in office, Biden's new plan expands upon the funding available, which will include more than $500,000 allocated toward American University to study the "growing threat of violent white supremacist extremist information."

DHS, which in 2019 founded the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention to prevent violent political extremism, is expected to continue to receive more funding from Congress during the Biden administration. Grants awarded from this office go toward state and local law enforcement efforts in combating domestic terrorism.

Officials say the Trump administration effectively hamstrung the department from enacting real efforts to halt right-wing extremist violence. Trump and his administration frequently placed blame for domestic terrorist violence on "Antifa" and civil rights activist groups like Black Lives Matter, instead of on actual right-wing perpetrators.

At the first televised presidential debate last September 29, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would denounce right-wing extremist violence from the stage.

"Sure, I'm prepared to do that," Trump answered. "I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing. I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace."

He then told the far-right white supremacist group, the Proud Boys, to "stand back and stand by," adding, "But I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left. Because this is not a right-wing problem — this is a left-wing problem."

But experts agree right-wing extremism is one of the greatest domestic threats the country faces today.

In the first eight months of 2020, 67 percent of attacks on American soil by political extremists were committed by right-wing domestic terrorists, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The CSIS database also notes that since 2010, almost six times as many Americans have been murdered by right-wing extremists as left-wing extremists. Since 1994, not a single murder has been linked to "Antifa" activists.

A February 2020 report by the Anti-Defamation League found that 90% of extremist-related murders in the United States in 2019 were committed by right-wing extremists.

But experts tried for years to investigate the threat posed by right-wing domestic terrorists under Trump, only to find themselves repeatedly stonewalled by Trump and his administration.

A New York Times report found that Trump's Justice Department redirected resources and funding to focus on the bogeyman of "Antifa" violence instead of very real violence fomenting on the right, shuffling prosecutors and FBI agents off of right-wing violence threat assessment to focus on baseless claims of leftist violence.

Two former Department of Justice officials told the Times they were pressured to "uncover" a left-wing violent conspiracy plot that didn't exist, and top DHS officials denied funding for more analysts to flag right-wing threats of violence on social media in the election's aftermath.

Far-right extremists felt they had "an ally in the White House," according to Mary McCord, a former DOJ employee and Georgetown University professor specializing in domestic terrorism. "That has, I think, allowed them to grow and recruit and try to mainstream their opinions, which is why I think you end up seeing what we saw [at the Capitol]."

Elizabeth Neumann, former DHS assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention, told NBC that even use of the term "domestic terrorism" in department meetings with Trump was discouraged in favor of broader terms like "violence prevention."

"We did expand domestic terrorism prevention under Trump," she said, "but when it came to questions of how we could change the domestic terrorism statute to charge people more easily, there were no adults at the White House who were willing to go there, nor was anyone willing to define the threat."

Experts have said that the Capitol insurrectionists see the January 6 attack on the Capitol as a "resounding success," and without intervention, it could result in a "golden age of domestic extremism."

But Biden's team has plans to take strong preventative measures to cut off right-wing violence at its root.

A DHS spokesperson told NBC, "Domestic violent extremism poses one of the gravest threats to our homeland, and Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas has made clear that combatting it is a top priority. Our primary responsibility is to protect the safety and security of the American people, which means taking actions to prevent violence before it occurs."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Rep. Boebert Allegedly Hosted Trumpists For ‘Large Tour’ Of Capitol Before Attack

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Monday identified freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) as the member of Congress who gave a "large tour" in the days before the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

"We saw Congressman Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th," Rep. Cohen told CNN late Monday morning, adding that "she had a large group with her."

"She's not on the home team," Cohen said.


Boebert, as many have noted, tweeted Speaker Pelosi's location – or, to be specific, removal – during the insurrection.

Boebert has been called a members of the "QAnon Caucus," an unofficial group of lawmakers who support the dangerous conspiracy theory.

Her communications director resigned over the weekend in response to the attempted coup.

‘Winking At QAnon’: Sen. Sasse Blasts GOP Courtship Of Violent Cult

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When a violent mob of insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, some of them could be seen showing off the letter "Q" — representing the QAnon conspiracy cult. The attack itself was seen by many adherents as a culmination of the QAnon worldview.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a conservative Nebraska Republican who openly opposed efforts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, examines QAnon's influence on his party in an article published by The Atlantic this week. And the senator stresses that other Republicans need to publicly condemn QAnon and other extremists for the good of their party.

"Until last week, many party leaders and consultants thought they could preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon," Sasse explains. "They can't. The GOP must reject conspiracy theories or be consumed by them. Now is the time to decide what this party is about."

QAnon adherents ascribe to a false and delusional worldview in which the federal government of the United States, especially Democrats, has been infiltrated by an international cabal of child sex traffickers, pedophiles, Satanists and cannibals and that President Donald Trump was put in the White House to lead the struggle against the cabal. The conspiracy fiction has deep roots in anti-Semitic myths. Some QAnon supporters in the GOP have been elected to Congress, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

According to Sasse, no good can comr from having extremists like Greene in the Republican Party.

"The newly elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs," Sasse writes. "She once ranted that 'there's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.' During her campaign, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a choice: disavow her campaign and potentially lose a Republican seat, or welcome her into his caucus and try to keep a lid on her ludicrous ideas. McCarthy failed the leadership test and sat on the sidelines."

Sasse continues, "If the GOP is to have a future outside the fever dreams of internet trolls, we have to call out falsehoods and conspiracy theories unequivocally. We have to repudiate people who peddle those lies."

The Nebraska Republican warns that having Greene in Congress makes the GOP look unhinged.

"She's already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president," Sasse notes. "She'll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents and the Republican Party."

Sasse points Jan. 6 insurrection as a tragic example of what can happen when Republicans promote or encourage unhinged conspiracy theorists. And he warns that fellow Republicans cannot be neutral where extremists like QAnon are concerned — they must take a stand.

"Whatever the RepublicanParty does, it faces an ugly fight," Sasse explains. "The fracture that so many politicians on the right have been trying desperately to avoid may soon happen. But if the party has any hope of playing a constructive, rather than destructive, part in America's future, it must do two things. First, Republicans must repudiate the nonsense that has set our party on fire…..Second, the party has to rebuild itself."