While FBI offers up flimsy reasons for being unprepared on Jan. 6, its record tells the real story

Paladino enumerates the five different reasons the FBI has given so far for its failures:

  1. Nothing we saw suggested that violence was possible on January 6.
  2. We did not have enough insight into the violent groups involved.
  3. The constitution is in our hands.
  4. It is difficult to distinguish between “deliberate” posts, which foreshadow actual violence, and “ambitious” posts or mere hysteria.
  5. Our tools failed us.

None of those justifications hold up, he explains. The first flies in the face of what was publicly known to a large portion of the public who expected some sort of violence in Washington that day. Most of the rest is geared toward helping the agency expand its powers or funding. And they all mischaracterized the actual FBI powers when it came to investigating these types of threats.

Most egregious are the various versions of the claim that the FBI’s hands are tied when it comes to monitoring these types of extremists. In her March testimony before a Senate committee, the FBI’s chief of national security, Jill Sanborn, argued that the agency was not allowed to monitor social media without receiving “evidence or tip” from a citizen or other agency.

FBI Director Christopher Wray largely reiterated that claim at a June 15 House hearing, telling Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York that the agency is too restricted in what surveillance is allowed.

“We have very specific policies that have been in the department for a long time that govern our ability to use social media, and when we have an authorized purpose and appropriate signals, there are a lot of things we can do on social media that we do and we do aggressively,” he said. “But what we can’t do – what we can’t do on social media is without proper identification and an authorized purpose just in case it’s on social media. Now, if policies should be changed to reflect this, that could be one of the important lessons from this whole experience.”

This is, in fact, utter nonsense: The FBI’s Guidelines for Domestic Investigations clearly state that agents are allowed “to conduct proactive online searches of ‘publicly available information’ to process notes or other information for authorized purposes.”

“This is completely wrong,” Michael German, a national security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice and a former FBI agent, commented on Ray’s assertions. “Their rules are general, you can read them. It is ironic that things are reported, or policy makers are not immediately debunked.”

Furthermore, as Palladino details, the FBI and the Department of Justice have no similar hurdles when it comes to cases involving left-wing political activists, belied the claim that they cannot distinguish between “hot talk” and actual organizing for the purposes of political violence. In Florida, the Department of Justice prosecuted and convicted an anarchist named Daniel Baker after he posted Facebook posts urging opposition protesters to appear armed in the post-January era. 6 pro-Trump events. Similarly, Missouri federal prosecutors charged a Black Lives Matter activist named Michael Avery of inciting riots based on his Facebook posts urging protesters to come out in Ferguson after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer; These charges were later dismissed.

Given that none of the FBI’s official justifications are true, it is not difficult to accurately assess the actual source of its failures from what we have extracted from the public record thus far, particularly regarding the agency’s treatment of right-wing extremists throughout the term. From the Trump administration until January 6th. Domestic terrorism data shows that federal law enforcement in the years 2017-2020 willfully underestimated and prioritized right-wing political violence, and whistleblowers who invoked this fact from within federal law enforcement in the late Trump time period made clear that there were political reasons for these infractions.

The apotheosis of the skewed Trump administration’s priorities was the effort in the summer of 2020 by Homeland Security (DHS) officials to try to search for evidence of terrorist planning activities by Antifa during anti-police protests in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere. In fact, a subsequent review showed that DHS senior leadership had pushed unfounded conspiracy theories about anti-fascists, encouraged the contractors it had hired to violate protesters’ constitutional rights, and established false contacts, on the basis of lack of real evidence, between protesters who engaged in criminal activity. .

The same tendencies were part of the FBI’s intimate relationships with a number of key conspirators on January 6, ties that may have encouraged the groups’ apparent sense of impunity in besieging the Capitol that day. That’s just as true for the Proud Boys, who until their arrest believed both federal and local law enforcement were on their side.

The FBI maintained an informant relationship with at least four key boys prior to the rebellion, including the group’s head, Enrique Tarrio – but the information the FBI requested from them was not internal data about the group, but rather the sharing of intelligence on their opponents Leftists, especially anti-fascists and black lives matter, which the proud boys collected diligently. Proud Boys board member Joe Biggs, who is currently awaiting trial in the group’s January 6 conspiracy case, was also an “antifa” informant for the FBI, and enjoyed a similarly intimate relationship with Oregon cops.

Likewise, the Oath Keepers were very close to a number of law enforcement officials on January 6. And the group “Patriot”– which emphasizes the recruitment of military and law enforcement veterans – has a long history Aspiring to work as a semi-official security force In Trump events going back to at least 2019. Founder Stuart Rhodes repeatedly envisioned his paramilitary organization as complementing law enforcement, “a group of persons that the Governor, Sheriff, or President of the United States may use.” Oath Keepers provided the personal security of former Trump adviser Roger Stone on the day of the Capitol siege, while Thomas Caldwell, one of several department guards indicted for his actions that day, was a former FBI agent who had a top-secret security clearance.

In fact, the intimate relationship that far-right groups have enjoyed with law enforcement in general has played a key role in its continuous strengthening over the past five years, constantly escalating their violence and threatening rhetoric, culminating in the events of January 6th. On that day, many of them directed their anger at the police officers, believing that they had been betrayed by the forces they assumed were on their side.

Contrary to the feverish hallucinations of critics like Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald—who have claimed these relationships are evidence that the January 6 rebels have been manipulated into criminal acts by the FBI intent on persecuting Trump’s white voters—the evidence relates to federal law enforcement instead, Relationships with extremists clearly point to a serious problem in that these agencies fail to appropriately prioritize them as a threat and instead treat them as gloved allies.

It already raises serious questions – not just those that Carlson and his gas brigade want to ask. he is called:

  • Can the FBI, as well as the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, undergo the necessary restructuring to make far-right violence a top law enforcement priority?
  • Will the pre-existing tendencies of federal law enforcement — manifest in its peculiar categorization of domestic terrorists lumping white hate groups into the same group as “black identity extremists,” anti-government militias in the same category as left-wing anarchists — remain in place, thus obfuscating any effort by Biden’s administration in its public campaign against the violence of the extreme right?

These are the questions to ask officials of the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps the upcoming congressional hearing on domestic terrorism will provide an opportunity.

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