Earlier this month, a Trends Journal article noted how U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland was taken to task by Sen. Ted Cruz for directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use its National Security powers against parents who dared to question or challenge their local school boards, essentially branding such parents as “domestic terrorists”; see “FBI: THE POLITICIZED POLICE UNDERMINING AMERICA” (2 Nov 2021).
Now an article in The Wall Street Journal, on 17 November, furnishes some details of the internal communications involved. AG Garland issued a memo to the FBI on 4 October, ordering the bureau to use its resources to assist in tracking and assessing threats against school board members and teachers.
Responding to AG Garland’s memo, the heads of the FBI’s criminal and counterterrorism divisions issued an internal memo on 20 October, instructing agents to flag all reports of threats, harassment and intimidation of educators with the designation “EDUOFFICIALS.” Such a “threat tag” enables the FBI to assess whether such actions violated federal law and to better engage with and assist local law enforcement.
The internal memo was provided (“leaked”?) by an FBI agent to several Republican lawmakers, out of concern that the FBI would be investigating parents who voiced opposition to school board policies.
Although not named in the WSJ article, one might surmise that Sen. Cruz was among those Republican lawmakers.
The FBI issued a statement on 16 November, calling that concern unfounded: “The FBI has never been in the business of investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meetings, and we are not going to start now,” adding that the bureau is “fully committed to preserving and protecting First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech.”
That is, however, precisely what the Republican lawmakers believe the FBI has been instructed by Mr. Garland to do. They are concerned about the FBI being ordered by the Justice Department to involve itself in what should be local matters, and to employ tactics calculated to silence and intimidate parents.
TRENDPOST: This is hardly the first instance of the FBI invoking the threat of “domestic terrorism” to target American citizens based on their politics; see “FBI USES ‘DOMESTIC TERRORISM’ LABEL TO TARGET POLITICAL DISSENT” (4 May 2021), “THIS WEEK IN SURVEILLANCE” (9 Mar 2021), and “FBI ENCOURAGES SNITCHING ON ‘EXTREMIST’ FAMILY MEMBERS” (13 Jul 2021). And those are only recent examples; the patently unconstitutional weaponization of the FBI against American citizens has been going on for quite some time. But any reports of the FBI contemplating changing its name to “Stasi” are, so far, unfounded.
[There’s an old joke from the Soviet Union in which an old man is awakened in the dead of night by an insistent pounding on his door. With great trepidation he calls out, “Who is it?” A voice from the other side of the door replies, “It’s Death!” “Oh, thank God!” says the old man, greatly relieved, as he unlocks the door. “I was afraid it was the Secret Police!”]