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Biden’s Domestic War On Terrorism May Seek To Criminalize Political Dissent
By Ben Weingarten
The Federalist
The Biden administration is planning to use the full force of the federal government in pursuit of a new war. Its target? American citizens.
This countering “domestic violent extremism” effort, declared in the wake of the latest Capitol riot, represents the real-world counterpart to the corporate media rhetoric about the need to “deprogram,” “de-ba’athify,” and drone the Deplorables.
If this is a dangerous political witch hunt masquerading as a national security imperative, it should disturb every American. Half of the country could potentially be ensnared as would-be if not actual terrorists.
In a little-discussed Jan. 22 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki asserted “[the] assault on the Capitol … underscored what we have long known: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat.” Consequently, the administration plans a three-part response:
– Developing a comprehensive threat assessment, coordinated with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on domestic violent extremism.
– Building “National Security Council capability to focus on countering domestic violent extremism,” including conducting “a policy review effort to determine how the government can share information better about this threat, support efforts to prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks, and more.”
– Coordinating “relevant parts of the federal government to enhance and accelerate efforts to address DVE … an NSC-convened process will focus on addressing evolving threats, radicalization, the role of social media, opportunities to improve information sharing, operational responses, and more.”
In short, the Biden administration plans to turn the institutions and tools used to pursue foreign adversaries on “wrong-thinking” Americans. There are several reasons this is so troubling.
First, it is not clear why such an operation is needed. Contrary to Psaki’s statement, the studies, often conducted by left-leaning organizations, cited by those who claim the threat of non-jihadist “violent extremism” is growing and massive are highly dubious.
If domestic terrorist groups are proliferating in sufficient, size, strength, and number to merit a robust new government response, on the scale of the Global War on Terror — as some are telegraphing — the authorities have not demonstrated it. The administration’s hyping of such threats, and the conversion of Capitol Hill to a warzone, without specific evidence of danger, should only increase our skepticism. It appears politics is trumping the truth.
One can argue that the rush to declare a war on “domestic violent extremism” is one of several logical conclusions of an effort that goes back to the beginning of the Obama presidency, to fear-monger over the threat of “right-wing extremism” and marginalize non-leftists. The resistance fever dream of Trump-as-Führer with his tens of millions of supporters as Brownshirts was seamlessly incorporated into this information operation.
With Trump toppled, the riot among non-leftists provided the catalyst for completing the total war on the true objects of the ruling class’s ire: dissenting Americans. It has concocted a narrative: There is a growing “insurgency” among “domestic violent extremists.” The riot was their 9/11. Consequently, the threat, highlighted by that despicable act, demands not only its own 9/11 Commission, but a war on domestic extremism, particularly “white supremacist extremists.”
The wall-to-wall coverage of a neophyte congresswoman, the portrayal of capitols across the country as under threat, and the Defense secretary’s call for a 60-day stand-down to root out “extremism” in the military following the disturbing political vetting of National Guard troops summoned to Washington for the inauguration all feed this narrative.
One can be forgiven for thinking that a war on “domestic violent extremism” represents an extreme jump from a single event that, while inexcusable, pathetic, and disgraceful, thankfully resulted in less bloodshed and infinitely less destruction than what transpired across the country during the summer of 2020 — and preceded a dramatic spike in violence.
That there is nary a word from the Biden administration about pursuing violent members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter in connection with its countering DVE effort is part of a second major disturbing issue: Just as the Biden administration has not clearly defined the need for such a war, it has not clearly defined its targets. While it is not clear who the Biden administration is targeting, the implication again is non-leftists, potentially writ large.
“Violent extremism” is vague and leftists manipulate language. Hence, one man’s terrorist is another man’s “austere religious scholar”; “hate speech” is violence while physical violence is “mostly peaceful”; and concepts like “colorblindness,” “merit,” and even the classics themselves are considered instruments of white supremacy. Given the zeitgeist, readers of this article may well be a suspected violent supremacist by the left’s standards.
The Biden administration is also adhering to such standards. Based on its rhetoric and earliest executive actions — which emphasized “equity” over “equality” — anti-racism, critical race theory, and the associated panoply of woke progressive pillars are de rigueur within the White House. Under the “progressive-or-bigot” paradigm that flows from this worldview, non-progressives of all colors may well be branded “white supremacists,” “right-wing extremists,” and “domestic violent extremists.”
The third disturbing aspect of the coming domestic war on terror is how it’s poised to threaten our most basic civil rights, beginning with free speech.
Under the new infinitely liberal reading of “incitement to violence,” our political class is calling for Big Tech to further police speech — which is to say, to squelch the First Amendment by proxy. The Biden administration is seemingly on board. Psaki noted the “domestic violent extremism” investigation process would include a National Security Council review of the “role of social media” and promote government “efforts to prevent radicalization.”
It’s also worth noting who is leading this effort, and his political and policy predilections. As Psaki revealed, Joshua Geltzer will be responsible for the “scoping effort.”
During a September 2019 hearing before the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittees on National Security and Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the former Obama administration National Security Council official and prolific Trump critic called for adopting a “transnational” approach to countering “violent white supremacy.”
This included increased terror organization designations, use of the intelligence capabilities of the “international terrorism”-focused National Counterterrorism Center, and tech companies “policing their platforms to remove not just incitement to violence, but also, the ideological foundations that spawn such violence.”
Geltzer was careful to caveat that creating a “domestic analog to the foreign terrorist organization designation regime” might be unconstitutional and that efforts to counter violent white supremacy “must not be used as an excuse for interfering with the lawful expression of political advocacy.” But it is hard to square these seemingly conflicting statements.
In this charged and hysterical political environment, we should be all the more so concerned about the threats to our liberties, particularly of a national security regime with vastly expanded domestic powers. The first role of government is to protect our lives and liberties. The heavy burden is on our leaders to justify infringements on the latter in service of the former.
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