On August 14th, a photo went viral showing “Potential Terror Threats” as identified by the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin (NTAS) alerts citizens of identified homeland security threats across the United States. On August 13th, the DHS issued an updated bulletin identifying the following threats:
“Opposition to COVID measures; Claims of Election Fraud, belief Trump can be reinstated; 9/11 anniversary and religious holidays.”
Conservatives immediately took to social media, showcasing the way Big Brother was targeting them under President Biden’s administration.
DHS turning on Americans. Just like the Patriot Act and the FBI. https://t.co/CWPOd25Qzv
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) August 14, 2021
They are referring to anti-lockdown protesters as terrorists in public now pic.twitter.com/8MbnDWvcaw
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 14, 2021
The DHS was created and established in 2002 after the September 11th attacks with the mission to assist the President’s national strategy for homeland security. As we reach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it stuns many that the priority of our Department of Homeland Security is not more specifically directed toward the terror threats we face with the recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan; the increase in illegal immigrants pouring across our border by way of human traffickers; or the rise of domestic terror groups like Antifa, devoted to violence in the pursuit of destroying this country.
Fresh in our minds is the unfounded claim last year when the 9/11 memorial lights were initially canceled because COVID-19 risks were “far too great.” This year, the DHS’ bulletin has marked out opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns and claims of election fraud. While some claims made by the DHS have merit, the vague language of the bulletin, coupled with the hostility from the current administration, makes it clear that the intended targets are those on the political right.
DHS TARGETS “TERRORIST THREATS”
On the DHS website, its National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin further explains some of the rationale behind their threat warning. They explain that the U.S. still faces threats from foreign terrorist organizations, writing:
[L]eading up to the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] recently released its first English-language copy of Inspire magazine in over four years, which demonstrates that foreign terrorist organizations continue efforts to inspire U.S.-based individuals susceptible to violent extremist influences.
Inspire Magazine was first issued in June 2010 as a way for the terrorist group AQAP to communicate with English readers. Federal law enforcement in 2013 confirmed that the two brothers responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing got bomb-making instructions on Inspire. The tragedy was later celebrated in the magazine’s eleventh issue.
On “religious holidays,” the DHS claims:
Historically, mass-casualty domestic violent extremist attacks linked to RMVEs [racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists] have targeted houses of worship and crowded commercial facilities or gatherings. Some RMVEs advocate via online platforms for a race war and have stated that civil disorder provides opportunities to engage in violence in furtherance of ideological objectives.
This is also true. Historically, there have been racially motivated murders targeting houses of worship or other gatherings, such as with Dylan Roof, who shot nine people in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, or Micah Johnson, who shot sixteen officers in 2016.
In the former case, Dylan Roof was disillusioned by mainstream reporting when he looked up black-on-white crime on the internet, writing in his manifesto, “How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?”
As reported by CNN, prior to Micah Johnson’s shooting of sixteen officers, he had visited websites of the Nation of Islam and the Black Riders Liberation Party, as well as liking the African American Defense League groups Facebook page, which called for action after the death of a black man killed by police.
Correlating the concerns for violence with “reopening” is disingenuous.
The DHS couples these legitimate security concerns with something else entirely—they believe there should be a heightened concern of a mass attack because of “reopening.” They write, “The reopening of institutions, including schools, as well as several dates of religious significance over the next few months, could also provide increased targets of opportunity for violence though there are currently no credible or imminent threats identified to these locations” (emphasis added).
Correlating the concerns for violence with “reopening” is disingenuous. On the one hand, the DHS is claiming that reopening will lead to increased violence; however, on the other hand, during the lockdown of 2020, gun violence increased. In Philadelphia alone, gun violence was 40% higher than ever recorded. By coupling increased violence with reopening, the DHS, inadvertently or not, is politicizing those who support reopening and those who do not; and those who support reopening are cast as those influencing racially motivated crime.
This isn’t the first time the DHS has tried to connect hate crimes and racially-motivated terrorism to anti-lockdown activism. Earlier in the bulletin, they write that:
Through the remainder of 2021, racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States. These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.
According to the DHS then, not only is “reopening” linked with violence, but so are lockdowns. The vague language only offers speculation surrounding the claim that those who are against lockdowns are not only “anti-government/anti-authority extremists” but are “racially motivated violent extremists” who may exploit the “re-establishment of public health restrictions.” What groups is the DHS specifically talking about?
We’re prompted to ask, what exactly constitutes a threat worth investigating? It stands to reason that exploitation of a situation means to deliberately use a situation as the condition to further one’s own ideological agenda; in which case, it would then be important to distinguish between what actually constitutes a “mostly peaceful protest” and an “insurrection.” Otherwise, the DHS might be forced to condemn Antifa and other radicals exploiting the racially motivated Black Lives Matter movement in a time of public health restriction, rather than super-spreader Trumpers trying to “overturn” democracy.
Or put more simply, if the DHS were serious about investigating violent extremists attacking places of worship and other institutions, they would be well aware that credible and imminent threats do exist, contrary to their claim that, regarding “targets of opportunity for violence,” there are “no credible or imminent threats identified.” Afterall, ‘ideas’ don’t just topple statues, physically assault conservatives, and try to burn down federal courthouses.
COVID CONSPIRACIES, ELECTION FRAUD, AND AN INEPT INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY
Many COVID conspiracies have floated since the start of the pandemic. While Chinese propaganda claimed that the virus originated in the U.S., the U.S. claimed it originated in China. In one article, Associated Press sought to debunk both claims. However, despite the vociferous reporting discrediting the latter claim, recent reports suggest that COVID may have originated in a lab. Nevertheless, the DHS argues that efforts have increased to spread disinformation:
Nation-state adversaries have increased efforts to sow discord. For example, Russian, Chinese, and Iranian government-linked media outlets have repeatedly amplified conspiracy theories concerning the origins of COVID-19 and effectiveness of vaccines; in some cases, amplifying calls for violence targeting persons of Asian descent.
During the height of the pandemic in April 2020, Politico reported that, since the start of the pandemic, China, Iran, and Russia have been pushing converging narratives on the origins of the novel coronavirus. “China, Iran, and Russia are using the coronavirus crisis to launch a propaganda and disinformation onslaught against the United States, the State Department warns in a new report.” More recently, the Associated Press detailed the “anatomy” of this conspiracy against the U.S. “On January 26th, a man from Inner Mongolia posted a video claiming that the new virus ravaging central China was a biological weapon engineered by the U.S. It was viewed 14,000 times on the Chinese app Kuaishou before being taken down.” (Note: in the same article they reject the possibility of COVID originating in a Chinese lab.)
They seem to be more concerned with looking for QAnon—a debunked fringe right-wing conspiracy—than foreign adversaries.
The DHS also mentions the “effectiveness of vaccines” as an “an amplified conspiracy theory,” likely referring to the claims that the vaccines are not as effective as natural immunity. While there are studies demonstrating the effectiveness of vaccines and studies demonstrating the effectiveness of natural immunity, it’s dishonest to suggest that issues with vaccine effectiveness are conspiratorial. Recently, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky tweeted that, according to a new CDC study, “vaccine-induced protection against the virus that causes COVID-19 decreases over time.” Is this then a conspiracy theory—and ultimately a threat to national security?
Conspiracy theories for the DHS don’t stop there. They seem to be more concerned with looking for QAnon—a debunked fringe right-wing conspiracy—than foreign adversaries. They write, “There are also continued, non-specific calls for violence on multiple online platforms associated with DVE [domestic violent extremist] ideologies or conspiracy theories on perceived election fraud and alleged reinstatement, and responses to anticipated restrictions relating to the increasing COVID cases.”
Calling the possibility of election fraud a “conspiracy theory” exposes the partisan stripes of the Biden DHS—meanwhile, leftist media outlets like CNN and The Hill are still reporting that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 and 2020 elections, as per “new intel.”
But it comes as no surprise that conservatives feel specifically targeted in the DHS’ new memo. For all intents and purposes, “conspiracy” has lost all meaning, along with “white supremacy” and “extremist,” which now designate everyone that the left does not agree with. That’s why politicians like AOC take no issue indiscriminately labeling her opponents as such.
AOC says that "there are legitimate white supremacist sympathizers that sit at the heart and at the core of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives" and that "@GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy answers to these Qanon members of Congress, not the other way around." pic.twitter.com/vDGc0GOAiC
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 28, 2021
On June 1st, while in Tulsa commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, President Biden came out to condemn white supremacy as the most lethal threat facing the U.S. “According to the intelligence community,” he said, “terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today. Not ISIS, not Al-Qaeda, White Supremacists. That’s not me; that’s the Intelligence Community.”
On June 15th, in a background press call on the “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism,” the Biden administration then went on to encourage citizens to report their friends and family who appear “radicalized.”
In language similar to that used by the DHS, a senior administration official said during that same press call that:
An unclassified summary of that baseline study was released in March, and it found that domestic violent extremists, motivated by a range of ideologies, pose an elevated threat to our country in 2021, with racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists—and specifically those who espouse the superiority of the white race—and anti-government militia violent extremists posing the most lethal threat.
But this “intelligence” that’s suggesting that white supremacy poses a greater threat than Al-Qaeda is a result of “circular reporting.” In his new book on Antifa, “The Antifa: Stories from Inside the Black Bloc” (2021), Jack Posobiec interviews an active U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) member. “The Beltway intel community is one big circle jerk,” the SOCOM member says. “They read the Washington Post every morning, watch CNN all day, and consider themselves informed. They never consider the fact that they might be getting information from bad sources.”
For all intents and purposes, “conspiracy” has lost all meaning, along with “white supremacy” and “extremist,” which now designate everyone that the left does not agree with.
“Look at 2020,” he continues. “You had looters and Antifa tearing up American cities every night of the summer, biggest riots since LA, but [the] FBI barely mentioned them. All these kids come in with criminal justice or poli sci degrees and think that counts as real-world experience, but they wouldn’t even know how to clear a corner.”
The SOCOM member Posobiec interviews highlights two points of concern regarding the U.S. intelligence community: first, their feeble sources, and second, their lack of experience. When those responsible for reporting information used by our highest commands, like SOCOM and the DHS, are using questionable sources, and do not work to examine those sources critically, they regurgitate the same narratives dispensed on mainstream outlets. This is an internal issue within the intelligence community that spills over into other areas of government, such as the Special Executive Service, a corps of executives that oversee the federal government.
The SOCOM member explains how the pandemic exacerbated this issue:
[T]he analysts were working from home because of COVID so they really only had access to unclassified. So they’re sitting home using Google and OSINT (open source intelligence) and everyone wants to write about the same QAnon or white supremacist nut so we end up with 15 reports about one event and the SES (Special Executive Service) think it’s some kind of crisis. Then they brief the director about it, and then he goes to congress and tells them it’s the biggest threat in the country.
TALIBAN RESURGENCE AND A TONE DEAF ADMINISTRATION
The DHS’ terror threats seemingly directed at conservatives coincided with the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, right before their takeover of the entire country. During the month of August, America witnessed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as a result of President Biden’s hasty withdrawal, creating the chaotic conditions for a suicide bombing, which resulted in the tragic deaths of 13 service members and at least 170 killed, with many more wounded. After 20 years of war, with how quickly Afghanistan fell, many wonder if American lives were lost in vain. Many Americans feel embarrassed on the world stage after giving up billions of dollars in weapons and facilities to the Taliban. After the withdrawal, the Taliban had announced they were inaugurating their interim government on 9/11, though, less than 24 hours ago, they decided to postpone.
Americans must reconcile themselves to the fact that their government and President are acting in ways that can only be described as anti-American.
While the DHS’ bulletin acknowledges the threat from foreign terrorist organizations, it repeatedly emphasizes that domestic racially motivated, anti-government extremists are a threat to the U.S., as they may seek to exploit public health restrictions by engaging in violent activity. The DHS also claims that reopening the country is linked with civil disorder and violence. But this neither necessitates that those who are opposed to COVID measures are “anti-government/anti-authority,” nor that they will exploit these measures to engage in violent activity.
Today, we remember 9/11 and the fallen, and those who bravely went into the collapsing buildings never to come out, or those brave passengers who stormed the cockpit on Flight 93, and as we remember the many Americans who remain trapped in Afghanistan, but not abandoned, as Americans are doing what this administration is too incompetent to do to bring our people home.
At the same time, Americans must reconcile themselves to the fact that their government and President are acting in ways that can only be described as anti-American. Looking at the hostile language of not only Biden’s DHS, but the Biden administration itself, there is a cause for concern who the government really has its eyes on.
This article is part of a Human Events Opinion Special Collection released September 11th, 2021: “9/11: A Twenty Year Retrospective.” You can read the other pieces in the collection here.