The Biden administration appears to be utilizing the same tactics employed during the Global War on Terror to create the impression that the country now faces a similar threat from within, despite the fact that no evidence and, importantly, no events to justify the alleged concerns, have materialized, according to investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald.
Writing on Substack, Greenwald noted that the Department of Homeland Security has issued no fewer than four nationwide alerts to local and state police agencies since Jan. 14, urging law enforcement officials to be prepared for potential acts of violence to mark specific occasions.
Days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration — and in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building — DHS warned that individuals or groups may try and disrupt the event, even as tens of thousands of armed National Guard troops had been called in to provide additional security.
Biden’s swearing-in went off without incident, Greenwald noted, but that has not stopped DHS under his administration from issuing three more nationwide alerts in the months since, the latest directly ahead of the president’s commemoration of the massacre of black families and businesses in Tulsa, Okla., one hundred years ago last weekend.
Virtually every authoritarian power that made the first War on Terror so menacing to core civil liberties — domestic surveillance, domestic no-fly lists for citizens, CIA interference in domestic politics — are being weaponized in the name of this new domestic War on Terror.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 2, 2021
On Jan. 27, DHS issued a warning stating that “a heightened threat environment across the United States that is likely to persist over the coming weeks” from “ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority,” but as of yet, there have been no incidents. Then, on May 14, DHS warned of right-wing violence “to attack higher-capacity targets” as COVID-19 restrictions were increasingly lifted around the country.
Again, nothing happened, as Greenwald points out.
“Just like the first War on Terror, these threats are issued with virtually no specificity. They are just generalized warnings designed to put people in fear about their fellow citizens and to justify aggressive deployment of military and law enforcement officers in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country,” the investigative journalist noted.
Some media outlets appear to be assisting DHS with the hype. Greenwald cited a recent CNN report that overinflated the threat so significantly that editors later added an “update” noting “additional information from the Department of Homeland Security” indicated “that there is no specific or credible threats at this time.”
The Washington Post also walked back the Inauguration Day threat reporting, admitting that “potentially violent demonstrations” that “were predicted by the FBI…never materialized.”
“Americans have seen this scam before,” Greenwald writes. “Throughout the first War on Terror, DHS, which was created in 2002, was frequently used to keep fear levels high and thus foster support for draconian government powers of spying, detention, and war.”
He added that under the leadership of the department’s first secretary, Tom Ridge, a color-coded warning system was created “to supply a constant alert” to the country warning of “evolving threat levels” Americans “faced from Islamic extremists.”
Ridge would later admit in 2004 that he was under a great deal of pressure by Bush administration officials to keep threat levels high for maximum political advantage and to keep Americans fearful. Greenwald noted that Ridge was instructed to artificially elevate the threat warning immediately prior to the 2004 election, ostensibly to advantage the incumbent over then-Democratic nominee John Kerry, which is why he decided to resign shortly thereafter, Greenwald noted.
The much-derided color-coded warning system was eventually scrapped by the Obama administration in 2011, but he “merely replaced it with an equally vague and fear-generating bureaucratic alternative that was also subject to political manipulation,” wrote Greenwald.
“Fear is crucial for state authority. When the population is filled with it, they will acquiesce to virtually any power the government seeks to acquire in the name of keeping them safe. But when fear is lacking, citizens will crave liberty more than control, and that is when they question official claims and actions,” he added.
To that point, he posited, Biden’s administration would “need a villain” in order to justify attempts to create fear over a new ‘domestic terrorist’ threat comprised principally of Americans supportive of former President Donald Trump.
“The search for a new enemy around which the Biden administration could coalesce and in whose name they could keep fear levels high was quickly settled. Cast in that role would be right-wing domestic extremist,” he wrote, citing a Wall Street Journal story noting that the president wants a new domestic terrorism law while he is also being “urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them,” the paper reported.
New domestic terrorism legislation, Greenwald noted, would primarily consist of revising existing terrorism statutes passed as the Global War on Terror began under the Bush administration — the focus, of course, being internal threats, such as they are, rather than external ones.
And Democrats are embracing the concept in general, as well as specific policy aspects. Greenwald noted that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi both support placing Jan. 6 rioters on “no-fly” lists the same as suspected international terrorists “without being convicted of any crime or even given a hearing to determine whether this prohibition is justified.”
In Thompson’s case, he even stumped to have Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) put on the list because they opposed certification of electoral votes in some states following the chaotic and, to many, suspect 2020 election.
“Beyond the DHS bulletins, that agency and other intelligence operatives continue to issue reports, for both public and classified consumption, warning that the greatest national security threat the U.S now faces is domestic extremism,” Greenwald wrote, adding that both right-wing and left-wing groups are being targeted by the administration.
So-called ‘extremists’ include “essentially anyone who objects to prevailing ruling class dogma and wants to use their constitutional rights to advance those views,” he noted.
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