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Whistleblower: FBI using ‘counterterrorism tools’ to monitor parent threat assessments involving school boards

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Internal FBI documents provided to congressional Republicans by an unnamed whistleblower appear to show that the bureau is applying its counterterrorism resources against American parents, contradicting testimony from Attorney General Merrick Garland that parents wouldn’t be treated like domestic terrorists.

The whistleblower documents consist of an Oct. 20th email memo signed by Timothy Langan, the FBI’s assistant director for counterterrorism, and Calvin Shivers, the assistant director of the bureau’s criminal division.

The email directs agents to use the tag “EDUOFFICIALS” to label cases involving alleged “harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

“The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a national level, and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement partners at all levels,” the email reads.

The whistleblower forwarded a copy of the email to congressional Republicans out of fear that the instructions provided “could open the door for the bureau to collect information on parents voicing their opposition to local school policies during meetings,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

In late September, the National School Boards Association submitted a letter to the Biden administration begging for them to investigate “threats and acts of violence” from parents whom NSBA claimed may be engaging in “a form of domestic terrorism.”

In response, Garland directed the FBI to begin investigating these alleged threats. This prompted backlash from parents and their congressional defenders — i.e., Republicans — out of fear that the administration was trying to target dissenting parents.

NSBA eventually apologized for the letter, while the AG meanwhile testified that he had no intention of using counterterrorism resources against dissenting parents.

In a letter submitted to Garland this week, House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan warned that the latest findings suggest he’d lied.

“This disclosure provides specific evidence that federal law enforcement operationalized counterterrorism tools at the behest of a left-wing special interest group against concerned parents,” he wrote.

Out of fairness, Jordan acknowledged that the AG may have simply been “ignorant of the FBI’s actions,” but stressed that Garland must amend his testimony to “allow us to assess the accuracy and completeness” of his previous testimony.

In a statement to the Journal, the FBI for its part vowed that its intent isn’t to target dissenting parents.

“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. We are fully committed to preserving and protecting First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech,” the bureau said.

Still, given the discrepancy between Garland’s testimony and what’s been revealed in the whistleblower documents supplied to Republicans, massive pressure is growing for there to be consequences, including but not limited to the AG’s ouster.

Look:

At a minimum, Garland will need to “answer” some questions, according to Sen. Josh Hawley, who spoke late Tuesday on “Fox News Primetime.”

“What this shows us is that, in fact, parents are getting the domestic terrorist treatment. Garland said, oh no, we would never treat them like domestic terrorists. Course, that’s what those left-wing groups wanted. Garland said, no, we’re not going to do that. And now we know that the counterterrorism division has been tracking parents,” he said.

“And not only that. If you read that leaked email, what you see is that they are drawing up lists of crimes. They’re saying, is there any crime that we could go after these parents for? Is there anything that we could prosecute them for? Federal crimes we’re talking about. They’re definitely trying to target parents. It does contradict Garland’s sworn testimony. And now he’s going to have to answer as to what the difference is,” the senator added.

Listen:

Vivek Saxena

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