FBI Powerless Against White Terrorists Exercising Free Speech Right To Storm Capitol ... Wait, WHAT?
"Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal."
What would you want your government to do if it observed chatter like this the day before a massive planned protest in the seat of the federal government? Whatever it is, it's pretty clear the FBI did NOT THAT on January 5 when the Norfolk, Virginia, office observed online planning to bring arms to DC and "get our President or we die." According to the Washington Post, "the report's unidentified author expressed concern that the FBI might be encroaching on free speech rights."
"Individuals/Organizations named in this [situational information report] have been identified as participating in activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the document says. "Their inclusion here is not intended to associate the protected activity with criminality or a threat to national security, or to infer that such protected activity itself violates federal law.
"However," it continues, "based on known intelligence and/or specific historical observations, it is possible the protected activity could invite a violent reaction towards the subject individual or others in retaliation or with the goal of stopping the protected activity from occurring in the first instance. In the event no violent reaction occurs, FBI policy and federal law dictates that no further record to be made of the protected activity."
Exactly which "free speech rights" are implicated in a plot to lay siege to Congress is not immediately obvious — "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" isn't usually interpreted to include "glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled." And indeed the text of the memo makes it clear that the FBI's chief concern was protecting the "subject individual" from nefarious "others" who might interfere with Mr. "Get Violent's" ability to exercise his First Amendment rights.
As Joe Biden noted, the government showed no such solicitude for the First Amendment rights of racial justice protestors last summer when Bill Barr was threatening to put people in jail for 10 years for defiling Confederate monuments and flapping his stupid gob about squadrons of black clad antifascists flying all over the country to foment unrest.
"No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol," the president-elect said last week. "We all know that's true. And it's unacceptable. Totally unacceptable."
The Post reports that there have been "difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism, and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to the President Trump."
So what did the FBI do when they picked up intelligence that hordes of armed nutjobs were headed for DC? Well, they made the information available to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). As FBI Assistant Director in charge of the Washington Field Office Steven D'Antuono said at a press conference yesterday, "We shared intelligence through the JTTF model, and we also shared it through our command post structure. And then also through other means of they have access to our information readily available because they have access to our systems. So all that information was shared with our partners."
And if that sounds like a vague "we put it up on the list-serve" excuse, former acting FBI Director Andy McCabe agrees.
"When you get a piece of intelligence that's of such monumental importance, you don't just hope that the right person will see it," McCabe told CNN's Brooke Baldwin. "You complete an effective hand-to-hand hand off. You confirm that the right people have what they need to know."
McCabe was also unimpressed with the failure of FBI Director Chris Wray and (acting) Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to appear publicly to answer questions and assure the public that the government will take this seriously and ensure that it never happens again. Although, to be fair, Rosen appeared yesterday in a bizarre video (already removed once and reshot) on the DOJ's YouTube channel to awkwardly promise that the government is on it.
Yesterday's press conference with D'Antuono and interim US Attorney for DC Michael Sherwin was pretty hair-raising, despite their bosses' spineless refusal to do their jobs and show their faces.
"Those two pipe bombs that were found, were found both outside the RNC and the DNC offices near the Capitol grounds and look to begin, they were real devices," Sherwin told reporters on the call. "They had explosive igniters. They had timers. We don't know obviously exactly why they did not go off, that's being investigated, they were disabled by Capitol police with the assistance of the ATF."
He also promised more shocking revelations to come, saying, "I think there's a lot of misconceptions about what happened within the Capitol, and it's going to come into laser focus, I think over the next weeks and days. And I think people are going to be shocked with some of the egregious conduct that happened within the Capitol."
Presumably, members of Congress who both lived through the events and got classified briefings afterward know more about this than the public. But there's probably a pretty good reason that Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez refused to shelter in place with some of her Republican colleagues, saying last night on Instagram, "There were QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers, and frankly white supremacist members of Congress, in that extraction point who I had felt would disclose my location and would create opportunities to allow me to be hurt, kidnapped, et cetera."
Here's Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon on the House floor last night describing some of the violence that took place last Wednesday.
And just this morning Rep. Ayanna Pressley's chief of staff Sarah Groh revealed that someone had sabotaged the emergency contact system in her office. "Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit," she told the Boston Globe. And somehow, that happened before the rioters breached the building.
Very bad people planned this attack, more or less in public. And the very organs of government whose actual job was to stop them did fuck all about it, operating on the assumption that they were all talk, just like their spray-tanned demigod. Boys will be boys, just blowin' off some steam, right?
Except they weren't right. And it almost cost us our government.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.