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U.S. Intelligence Community Increasingly Involved in Domestic Politics

March 24 , 2021 (EIRNS)—Glenn Greenwald has written a short article on the implications of the March 1 Director of National Intelligence report “Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat in 2021.” The report makes this point: “The IC [intelligence community] assess that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.” Who are these DVEs? Essentially anyone prepared to use violence, intimidation or coercion to pursue an agenda including “opposition to perceived economic, racial, or social hierarchies.”

The fact that such intelligence community components as the CIA, which are supposed to conduct only foreign intelligence, played a role in crafting the report and are presumably prepared to take part in countering DVEs reminds us of the post-9/11 shift towards the domestic use of intelligence that had been exposed and countered by the Church Committee.

Under the Bush era “Global War on Terror,” the American line between foreign and domestic activities was eroded towards a British approach, as reported in the Washington Post in 2002: “FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III recently described the new arrangement as his answer to MI5, Britain’s internal security service. Unlike the CIA, MI5 is empowered to collect intelligence within Britain and to act to disrupt domestic threats to British national security. ‘It goes some distance to accomplishing what the MI5 does,’ Mueller told a House-Senate intelligence panel last week in describing the new CIA role in the FBI task forces.”

It was against precisely this goal—expressed by Mueller as “accomplishing what the MI5 does” that Sen. Frank Church had performed the work of his committee. Church described in a 1975 appearance on “Meet the Press” the threat he saw:

“The United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air.... We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left: such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

For what purpose is increased surveillance of potential DVEs pursued? Violent acts are already illegal under U.S. law. Is the purpose to criminalize speech and association? Given the direction of discussions about the First Amendment, the increasing trend of young people to view (undefinable) “hate speech” as beyond the protection of “free speech,” and the efforts to root out “extremism” in the intelligence community and the military, it would appear that the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

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