Report: Intelligence Community shift from external to internal ‘threats’ has critics worried
UPDATED 3:45 PM PT – Thursday, March 25, 2021
Critics are sounding the alarm over the U.S. Intelligence Community’s increasing involvement in domestic politics.
In mid-March, a declassified report produced by the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, claimed “domestic violence extremism poses a heightened threat in 2021.”
According to the Intelligence Community, domestic extremists “motivated by a range of ideologies” pose an elevated threat to the homeland. The attorney general, FBI, CIA and other agencies also contributed to the report.
The report listed “domestic violent extremists” as those who resist the government in the belief that it is purposely exceeding its constitutional authority, or who oppose federal and state laws, particularly those related to firearms ownership.
It also identified extremists as those who oppose governing institutions which are perceived as harmful to society. Anyone believed to be an extremist could be subjected to surveillance, monitoring and other restrictions.
Critics, however, pointed out that while the government should investigate and prevent violence, it’s important to recognize the limits the Intel Community has to involve itself in domestic law enforcement and domestic political activity.
Analysts said the Intelligence Community’s involvement in citizens’ domestic activity is “one of the most dangerous breaches of civil liberties the U.S. government can perpetrate.”
Intelligence overreach into the life of a private citizen was highlighted in 2016, when the FBI launched surveillance against former Trump aide Carter Page.
At the same time, the CIA investigated the so-called “Russia-gate” affair, with an apparent intent to alter the outcome of the election.
President Trump in 2017 tweeted the Intelligence Community was building a case against him. This was referenced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said opposing the Intelligence Community would be a mistake.
“You take on the Intelligence Community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer said. “So, even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
In 2018, the House Intelligence Committee raised questions about the surveillance against Page, saying the agency was biased against President Trump. Then, in 2020, the Justice Department Inspector General found the FBI disregarded its own procedures when it targeted Page.
In light of the report, Republicans in the House and Senate, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), called on the IG to testify.
“They had a random sample, and every single one they looked at had significant errors,” Jordan said. “This management advisory letter that they sent out to the Justice Department is basically like pulling the fire alarm with this whole FISA process, and I think what it really underscores is, why won’t Jerry Nadler, why won’t Chairwoman Maloney over on the Oversight Committee, why won’t they bring in Mr. Horowitz for an investigation.”
Recently, the Biden administration and top Democrats have been pushing to have war on terror law applied for domestic purposes, with Homeland Security shifting from outside threats to so-called “domestic extremists.”
Critics have likened the shifting focus from external to internal threats to the Soviet KGB-style of state security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2020 said he could see working with Joe Biden and his administration, since they shared common ground in Soviet ideologies.