Foreign Policy, the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, has reposted an article by Daniel Byman, a government insider and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. Byman’s article, Should we treat domestic terrorists the way we treat ISIS?: What works-and what doesn’t, calls for a police and surveillance state focus on domestic “rightwing terrorist” individuals and organizations.
Byman’s point of departure is Stephen Paddock, the millionaire accused of killing 58 people attending and country and western festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. The government has yet to establish a political or religious motive for the attack, and yet Byman writes Paddock fits “a stereotype of a right-wing terrorist more than a jihadist one.”
From there Byman conflates Paddock’s alleged violence with that of James Alex Fields Jr., the “white supremacist” who drove a car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville. “Fields’ use of a car to drive through a crowd resembles nothing more than the vehicle attacks that we’ve seen in Barcelona, Berlin, London, Nice, and other cities in the past two years,” Byman argues.
From there Byman wanders far afield. He pairs the 2015 attack on a Planned Parenthood Clinic and a black church in Charleston to the sniper attack in Las Vegas. He argues the government should treat domestic terrorism incidents the same way it treats attacks by the Islamic State.
“It is all well and good to label left- and right-wing violence at home as terrorism, but what if the U.S. government went beyond rhetoric and truly treated these groups as it treats Americans suspected of being involved with jihadist organizations like ISIS?” he writes.
Byman has a solution for “deplorable” activism falling outside the parameters of “legitimate mainstream” protest – establish “new rules” to neutralize Americans who hold unacceptable political views. “Treating domestic groups the way we do American individuals tied to designated foreign groups would make a profound difference,” he writes.
He calls for the FBI and the Justice Department to intimidate people. “Depending on the opinion of the Department of Justice and FBI, a confidential informant might be used to befriend the suspect and gather evidence. A gentler approach might be a knock on the door by local law enforcement, working closely with federal officials, to assess the situation or possibly an attempt to work with relatives and community leaders to move the individual away from violence,” Byman explains.
In addition, the author suggests the FBI use its notorious frame-up tactic against domestic targets. “Informants would play a particularly large role. With suspected jihadists, the FBI often uses undercover agents and informants who claim to be members of a foreign terrorist organization. They engage individuals they feel have radical ideas and then encourage them to take prosecutable actions.”
The vast majority of Americans with political views contrary to what is sanctioned by government and the Council on Foreign Relations are nonviolent and Byman acknowledges this. Political activity by “right-wing” activists does not “meet a high evidentiary bar” for prosecution of domestic terrorism. Nonetheless, according to Byman, surveillance would be useful because it will “provoke paranoia in the groups being monitored, with some members being removed as suspected spies.”
This is the same tactic used in the 1960s and 70s by the FBI during its long-running COINTELPRO operation. Then as now, the primary objective is not to prevent violence or terrorism, but to make people exercising their constitutional right to disagree with the government paranoid and thus wary of further political activity.
“Creating internal strife was key to the Bureau’s success,” writes Branko Marcetic. “As one 1956 memo regarding the Communist Party explained, harassment from the outside ‘might serve only to bring the various factions together,’ whereas ‘forcing and fostering from within the internal fight currently raging’ would help destroy the organization while avoiding the appearance of government interference.”
The FBI may rejuvenate tactics from its shadowy past. “The counterterrorism microscope would also reveal numerous minor but prosecutable offenses not related to terrorism… Arresting such individuals would send a message that the police were watching. Credit card fraud, drug use, and other minor crimes would serve as justification to arrest and disrupt suspected terrorists and as leverage to convince them to cooperate in other investigations of their associates,” notes Byman.
The FBI, however, doesn’t wait around for “subversives” to commit crimes. In the 1960s, leaders of black nationalist groups were framed for crimes, including murder. “In order to eliminate black militant leaders whom they considered dangerous, the FBI is believed to have worked with local police departments to target specific individuals, accuse them of crimes they did not commit, suppress exculpatory evidence and falsely incarcerate them.” For instance, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, a Black Panther Party leader, was incarcerated for 27 years before a California Superior Court vacated his murder conviction. An FBI agent testified that he believed Pratt was innocent.
Other illegal tactics used by the FBI: infiltrators spreading rumors and forged documents to implicate targeted subjects; activists and supporters sued or prosecuted for minor crimes, investigated by the IRS, and often framed; “snitch jacketing” to make a target look like a police informant or a CIA agent; and FBI provocateurs initiating dissension within the group and encouraging and participating in violent acts.
“Between 1968-1971, FBI-initiated terror and disruption resulted in the murder of Black Panthers Arthur Morris, Bobby Hutton, Steven Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, Tommy Lewis, Welton Armstead, Frank Diggs, Alprentice Carter, John Huggins, Alex Rackley, John Savage, Sylvester Bell, Larry Roberson, Nathaniel Clark, Walter TourÈ Pope, Spurgeon Winters, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Sterling Jones, Eugene Anderson, Babatunde X Omarwali, Carl Hampton, Jonathan Jackson, Fred Bennett, Sandra Lane Pratt, Robert Webb, Samuel Napier, Harold Russell, and George Jackson,” write the authors of a document submitted to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2001.
In 2008, Cass Sunstein, the former head of the Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and Adrian Vermeule wrote a paper titled Conspiracy Theories. The duo coined the term “cognitive infiltration” aimed at the “9/11 conspiracist subculture.”
“Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law,” Sunstein and Vermeule write. “Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups.”
Sunstein and Vermeule argue “Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action,” tactics right out of the COINTELPRO playbook.
Moonshot CVE (short for “Countering Violent Extremism”), in collaboration with Google’s Jigsaw, has adopted a parallel approach. It conflates Islamic jihadists and activists on the right-invariably tagged as white supremacists-and “has embedded undercover social workers in extremist forums who discreetly message potential recruits to dissuade them. And lately it’s been using targeted ads to offer mental health counseling to those who might be radicalized,” The New York Times reported in August.
The establishment knows in order to effectively discredit and take down political opposition it must undermine alternative media. For this reason, the “fake news” meme was created, linked to Russia, and used to blacklist a number of popular alternative media websites as purveyors of Russian propaganda.
PropOrNot and other groups have capitalized on the “Russian propaganda” meme and taken it to ludicrous extremes. PropOrNot’s compiled blacklist includes a number of high traffic alternative web sites, including: Infowars, Zerohedge, the Corbett Report, Activist Post, the Ron Paul Institute, and others. The anonymous group has called for Congress to investigate these websites as foreign agents of influence.
Social media companies are responding to the government’s call to battle “extremist content” online. In June, they teamed up with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism and plan to “formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN” to eliminate content from social media and the wider internet.
The Council on Foreign Relations exercises tremendous influence over the corporate state. Byman’s article, reposted from the Brookings website – the Brookings Institute is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Qatar, and others – will undoubtedly help shape the ultimate government “solution” to the manufactured crisis of “extremist content” posted to the internet and social media. In Europe and the United Kingdom, governments have proposed draconian solutions – including levying fines on social media companies for not reacting sufficiently to alleged terrorist content.
In August, a man in France was sentenced to three months in jail for “liking” an Islamic State photo posted on Facebook. This is a harbinger of things to come. During the globalist G7 summit held in Sicily in late May, leaders urged governments to further criminalize online content and enact censorship by proxy. In Germany, for example, the government supported a proposal to fine social media companies €50 million for failing to promptly remove “hate speech.”
In late 2016, one of the premier propaganda tools of the corporate state – The Washington Post – gave credence to PropOrNot and its hit list of alternative media websites. If corporate surveys can be believed, 44 percent of Americans think Russia had something to do with influencing the election through propaganda posted on the above mentioned websites and many others.
The state invariably reacts with coercion and violence when its monopoly of power is challenged. It is significant the CFR is now calling for reformulated COINTELPRO dirty tricks, including entrapping individuals designated as domestic terrorists or “Russian agents of influence.” The financial and political elite believe alternative media must be eliminated. Its positive influence on critical thinkers and those not wired into the matrix of government and corporate propaganda represents a serious threat to the state.