The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finally published a counterterrorism bulletin covering the growing prospect of violence in the wake of the leaked supreme court draft opinion. But DHS fails to use the bulletin to identify the nature of any prospective threats, muting the value of the supposed warning.
From an ABC News report:
Domestic violent extremists have been infiltrating the national abortion debate ‘to incite violence amongst their supporters,’ a senior DHS official told state and local partners on a phone call Monday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the matter. The DHS official did not specify which side, if any, the extremists were taking.
The DHS bulletin notes that:
“threats discussed burning down or storming the U.S. Supreme Court and murdering Justices and their clerks, members of Congress, and lawful demonstrators.”
As the Center identified in a situation report two weeks ago, in the wake of the leaked draft opinion, pro-abortion protests have been staged in multiple cities, many of them led by organizations linked to known revolutionary communist organizations such as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Anarchist and Antifa-linked social media accounts have openly proposed targeting crisis pregnancy centers – several of which have been vandalized in multiple states. This included two attempted Molotov cocktail attacks, in Oregon and Wisconsin. In the Wisconsin case, a communique issued by a group calling itself Jane’s Revenge took credit for the attack and promised more to come. The communique was extremely well received by anarchist social media. Jane’s Revenge has subsequently appeared as a graffiti tag in other vandalism and in online threats.
It is possible that some threats have also come from some pro-life advocates, but the violent rhetoric emanating from left-wing extremists on this issue is a relatively new development and a response to identifiable events. Examining this threat is an opportunity for analysts to understand the nature of left-wing extremist threats in some detail, including tensions between revolutionary communist and anarchist groups, and the growing promotion of underground organizing among anarchists in favor of violent direct action and against large-scale public protests, which such groups promoted during the Summer 2020.
Instead of understanding the detailed and varying nature of left-wing extremist groups, federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to emphasize the use of generic, largely meaningless categorization of threats.
For example, both white supremacist and black identity extremist groups are categorized under the neutral category of “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists” and both Anarchist and right-wing militia are categorized as “anti-government extremists.” But while the federal government permits the use of terms like “white supremacist” or “militia” it denies the use of terms such as “black identity” or “Antifa.” As a result, what the Federal counterterrorism community purports to be ideologically neutral categorizations actually promote a kind of ideological bias, produce intelligence products of minimal value, and stoke distrust in the institutions among regular Americans. It leads mainstream Americans to be targeted as extremists by agencies which lack the ability to distinguish between genuine ideological threats and mainstream political activity.
Ultimately, there can be no such thing as neutral enforcement against ideological threats to national security. This is why both the Constitution and congressional legislation obligates federal officers to swear an oath to defend the Constitution –and not some theoretically neutral position. But doing so necessitates understanding such threats accurately and in the context of their opposition to the U.S. Constitution and the first principles –regardless of to which “wing” they are understood to belong.
Director and Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
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