Kerry Picket and Joseph Clark, Washington Times, September 14, 2022
President Biden will convene a forum Thursday at the White House aimed at confronting what civil rights groups, local officials and academics say is an explosive rise in extremism and White supremacy that threatens the core of America’s democracy.
The “United We Stand” summit builds on the administration’s push to root out racially motivated domestic violent extremists. The threat sparked a sweeping strategy that included the creation of a specialized Justice Department unit to combat domestic terrorism. Mr. Biden will deliver the keynote address to highlight the administration’s response to hate and “put forward a shared vision for a more united America,” officials said.
Current and former FBI agents tell The Washington Times that the perceived threat has become overblown under the administration. They say bureau analysts and top officials are pressuring FBI agents to create domestic terrorist cases and tag people as White supremacists to meet internal metrics.
“The demand for White supremacy” coming from FBI headquarters “vastly outstrips the supply of White supremacy,” said one agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We have more people assigned to investigate White supremacists than we can actually find.”
The agent said those driving bureau policies “have already determined that White supremacy is a problem” and set agencywide policy to elevate racially motivated domestic extremism cases as priorities.
“We are sort of the lapdogs as the actual agents doing these sorts of investigations, trying to find a crime to fit otherwise First Amendment-protected activities,” he said. “If they have a Gadsden flag and they own guns and they are mean at school board meetings, that’s probably a domestic terrorist.”
The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field showing a timber rattlesnake and the words: “Don’t Tread on Me.” It is often used as a symbol of liberty.
The FBI denies targeting groups or people based on their espoused political views and says the bureau focuses only on those “who commit or intend to commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security.”
The FBI agent’s claims of a crusade against an inflated White supremacist and domestic extremism threat echo complaints by conservative lawmakers who accuse the Biden administration of ignoring left-wing violence and leveraging fears of right-wing terrorism to target political opponents and stifle legitimate debate.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said several whistleblowers have come forward with similar accusations that the FBI has pressured agents to open cases to fulfill the Biden administration’s crusade against homegrown terrorism.
“I think [it is] what’s ultimately driving his politics,” Mr. Jordan said. “If you own a gun, display the flag and voted for Trump, the president’s going to call you an extremist, and it appears the FBI is going to use the numbers to satisfy that narrative that the president laid out.”
Mr. Biden, who has often said the violence surrounding the 2017 White nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, spurred his run for president in 2020, has made fighting extremism a priority for his administration.
The president signed into law measures to combat anti-Asian hate crimes and the nation’s first gun control bill in decades after back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
As part of his efforts to stamp out hate crimes, Mr. Biden announced a sweeping strategy to deal with the threat of domestic terrorism. The Department of Homeland Security declared extremism a “national threat priority.” In January, the Justice Department launched a specialized unit to combat domestic terrorism.
Mr. Biden also has stoked conservatives’ fears with campaign rhetoric casting Republicans as anti-democratic extremists and labeling Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” political agenda as “semi-fascism.”
In a nationwide survey by the Trafalgar Group and Convention of States Action in the days after Mr. Biden’s speech in which he framed the midterm elections as a battle for the “soul of our nation,” 56.8% of respondents said the speech was a “dangerous escalation in rhetoric designed to incite conflict among Americans.”