Thursday, November 10, 2022

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Former Trump Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf (the Bad Wolf) apparently searched long and hard for a reason to declare Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters as terrorist groups after the George Floyd protests in 2020 to act as a pretext to round up thousands of people.

The Department of Homeland Security launched a failed operation that ensnared hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. protesters in what new documents show was as a sweeping, power-hungry effort before the 2020 election to bolster President Donald Trump’s spurious claims about a “terrorist organization” he accused his Democratic rivals of supporting.

An internal investigative report, made public this month by Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, details the findings of DHS lawyers concerning a previously undisclosed effort by Trump’s acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, to amass secret dossiers on Americans in Portland attending anti-racism protests in summer 2020 sparked by the police murder of Minneapolis father George Floyd.

The report describes attempts by top officials to link protesters to an imaginary terrorist plot in an apparent effort to boost Trump’s reelection odds, raising concerns now about the ability of a sitting president to co-opt billions of dollars’ worth of domestic intelligence assets for their own political gain. DHS analysts recounted orders to generate evidence of financial ties between protesters in custody; an effort that, had they not failed, would have seemingly served to legitimize President Trump’s false claims about “Antifa,” an “organization” that even his most loyal intelligence officers failed to drum up proof ever existed.

The DHS report offers a full accounting of the intelligence activities happening behind the scenes of officers’ protest containment; “twisted efforts,” Wyden said, of Trump administration officials promoting “baseless conspiracy theories” to manufacture of a domestic terrorist threat for the president’s “political gain.” The report describes the dossiers generated by DHS as having detailed the past whereabouts and the “friends and followers of the subjects, as well as their interests” — up to and including “First Amendment speech activity.” Intelligence analysts had internally raised concerns about the decision to accuse anyone caught in the streets by default of being an “anarchist extremist” specifically because “sufficient facts” were never found “to support such a characterization.”

One field operations analyst told interviewers that the charts were hastily “thrown together,” adding they “didn’t even know why some of the people were arrested.” In some cases, it was unclear whether the arrests were made by police or by one of the several federal agencies on the ground. The analysts were never provided arrest affidavits or paperwork, a witness told investigators, adding that they “just worked off the assumption that everyone on the list was arrested.” Lawyers who reviewed 43 of the dossiers found it “concerning,” the report says, that 13 of them stemmed from “nonviolent crimes.” These included trespassing, though it was unclear to analysts and investigators whether the cases had “any relationship to federal property,” the report says.

A footnote in the report states that “at least one witness” told investigators that dossiers had been requested on people who were “not arrested” but merely accused of threats. Another, citing emails exchanged between top intelligence officials, states dossiers were created “on persons arrested having nothing to do with homeland security or threats to officers.”

Questioned by investigators, the agency’s chief intelligence officer acknowledged fielding requests by Wolf and his acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, to create dossiers “against everyone participating in the Portland protest,” regardless of whether they’d been accused of any crime, the report says. That officer, Brian Murphy, then head of the agency’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), told interviewers that he’d rejected the idea, informing his bosses that he could only “look at people who were arrested,” and adding that it was something his office had done “thousands” of times before.

The DHS report, finalized more than a year ago, includes descriptions of orders handed down to “senior leadership” instructing them to broadly apply the label “violent antifa anarchists inspired” to Portland protesters unless they had intel showing “something different.”

Once the dossiers were received by the agency’s emerging threat center, it became clear that DHS had no real way to tie the protesters to any terrorist activities, neither at home nor abroad. Efforts to drum up evidence to support the administration’s claim that a “larger network was directing or financing” the protesters — a task assigned to another unit, known as the Homeland Identities, Targeting and Exploitation Center, diverted away from its usual work of analyzing national security threats — “did not find any evidence that assertion was true,” the report says.
The only reason DHS didn't round up thousands, maybe tens of thousands, is because they weren't smart enough to come up with "evidence" of "terrorist activity".
The next Republican administration will dispense with the theatrics and just start arresting people.
Will other countries demand our "political dissidents" be freed?

They Voted Like Their Country Depended On It

As Will Bunch points out, voters under 30 were the difference in keeping Democrats in striking distance of keeping the House and Senate, an unprecedented midterm move in my lifetime, and they voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic party.

What a difference a day makes: 24 little hours. As the darkness descended across America on Tuesday, editors at the New York Times locked in their doom-for-Democrats front page while 3,000 miles west in Arizona, the extremist femme fatale Kari Lake was boasting to reporters that “I’m going to be your worst frickin’ nightmare” as Arizona’s next governor. Inside the Beltway, the pundits who’d issued a political tsunami watch gazed out on the waters with their binoculars, waiting for a “red wave” to roll ashore.

Hardly anyone was paying attention to what was happening on college campuses from Tempe, Ariz., to Champaign, Ill., where teens and 20-somethings stood and waited for hours to cast their ballots in the 2022 midterms, patiently scrolling through their iPhones or even sneaking in some homework. At the University of Michigan, in a state where abortion rights were on the ballot through both a referendum and a pro-choice governor, hundreds of students — some draped in blankets as the mercury plunged — stood on a line for two to three hours to cast their ballot. It was a new twist on the save-America battle cry of “Wolverines!” from the 1984 movie Red Dawn.

“I was voting based on women’s rights in terms of candidates who were supporting women’s choice,” said Lauren Snyder, who endured Tuesday’s massive line at the University of Illinois. She added: “It’s important — as a student — as a young person to come out and vote for issues that I care about.”

As bright sunshine broke across America on Wednesday morning, the outlines of an epic and truly historic election were starting to come into clear focus. If democracy was on the ballot in 2022, as President Joe Biden and so many others had warned, then it was young Americans — especially those under 30, including women like Snyder — who just saved it. Shocked into action by the loss of their reproductive rights and repulsed by candidates who threatened not to count their votes going forward, Millennials and Gen Z put down their books (or their beers) to make sure any “red wave” was subsumed by the deep blue sea.

Here’s the situation, less than 12 hours after the nation’s last polling place closed: Control of Congress is very much up in the air, defying predictions that Republicans were on track for double-digit gains in the House and possibly tipping the currently 50-50 Senate. The situation remains fluid but it looks as if Democrats could have 50 or even 51 Senate seats; network projections show the GOP with maybe a five- to seven-seat House majority, but that could be undone by late vote-counting out West. Scores of Republican election deniers fell Tuesday, led by a landslide defeat for Pennsylvania’s Doug Mastriano. Arizona’s gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is currently behind in that state’s slow count — meaning future harassment of the press may have to come in a cranky letter to the editor, not from the governor’s mansion.

We got here through a Democratic surge among voters under age 45, but especially in the 18-to-29 bracket, and a female electorate that was clearly energized by the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision that had guaranteed abortion rights for nearly a half century. That was especially true here in Pennsylvania, where a preliminary CBS exit poll showed the No. 1 voter concern was not inflation, as experts predicted, but abortion rights, cited by 36%. CNN’s national exit poll showed the GOP won over-45 voters, while Democrats, who narrowly won the 30-to-44 bracket, gained from a whopping 28% win among voters aged 18 to 29.

“I think young people realize that this election cycle is so much about the issues,” Victor Shi of the group Voters of Tomorrow presciently told the radio host Dean Obeidallah shortly before the election. “Because the other side, Republicans, really have no issue that they can offer young people in terms of how they’re going to support our lives and how they’re going to improve it.”

The determination of young voters to be counted in 2022 clearly flummoxed a political establishment and a punditry that looked like a cadre of baffled generals fighting the last wars. Certainly in the past, midterm elections have tended to be disastrous for the party in the White House, especially with exacerbating factors like high inflation. The New York Times, in particular, struggled to turn the “Dems-in-disarray” battleship around, finally landing on a front page that read “GOP GAINS EDGE, BUT ITS EXPECTATIONS DIM.” Not quite “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN,” but not great. Remember, Politico had commissioned a poll that picked up the late Democratic surge on the congressional ballot, but dismissed it as “an outlier.”

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t an outlier.
Voters age 18 to 29 voted for Team Blue by a whopping 28 points, and made up more than 12% of the electorate, according to CNN's national exit polling. Even white voters under 30 overwhelmingly picked the Dems, 58-40%. Hell, even 18-29 white voters without college degrees chose the Democrats 53-46%.

Expect Republicans to get rid of early voting, college campus voting, and to try to raise the voting age in response.

The kids are alright.
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