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?