The media have largely ignored the explosive allegation made by a DOJ whistleblower about the counterterrorism targeting of outraged parents that appears to undercut sworn testimony from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
On Tuesday, a whistleblower revealed the FBI created a “threat tag” to aid in tracking alleged threats against school board officials, teachers, and staff as part of its implementation of a controversial memo issued by Garland last month.
An Oct. 20 internal email from the FBI’s criminal and counterterrorism divisions, released Tuesday by House Republicans, instructed agents to apply the threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS” to all investigations and assessments of threats directed specifically at education officials.
“The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a national level, and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement partners at all levels,” the email stated.
The email also directs FBI agents to consider whether the criminal activity being investigated is in violation of federal law and what the potential “motivation” is behind it.
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP)
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP) (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP)
The FBI issued a statement defending its conduct, saying, “A tag is merely a statistical tool to track information for review and reporting. The creation of a threat tag in no way changes the long-standing requirements for opening an investigation, nor does it represent a shift in how the FBI prioritizes threats. The FBI has used tags to track everything from drug trafficking to human trafficking.”
GOP lawmakers are calling on Garland to return to Capitol Hill. alleging his October 21 testimony of no longer passing muster.
“I can’t imagine in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism,” he told the House Judiciary Committee.
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However, since the story broke on Tuesday, neither ABC, CBS, NBC nor CNN offered any on-air coverage to the growing controversy, according to transcripts.
CNN waited until Thursday to publish a report online sympathetic to the DOJ’s position that downplays the whistleblower’s involvement, running the headline, “FBI gauges threats against educators and school board members.”