WASHINGTON—A dangerous revolution is seething all over the United States. And federal intelligence agencies which have spent the last six decades or more destabilizing the legitimate aspirations of Black people to achieve Freedom, Justice and Equality are just now acknowledging that White extremists are the most serious threat to this country.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Jan. 27, warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by anti-government sentiment after President Joe Biden’s election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks.
The department did not cite any specific plots but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Mr. Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Motivation for the various entities involved include anger over “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives,” Homeland Security said, a clear reference to the accusations made by twice-impeached, former President Donald J. Trump and echoed by right-wing groups that the 2020 election was stolen.
“DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021,” the department said. The warning is contained in a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” and it was a notable departure for a Department of Homeland Security accused of being reluctant during the Trump administration to publish intelligence reports or public warnings about the dangers posed by domestic extremists and White supremacist groups for fear of angering Mr. Trump, according to current and former homeland security officials.
“I think this is very dangerous because as we witnessed on January the 6th, law enforcement members were a part of that insurrection group and were very much aware of the violence-related behavior that they were participating in,” Ronald Hampton. a retired Washington, D.C. police officer and former president of the National Black Police Association, told The Final Call.
“That makes it extremely dangerous because we haven’t rooted that element out of law enforcement and the security systems within our country. You have to know that we were talking about that back in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. When I was on the police force, we talked about the infiltration of the Klan and other hate groups,” Mr. Hampton said.
Dozens of police, retired, and off-duty, participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection, including a New Hampshire police chief; a Philadelphia detective; and two Seattle Police Department officers who traveled cross-country, to name just a few, according to published reports.
“[One guy] pulled out his badge and he said, ‘We’re doing this for you,’ ” a Capitol police officer told BuzzFeed News about encountering law enforcement-affiliated rioters. “Another guy had his badge. So, I was like, ‘Well, you gotta be kidding.’ ”
According to a tracker on The Appeal, as of Jan. 15 a total of 29 law enforcement officers or officials are suspected of participating in Mr. Trump’s attempted coup d’état, and/or joining the crowds storming the U.S. Capitol later that day.
“From my perspective, any police officer sworn to protect the constitution and the rule of law [who is] found to have engaged in the attack on the Capitol will be facing some very severe sanctions,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told Time magazine. “To think that there were police officers who participated in this plot against our country and this attack against our country, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s a fireable offense.
“The nature of the threat is unprecedented. The threat is not just to the capitol or to the inauguration. The threat is to the government itself,” Chief Acevedo added.
“The question is, is it too little too late?” Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Houston told The Final Call. “I say that with no satisfaction, obviously, because people like myself or from my community, would be the first victims of these White supremacists.
“As you know, during the Obama administration about 10 years ago, the Department of Homeland Security tried to issue a warning about the rise of domestic terrorism from White supremacists: particularly the attempt to recruit returning military veterans. But that report was stymied by a cabal that included Republicans in Congress, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, et al.,” Dr. Horne continued.
“I think it’s serious for a government agency to raise that question in light of what it is that’s going on in this country,” Mr. Hampton said. “It is also a very new revelation for our government to acknowledge that, and the reason for that is because it’s a White problem. It’s White supremacy. It’s the White nationalist movement and all that stuff. For our society to name it and talk about it at the level that it really is in our society, I think is something that we need to be concerned about and be vigilant about.”
One intelligence official involved in drafting the bulletin said the decision to issue the report was driven by the department’s conclusion that Mr. Biden’s peaceful inauguration, even under the most restrictive lockdown conditions in Washington history—with 9-foot-tall fences, topped with razor wire, and 25,000 National Guard troops surrounding the Capitol and other federal buildings—could create a false sense of security because “the intent to engage in violence has not gone away” among extremists angered by the outcome of the presidential election.
Mr. Trump is clearly to blame for much of the volatile behavior, analysts insist. Starting with the deadly extremist protest in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when Mr. Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” he played down any danger posed by extremist groups. And when racial justice protests erupted nationwide last year, his consistent message was that it was the so-called radical left that was to blame for the violence and destruction that had punctuated the demonstrations.
Even after the Department of Homeland Security in September 2019 singled out White supremacists as a leading domestic terrorism threat, analysts and intelligence officials said their warnings were watered down, delayed or both. Former officials in the Trump administration have even said that White House officials sought to suppress the phrase “domestic terrorism.”
As recently as last September, a former top intelligence official with Homeland Security, Brian Murphy, filed a whistleblower complaint accusing department leaders, including the acting secretary, Chad F. Wolf, and his deputy, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, of ordering him to modify intelligence assessments to make the threat of White supremacy “appear less severe” and include information on left wing groups to align with Mr. Trump’s messaging, The New York Times reported.
But Mr. Trump is not alone in stoking the rebellion. “We have to look also at the point that Congresswoman (Alexandria) Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has made recently. She argues that today’s Republican Caucus and the House (of Representatives) is even further to the right than the last congressional term’s Republican Caucus was. She says that Kevin McCarthy, their ostensible leader, basically dances to the tune of White supremacists in the caucus,” said Dr. Horne.
“I think she has good reasons for saying that,” he continued, “in light of the presence of QAnon supporters like Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and the fact that even after the siege of Congress on January 6th, you still had 147 members of Congress and the Republican Caucus who fundamentally voted to overturn the election. So, we’re at a very dangerous and perilous moment right now.”
The potential rebellion is certainly not new, and it is firmly embedded among elected officials in many state capitals, according to Dr. Horne. “I recall the (Cliven) Bundy case. He was in the state of Oregon and, in fact, he’s been raising a lot of hell in neighboring Idaho of late, including protests at the state capitol in Boise,” said Dr. Horne. “But these ultra-right-wing forces are going to be very difficult to deal with. Number one, they have a mass base. Number two, they have influence over the Republican Party, a powerful political party which controls a majority of state capitals in the 50 U.S. states.”
The 2014 Bundy standoff was an armed confrontation between supporters of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and law enforcement following a 21-year legal dispute in which the United States Bureau of Land Management obtained court orders directing Mr. Bundy to pay over $1 million in withheld grazing fees for Mr. Bundy’s illegal use of federal land for his cattle.
Investigators of the Jan 6 insurrection have alleged that a retired Navy lieutenant commander helped organize dozens of others who coordinated their movements as they “stormed the castle” to disrupt the confirmation of President Biden’s electoral college victory.
Real time conversations recovered from a walkie-talkie-style app captured participants discussing a group of about 30 to 40 “sticking together and sticking to the plan” during the breach, according to court documents filed in the case. That plan was to capture and possibly execute congressional officials involved in the certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory, including Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Still, some Republicans are saying that the Senate should just “move on” from this insurrection, in spite of a pending impeachment trial for Mr. Trump. In less than three weeks, Homeland Security issued a bulletin that anti-government terrorists are ready to strike again and one Trump supporter even warned “something’s coming.”
The GOP once featured itself as the “Party of America” and “Security,” but after the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, they’re urging the government to “move on.”
“So, in some ways, as you know, this is chickens coming home to roost,” Dr. Horne said, “because the United States has stirred up the kind of trouble that we witnessed on January 6th in Washington. It stirs that kind of trouble up abroad all the time.
“I mean, that’s its calling card. It was inevitable that people who were trained to stir up turmoil abroad would take their skills back home to try to resolve political disputes through the barrel of a gun. So, that’s where we are right now,” said Dr. Horne.
T. Mathews, an entrepreneur from Florida agrees with the Homeland Security warning to prepare for potential threats.
“I believe that if the U.S. doesn’t convict Trump and his followers for attacking our nation’s democracy. There will be a challenge every time the election results are not favorable for one group or another,” he said.
“What we are experiencing is White supremacy terrorism which has existed for over 400 years in this land, and a threat to the entire planet much longer. It was emboldened by Trump and his administration with permission to do whatever you want without consequences.”
“Now that 74 million Americans who supported Trump in the last election have had a taste of exercising their freedom of expression. Now, they don’t want to give it up, which means we must treat White supremacy terrorism just like any other terrorism and not negotiate with them. Otherwise, White supremacy may eventually succeed at overthrowing our government to become Nazi America,” said Mr. Mathews.
Tory Russell, a Ferguson, Mo.-based organizer and activist, had a different view of the reason behind the government warning. “Those of us in the struggle who study history know that the police organizing themselves towards terrorizing our communities and our leadership is nothing new. Be it with leaders like Marcus Garvey, organizations like the Black Panther Party or in communities from Tulsa to Philadelphia, Black progressives first must defeat the police who are there to quell Black liberation,” he said.
(J.A. Salaam contributed to this report.)