The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is wasting our tax money investigating “black identity extremists.” This ungainly name in itself should tell us that they are having trouble even identifying what they are worried about.
We supposedly are fighting a “war on terror,” which was the blunderbuss response of the last Republican president, who needed to cover up his failure to respond appropriately to multiple warnings of impending attacks that manifested in the notorious events of September 11, 2001, when Islamic militants hijacked several airplanes, flying two of them into the World Trade Center towers in New York City and a third into the Pentagon.
The FBI also bears some blame for not having prevented those attacks.
In 2019, informed observers agree that the problem of terrorism comes much more from white identity extremists. The suspect in the recent mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand, killing 50 people, seems to have drawn inspiration from “white supremacists” around the world, including the United States.
So why is the FBI, of questionable track record in anticipating where terrorism comes from, frittering away tax money chasing this nebulous, non threatening, non group, “black identity extremists”?
Racism. Racial profiling.
The FBI has an ugly history of conducting surveillance activities of the perfectly legal protest activities of African American civil rights activists. We know this.
Revelations soon after Richard Nixon resigned, emanating from the Watergate investigation and public reporting that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been spying on anti war activists, in violation of its charter, prompted an investigation in the Senate that we now know for its Chairman, Frank Church, The Church Committee. This Committee eventually found all manner of illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens by federal agencies.
This included, in particular, spying illegally on the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the nation’s most famous single African American civil rights activist.
In context, it makes far more sense to surmise that the FBI’s surveillance of “black identity extremists” is just more illegitimate, illegal, racist spying on perfectly legal protest activities in response to the huge problem of black people getting killed by police in vastly disproportionate numbers.
This is a significant political and policy issue to a large number of people. It doesn’t matter if only one person worries about it. The Constitution plainly guarantees the right of every individual who lives under its governance the right to choose issues that matter to them and to speak and act to influence their fellow citizens’ thoughts and actions relative to that issue.
Interest and advocacy alone cannot serve as a legitimate basis for any law enforcement agency to observe or survey anyone in the United States.
Adding insult to injury, not only has the FBI wasted money producing a report on a non existent group, they are now refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests for their records on this topic, to the point that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit to get a federal court order requiring them to produce the documents in question.
This is just more money wasted on an entirely illegitimate enterprise. It is stunning that government actors never seem to realize that refusing to respond to public requests for information only increases the suspicion that they are hiding damaging information.
For some time now, calls have emerged for a new Church Committee, meaning a new investigation in Congress, Senate or House matters little, into new questions about surveillance activities of federal agencies. If anything, the problem is likely even worse than it was in 1975, given the profusion of electronic communication technology that has erupted in the last 45 years.
Racist violations of civil liberties are no more acceptable now than they were then. We need to bring the FBI to heel. Again.