You may have heard that the Department of Homeland Security recently released a “Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” but please permit me the indulgence of putting this current event in its historical context.
Here is what the United States’ Department of Homeland Security released on February 7, 2022 through the National Terrorism Advisory System:
Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland
The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors. These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions (emphasis added) to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence. Mass casualty attacks and other acts of targeted violence conducted by lone offenders and small groups acting in furtherance of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances pose an ongoing threat to the nation (emphasis added). While the conditions underlying the heightened threat landscape have not significantly changed over the last year, the convergence of the following factors has increased the volatility, unpredictability, and complexity of the threat environment: (1) the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions; (2) continued calls for violence directed at U.S. critical infrastructure; soft targets and mass gatherings; faith-based institutions, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques; institutions of higher education; racial and religious minorities; government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement and the military; the media; and perceived ideological opponents; and (3) calls by foreign terrorist organizations for attacks on the United States based on recent events.
Issued: February 07, 2022 02:00 pm
Expires: June 07, 2022 02:00 pm
The primary terrorism-related threat to the United States continues to stem from lone offenders or small cells of individuals who are motivated by a range of foreign and/or domestic grievances often cultivated through the consumption of certain online content. The convergence of violent extremist ideologies, false or misleading narratives, and conspiracy theories have and will continue to contribute to a heightened threat of violence in the United States.
Key factors contributing to the current heightened threat environment include:
- The proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions:
- For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.
- Malign foreign powers have and continue to amplify these false or misleading narratives in efforts to damage the United States.
- Continued calls for violence directed at U.S. critical infrastructure; soft targets and mass gatherings; faith-based institutions, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques; institutions of higher education; racial and religious minorities; government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement and the military; the media; and perceived ideological opponents:
- Foreign terrorist organizations and domestic threat actors continue to amplify pre-existing false or misleading narratives online to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions. Some of these actors do so to encourage unrest, which could lead to acts of violence against the facilities, individuals, institutions, and organizations cited above.
- Violent extremists inspired by a range of grievances and ideologies continue to target crowded venues traditionally perceived to be soft targets, such as commercial and publicly accessible facilities, public gatherings, certain government and state facilities, and houses of worship.
- The recent attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas highlights the continuing threat of violence based upon racial or religious motivations, as well as threats against faith-based organizations.
- Threats directed at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other colleges and universities, Jewish facilities, and churches cause concern and may inspire extremist threat actors to mobilize to violence.
- As COVID-19 restrictions continue to decrease nationwide, increased access to commercial and government facilities and the rising number of mass gatherings could provide increased opportunities for individuals looking to commit acts of violence to do so, often with little or no warning. Meanwhile, COVID-19 mitigation measures—particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates—have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020 and could continue to inspire these extremists to target government, healthcare, and academic institutions that they associate with those measures.
- Domestic violent extremists have also viewed attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure as a means to create chaos and advance ideological goals, and have recently aspired to disrupt U.S. electric and communications critical infrastructure, including by spreading false or misleading narratives about 5G cellular technology.
- Some domestic violent extremists have continued to advocate for violence in response to false or misleading narratives about unsubstantiated election fraud. The months preceding the upcoming 2022 midterm elections could provide additional opportunities for these extremists and other individuals to call for violence directed at democratic institutions, political candidates, party offices, election events, and election workers.
- A small number of threat actors are attempting to use the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan nationals following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan last year as a means to exacerbate long-standing grievances and justify attacks against immigrants.
- Calls by foreign terrorist organizations for attacks on the United States based on recent events:
- Foreign terrorist organizations will likely continue to maintain a highly visible online presence to attempt to inspire U.S.-based individuals to engage in violent activity.
- Supporters of foreign terrorist organizations have encouraged copycat attacks following the January 15, 2022 attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
- Foreign terrorists remain intent on targeting the United States and U.S. persons, and may seek to capitalize on the evolving security environment overseas to plot attacks. The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) or its affiliates may issue public calls for retaliation due to the strike that recently killed ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.
How We Are Responding
- DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continue to share timely and actionable information and intelligence with the broadest audience possible. This includes sharing information and intelligence with our partners across every level of government and in the private sector. We conduct recurring threat briefings with private sector and state, local, tribal, territorial, and campus partners, including to inform security planning efforts. DHS remains committed to working with our partners to identify and prevent all forms of terrorism and targeted violence, and to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe.
- DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis established a new, dedicated domestic terrorism branch to produce the sound, timely intelligence needed to counter related threats. The Department expanded its evaluation of online activity as part of its efforts to assess and prevent acts of violence, while ensuring the protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.
- DHS’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) provides communities with resources and tools to help prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence. In 2021, CP3 awarded about $20 million in grants through its Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program. CP3 also partners with local communities to raise awareness about how to prevent violence.
- In 2021, DHS designated domestic violent extremism as a “National Priority Area” within its Homeland Security Grant Program HSGP), resulting in at least $77 million being spent on preventing, preparing for, protecting against, and responding to related threats.
- In 2021, DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) provided $180 million in funding to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements to non-profit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack.
- DHS is working with public and private sector partners, as well as foreign counterparts, to identify and evaluate MDM, including false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories spread on social media and other online platforms that endorse or could inspire violence.
- DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) works with public and private sector partners – including U.S. critical infrastructure owners and operators – to mitigate risk against our cyber and physical infrastructure and increase nationwide cybersecurity resilience.
How You Can Help
Stay Informed and Prepared
- Be prepared for emergency situations and remain aware of circumstances that may place you at risk. Make note of your surroundings and the nearest security personnel.
- Keep yourself safe online and maintain digital and media literacy to recognize and build resilience to false or misleading narratives.
- Review DHS resources for how to better protect businesses, houses of worship, and schools, and ensure the safety of public gatherings.
- Prepare for potential active shooter incidents, as well as efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the use of explosives.
- Learn more about community-based resources to help prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence.
Report Potential Threats
- Listen to local authorities and public safety officials.
- If You See Something, Say Something®. Report suspicious activity and threats of violence, including online threats, to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices, or your local Fusion Center. Call 911 in case of emergency.
- If you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues or may pose a danger to themselves or others, seek help.
If You See Something, Say Something®. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or call 911.
This is what the United States government is telling its citizens and the world as of February 2022: “personal grievances” against the government are paramount to being a domestic terrorist.
If this is true, then I submit to you a list of domestic terrorists current as of July 4, 1776:
- John Hancock
- Benjamin Franklin
- John Adams
- Samuel Adams
- Josiah Bartlett
- Carter Braxton
- Charles Carroll
- Samuel Chase
- Abraham Clark
- George Clymer
- William Ellery
- William Floyd
- Elbridge Gerry
- Button Gwinnett
- Lyman Hall
- Benjamin Harrison
- John Hart
- Joseph Hewes
- Thomas Heyward, Jr.
- William Hooper
- Stephen Hopkins
- Francis Hopkinson
- Samuel Huntington
- Thomas Jefferson
- Richard Henry Lee
- Francis Lightfoot Lee
- Francis Lewis
- Philip Livingston
- Thomas Lynch, Jr.
- Thomas McKean
- Arthur Middleton
- Robert Morris
- Lewis Morris
- John Morton
- Thomas Nelson, Jr.
- William Paca
- Robert Treat Paine
- John Penn
- George Read
- Caesar Rodney
- George Ross
- Benjamin Rush
- Edward Rutledge
- Roger Sherman
- James Smith
- Richard Stockton
- Thomas Stone
- George Taylor
- Matthew Thornton
- George Walton
- William Whipple
- William Williams
- James Wilson
- John Witherspoon
- Oliver Wolcott
- George Wythe
The airing of personal grievances should be shared without violence and within the rule of law. Our nation was founded upon the airing of grievances that are ideological in nature. The Declaration of Independence, our nation’s first founding document, included a list of grievances against King George.
In Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The Declaration of Independence was directed at the King of England, George III, whose own words might be considered a shorter version of this recent bulletin from DHS: “A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.”
Who chooses what is a “false or misleading narrative”? How does the government do that in a way that is consistent with our Bill of Rights?
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis added)
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
This is not the first time in history that the State has taken the position that “personal grievances” are akin to terrorism. Maybe the people at DHS who wrote this bulletin need a refresher course in civics. Provide me the indulgence of having voices of history speak on what freedom of speech is and what it means.
“In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech; a thing terrible to publick traytors.”
– Benjamin Franklin
“If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.”
– George Washington
“The press, confined to truth, needs no other legal restraint; the public judgment will correct false reasonings and opinions, on a full hearing of all parties; and no other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness.”
– Thomas Jefferson
“To preserve the freedom of the human mind … and the freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think the condition of man will proceed in improvement.”
– Thomas Jefferson
It’s not just America’s founders who aired grievances about the State limiting the airing of personal grievances.
“The freedom of speech and the freedom of the press have not been granted to the people in order that they may say the things which please, and which are based upon accepted thought, but the right to say the things which displease, the right to say the things which may convey the new and yet unexpected thoughts, the right to say things, even though they do a wrong.”
– Samuel Gompers
“We are reluctant to admit that we owe our liberties to men of a type that today we hate and fear — unruly men, disturbers of the peace … in a word, free men. … Freedom is always purchased at a great price, and even those who are willing to pay it have to admit that the price is great.”
– Gerald W. Johnson
“You tell me that law is above freedom of utterance. And I reply that you can have no wise laws nor free entertainment of wise laws unless there is free expression of the wisdom of the people — and, alas, their folly with it. But if there is freedom, folly will die of its own poison, and the wisdom will survive.”
– William Allen White
“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”
– William O. Douglas
“Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience … that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.”
– William O. Douglas
“The framers of the constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty.”
[Beauharnais v. Illinois, 342 U.S. 250, 287 (1952) (dissenting)]”
– William O. Douglas
“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”
– Frederick Douglass
“All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”
– George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession
“Nobody needs to justify why they ‘need’ a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority. Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
– Edward Snowden, Permanent Record
Today we do not have a crisis of misinformation nor disinformation but trust. The people most responsible for preserving our trust, a sacred responsibility, have abused both our trust and us.
If people question the integrity of our institutions, maybe there is good reason for it.
“Read my lips, no new taxes.”
– George W. Bush
“I did not have sex with that woman.”
– Bill Clinton
“I’m absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We’re just getting it just now.”
– Colin Powell
“We are winning in Afghanistan.”
– Karl Rove
“Iraq is a very wealthy country. Enormous oil reserves. They can finance, largely finance the reconstruction of their own country. And I have no doubt that they will.”
– Richard Perle, Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board Chair
“If you like your doctor, you’ll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.”
– Barack Obama.
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
– Nancy Pelosi
“Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate.”
– John Brennan
“I will end this. I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country.”
– Joe Biden
“The [Afghanistan] drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart.”
– Joe Biden
“There is already, in my view, ample evidence in the public domain on the issue of collusion if you’re willing to see it.”
– Adam Schiff
“Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [COVID-19] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
– Anthony Fauci
“Coronavirus lockdowns saved millions of lives.”
– MSNBC, June 2020
(Contrasted with the Brownstone Institute study that lockdowns did not save lives.)
As little trust as citizens have in government, which is justifiable, government has even less trust in citizens. A good citizen is not one who blindly trusts, but one who questions.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”
“Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'” LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64
– Albert Einstein
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
– Albert Einstein
“Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.”
– Karl R. Popper
“Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.”
– Karl Popper
“The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.”
– Karl R. Popper
It’s not the airing of grievances that puts our Constitutional republic at risk. It’s the repression of dissent and the description of people who dared to have a grievance and labelling them as domestic terrorists, which represents the greatest danger to the sovereign individual.
The DHS bulletin seems more inspired by Mao Zedong, Tomás de Torquemada, or Joseph Goebbels than by the 55 signatories of the aforementioned Declaration of Independence, who likely now meet the DHS definition of a domestic terrorist.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (emphasis added)
– Joseph Goebbels
Goebbels, as Hilter’s chief propagandist, was a major driving force of the marginalization of Jews and ultimately the Holocaust. He used the influence of media and the State to advance Hilter’s agenda. But he believed in free speech, of a sort.
“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”
– Noam Chomsky
Maybe a better source of wisdom would be that of Ben Franklin, who reminded us:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
God bless America!