Laura Ingraham Is Upset That Defense Secretary Austin Wants To Rid Military Of Racists & Extremists

The unfortunate events of January 6, 2021, dubbed “DCInsurrection”, where a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building interrupting a joint session of Congress convened to formally confirm the election of President Joe Biden, have raised a lot of questions about violent extremism and racism in the United States, and specifically, the extent to which such extremism and racism have infected the military ranks.

During the insurrection, a lot of Americans witnessed on live TV and social media, images of many of the rioters in military regalia, engaging in formations that left absolutely no doubt that they were either active duty military officers, or veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Media reports have since confirmed that quite a number of the DC insurrectionists were indeed either active duty military officers or veterans, a disturbing development indeed, and proof positive sign that there is radicalization/extremism within our armed forces. Sadly, there were also images at the DC insurrection of people displaying flags and other symbols of groups with long and documented histories of espousing White supremacist views. So the problem at DC insurrection was not just violent extremism, but violent extremism plus racism.

Naturally, as a result of these troubling media reports, there have been calls from the public and members of Congress, for the department of defense to investigate this apparent radicalization in the military, with the goal of ridding the revered American institution of racists and extremists–something all reasonable people will conclude is a very noble and justified goal. It was therefore quite interesting on Thursday’s(2/4/2021) edition of her show, to see Fox News host Laura Ingraham express reservations, even outrage, at the fact that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has put in motion efforts to do just that–rid the U.S. military of racists and extremists.

In the editorial section of her show titled “The Ingraham Angle“, Ingraham lashed out at Defense Secretary Austin saying his efforts to get racists and extremists out of the military was a veiled attempt at purging Conservatives and Trump supporters from the military. Laura played a clip of Defense Secretary Austin’s remarks at his Senate confirmation hearing where Secretary Austin said, “I will fight hard to stump out sexual assault, and to rid our ranks of racists and extremists. The job of the department of defense is to keep America safe from our enemies, but we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” She then strangely lashed out at these perfectly normal sentiments by Secretary Austin saying, “Of course what he [Secretary Austin] really meant then, and what he would like to do now, is rid the military of all strong Conservatives and of course, Trump supporters.”

Laura Ingraham’s take on Secretary Austin’s remarks at his confirmation hearings are not only troubling because she unreasonably casts negative aspersions at the Secretary’s motives, but also because she appears to be troubled that efforts are underway to rid the military of racists and extremists. Reasonable people would welcome such a move because it is not only good for the military, but also for the country to have a military that does not harbor racists and extremists. By unreasonably suggesting that the aim here is to rid the military of “strong Conservatives” and “Trump supporters”, is Laura Ingraham tacitly admitting that Conservatives and Trumpers are indeed racists and extremists? Are racists and extremists a voting block that is now being actively courted by the modern Republican party? These and others, are interesting questions one hopes the mainstream media will pose to Ingraham and company, regarding her seeming reluctance to have the military remove racists and extremists from it’s ranks.

It also bears pointing out that Ingraham’s reservations about getting rid of racists and extremists from the military is a prevalent view among many prominent Republicans. You’ll remember that after the January 6th incident, many people started expressing concern about a similar insurrection happening two weeks later, at the January 20th presidential inauguration event. Among the steps taken to prevent a repeat of January 6th, was a beefing up of security in and around Washington DC, by bringing in National Guard troops from the various states. The troops brought in to secure the inauguration event were vetted to ensure they had no ties to the same extremists groups that participated in the January 6th insurrection. Strangely, and much like we witnessed with Laura Ingraham, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis, were also very upset that the troops were vetted for extremism ties, something most reasonable people would consider prudent given the circumstances.

Bottom line folks, Yours Truly has repeatedly stated that among the most underreported stories during the four years of the Trump administration, is the extent to which he politicized and abused the military to achieve his political interests. These unreasonable protestations by Trumpers like Laura Ingraham, Governors Abbott, DeSantis, et al, towards ridding the military of racists and extremists, only add on to my suspicions. Are they afraid that a vetting will uncover something they are already aware of, but would rather hide from the public? Hmm

Obviously the jury is still out on the finer details of the politicization and abuse of the military during the four years of the Trump administration, and hopefully details will soon start coming out under the Biden administration. One hopes that the mainstream media will keep us fully apprised on the findings of DOD Inspector General’s investigations in this regard, especially in states like Texas and Florida with super Trumper Governors.

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AG Barr, FBI’s Wray Sued Over Terrorist Watchlists

An interesting terrorist watch list lawsuit is currently playing out at the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (USDC-Colorado). The lawsuit, Coker v Barr (1:19-cv-02486, filed 08/30/19), names U.S. Attorney General William Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Charles H. Kable, Director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) as defendants. The plaintiff James A. Coker, a military veteran and former law enforcement officer believes, as do many other innocent Americans, that he has been wrongfully placed on a terrorist watch list and is fighting to be accorded a court hearing where he can challenge the basis of his inclusion in the watch list(s). Below is a copy of the very well done complaint filed by the plaintiff’s attorney Patricia S. Bangert.

Terror Watch List Lawsuit by Emolclause on Scribd

According to the complaint, James Coker (plaintiff) who is a military veteran and decorated law enforcement officer(Georgia), began experiencing problems at airports on his air travels in 2016. He raised this issue with the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) using the procedure the department has set up for people who suspect they have been wrongfully placed on the no-fly list. DHS never took him off the no-fly list. In 2018 he applied for, and was offered a job by Veterans Affairs(VA) as a police officer. As a condition of the job, he was required to attend training at a VA police officers training center in Arkansas. Two weeks into his training, armed guards informed him that he was on a terrorist watch list and escorted him out of the training center–a totally humiliating experience. With this lawsuit, Coker seeks to find out among other things, how the hell he ended up on a terrorist watch list.

Coker’s lawsuit is very important in that it yet again reinforces one of the strongest arguments made against the terrorist watch list system and that is, it is very possible for innocent Americans to get caught up in these terrorist watch lists for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism either through errors but also, quite commonly, through malice. In an unrelated terrorist watch list lawsuit for example, the plaintiff claimed that the FBI placed him in a watch list simply because he refused to be an informant against his fellow Muslim friends, a clear cut case of retaliation. This Just Security piece provides other examples of grave abuses of these terrorist watch lists but more importantly, the disastrous effects of the said abuses on the innocent targets’ lives.

The plaintiff in the instant case James Coker, doesn’t fit the profile of someone many Americans would expect to land on the terrorist watch list–a military veteran with a law enforcement background and zero criminal record. The fact that someone like James Coker can also get ensnared in the terrorist watch list dragnet should be reason enough for members of congress to finally crack down on this grotesquely unjust program.

Think about that folks. With all the hue and cry in the mainstream media about FISA surveillance abuses against Carter Page, it is shocking how since 2003, we have seemingly tolerated this grotesquely unjust terrorist watch list system where on any given day and for whatever reason, someone can arbitrarily decide that you pose a threat to national security, throw your name into some watch list turning your life upside down, without you ever getting a chance to challenge the basis of your inclusion in the said watch list. Anyone who claims to be concerned about surveillance abuses regarding Carter Page but is okay with this abuse-prone terrorist watch list system cannot be taken seriously. Simply put, any serious debate about surveillance reforms has to include these terrorist watch lists.

Why is Coker v Barr very important and potentially the ground zero for much anticipated push back against the surveillance state? The simple answer is timing. It is impossible to ignore the backdrop against which this lawsuit is playing out. A reasonable argument can be made that ever since the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, it is in 2020 that the anti-surveillance sentiment has finally reached fever pitch, and a lot of this has to do with the FISA surveillance abuses revealed in the Carter Page case. An investigation conducted by the Department of Justice Inspector General into 29 other FISA surveillance applications after the Carter Page revelations, found errors in all the 29 applications. Coker v Barr is therefore playing out at a time when there is tremendous appetite for surveillance reform and I suspect the USDC-Colorado district judge is fully aware of that.

It also bears pointing out that when a key surveillance law recently came up for reauthorization, it was “law and order” Republican Senators who temporarily held up its automatic renewal. Folks, if “law and order” Republican Senators holding up automatic renewal of a crucial surveillance law is not the ultimate signal that time has finally come for some serious surveillance reform, I don’t know what is.

Bottom line, Coker v Barr comes at a time when there is a great national appetite for a serious overhaul of the surveillance regime. There is a very good chance that USDC-Colorado may finally force the government (AG Barr and Co.) to explain how secretly throwing an individual in some list that upends their life and livelihood, without ever according them a chance to challenge such a placement does not on its face, grossly violate the 5th amendment’s due process requirements. Prior to the Carter Page and DOJ-IG findings of surveillance abuses, courts were reluctant to address the glaring due process concerns raised by the terrorist watch list program. I suspect with Coker v Barr, USDC-Colorado will be very eager to get an explanation from AG Barr and Co. as to how the secretive terrorist watch lists satisfy the 5th amendment’s due process requirements. Major kudos to attorney Patricia Bangert for this forceful legal challenge to the surveillance regime.

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El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto Echoes John Cornyn’s Tweet

After the deadly weekend shootings in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio, the President’s hateful rhetoric and especially his hardline stance on immigrants has taken center stage. A recent tweet by Senator John Cornyn(R-TX) is also getting closer scrutiny because some claim the El Paso shooter’s manifesto echoed similar anti-Hispanic sentiments as Senator Cornyn’s tweet–that Hispanics are replacing Whites in Texas.

Now we can all agree that it is unfair to pin any national tragedy on a politician’s previous public comments and Yours Truly is certainly not suggesting here that the El Paso shooter read Senator Cornyn’s tweet and then decided to open fire on Hispanic shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso. What is fair debate however is that President Trump has a well documented history of stoking racial tensions using very incendiary language that has even garnered praise from White Supremacy groups. It is also well known that Congressional Republicans like Senator Cornyn rarely push back on the President when he engages in such hateful rhetoric, the subject of Yours Truly’s recent post “GOP Complicit In Trump’s Racism”

Therefore when a hate crime against Hispanic shoppers like the one that happened in El Paso takes place, it is fair to confront Senator John Cornyn and other Republicans about their decision to remain silent even when the President engages in race-baiting speech. In Senator Cornyn’s case in particular, his tweet pointing out the fact that the Hispanic rate of migration to the state of Texas outnumbers that of Whites by a 9 to 1 margin certainly raises justifiable questions in light of the El Paso shooting. Was Senator Cornyn pushing the “White Replacement” conspiracy theory that is very popular among White Supremacy Groups worldwide?

It is well known that one of the grievances raised by hate groups and especially White Supremacists worldwide is this idea of “White Replacement”—that somehow there’s a global conspiracy to replace the White race with other ethnic groups. You’ll remember during the Charlottesville, Virginia riots, that White Supremacy advocates could be heard chanting “Jews will not replace us”. This “White Replacement” hysteria is fueling the growth of anti-immigrant political groups in Western Europe and some political pundits argue is the same hysteria currently being pushed by President Trump and his GOP with their harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. It is therefore perfectly in order for Senator Cornyn to be questioned about the motivation behind his 9 to 1 tweet.

It also cannot be left unsaid that during a recent Congressional hearing, Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took Deputy FBI Director Michael McGarrity to task over why the FBI and other law enforcement agencies(like DHS) are not doing more to combat the rising threat of domestic terrorism posed by White Supremacy groups, a subject Yours Truly wrote about in “AOC Exposes FBI’s Terrorism Double Standard” . (AOC is always ahead of the curve folks).

Deputy Director McGarrity’s response was that there are no current laws/legal provisions that allow the FBI to vigorously go after domestic terrorists. The question then becomes, how does the same FBI and DHS currently target people they perceive to be “Black extremists” or “Black militants”? What current provisions/laws are they basing these surveillance practices on, that they are seemingly unwilling or unable to apply to White Supremacists? There have been numerous credible media reports that surveillance on “Black militants” is indeed happening as we speak in most major U.S. cities–some for reasons as mundane as anti-Trump/DHS social media posts, or even organizing,/participating in Black Lives Matter protests. Are these media reports “fake news”? These are some of the questions the public expects the mainstream media to pose to FBI and DHS brass in light of the two deadly weekend mass shootings.

Bottom line, the mainstream media fails the public miserably in the way it covers national tragedies. Specifically, the questions that need to be answered are often not answered because other incidents usually pop up and take the cameras/spotlight away. The El Paso shooting has raised two very important questions that needs to be addressed the first one being how surveillance capabilities of the FBI and DHS are being misused/abused. Are the FBI and DHS wasting surveillance resources needlessly chasing down perceived “militants” of color while totally ignoring the actual threat of domestic terrorism by White Supremacists? The second question (a no-brainer), is whether the hate-filled rhetoric emanating from President Trump and his Republican party is fueling the rise White Supremacy groups in the U.S.? These are two questions the mainstream media must seriously delve into in the aftermath of the two deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton. The Mainstream media will likely give Trump and Senator John Cornyn a pass as they usually do with Republicans. However you can rest assured that Yours Truly, your trusted grassroots journalist, will not only hold Sen Cornyn’s feet to the fire regarding this racist tweet, but will also and make it the citadel upon which his 2020 reelection prospects fail. Stay tuned.

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AOC Exposes FBI’s Terrorism Double Standard

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) grilling the Assistant Director of FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Division Michael McGarrity

In one of her most stunning congressional performances yet, Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) grilled FBI’s Assistant Director of Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity on the double standard with which the bureau charges non-White perpetrators as terrorists, while pursuing equally violent White supremacists only with hate crimes–with far fewer legal consequences.

There is no question that FBI’s double standard when it comes to terrorism has to be addressed. However, Rep Ocasio-Cortez and other members of Congress should not focus solely on who gets charged with what statute and instead dig into an even more troubling and still very under-covered topic by the mainstream media and that is, the increasing designation by the FBI/DHS of non-White activists in major urban centers(New York, Houston, LA, Chicago etc) as terrorists or radicalized extremists who then end up on their surveillance lists. Americans will be shocked to find out that even mundane activities like participating in/being an organizer of a Black Lives Matter rally, or Tweeting under “TheResistance” hashtag (#TheResistance)–all activities protected by the 1st amendment–could land someone in these obscure FBI/DHS surveillance lists.

Therefore members of Congress should not be singularly focused on who gets charged with what statute but rather the arbitrariness with which non-White political activists in major cities are increasingly getting caught up in FBI/DHS surveillance dragnets. These kinds of surveillance have disastrous effects on people’s lives whether they result in criminal charges or not, meaning absolute care must be taken to ensure the wrong people don’t end up in these dragnets. It certainly appears given the exchange between Rep Ocasio-Cortez and A.D. McGarrity, that it is infinitely easier for a non-White person to be designated and therefore investigated for terrorism than a similarly situated White person. These seemingly racist/bigoted surveillance policies should greatly trouble members of Congress.

Bottom line, Americans entrust the FBI and DHS with enormous investigative powers including but not limited to, the deterrence of terrorism. AOC and her fellow members of Congress have a duty to step in and ensure that these powerful agencies are not arbitrarily designating minority political activists as terrorism suspects and subjecting them to unjustified long-term surveillance for engaging in constitutionally protected speech.