The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is officially “out of control,” according to America First Legal (AFL) Senior Counselor and Director of Investigations Reed Rubinstein. A hard look at newly released documents obtained from a July 2021 FOIA by AFL demonstrates Rubinstein is far from being hyperbolic. AFL submitted its FOIA “in response to the Biden Administration’s disturbing collaboration with Big Tech to censor Americans and use domestic surveillance to spy on American citizens—all under the guise of facilitating and implementing the strategies the Administration outlined in the “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.”
The information returned to AFL shows internal terrorism prevention planning documents from early in the Biden administration. The documents tout DHS’s “broad terrorism prevention and protection authorities that allow them to prevent international or domestic terrorism, without limitation to specific types or origins of potential terrorist threats or activities.” In other words, DHS seems to advocate for permission to investigate Americans as Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) based on various made-up scenarios complete with fully rendered characters and political undertones.
The training is part of the “$10 million FY20 Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grant Program(TVTP). It was put in place to “identify indicators of radicalization to violence and to assess threats.” In 2020 the “National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) provided 61 threat assessment trainings to 11,688 stakeholders.” The stakeholders include law enforcement, schools, therapists, and “other public safety officials.”
Disturbingly, despite a lack of evidence, the DHS documents repeatedly state that the top domestic terror threat is the white supremacist. It reads, “Among DVEs, white supremacist extremists (WSE) are the most persistent and lethal threat.” Black supremacists, anarchists, and antigovernment violet extremists comprise “the remaining half.” At least one section of the document recognizes that “accurately characterizing domestic terrorism can be challenging.”
Home-Grown American Terrorists: Report Those Radicalized Suburban Moms
While they may be well-meaning, the training scenarios are patently absurd. There are “5 story branches” with video. It is a hunt-your-local “radicalization suspect” with a “Choose Your Own Adventure” feel. I would love to have seen some of the faces of the people who opened this material for the first time. The problem? DHS is one hundred percent serious. The materials show that the disinformation Czars have just moved their toys to another playground.
The material and videos encourage average Americans to snitch on one another with a keen ear for certain kinds of ideological or angry speech while being mindful to “navigate first amendment protections.” I don’t know how you report someone and do both. Maybe it’s just me.
Page 26 from the FBI’s associated program “Making Prevention a Reality: Identifying, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks” speaks to the difficulties of “transforming bystanders into upstanders.” The bottom line is that being a snitch isn’t popular, and it takes some doing to make people do it. It is an ironic document, given how few FBI agents have been willing to be “upstanders” when it comes to reporting agency corruption.
Here the challenge is to “deradicalize” your suburban, minivan-driving neighbor “Ann” and your “budding conspiracy theorist high school” pal “Courtney. And don’t forget “Pete,” the “lazy-boy, lawn-mower” pushing “anti-gov, authority” stepdad!
4. In one scenario, Ann utters the phrase “baby killer” at a local bakery event to signify her opposition to abortion. DHS gives you, the bystander, three choices: calling Ann’s husband, contacting Ann’s preacher, or stopping by Ann’s house: pic.twitter.com/rU6Nn769zh
— Mike Benz (@MikeBenzCyber) May 9, 2023
6. DHS built a stock profile for “Courtney,” an “old high school friend” who is a “budding conspiracy theorist.” Again, “suburban Mom, laundry, minivan.”
DHS targets her because she believes “conspiracy theories regarding government connections to child abuse and trafficking:” pic.twitter.com/RQLgA9AUq2
— Mike Benz (@MikeBenzCyber) May 9, 2023
The nice thing here is DHS really tries to be fair. We’ve also got Jane, the young Animal Rights advocate whose professor has noticed her sudden liking for Chemistry and how to make incendiary devices. Gotta represent.
This is a “bystander approach” prevention program based on the Social-Ecological Model framework, all developed by the CDC as a part of their disease prevention programs.
Whether husband, professor, college roommate, primary care doctor, or bystander fellow soccer mom, DHS lays out the scenarios and provides solutions with accompanying videos to help you understand the choices you made and what you might have “done to make the situation better.” All of it is courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3).
Community-Based Targeting to Mitigate Threats
According to the documents, when attacks occur, the DHS activates the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (OTVTP) to address the incident. The documents use examples of attacks in Georgia, Colorado, and California to outline policies and how those policies are implemented when such attacks occur. It is a community outreach approach to help local communities mitigate future threats. The Power2Prevent campaign is part of the outreach materials. And by the way, it has a Governance Board with reps from 7 offices in DHS.
Notably, the DHS’s OTVTP does not have the “authority to investigate attacks or perpetrators,” but it does “partner with the DOJ and the FBI to address prevention gaps, address concerns about community backlash, and strengthen local prevention frameworks.”
13. It is telling that such “political police” programs are now parked at DHS, rather than at FBI. FBI is an arm of DOJ, so it needs suspected lawbreaking to act.
DHS appears to think it can operate in any area of citizen life, like the “lawful speech” zone where FBI is limited.
— Mike Benz (@MikeBenzCyber) May 9, 2023
Other offices under the DHS umbrella also receive funding for terrorism prevention, $80 million in 2021. Listed are CRCL, PRIV, OGC, FLETC, I&A, CISA, and S&T.
DHS Policy Forum Shows New Mindset for Preventing Domestic Terrorism
A video on DHS’s “new U.S. strategy” for preventing domestic terrorism streamed in June 2021 provides all you need to know about the mindset of the Biden administration concerning domestic terrorism. This administration has repeatedly focused on the psyche and the psychology of the DVE, leaving the targeting of Americans dangerously open to interpretation and manipulation according to a framework that only they define and control. Human behavior is wildly variable, and one person’s anger does not a domestic terrorist make. The danger of finding what you are looking for when no one but you knows the parameters is perilously high.
Senior DHS official John Cohen’s remarks, are well-practiced to manipulate and incite fear. It is classic information warfare, complete with looming, nebulous threats and shadowy figures who look like your neighbors whose anger could, at any moment in time, cause them to pop off and murder your kids. Cohen said:
“I think as we sit here today. We have a much better understanding of the dynamics of the threat, which I believe is probably more complex, more dynamic, and to some degree more dangerous than the threat we faced even after the September 11th attacks.”
Cohen explains that DVE is very difficult to define. Still, one thing is sure, DVE is “primarily from lone offenders who engage in violent activity inspired by extremist beliefs and or personal grievances or a blend of both. And in many instances, the cultivation of this belief system, that or personal grievance that serves as the impetus for an attack, comes through the consumption of online content.” Cohen also says it is the “common behavioral characteristics” that distinguish DVEs today.
“In particular, they’re angry, they feel socially disconnected, they’re seeking a sense of life, meaning they spend, as I mentioned before, a significant amount of time online consuming violent or extremist-related online content.
You are angry and are searching for the justification to use violence as a way to express that anger. And through those types of conversations, we’ve begun to focus on a phrase which is when we try to explain the threat is; it’s not the ideology and the psyche; it’s the psychology. And what that means is that if we’re going to be effective in countering the threat posed by today, we have to understand that, in many respects, it’s the behavioral characteristics of these individuals.”
Cognitive Infrastructure and Psyche Will Catch Them All
The most striking recurring theme in the FOIA material is DHS’s repeated emphasis on “targeted attacks” that are “inspired by extreme rhetoric, racist views, conspiracy theories, and other disinformation.” Narratives that are spread online, they say, due to the “rapid pace of communication contribute to a normalization of violence” that may, in turn, “inspire or incite more violence.” With this kind of online monitoring, any hope for free speech will eventually vanish.
As Cohen says in his lecture, “DHS has expanded efforts to understand emerging narratives online and evaluate which narratives pose the risk, the greatest risk, of inciting violence… we want to use that understanding of these narratives to inform risk mitigation activities that take place in the physical world. The cognitive infrastructure theorists have their fingerprints all over this stuff.
DHS says it doesn’t target religion, gender, political views, or race—but their behavior over the past few years makes it difficult to believe otherwise. A program like this in the wrong hands is a formula for disaster. Whether we like it or not, and, sadly, whether we know it or not, their Orwellian plan may be engineered to identify Americans engaged in “wrong think” and “wrong speak” as the new domestic terrorists.