Politics

FBI whistleblower claims DOJ used counterterrorism tools against parents

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee revealed on Tuesday that the FBI created a system to track threats against school board officials and administrators.

The GOP members of the committee cited an internal email provided by an FBI whistleblower. According to the email, the FBI’s “Counterterrorism and Criminal divisions created a threat tag, EDUOFFICIALS, to track instances of related threats.

The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a national level and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement.” The email had been signed by both Counterterrorism Division assistant director Timothy Langan, and former Criminal Division assistant director Calvin Shivers.

Shivers retired earlier in November. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to attorney General Merrick Garland saying the whistleblower email “provides specific evidence” that federal law enforcement employed counterterrorism tools against parents.

The whistleblower email comes on the heels of the National School Boards Association releasing a letter in September calling on federal agencies to investigate whether apparent threats to school-board members should be considered a domestic terrorist threat. Alleged threats were cited by the NSBA that were made in opposition to masking policies and “propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory” in schools. The NSBA has since apologized for the letter.

But the FBI wrote in a statement denying that it targeted parents. “The FBI has never been in the business of investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meetings, and we are not going to start now,” the Bureau said. “The creation of a threat tag in no way changes the long-standing requirements for opening an investigation, nor does it represent a shift in how the FBI prioritizes threats.”

Garland had directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to investigate threats against school boards after the NSBA letter was published, but he testified on October 21 that the Department of Justice and FBI were not using counterterrorism tools to look into the alleged threats.

“I do not think that parents getting angry at school boards for whatever reason constitute domestic terrorism,” said Garland. “It’s not even a close question.”

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: TIME-SURF.COM

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