Former CIA Director John Brennan let the cat out of the bag during an MSNBC appearance Wednesday, saying that the Biden administration is laser-focused on rooting out “insurgency movements” in the U.S., cracking down on pernicious malefactors like (gasp!) libertarians. No, really.
“Members of the Biden team who have been nominated or appointed are now moving in laser-like fashion to uncover as much as they can about what looks similar to insurgency movements that we see overseas, where they germinate in different parts of the country,” Brennan warned. “They gain strength and it brings together an unholy alliance frequently of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians.” [Emphasis added]
.@JohnBrennan: Biden intel community “are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about” the pro-Trump “insurgency” that harbors “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians” pic.twitter.com/SjVXWhPhR8
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 20, 2021
Pay no attention to the antifa and BLM nutters who were torching American cities all summer, it’s people like Justin Amash and Rand Paul we need to worry about.
I’m sure our astute readers will recall that Brennan, as director of the CIA, was a libertarian’s worst nightmare. Scott Shackford wrote at Reason in 2018:
As director of the CIA, Brennan defended terrible practices such as torture and extrajudicial drone assassinations. Under him, the CIA secretly snooped on Senate Intelligence Committee staff who were researching and producing a report critical of the CIA’s use of torture in interrogations of terrorism suspects during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then Brennan played dumb about it. And then nothing happened. Brennan is neither the hero of this story nor a victim, and he is probably still going to do just fine as a talking head on the news.
Such critiques might explain why Brennan, who was nominated to the post of CIA director by Barack Obama, has it in for libertarians. The question is whether Biden (or whoever’s calling the shots in the Oval Office tonight) also has libertarians in his sights. In his inaugural address, Biden vowed to wage war on “political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”
That sounds nice at first glance. Who doesn’t hate white supremacists and terrorists, after all? The problem is, there are many on the left who call all 74 million Americans who voted for President Trump white supremacists and everyone who opposes abortion domestic terrorists.
And they’ve been at this for a while.
Remember when the Obama administration circulated a terrorism dictionary in 2009 that described “antiabortion extremism” as “A movement of groups or individuals who are virulently antiabortion and advocate violence against providers of abortion-related services, their employees, and their facilities”? It went on to say that some individuals who oppose abortion “cite various racist and anti-Semitic beliefs to justify their criminal activities.”
In 2012, a Department of Homeland Security threat assessment warned of “single-issue” extremists they described as “groups or individuals that obsessively focus on very specific or narrowly-defined causes (e.g., anti-abortion, anti-Catholic, anti-nuclear, anti-Castro). You can find more examples here.
Words mean whatever the left wants them to mean—and whatever will further their political ambitions. Words are violence, we’re told. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, you’re canceled and sent to the digital gulag (it’s mostly digital—for now).
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, one of the few honest liberals left in America, is a critic of the left and the right alike. He walked away from a plum job at The Intercept last year, citing the website’s censorship of views with which they disagree, including his criticism of then-candidate Joe Biden. He wrote at Substack:
But the pathologies, illiberalism, and repressive mentality that led to the bizarre spectacle of my being censored by my own media outlet are ones that are by no means unique to The Intercept. These are the viruses that have contaminated virtually every mainstream center-left political organization, academic institution, and newsroom. I began writing about politics fifteen years ago with the goal of combatting media propaganda and repression, and — regardless of the risks involved — simply cannot accept any situation, no matter how secure or lucrative, that forces me to submit my journalism and right of free expression to its suffocating constraints and dogmatic dictates.
Greenwald was appalled at Brennan’s comments about libertarians and other verboten people groups. He told Tucker Carlson on Wednesday that “it would be one thing if they were saying, ‘look, there’s a band of people, 20 here, 50 over here, who wear swastikas and armbands, who still are in the KKK, there’s maybe 2,000.’ That’s not what they’re saying. What [Brennan’s] saying is the exact opposite.”
He explained that Brennan is defining “insurgency” as anyone who “has an ideology other than neoliberalism—in other words, other than the ruling class.” The elites in the ruling class, he warned, are about to “congeal and merge with the power of the state.”
It’s a chilling notion, one that is by no means unimaginable.
They are using “the tools that they used to take ISIS off the internet,” Greenwald added. “The tools they used to destroy al-Qaeda.” He said the left is “criminalizing” opposing ideologies.
“There is literally nothing that could be more dangerous and it’s not fearmongering or alarmism to say it,” he declared. “There are bills pending by [Congressman] Adam Schiff, as well, that would simply take the existing War on Terror legislation, always aimed at foreign government and foreign actors, and simply amend it to say that we can now do that in the United States.”
Greenwald wrote at Substack last week that political elites of both parties are using powers they were granted in the wake of 9/11 attacks to silence wrongthinking Americans:
Calls for a War on Terror sequel — a domestic version complete with surveillance and censorship — are not confined to ratings-deprived cable hosts and ghouls from the security state. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Mr. Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.”
Greenwald warned: “That a new War on Terror is coming is not a question of speculation and it is not in doubt. Those who now wield power are saying it explicitly. The only thing that is in doubt is how much opposition they will encounter from those who value basic civic rights more than the fears of one another being deliberately cultivated within us.”
Watch your backs, libertarian friends. It’s only a matter of time until they come for you too—if they haven’t already.