- The Department of Homeland Security published a bulletin Wednesday warning of a continued threat from “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” in the weeks following President Biden’s inauguration.
- The department did not cite any specific threat. It appeared to imply that threats could come from across the political spectrum; however, officials said the main focus of the announcement was on racist extremist groups.
- This is the first warning of domestic extremism DHS has published in recent years. It’s also the first time the department has publicly said the U.S. faces a growing threat from violent extremists following the Capitol insurrection.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rare announcement on Wednesday, warning Americans of a heightened threat from domestic extremists in the weeks following President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Notably, the bulletin did not cite any specific threat, and in a statement to the media DHS officials said they did not have information implying there was a “specific, credible plot.”
However, the warning did note that there could be continued violence from “some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”
DHS seemed to indicate that the threats could come from across the political spectrum, stating that they range from a variety of issues, “including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force.”
The last point appeared to be a nod to left-wing groups that set fires, smashed windows, and had stand-offs with the police in Portland and Seattle following the inauguration.
However, experts have said the main focus of the warning was on racist extremist groups, noting some of the specific language the agency used as well as the fact that it specifically mentioned the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso that targeted Hispanics.
The bulletin is both unusual and significant because while DHS issues a few of these warnings a year, they are almost always focused on international terrorism threats. In fact, according to The Washington Post, records show that there have not been any bulletins warning Americans about violence from domestic extremists in recent years.
This is also the first time DHS has publicly said the U.S. faces a growing threat from violent extremists following the Capitol insurrection. That is especially notable because neither Homeland Security nor the FBI issued similar bulletins before the attack, despite the fact that rioters had openly planned the event online for weeks.
Some have speculated that Wednesday’s bulletin is a reflection of the administration change. Under former President Donald Trump, the department had long been accused of failing to publish reports or warnings about far-right domestic extremists and white supremacist groups.
Even after the department issued a report in September 2019 that specifically flagged white supremacists as a leading domestic terrorism threat, analysts and intelligence officials claimed that the warning had been watered down and delayed.
Some former Trump administration officials have also told reporters in the past that the Trump White House tried to suppress the phrase “domestic terrorism.”
This past September, a top intelligence official claimed that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy had directed him to change intelligence reports to make the threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” and include more information on left-wing groups to align with Trump’s messaging.
Wolf and his second in command denied the accusations, but an intelligence official involved with drafting the Wednesday bulletin told The New York Times that it should have been issued in November when Trump was making false accusations about the election that stirred up far-right groups.
However, during that time, Trump was also firing department officials who he believed were disloyal.
The official also told The Times added that DHS decided to publish the warning now because it was concerned that the peaceful inauguration might create a false sense of security.
Despite the generally quiet on Jan. 20, the official said that “the intent to engage in violence has not gone away” among far-right groups upset by the outcome of the election.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (The Daily Mail) (Insider)
Biden Administration Orders ICE To Halt Workplace Raids
The Department of Homeland Security will now focus on targeting employers who exploit undocumented workers, instead of carrying out raids that dissuade those workers from reporting labor violations.
DHS Reverses Worksite Raid Policy
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it was ordering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to stop workplace raids.
The move marks a reversal from Trump administration policies that have been strongly criticized by immigration activists who argue the efforts created fear in immigrant communities and dissuaded them from reporting labor violations or exploitative employment practices.
In addition to stopping the raids, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memo that the administration will refocus enforcement efforts to instead target “employers who exploit unauthorized workers, conduct illegal activities or impose unsafe working conditions.”
Mayorkas added that the immigration agencies housed in DHS will have the next 60 days to identify harmful existing policies and come up with new ones that provide better deportation protections for workers who report their employers.
In the Tuesday memo, the secretary argued that shift of focus will “reduce the demand for illegal employment by delivering more severe consequences to exploitative employers” and “increase the willingness of workers to report violations of law by exploitative employers and cooperate in employment and labor standards investigation.”
Labor Market Implications
The new policy comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing a critical labor shortage, including in many sectors that rely on immigrant labor.
Some companies that use undocumented workers pay them wages that are far below the market rate, which is not only exploitative but also undercuts competitors.
According to Mayorkas, the pivot to employer-based enforcement will help protect American businesses.
“By exploiting undocumented workers and paying them substandard wages, the unscrupulous employers create an unfair labor market,” he said in the memo. “They also unfairly drive down their costs and disadvantage their business competitors who abide by the law.”
It is currently unclear how effective the new efforts will be, but historical precedent does not paint an optimistic picture.
The Biden administration’s efforts closely mirror a similar move by the Obama administration, which attempted to reverse workplace raids authorized under President George W. Bush by targetting those who employ undocumented workers rather than the workers themselves.
That effort, however, still led to thousands of undocumented workers being fired.