It’s no secret that the Biden administration has been woefully incompetent when it comes to protecting pro-lifers following the leak of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision in early May, and after it was officially released in late June. Not even conservative justices were safe, as the administration supported illegal protests outside of their homes, which are still going on. Someone wanted to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and likely more conservative justices. Pro-life organizations, pregnancy centers, and Catholic Churches have also been targeted with vandalism and even violence. It just adds insult to injury that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was monitoring social media posts in the days following the June 24 decision.
The department didn’t waste any time once it was made official that Roe v. Wade was being overturned. According to Yahoo! News, which obtained the DHS bulletin, the document was put into place on June 26:
The June 26, 2022, document circulated days after the Roe decision was produced by the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis and provides updates on what each part of the office is doing in the wake of the SCOTUS decision. “[The Office of Intelligence and Analysis] will continue to monitor this event for any additional information, social media reactions, reflections, and possible threats of violence in response to this event,” it states.
A DHS official said the agency is allowed to collect online posts that would normally be considered protected speech if it determines there is a larger potential national security threat.
The bulletin has been covered as a Senate report from Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) also reportedly finds that the DHS ad FBI is failing to address domestic terrorism. Such a finding is somewhat ironic, given that the administration has reportedly directed these agencies to inflate numbers of domestic extremism.
Yahoo!’s coverage mostly addresses concerns to do with civil liberties:
In response to a request from Peters for more information, DHS said that it had “expanded its evaluation of online activity as part of efforts to assess and prevent acts of violence, in ways that ensure robust protections for Americans’ privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties,” according to the Senate report.
But the monitoring of social media reflections and reactions appears to contradict DHS’s claims.
The report also calls on agencies to develop guidance that “must comply with protections in federal law and constitutional limitations, including the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and the agencies should be transparent about what data they use regarding social media.”
Civil liberties advocates said they were alarmed to learn that DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis is monitoring protected speech.
The former head of DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis told Yahoo News it’s critical that those doing this work know the difference between protected speech and a potential threat.
“Efforts to prevent acts of targeted violence benefit significantly when law enforcement or security officials evaluate content on violent extremist or other threat actor online forums,” said John Cohen, former DHS acting undersecretary of intelligence and analysis. “The challenge is that analysts must distinguish between protected speech and threat-related activity.”
DHS’s Office of Inspector General issued several reports this year detailing issues with the way the department collects open-source information, including social media posts.
On July 6, the inspector general issued a report titled, “The Office of Intelligence and Analysis Needs to Improve Its Open Source Intelligence Reporting.”
“Even after their initial training, collectors we spoke with were not certain whether, in their day-to-day operations, they adhered to privacy protections and protected speech,” it states.
There’s no mention in the report, though, of how pro-lifers have been affected. In addition to the violence and vandalism targeting the movement, pro-life activists have been targeted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and prosecuted under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
Republicans in both chambers sent letters demanding answers, especially when it comes to the dramatic fashion in which pro-life activists have been arrested, such as with multiple agents pointing guns at them and their family members.
This includes Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), whose party will be in control of the House come a new Congress in January. In a statement to Townhall about the bulletin, the congressman pointed out that “DHS will monitor your Twitter account, but won’t protect pro-life organizations and churches from violent ‘protesters’ or secure the border,” which he called “ridiculous.”
In July, during a pro-abortion House Judiciary Committee hearing, Jordan, as the ranking member, spent his opening statements highlighting the examples of violence and vandalism of such organizations and institutions being targeted.
While Democratic members may want to engage in whataboutism, a report from the Crime Prevention Resource Center (CPRC) found that there had been 135 incidents against pro-lifers from May 3 until September 24, and six against the other side. Pro-lifers were targeted at the rate of 22 times more.
As of November 2, the Family Research Council (FRC) found that there have been 122 incidents against pro-lifers.
More recently, Director Wray, as well as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. The targeting of pro-lifers, as well as violent incidents against pro-lifers, was addressed. In response, Director Wray communicated that he “firmly believed the FBI is going about its work going about the right thing in the right way.” He also emphasized that “I don’t care what side of the issue you’re on, you don’t get to engage in violence, and we are equal opportunists when it comes to that and shared that there are open investigations against violent pro-abortion extremists to claim “we take it very seriously.”
Such assurances come amidst low confidence in the DOJ and FBI with it being regarded as so partisan and politicized.
These assurances look to be further cheapened not just by Director Wray’s own venting about his “frustration” with what he claims is misreporting, but because a report from House Judiciary Republicans alleged corruption and politicization, according to FBI whistleblowers.