In a quiet response to the Senate Judiciary Committee three days before Christmas, the Biden DOJ says it won't withdraw a controversial memo used to activate the FBI Counterterrorism Division to investigate parents voicing their opposition to a variety of topics - primarily mask and vaccine mandates, and teaching critical race theory.
This week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) revealed the pre-Christmas response - stating:
"[I]n December we asked why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division was getting involved in parents expressing their concerns at school board meetings. Now, just to be crystal clear, there’s no excuse for real threats or acts of violence at school board meetings, but if there are such threats, these should be handled at the local level and the Attorney General should withdraw his memo that started this whole thing.
"Well, a couple days before Christmas, the Justice Department responded to us with just a one-page letter.
"In that letter, DOJ had nothing to say about why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division was involved in local school-board matters. DOJ just said, 'We’re not going to withdraw the memo.' So, the Feds may be keeping track of school board meetings—even if it creates a horrible chilling effect. And, of course the FBI looking over your shoulder would have a chilling effect. Next week the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on domestic terrorism. I hope we’re going to be focusing on the serious threats facing our country—and I hope no one thinks the focus is on our nation’s parents."
The Garland memo
On October 4, AG Merrick Garland issued a memorandum announcing a concentrated effort to target any threats of violence, intimidation, and harassment by parents toward school personnel.
The announcement came came days after the national association of school boards asked the Biden administration to take “extraordinary measures” to prevent alleged threats against school staff that the association said was coming from parents who oppose mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory.
In late October, however, it was revealed that Garland based the memo on unsupported claims made by the National School Boards Association, which apologized for inflammatory language. Garland maintains that the letter had no bearing on the DOJ's stance.
A 'protected disclosure':
In mid-November, House Judiciary Committee Republicans sent a letter to Garland after an FBI whistleblower came forward with "a protected disclosure" - claiming that "the FBI's Counterterrorism Division had been compiling and categorizing threat assessments related to parents, including a document directing FBI personnel to use a specific "threat tag" to track potential investigations."
"This disclosure provides specific evidence that federal law enforcement operationalized counterterrorism tools at the behest of a left-wing special interest group against concerned parents," the letter continues.
This is the smoking gun. Attorney General Garland provided zero evidence that parents are engaging in credible threats or acts of violence. And yet, he mobilized the FBI Counterterrorism Division to use counterterrorism tools for investigating, tracking, and tagging parents. pic.twitter.com/PHpVIqvlBw— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 16, 2021
According to a public statement by Grassley regarding the one-page letter:
"The Department of Justice owes the American people a better answer than just a one-page letter that says nothing about why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division is involved in local school-board matters. Now more than ever, parents should be their kids’ strongest and best advocates. They have the God-given right to do so. And the Justice Department ought to be doing everything it can to protect that right, not scare them out of exercising that right. Attorney General Garland should withdraw his memo. And he should take Congress’s oversight, and concern for the rights of parents, more seriously."
(h/t Sharyl Attkisson)