After U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently laid out the Justice Department’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism,” citizens should be alarmed by the constitutionality of the Biden administration’s hunt for loosely defined “domestic terrorists.” The strategy is being utilized as a “political weapon” to silence and “bludgeon” political opponents, according to Nicholas Giordano, a professor of political science and host of The P.A.S. Report.
On Sunday, Giordano joined Steve Malzberg on his Eat the Press weekly commentary show to discuss the release of the Justice Department dossier, as well as the media’s lack of interest in it.
Last month, the Justice Department unveiled a new “national strategy” aimed at fighting domestic terrorism, and A.G. Merrick Garland said its purpose is “to coordinate and provide a principled path for the federal government’s efforts to counter the heightened domestic terrorism threat using all available tools.”
“It is the culmination of an effort undertaken at the president’s direction by federal agencies all across the government,” he added.
Describing his concerns over the recent strategy, Giordano explained the document’s ambiguity was most worrisome.
“This document refers to ideas of anti-government, anti-authority, that they don’t define within the document, but they say that that could be classified as ‘domestic terrorism,’” he said.
“So if you criticize the government, if you criticize government policies, that could be a consideration to be labeled as a ‘domestic terrorist,’” he added, “and it says, ‘anyone that incites domestic terrorism,’ and once again we see there’s no definition towards incitement.”
Addressing recent sentiment depicting the American flag as a hate symbol or how waving one could now be considered “incitement,” the professor warned of the dossier’s use as a “political weapon.”
“This is used as nothing more than a political weapon to bludgeon political opponents,” he said. “That’s what this document is going to be used for and everyone should be concerned regardless of political party.”
He then began analyzing key points of the document.
“If you look at pillar one, of the way they say they’re going to ‘tackle domestic terrorism,’ you’ll see that they enlist the social media companies, they enlist big tech, they enlist corporations in the financial sector, as the eyes and ears of the government,” he said.
Giordano then noted the ease the government will have in obtaining information from social media platforms.
“It’s much more difficult for the government to go out and get a warrant if someone posts something, however, it’s much easier just to ask these companies to turn over the information and these companies freely comply with that,” he said.
“So there’s really no separation between big tech and the government. They’re working hand in hand with one another,” he added.
Addressing yet another of the strategy’s pillars, which “explains the control of the supply and demand of information that’s online” and is where the government “is now seeking to control the narrative” online as it seeks “to determine what can and cannot be seen,” Giordano was most disturbed by the lack of any meaningful resistance.
“That’s what’s so alarming about this,” he said, “and we’re not seeing any pushback come from a lot on the left, but even Republicans aren’t even pushing back.”
Asked if he was surprised that Facebook has asked users to inform it if they are aware of anyone who may be turning “extremist,” Giordano replied that he was not “because this is the path we’ve been going down” for years.
“Listen, if you would have told me two years ago that a lot of what we’re seeing today was going on, I would have said, ah I think it’s a little far-fetched. I don’t think it’ll go that far,” he admitted.
“However, given everything that’s taken place over the last year and a half between the government and these private companies, no,” he added.
He then explained that he was mostly alarmed because of the one-sidedness of the strategy.
“I am alarmed [and] I am troubled because it’s clear that it’s only one side that’s being targeted,” he said, “and I just say to all my friends on the left all my Democrat friends: ‘What happens when Republicans get in power? They could simply take out all the references to the right and just put in references to the left and how would you feel then?’”
Giordano addressed recent allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been using information to gain leverage and threaten opposition journalists and others who criticize the Biden administration, including allegations by Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he has been targeted.
“What amazes me is how many journalists are simply going along with the NSA line,” he said, “which shows you that a lot in the media has become nothing more than a mouthpiece of our government.”
Noting that journalists have been spied upon in the past, Giordano expressed his conviction that claims of such actions taking place today should not be dismissed.
“If we go back to 2013, we know that journalists were spied on; James Rosen was spied on; we know that the AP was spied on; Sharyl Attkisson was spied on; we also have sitting members of the United States Senate who were spied on by the CIA,” he said.
“So to say that Tucker Carlson’s claims are far-fetched is actually far from the truth,” he added. “His claims are actually spot on because we know that the NSA has the capabilities to surveil [and conduct] mass surveillance of Americans.”
Giordano accused the NSA of abusing its power, adding that “we know that [former Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper directly lied — committed perjury — before Congress when he said the NSA doesn’t spy on Americans; meanwhile they’ve been collecting all metadata for years.”
Asked about a possible “legal remedy,” Giordano claimed he had a good understanding of the Supreme Court, the court system, and government.
“Unfortunately, most people cannot fight back against this because what happens is, first you have to be targeted and you have to know you’re being targeted, and that’s difficult,” he said.
“Then once you know you’re being targeted and you take it to court, unfortunately, the courts have given so much deference to the intelligence community and the government bureaucracy as a whole, that they pretty much always side with the government bureaucracy,” he continued.
He also noted the financial burden involved in fighting back.
“In addition, the government has deep pockets, never-ending pockets, of our taxpayer money, and so most ordinary Americans — most Americans period — don’t have the financial means to hire a lawyer and actually fight this and see it through,” he said.
Calling for “oversight,” Giordano blamed both sides of the political spectrum for overlooking the matter.
“The remedy is actually [that] the people we elect have oversight over these institutions. The remedy is congress, and this is where I say that both Republicans and Democrats are guilty,” he said.
“We’ve known the flaws have existed for several years, and when Devin Nunes — Congressman Nunes — was going after the FISA court because he saw the abuses he still pushed through the FISA bill without any reforms, and it’s a big problem,” he added.
Last month, Giordano warned that the strategy’s text, which he referred to as “one of the most concerning” he has ever studied, indicates that even the most casual critics of the Biden administration could potentially face punishment.
Despite the Biden administration’s unveiling of the 32-page summary of its national strategy for countering domestic terrorism, the Defense Department has yet to provide a definition for “extremism,” though it is working “quite hard” to define it, according to senior Biden administration officials.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.