The axis of liberal media outlets and their allied activist groups— CNN, NBC News, The Washington Post, Media Matters — are in an angry uproar over a recent report questioning the foreknowledge and involvement of the FBI in the January 6 Capitol riot. As soon as that new report was published on Monday, a consensus instantly emerged in these liberal media precincts that this is an unhinged, ignorant and insane conspiracy theory that deserves no consideration.
The original report, published by Revolver News and then amplified by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, documented ample evidence of FBI infiltration of the three key groups at the center of the 1/6 investigation — the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the Three Percenters — and noted how many alleged riot leaders from these groups have not yet been indicted. While low-level protesters have been aggressively charged with major felonies and held without bail, many of the alleged plot leaders have thus far been shielded from charges.
The implications of these facts are obvious. It seems extremely likely that the FBI had numerous ways to know of any organized plots regarding the January 6 riot (just as the U.S. intelligence community, by its own admission, had ample advanced clues of the 9/11 attack but, according to their excuse, tragically failed to “connect the dots”). There is no doubt that the FBI has infiltrated at least some if not all of these groups — which it has been warning for years pose a grave national security threat — with informants and/or undercover spies. It is known that Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has served as an FBI informant in the past, and the disrupted 2020 plot by Three Percenters members to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) was shaped and driven by what The Wall Street Journal reported were the FBI’s “undercover agents and confidential informants.”
What would be shocking and strange is not if the FBI had embedded informants and other infiltrators in the groups planning the January 6 Capitol riot. What would be shocking and strange — bizarre and inexplicable — is if the FBI did not have those groupsunder tight control. And yet the suggestion that FBI informants may have played some role in the planning of the January 6 riot was instantly depicted as something akin to, say, 9/11 truth theories or questions about the CIA’s role in JFK’s assassination or, until a few weeks ago, the COVID lab-leak theory: as something that, from the perspective of Respectable Serious Circles, only a barely-sane, tin-foil-hat-wearing lunatic would even entertain.
This reaction is particularly confounding given how often the FBI did exactly this during the first War on Terror, and how commonplace discussions of this tactic were in mainstream liberal circles. Over the last decade, I reported on countless cases for The Guardian and The Intercept where the FBI targeted some young American Muslims they viewed as easily manipulated — due to financial distress, emotional problems, or both — and then deployed informants and undercover agents to dupe them into agreeing to join terrorist plots that had been created, designed and funded by the FBI itself, only to then congratulate themselves for breaking up the plot which they themselves initiated. As I asked in one headline about a particularly egregious entrapment case: “Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?”
In 2011, Mother Jones published an outstanding, lengthy investigation by reporter Trevor Aaronson, entitled “The Informations,” which asked: “The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?” Aaronson covered numerous similar cases for The Intercept where the FBI designed, directed and even funded the terror plots and other criminal rings they then boasted of disrupting. A widely praised TEDTalk by Aaronson, which, in the words of organizers, “reveals a disturbing FBI practice that breeds terrorist plots by exploiting Muslim-Americans with mental health problems,” featured this central claim: “There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI.”
So far from being some warped conspiracy theory, that the FBI purposely targets vulnerable people and infiltrates groups in order to create attacks and direct targets to engage in them is indisputably true, well established, and a commonly reported fact in mainstream liberal media. Exactly that has been happening for decades.
Yet the DNC-loyal sector of the corporate media reacted to the Revolver News article and Carlson’s segment which raised these questions as though they were positing something that no sentient being could possibly regard as viable. CNN — which spent years leading its viewers to believe that the Kremlin controlled the U.S. Government through sexual and financial blackmail — published what they labeled a “fact-check” that denounced this as a “haywire theory” that “is nothing more than a conspiratorial web of unproven claims, half-truths and inaccurate drivel about perceived bombshells in court filings.”
As it usually does, The Washington Post — which told Americans that Russians had invaded the U.S. electricity grid and that a huge army of Kremlin-loyal American writers was shaping our discourse — echoed the instant CNN/liberal consensus by mocking it as “Tucker Carlson’s wild, baseless theory,” claiming that “it’s the kind of suggestion journalists in other organizations would quite possibly be fired for if they sought to push it nearly as hard.” The standard liberal blob of HuffPost/ DailyBeast/ BusinessInsider all recited from the herd script. “A laughable conspiracy theory,” chortled The Huffington Post, who has done more to help the FBI find citizens allegedly at the Capitol riot than any local law enforcement agency.
What accounts for this furious liberal #Resistance to questioning the FBI’s role in the January 6 riot and asking whether there are vital facts that are being concealed? There was one minor analytical flaw in both the Revolver News article and Carlson segment that they seized on by pretending that it was central to the question rather than what it was: a completely ancillary distraction. It is true that it is highly unlikely, probably close to impossible, that the FBI would refer to someone they were directing or collaborating with as an “unindicted co-conspirator” because, by definition, someone working at the behest of the FBI would not be a “conspirator” in a plot since they would lack the necessary intent to forward that plot (their intent, instead, is to tell the FBI what is being plotted). CNN hauled out some career federal prosecutor and current corporate lawyer, their “Senior Legal Analyst” Elie Honig, to spend five minutes pretending that this single-handedly destroys the case.
But rather than some devastating theory-destroying point, this is ultimately irrelevant to the evidence marshaled by Revolver News. While it is true that “unindicted co-conspirator” almost certainly does not refer to FBI informants or operatives, the numerous references to Person-1, Person-2, etc. very well could [indeed, in the case of the FBI-directed plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer, CHS-1, CHS-2, etc. (confidential human source) is how the FBI informants driving that plot were referenced]. These are common tactics that the FBI uses to reference the acts of their own unindicted informants without revealing their identity. And while some of the unnamed-but-referenced people in the charging documents are known (one is the spouse one of those charged), several are not.
The questions raised by the Revolver News reporting, which none of these smug FBI defenders and guardians of the liberal consensus can answer, remain:
- How is it remotely credible that the FBI did not have informants in these three groups that they have been identifying as major threats for years, especially given the reporting that the leader of the Proud Boys — conveniently arrested the day before January 6 — was an FBI informant in the past, along with the confirmed reporting that the FBI had multiple informants in the Michigan Three Percenters case?
- Why are low-level protesters being charged with major crimes while the alleged organizers of this riot and the leaders of these groups have not been?
- Why are enormous amounts of video surveillance footage from January 6 still being concealed?
- What happened to the alleged planting of pipe bombs near the Capitol?
- Why did the FBI not take more aggressive action given the once-denied but now-confirmed fact that the social media platform Parler sent the FBI advanced warnings of specific plots to use violence at the Capitol?
If the FBI had advanced knowledge of what was being plotted yet did nothing to stop the attack, it raises numerous possibilities about why that is. It could be that they just had yet another “intelligence failure” of the kind that they claimed caused them to miss the 9/11 attack and therefore need massive new surveillance authorities, budget increases, and new Patriot-Act-type laws to fix it. It could be that they allowed the riot to happen because they did not take it seriously enough or because some of them supported the cause behind it, or because they realized that there would be benefits to the security state if it happened. Or it could be that they were using those operatives under their control to plot with, direct, and drive the attack — as they have done so many times in the past — and allowed it to happen out of either negligence or intent.
Nobody is claiming to know the answers to those questions, including Revolver News, Carlson, or anyone else. Instead, they are doing the work of actual journalists — pointing out the gaping holes in the public record about what we do and do not know about an event that is being exploited to launch a new domestic War on Terror, prompt massive new police and security state spending, and empower and justify new domestic surveillance and censorship authorities. Anyone not asking these questions or, worse, trying to delegitmize them, is a propagandist and has no business calling themselves a journalist.
But why does this description apply to so many in the undifferentiated liberal corporate media blob, the employees who work for media corporations and barely pretend any longer to conceal their DNC-supporting posture? One answer is that, as a result of the Trump years, they now revere security state institutions like the FBI and CIA, and are thus reflexively angered by suggestion that these agencies may be less than truthful in their statements and less than honorable in their conduct:
But the primary reason is that their newsrooms are filled with former FBI operatives, CIA agents, and other former employees of the security state. CNN has more FBI agents and federal prosecutors working for it than anyone outside of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters in Washington. When they go to analyze any matters involving the FBI, they rely on career FBI agents and officials to tell them what to think. And you’ll never guess what these FBI operatives tell them: trust the FBI; only malicious conspiracists wonder if the FBI is lying and has been engaged in treachery; those who malign the FBI are liars. Here is just one of CNN’s countless FBI operatives doing her job:
In virtually every segment that they have done since the Revolver News article was published, CNN, in order to angrily mock questions about the FBI, brings on FBI officials like former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — who got caught lying to the FBI and barely escaped prosecution for it — to insist that the honorable agency would never do any such thing:
CHRIS CUOMO: Let’s talk about what is true, and not true, in this scenario. Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
“Person one, person two, unindicted co-conspirator, those are you guys. Those are – those are Feds, undercover.” What’s the reality?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: The reality, Chris, is that we’re going to – we’re going to go into, very briefly, a little law lesson here, because I am convinced that your viewers are smarter than Tucker Carlson.
Just think about a purported news outlet saying this: Let’s talk about what is true, and not true, in this scenario. Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
While MSNBC prefers ex-CIA officials like John Brennan, CNN is practically overrun with former FBI officials, agents and operatives. But NBC News is also the home to FBI caricatures like this:
Look at these FBI cartoons these media corporations employ. Then they haul them out to tell everyone that only malignant conspiracists and insane losers would ponder the possibility that the FBI was engaged in deceit or other forms of manipulation regarding an event that has taken on central importance in their quest for more power and money. And their liberal viewers and the liberal journalists who watch these networks nod in agreement because they think they are hearing from the real, honest experts: the security state agents they have been trained to revere.
But all the mockery in the world does not make these questions disappear. Of course the FBI was infiltrating the groups they claim were behind these attacks. There may be good reasons why that did not enable the FBI to stop this riot or why they have not yet indicted these ringleaders. But those answers are not yet known. And gullible conspiracists are not the ones who want answers to these questions but, instead, are the ones doing everything possible to protect the FBI from having to provide them.
Published @ Sub Stack
Author: Glenn Greenwald is a Journalist and co-founder of Sub Stack, The Intercept; author, No Place to Hide and forthcoming book on Brazil; animal fanatic & founder of HOPE Shelter. In 1996, he founded his own law firm, which concentrated on First Amendment litigation. He began blogging on national security issues in October 2005, while he was becoming increasingly concerned with what he viewed to be attacks on civil liberties.
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