How Our Oligarchy Crushes Terrorism

A January 26 Wall Street Journal “photo essay” sought to prove that shadowy right-wing groups were responsible for the January 6 riot at the Capitol, and hence to validate the oligarchy’s designation of their conservative opposition as “terrorists.” Out of a photo of hundreds, it circled a member of the “Proud Boys.” He turned out to be one Dominic Pezzola, who was also photographed smoking a cigarette in the Capitol. How did the Journal know? On January 15 the FBI had arrested Pezzola on charges of “conspiracy; civil disorder; unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted buildings or grounds, obstruction of an official proceeding; additional counts of civil disorder and aiding and abetting civil disorder; robbery of personal property of the United States; assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers; destruction of government property; and engaging in physical violence in a restricted buildings or grounds.” One wonders why he and William Pepe, the other “Proud Boy” at the affair, were not also charged with walking on the grass.

The indictment itself says nothing about what role Pezzola and his friend played in the day’s events, nor about who these two are in relation to the millions of conservtive Americans. But, by the way in which the FBI and Justice Department source stories such as those in the Journal and another that appeared in USA Today on January 30, they further the oligarchy’s narrative that the right-wing Proud Boys specifically, and conservatives in general, are responsible for the Capitol riot specifically and terrorism in general.

The role of Antifa and Black Lives Matter in the storming of the Capitol not being our subject here, we note in passing that whereas countless videos show the bulk of Trump-supporting Capitol protesters looking and acting like tourists (and the Capitol Police so treating them) the small number of persons who broke barricades and smashed windows (being black-clad and sporting full face coverings) looked, and acted, indistinguishable from the BLM and Antifa thugs who burned down downtown Minneapolis, Kenosha, and other cities last summer. 

Moreover, dozens of media “fact checks” to the contrary notwithstanding, videos having shown Antifa/BLM activist John Sullivan inciting violence inside the Capitol, the Utah police arrested him. But the FBI has been silent on the subject, and arrested Sullivan quietly, only under pressure.

And yes, there was much online chatter planning the assault days before it happened. But it was on Twitter—where conservative groups increasingly are banned.

What explains the FBI’s knowledge of Pezzola and Pepe, who are insignificant individuals, and its focus on their insignificant organization? The following flips a light switch, especially for those of us familiar with U.S. intelligence. 

On January 27, amidst media consensus that the “Proud Boys” and other right-wing organizations had organized the Capitol riots, a former federal prosecutor turned over federal court proceedings to Reuters showing that the Proud Boys’ national leader, one  Enrique Tarrio, was “an informer for federal and local law enforcement.” But Tarrio was not at the Capitol riot. Nor is there any evidence that anyone in his organization did anything to organize it. This much is clear: the FBI knew everything that this little group was doing, and has had at least some hand in what the Proud Boys have and have not done.

In the 1950s, the FBI used to boast that whenever the Communist Party or one of its front groups met, a majority of attendees were undercover FBI agents. The FBI already knew that the Communists were the enemy. Its infiltrators were there to disrupt and discredit them. Alas, today’s FBI places red-state conservatives in the same category once occupied by the Reds.

This is not to say that the FBI manufactures and runs pseudo-conservative groups so as to discredit conservatives. Not quite. In every way, its undercover agents are pale shadows of what they were in the ’50s. But involvement with infiltrated groups naturally tempts the FBI to control them and even to entrap them. 

The FBI’s increasing preference for political action over bona fide investigations is part of its overall decadence—laziness, incompetence, and eagerness to integrate with the ruling class as much as the CIA. During my years with the Senate Intelligence Committee, I did my best to discourage this corrupt trend.

“Profiling”—socio-political formulae that foreordain the enemy—is the bureaucratic mechanism that ensures the Bureau sheds responsibility, stays on the right side of power, and saves intellectual effort. Like much of what the oligarchy does, it is based on what it claims is “social science”—read: what “everybody” at the A-list dinner party believes. Follow the correct profile and, though you may not always be right, you can never be wrong.

Why did the FBI pay attention to Martha Stewart and not to Jeffery Epstein? Why does it worry about “white supremacists” who have never been videoed burning down a city and not about BLM, whose members did? Perhaps because BLM’s leadership also received more than $1 billion in corporate donations? Why did the FBI crucify Richard Jewell for allegedly having planted a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, an error for which the U.S. government ended up having to pay him millions in damages? Why, contemporaneously with 9/11, when letters containing anthrax were mailed to various American public figures from a place frequented by the 9/11 hijackers, did the FBI refuse to consider that the main known source of weapons-grade anthrax—Iraq—was involved, and instead spent years incompetently trying to railroad American researchers, ending up having to pay damages and leaving the case unsolved ? Because the FBI’s long-standing profile indicts white, conservative Americans.

Penetrating, and otherwise surveilling the target, follows from profiling. Penetration is a legitimate tool of investigation, a bet that undercover agents will find useful truths. But penetration pursuant to profiling becomes a means of manufacturing appearances to validate prejudice. And that naturally leads to using the penetrators to bring forth the behavior that would validate the penetration—in other words, to provocation and to spreading the government’s most convenient lies.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, the FBI penetrated the Trump campaign by vectoring, among others, Stefan Halper, longtime CIA asset, onto Trump aide Carter Page. It tried to maneuver legitimate British students of Russia to give credence to a political narrative that it was concocting along with the Democratic candidate.

This is nothing new. After the 2010 elections in which the Tea Party movement led a popular revolt that deprived the establishment of 63 House and seven Senate seats, the FBI infiltrated dozens of local Tea Party groups. Following my lectures to such groups throughout northern California at the time, a certain type of person I recognized from the FBI academy would ask me questions intended to elicit extremist remarks, or agreement with them. Conversation with them confirmed my impression that their buttocks probably bore the Bureau’s brand.

Now, back to that existential threat to democracy, the “Proud Boys.” Have you, gentle reader, seen any? Do you know of any? Do they mean anything to you or to anyone you know? Since the answer is surely “no,” you must ask why they mean so much to the FBI that they installed one of their assets as their leader. Why? To prevent them from causing any harmful ruckus? 

Led by an FBI informant, the Proud Boys did not, in fact, storm the Capitol. But the presence there of two of its strays was enough to lend a whiff of reality to the narrative of right-wing conspiracy.

We cannot know whether the FBI intended that. But in fact, its involvement in leading the Proud Boys helps the rest of the oligarchy and media to incriminate you and justifies the FBI further to profile, penetrate, and provoke you, the people you see, know, and care about.

Alas, the oligarchy under which we live has decided to treat us as terrorists. That forces us to return the favor.

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About Angelo Codevilla

Angelo M. Codevilla was a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He was professor of international relations at Boston University and the author of several books including To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images