How I Got Classified as an Anti-Government Domestic Extremist

The Biden Administration recently released its National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. After reading the fact sheet, which was a bit disconcerting, I downloaded the full National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism document. By the time I finished reading, I was shocked. Evidently, President Biden thinks I am an anti-government domestic extremist. But that’s not all. Almost all of my friends and most of the people in the small Southern community where I live are anti-government domestic extremists, too. 

So, let’s unpack this “anti-government domestic extremist” business. An integral part of the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism is an intelligence community assessment published in March. Having spent some time in the intelligence community, I was puzzled as to how agencies with the mission of foreign intelligence collection—and which are statutorily and explicitly restricted from conducting domestic intelligence operations—are now writing Intelligence Community Assessments on U.S. citizens residing on U.S. soil. Notwithstanding the troubling legal aspects, the assessment also lacked evidence to back up its broad assertions that America’s greatest threat comes from domestic extremists.  

The strategy document claims to focus on unlawful violence from domestic extremists who pose a threat to public safety. The reality is there isn’t that much politically motivated domestic extremist violence happening in United States. Sure, there are countless FBI-manufactured plots and Homeland Security fever dreams of internet chatter to scare the public. But if one excludes Black Lives Matter and Antifa, actual political violence incidents, in a country of 330 million people, are a statistical anomaly. The extremely rare occurrences—the report mentions six over a 26-year period (including a Black Lives Matter activist misidentified as an anti-government extremist—does not make a domestic terrorism pandemic. 

Since our national security warriors need a domestic enemy, they have decided to focus on noncriminal (or, at best, pre-criminal) thoughts and intentions of that enemy. In other words, the national security apparatus plans to decide who will commit violence in the future, and then act against those individuals or groups to “disrupt” their plans. 

I’d feel a little better about this idea if this same national security apparatus had not failed to connect the dots on everything from the fall of the Soviet Union to 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombers, and the ISIS Pulse nightclub attack—while simultaneously entrapping mentally challenged homeless people into fake terrorism plots designed, funded, and led by FBI agents and informants.

Like a scene out of “Minority Report,” the new focus on thought crimes, and the use of private-sector contractors to monitor citizens’ political activities, seems less about countering the rare political violence in America than it is about suppressing dissent from the current administration’s political and cultural ideology. 

As we discovered with the PATRIOT Act, abstract initiatives like this—with overly broad definitions and objectives—always mean more surveillance, more government intrusion into constitutionally protected activities, and more curtailment of civil liberties. 

Slippery Definitions

The strategy document starts out discussing domestic terrorism but quickly moves to using the term domestic violent extremists—who may or may not explicitly espouse violence. The extremist classification is further degraded to include self-proclaimed militias and a variety of individuals who may or may not oppose government authority. 

Eventually the document does away with terms such as terrorism and violent extremists altogether, and talks about “identifying potential threats,” or “evolving threats” of “potential violence,” and “indicators and warnings of preparation for potential violence.” It is one thing to be a terrorist—that is a pretty hard-wired definition—but it’s an extremely subjective judgment as to whether an American is a ”potential threat,” an “evolving threat,” or is “preparing for potential violence.” 

The strategy document goes on to define domestic violent extremists as individuals who entertain “dangerous conspiracy theories” regarding perceived federal government overreach and corruption, harbor beliefs about election fraud in the 2020 election, and fail to accept the establishment narrative regarding COVID-19. 

There are also “racially and ethnically motivated domestic violent extremists,” who allegedly hold racist or bigoted beliefs. Exactly what defines these racist and bigoted beliefs, however, is not specified. Fortunately, Homeland Security’s own critical race theory training program defines it for us as “people who attempt to treat people equally, regardless of race,” as well as the “denial of racism.” 

Worse, the report also claims—without any supporting evidence—that these racial extremists have transnational connections (to whom?), which make them even more dangerous. Of course, this mysterious transnational nexus may just be a pretext for the national security apparatus to “bring to bear relevant authorities and tools specifically focused on international terrorism.”

Then there are the supposed multitudes of militia domestic violent extremists who, according to the document, are frequently attacking law enforcement personnel and government facilities. (I must have missed that in my daily news feed.) There are even droves of involuntarily celibate domestic violent extremists who are motivated to violence by their lack of sex. 

Evidently, it is not necessary for “extremists” to belong to an extremist group or believe in a specific ideology, which means they could be anyone—your neighbors, your coworkers, even members of your own family. According to the strategy document, these “lone wolves,” who radicalize rapidly through internet “misinformation,” are seemingly normal people who suddenly turn to violence, á la “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” This lone-wolf category means everyone is suspect and will therefore need to be closely monitored for wrong-think and risky behavior such as firearms ownership, weekend camping expeditions, and exceptional deference to individual liberty

We’re What Now?

I have never thought of myself as an anti-government domestic extremist. Mostly because I am not antigovernment, nor an extremist, and I have never entertained ideas of overthrowing our government. I am not an advocate of political violence, having witnessed the tragic results of it first-hand in our forever wars. I also spent 30 years serving my country in the military and federal government, although I guess that in itself is now a scary indicator of domestic extremism. I am proud to come from a family of multiple generations who served in the military and federal government. 

All that said, I am concerned with the countless incidents of overreach by our federal government. The illegal use of FISA Section 702 databases by the FBI to spy on innocent Americans and the fabrication of FISA applications to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign are simply unacceptable to me. The national security state’s participation in the Russian collusion lie and the despicable frame-up and political prosecution of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn have diminished my faith in institutions such as the Department of Justice, FBI, and CIA. I am not comfortable with political protesters of any persuasion being held in solitary pre-trial confinement for misdemeanor charges. The Fauci email fiasco and subsequent flip-flop on SARS-Cov-2 lab leak theory make me question the narrative surrounding COVID-19. I am also not happy that the National Institutes of Health was using my tax dollars to fund gain-of-function research on coronaviruses in a Chinese virology institute known for its work in Chinese military bioweapons research. Many of my friends and colleagues have similar concerns. 

Suffice it to say, I am disappointed in our federal government. I expect we can do better. As a citizen—one of the people from whom the government supposedly derives its legitimacy—I would like my government to be more efficient, honest, and accountable, and less partisan. Amazingly, these are dangerous ideas to speak about now, yet I am willing to risk the consequences. And for that, according to the White House’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, I am a potential domestic extremist.

The small Southern community I live in is made up of working-class families, farmers, tradesmen, and the like. It overwhelmingly voted for President Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections. There were definitely a lot of Trump flags and MAGA bumper stickers during the election season and it is safe to say that it is a mostly conservative community.

Talking with folks at the local grocery, hardware, and feed stores, I found most of them are also unhappy with the current administration in Washington, D.C.. Many of them believe there was some element of fraud in the last election, and I have yet to find anyone who has faith in what they consider a politically-motivated, multi-tiered justice system. Opinions about the conduct of institutions like the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community use words that range from “suspect” to “treasonous.” I haven’t yet met anyone who thinks critical race theory is acceptable in the workplace or the schools. 

And, for that, according to the White House’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, they are also potential domestic extremists.

In the Crosshairs

The National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism has garnered little attention outside of civil liberties advocates and independent journalists like Glenn Greenwald. Mostly, it has been overshadowed by the continuous daily stream of outrage and craziness coming from the political scene in Washington. I wish more Americans would take notice of this new strategy document because it reveals the Biden Administration plainly putting their political opponents in the crosshairs. 

I spent the large part of my career in military special operations units and intelligence agencies tracking down foreign terrorists and threats to America. I came away from that experience with the knowledge that when the United States of America declares you to be the most dangerous threat it faces, your life is about to drastically change for the worse. The Biden regime has just explicitly told conservative and independent Americans that they are that threat. 

Now that the regime has made that clear, citizens should mobilize their elected representatives at both the state and federal levels to push back against this domestic terrorism strategy. At the state level, elected officials should use their considerable constitutional authority to resist the administration’s plans. 

The alarming presumptions about criminal thoughts and motivations are likely unconstitutional, and should undergo rigorous scrutiny by the relevant oversight bodies. And Congress, instead of enacting new laws to authorize this dystopian overreach, should explicitly forbid it, for this administration and every one after.

If not, then we should all prepare ourselves for what comes next.


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About Max Morton

Max Morton is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, former CIA paramilitary operations officer, and a veteran of multiple armed conflicts, revolutions, and contingency operations.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images