When the history books are written the most significant hallmark of the Biden Administration will be its blatant, unapologetic use of the intelligence and federal law enforcement apparatus to target its political opponents. The decision to label as violent extremists regular Americans engaged in the political process, justifying the use of federal police power emanates from the very top, with Biden himself.
On October 26, while campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, Biden alluded to McAuliffe’s opponent, Glenn Youngkin, saying, “Extremism has come in many forms. It can come in the rage of a mob driven to assault the Capitol. It can come in a smile and a fleece vest,” a reference to Youngkin’s preferred campaign outfit.
Biden’s decision to label Youngkin an extremist isn’t just a backhanded insult. It’s related to the Biden Department of Justice’s decision to target parent protestors at school board meetings as potential “domestic terrorists” following a letter sent by the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The NSBA apparently coordinated the letter with the Justice Department in order to justify federal intervention. The NSBA later walked back the claim, following criticism from multiple affiliated state school board associations and the revelation that one of the media examples the NSBA provided in its letter referred to a father whose daughter was raped in a school girls’ bathroom by a boy wearing a dress.
Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County has been ground zero for contentious protests between parents and the school board over the use of critical race theory in the curriculum as well as the presence of sexually explicit materials in school libraries and transgender policies. The debate has been front and center of rival campaign rhetoric between Youngkin and McAuliffe.
Despite the NSBA’s decision to back away from its description of school parents as “akin to domestic terrorists,” Attorney General Merrick Garland reiterated Biden’s sentiments, even as Republican House and Senate members used hearing opportunities this week to complain about the Justice Department’s heavy-handed approach. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called on Garland to “resign in disgrace.”
Garland continued to defend the use of the Justice Department’s National Security Division to target school board protests claiming it was only focused on issues of violence. Meanwhile, a local parent published on social media pictures of DHS federal protective service vehicles and other unmarked law enforcement vehicles parked outside an entirely peaceful Loudoun County school board protest.
Garland may have a personal interest in targeting school board protests. It was recently revealed that Garland’s son-in-law is the president of Panorama Education. According to the Washington Examiner, Panorama is known for “trainings on systemic oppression, white supremacy, unconscious bias, and intersectionality—all under the rubric of ‘Social-Emotional Learning.’”
Biden’s remarks during the Virginia campaign make clear that the Justice Department’s use of federal law enforcement to chill protected speech—at the very time when the growing outcry by school parents has become a sore spot for McAuliffe—isn’t based on any genuine threat, but instead a cynical willingness to target political opponents under the rubric of “extremism.”
These actions aren’t confined to a few bad Justice Department actors but are clearly at the behest of the White House, for nakedly partisan purposes.
The willingness of the Biden Administration and elements of the federal bureaucracy to redirect intelligence resources to target domestic opponents, and task law enforcement to surveil and investigate those engaged in protected political speech for purely partisan reasons, is creating a critical weakness in the country’s homeland security.
Federal law enforcement and intelligence capability are not endless, and redirecting agents to watch over upset mothers and fathers at a school board meeting results in taking resources away from genuine threats. The Biden Administration is more interested in painting political opponents as terrorists than defending Americans from the potential renaissance of global jihad in the wake of Biden’s incompetent Afghanistan evacuation. And the administration has certainly shown no interest in controlling the southern border against the vicious drug and human trafficking cartels that flood the country with lethal fentanyl.
Cotton is right that Garland should resign in disgrace, but he won’t. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have promised an investigation into the NSBA and its collusion with the Justice Department. While this is worthwhile, it is hardly sufficient. The primary issue is not how the NSBA colluded with the Justice Department to target parents, but that it is doing so at the behest of the president, and for partisan reasons.
Republicans in the Senate should block any Biden Justice Department and DHS nominees who will not publicly denounce this authoritarian behavior. If Biden is going to use these federal agencies to target his political opponents, why should Congress give him the appointees to do it?
As to Biden and Garland, U.S. Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas) has already called for Biden and DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to be impeached for their willful refusal to uphold the law on our southern border.
This latest outrage justifies adding additional charges to the impeachment document and adding Garland to the list under a Republican-held Congress. But even if Biden and his political appointees are held to account, the federal bureaucracy itself must be penalized for indulging in this unconstitutional overreach.
Congress should use the power of the purse to punish the Justice Department, DHS, and other elements of national power that have allowed themselves to be used for ideological thought control. If the Justice Department and DHS have money to spend on surveilling school board protests, they are clearly overfunded. A Republican-held Congress in 2022 should consider cutting their budgets until they squeal for mercy and agree to use their remaining funds for genuine security priorities.
Finally, local law enforcement, especially county sheriffs, should refuse to cooperate with federal investigations designed to chill the free-speech rights of citizens. It is a local, not a federal matter, to keep order at a county school board meeting, and local law enforcement should zealously defend their jurisdictions from federal overreach, going so far as to refuse to participate in joint task forces if they are used to target protesting parents.