Early Friday, the Politico's Josh Meyer reported that the Department of Homeland Security had formally classified the activities of the left-wing and anarchist-driven movement known as "antifa" as "domestic terrorist violence" — in April 2016. Yes, during the Obama administration, which chose to keep this assessment hidden.
In other words, DHS privately acknowledged for well over a year that antifas are terrorists, while publicly obsessing ad nauseam for years about alleged "right-wing" terrorist threats and virtually pretending that Islamic-driven terrorism doesn't exist. As of late Friday evening, the Associated Press and the New York Times had not deemed this shocking news worthy of mention.
Just last year, a DHS report recommended "rejecting use of Islamic terms such as "jihad' and 'sharia.'" A whistleblower also contends that the agency attempted to scrub records of known jihadists suspected of having terrorist ties.
Now we learn that DHS also knew and was deeply concerned about antifa's violent tendencies, but chose not to tell anyone outside the agency's walls about it.
But even the Politico didn't really get things right, beginning with a headline and subheadline trying to trick readers into believing the DHS's views on antifas is a recent development:
FBI, Homeland Security warn of more ‘antifa’ attacks
Confidential documents call the anarchists that seek to counter white supremacists ‘domestic terrorists.’
There isn't any reason for someone seeing this headline or subheadline to believe that this is a report about warnings raised well over a year ago. But it is:
Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists known as “antifa” had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as “domestic terrorist violence,” according to interviews and confidential law enforcement documents obtained by POLITICO.
Since well before the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly, DHS has been issuing warnings about the growing likelihood of lethal violence between the left-wing anarchists and right-wing white supremacist and nationalist groups.
Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that “anarchist extremists” were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of “the capitalist system,” racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.
This would obviously include the massive public rallies in support of a certain presidential candidate named Donald Trump.
And you had to know this was coming — Meyer found people who blamed Trump for the antifa movement's growth:
In interviews, law enforcement authorities made clear that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and policies — first as a candidate and then as president — helped to create a situation that has escalated so quickly and extensively that they do not have a handle on it.
“It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them,” said one senior law enforcement official tracking domestic extremists in a state that has become a front line in clashes between the groups. “These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people. … They’re using Molotov cocktails, they’re starting fires, they’re throwing bombs and smashing windows.”
Almost immediately, the right-wing targets of the antifa attacks began fighting back, bringing more and larger weapons and launching unprovoked attacks of their own, the documents and interviews show.
Given what we have learned from James O'Keefe's undercover videos about how Democratic Party shadow operatives were behind much of the violence directed at Trump supporters at his rallies, one could surely make the case that the blue-city, blue-state politicians overseeing law enforcement activities didn't mind seeing Trump supporters beaten, pommeled and goaded into occasional violence. I would argue further that many members of the press either knew or should have had strong enough instincts to investigate what was really going on — and didn't, simply because of the imperative (in their minds) of a Hillary Clinton victory over the "obviously" evil Trump.
As to the claims of "people (but obviously not mainstream Trump supporters) fighting back" against antifas before the November 2016 election, my first reaction was to challenge Meyer to name an example. To my surprise, he did, which leads to a far stronger question for the press:
Some of the DHS and FBI intelligence reports began flagging the antifa protesters before the election. In one from last September, portions of which were read to POLITICO, DHS studied “recent violent clashes … at lawfully organized white supremacist” events including a June 2016 rally at the California Capitol in Sacramento organized by the Traditionalist Workers Party and its affiliate, the Golden State Skinheads.
According to police, counter-protesters linked to antifa and affiliated groups like By Any Means Necessary attacked, causing a riot after which at least 10 people were hospitalized, some with stab wounds.
At the Sacramento rally, antifa protesters came looking for violence, and “engaged in several activities indicating proficiency in pre-operational planning, to include organizing carpools to travel from different locations, raising bail money in preparation for arrests, counter-surveilling law enforcement using three-man scout teams, using handheld radios for communication, and coordinating the event via social media,” the DHS report said.
You would think that this Sacramento event, which DHS described as a "riot" and which sent 10 people to the hospital would have gotten saturation news coverage. From all appearances, the answer is no. For what it's worth, I sure don't recall it, and I followed the news quite closely last year. Much of the local and California coverage I did find blamed the violence on "neo-Nazis," which directly contradicts what Meyer reported above and what Breitbart.com's Lee Stranahan claimed a police officer on the scene told him at the time. A further question would concern how many "riots" similar to the one in Sacramento went unreported or under-reported.
So maybe that's the problem, at least for the moment, at the AP, which has no related story at either of its primary sites and the New York Times, which also has nothing. If the nation's primary establishment press gatekeepers allude to the Politico's report, they will really be admitting that they knew about tacitly blue-state/blue-city blessed antifa-instigated violence months before last year's election — and seriously downplayed or ignored it in the name of a Hillary Clinton victory in November.
Further, given their access to government sources in the Obama administration, these outlets' reporters may have known about the hidden DHS report expressing deep concerns about antifa violence and even having tagged them as engaging in "domestic terrorist violence" — and deliberately chose not to report what they knew.
A safe prediction would be that if this matter gets covered at all at either outlet, it will be in a very quiet story released Sunday evening or on the morning or afternoon of the Labor Day holiday.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.