The documents also point to potential loopholes in the Select Committee’s January 6 investigation, uncovering concerns about a company that is unknown. And these documents point to a new challenge for law enforcement after January. Era 6: How to Track Extremist Organizing on a Variety of Low Profile Platforms.
Two other previously unpublished government documents that were examined by POLITICO – one of them was reported by ABC News – Disclose more about the increasingly complex work in the pursuit of extremism and the concern these efforts create among advocates of civil liberties. Property of the people, a national security watchdog group, obtained the documents through open file inquiries as part of their investigation into the January 6 attack. The group has also received records showing that hundreds of law enforcement officers have planned in advance if January 6th turns into a mass event, and that an FBI bomb analyst warned her staff that #StopTheSteal could become violent.
Both iCOP bulletins are dated January 11th. They circulated in law enforcement circles, including information-sharing centers called fusion centers that link federal agencies with their state and local partners. One of the reports highlights tweets from two users about January 6th.
One of the tweets from the Czech company Intelligence X announced the creation of a system that would allow people to share pictures and videos of the attack on the Capitol. Another tweet from an account called “@donk_enby” said it had a link to every Parler post made during the uprising.
Access to these Parler posts was a focus of law enforcement as the attackers had extensive discussions on the platform on January 6, prior to the attack, about the use of violence that day. But, as the iCOP bulletin noted, major tech companies stopped providing services to Parler after the attack because of violent content. The social network then went offline.
The iCOP bulletin implied that the disappearance of all of these posts could pose a hurdle to law enforcement efforts to prevent future violence – and that the archive created by @donk_enby could be a useful resource.
“Although Parler is currently inactive and inaccessible, the efforts of ‘@donk_enby’, Intelligence X, and public data contributions can help law enforcement agencies analyze and identify parties involved in the US Capitol protests,” it said the bulletin. “The archived information can help in the possible containment of future violent protests.”
Peter Kleissner, the CEO of Intelligence X, said he was unaware that the Post had disseminated information through his archives.
“Our intent behind the archive is to ensure that these important pictures and videos of this event are not lost and that evidence is preserved,” he wrote via email. “This archive is not only important for short-term use in order to hold rioters accountable, but also for future generations in the long term.”
The second iCOP Bulletin is entitled “Nationwide Coordination of Militia Groups and Threats by Nancy Pelosi”. It went to a website called givemebass.com and said one post was “directly linked to the website’s founder”. [sic]“Threatened the spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The bulletin contained a picture that read, “DEMAND PELOSI BE EXECUTED SHE TRIED TO COME BETWEEN OUR POTUS OF NUCLEAR CODES [sic]. ”
The Postal Service bulletin raised concerns that someone was using givemebass.com to coordinate national militias.
“The Wimkin account ‘Vik Freeman’ advertised the website ‘givemebass'[.]com ‘as a portal for communication and coordination published on several militia sites on Wimkin, ”the bulletin reads.
Chip Gibbons, the policy director of Defending Rights & Dissent, said the document points to the growing overlap between intelligence gathering and law enforcement work – especially as the link between the January 6 attacks and the postal service seems tenuous at best.
“Law enforcement and intelligence apparatus raise serious constitutional questions, serious questions for our democracy,” he said. “It is beyond their jurisdiction as I understand it.”
“The FBI handles domestic terrorism while the Post – I don’t even know how they are involved,” he added.
A spokesman for the US Postal Inspection Service said the agency was reviewing public social media posts as part of a “comprehensive security and threat assessment.”
“News coverage and social media activity help protect the 644,000 men and women who work for the postal service by ensuring they can avoid potentially volatile situations as they work day-to-day to process and deliver the country’s mail “Said the spokesman.
The USPS covert operations program attracted attention in April when Yahoo! reported in a bulletin It posted about anti-lockdown and anti-5G protests in March. This bulletin, citing social media posts, raised concerns on Capitol Hill. Members of the House’s oversight committee asked the Inspector General of the Postal Service to investigate the program and see if any analysts were conducting illegal surveillance there Yahoo! also reported.
These new materials, along with two other documents, illustrate the growing complexity of this work. A report from March 29th from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis said violent militia extremists “actively cover up their online social media activities” in order to promote violence, track down other violent extremists and share tactics.
“In 2020, MVEs have been using or expressing interest in various more secure and often encrypted messaging applications – including Zello, Telegram, Signal and Threema – to discuss operational activities, according to the FBI and open source reports,” it said in the DHS report.
The report also states that social media companies are focusing on “overt threats of violence” when removing content. It added that if US government officials worked with the private sector to develop “operational planning and recruitment” indicators, they would help these companies understand how militia extremists handle their terms of service. The report also said that such engagement could help US officials identify and disrupt extremist efforts.
The DHS report also cites the FBI’s coverage of posts made on social media by militia extremists in the months leading up to the January 6 attack. It specifically mentions the FBI’s reporting of posts in July, August, and October 2020. Following the January 6 attack, FBI Director Chris Wray asked several questions about FBI social media surveillance at congressional hearings. as described by Lawfare. He and others have signaled that the FBI’s internal rules for monitoring social media helped keep them from predicting the violence.
“We can’t … just sit and watch social media and watch someone’s posts … just in case,” he said in a hearing.
However, the DHS report indicates that the FBI collected information that militia extremists released in the months leading up to the January 6 attack. This is noteworthy as militia extremists were among those who attacked the Capitol. The DHS report doesn’t say whether the FBI collected these month-long social media posts before or after January 6, and it doesn’t say how the FBI heard about the posts.
Mike German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former FBI agent focused on domestic terrorism, said he believes the FBI’s counter-terrorism efforts overemphasize social media.
“A lot of people on the internet say things that are really scary, and if law enforcement agencies use their resources to focus on them, it could explain why so much of this violence that takes place on the streets is not monitored because it is use their search resources to spread bad words online, ”he said.
German said he thinks the FBI should focus its resources more on investigating violent crimes committed by right-wing extremists rather than trying to use their social media posts to predict which ones will turn violent.
And those social media posts are still abundant, despite the efforts of the largest mainstream social media companies to clean up extremist content. Corresponding a January 15 report from the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange, a center for sharing information, domestic extremists migrated to alternative platforms after Jan 6.
“To avoid censorship and maintain their online presence, DVEs of different ideologies began migrating to existing alternative platforms such as MeWe, Telegram, Gab, Clouthub, Minds and TikTok,” the Florida report said. “Popular message boards like 4chan and 8kun also saw an increase in users.”
The same report states that individuals associated with the Boogaloo movement – a loosely organized movement of anti-government extremists who believe civil war is imminent – “have started migrating to alternative platforms and are currently on Telegram, MeWe , Minds and TikTok can be found. This migration came after social media networks started removing Boogaloo content after several people linked to the movement were arrested. The report found that the number of Boogaloo hashtags and accounts on Twitter was growing and that Boogaloo-related accounts were still active on TikTok, even though they are “harder to find due to the shadow ban.”
The report added details on shadowbanning: “When a channel is shadowbanned, the content will be blocked and a name and / or hashtag search will not produce any results,” it said. “Shadowbanning has no impact on the channel’s subscribers. In addition, new users can still find and join these channels by clicking on hashtags shared by other TikTok users who have subscribed to them. ”
A TikTok spokesperson said the platform will delete Boogaloo accounts if it identifies them.