TBR News November 3, 2018

Nov 03 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. November 3, 2018:” The Swastika over Washington

A number of White House staff members have commented on Donald Trump’s nasty racist remarks. He does not make these on his childish Twitter posts or for the media, but his use of the ‘nigger’ word is common. Trump detests anyone who is not a northern European Protestant and is deliberately stirring up the far right and expressing pleasure at the various attacks on minorities. While it is not generally known to the public, Trump was a very active supporter of the late Willis Carto, a very well-known racist and publisher of the American Free Press. Through Carto, Trump met with leading figures of Carto supporters and donated large sums of money to Liberty Lobby, the AFP and to Carto himself. The public is now seeing the fruit of Trump’s preachings but the President ought to consider the Bible text that say that he who sows to the wind will reap the whirlwind.

The policy of President Trump and his supporters of the far right groups is to exacerbate latent racism in the United States to the point where public violence erupts and the political polarization of the public becomes manifest. By encouraging and arming the far right and neo nazi groups, the Scavenius group is laying the groundwork for an acceptable and militant government reaction, the institution of draconian control over the entire population and the rationale for national and official government control, all in the name of law and order. It is planned that the far right and neo nazi groups be taken into the law enforcement structure and used to put down any public demonstrations that the government deems to be a potential threat to their policies.

Who are these groups? Here is a listing of only some of them:

  • ACT for America
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Renaissance
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Nations
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • National Alliance
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Socialist Movement
  • National Vanguard
  • Oath Keepers
  • Stormfront
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade.
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • White Revolution

The current American President is directly descended from the German Trumpf family. His ancestor in the direct line was Johannes Trump(f), a native of the village of Kallstadt.

The same Trumpf family also produced one Arnold Wilhelm August Trumpf.

Arnold Trumpf was Vorstand Reichsverband Deutscher Landwirtschaftlicher Genossenschaften-Raiffensene.V and Hauptabteilungsleiter III of the Reichsnahrstand, Allegemeine SS since 1934.

Trumpf was a director of the Reichsbank.

SS background of Arnold Trumpf:

SS-Oberführer / Leutnant d.R. a.D.

Born: 27. Oct. 1892 in Gifhorn

Died: 7. January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen

NSDAP-Nr.: 389 920 from 1, December 1930

SS-Nr.: 187 119


 SS-Oberfuhrer: 30. Jan. 1939


 Bei dem RuS-Hauptamt: (9. Nov. 1944)

Decorations & Awards:

1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse

 Kriegsverdienstkreuz II. Klasse ohne Schwerter

 Verwundetenabzeichen, 1918 in Schwarz

 Ehrenkreuz fur Frontkampfer

 Ehrendegen des RF SS

 Totenkopfring der SS

The RuSHA was founded in 1931 by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler

Among their duties were:

  • Kidnapping of children suitable for Germanization
  • Population transfers
  • The persecution and liquidation of Jews


The RuSHA also employed Josef Mengele from November 1940 to early 1941, in Department II of its Family Office, where he was responsible for “care of genetic health” and “genetic health tests”


  • http://de.metapedia.org/wiki/Trumpf,_Arnold
  • Das Deutsche Führerlexikon, Otto Stollberg G.m.b.H., Berlin 1934
  • Dienstaltersliste der Schutzstaffel der NSDAP 9, November 1944

The Table of Contents 

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 69
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It.
  • “The United States Is Not a Safe Country”: Canadian Advocates Want to End a Policy That Turns Asylum-Seekers Back to U.S.


Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 69

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Apr 26, 2018

“He’s (Comey) probably been using his friend, the so-called professor who now turns out to have FBI clearance, which he never said. He even lied about that because he never said that in Congress.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Comey did not lie to Congress by not saying that his friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University professor to whom he gave some of his memos on his interactions with Trump, had “special government employee” status at the FBI: he was never asked about this during his testimony.


“You look at (Andrew) McCabe where he takes $700,000 from somebody supporting Hillary Clinton. He takes $700,000 for his wife’s campaign. And by the way, didn’t even spend that money. They kept some of it because under that law you’re — he took seven.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Neither former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe nor his wife Jill McCabe, who ran for Virginia state Senate in 2015, “kept some” of the donations Jill McCabe’s campaign received. As Factcheck.org noted: “Campaign finance reports filed with the Virginia Department of Elections show that Jill McCabe’s campaign spent all of the nearly $1.7 million it raised for her race.” (Again, Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, did not take any donation money at any point; all of these funds were donations to the Jill McCabe campaign, and Andrew McCabe was uninvolved.)

“You look at (Andrew) McCabe where he takes $700,000 from somebody supporting Hillary Clinton. He takes $700,000 for his wife’s campaign…He took $700,000 from a group headed by Terry McAuliffe who was under investigation by McCabe and the FBI and that investigation disappeared. He took $700,000.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, did not take any money from anybody supporting Clinton or for his wife’s campaign. Here’s what happened: Jill McCabe, his wife, was running for Virginia’s state Senate in 2015; her campaign received nearly $700,000 from political allies of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is a close Clinton ally. Andrew McCabe was not involved in the donation in any way.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“It was what the Democrats used to try and make an excuse for their loss of an election — for their loss of the Electoral College that they should never lose because the Electoral College is set up perfectly for the Democrats and this was an absolute total beating in the Electoral College. They should never lose the Electoral College…”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Trump’s frequent claim about the Electoral College continues to be nonsensical. It is obviously false that the presidential election system is set up in a way that favours Democrats. Six of the last nine presidents, all of whom except for Gerald Ford had to win an Electoral College election, have been Republicans.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

“Yes, but we have an Electoral College — I got 306 and she got what, 223.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: Hillary Clinton earned 232 electoral votes, not 223. This was not a one-time minor error: it was the eighth time Trump said “223.”

Trump has repeated this claim 12 times

“And by the way, the only collusion is the collusion with the Democrats and the Russians.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the Russia-related activities of the Democrats. This accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources in compiling his information. This does not come close to meeting the definition of “collusion.”

Trump has repeated this claim 22 times


“So the special counsel — and by the way, and Intelligence Committee and everybody else has found no collusion. There’s no collusion with me and the Russians.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: While the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee said in their final report that they found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it is not true that “everybody else” has come to this conclusion. Notably, the special counsel probe Trump mentioned in this very paragraph is ongoing.

Trump has repeated this claim 18 times


“He (James Comey) said he gave it (a memo) to a friend and he gave it to a friend to leak classified information. It’s all classified. It was totally classified.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The memo Comey said he gave to friend Daniel Richman to leak to the media was about the Feb. 14, 2017 meeting in which Comey says Trump urged him to stop investigating Michael Flynn — and that was a memo Comey, who was in charge of classification for the FBI, labelled “unclassified.” It was eventually released in full by the FBI without any redactions, the Washington Post notes. While Comey is believed to have shared three other memos with Richman, at least one of which was deemed classified after the fact, the information he said he specifically asked Richman to leak was never deemed classified.

“And all they do (in Iran) is scream ‘Death to America, death to America.’ And by the way, they’re not screaming it so much anymore. They were screaming it with him. They don’t scream it with me.”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: There is no indication that Iranians have stopped shouting “death to America” during the Trump era. After Trump pulled out of the Iran deal in early May, two weeks after these comments, USA Today reported: “Iranian lawmakers shouted ‘death to America’ and set fire to a paper U.S. flag during angry scenes at the country’s parliament in Tehran, a day after President Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal.” The day before Trump made these comments, BBC reported: “Iran is promoting a domestically-produced mobile messaging app, complete with a ‘Death to America’ emoji, in an attempt to get millions of Iranians to abandon the popular Telegram service, which it blames for promoting unrest in the country.”

“When I say the president, I’m talking about past administration made a horrible deal giving $150 billion, giving $1.8 billion in cash…”

Source: Interview with Fox and Friends

in fact: The “$150 billion” figure has no basis. Experts said Iran had about $100 billion in worldwide assets at the time; after the nuclear deal unfroze Iranian assets, Iran was able to access a percentage of that $100 billion, but not all of it. PolitiFact reported: “The actual amount available to Iran is about $60 billion, estimates Garbis Iradian, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew pinned it at $56 billion, while Iranian officials say $35 billion, according to Richard Nephew, an expert on economic sanctions at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.”

Trump has repeated this claim 19 times

  • Apr 27, 2018

“Thank you, Chancellor. We need a reciprocal relationship, which we don’t have. The United States right now has a trade deficit with the European Union of $151 billion.”

Source: Joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

in fact: As Trump correctly said in his prepared remarks earlier in this same press conference, the $151 billion deficit only counts trade in goods. Including trade in services as well, the net deficit was $102 billion, according to U.S. government statistics.

Trump has repeated this claim 29 times

“I was very honoured by the (House Intelligence Committee) report. It was totally conclusive, strong, powerful. Many things said that nobody knew about, and said in a very strong way. They were very forceful in saying that the Clinton campaign actually did contribute to Russia. So, maybe somebody ought to look at that.”

Source: Bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

in fact: The Republicans on the committee concluded in their final report that the Clinton campaign used poor judgment in funding research into Trump’s alleged connections to Russia — research that used Russian sources — and criticized the campaign for “using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure their roles.” The report did not say that the Clinton campaign “actually did contribute to Russia.”

  • Apr 28, 2018

“And essentially, we are getting rid of Obamacare; some people would say essentially we’ve gotten rid of it. But you no longer have the individual mandate.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Trump has not gotten rid of Obamacare; we will not give him leeway because he has this time put his own regular false claim in the voice of “some people.” The Obamacare “individual mandate,” a requirement that Americans obtain health insurance or pay a financial penalty, is a central part of the law, and Trump did succeed in repealing it. But this does not mean Obamcare more broadly has been essentially eradicated: its other components remain. Trump did not eliminate Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people, the federal and state Obamacare marketplaces that allow other uninsured people to buy insurance, and the subsidies that help many of them make the purchases. Nor did he touch various Obamacare rules for the insurance market, like its prohibition on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“What we have done in a short period of time is incredible. So regulations — we’ve cut more regulations in this 15 to 16 months than any other president has cut in four years, eight years or, as you know, FDR, in one case, 16 years, and it’s not even close.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: No president has served for 16 years. Roosevelt served just over 12 years.

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

“This is the state where Henry Ford invented the assembly line.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: As the Washington Post noted, the popular belief that Ford invented the assembly line is incorrect: “Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line; it was Ransom Eli Olds, whose Oldsmobile Curved Dash is considered the first mass-produced vehicle in history, selling 5,000 units in 1904.”

“We said, ‘Let’s go to Michigan, right? Grand Rapids.’ I got there at 12 o’clock in the evening, remember that? And I said, ‘How’s the crowd?’ We couldn’t even get near the arena. There were 32,000 people. I finished speaking at 1 o’clock in the morning on Election Day, remember that? You were there. Thirty-two thousand people. Now Michigan hadn’t been won in many, many years. And I said, ‘Wait a minute. We had 32,000 people.'”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Not even close. The capacity of the hall where Trump held the rally, in Grand Rapids, Mich., was 4,200. Local newspapers reported that the room was over capacity, and that there was a large crowd outside, but the total was nowhere near 32,000. Nick LaFave, a news anchor for WZZM 13 television in Grand Rapids, wrote on Twitter: “I covered that rally. The place was definitely beyond capacity. I think we estimated 8k. Many more outside who never got in. But, no way that got to 32k. None. No way.”

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times


“Watch the caravan. Watch how sad and terrible it is, including for those people because they come up, and the crime that they inflict on themselves and that others inflict on them, it’s a horrible, dangerous journey for them — for them. For them.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: There was no evidence of members of this migrant caravan committing crimes against other members of the caravan. Journalists who accompanied the caravan said they heard no such reports.

“And wages are going up for the first time in many, many years. That’s great. As a result of our massive tax cuts…”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Wages have been rising since 2014. As PolitiFact reported: “For much of the time between 2012 and 2014, median weekly earnings were lower than they were in 1979 — a frustrating disappearance of any wage growth for 35 years. But that began changing in 2014. After hitting a low of $330 a week in early 2014, wages have risen to $354 a week by early 2017. That’s an increase of 7.3 percent over a roughly three-year period.” FactCheck.org reported: “For all private workers, average weekly earnings (adjusted for inflation) rose 4% during Obama’s last four years in office.”

Trump has repeated this claim 25 times

“I’ve been saying it, but the number goes up and up and up. Remember this: we have spent $7 trillion, with a T, trillion dollars in the Middle East.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: There is no basis for the “$7 trillion” figure. During the 2016 campaign, Trump cited a $6 trillion estimate that appeared to be taken from a 2013 report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. (That report estimated $2 trillion in costs up to that point but said the total could rise an additional $4 trillion by 2053.) Trump, however, used the $6 trillion as if it was a current 2016 figure. He later explained that since additional time has elapsed since the campaign, he believes the total is now $7 trillion. That is incorrect. The latest Brown report, issued in late 2017, put the current total at $4.3 trillion, and the total including estimated future costs at $5.6 trillion.

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

“When we sell a car into China: number one, they don’t want it because they have barriers, so they won’t take it. But if they took it it’s a 25 per cent tax, OK, so think of it, so think of it. So they have a tax that’s 10 times higher. Now what they say is: we don’t want your cars, we have a barrier, but if we take ’em, it’s 25 per cent.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Trump was correct about China’s 25 per cent tariffs on U.S. cars. He was incorrect that China “won’t take it” even if U.S. automakers are willing to pay the tariffs. While automakers export few made-in-America cars to China — Fiat Chrysler and Ford export a total of 30,000 vehicles to China, according an analysis by Evercore ISI — that is because they have manufacturing operations in China, under joint ventures with Chinese companies, to produce most of the cars they sell in China. Ford sold 1.2 million vehicles in China in 2017; General Motors sold 4 million vehicles in China, a record.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times


“And by the way do you remember about six years ago I wasn’t even running and they gave me an award. The Republican of the Year — I guess they probably — maybe they knew what was gonna happen, I don’t know…And I made a speech in Michigan thanking them for the award…”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Trump does not appear to have won any such award. During the election campaign, he falsely claimed to have been named the “Man of the Year” for the entire state of Michigan, not just for Republicans; that award definitely did not exist. We will delete this claim from the list if someone provides evidence that Trump is telling the truth, but we cannot find any ourselves.

“I told Abe the other day, prime minister, great guy. They send us millions of cars, we send them wheat. And they don’t take it. They don’t even want it.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Japan buys large quantities of U.S. wheat. “In 2016, Japan imported $1.4 billion of wheat, 45 percent from the United States,” a 2017 report from Trump’s Department of Agriculture noted.

“You know it sounds so nice, the European Union. You know why? I mean, they literally did, like I said: they formed to take advantage of the United States, and I don’t blame them.” And: “It was put there to take advantage of the United States, OK?”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Experts on the E.U. say that competing with the U.S. economically was not even on the list of the top reasons for the original formation of the European coalition or its evolution into the official European Union in 1993. “That effort was never to compete with the United States,” said Maxime Larivé, associate director of the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its original incarnation, an economic “community” created in the 1950s, was intended “to simply foster peace through trade and economic exchange” of coal and steel, Larivé said.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“He (Chinese President Xi Jinping) said last week in a speech he is going to start opening up China, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough. When we lose $500 billion a year and that’s in a trade deficit.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Trump was off by $163 billion — and $125 billion if you give him the benefit of the doubt. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $375 billion in 2017 when counting goods alone, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Including trade in services, the net deficit was $337 billion, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said earlier in the month. (The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses a different method of calculating deficits and surpluses than the Census Bureau.)

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“And what about the guy that took $700,000 for his wife’s campaign? Nobody even talks about it. Nobody even talks about it.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, did not take any money for his wife’s campaign. Here’s what happened: Jill McCabe, his wife, was running for Virginia’s state Senate in 2015; her campaign received nearly $700,000 from political allies of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Andrew McCabe was not involved.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

“They are doing it to a lot of people. Innuendo. You know in the old days when the newspapers used to write they put names down. Today they say ‘sources have said that President Trump’… ‘sources.’ They never say who the source is. They don’t have sources. The sources don’t exist in many cases. They don’t have sources and the sources in many cases don’t exist.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: There is simply no evidence that major U.S. media outlets have made up fake sources in their reporting on Trump.

Trump has repeated this claim 12 times

“I’ll tell you: the only collusion Is the Democrats colluded with the Russians, and the Democrats colluded with lots of other people. Take a look at the intelligence agencies…”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the Russia-related activities of the Democrats. This accusation is based on the fact that the British ex-spy who produced a research dossier on the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia, which was funded in part by Clinton’s campaign, used Russian sources in compiling his information. This does not come close to meeting the definition of “collusion.”

Trump has repeated this claim 22 times

“I mean, how do you make a deal like that (the Iran nuclear deal)? A hundred and fifty billion dollars, $1.8 billion in cash? You know what that is? And you know what they got. They got nothing.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: The “$150 billion” figure has no basis. Experts said Iran had about $100 billion in worldwide assets at the time; after the nuclear deal unfroze Iranian assets, Iran was able to access a percentage of that $100 billion, but not all of it. PolitiFact reported: “The actual amount available to Iran is about $60 billion, estimates Garbis Iradian, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew pinned it at $56 billion, while Iranian officials say $35 billion, according to Richard Nephew, an expert on economic sanctions at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.”

Trump has repeated this claim 19 times

“I don’t know if you see — you know, it’s funny, so San Diego they’re being just overrun, great place, but they’re being overrun by people pouring. So they’re begging us for a wall. So we have the money, it’s all funded in San Diego and those people really want it, and I said, let’s not do it there. Let’s let them put pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown.”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: There is no evidence San Diego wants a border wall, much less that it is “begging” for one. Its city council voted 5-3 in September to express opposition to the wall proposal, and even the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has stated that he is opposed: “Mayor Faulconer has been clear in his opposition to a border wall across the entirety of the U.S. southern border,” a spokesperson said in September. The board of supervisors of San Diego County has voted to endorse a lawsuit against California “sanctuary” laws protecting unauthorized immigrants, but “this county has taken no action with regard to the wall,” county spokesperson Michael Workman told local news outlet KPBS. KBPS reported that a White House official told its reporter, on condition of anonymity, that Trump “might have been referring to some San Diego area residents” when he spoke of San Diego more broadly.

Trump has repeated this claim 11 times

“We’re gonna build the wall, we’re getting it. We’ve already started.” And: “We have a wall with big holes in it, that’s old. And a lot of it is being fixed right now. And we’re putting up brand new gorgeous stuff, we’re building new — as I told you in San Diego and other places, but we want to now do the big job, so we are going to see what happens…”

Source: Campaign rally in Washington, Michigan

in fact: While there are ongoing projects to replace sections of existing border fencing, none of Trump’s “new” wall is not yet under construction. Prototypes of possible wall designs were built in San Diego, but no construction of a permanent, extended wall has begun. When making this claim in the past, Trump has seemed to be referring to a project in which a 2.25-mile stretch of existing wall in California is being replaced by a taller wall. That project was proposed in 2009, and the Los Angeles Times reported that Border Patrol spokesperson Jonathan Pacheco told reporters in March: “First and foremost, this isn’t Trump’s wall. This isn’t the infrastructure that Trump is trying to bring in. … This new wall replacement has absolutely nothing to do with the prototypes that were shown over in the San Diego area.”

Trump has repeated this claim 20 times

“Look forward to being in the Great State of Michigan tonight. Major business expansion and jobs pouring into your State. Auto companies expanding at record pace.”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Auto companies are not expanding at a record pace. In April 2018, there were 960,600 people employed in auto and auto parts manufacturing; that is just 5,000 more people than the 955,600 people employed a year prior, an increase of less than 1 per cent. U.S. auto sales actually declined in 2017 from 2016, breaking a seven-year streak of increases.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 3, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.


Conversation No. 62

Date: Tuesday, February 4, 1997

Commenced:  8:45 AM CST

Concluded:  9:30 AM CST

GD: Feeling a little better, Robert?

RTC: Much, thank you. By the way, Gregory, I dug up the information on this Landreth person you asked me about. He used to work for CBS News and his father ran our offices in Havana. Edward Landreth. Used Sterling Chemical Company as a front. I wouldn’t trust this one, if I were you.

GD: No, I didn’t like him at first sight. And he got some hack named Willwirth at Time Magazine to promise to put me on the cover of their trashy rag if I cooperated.

RTC: What do they want?

GD: Anything and everything relating to Mueller’s CIA employment. Anything with his new name, that is. I have an old Virginia driver’s license, a pilot’s license, an old CIA ID card and things like that.

RTC: Don’t even show them to them and keep the new name to yourself. The first thing they will do, and the Army as well, will be to get out the burn bags and totally obliterate any trace of him. You see, Mueller came in at such a high level and so early that his name is not known. Once your book came out, there were frantic searches of the files but they ran up against the dismal fact that they could not identify his new personality. Beetle Smith knew it, but he’s dead. Critchfield is foaming at the mouth over all of this, but he doesn’t have the name either. Wonderful. But take my advice and don’t give out the name. They would obliterate any trace of it and then piously deny they knew anything about it. Why not try the Army records in Missouri? List five or six names plus the Mueller pseudonym and get a researcher to get the copies of the files. Don’t use your name because you are on the no-no list now. Then, you can take the real Mueller out and toss the rest.

GD: Robert, how brilliant of you. I did this a year ago but I’m glad to see you’re right up on things.

RTC: Well, I know the name, you know the name, but Tom Kimmel and Bill Corson do not know the name. I assume both of them have asked you?

GD: Of course they have.

RTC: Not surprising. I like Bill but he had gone over to the other side, lock, stock and barrel, so use discretion with him. And you can be polite to Kimmel but shut up around him. Anything either one of them get would go straight to Langley.

GD: And the burning would commence.

RTC: Clouds of smoke would blanket the eastern seaboard, Gregory. Help keep America pollution free and keep your mouth closed. No, that’s not what I meant. Your mouth is not a source of pollution. The smoke from the burning CIA records is what I had in mind. What kind of approaches do they use?

GD: Kindergarten level. ‘We are going to make you famous,’ is the main one followed by such stupidity as ‘you can tell me because I’m your friend.’ With friends like that, who needs any enemies? I wouldn’t let any of them into my house. My grandfather would have had them use the tradesman’s entrance. They don’t do that anymore. One great homogenous melting pot of proletariat idiots, ill-educated twits, liars and chronic violators of deceased prostitutes.

RTC: (Laughter) Such an accurate portrayal, Gregory.

GD: It’s been quite an unwanted education, Robert, listening to all the foolishness coming out of these creeps. But, good humored banter aside, I wanted to discuss the Kennedy thing with you.

RTC: Go ahead.

GD: I have been reading through all the major books on the subject, and here and there I find something interesting. Mostly, only personal opinion without facts. But in looking through my notes, I am positive that your collective motives were based on what you thought was good for the country and the CIA, in opposite order.

RTC: Passing secrets to the enemy is very serious, Gregory.

GD: Yes, but Kennedy sacked your top people and was going to break the agency up. Self-preservation is a powerful motive for action.

RTC: Yes, it is. We had a similar problem with Nixon, as I recall.

GD: You weren’t planning to off him, were you?

RTC: No, but we did get him out of the Oval Office.

GD: I met Nixon once and I rather liked him. You? What about Watergate?

RTC: Watergate was our method of getting him out. It wasn’t as final as the Zipper business but he played right into it.

GD: What did Nixon do to you?

RTC: Now, that’s a long and involved story, Gregory.

GD: Well, since you didn’t have him killed, can you tell me?

RTC: I suppose so. Nixon was no specific threat to us, understand. We worked with him rather well. But he was getting squirrelly the second time around. And the China business was no good. China was our enemy and we had the best relations with Taipei….Taiwan. The very best relations, and very profitable. Nixon threw the entire thing out of balance and then the war in Vietnam was another factor. Very complex.

GD: I have plenty of time.

RTC: It was the drug business in the final analysis.

GD: There have been stories around about that.

RTC: Can’t be proven. We get curious reporters fired for even hinting at that. Anyway, it started in ’44-’45 with Jim’s Italian connections in Naples and Palermo.

GD: Angleton?

RTC: Yes, of course. Jim had lived in Italy as a child and spoke the language fluently. He knew the Mafia people in Sicily and the gangs in Naples, not to mention the Union Corse people in Corsica. I mean it was to get their assistance in intelligence matters. First against the Germans and then against the local Communists. Jim was very effective but I don’t think he realized that by asking for favors, he put himself in the position of having to give favors back again. That’s how they are, you know.

GD: I’ve known one or two. Yes, very much that way. Didn’t he realize he was making a bargain with the Devil?

RTC: No, Jim did not. The Italians he grew up with were not that way. I knew a few of those people through my father. He was involved in politics in Chicago in the old days and that means a guaranteed association with the Mob.

GD: And they called in their markers?

RTC: Oh, yes, they did. And that’s how the drug connections got started. The Italian gangsters helped Angleton when he was there with the OSS and then later, they called their markers in with him. Not much at first but much more later. Opium makes morphine and refined morphine makes heroin. You must know that. Turkey has opium fields and so do a number of places in SEA. Burma, for example. Once you get into that sort of thing, Gregory, you can’t get out again. And we comforted ourselves that the actual movers and shakers were doing the dirty work and, at the same time, assisting us with intelligence matters. Killing off enemies, securing sensitive areas and that sort of thing. Naples and Palermo to begin with and later Corsica. And then in Asia, Burma first. We were big supporters of Chiang and when the Commies forced him out of mainland China, he went to Taiwan and one of his top generals, Li Mi, went south with his military command and got into former French Indochina and then into Burma. He had a large contingent of troops, thousands, and both us and the French supplied him with weapons and he, in turn, set up opium farms and we, but not the French, flew out the raw products to be refined in the Mediterranean. The weapons were often surplus World War Two pieces out of Sea Supply in Florida. As a note for your interest, we shipped tons of former Nazi weapons from Poland to Guatemala when we kicked out Guzman there. You have to understand that the Company was huge and compartmented, so most of the people knew nothing about the drugs. Of course the various DCIs did and Colby, who later was DCI, ran the drug business out of Cambodia.

GD: The Air American thing?

RTC: Among others. We actually used official military aircraft to ship when we couldn’t use our own proprietary people. Angleton had mob connections and they used him far more than he used them, but he did not dare try to back out. It got way out of hand but none of us wanted to bell that cat, believe me. And we finally flew out Li Mi with thirteen millions in gold bars. Flew him to safety in Switzerland.

GD: That stopped the drugs?

RTC: No, it all came under new management. Colby was very efficient.

GD: As a point of interest here, Robert, is that why they snuffed him?

RTC: Partially. He knew too much and no one dared to gig him too hard over the civilian killings he ran in Vietnam. There was always the danger he would break down. He was getting along in years and that’s when we have to watch these boys carefully. A heart attack here, an accidental drowning there. After we drowned Colby, we tore his summer place to bits and then ransacked his Dent Place address. Not to mention getting our friendly bankers to let us go through his safe deposit boxes. After hours, of course.

GD: Of course. You weren’t involved, were you?

RTC: In what? Removing these dangerous people? In some cases. I had nothing directly to do with the drugs. That was mostly Angleton.

GD: He muse have gotten rich.

RTC: Not really.

GD: But Nixon….was he in the drug business too?

RTC: No. Nixon was a nut, Gregory. A poor boy elevated on high and couldn’t handle the upper levels. Very smart but got to believe his own power. The second election, a landslide, convinced him that he was invulnerable. He wasn’t and he began to play games with China. By playing nice with them, he outraged Taiwan and we all do much business with those people. Drugs and other things. Never mind all that, because it’s still going on. Anyway, they bitched to us, louder and louder, that Nixon would listen to Mao and dump them. If they got dumped, they would tell all and none of us could stand that, so we decided to get Nixon removed. No point of doing a Kennedy on him, but he had to go. After Spiro got the boot, Jerry Ford took over and we knew we would never have any problem with good old Jerry. Hell, during the Warren Commission, good old Jerry ran to Hoover every night with the latest information, so we knew he was a loyal player.

GD: And now did you do it?

RTC: Get rid of Tricky Dick? He did it to himself. We supplied him with a team of our men after we convinced him that everyone was plotting against him. I told you he was getting strange. I think paranoid is a better word. Anyway, we convinced him that McGovern was getting money from Castro and he sent our people to break into the Democrat offices in the Watergate. To get the proof that didn’t exist. They went there to get caught. They taped open the door and one of our people called local security. You know the rest, I am sure. Nixon did it to himself in the end. We just supplied the push. And Ford did what he was told and everyone was happy again.

GD: No wonder they call the stuff powdered happiness.

RTC: (Laughter) I haven’t heard that but it’s fitting. I remember we were afraid Nixon might call out the military, so we stuck Alex Haig in there to keep him isolated. Haig was a real nut but he did his job very well. And another government change, but this time there were no inconvenient questions about Oswald and Ruby types for the nut fringe to babble about. No, Nixon did it to himself.

GD: It didn’t do the country any good, this drawn-out death agony.

RTC: It would not have been a good idea to shoot him, not after the fuss after Kennedy. And Formosa is happy and we are happy and the drugs are still moving around, making everyone money. Just think what we were able to do with our share of mystery cash. No Congress to badger us about our budgets at all. We got billions from them and more billions in cash from the other stuff, so we were all sitting in the catbird seat. Nixon was one man and he had served his usefulness. Notice he’s had a nice retirement.

GD: And so has Ford.

RTC: Ford was a classic pawn. Washington is full of them, Gregory. And I strongly urge you to keep away from this subject if and when you decide to write about things. The Company is not as keen on killing everyone like it used to be, but I don’t think you want to run up against the Mob.

GD: No, of course not.

RTC: That’s a smart fellow, Gregory. Go after dead CIA people but keep away from the Mob. Got it?

GD: Got it loud and clear.

(Concluded at 9:30 AM CST)

U.S. Law Enforcement Failed to See the Threat of White Nationalism. Now They Don’t Know How to Stop It.

For two decades, domestic counterterrorism strategy has ignored the rising danger of far-right extremism. In the atmosphere of willful indifference, a virulent movement has grown and metastasized.

November 3, 2018

by Janet Reitman

The New York Times

The first indication to Lt. Dan Stout that law enforcement’s handling of white supremacy was broken came in September 2017, as he was sitting in an emergency-operations center in Gainesville, Fla., preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma and watching what felt like his thousandth YouTube video of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. Jesus Christ, he thought, studying the footage in which crowds of angry men, who had gathered to attend or protest the Unite the Right rally, set upon one another with sticks and flagpole spears and flame throwers and God knows what else. A black man held an aerosol can, igniting the spray, and in retaliation, a white man picked up his gun, pointed it toward the black man and fired it at the ground. The Virginia state troopers, inexplicably, stood by and watched. Stout fixated on this image, wondering what kind of organizational failure had led to the debacle. He had one month to ensure that the same thing didn’t happen in Gainesville.

Before that August, Stout, a 24-year veteran of the Gainesville police force, had never heard of Richard Spencer and knew next to nothing about his self-declared alt-right movement, or of their “anti-fascist” archnemesis known as Antifa. Then, on the Monday after deadly violence in Charlottesville, in which a protester was killed when a driver plowed his car into the crowd, Stout learned to his horror that Spencer was planning a speech at the University of Florida. He spent weeks frantically trying to get up to speed, scouring far-right and anti-fascist websites and videos, each click driving him further into despair. Aside from the few white nationalists who had been identified by the media or on Twitter, Stout had no clue who most of these people were, and neither, it seemed, did anyone else in law enforcement.

There were no current intelligence reports he could find on the alt-right, the sometimes-violent fringe movement that embraces white nationalism and a range of racist positions. The state police couldn’t offer much insight. Things were equally bleak at the federal level. Whatever the F.B.I. knew (which wasn’t a lot, Stout suspected), they weren’t sharing. The Department of Homeland Security, which produced regular intelligence and threat assessments for local law enforcement, had only scant material on white supremacists, all of it vague and ultimately not much help. Local politicians, including the governor, were also in the dark. This is like a Bermuda Triangle of intelligence, Stout thought, incredulous. He reached out to their state partners. “So you’re telling us that there’s nothing? No names we can plug into the automatic license-plate readers? No players with a propensity for violence? No one you have in the system? Nothing?’’

One of those coming to Gainesville was William Fears, a 31-year-old from Houston. Fears, who online went by variations of the handle Antagonizer, was one of the most dedicated foot soldiers of the alt-right. Countless YouTube videos had captured his progress over the past year as he made his way from protest to protest across several states, flinging Nazi salutes, setting off smoke bombs and, from time to time, attacking people. Fears was also a felon. He had spent six years in prison for aggravated kidnapping in a case involving his ex-girlfriend, and now he had an active warrant for his arrest, after his new girlfriend accused him of assault less than two weeks earlier. On Oct. 18, the night before the event, Fears and a few others from Houston’s white-nationalist scene got in Fears’s silver Jeep Patriot for the 14-hour drive. Fears’s friend Tyler TenBrink, who pleaded guilty to assault in 2014, posted video from their trip on his Facebook page. There were four men, two of them felons, and two nine-millimeter handguns. “Texans always carry,” Fears said later.

Gainesville would be Spencer’s first major public appearance since the violence of the Unite the Right rally two months before, and the city, a progressive enclave in the heart of deep-red north Florida, was on edge. Anticipating chaos, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency — prompting Spencer to tweet out an image of his head making its way across the Atlantic toward Florida: “Hurricane Spencer.” A few days before the event, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent out a small, bound “threat book” of about 20 or so figures, most of them openly affiliated with Spencer or with anti-fascist groups, which Stout knew from his own research meant they weren’t the people to worry about. Anonymous online chatter on sites like 4chan, meanwhile, described armed right-wing militants coming to Gainesville to test Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Stout envisioned 20 white supremacists with long guns. We’re screwed, he thought.

By the morning of Oct. 19, a fortress of security, costing the University of Florida and police forces roughly half a million dollars, had been built around the western edge of the 2,000-acre campus and the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where Spencer and his entourage arrived that afternoon. More than 1,100 state troopers and local cops stood on alert, with another 500 on standby. There were officers posted on rooftops. Police helicopters buzzed the skies. The Florida National Guard had been activated off-site, and a line of armored vehicles sat in reserve. Hundreds of journalists from around the United States and abroad were in attendance, anticipating another Charlottesville.

Some 2,500 protesters had descended on the small area cordoned off for the event, where they confronted a handful of white supremacists, most of them Spencer groupies like Fears and his friends. “Basically, I’m just fed up with the fact that I’m cisgendered, I’m a white male and I lean right, toward the Republican side, and I get demonized,” Colton Fears, Will’s 28-year-old brother, who was wearing an SS pin, told HuffPost. TenBrink, also 28, told The Washington Post that he had come to support Spencer because after Charlottesville, where he was seen and photographed, he had been threatened by the “radical left.” He seemed agitated by the thousands of protesters. “This is a mess,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “It appears that the only answer left is violence, and nobody wants that.”

But Will Fears told reporters he came to Gainesville to intimidate the protesters. “It’s always been socially acceptable to punch a Nazi, to attack people if they have right-wing political leanings,” he said. “We’re starting to push back.” He went on: “We want to show our teeth a little bit because, you know, we’re not to be taken lightly.”

The Spencer speech turned out to be a bust, thanks to an audience so determined to drown him out that at one point they erupted in a chant of “Orange! Blue! Orange! Blue!” as if at a Gators football game. Afterward, the crowd left the auditorium and flooded back onto Hull Road, the long avenue leading toward the center of campus. Thousands of protesters surrounded the small group of Spencer acolytes. TenBrink, a sinewy young man wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, was particularly overwhelmed and jumped a barricade to escape the angry crowd. The police put him in handcuffs and escorted him into a parking garage. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, they uncuffed TenBrink and walked him out of the garage and toward the parking lot, and let him go. Neither TenBrink nor his friends were in the threat book.

There are several versions of what happened after TenBrink was released. It was about 5:15 p.m. The Texans drove down Archer Avenue, the broad street bordering the south edge of campus, about a mile from the secured area. A group of protesters were sitting at a bus stop. The men in the Jeep started shouting “Heil Hitler!” according to the police report and several witness statements. “Do you know my friend Heil? Heil Hitler? Get it?” The men started throwing Nazi salutes.

One of the protesters had come to Gainesville armed with a retractable baton. When the Texans began to harass them, he grabbed his baton and struck a window of the S.U.V. “My life and the lives of those around me was at risk,” he told the police. Will Fears jumped out. “I’m about to beat this dude up with his own fricking expandable baton,” he later recalled.

Suddenly, witnesses said, a man later identified as TenBrink jumped from the vehicle holding a handgun. “Shoot them!” the Texans were heard yelling. TenBrink pointed the gun at the protester.

White supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist. The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has reported that 71 percent of the extremist-related fatalities in the United States between 2008 and 2017 were committed by members of the far right or white-supremacist movements. Islamic extremists were responsible for just 26 percent. Data compiled by the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database shows that the number of terror-related incidents has more than tripled in the United States since 2013, and the number of those killed has quadrupled. In 2017, there were 65 incidents totaling 95 deaths. In a recent analysis of the data by the news site Quartz, roughly 60 percent of those incidents were driven by racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, antigovernment or other right-wing ideologies. Left-wing ideologies, like radical environmentalism, were responsible for 11 attacks. Muslim extremists committed just seven attacks.

These statistics belie the strident rhetoric around “foreign-born” terrorists that the Trump administration has used to drive its anti-immigration agenda. They also raise questions about the United States’ counterterrorism strategy, which for nearly two decades has been focused almost exclusively on American and foreign-born jihadists, overshadowing right-wing extremism as a legitimate national-security threat. According to a recent report by the nonpartisan Stimson Center, between 2002 and 2017, the United States spent $2.8 trillion — 16 percent of the overall federal budget — on counterterrorism. Terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists killed 100 people in the United States during that time. Between 2008 and 2017, domestic extremists killed 387 in the United States, according to the 2018 Anti-Defamation League report.

“We’re actually seeing all the same phenomena of what was happening with groups like ISIS, same tactics, but no one talks about it because it’s far-right extremism,” says the national-security strategist P. W. Singer, a senior fellow at the New America think tank. During the first year of the Trump administration, Singer and several other analysts met with a group of senior administration officials about building a counterterrorism strategy that encompassed a wider range of threats. “They only wanted to talk about Muslim extremism,” he says. But even before the Trump administration, he says, “we willingly turned the other way on white supremacy because there were real political costs to talking about white supremacy.”

In March 2018, a 20-year-old white evangelical Christian named Mark Anthony Conditt laid a series of homemade I.E.D.s around Austin, Tex., in largely minority communities. The bombs killed two African-Americans and injured at least four others over the course of several weeks, terrorizing the city, yet the local authorities preferred to describe Conditt, who committed suicide, as a “very challenged young man.” Also last spring, another white man, 28-year-old Benjamin Morrow, blew himself up in his apartment in Beaver Dam, Wis., while apparently constructing a bomb. Federal investigators said Morrow’s apartment doubled as a “homemade explosives laboratory.” There was a trove of white-supremacist literature in Morrow’s home, according to the F.B.I. But local cops, citing Morrow’s clean-cut demeanor and standout record as a quality-control manager at a local food-processing plant, made sure to note that just because he had this material didn’t mean he was a white supremacist. “He could have been an individual that was doing research,” the local police chief said.

In this atmosphere of apparent indifference on the part of government officials and law enforcement, a virulent, and violent, far-right movement has grown and metastasized. To combat it, some officials have suggested prosecuting related crimes through expansion of the government’s counterterrorism powers — creating a special “domestic terrorism” statute, for instance, which currently doesn’t exist. But a report released on Oct. 31 by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School argues that the creation of such a statute could easily be abused to target “protesters and political dissidents instead of terrorists,” and that law enforcement already has ample authority to prosecute domestic terrorism: “Congress must require that counterterrorism resource decisions be based on objective evaluations of the physical harm different groups pose to human life, rather than on political considerations that prioritize the safety of some communities over others.”

The report also calls out the Justice Department for its “blind spot” when it comes to domestic terrorism and hate crimes, which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein conceded earlier in the week. During a conference on Oct. 29, Rosenstein said that according to the latest F.B.I. crime report, “88 percent of agencies that provide hate-crimes data to the F.B.I. reported zero hate crimes in 2016.” The Justice Department was reviewing the accuracy of the reports, he noted. “Simply because hate crimes are not reported does not mean they are not happening.”

In 2016, the latest full year of data available from the F.B.I., more than 6,100 hate-crime incidents were reported, 4,270 of them crimes against people (as opposed to, say, defacing property). And yet only 27 federal hate-crime defendants were prosecuted that year. “The F.B.I. knows how many bank robberies there were last year,” says Michael German, an author of the Brennan Center report and a former F.B.I. agent, “but it doesn’t know how many white supremacists attacked people, how many they injured or killed.”

More concerning to German, though, is that law enforcement seems uninterested in policing the violent far right. During the first year after Donald Trump’s election, protests and riots erupted across the country, often involving men with criminal histories who, by definition, were on the law-enforcement radar. During the so-called Battle of Berkeley in March 2017, for instance, a far-right agitator named Kyle Chapman became a hero to the alt-right after he reportedly pummeled an anti-fascist counterprotester with a billy club. Chapman was a 41-year-old who had two previous felony convictions. He proceeded to travel around the country, engaging in violence at other protests, now under the online moniker Based Stickman — a cheerful reference to the Berkeley attacks.

Chapman was one of a number of known white supremacists to align with the Proud Boys, a nationalist men’s movement founded in 2016 by the anti-immigrant “Western chauvinist” Gavin McInnes, a founder of Vice Media. There was also the Rise Above Movement (RAM), an alt-right group composed largely of ex-cons, many with ties to Southern California’s racist skinhead movement. Over the past two years, each group engaged in violent confrontations with their ideological enemies — a lengthy list including African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, nonwhite immigrants, members of the L.G.B.T. community and the progressive left — and generally escaped punishment. This changed to a degree over the past few weeks when, after a yearlong campaign by journalists at ProPublica and other media outlets, federal prosecutors filed charges against eight members of RAM, including two of its leaders. Similarly, after a pressure campaign on social media, the New York Police Department arrested and charged six members of the Proud Boys in connection with an assault after a speech by McInnes at a Republican club in Manhattan on Oct. 12. On his podcast, McInnes noted that he has “a lot of support” in the N.Y.P.D. (The police commissioner denies this.)

In at least one instance, the police have in fact coordinated with far-right groups. In 2017, a law-enforcement official stationed at a rally in downtown Portland, Ore., turned to a member of a far-right militia group and asked for his assistance in cuffing a left-wing counterprotester, who had been tackled by a Proud Boy.

“This is what public demonstration looks like in an era when white nationalism isn’t on the fringes, but on the inside of the political mainstream,” says Brian Levin, a former New York City police officer who now leads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. During the run-up to some of last year’s major events in places like Charlottesville or Berkeley, he notes, “there was an unending stream of violent themed chatter and an almost choreographed exchange of web threats between antagonists across wide geographic expanses” that earned barely a nod from law enforcement.

During a congressional hearing in the wake of Charlottesville, Christopher Wray, director of the F.B.I., told lawmakers last September that the bureau had “about 1,000” open domestic-terror investigations, roughly the same number of investigations the bureau had open on ISIS. The bureau has not provided information on how many of those investigations pertained to white nationalists or other far-right extremists, as opposed to left-wing or “black-identity extremist” groups, nor whether they are full-blown investigations, preliminary inquiries or “assessments.” The F.B.I. has also responded to criticism that it has failed to address hateful or threatening messages on social media. The F.B.I. said in a statement: “The F.B.I. does not and cannot police ideologies under the First Amendment.” But looking at prosecutions, German says, “it’s clear that many of the people targeted for investigation for allegedly supporting the Islamic State were initially identified because of something they said online.”

There are serious civil liberties concerns with any broad surveillance of social media, German says. What’s also true, he notes, is that the volume of white-supremacist-related content is overwhelmingly high. “There are relatively few Americans voicing their support for ISIS online. But there are millions of racists, anti-Semites, Islamophobes, homophobes and xenophobes who engage in eliminationist rhetoric about the communities of people they fear and hate every day on social media and radio talk shows. Even if the F.B.I. wanted to monitor this hate speech, they wouldn’t have the resources, or any way to distinguish between those who talk and those who act.”

Levin believes that the Justice Department could be more flexible in pursuing these groups without violating First Amendment concerns. Just as they do with ISIS supporters, law-enforcement agencies would be within their legal rights to monitor, analyze and share any of the publicly available intelligence on white supremacists or hate groups that suggests violent confrontations. “The problem is not that we rightly scrutinize violent Salafist extremism,” Levin says, “but that we do so while materially ignoring domestic white nationalists or those on their fringes who also represent a violent threat.”

When we first spoke this August, Levin noted the continued ascendance of the far right, even after many of its members went underground after Charlottesville. “The rocket ship is still twirling,” he said. Levin predicted that the next big wave of activity wouldn’t be around mega-rallies but around what he calls “aggressive maneuvers” by loners or small cells. A series of violent outbursts in a single week in October made his prediction seem prescient.

In just seven days, a Florida man who lived out of a van plastered with stickers, including one of Hillary Clinton’s face in cross hairs, is reported to have sent a series of pipe bombs to at least a dozen of Trump’s critics. Two days after the first package appeared, a middle-aged white man, having tried unsuccessfully to break into a black church near Louisville, Ky., reportedly shot and killed two elderly African-Americans at a Kroger. “Whites don’t kill whites,” the man reportedly told an armed white man who confronted him. Then, at week’s end, a man who posted on Gab, the alt-right’s preferred social-media site, about a “kike infestation” interrupted services at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and several handguns; he was charged with murdering 11 people and injuring several more, including police officers. The Anti-Defamation League believed it to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.

Law enforcement’s inability to reckon with the far right is a problem that goes back generations in this country, and the roots of this current crisis can be traced back more than a decade. With violent political messaging emanating from the White House and echoed throughout the conservative media and social-media landscapes, Levin only expects more attacks. “What we need to worry about is the guy who is riled up by this rhetoric and decides to go out and do something on his own,” he told me in August. “We have people who are ticking time bombs.”

In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued a report warning of a rise in “right-wing extremism.” The department is the country’s largest law-enforcement body, created after Sept. 11 to prevent and respond to various threats, most specifically those connected to terrorism. While most of its counterterrorism focus has been on preventing Islamist terrorist attacks, the department is also supposed to examine domestic threats, like those coming from violent white supremacists, antigovernment militants and single-issue hate groups, like radical anti-abortion activists.

The author of the report was a senior intelligence analyst named Daryl Johnson, who ran a small Homeland Security domestic-terrorism unit. Two years earlier, in January 2007, Johnson was sitting in his bland second-floor office when he received a call from a contact at the Capitol Police. A first-term Illinois senator named Barack Obama was planning to announce that he was running for president. “Curious if you’ve heard any threatening chatter,” the officer said.

This was the first time Johnson had heard of Obama, and he didn’t know about any threats, but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be any. Though white-extremist groups had been fairly quiet in the years since Sept. 11, Johnson saw this as a temporary lull. These people never truly went away, he thought; they just needed the right motivation to energize them.

“What do you think’s going to happen when the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis and other white supremacists get wind of this?” the officer asked.

Johnson didn’t skip a beat: “I think it’s going to be the perfect recruiting and radicalization tool for white supremacy.”

At 38, Johnson spoke with the earnestness of an Eagle Scout, which he was. He was also a registered Republican who grew up in a small Mormon community in rural Virginia where millennialism, or end-times theology, was a core concept. During the 1980s, when Johnson was still in high school, far-right separatists took to the Ozarks or to strongholds in rural Idaho, where they stockpiled food and weapons and conducted paramilitary training in preparation for the biblical “last days.” Some, like the Aryan Nations, whose members embraced the racist Christian Identity philosophy, spawned domestic terror cells like the Order, which waged a brutal campaign of bombings, armed robberies and murder, culminating with the June 1984 assassination of Alan Berg, the prominent Jewish radio talk-show host who frequently spoke of flushing out the latent anti-Semitism in Denver’s conservative community.

Years of law-enforcement investigation and infiltration of right-wing terror groups commenced, and by the early 1990s, many of the movement’s most violent members were dead or in jail. But the government standoffs at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Tex., energized a new generation of separatists, Patriot militias — the forerunners of today’s antigovernment militia groups — as well as individuals like Timothy McVeigh, who made his way through various antigovernment and racist ideologies and organizations under the radar of law enforcement, before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The deaths of 168 people, including 19 children, at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building brought the threat of domestic terrorism by white Americans into stark relief. In the aftermath, the F.B.I. added many more agents to work domestic terrorism cases, and Attorney General Janet Reno created a special task force to investigate domestic terrorism. But by the end of 2001, the dominant business of the F.B.I., as well as every other federal law enforcement body, was international terrorism. Years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the supposed threat posed by Al Qaeda and other Muslim groups continued to drive policy, notably at the Department of Homeland Security, which Johnson, who started his career in Army intelligence, joined in 2005. At the time, he later recalled, he was the only analyst exclusively working on non-Islamic domestic threats. By 2007, he had put together a small team of analysts who began to scour extremist websites and message boards. What they found alarmed them.

The militant far right was enjoying a renaissance, thanks to the internet. Hundreds of militia recruitment and paramilitary training videos had sprung up on YouTube, along with promotions for weapons training and, to Johnson’s horror, bomb-making manuals. Between October 2007 and March 2008, Johnson and his unit documented the formation of 45 new antigovernment militia groups, which he saw as highly significant given that before fall 2007, these sorts of groups had been on the decline. Some white-supremacist groups, seizing upon the anti-immigration rhetoric that was then fomenting, created violent video games aimed at exploiting public fear of “illegals” streaming over the border.

By the spring of 2008, Obama’s candidacy, just as Johnson predicted, had become a lightning rod for white supremacists and other hate groups. As the campaign moved into its final months, law-enforcement agencies intercepted at least two assassination plots against Obama. Other threats and racist posts flooded the internet, where Johnson’s team noticed a sharp increase in membership on Stormfront, the first major white-nationalist website. The site added 32,000 new users within the first three months after Obama’s inauguration, nearly double the number it added in 2008.

Johnson and his team compiled their findings into a report, which they were still working on when Obama tapped Janet Napolitano, formerly the governor of Arizona, as the new secretary of Homeland Security. Napolitano “got it” when it came to white supremacy, says Juliette Kayyem, who served as the department’s assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in 2009 and 2010. While serving as Arizona’s attorney general, Napolitano coordinated the investigation of one of Timothy McVeigh’s accomplices. Now, concerned that a reinvigorated white-supremacist movement could pose a threat to the country’s first African-American president and to citizens, Napolitano began asking her intelligence analysts about a rise in lone-wolf “right-wing extremism,” a term commonly used in the counterterrorism world to refer to the radical beliefs of fringe players on the right of the political spectrum.

In March 2009, Johnson says he and a few colleagues from the F.B.I. briefed Napolitano on their findings, theorizing that heightened stress because of the continuing financial crisis, coupled with the election of the first black president, created a “unique driver” for individual radicalization and antigovernment and white-supremacist recruitment. Military veterans, including those returning after multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, might be particularly susceptible candidates, they noted, a prediction based on a 2008 F.B.I. assessment that found 203 individuals with military experience who had joined white-supremacist groups since Sept. 11, 2001. It was a tiny number given the overall United States veteran population, which at the time was close to 24 million. It was also a small percentage of the thousands of white supremacists the F.B.I. estimated were active. But the “prestige” that those with military or tactical skills held within white-supremacist groups made their influence much greater, the F.B.I. argued.

Johnson remembers Napolitano, sitting at the conference table, soberly flipping through the PowerPoint slides and thanking the analysts for the presentation. A few days later, the Department of Homeland Security released its report, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” which was distributed across the government and local law-enforcement agencies.

On April 11, 2009, four days after his report was released, Johnson was at home in West Virginia when a PDF of the document was posted on the website of the syndicated conservative radio host Roger Hedgecock. A link to the PDF was also posted on a blog maintained by the Oath Keepers, the antigovernment group composed of numerous law-enforcement officials. “FORWARD THIS TO EVERY AMERICAN!” read the post, which Johnson suspected had been written by a member of the law-enforcement community. “YOU are now a dangerous terrorist according to the Obama administration.”

By the next day, news of a “chilling” report from the department was making its way through far-right message boards and the blogosphere, where it was picked apart by conspiracy sites like Infowars, which deemed it evidence of a deep-state plot. More mainstream right-wing pundits like Michelle Malkin considered it, in Malkin’s words, an “Obama D.H.S. hit job” on conservatives. Some progressives also had concerns about the report’s “dangerously vague and speculative” nature, as a Mother Jones correspondent, James Ridgeway, wrote, warning that “civil libertarians of all stripes” should be nervous and raising the specter of government surveillance.

From the perspective of many people inside the department, the report was “exactly what the department is supposed to do, which is inform and educate our stakeholders about what we see as a threat,” Kayyem says. “This was not a political document.”

Congressional Republicans, answering to a nascent Tea Party movement and the American Legion, soon took issue with the label “right-wing extremism,” which John Boehner, then minority leader of the House, charged was being used by the Department of Homeland Security “to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.” Boehner was particularly bothered by the report’s mention of veterans. “To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable,” he said in a statement. Several G.O.P. lawmakers called for Napolitano’s resignation, as well as that of Johnson, who, in their view, equated conservatives with terrorists.

Johnson was appalled. “I never anticipated such an aggressive, vile backlash,” he told me recently. It was puzzling: Just a few months before his April 2009 report was published, the department released an assessment of the cyber threat posed by “left-wing extremists,” like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. Legislators, the media and the public at large — including progressives — had no objection to that terminology. But the political firestorm over “right-wing extremism” had caused such an uproar that the Department of Homeland Security ultimately avoided using ideological terminology like “right-wing.” A few weeks after the report was released, Napolitano formally apologized to veterans, and after intense pressure from veterans’ groups, the department withdrew the report.

Afterward, the administration tried to depoliticize the issue. Obama had been elected promising to improve relations with the Muslim world, though this soon provided an opening for conspiracy-minded Republicans like Representative Louie Gohmert, the Texas congressman who once insinuated that Mohamed Elibiary, an adviser to Obama’s national-security team, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. During the Bush administration, the word “terrorism” had become almost synonymous with Islam. Now, as one former policy adviser recalls, “the Obama people were adamant that it couldn’t just be about jihadis.”

They adopted a new, less ideological lexicon. Terrorism became “violent extremism,” which suggested behavior. The administration also came up with a new paradigm of “ideologically motivated violence” that ostensibly could apply to any form of extremism, not just Islamic terrorism. The Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department would develop “countering violent extremism” programs that focused on outreach and community engagement, not warrantless surveillance, though in practice they were still an effort to identify and root out jihadist elements from American Muslim communities, just as they had been during the Bush administration.

At the same time, most of the work exclusively focused on domestic extremism stopped at the Department of Homeland Security. “I blame an entire political apparatus led by Republicans that made calling something ‘right-wing extremism’ a political statement,” says Kayyem, who notes the paradox of G.O.P. leaders’ attacking Democrats for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islamic extremism.” “They’d say if you can’t say it, you can’t fight it,” she says. “But it cuts both ways. If you’re not allowed to say that white supremacy is a form of radicalization, then how are you going to stop it?”

Johnson’s 2009 report proved prescient. In February 2011, the Southern Poverty Law Center said that in the previous year, the number of domestic hate groups in the United States had reached more than 1,000 for the first time. The antigovernment Patriot movement gained 300 new groups over the same time period, a jump of over 60 percent. Every sphere of the far right was being energized at the same time. There was also an uptick in so-called lone wolves, who held extremist views but associated with no specific organization. In May 2010, a year after Johnson’s report was released, a father and son from Ohio, members of a little-known antigovernment movement called “sovereign citizens,” shot and killed two police officers during a traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark. It was the 12th attack or foiled plot by white-extremist “lone wolves” since 2009, almost all of which received little publicity.

The United States attorney from Western Arkansas, Conner Eldridge, was one of a number of Justice Department prosecutors who felt the department had given short shrift to domestic terrorism. Quietly, Eldridge began to network with United States attorneys from states with a history of white-supremacist activity. They pressed the Justice Department for more resources. “Our thesis was, hey, let’s focus on domestic terrorism at an equal level as we’re focusing on international terrorism, because they’re both terrorism,” Eldridge told me recently. “But we consistently confronted, at every level, a sort of lack of attention to domestic terrorism. The day-to-day focus was on the next potential ISIS attack.”

Back in Washington, weeks would go by with the daily national threat briefings rarely if ever discussing possible domestic threats from the far right. At the F.B.I., counterterrorism agents candidly admitted that domestic terrorism was seen as a backwater and that the only path to advancement was through international terrorism cases. In a recent report on law enforcement’s evaluation of Muslim versus right-wing extremism, a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, noted that in 2008 and 2009 — the only years for which figures were made public — fewer than 350 of the F.B.I.’s 2,000 counterterrorism agents were assigned to domestic terrorism.

After a series of violent attacks by white supremacists, including on a Jewish community center and a nearby retirement home in Overland Park, Kan., Attorney General Eric Holder announced in 2014 that he was reconvening the Justice Department’s Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee. The group hadn’t met in 13 years. “It wasn’t the same as it had been before, but it was something,” says Eldridge, who was tapped to head the committee, which included representatives from about 15 law-enforcement agencies and five Justice Department divisions, including the F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals. “But we had no budget, no staff, and we had no person whose sole job was to run the committee.”

The ceaseless focus on ISIS and Al Qaeda filtered down to local law enforcement. The administration’s much-touted “countering violent extremism” agenda was directed at various threats. But “the language heavily focused on recruitment and radicalization by ISIS and Al Qaeda,” recalls Nate Snyder, a counterterrorism adviser to the Obama administration at the Department of Homeland Security from 2009 through 2017. As early as 2010, he says, his office was receiving calls from police officers asking for help in many Southern and Midwestern states. “They’d be like, ‘Thanks for that stuff on Al Qaeda, but what I really need to know is how to handle the Hammerskin population in my jurisdiction,’ ” he says, referring to the white-supremacist skinhead group.

In 2011, the White House described the threat of Al Qaeda and its affiliates as the “pre-eminent security threat to our country.” By 2013, a new threat had emerged: so-called homegrown violent extremists, or H.V.E.s, a category of people who, though born in the United States, were inspired by a nondomestic ideology to commit violence. H.V.E.s, who tended to be Muslim, were not to be mistaken for domestic terrorists, who by definition were not only Americans but also driven by a domestic ideology like white supremacy. And yet the two were often conflated, and therefore “homegrowns” were also perceived as domestic terrorists: the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013; the perpetrators of the San Bernardino massacre or the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando. Dylann Roof, born in South Carolina, whose homegrown racism was nurtured on neo-Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer, was not, in this context, a domestic terrorist, nor were any of his beliefs seen as indicative of “violent extremism.” His shooting spree in a church in Charleston, in which he killed nine African-Americans, was interpreted as something else. What drove him, authorities said, was hate. He was a murderer.

This dichotomy plagued Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who served as ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee. For years, Thompson pressed both the administration and fellow members of Congress to be more outspoken on domestic terrorism. “The silence was almost deafening when it came to raising any of those issues in Congress,” he says. “And the administration had this do-nothing approach. They kept telling us, well, we see that white supremacy is a problem, but there’s no way we can get ourselves involved in this because they won’t talk to us.”

It was a curious response from an administration whose “C.V.E.” agenda supposedly addressed all types of ideologically motivated violence. “I really suspect they did some polling and found out that there were certain things an African-American president couldn’t talk about,” one former adviser said. “I think they didn’t want to poke the bear.”

This approach was most evident with Obama’s second Homeland Security chief, Jeh Johnson, who came to the department in 2013, after a three-year sojourn as general counsel to the Defense Department, where he provided legal authority for the drone-strike program. During Johnson’s tenure, Nate Snyder says, his office received calls from evangelical pastors worried about far-right recruitment in their congregations. There was also concern about reports of white supremacy in the military.

Johnson, who told me that fear of another ISIS-style attack kept him up at night, held regular round tables with imams and other members of the Islamic community. He resisted the pressure from some members of his staff, and some in Congress, like Thompson, to make similar overtures to communities concerned about antigovernment or white-supremacist groups. He thought it would be absurd to hold round tables with sovereign citizens and white supremacists. “I didn’t think that would have been a very effective use of my time to try,” he told me.

Johnson never called Dylann Roof a domestic terrorist, a phrase commonly applied to Timothy McVeigh. “If there was ever an opportunity to define white extremists as domestic terrorists, Dylann Roof was it,” Snyder says. “But people went back and forth, and it went down the same careful deliberation that happens with active shooters: Maybe it was a mental-health issue. Maybe he was ‘disturbed.’ Maybe he had a predisposition to violence.”

When I spoke to Johnson, he felt it was not his place to call Roof a terrorist. There isn’t a crime of “domestic terrorism” to charge someone with. “There is a certain type of violent extremism that is by nature more of a matter for law enforcement, and another that is about engaging communities at the local level,” he said. But the country’s chief law-enforcement official at the time, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, also didn’t call Roof a terrorist — though she did note that his mass shooting, which she was prosecuting as a hate crime, seemed to meet the definition of terrorism. “Hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism,” she said. James Comey, then director of the F.B.I., wasn’t sure. Terrorism, he stated in June 2015, was “more of a political act,” and he didn’t see the Charleston shooting as political. Even after a racist manifesto Roof penned surfaced online stating his intent to “protect the white race” by instigating a race war, Comey still wasn’t sure it met the definition. “I only operate in a legal framework,” he told HuffPost.

The refusal to name the attack as “terrorism” was, in some critics’ eyes, a crucial misstep that would have far broader implications. “I was very pleased when the Obama administration started and said, We’re not going to use the phrase ‘war on terror,’ ” says Erroll Southers, a former F.B.I. agent and now director of the Safe Communities Institute at the University of Southern California. “I think the Obama people decided, O.K., we’re not going to call it ‘terrorism,’ thinking it was a good thing. The problem was they didn’t realize how much it emboldened the other side and gave them political cover.”

In the months following Donald Trump’s inauguration, security analysts noted with increasing alarm what seemed to be a systematic erosion of the Department of Homeland Security’s analytic and operational capabilities with regard to countering violent extremism. It began with the appointment of a new national-security team. Like their counterparts now running immigration policy, the team came from the fringe of conservative politics, some of them with connections to Islamophobic think tanks and organizations like ACT for America or the Center for Security Policy, whose founder, Frank Gaffney, was Washington’s most prominent peddler of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.

In addition to Gaffney, whose biased and statistically flawed data on the “Muslim threat” became the premise for Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, there were other ideological fellow travelers like Sebastian and Katharine Gorka, the husband-and-wife national-security team. Sebastian Gorka became a senior White House adviser, and Katharine Gorka became a senior adviser to the Department of Homeland Security. During the transition, Sebastian Gorka predicted the demise of “C.V.E.,” which he suggested was a fuzzy, politically correct approach to a problem — terrorism — that needed a better fix. Shortly afterward, Katharine Gorka, who once criticized the Obama administration for “allowing Islamists to dictate national-security policy,” made it clear, Nate Snyder recalls, that she didn’t like the phrase “countering violent extremism.” From now on, the mission would be focused on “radical Islamic terrorism,” the White House’s go-to phrase, which, as Sebastian Gorka later explained, was intended to “jettison the political correctness of the last eight years.”

A surreal scene, replicated in nearly every department and agency, soon began to play out inside the Department of Homeland Security. George Selim, a longtime national-security expert in both the Bush and Obama administrations who headed the Office of Community Partnerships, which worked with local government and civic groups on C.V.E. efforts, noted that as the months passed, “it was clear that there were fewer and fewer of the career civil servants at the table for critical policy decisions.” Some political appointees seemed to have virtually no experience with the issues they had been tapped to advise on. Katharine Gorka, as her own LinkedIn biography notes, had never held a public-sector job before joining the department, nor did she seem to have any practical experience in national security, or law enforcement, or intelligence. Another new senior Homeland Security official, the retired Navy officer Frank Wuco, had made a career of lecturing to the military about the jihadi mind-set, often while role-playing as a member of the Taliban in a Pashtun hat and kaffiyeh. “That’s who was trying to tell me he understands the threat,” an official said dryly.

By February 2017, after the Trump administration issued its first executive order trying to ban citizens of Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, several American Muslim groups decided to reject federal C.V.E. grant money they were awarded under the Obama administration out of concern over the new administration’s framing of the issue. That March, the White House froze the $10 million the previous administration had allotted for the grants, pending review. While that review was underway, the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. issued a joint intelligence bulletin, dated May 10, warning that white supremacists might pose “a threat of lethal violence” over the next year. The report, which some analysts said reflected a fraction of the actual numbers, said that white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 . . . more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

At the end of June, the Department of Homeland Security withheld grant money from several previously approved applicants whose focus was on studying extremists’ online networks and helping both white supremacists and Muslim extremists leave their movements. Though the total budget for C.V.E. was minuscule given the department’s overall grant budget, rejecting those programs nonetheless produced “a real chilling effect,” as one policy analyst recalls. Some researchers withdrew from plans to brief lawmakers on far-right extremism.

In July 2017, Selim tendered his resignation. Not long afterward, a senior official on the interagency task force running C.V.E. efforts withdrew. More departures followed. The Department of Homeland Security renamed the Office of Community Partnerships the Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships. At the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, analysts specifically looking at domestic terrorism and coordinating with local law enforcement were reassigned as public-affairs liaisons, Snyder says. “So no one is looking at the intelligence and connecting the dots, which is what the Department of Homeland Security was created to do.”

In the lingo of the counterterrorism world, the department’s responsibility is anything “left of boom,” meaning all the pre-emptive steps that might prevent an attack, from securing the borders to synthesizing and sharing intelligence to working with community leaders and local law enforcement to help them better identify risks. Today, at least for the federal government, Snyder says “left of boom is dead.”

William Fears was born in 1987 and spent his childhood in Jasper, Tex., a tiny and deeply segregated town about 130 miles northeast of Houston. East Texas is Klan country, and Jasper holds a notable spot in the racist history of the region as the town where, in 1998, when Fears was 10, three white men lynched a black man named James Byrd Jr., chaining him to the back of a truck and dragging him to death.

Early in his life, Fears, searching for identity, cycled through a long list of ideologies. He was 14 on Sept. 11, 2001, old enough to absorb the patriotic fervor of that moment but too young to enlist. For a year or two, he was a Michael Moore-style populist, having been “red-pilled on ‘Bowling for Columbine.’ ” Then, having spent a great deal of his spare time stoned and watching YouTube, Fears embraced the Sept. 11 “truthers” movement. As he spent more and more time on sites like Infowars, he was exposed to notions that the government, backed by the Illumi-nati, the globalists, the Freemasons — Jews, but not “the Jews” as he would later come to see them — had blown up the towers, crashed the financial markets and plunged the country into economic crisis. This led to his next great obsession: the candidacy of the G.O.P. presidential hopeful Ron Paul, a libertarian who had amassed a large grass-roots following of what The New York Times then called “iconoclastic white men.”

But Fears eventually grew bored with Paul, just as he had grown bored with Michael Moore, and it was in this state of vague political disillusionment, and heavy drug use, that Fears kidnapped a former girlfriend in 2009 and stabbed her in the face, legs and neck before she managed to escape. In 2010, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Fears doesn’t like to talk much about his sojourn in the Texas state-prison system, though like many young men who went from the penitentiary to the far right, he was introduced to the basic tenets of white supremacy there. “White guys got to stick together,” he says, referring to an admitted friendship with members of the Texas branch of the Aryan Brotherhood, one of the most notoriously brutal white-supremacist gangs in the country. But he dropped those friendships after prison, he insists. “I didn’t like the whole Nazi skinhead thing with tattoos on their face and beating up minorities for no reason,” he says, implying that they represented an earlier generation: “They’re like 1.0s.”

Six years later, Fears was paroled and emerged from prison drug-free but otherwise largely the same. He was still a conspiracy theorist, though he was less obsessed with the government, his friend John Canales noticed when they reconnected that summer. “Now it was all about the Jews,” Canales says. At home in the Houston suburb of Pasadena, Fears submerged himself in what to him was the new, hyperconnected world of the internet, where every YouTube video he watched algorithmically directed him to others with increasingly far-right political agendas. He was fascinated by men like Richard Spencer, who fashioned himself as the second coming of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. He was also intrigued by Donald Trump, the troubadour of a new generation of angry white men, the alt-right movement — white supremacy 2.0 — with its in-jokes and symbols that were mostly lost on U.S. law enforcement.

Fears believed in the power of memes, though alt-right memes, while dripping in irony, were also, in essence, hate speech, part of a propaganda war arguably intended to spread terror just as much as any ISIS execution video. Fears, his friend Canales says, was one of the first people Canales knew to understand this and promote the memes as broadly as he could, standing on street corners and “sieg heil-ing” at passers-by or waving a swastika-laden Pepe the Frog sign reading “Free Helicopter Rides,” an allusion to the murder of political enemies, notably leftists.

In December 2016, less than six months after getting out of prison, Fears went to his first Richard Spencer event, on the campus of Texas A&M. More so-called free-speech events followed, where young white men in red MAGA hats and polo shirts descended upon college campuses or progressive enclaves in otherwise blood-red states: a clean-cut Trumpian army, marching in formation or hurling insults at activists who, outraged by their very presence, would try to fight them.

Sometimes the police would intervene, or not. Fears, for one, always felt safe with the police in Texas, though he said “they work for ZOG” — the so-called Zionist Occupied Government. “They’ll take their paycheck over the country.”

Cops would stand watch at events, sometimes on horseback, and while they might not have been ideologically aligned with the alt-right, they still tolerated them. Fears said the cops were far less forgiving of Antifa, a catchall term that has been used to describe dedicated anti-fascists and so-called anarchist extremists, as well as animal rights activists, immigration rights activists, members of the local Socialist movement, environmental protesters like those who had recently been blasted by water cannons and rubber bullets at Standing Rock, and Black Lives Matter supporters, whose protests have been met by dozens of cops in riot gear, as well as sometimes members of a paramilitary support unit. One Houston activist, who went to high school with Fears, recalls a rally where the police posed for pictures with members of the alt-right. “Very buddy-buddy,” he says.

The same essential scenario played out across the country. At a rally in Sacramento in June 2016 organized by the white-supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party, a throng of counterprotesters showed up. “The police didn’t step in really at all,” a police observer and representative of the National Lawyers Guild later told The Sacramento Bee. “They basically just let people do what they wanted to do,” the observer said. “In this case, someone made a decision just to let them fight it out.” Ten people were hospitalized, at least five for stabbing wounds and other lacerations, most of them left-wing counterprotesters, some of whom were later charged with assault. Only one white supremacist was arrested, though court records originally acquired by The Guardian mentioned at least four T.W.P.-affiliated men who came armed with knives to the rally but were not charged. “We’re looking at you as a victim,” an investigator with the California Highway Patrol reportedly assured a member of the T.W.P. after the rally.

One domestic-terrorism expert who conducts hate-crimes training for law enforcement was baffled by the pushback she received from police officers who didn’t seem to view white-supremacist groups as a law-enforcement problem. “They’d say things like, ‘Why aren’t you calling Black Lives Matter or Antifa a hate group?’ The answer is, because they’re not hate groups! But they didn’t see it that way.”

It was in this atmosphere that Fears made his progress through various protests. He traveled to Charlottesville with a backpack of dystopian gear: goggles, gloves and a helmet, though he disguised himself as a Trump supporter in a suit. It was war. It was also fun. By the summer of 2017, the media had begun to cover more far-right events, leading more people to show up in protest, which furthered the right’s victimization narrative, which in turn led to more events and more violence, all of which was packaged into neat selling points for a movement whose actual real-life followers may have been far fewer than they appeared.

A person’s willingness to brawl was a point of pride. Some of the most ardent fighters, many of them felons, became celebrities in their own right, offered speaking slots at rallies, where their V.I.P. status earned them police protection. The Rise Above Movement, led in part by a gang member who had gone to prison for an attack, turned beat-downs into an art form, which they promoted on YouTube, drawing recruits. Nathan Damigo, a former Marine who was incarcerated for five years for armed robbery, used footage of his punching a young woman in the face during a Berkeley protest as a recruiting video for his white-nationalist organization, Identity Evropa. The Proud Boys went as far as to create an entire culture around gang-style rituals, including initiation beatings.

On Facebook, various white men were stating their intention of going to Charlottesville for what they understood would be a huge gathering of the tribes, making plans of whom to meet up with and what to bring. Fears initially advised against carrying weapons, but he suggested keeping them close by. “It all comes down to police,” he said on Facebook. “If they leave us to fight for ourselves like in Berkeley, we know to get ready for bricks to start flying.”

In private communications on the chat service Discord, posted online by the progressive watchdog Unicorn Riot, organizers of Unite the Right spent weeks discussing tactics. The F.B.I. itself was limited in its surveillance capacity (though many left-wing groups argued that this did not prevent the bureau from monitoring their activities), and in the absence of comprehensive federal scrutiny, right-wing activists trawled through left-wing websites, shared photos of leading anti-fascist and racial-justice activists and infiltrated real-life gatherings. In advance of the event, leaked chats documented potential attendees openly advising their comrades to take note of any threats of violence so they could share them with the police. Erroll Southers later remarked on the sophistication of advising their followers not to bring cellphones, and sharing information among small cells of affinity groups: “From an intelligence perspective, it was very impressive.”

From a law-enforcement perspective, it was chaos. Rarely did a white-supremacist event draw more than 60 people before 2016; 100 was remarkable. But Charlottesville was another galaxy, both in the sheer number of marchers and their diversity. Southers notes, “You had factions of white nationalists, white supremacists, Klan members, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates — which was like having ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab and Boko Haram at the same rally. And they were all rallying together, shoulder to shoulder, while the police watched these people go toe to toe sort of like a modern-day ‘Game of Thrones’ battle.”

“I put my baton on the ground and hands in the air,” the protester later said of the moment when Tyler TenBrink pointed his gun directly at him. The man was terrified. TenBrink took aim and fired. One of the other protesters hid in the trees. Several more crouched behind a small wall, screaming. The bullet missed. The men jumped back into Fears’s Jeep and, with Colton behind the wheel, sped away toward Interstate 75 — but not before a witness wrote down the license-plate number.

Lieutenant Stout learned of the shooting later that night, and while no one was hurt, his heart sank. In all his preparations, Stout hadn’t considered that violence might occur outside the secure perimeter they had so carefully set up. That night, the Florida state police caught up with the Jeep on the highway and arrested the Texans. The city officials breathed a sigh of relief and lauded the day as a success.

Will Fears spent more than 40 days in the Alachua County Jail on $1 million bail. Depending on whom he is talking with, he and his brother and TenBrink, who both remain in the Alachua County Jail, were the “celebrities” of the jail, or maybe just Fears was. He portrayed his stay as fairly cushy, and one in which he was a very big deal, which of course he wasn’t to the authorities who picked him up in December, after Texas ordered him extradited back to Houston to face charges in the supposed assault of his girlfriend last October. Along the way back to Texas, Fears tried to make conversation. “I was on the news, you didn’t see that?” he remarked. When Fears arrived back in Houston, he spent two nights in the Harris County Jail, then appeared before a judge, who promptly released him on $5,000 bail.

Fears returned home to Pasadena and resumed the same life he had always led. Apparently unconcerned about exposure, he had posted his cellphone number on social media. Earlier this year, I called him. We met at a Belgian cafe in a rapidly gentrifying part of Houston. When I arrived, Fears was sitting at an outside table, drinking an Arnold Palmer.

Fears told me he had spent most of the past year celebrating the alt-right’s covert domination of the news cycle. He seemed thrilled that Donald Trump tweeted about a so-called migrant caravan, which, like the supposed “white genocide” in South Africa, was mostly fiction. Yet it was effectively promoted by alt-right websites like The Daily Stormer and Breitbart, and now right-wing celebrities like Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson were talking about it. “This idea that the alt-right is falling apart and is going to go away, it’s not true,” he says. “The alt-right formulates all these ideas,” he went on. “What Tucker Carlson talks about, we talked about a year ago.”

It was a few days after the massacre of 17 people in Parkland, Fla., and Fears had been considering the spate of school shootings in America. He repeated the rumor, widespread on 4chan and Gab, that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was Jewish, and so were many of his victims. It’s unclear if this is true. But if it were, it would make no sense to Fears, who, if he believes in anything, believes in the essentially tribal nature of all human beings. Jews, he said, “have a biological need to look out for their own.” He had spoken a bit about what he called the J.Q., or Jewish Question, as successive generations of anti-Semites have referred to the debate over how Western nations should handle the presence of Jews in their societies. “I don’t hate them for it, but I realize that their interests aren’t the same as mine.”

Fears’s views aren’t unique — roughly 22 million Americans call it “acceptable” to hold neo-Nazi or white-supremacist views, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken in the wake of Charlottesville in August 2017. Roughly the same number of people, about 10 percent of Americans, said they supported the “alt-right”; about half of those polled said they were against it. Driving around Fears’s neighborhood one day, I saw Confederate flags, and American flags, and sometimes a Blue Lives Matter flag, and the black-and-white “Don’t Tread on Me” flag waving from shiny new trucks. I also saw row after row of McMansions, many of them with swimming pools. There were new S.U.V.s parked in the driveways, and boats: signs of money made and money spent. One former high school classmate of Fears’s described the culture as “wannabe redneck.”

Fears says that unlike him, the bulk of the alt-right prefers to stay in the shadows. “I see a lot of people and talk to a lot of people that people would pay a lot of money to find out who they are,” he says. Some of them, he suggests, take part in his weekly Thursday-morning “fight club,” practicing mixed martial arts. Some have white-collar jobs or are veterans, groups that make up a large part of the movement.

Fears was wearing a baseball cap adorned with a red, white and blue patch known as the “whomster” flag. It’s “kind of a racist joke,” he said, albeit one that most people won’t get, as they probably have no clue what “whomster” means (it’s a common meme that refers to the supposed, if baseless, fact that African-Americans say “whomst” a lot). The flag featured the Texas lone star against a backdrop of 14 red and white stripes, an allusion to a signature white supremacist slogan addressing their goal of preserving the white race. The star is centered on a large blue sonnerad, or black sun, an ancient symbol favored by white supremacists, who see it as less obvious than, say, a swastika. In recent years, even longtime neo-Nazi groups like the National Socialist Movement have rebranded by dropping the swastika for less “triggering” symbols like sonnerads or runes. The meaning is the same.

Fears has said that he was upset that his little brother, who in September pleaded guilty to accessory to attempted murder, got in so much trouble. “He’s not really a white nationalist that much,” he said during an interview with a right-wing podcast. “He’s really only involved in anything as a result of being my little brother.”

It was a bit like the little brother-big brother Boston bombing duo, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom Fears identifies with. He agreed to meet with me, he said, because I had written about them. “I think it’s easy for our generation, or the youth, the way society is now, to feel victimized. It’s like with your back against the wall, you know what I mean?”

In the Tsarnaevs’ case, this led to terrorism, and for Dzhokhar, the surviving brother, it led to a stretch on death row. Fears, drinking his iced tea-lemonade concoction, considered this. “Maybe he saw a lot of things in the world that bothered him and just didn’t know how to deal with it,” he said. “I can sort of relate to that.”

Fears munched on some bread. “You’re Jewish, right?” he said pleasantly.

In fact, I am. And while I happened to be sitting across the table from an admitted fascist who admires Adolf Hitler and has advocated (he says trollishly) “white Shariah,” I didn’t feel threatened by Will Fears. Like so many of the movement’s vague anymen, he presented himself as polite, articulate and interested in cultural politics, and though his views are abhorrent, he stated them all so laconically you might forget that he actually believes in the concept of a white ethnostate. And that’s the point: The genius of the new far right, if we could call it “genius,” has been their steadfast determination to blend into the larger fabric of society to such an extent that perhaps the only way you might see them as a problem is if you actually want to see them at all.

The purpose of the F.B.I.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is to investigate terrorism and share information from those investigations so that the law-enforcement community is able to identify the most dangerous individuals. State and local law-enforcement “fusion centers” were set up with this same goal in mind. There are perhaps half a dozen information-sharing and threat-assessment networks available to law enforcement. In an alternate universe, these networks would function efficiently. In reality, German says, “far-right violence remains a blind spot. It just isn’t properly tracked or understood.”

On Aug. 31 this year, his 25th anniversary on the force, Dan Stout retired from the Gainesville Police Department, in part because of the stress and fatigue he endured from the Spencer incident. “The level of resources and financial impact these types of events are now costing communities to prepare for and manage, it’s just unsustainable,” he says. “How much of our city do we literally turn into a quasi-police state to manage this?” Stout’s study of the alt-right and left-wing movements made him an “expert,” at least in the eyes of federal and state law enforcement, who, he says, began to invite him to visit their jurisdictions to share what he had learned. “They were soaking it up like a sponge,” he says. And yet, in reality he feels that they had collectively dodged a bullet — “no pun intended,” he says. “Just another inch to the right or the left and we’d have had a very bad situation.”

In May, I called up the Harris County district attorney’s office to ask why someone who had been in jail in Florida on $1 million bond had, upon extradition, been released on $5,000 bond. Joshua Phanco, a prosecutor who at the time was in charge of Fears’s case, was alarmed by the call. He vaguely recalled that Fears had been in prison in Florida, but he wasn’t aware that Fears had been charged with attempted murder, or that he had anything to do with white supremacy. “This is the first I’m hearing this,” he told me. (Fears’s charge in Florida has since been dropped.)

Phanco, who has since moved on to the district attorney’s major-crimes division, spoke with me for two hours. He diagramed the byzantine system that is the Harris County criminal-justice system, one of the nation’s largest, and a study in dysfunction. There is no central database, no way to share information among all the tiny police departments that feed into the clerk’s office, which then divvies up crimes among 22 criminal courts, now scattered across the entire county. Basically, he said, unless someone tells him about a guy he’s prosecuting, he has no clue.

“I mean, how come I didn’t know what happened in Florida?” he said. “Is it my fault? Is it Florida’s fault? How come there wasn’t an officer in Houston watching this? How come he was on nobody’s radar?” Houston has an aggressive gang task force whose investigators have deep knowledge of everyone from the street-level drug dealers to the cartel bosses. “If a fairly high-up guy from MS-13 sneezes, I get a call at 10 p.m.,” he said.

If Fears were on someone’s radar, Phanco doubted he would ever get off it. “But who’s responsible for keeping track of these alt-right guys in Houston? Nobody. For me the question is, well, how come? If you want to look at these guys as terrorists — which I think it is when they’re firing guns out of cars at protesters,” he noted, “then the question remains: Who or what will prevent him from committing more crimes? And, from my chair, nobody,” Phanco said. “Nobody’s watching it, nobody’s tracking it. And that’s what’s got me scared.”


Janet Reitman is a contributing writer for the magazine who is working on a book about the rise of the far right in post-9/11 America. She is also a contributing editor for Rolling Stone.


“The United States Is Not a Safe Country”: Canadian Advocates Want to End a Policy That Turns Asylum-Seekers Back to U.S.

November 3, 2018

by Emma Whitford

The Intercept

The theory behind the Safe Third Country Agreement, or STCA, is that the United States and Canada are interchangeable options for refugees. Not everyone agrees. Three major organizations fighting for immigrant rights in Canada — the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches, and Amnesty International Canada — filed a challenge in federal court last year to the “safe third country” designation. For the second time in a decade, they’re arguing that the United States is not, in fact, safe.

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, can quickly tick off conditions in the United States that make the country hostile to refugees. Asylum claimants often don’t have access to counsel and are often kept in detention while their claims are assessed. The Trump administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on asylum-seekers, through policy changes that Amnesty International recently said “appear to be aimed at the full dismantling of the U.S. asylum system.” (Most recently, President Donald Trump has threatened to hold asylum-seekers along the southern border in tent cities.) Whereas in Canada, detention is rare (less than 1 percent of all foreign entries annually, according to government data) and many claimants, depending on which province they entered through, can have access to a free lawyer.

This is “a story about whether Canada wants to take responsibility for its human rights obligations,” explained Dench. When asylum claims fail in the United States, she said, “Canada is bearing one part of the responsibility for those people who end up being sent back to their country of origin and persecuted.”

For thousands of refugees, crossing between land ports has proven a viable alternative. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 50,469 refugees asked for asylum in Canada last year, a 10-year high and more than twice 2016 levels. About 40 percent of those claimants crossed from the United States on foot between official points of entry, where the STCA doesn’t apply.

The surge has had logistical consequences. Stéphanie Valois, a refugee lawyer of 25 years based in Montreal, told The Intercept that she’s never had a summer quite like 2017. “I felt like a doctor in the emergency room but without the pay,” she said. Unofficial border crossings have slowed this year: There were 15,726 between January and September. Still, on June 25, the city manager of Toronto issued a report stating that the city has “exhausted all facilities, personnel, and financial resources” attempting to shelter refugees who have traveled from Quebec.

But Dench challenges the notion that suspending the STCA would open the floodgates to migration across the U.S. border, which has been increasing since Obama’s second term as the global refugee crisis has intensified. As it stands, she says, the agreement is “not really working anymore as a break from letting people into Canada.” Instead, it is pushing people to unofficial crossings.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has positioned himself as a great defender of refugees, in contrast to Trump. But Canadian academics and immigrant advocates told The Intercept that the STCA has given Conservative politicians in Canada a powerful political tool that Trudeau’s Liberal government has failed to adequately challenge. Both Canadian and international law protects refugees seeking asylum across the Canadian border, but in the last year, the technical term for crossing outside of land ports, “irregular,” is becoming interchangeable with the more loaded “illegal.” Rather than suspend the STCA — and allow asylum-seekers to come through legal ports of entry — Trudeau’s administration is fighting to maintain it. The next hearing in the rights groups’ challenge will take place in May 2019. Meanwhile, Dench says, “the situation in the U.S. has been getting worse.”

“The spectacle of [irregular] border crossings incites people because of this obsession with loss of control,” says Audrey Macklin, chair of human rights law at the University of Toronto. Remove the STCA, she says, and the spectacle would evaporate. “Why not do that?”

In the late 1990s, Canada hoped to emulate the European Union, where several countries had signed on to the now-defunct Dublin Regulation requiring refugees to apply for asylum in whichever participating country they entered first. The United States dismissed Canada’s request for a similar agreement, though, until September 11, 2001, when border security became a central issue. “The United States demanded and secured a series of border management concessions from Canada,” Macklin explained. “And in exchange for that, Canada said, ‘Now it’s your turn to do something for us.’” The STCA took effect in December 2004.

Efrat Arbel, an assistant law professor at the University of British Columbia, has been studying the impacts of the STCA since 2005. She says she’s been most troubled to see refugee flows shifting into more treacherous territory. In the eight years before the STCA took effect, between 6,000 and 14,000 refugee claims were being made annually at land ports on the border. The average number between 2005 and 2012 was just 5,600. “The Safe Third blocks the safest, most organized mode through which asylum-seekers can enter,” Arbel said.

Roxham Road is by far the most popular alternative. Wendy Ayotte, 66, is part of a Canadian neighborhood group called Bridges Not Borders that has been crossing into the United States on Sundays since November to offer encouragement to refugees. She said that Roxham Road has become more orderly lately, and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had responded to her group’s concerns about officers they’d observed telling refugees to turn back or go to an official border crossing.

Still, smaller numbers of refugees continue to cross at less organized irregular points. This year to date, more than 700 people have crossed at Manitoba and in British Columbia, representing about 4 percent of the total crossers. There were multiple reports of frostbite at Manitoba during the winter of 2016 and last May, the body of 57-year-old Mavis Otuteye, a Ghanaian woman, was found just south of the Canadian border at Manitoba in Noyes, Minnesota.

Refugees like the Sylvains, who choose to cross at an official point of entry, are taking a different gamble. The number of refugee claimants turned back annually from the Canadian border because they do not qualify for an exception to the STCA more than doubled in 2017 over the previous year, to 1,949 claimants. In all of 2015, before Donald Trump’s election, 418 people were turned back.

It is Canada Border Services Agency policy to notify U.S. Customs and Border Protection whenever a claimant is turned back from the border, which can result in detention for refugees without valid U.S. visas. Immigration detention centers in the U.S. are rife with reports of abuses, including sexual assault, inadequate food, lack of medical care, and racism. The Intercept spoke with a 22-year-old Haitian woman who was arrested with an expired visa before she made it to Canada last year. During her 100-day stint in Clinton County Jail in New York, she said, “They treated us like criminals. … The food was bad. I didn’t eat it. It’s cold, no heat, and they didn’t give us jackets.” (The Intercept is withholding her name because her U.S. immigration case is pending.)

Nadege Jean-Mardy volunteered last year as a translator for refugee claimants arrested by CBP and detained in Clinton County Jail. “People are definitely confused by the law,” she told The Intercept. “In their head, it doesn’t make sense because … the way they see it: ‘OK, I’m going to ask for asylum, but I’m going to do it the right way.’”

Inside the jail, she recalled, refugees “were sleeping on benches and they were treated as prisoners, [when] their only fault was asking for help.”

In 2007, Canadian Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan upheld the first legal challenge to the STCA. “The U.S. does not meet the Refugee Convention requirements nor the Convention Against Torture,” Phelan ruled. But a Canadian appeals court granted a stay of Phelan’s order one day before it was set to go into effect and ultimately overturned his ruling — not on the grounds that the United States was safe, but that this was not the court’s decision to make.

Advocates’ current legal strategy is similar to the first. They’re highlighting the story of a woman who fled gang violence in El Salvador with her two young daughters: first to Texas in November 2016 and then to the official Canadian border crossing at Fort Erie, where she was denied asylum because of the STCA. They’ve also collected testimony from a man who came to the United States on a student visa last year and was placed in immigration detention in March after attempting to join his aunt in Canada, and another man who spent 10 days in solitary confinement after Canadian officials turned him away.

Meanwhile, a fresh wave of anger is cresting among refugee advocates and attorneys in Canada. Sean Rehaag, a law professor at York University, described the STCA as “dead” in the face of the Trump administration’s particular hostility to asylum-seekers. Canada’s minority New Democratic Party called for its suspension last year, wondering in a statement, “What will it take for the Liberals to finally take this situation seriously and act?” In addition to Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy that has separated thousands of children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new guidelines in June ordering judges to block asylum claims for victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. The Trump administration has also been trying to arrange a Safe Third Country Agreement with Mexico, which would allow the United States to turn back refugees along the southern border (rights groups have loudly protested the idea.)

Lobat Sadrehashemi, president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, called her country’s ongoing commitment to the STCA “appalling” in a statement to The Intercept. “We are watching the images of children being ripped apart from their parents in horror,” she said. “Refugee law has been turned on its head in the United States.”

At the same time, conservative anxiety about irregular border crossings in Canada continues to escalate. Alberta Conservative Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel proposed this spring to turn the entire length of the Canadian border into a formal point of entry – which would mean that anyone could be turned back under STCA. Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée called for a fence to be built at Roxham Road, quipping that “the Mexicans” should pay for it. And as news of Trump’s harsh southern border policies spread in June, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made a publicity trip to Roxham Road, which he described as the “epicenter of the crisis at our borders.”

During an Immigration Committee hearing in March, Conservative members of parliament pressed Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen to use “illegal” to describe refugees crossing the border irregularly. “I have used the word ‘illegal’ and I have used the word ‘irregular,’ and I think both are accurate,” Hussen acquiesced

More recently, the Trudeau administration has criticized anti-refugee rhetoric. For example, when Ontario Premier Doug Ford called on Liberals to address the “mess” of “illegal border crossers” in July, Hussen, a refugee himself, bemoaned that “Ontario sadly has chosen the language of fear. They’ve chosen to intentionally use language that could potentially criminalize asylum-seekers in the minds of Canadians.” That month, his department quietly replaced the word “illegal” with “irregular” on its website.

But Hussen also maintains that the United States is safe for refugees. His office declined to comment to The Intercept on the STCA legal challenge, on the grounds that it is an open matter before the court. However, spokesperson Mathieu Genest said in a statement that “in general, we can say that Canada has carefully analyzed recent developments in the United States, including the Executive Orders related to immigration and refugee matters, and determined that the United States remains a safe country for asylum claimants to seek protection there.”

In late May, more than 100 members of the Canadian far-right group Storm Alliance, an offshoot of the more openly fascist Soldiers of Odin, drove to the U.S. border at Lacolle. Many of them waved middle fingers and Quebec flags and carried hand-painted signs in French: “No Illegality! Enough!” Attendee Sebastien Cormier, a 38-year-old single father and nursing assistant from Sherbrooke, Quebec, said that he decided to join Storm Alliance because the situation at Roxham Road is “anarchy.”

Storm Alliance has gathered near the Quebec border three times since 2017, and each time, anti-racist activists have organized a counterprotest. It’s a delicate balance, they say, since they don’t want to draw attention to the far right but still want to be sure that refugees aren’t met with intimidation. Messages scrawled in white and pink chalk near temporary refugee processing trailers this spring read “Bienvenue Refugies!”

Speaking to The Intercept at the May border demonstration, anti-fascist activist Jaggi Singh said that the Trudeau administration has failed asylum-seekers.

“[When] you have far-right people and some of the politicians that pander to them talking about shutting down the border, it kind of gives the Trudeaus of the world a pass,” Singh said. “But the response of the Trudeau government has been pretty horrible. They continue to maintain this fiction that the United States is a safe third country, when people are being thrown out and when Trump is quite actively slandering entire groups of people.”

Historically, hard-line immigration policies have gained traction in Canada when refugees arrive in highly visible ways. For example, in August 2010, 492 Sri Lankan refugees arrived by ship on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada. The passengers on the Sun Sea were the second such group in less than a year and were met with public skepticism verging on alarm. At the time, the Conservative government managed to pass legislation imposing mandatory detention and multiyear delays on permanent residency applications for certain refugee claimants.

Now, beyond simply maintaining the STCA, Canada’s Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship office has announced plans to enhance border security. Hussen is in “continuous discussions on improving all aspects of managing the border, including through potential modernization of the STCA,” according to Genest, his spokesperson. This summer Hussen told CBC News  that “modernization” of the STCA could entail the use of biometrics, such as fingerprints and photographs, though privacy watchdogs and refugee lawyers told The Intercept that they are awaiting clarity on the new policy.

And in mid-July, Trudeau created a new government office, appointing Liberal Member of Parliament Bill Blair as Canada’s first minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction. In a press release, Trudeau’s office stated that Blair will “ensure Canada’s borders are managed in a way that promotes legitimate travel and trade while keeping Canadians safe.” Blair sent a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in September with “a request to begin negotiations as soon as possible to enhance and modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement to the mutual benefit of both countries,” spokesperson Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux told The Intercept. (Homeland Security declined to comment.)

Brenda McPhail, director of the Privacy, Surveillance and Technology Project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said she worries that the Liberal government’s talk of biometrics will further enforce the perception of refugees as criminals. “We fingerprint criminals,” she said. “So I think there’s some sort of implicit message to Canadians that if we’re taking fingerprints from people … we’re treating them in a criminal manner.”

She added that it’s “no coincidence” that Blair is a former police chief. “The government seems to want to position the appointment as a way to counter and assuage fears for public safety,” she said. “But it also validates those fears in the process.”

Macklin, the human rights lawyer, said that Trudeau’s government has its priorities wrong. For Canada, she said, “the problem is irregular entry, so the solution has to be preventing irregular entry. No. The problem is that the United States is not a safe country.”












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