June 3, 2020

Bill Barr and the Trump administration would have you believe that the only people responsible for looting and vandalism and violence against people are members of Antifa and/or the political left. Remember also that they instructed us out loud not to believe what we see and hear with our own eyes and ears. They would know, since they refuse to publicly believe that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, or that Trump obstructed justice in any way shape or form. This sets the stage perfectly for what is going on now in the streets and on social media platforms like Twitter.

Thankfully, Twitter is slowly opening its eyes and disregarding Trump's directive. Twitter suspended an account created by white nationalists associated with the group Identity Evropa, because not only were they calling for violence in the streets at the protests against police brutality — they were posing as members of Antifa as they did so. Why set up, as Nicolle Wallace calls them, "Trump's favorite target?" She asked former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, Frank Figliuzzi, to speak to this complicating and dangerous strategy.

FIGLIUZZI: A couple of thoughts, Nicolle. First, I think this really reflects how incredibly complex and challenging the role of law enforcement is going to be here. They are up against it right now with groups pretending to be other groups on opposite sides of the political spectrum. All of them potentially dangerous and risky. It makes the intelligence operation that's going along with the violence suppression extremely complicated. Second concern that I have, Nicolle, I'm becoming extremely concerned when law enforcement does its job, rounds up the most violent groups and entities and individuals, that politically that it won't be received well if it's not the RIGHT people being arrested or the RIGHT groups being suppressed. We're in a very, very delicate time right now and that's why you're seeing law enforcement agencies across the country really giving us a big fat "No comment" when we ask them to name the groups and individuals and organizations that they're finding on their streets. Sources are telling me they run the spectrum of groups and diverse political opinions, but you won't hear that coming from our attorney or our president.

Now, that is terrifying. Unsurprising, but terrifying. Law enforcement don't want to tell us who has been arrested unless Trump will be pleased about it. In other words, if neo-nazis are arrested, we won't hear about it. If right-wing Trump-lovers are arrested for instigating violence, we won't hear about it. Because law enforcement is afraid of the political ramifications of making Trump angry.

Nicolle Wallace asked him if this is déjà vu all over again, with Russians using our own social media against us in 2016 being so fresh a national wound. How are we to process information at all?

FIGLIUZZI: Right, I spent -- as you know, I spent most of my career attempting to counter the efforts of foreign adversaries, which we became astutely aware of in the Mueller report and the realization that Russians were messing with our democratic system. Now, Nicolle, the reality is, we're doing much of this to ourselves, and it's almost as if the white nationalists have taken a lesson out of the playbook of the Russian intelligence services. And on top of that we still have to be concerned that foreign adversaries are also playing us and playing with us on our own social media, as rumors of early reports of them being out there wanting to divide us racially. The Russians are absolutely keen on that. In fact, our own State Department, back in March, issued a report saying the Russian intelligence services were making efforts to divide us racially. So, this is an all-source threat, we call it in the intelligence business, and what it's going to require us to do as consumers of information is to be extremely careful about what we're consuming on social media. We must demand the facts from our government when they say this group or that group is solely responsible for this, and we must also apply pressure to our social media platforms. I'm encouraged by what Twitter is doing. But I predict they will be denounced for doing it by certain aspects of our society.


Please, though, make no mistake. Russians dividing us racially is not new — they did it in 2016. There was a concerted effort to suppress the Black vote on the part of the Russians, by creating fake accounts purporting to be Black people, or Black Lives Matter groups, telling members to stay home, or vote third party. They're continuing to do it because we have not learned. Now, as Figliuzzi says, the white nationalist groups are adopting the same tactics — and perhaps it is because they see that we haven't learned.

One of the truly ironic and tragic parts of all of this is, Trump was right. We really can't believe what we see and hear. Because if it comes out of his administration, it's a lie.

More about Identity Evropa from SPLC and ADL,

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