U.S. House of Representative Jim Jordan said Monday at least one undercover FBI employee sought to monitor parishioners in Catholic houses of worship to combat domestic terrorism using tripwire and sources.
According to internal documents released by House Judiciary Committee, FBI authorities planned to use churches as “new avenues for tripwire and source development,” sending a message that federal law enforcement may be listening while Americans practice their First Amendment right to worship freely.
“Chilling,” Jordan said in a tweet.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Rep. Jordan pointed out the agency cited a desire to sensitize congregations in the Richmond area of Virginia “to the warning signs of radicalization and enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.”
“Based on the limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee, we now know that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis, and that the FBI proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith,” Jordan wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday.
The letters alleged the bureau expressed interest in “leverag[ing] existing sources and/or initiat[ing] Type 5 Assessments to develop new sources with the placement and access.”
“Americans attend church to worship and congregate for their spiritual and personal betterment,” the letter continued. “They must be free to exercise their fundamental First Amendment rights without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called “tripwire” sources or other informants in their houses of worship.”
Jordan issued a subpoena for related documents previously requested from the FBI, but the bureau has since failed to provide such material.
The FBI told The Daily Wire in an email the agency received the subpoena, adding the bureau “recognizes the importance of congressional oversight and remains fully committed to cooperating with Congress’s oversight requests consistent with its constitutional and statutory responsibilities.”
“The FBI is actively working to respond to congressional requests for information – including voluntary production of documents,” a spokesperson told The Daily Wire.
Jordan first obtained internal documents from the bureau with Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) last month after FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published a leaked document that explicitly points to “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists in radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology.”
Through tripwires and liaisons, which are trusted contacts, Seraphin noted, the FBI can employ threat mitigation against such groups ahead of the next election.
The document drew attention to the so-called Radical-Traditional Catholic, described as someone who rejects the Second Vatican Council as a valid church council, shows disdain for most of the popes elected since Vatican II, and frequently adheres to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacy ideology.
Following the leak of the unclassified intelligence document, FBI authorities purged its system and began reviewing the basis for the document.
FBI Director Wray told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during a March 8 hearing that when he first learned of the intelligence document, he was “aghast,” reiterating the bureau immediately began to withdraw it and remove it from FBI systems.
“It does not reflect FBI standards,” Wray said. “We do not conduct investigations based on religious affiliation or practices, full stop. We have also now ordered our inspection division to take a look at how this happened and try to figure out how we can make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
“And we do not and will not target people for religious beliefs, and we do not and will not monitor people’s religious practices,” he added. “That’s not acceptable.”
U.S. House Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) slammed the bureau in a tweet following Jordan’s letter, questioning “how many undercover employees were attending Easter masses across the nation.”
“This is just another reason why we must defund the FBI/DOJ,” Biggs said. “They’ve completely departed from their mission.”
I wonder how many undercover employees were attending Easter masses across the nation yesterday.
This is just another reason why we must defund the FBI/DOJ.
They've completely departed from their mission. https://t.co/Tynw95E73L
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) April 10, 2023