News and Commentary

FBI Instructs High Schools to Watch ‘Anti-Government’ and ‘Constitutionalist’ Students

The unclassified report “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” released in January by the FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement describes high school students as the “ideal targets for violent extremists” and public school educators as essential in “facilitat[ing] intervention activities.” Among the “extremist ideologies” the FBI wants high school educators to be watching out for are “anti-government” sentiments and “constitutionalism.” In other words, you better watch yourself if you’re a libertarian or conservative.

In what InfoWars warns is a dangerous conflation of the concept of “sovereign citizens” and constitutionalists, federal authorities cite some widely-held conservative and libertarian sentiments as threatening and make clear that anti-government extremism is their number one priority, even over Islamic jihadism:

According to an FBI counterterrorism analysis, sovereign citizens “may refer to themselves as ‘constitutionalists’ or ‘freemen,’ which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control.”

The FBI considers the Redemption Theory (the abandonment of the gold standard in favor of fiat currency), emancipation “from the responsibilities of being a U.S. citizen, including paying taxes,” and “conspiracy theories,” including the formation of global government and a police state, as indicators of extremist or sovereign citizen ideology.

A National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) report produced by the Office of University Programs, Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security in 2014 lists sovereign citizens as the primary domestic terror threat in the United States, followed by Islamic jihadists, “militia/patriot” and “extreme anti-tax” groups.

“Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” begins by making the case that public high schools are fertile ground for violent extremism. “High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of targeted violence within our borders,” it claims. “High schools must remain vigilant in educating their students about catalysts that drive violent extremism and the potential consequences of embracing extremist belief.”

High school educators, the FBI argues, are on the front ground for preventing extremism, which the bureau notes can be promoted by diverse groups, including not only “designated foreign terrorist organizations” but “extremist” parents.

“[S]ome adults embrace domestic violent extremist ideologies [and] their beliefs can permeate family norms, oftentimes influencing their children,” the document explains. “This dynamic fosters biases leading to hatred and intolerance, and drives the need for action.”

InfoWars warns that this latest “see something, say something” effort is reminiscent of East Germany’s “informant culture” and is part of the FBI’s increasingly more wide-reaching “surveillance matrix.”