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All Quiet on the Miami Front
The real threat is lurking out there in the hinterlands
The day came and went without violence in Miami Tuesday where the Grand Wizard of Mar-a-Lago was arraigned on 37 criminal counts. Much as Trump would’ve enjoyed a spectacle of street fighting in his honor around the federal courthouse, the day was peaceful—as expected.
What the feds really worry about is Trump motivating another grievances-soaked loser like Timothy McVeigh into building a truck bomb big enough to take out a federal building with casualties in the thousands. Or a white supremacist murdering a gathering of federal workers instead of Black church goers, or just Black grocery shoppers, like in Buffalo, or Latinos, or gay nightclubbers, or Jews, or merely Olympic Games attendees—you name it. To elements of MAGA world, they’re all worthy targets.
“My real concern was not at the courthouse today, although nothing is out of [the realm of] possibility in this day and age,” says Tom O’Connor, who spent most of his 25 years in the FBI tracking domestic violent extremism.
Meanwhile, leading—or should we say, following—Republicans, who know better, have been echoing Trump’s constant wailing that he’s being persecuted by a partisan, “weaponized” Justice Department. The former president never accepts responsibility for anything.
“My concern is that the charges and the continued rhetoric from many in positions of power will likely ramp up,” O’Connor, now Senior Consultant at the Soufan Group, told SpyTalk. “There are those who could potentially use today’s events as a tipping point to attack the ‘deep state,’ which they are being told has been weaponized against ‘their president.’”
Men drunk on MAGA rhetoric have already taken up arms in kamikaze-like assaults on FBI offices. A year ago in May, ABC totaled up 54 cases where Trump’s name was invoked by people carrying out of violence, threats and assaults.
“The perpetrators and suspects identified in the 54 cases are mostly white men – as young as teenagers and as old as 75 – while the victims largely represent an array of minority groups – African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men,” ABC’s Mike Levine reported.
Typical incident: A Washington state man who threatened to kill a local Syrian-born man told police he wanted the victim to "get out of my country," adding, "That’s why I like Trump."
As we’ve learned from decades studying Al Qaeda, ISIS and the like, it doesn’t take much to move disgruntled people from anger to action. And these days the high priests of MAGA world, from Trump on down to rightwing radio hucksters, are bursting with the mostly imagined grievances of their lives and increasing calls for violence.
The provocative talk show host Pete Santilli, for example, fantasized aloud that if he were in charge of the Marines Corps, he’d order every marine available to capture President Biden, “throw him in freakin’ zip ties in the back of a freakin’ pickup truck,” and “get him out of the White House,” according to a New York Times account. One of Santilli’s guests, Lance Migliaccio, said that if it were legal and he had access, he would “probably walk in and shoot” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump has regularly vilified Milley.
Over 74 million people voted for Trump. That’s a vast pool of deeply alienated Americans. There’s gotta be a number of them stewing in their basements, dreaming of making themselves big by killing lots of little people they’ve been driven to despise. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. turned itself upside down to prevent another Muslim assault. It’s taken the feds a long, long time to come to grips that the main enemy is within—from mostly white men like themselves—and they’re still way behind the curve, by many accounts.
“Donald Trump’s arraignment today at a federal courthouse in Miami will mark a new phase in the incitement campaigns that Trump has waged for most of his political career, former Homeland Security Department honcho Juliette Kayyam wrote Tuesday in The Atlantic. But it’s “evolved,” she wrote. “Highly organized violence like the January 6 riot now appears less likely. The urgent question is what dangerous individuals might do on their own and whether authorities are prepared to stop them.”
Authorities? All the “intelligence” in the government’s vast and deep vaults can’t seem to do it.
“The Domestic Terrorism program in the FBI is extremely robust especially following the past decade of increased threats,” O’Connor told us. “That said, I believe the potential for lone or small cell violence is very real.
“The internet and social media platforms have made it much easier for extremists to communicate and plan,” he added. “The successful prosecutions in January 6 cases may tamp down the use of social media in some forms, as it was clear that it is a two edged sword for the violent actor. Bottom line, the potential for Domestic Terrorist actions is very real.”
That man who fired a nail gun at the Cincinnati FBI office? He’d been on the feds’ “radar” for months, authorities said, because he’d participated in the Jan. 6 Trump-inspired attack on the Capitol. And?
Some radar that is.
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