Feds to combat domestic terror. Senate vote on repeal of 2002 Iraq use-of-force authorization. Newly-minted Israeli unity government bombs Gaza.
White House announces push to combat domestic terror
The Biden Administration has announced federal intelligence and law enforcement plans to combat the threat of domestic terror in the US. The announcement coincided with the release of a report from the intelligence community which warned that QAnon believers could continue to carry out acts of violence.
The National Security Council says it will be working with Silicon Valley to enhance monitoring of cells of online extremists and “eliminate terrorist content”. Here they are are referring to not only QAnon adherents, but also to white supremacist groups and antigovernment militias.
Recent inquiries into the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot have cited failings by Capitol Police to heed warnings from the FBI and other agencies of a planned attack. Plotters, some of them QAnon adherents, had communicated their aspirations openly on various internet forums.
FBI says QAnon still a threat
Separately, but probably not coincidentally, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security released their assessment that believers in the QAnon conspiracy could still pose a serious threat.
QAnon adherents subscribe to various “prophecies” posted on 4Chan (a notorious troll forum) by an anonymous user calling himself “Q”. In short, Q stated that former President Donald Trump was quietly working to bring down a cabal of liberal politicians who, among other things, were engaged in child sex trafficking.
Among these prophecies was “The Storm”, which was set to take place on March 4. This was to be the day that all of Trump’s enemies would be rounded up for trial and execution.
When March 4 came and went with no “Storm” materializing, many believers backed away from the movement. Still, the FBI/DHS report warns that as prophecy after prophecy fails to come to pass, some hardcore adherents “likely will begin to believe … they have an obligation to change from serving as ‘digital soldiers’ towards engaging in real world violence”.
Their report also cites “pro-QAnon statements by public individuals” as aggravating factors. The report didn’t specifically name Marjorie Taylor Greene, but probably because they didn’t need to.
Senate to vote on repeal of 2002 Iraq use of force authorization
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that the Senate will vote on a repeal of the 2002 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in Iraq. The House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the 2002 AUMF. Some have characterized this repeal vote as largely symbolic, but it may in fact have some real-world relevance.
Firstly, the 2002 AUMF should not be confused with the 2001 AUMF. The 2001 AUMF allows the executive branch broad authorization for military force against any international group with even a tangential or putative connection to the attacks on September 11. The 2001 AUMF still serves as the justification for virtually every war the US has been involved in for the last 20 years. If the 2001 AUMF were to be repealed, virtually every US servicemember currently fighting overseas on any continent would have to be recalled.
Why the 2002 AUMF matters
The 2002 AUMF was, originally, much more targeted. It authorized the executive branch to combat Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. However, the vague wording and open-ended nature of AUMFs makes them subject to abuse. For example, President Obama used both the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs to send troops back to Iraq to fight ISIS. This even as Obama’s administration argued that the 2002 AUMF should be repealed.
With Obama having cracked open this door, the Trump administration then kicked it wide open. In 2018, the Trump administration asserted that the 2002 AUMF authorized force to combats both “threats to, or stemming from, Iraq” in “Syria or elsewhere”. The “or elsewhere” thus included Iran. In 2020, the Trump administration cited this newly-expanded authority in its decision to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the fallout of which we still see to this day.
Shortest honeymoon ever: New Israeli government bombards Gaza
Just days after its new unity government was sworn in, Israel has carried out its first airstrikes in Gaza. The airstrikes were in response to Hamas apparently releasing incendiary balloons.
Many in Israel initially expressed optimism that the new government would defuse ethnic tensions. But those hopes were unceremoniously put to bed when the new government, currently headed by ultra-right nationalist Naftali Bennett, allowed a nationalist “Flag Day” march to go ahead in East Jerusalem.
The march went forward despite warnings that it would only stoke further violence. Hamas had warned that they would respond if the march went ahead.