Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee have strongly suggested to Attorney General Merrick Garland to rescind his controversial Oct. 4 memo, in which he likened parents opposing critical race theory and COVID mandates to "domestic terrorists." Upon his order, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) established a "threat tag" to track risks to school staff and board members.
According to the Washington Times, eleven Republican senators cited a leaked internal email from a Department of Justice whistleblower that showed how the FBI counterterrorism and criminal divisions designated the tag "EDUOFFICIALS" to "track instances of related threats" to school board members, administrators, teachers, faculty, and staff.
"Are concerned parents domestic terrorists or not?" the GOP leaders demanded in the letter to Garland. "It is not the job of the federal government to silence those who question local school boards."
"No arm of the government, including the offices under your command, may be used to chill criticism of local government officials," the letter from the Republican leaders read, as per Breitbart. "By involving the FBI's Counterterrorism Division in this matter, that is exactly what you have done."
The Republican leaders argued in the letter that just because school officials are "a major constituency of" the Democratic Party that currently holds power in the White House and Department of Justice, it does not mean the government is free to use counterterrorism tools against parents who oppose certain ideas. They claimed the move was an attempt to flex the Democratic government's "muscle in [the] marketplace of ideas."
Moreover, the Judiciary Republicans pointed out that federal censors actually come with political benefits. They argued, "A big part of this problem, which you either do not understand or are complicit in, is that too many people nowadays equate ideas they do not like with violence."
The Republican leaders charged, "You have given life to the idea that dissidents are synonymous with terrorists. This is a common tactic of third-world dictatorships, but it should never be FBI practice."
The letter demanding Garland to rescind his Oct. 4 memo was led by Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and was signed by Republican leaders such as Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
The letter demanded that Garland must "make clear" that violence does not include "harsh tones and strong criticisms that might make local school-board officials feel disrespected or uncomfortable." The Republican leaders also urged the Attorney General to "unequivocally" withdraw the Oct. 4 order.
Adam Lee, a former special agent at FBI's Richmond division, told National Review that Garland's memo was "pretty rare," saying that bureau's counterrorism division were "built to target foreign terrorist organizations." He claimed that the FBI will not "start violating core constitutional principles."