Former Senior Intelligence Service officer at the CIA, Marc Polymeropoulos published a Sunday piece declaring that that techniques once used to fight radical Islam should be turned against the against the right-wing in America.
Polymeropoulos’ piece for NBC News Think warned that propagandists, whether Islamic terrorists or Republicans, should be subject to counterterrorism and counterradicalization techniques.
“I worked in counterterrorism operations for nearly my entire career at the CIA before retiring in 2019. The battle we engaged in with international terrorist groups like Al Qaeda wasn’t just with their legions of foot soldiers but with their highly effective propaganda arms as well,” he wrote. “The U.S. and our allies considered those propagandists fundamental cogs in a terror group’s machinery, and just as culpable as any other terrorist. So we held them accountable when innocent civilians were killed.”
Polymeropoulos suggested that the attack of Paul Pelosi was evidence that the American government needs to take a firmer approach to its own citizenry.
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“Lone wolves are a thorn for domestic U.S. law enforcement as well, as we saw last week when a man not affiliated with any known group but immersed in right-wing propaganda attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” he wrote. “While the authorities have taken appropriate action against him, there are few signs that the government is taking the big-picture approach needed to combat the violence-inducing propaganda behind his crime.”
He appeared to lament that the U.S. Constitution gives American citizens more rights than foreign enemies.
“The Constitution confers certain free-speech protections for extremist propaganda in the U.S. that prevent authorities from exactly replicating our foreign counterterrorism strategy here at home. But there are important lessons we can and should apply,” he said. “For one thing, we can exercise free speech to proclaim that the normalization of violence against politicians is dangerous and unacceptable. Some violent rhetoric might not be illegal, but it is all morally repugnant.”
Polymeropoulos also seemed to equivocate demonizing an opposing politician with calling for violence against them.
“To start with, we need to clearly identify what crosses the line into the realm of dangerous rhetoric. That means calling out those in the right-wing ecosphere who for years have demonized, and at times even promoted and encouraged, attacks on Pelosi,” he claimed.
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While he mentioned multiple right-wing politicians, he claimed that Democrats and the American left have “nothing equivalent being done on the other side of the aisle” as far as promoting violence against their political opposition. “Democratic politicians and leaders may not like Trump, but they don’t call for violence against him, let alone his execution,” he claimed.
He neglected to mention multiple incidents of left-wing calls to arms and violence against Republicans, however.
In 2017, a far-left former Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer named James T. Hodgkinson fired upon on a group of Republican lawmakers as they practiced for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, critically injuring House Republican Whip Steve Scalise.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., recalled this event when he hammered liberal hypocrisy around political violence on an episode of “Face the Nation” when he said, “I never saw anyone after Steve Scalise was shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter trying to equate Democratic rhetoric with those actions.”
In 2020, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh that they “will pay the price” for rulings against abortion and “You won’t know what hit you.”
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Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., endorsed harassing political opposition in public in 2018. “They’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store,” Waters proclaimed at the time. “The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them.”
Likewise, Polymeropoulos appeared to completely gloss over left-wing activist groups protesting in front of the houses of Supreme Court justices, firebombing crisis pregnancy centers, posting the addresses of public figures online, or politically motivated riots in cities.
The former CIA official then condemned much of the Republican Party, claiming they weren’t denouncing violence.
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“So it’s not Democrats who must act. Instead, we need to find strong voices within the GOP who will denounce Marjorie Taylor Green, denounce former President Donald Trump’s calls for violence against protesters and denounce the many voices demonizing Pelosi,” he wrote.
“If the GOP leaders do this, their followers will listen. But it will only be successful if comprehensive. Republican Reps. Lynn Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois have shown great bravery in leading the way, but they paid a political price because too many of their colleagues drowned them out,” he concluded. “Who will step up now? As we used to say in the counterterrorism arena, the system is ‘blinking red.'”