According to Breitbart, the FBI published a tweet over the weekend in which the agency called on Americans to report family members who exhibit signs of “extremism.”
However, the FBI is now facing criticism over the tweet, as a number of conservatives have pointed out that those particular warning signs include constitutionally protected behaviors, and the implications are chilling.
“Non-recreational gun range visits”
The tweet included a link to a guide booklet that provided a list of “risk factors” that could indicate when a friend or family member is becoming involved with “homegrown violent extremism.”
The FBI booklet states: “This booklet is focused on individuals or groups that are inspired or enabled by foreign terrorist organizations, including but not limited to ISIS, al-Qa‘ida, and their affiliates and allies.”
However, among the behaviors that people were advised to report as suspicious included, “Suspicious, unexplained, or unusual physical or weapons training” as well as “multiple non-recreational gun range visits.”
“Familiarity with weapons”
Also listed in the booklet as a warning sign is the “[u]nusual purchase of military-style tactical equipment other than weapons,” which includes body armor other legal devices, which are presumably owned by thousands — if not more — Americans.
Further, the profile of someone considered to be at a heightened risk for engaging in violent extremism includes “access to, or familiarity with weapons or explosives,” which also includes potentially millions of Americans, whether they be avid hunters, military veterans, or recreational shooters.
Friends and family members were also told to be on the lookout for those who are “[a]ttempting to radicalize others, especially family members and peers.”
Ted Cruz responds
While the FBI guidebook stated that it was aimed at helping uncover individuals who are affiliated with foreign terror movements, it noted that “behaviors exist and are noted in this booklet that would be troubling regardless of ideological motivation and may warrant contacting law enforcement.”
The federal law enforcement agency was criticized by a number of high-profile Republicans, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) tweeting: “In both Cuba & China, they also ask children to spy on their parents….”
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) expressed reservations over the FBI’s tweet, particularly given the FBI’s recent track record of what seems to be political favoritism.
“These people protected Hillary, abused NSA surveillance databases against Americans, used known, unreliable DNC-funded propaganda to spy on Trump, perpetuated the Russia hoax, & lied to the FISC repeatedly,” Bishop tweeted. “And now they tell you that you should spy on your family.”