By Aaron Klein
With almost no news media coverage, the White House last week announced its new Interagency Working Group to Counter Online Radicalization to Violence that will target not only Islamic terrorists but so-called violent “sovereign citizens.”
The FBI defines “sovereign citizens” as “anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States.”
The law enforcement agency noted such citizens believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or police.
The FBI warned sovereign citizens commit murder and physical assault; threaten judges, law enforcement professionals, and government personnel; impersonate police officers and diplomats, and engineer various white-collar scams, including mortgage fraud and so-called “redemption” schemes.
The new online working group will be chaired by the National Security Staff at the White House with input from specialists in countering what the Obama administration calls violent extremism.
Also included in the group, according to a White House release, will be “Internet safety experts, and civil liberties and privacy practitioners from across the United States Government.”
The new group says its initial focus will be on raising awareness about the threat and “providing communities with practical information and tools for staying safe online.”
The working group says it will coordinate with the technology industry to “consider policies, technologies, and tools that can help counter violent extremism online” while being careful not to interfere with “lawful Internet use or the privacy and civil liberties of individual users.”
Today, Obama is reportedly poised to issue an executive order aimed at thwarting cyberattacks against critical infrastructure.
The Hill reported the executive order would establish a voluntary program in which companies operating critical infrastructure would elect to meet cybersecurity best practices and standards crafted, in part, by the government.
The question arises as to exactly which citizens are considered threats by the government amid previous troubling ideology from some Obama administration officials.
WND broke the story about how President Obama’s so-called regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein wrote a lengthy academic paper suggesting the government should “infiltrate” social network websites, chat rooms and message boards. Sunstein stepped down last year.
Such “cognitive infiltration,” Sunstein argued, should be used to enforce a U.S. government ban on “conspiracy theorizing.” Among the beliefs Sunstein classified as a “conspiracy theory” is advocating that the theory of global warming is a deliberate.
Last year, Reuters revealed that a government document indicating the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news sites such as the Huffington Post and Drudge Report.
Reuters reported that a “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS in November 2012 confirms that since at least June 2010, the department’s national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”
The government document states that such monitoring is meant to “collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture” to help manage national or international emergency events.
Last year, Attorney General Holder signed new guidelines for that relaxed restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.
The new guidelines allow the government’s National Counterterrorism Center to keep Internet data collected on private citizens for up to 5 years instead of 18 months.
With additional research by Joshua Klein.