Senator Ron Johnson has tweeted out a Homeland Security bulletin discussing the current state of domestic and foreign terrorism in the United States. However, he’s twisted the contents to suggest that people are being labeled as terrorists for disagreeing with mainstream information and evidence on political and scientific matters — and that’s not actually what the announcement says.
The bulletin, titled Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland, was issued on February 7th, but Johnson tweeted about it as ‘new’ nearly a week later, claiming that it “states” that people posting false information about COVID-19 would be labeled as terrorists.
New bulletin states if DHS thinks you post “misleading narratives and conspiracy theories," or "mis-dis- and mal-information” on topics like COVID-19 you will be labeled a domestic terrorist.
Will I be next? Will you? This should frighten every American.https://t.co/iLyjoNMD24
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) February 11, 2022
Of course, the bulletin doesn’t state any such thing. Instead, it lays out a list of factors contributing to the current domestic terrorism issue, including the proliferation of disinformation about the 2020 election and COVID-19 mandates, emphasizing that these are often “introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors” who ” seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence.”
Nothing in this suggests that everyone who posts something that’s false or misleading — even knowingly — is to be labeled a terrorist, only that “threat actors” employ this disinformation to further their own goals.
The bulletin — which you can read in full here — lists other factors, including calls for violence directed at government institutions, media entities, HBCUs, and other targets, as well as foreign threats, and attempts to use technology to disrupt critical infrastructure.
It also states what’s being done about all this, including forming a domestic terrorism branch to assess and counter threats; designating domestic extremism as a priority, and funding protections for high-risk targets.
What’s not listed? Well, for one thing, labeling your great-aunt a terrorist for sharing Facebook posts about ballot harvesting, or arresting Twitter users who claim that there are tracking chips in vaccines.
In fact, in no way does the document suggest that the average social media user will face legal consequences for being wrong or engaging in conspiracies — it’s quite clear that it’s addressing the use of this kind of disinformation by actual threat actors to inspire violence, and not at all in line with Senator Johnson’s tweet.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com