When the FBI was busted targeting Catholics in a now-retracted leaked document which said Roman Catholics were ‘at risk of committing acts of extremist violence,’ the agency downplayed it as the work of a ‘rogue field office.’
Now, thanks to a less-redacted internal FBI document released Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee, we learn that the effort was far more widespread than the agency acknowledged.
Now, Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) wants more details.
In February, a whistleblower leaked a heavily redacted January report from the FBI’s Richmond office: “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.”
The document defined “radical-traditionalist Catholics” as those who attend Latin Mass and, according to the FBI, adhere to “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology,” based on what the WSJ editorial board called half-baked “open-source” reporting from liberal news outlets to justify further investigation.
FBI headquarters quickly said the report didn’t meet its “exacting standards” and had been withdrawn.FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Judiciary Committee in July that the report was “a single product by a single field office.” He added that “as soon as I found out about it, I was aghast and ordered it withdrawn and removed from FBI systems,” and he said he began an internal probe.
On July 25 the FBI finally provided the committee with a less-redacted version of that Richmond document. The report says that its information on Catholics was “primarily derived” from an “FBI Richmond contact”; an “FBI Portland liaison contact” who informed on a subject who “gravitated to” traditionalist catholicism; and an “FBI Undercover Employee” who reported on a subject who attended a Catholic church in California. -WSJ
The FBI’s Los Angeles field office, meanwhile, “initiated an investigation” into one subject, while the Richmond office “[c]oordinated with” the agency’s Portland office to prepare the field report.
In other words – it wasn’t just the product of a single field office as Wray had claimed, but was instead a widespread effort among several offices.
What’s more, the Journal calls out the FBI’s ‘troubling decision’ to redact the roles of the Los Angeles and Portland offices from the original version of the Richmond document it provided to Congress in March. The agency defended the earlier redactions due to “ongoing criminal investigations.”
Yet, as the Journal asks:
What changed from March until July, other than a threat of contempt from the Judiciary Committee? It’s hard not to conclude that the bureau was trying to hide the breadth of its Catholics-as-radicals investigation.
In a Wednesday letter, Jordan asks Wray to amend his July testimony “to fully explain the nature and scope of the FBI’s assessment of traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists.”