The FBI created a “threat tag” over alleged menacing statements made against school administrators and teachers in accordance with a memo issued by the Justice Department, an internal email showed.
The email, dated Oct. 20, was released Tuesday by House Judiciary Committee Republicans, who said the missive was proof that federal counterterrorism was being deployed against “concerned parents” at school board meetings.
The email, which House Republicans said came from a whistleblower, showed the creation of the tag “EDUOFFICIALS” to track related threats.
“We ask that your offices apply the threat tag to investigations and assessments of threats specifically directed against school board administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” the email to the Criminal Investigative and Counterterrorism divisions, says.
“The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a national level and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement partners at all levels.”
Agents are asked to consider if there’s a federal nexus, if there are potential federal violations and what’s the motivation in the letter.
The joint message was sent by Carlton Peebles, deputy assistant director of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division on behalf of leadership of the Criminal Investigative and Counterterrorism divisions. It says the agency’s divisions share an obligation to ensure “all individuals are able to do their jobs without threats of violence or fear for their safety.”
But the House Judiciary GOP said it provided “specific evidence that law enforcement operationalized counterterrorism tools at the behest of a left-wing special interest group against concerned parents.”
An Oct. 4 memo from Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined federal law enforcement taking the lead amid a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
Critics linked the timing of the memo with a letter sent days before from the National School Board Association’s CEO to the White House that equated the threats to “domestic terrorism.”
Judiciary Republicans posted a letter to Garland on Twitter saying they believe his Oct. 21 testimony to the committee about his directive was either incomplete and requires new questioning – or that he “willfully misled the Committee about the nature and extent of the Department’s use of federal counterterrorism tools to target concerned parents at school board meetings.”
The letter, signed by Ranking Member of the committee Jim Jordan, invites Garland to amend his testimony about threats related to school board meetings.