Today FBI director James Comey spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His written testimony is remarkable not only for what it included, but also for what it excluded. I’m going to imitate the Harpers Index to illustrate his remarks in context.
Times Comey referenced the Islamic State (aka ISIS, aka ISIL): 16
Paragraphs Comey read about the threat posed by Islamic extremists: 10
Americans killed by ISIS in the United States, ever: 0
Times Comey referenced anti-abortion extremists: 0
Paragraphs Comey read about the threat posed by anti-abortion extremists: 0
People killed by anti-abortion extremists in the US: 11
People killed by anti-abortion extremists in the US this year alone: 3
Times Comey referenced right-wing extremists: 0
Paragraphs Comey read about the threat posed by right-wing extremists: 0
People killed by right-wing extremists in the United States within the past 14 years: 254
Here are those numbers in graph form. If Jim Comey talked about groups who commit terrorism in proportion to the amount of terrorism they commit in the United States, the green and blue portions of these graphs would be about equal. They are not even close to equal.
As I wrote earlier this week, it’s possible that the discrepancy between the dangerousness of a group and the amount of fear-mongering the FBI conducts about the group is related to what former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes was talking about when he mentioned doing the opposite of what Jessie Jackson did.
Namely, the FBI must “Keep Fear Alive,” Fuentes said. How else would the bureau get congress to approve new powers and big spending packages? Surely the way to do that is not to warn about white supremacists or anti-abortion terrorists—no matter how many people they kill or maim. No, the FBI instead chooses to fear monger about Muslims.
James Comey is no Donald Trump. But devoting ten paragraphs of congressional testimony to a threat that hasn’t reached our shores, instead of addressing existing terrorist threats to women’s health clinics or from right-wing extremists, has a similar effect. The message from the FBI director is clear: Muslims are the top threat.
The facts don’t bear that conclusion out. And besides, wouldn’t it behoove the top law enforcement official in the nation to address the fact that his fellow law enforcement officers have killed over 1,000 Americans this year alone? Shouldn’t that number have featured prominently in his testimony?
Nah, that wouldn’t work. You know: what Thomas Fuentes said.