U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland snapped at Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) over the congressman’s excoriation of the FBI’s spying on Traditional Catholics before attempting to dodge a question of whether or not he believes those Traditional Catholics are “extremists.”
On Wednesday, Garland testified before the House Judiciary Committee concerning oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When it came time for his questions, Rep. Van Drew grilled Garland for his leadership, or lack thereof, and declared, “I hold you accountable for the anti-Catholic memo. Imagine sending agents undercover into Roman Catholic churches because they were supposedly domestic terrorists.”
Rep. Van Drew then asked Garland, “Do you agree that Traditional Catholics are violent extremists, yes or no?”
In response, Garland snapped back at Rep. Van Drew, saying “the idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous, is so absurd!” Rep. Van Drew dismissed Garland’s ostensible outrage out of hand, retorting:
“Mr. Attorney General, it was your FBI that did this! It was your FBI that was sending — and we have the emails, we have the memos — were sending undercover agents into Catholic Churches!”
After repeated questioning, Garland finally answered: “Catholics are not extremists, no.” When asked by Rep. Van Drew whether anybody had been fired for issuing the memo, Garland responded, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
The memo referenced by Rep. Van Drew, which was revealed in August, illustrates how FBI agents in Richmond, Virginia, as well as in Oregon and California “were sent out to spy on Catholics,” particularly those that favor the Traditional Latin Mass. Ostensibly, these Catholics were targeted for FBI surveillance because of alleged ties to “extremist ideological beliefs.”
Even if Garland is being genuine in his belief that the memo was “appalling,” it evidently was not appalling enough to warrant an apology or any form of disciplinary action against the personnel involved.
Given their classification as threats by the FBI, it seems that Traditional Catholics may continue to be placed in the Biden administration’s crosshairs as potential enemies of the state.
On Tuesday, the DHS announced that it has created a new “Homeland Security Intelligence Experts Group,” which will collect “actionable” intelligence on those holding “violent extremist ideologies.”