As part of the implementation of the controversial memo sent by Attorney General Merrick Garland last month, which cited a rise in harassment of educators officials nationwide, the Federal Bureau of Investigation created a “threat tag” to assist in tracking threats against school board members, teachers, and staff.
House GOP members released the most recent email from the FBI’s Criminal and Counterterrorism Divisions, instructing agents to use the threat tag “EDUOFFICIALS” to all investigations and assessments of threats specifically directed at education officials.
The email stated that the threat tag was intended to “help scope this threat at a national level and provide an opportunity to complete analysis of the threat picture in order for effective engagement with law enforcement at all levels.”
FBI agents are also directed by the email to investigate whether criminal activity is being investigated in violation of federal laws and what motives might be behind it. GOP Rep. Jim Jordan emphasized how Merrick Garland said that the FBI was not targeting parents, adding that they now know that the FBI is ‘tagging’ parents they consider to be threatening. Jordan said that the AG needs to explain.
Sen. Josh Howley also emphasized that parents need to know if they are receiving domestic-terrorist treatments after all. Two statements were released from the FBI stating that it was committed to protecting the First Amendment and that the creation of a threat tag does not alter the long-standing requirements to open an investigation nor change the FBI’s priority for threats.
It stated that the AG’s Memorandum underlines the FBI’s ongoing efforts in helping state, local, and federal partners to deal with threats to violence, regardless of their motivation. They add that the agency has never been involved in investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meeting meetings.
Garland’s October memo directed FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices to investigate “threats of violence” at school board meetings to stop what the Department of Justice called a “disturbing pattern” of harassment of school officials.
GOP members claimed that the directive is an attempt to silence parents across the nation, but Garland insisted earlier this month that it is not.