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Lankford, Republican Intel Committee Question FBI Targeting Catholics

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after new evidence surfaced in August contradicting FBI Director Wray’s March 8, 2023, testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In February, FBI’s Richmond Field Officed pushed a memorandum titled, “Interest of Radically or Ethically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.” 

When the memo initially leaked, Lankford lead a letter with several of his colleagues on why the agency was targeting Americans based on their religious beliefs. Lankford questioned Directory Wray in March during a rare, unclassified Intelhearing about the memo. 

In response, the Republican Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to FBI Director Wray requesting a written explanation about the matter: 

“Not only did this memorandum make outrageous and sweeping generalizations about the Catholic faith and millions of Americans, but the memorandum also relies on wholly unsubstantiated news sources, a left-wing organization, and biased and partisan definitions of hate groups in the United States. Given new revelations regarding inter-FBI coordination of this assessment, we request that you provide a written explanation of the steps that FBI has taken to effectively preclude such unconstitutional products going forward, as well as a briefing to this Committee on that written product no later than September 29, 2023.

“The mission of the FBI is ‘to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.’ This memorandum, and its underlying processes, neither protect the American people, nor uphold the Constitution. The FBI does not exist to harass law-abiding Americans, nor will Congress permit the FBI to do so. Instances like this only serve to weaken the public’s faith in institutions critical to our nation’s security and safety.”

You can read the full text below or here

Dear Director Wray:

We write with deep concern regarding the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) targeting of Catholics under the pretext of investigating racially or ethnically motivated extremists and have many questions about the underlying processes that FBI employed to develop such errant analysis.

On January 23, 2023, the FBI field office in Richmond, VA published an eight-page memorandum titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic (“RTC”) Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.” The memorandum suggests that “FBI Richmond relied on the key assumption that [racially or ethnically motivated extremists] will continue to find RTC ideology attractive and will continue to attempt to connect with RTC adherents, both virtually via social media and in-person at places of worship.” On March 8, 2023, you testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that this memorandum was an isolated product of only one field office. We are deeply troubled to learn that documents shared with the House Committee on the Judiciary in July revealed that the FBI relied on information from around the country including a liaison contact in the FBI’s Portland, Oregon Field Office and reporting from the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office—to develop its assessment. As such, we are concerned that this new information contradicts your March 8, 2023, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Not only did this memorandum make outrageous and sweeping generalizations about the Catholic faith and millions of Americans, but the memorandum also relies on wholly unsubstantiated news sources, a left-wing organization, and biased and partisan definitions of hate groups in the United States. Given new revelations regarding inter-FBI coordination of this assessment, we request that you provide a written explanation of the steps that FBI has taken to effectively preclude such unconstitutional products going forward, as well as a briefing to this Committee on that written product no later than September 29, 2023.

The mission of the FBI is “to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.” This memorandum, and its underlying processes, neither protect the American people, nor uphold the Constitution. The FBI does not exist to harass law-abiding Americans, nor will Congress permit FBI to do so. Instances like this only serve to weaken the public’s faith in institutions critical to our nation’s security and safety.

We look forward to your reply to this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

###

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