With ISIS militants now threatening to attack the United States, the huge domestic anti-terror apparatus that has been built over the last decade will inevitably be used as a tool of homeland repression not to eliminate ISIS terrorists but to target politically active Americans who are adversarial to the Obama administration.
As we have exhaustively documented, domestic law enforcement in the United States has become increasingly militarized in recent years, with police departments across the country purchasing MRAP armored vehicles that were first used to fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A recent major ACLU report warns that such vehicles are part of a transformation into militarized policing where Americans are treated “like wartime enemies.” Indiana Police Sergeant Dan Downing also recently admitted that the militarization of domestic law enforcement was to deal not with ISIS militants but with returning veterans who are now seen as a homegrown terror threat.
Former Marine Corps Colonel Peter Martino, who was stationed in Fallujah and trained Iraqi soldiers, warned last year that the Department of Homeland Security is working with law enforcement to build a “domestic army,” because the federal government is afraid of its own citizens. Martino was speaking at a council meeting concerning a decision to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle. The purchase of the vehicle was mired in controversy after the city’s Police Chief wrote in an application filing to the DHS that the vehicle was needed to deal with the “threat” posed by libertarians, sovereign citizen adherents, and Occupy activists in the region.
The emergence of ISIS as a genuine threat not just to minority groups in Iraq and Syria but to Americans and the homeland itself, characterized by a recent Twitter campaign under the ominous hashtag #AmessagefromISIStoUS, is a narrative that will be increasingly exploited by the Obama administration to justify further eviscerations of the Constitution as well as a tool to create jingoistic and simplistic appeals to patriotism which will in turn be deployed as a rhetorical weapon to demonize Obama’s most vocal political adversaries as radicals and extremists.
Obama signaled his intent to take this course during an interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, in which the president charged that his critics were in the grip of an “extremist ideology.”
The sheer horror of the atrocities committed by ISIS will make perfect fodder for the mainstream media and the federal government to cite in justifying a militarized crackdown domestically. As we reported back in June, a company that provides video training programs for law enforcement caused controversy by when it asserted in a Facebook post that nobody will complain about militarized police in America or examples of police brutality when the ISIS insurgent group “comes a calling.”
While the Obama administration is increasingly portraying its political adversaries as radicals or extremists, the prospect of ISIS staging attacks inside the United States is simultaneously being pushed by neoconservatives who are eager for another excuse to expand the U.S. military presence in the middle east.
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham invoked the image of “an American city in flames” as a result of ISIS launching a domestic terror attack, calling for a “sustained air campaign in Syria and Iraq” in order to halt the group’s advance.
“His responsibility as president is to defend this nation. If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL — whatever you want to call these guys — they are coming here!,” asserted Graham.
His sentiments were echoed by Senator John McCain and Congressman Peter King, who both called for a renewed military campaign in Iraq. McCain said that ISIS militants would inevitably attempt to launch an attack on U.S. soil in the near future.
Of course, the entire debate surrounding ISIS and its perceived threat to U.S. interests both abroad and at home has been largely absent the crucial fact that Washington itself, along with some of its closest allies in the region, was directly responsible for the training, arming and funding of ISIS militants in the first place.
As the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin documents, “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror.”
The White House is also directly responsible for the spread of ISIS militants having backed other rebel groups in Syria which were once allied with and then taken over by ISIS.
Indeed, some evidence suggests that the U.S. even trained some of the Islamists who went on to join ISIS at a secret base in Jordan in 2012.
Aaron Klein was told by Jordanian officials that, “dozens of future ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”
Yet another U.S. ally – Turkey – also trained ISIS fighters at a location in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana.
While many would support the decision to launch air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq, it would be naive to think that a group which was empowered as a direct consequence of the WHite House’s policy of supporting jihadists in Libya and Syria, will not be exploited by the administration to create a chilling effect domestically in order to vilify and silence its political opposition in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.