New York Times reporter Katie Benner has deleted a series of tweets calling Trump supporters “enemies of the state.” Benner called the tweets “wrongly worded,” but her sentiment is largely shared by the state itself.
As a Democrat-run committee investigating the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill in January got underway on Tuesday, viewers were treated to garish tales of violence and tears from lawmakers who lamented the “dark day” they experienced in January. Portrayed by Republican leadership as a “sham” that “no-one will believe,” the hearing evidently worked as intended on New York Times journalist Katie Benner.
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Midway through the proceedings, Benner angrily called for the US’ national security apparatus to target supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“Today’s #January6thSelectCommittee underscores America’s current, essential natsec dilemma: Work to combat legitimate national security threats now entails calling a politician’s supporters enemies of the state,” she tweeted.
“As Americans, we believe that state power should not be used to work against a political figure or a political party. But what happens if a politician seems to threaten the state? If the politician continues to do so out of office and his entire party supports that threat?” she continued.
Benner apparently viewed Trump and his supporters as a “threat” long before January 6, as she pointed out that two impeachments and the ‘Russiagate’ investigation had left this “dilemma…unresolved.”
Benner’s tweets triggered an avalanche of criticism from the right, and she later deleted them, claiming that they had been “unclearly worded.”
Personally, if I were the governor of a traditionally conservative state in the US and the feds started talking seriously about murdering people just because they voted for Trump, I’d expedite a vote on secession. Doesn’t seem like a hard choice.
— Chris Tomlinson (@TomlinsonCJ) July 27, 2021
Hearing anyone describe a traumatic and violent experience provoke emotions: even for police officers. That’s what today is for. But the fixation on 1/6 is about exactly this: classifying Trump supporters as Enemies of the State for political gain & Security State power.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 27, 2021
Today’s #January6thSelectCommittee underscores America’s current, essential danger: America’s elites have deemed their tens of millions of critics actual or would-be domestic terrorists, and threatened to use the full power of the USG & private sector jointly to neutralize them https://t.co/5gHXj3NqZ2
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) July 27, 2021
One of the corrupt FBI’s favorite leak receptacles at NYT is acknowledging what we all see: merely opposing the ruling regime makes you an “enemy of the state.” The lawless U.S. intelligence apparatus is admitting it is weaponizing all of its post-9/11 tools against you. https://t.co/bUR3BSiZ2c
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 27, 2021
Benner’s sentiment is shared by the Biden administration and its security apparatus, though they speak of “extremists” rather than “Trump supporters.” The Democratic Party and its spokespeople have painted January 6 as an “insurrection,” a “coup,” and “domestic terrorism” for the last six months, and these words have been translated into policy. The White House’s new domestic terrorism strategy, for example, focuses heavily on the supposed threat posed by the right, and lists the “attack” on the US Capitol alongside mass shootings in Pittsburgh and El Paso. The strategy promises increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and states that the federal government will work closer with the tech industry to combat “extremist content” and “disinformation and misinformation.”
Meanwhile, right-wingers deemed extremists are being purged from military and law enforcement ranks, participants in the January 6 riot are being detained in allegedly brutal conditions with court dates at least six months off, and the FBI is encouraging Americans to turn in family members for “homegrown violent extremism.” Concurrently, the Capitol Police – a force immune from Freedom of Information Act requests – is expanding its operations beyond Washington and purchasing military-grade surveillance equipment for use on Americans.
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Benner is not the only journalist to openly call on the state to target Trump’s supporters. ABC News has called for “cleansing the movement” Trump created, a lawyer for PBS suggested that the former president’s “stupid” supporters be sent to “re-education camps,” and former FBI assistant director turned MSNBC analyst Frank Figliuzzi has called for the arrest of pro-Trump Republicans in Congress “in order to really tackle terrorism.”
It is unclear whether Benner deleted her tweets at the direction of the Times or of her own accord. However, back in 2018 the newspaper denounced Trump for referring to journalists as “enemies of the people,” saying that such terminology could “lead to violence” against the media. At time of writing, the Times has not condemned Benner’s tweets, or warned that they could lead to violence against Trump supporters.
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