The brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos teamed up with a conservative extremist group known for its deceptively-edited videos designed to take down liberal groups, and recruited former spies to infiltrate progressive and Democratic groups, including one of America’s largest teachers’ unions.
The New York Times on Saturday reported that DeVos’ brother, Erik Prince, “has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda, according to interviews and documents.”
Prince is an ex-Navy SEAL officer who founded the private personal mercenary armed services corporation once known as Blackwater.
Not only did Prince work to have operatives infiltrate liberal and Democratic groups, he worked with Project Veritas, the far right wing organization best known for creating deceptively-edited videos that took out the liberal group ACORN.
“One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation,” the Times reports, noting that Seddon “directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.”
That “undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her,” according to the newspaper, which states that both “operations were run by Project Veritas.”
Project Veritas and Prince “have ties to President Trump’s aides and family.”
NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI Assistant Director, tweeted, “There are likely numerous criminal violations here, funded in part by Trump.”
There are likely numerous criminal violations here, funded in part by Trump: Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups – The New York Times https://t.co/XHBlZDJkIm
— Frank Figliuzzi (@FrankFigliuzzi1) March 7, 2020
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Conservative Candace Owens Says ‘Some People Will Die’ but Calls for ‘Business as Usual’ During Coronavirus Crisis
“Life does not mean ‘you get to live forever.’”
Right-wing commentator Candace Owens has come out swinging against fellow Republicans who are advocating government policies that could soften the blow of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
With President Donald Trump’s acknowledgment of the severity of the pandemic Monday, Republicans’ response to the virus, formally known as COVID-19, has shifted from dismissing the potential harm it could wreak to advocating federal measures such as cash handouts to low- and middle-income Americans and shutdowns of restaurants, bars, and public gatherings to dampen the disease’s negative impact.
In a Periscope live video Monday night, Owens described the global pandemic as a “social experiment” in which some conservatives set aside their purported small-government values amid “mass hysteria.”
“Anyone telling you that we just need more government, more government, more government to fix this is completely out of touch with reality,” Owens said. “I watch the news because I’m on the news a lot. I know people that follow me probably consume the news. The majority of Americans do not consume the news. The majority of Americans are not reacting in a way that you think that they should be acting because you’re fearful. And if you believe in freedom, freedom doesn’t suddenly stop when you get scared.”
Owens said that people who think others needed to be compelled to practice social distancing are living in a “media reality,” adding that even during World War II, people still gathered in bars while bombs were being dropped overhead.
“There’s nothing that Donald Trump can do, OK? He can make you feel better by showing you aerial images of New York City, and no one’s walking in Times Square. He can make you feel better, but the majority of Americans are not changing their lifestyles, OK?” Owens said.
Owens’ broadcast had been viewed more than 430,000 times at the time of this article, according to Periscope.
Owens continued her crusade against Republicans’ policy responses to the coronavirus Tuesday. When someone responded to her Periscope stream that “Life comes before Liberty in the Declaration of Independence,” Owens wrote back, “Life does not mean ‘you get to live forever’. It means you have a right to life. A virus is not taking away your right to life.”
When a self-described fan asked Owens in a tweet what she thought should be done in response to the coronavirus, Owens suggested business continue as usual: “I would recommend just accepting there is a new virus, & like all viruses, some people will die &like all viruses, if you are old, you need to be especially careful & are welcome to quarantine yourself. Otherwise— business as usual. 750 million infected from flu, every year.”
“Conservatives have really lost the thread with this one,” Owens wrote in response to the closure of businesses and large gathering places in major cities. “All the Left had to do was find something they were afraid of to prove that they too would give up all of their liberties for state control which is increasing every day. I continue to disagree with all of it.”
Owens got her start in conservative media as a fringe right-wing media figure calling herself “Red Pill Black.” She once co-hosted Infowars alongside conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Radical Right-Wing Paramilitary Group Recruiting Texas Cops for ‘Bloody Civil War’: Report
According to a report from the Star-Telegram, a senior member of the rightwing paramilitary group Oath Keepers who moved to Texas in 2015 is actively recruiting local law enforcement employees while telling them a “bloody civil war” against the U.S. government is on the horizon.
The report states that John D. Shirley, the national director of the Las Vegas-based Oath Keepers finagled himself a job as a county constable in Hood County which provided him with access to other police officers and now he is using his position to recruit.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Oath Keepers organization is “one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today” with, reportedly, thousands of members made up of former law enforcement officials and military veterans.
The Star-Telegram reports that Shirley’s “Oath Keepers of Hood County” drive was scheduled at a local golf course earlier in the week before being canceled by the management because they felt the group had misrepresented itself when they booked the meeting place.
The report notes that Shirley has attempted to allay fears about the group’s intentions despite claims on their own website about a coming “New World order” and antisemitic rhetoric, that goes hand-in-hand with their unyielding defense of gun ownership.
According to Shirley, in column for the online publication Hood County Today, the Oath Keepers are not “anti-government” because, as he wrote, “I am a public servant OF the government,” before adding, “The U.S. Constitution, the document this organization holds as sacrosanct, is the foundational document of our GOVERNMENT.”
The report notes that local law officials say there is no policy that bans police from joining the group which has one local running for sheriff extremely concerned.
According to Vance Keyes of Fort Worth, “I am absolutely concerned about militia groups infiltrating law enforcement. Their presence in policing undermines our obligation and ability to provide impartial justice … free from the thinly veiled, and often outright, racial bias that exist in such organizations.”
He added, “They destroy sincere efforts to strengthen police/community relations in minority communities. Their anti-government rhetoric is also an affront to police professionals that take seriously their obligation to public service and the rule of law.”
You can read more here.
Religious Right Activists Petition Pompeo’s ‘Unalienable Rights’ Commission to ‘Make the Family Great Again’
The commission created by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider U.S. human rights policy, ostensibly according to the principles of unalienable rights and a particular interpretation of natural law, held its most recent public meeting at the U.S. State Department on Friday, where the Ruth Institute’s Jennifer Roback Morse used the Q&A time to read a statement and submit a petition that urges President Donald Trump and Pompeo to “Make the Family Great Again.” Morse claimed that “the family itself has human rights.” Morse is essentially asking the commission to endorse the idea that the so-called “traditional family” has “fundamental” rights that equal or exceed those of individuals.
When the Commission on Unalienable Rights was created last year, anti-LGBTQ activist Brian Brown called it an “extraordinary opening to push for clear and consistent recognition of the natural family,” adding that it “gives us a forum to challenge American foreign policy that has in the past advanced the extreme agenda of the left that has been cloaked in the language of so-called human rights.”
The Ruth Institute started as a project of Brown’s National Organization for Marriage, so it’s not surprising that Morse shares his view about the potential for the commission to help them advance their anti-equality agenda. Morse’s petition signers include an array of U.S. and international anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ activists, including Gary Bauer, Janice Crouse, Robert George, Mike Huckabee, Alveda King, Rick Scarborough, and Sharon Slater. Among the signers from outside the U.S. is Levan Vasadze, the businessman and anti-LGBTQ activist who hosted the 2016 World Congress of Families global summit in the capital of Georgia, the former Soviet republic.
The petition urges the Commission on Unalienable Rights to “work for recognition of the following fundamental rights”:
- The right of every child to a relationship with his or her natural mother and father except for an unavoidable tragedy.
- The right of every person to know the identity of his or her biological parents.
- The right to life from conception to natural death.
- The right of families to educate their own children in their faith tradition and values without being undermined by the state.
Human rights advocates, LGBTQ-equality activists, and others are concerned that the commission—dominated by conservative academics—was created to provide intellectual justification for bringing human rights advocacy in line with right-wing complaints about human rights “inflation.” And they worry that most commission members aim to put a right-wing interpretation of religious liberty into a top tier of rights that would exclude other rights recognized by the U.S. and the international community since the founding of the United Nations. The commission has been holding monthly public meetings, hearing from speakers expressing a range of views, and taking public questions. Its report is expected sometime this spring.
Pompeo and other Trump administration officials have also spent the past year mobilizing a new “pro-family” coalition of conservative and authoritarian governments designed to resist any international agreements or action by U.N. agencies that recognize reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality (which is deemed to be “anti-family”), and comprehensive sex education.
Morse claimed a few years ago that the goal of “radical feminists” and “sexual revolutionaries” was to expand the power of the state to take control over family life—and that they were using divorce and gay marriage to do it.
The Ruth Institute bills itself as “a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a civilization of love.” It promotes “those who have walked away from a same sex lifestyle” and other “survivors of the sexual revolution.”
Morse’s statement at the State Department was promoted by One News Now, a news arm of the American Family Association.
This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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