Federal Protective Services Looking for Terrorists on Facebook, Not TheDonald or Parler

Federal Protective Services released 81 of 95 pages it had pertaining to January 6 to BuzzFeed and other news outlets. Mostly consisting of emails, the release shows that FPS knew several of the things to look for. They knew that anticipated attendees at the Trump rally had been raised from 5,000 to 30,000 but expected even more attendees. They knew which hotels were sold out and which one the Proud Boys initially planned on staying at. They were tracking the Proud Boy contingent that was moving on the Capitol in advance of Trump’s speech.

But the most telling thing about the release is its sourcing. The information on event expectations was sourced to how many people signed up on Facebook.

One of the sources for the Proud Boys’ movement was a journalist’s tweet. And FPS sourced its awareness that the Proud Boys were not going to wear typical Proud Boy colors during the events to Business Insider, not directly to Enrique Tarrio’s Parler post announcing the plan.

While there are a few sources redacted under a law enforcement sources and methods redaction and (as noted above) 14 pages either withheld entirely or referred to another agency, there are no unredacted references to Parler or TheDonald (the latter of which is where someone predicted war), where some of Trump’s most ardent supporters organized their trips to DC.

There was a discussion during yesterday’s hearing on January 6 about what, legally, DHS and FBI are permitted to access (FBI’s Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Jill Sanborn suggested FBI can’t refer to social media, though in other forums, that has been described as a limitation on including social media posts in finished intelligence). But, obviously, FPS was using social media — Facebook — to prepare for these events.

You’re not going to find potential terrorists in posts by official organizers on Facebook, and aspiring terrorists are unlikely to register their attendance plans on that site either. These people were planning in plain sight.

Just not on official Facebook pages.

12 replies
  1. harpie says:

    This was even written about at WaPo on January 5:

    Trump’s tweet [link] last month [12/19/20] pushing baseless fraud claims and promoting the “big protest” on Jan. 6 — “Be there, will be wild!” — has become a central rallying cry. It was the top post on thedonald.win Tuesday morning, [1/5/21] and anonymous commenters saw it as a call to action: “We’ve got marching orders,” the top reply said. […]

    It’s all so infuriating!

  2. Yancy says:

    I find myself rather dumbfounded.
    Whoever said they needed to think outside of the box certainly wasn’t kidding or overstating the obvious.
    Am I missing something, or is our law enforcement intelligence ability that bad?

  3. PeterS says:

    I’m assuming that the response from FPS doesn’t reflect all LE agencies’ advance knowledge of the planning for 6 Jan (?).

  4. dude says:

    The FPS website appears under the DHS heading. It lists among its duties “Sharing intelligence among local/state/federal” and “Protecting special events”. How is it the FBI cannot consider shared intelligence from DHS qualified for use, or did Sanborn mean it doesn’t meet some legal standard of evidence in court? The idea that the FBI only trusts and acts upon what it develops on its own siloes them from everybody. Surely that cannot be right.

  5. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Obviously Putin is going to live for ever since he hasn’t died already from laughing at how stupid we are.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is an important focus, as will be the failures of leadership that misused good intelligence. Harder to prove will be intentional misconduct. Mike Flynn’s brother, for example, seems likely to have been as interested in allowing chaos to reign as he was in avoiding the “optics” of troops surrounding a vulnerable and nearly breached Capitol building – filled, as it was, with members from both houses and other government officials senior enough to have Secret Service protection. There are others like him in the military – a double digit percentage by all accounts, and not just among enlisted personnel – federal offices, Congress and the White House (at the time). Unless actively weeded out, a change of administration will only allow them to burrow deeper.

    • subtropolis says:

      People like this guy.


      Clearly, leadership has to walk a fine line, and not be seen to be purging people based solely on their political persuasions. But, after an attempted frigging coup, the government must take strong steps to weed out the worst of them.

      “He still works at the State Department but is not currently assigned to a specific role or office, three sources familiar with the matter said.”

      If there aren’t grounds to fire them outright, then cast them into organizational limbo, to walk the halls and haunt the cafeteria.

      • RLHall says:

        They pay them to stay at home without any task, and woe to them if the phone rings during their duty hours and they don’t answer!

        • skua says:

          This appears to be deliberate deskilling of an employee and is abuse. Not saying that the worker doesn’t deserve it. Just that in countries with strong labor protection laws it is unlawful AIUI.

  7. subtropolis says:

    I see the Facebook info as supplementary, rather than primary, Intelligence. Had nobody been sharing it, one might legitimately demand to know why it was ignored.

  8. P J Evans says:

    I hope they’re now monitoring other social media besides FB. Otherwise they’re going to miss so much.

  9. harpie says:

    This might be appropriate at this post:

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren publishes analysis of social media posts from 102 Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election
    Justin Hendrix MARCH 5, 2021

    In order to provide evidence “relevant to assessing the potential of Congress’ constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities, including actions pursuant to the 14th Amendment and/or House rules” to punish or remove Representatives who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election or may have supported the January 6th insurrection, Representative Zoe Lofgren, D-CA19, today released a nearly 2,000 page document detailing public social media posts from 102 Congressional Republicans between November 3rd, 2020 and January 31st, 2021. […]

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