The FBI has purged an unclassified intelligence document from its system that targeted traditional Catholics. This revelation comes after a whistleblower leak by Kyle Seraphin, who says the document was meant to be used as a tool for threat mitigation against radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology ahead of the next election.
“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product — disseminated only within the FBI — regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI,” the spokesperson said. “Upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document.”
“The FBI is committed to sound analytic tradecraft and to investigating and preventing acts of violence and other crimes while upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.”
What is Radical-Traditionalist Catholicism?
According to the documents, Radical-Traditionalist Catholics are defined as people who reject the Second Vatican Council as a valid church council and show disdain for most of today's Church teachings, particularly on matters such as homosexuality and contraception. Additionally, they also embrace pre-Vatican II liturgical practices, reject Pope Francis' papacy, and hold extreme views on immigration policy.
Purpose of the Document
The purpose of this document was to provide law enforcement with information about this extremist group in order to mitigate potential threats ahead of the upcoming election season. As Seraphin pointed out, through tripwires and liaisons (trusted contacts) the FBI can employ threat mitigation against such groups before any potential attacks can take place. However, after Seraphin leaked this document to UncoverDC it soon came under scrutiny from both inside and outside the FBI due to privacy concerns over targeting religious beliefs instead of actual criminal activity. In response, authorities have since taken steps to purge this document from their systems.
Criticism Over Targeting Religious Beliefs
The decision to create an intelligence document targeting certain religious beliefs has sparked criticism from many in the public who argue that it violates freedom of religion. Others have argued that it is unnecessary when there are already laws in place that protect citizens from discrimination based on religion or race. Furthermore, some believe that these types of documents will only fuel bias against certain religious groups within law enforcement agencies which could lead to profiling or even targeted harassment by authorities if left unchecked.