20 State AGs: 'SPLC Has Been Utterly Discredited as a Reliable Source'

(CNSNews.com) — In a Feb. 10 letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, 20 state attorneys general note that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) “has been utterly discredited as a reliable source.” 

The letter concerns the FBI’s targeting of traditional Catholics as potential “violent extremists” and its reliance on “hate group” information crafted by the SPLC as detailed in a Jan. 23 FBI memo , which was leaked to the public on Feb. 8. 

The memo explains how the FBI Richmond Virginia office is assessing an alleged increase in the association of “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) in radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology.”

The letter from the attorneys general states, “After defining which Catholics are the dangerous ones, the [FBI] memorandum proposes dealing with those Catholics through ‘the development of sources with access,’ including in ‘places of worship.'”

“In other words, the memorandum proposes recruiting Catholics to enter a sacred house of worship, talk to their fellow Catholics, and report those conversations back to the FBI so that the federal government can keep tabs on the bad Catholics,” state the attorneys general. 

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“To allocate these ‘sources,’ the document includes an appendix with a list of Catholic ‘hate groups’ that was assembled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),(9) apparently without any independent vetting from the FBI(10),” reads the letter to Wray and Garland. 

For the SPLC reference there is a footnote, number 9. The footnote reads, “The memorandum’s reliance on the SPLC is particularly disappointing, given that the SPLC has been utterly discredited as a reliable source.

“Its founder is said to have ‘viewed civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals,’ and former staffers have confessed that the SPLC has been ‘ripping off its donors’ by failing to ‘live[] up to the values it espoused.’ Bob Moser, The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, New Yorker (Mar. 21, 2019), https://tinyurl.com/ht6nkfn2.”

The footnote continues, “It should come as no surprise, then, that even the mainstream media has begun to call into question the SPLC’s mission and methods. See, e.g., David Montgomery, Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Judging Hate Fairly?, The Washington Post (Nov. 8, 2018), https://tinyurl.com/mwcj6vuz; Ben Schreckinger, Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?, Politico (June 28, 2017), https://tinyurl.com/y7zfmxsu.”

The footnote concludes: “Indeed, the FBI at one time recognized this reality, having reportedly dropped the SPLC as a hate-crimes resource in 2014. Valerie Richardson, FBI, Southern Poverty Law Center partnership alarms conservatives, AP News (July 30, 2018), https://tinyurl.com/yckkpt77.” 

In the memo, the FBI names nine Catholic organizations, which it headlines, “Southern Poverty Law Center-Defined RTC Hate Groups in the United States.” 

Some of the “RTC hate groups” listed include Catholic Family News, Culture Wars/Fidelity Press, The Fatima Crusader/International Fatima Rosary Crusade, The Remnant newspaper, and Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Apparently, none of these organizations has a history of violent extremism or of promoting violence. 

Yet the FBI chose to cite them as “nine RTC hate groups operating in the United States in 2021 as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” which apparently “has been utterly discredited as a reliable source.”

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