Former Pennsylvania Republican congressman and current gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta blasted President Joe Biden’s administration Tuesday for issuing a “Terrorism Advisory Bulletin” equating political dissenters with terrorists.
The document, issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the day before, lamented the presence of “an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories” that “sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions.” The administration warned about opposition to “COVID-19 mitigation measures — particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates” which allegedly “have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020.”
The bulletin also said “misleading narratives about unsubstantiated election fraud” and opposition to bringing in many Afghan refugees could be used to foment violence. Individuals and entities the document suggested are at heightened risk of harm include critical infrastructure, government facilities, mass gatherings, houses of worship, ethnic and religious minorities, political candidates, and the press.
Anti-police violence went unmentioned in the DHS warning. This is despite more officers losing their lives in the line of duty during 2021 than in any year since 1995. Seventy-three on-duty American police were murdered last year, an almost 59 percent increase over those intentionally killed in 2020. The radical anti-law-enforcement group Antifa has undertaken many documented acts of violence.
In a statement, Barletta said Biden is “weaponizing the federal government” against broad groups of Americans which could encompass “maybe every single Pennsylvanian.”
A former mayor of Hazleton in Pennsylvania’s northeast as well as a four-term representative of the state’s 11th Congressional District, Barletta promised that he would stand vociferously against official demonization of political rivals as governor. He also castigated state Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Josh Shapiro for supporting the administration.
“It’s not America if you can’t express your opposition to government policies,” he said. “But this is the administration Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro align themselves with. They stifle dissent and want to criminalize political discourse. It’s disgusting and Pennsylvanians won’t stand for it.”
Neither the White House nor the Shapiro campaign replied to a request for comment.
– – –
Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Lou Barletta” by U.S. House of Representatives. Photo “Joe Biden” by The White House. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Martin Falbisoner. CC BY-SA 3.0.