The FBI Has Quietly Started Spying on U.S. School Children to Quash Dissent at an Early Age

fbi-spying-on-high-school-childrenBy Claire Bernish

McCarthyism quietly returned in January — repackaged, rebranded, and updated to fit a modern narrative — in an official policy set forth by the FBI that asks high schools to target their students.

Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools,” an unclassified 28-page manifesto for the ostensible purpose of waging the War on Terror in U.S. schools, opens with a brief summary of what we can expect from the latest in governmental indoctrination:

High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support of their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of targeted violence within our borders. High schools must remain vigilant in educating their students about catalysts that drive violent extremism and the potential consequences of embracing extremist beliefs.

Presented as ostensibly well-intentioned guidelines for identifying an individual’s burgeoning extremist ideology, the entire summation, and its accompanying website, are a thinly-veiled excuse to target Muslim-Americans.

But Muslims aren’t the only subject of this alarmingly McCarthyistic program.

While it’s no shock (anti)-abortion extremists and white supremacy extremists appear among the FBI’s “Known Violent Extremist Groups,” some other groups might be — particularly considering the keyword is “violent.” Anarchist extremists, sovereign citizens, and both animal rights and environmental extremists are deemed equivalent to the potential threat of ISIL.

“Anarchist extremists believe that society should have no government, laws, or police, and they are loosely organized, with no central leadership,” the FBI claims. “Sovereign citizens believe they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States even though they live here … Sovereign citizens use their beliefs to justify fraud and other non-violent crimes.”

Despite the document’s claim the FBI “does not advocate the application of any psychological or demographic ‘profiles’ or check lists of indicators to identify students” who may become radicalized, the agency offers precisely that — a checklist of “possible warning signs” worthy of reporting. It continues,

“Using several different cell phones or private messaging apps;” “Talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious”; “Using code words or unusual language”; and even “Studying or taking pictures of potential targets (like a government building).”

According to the FBI page on propaganda, an individual voicing “mistrust of the government,” concern about “environmental destruction,” or criticism of “corrupt western nations” would also be prognostic of future violent actions.

To envision such behaviors — in their own right — as indicative of the potential to conduct a violent attack, speaks to a problematic lack of understanding of people’s common gripes by their government. In the increasingly paranoid atmosphere of this country, fueled by Trump’s demagoguery and Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness, such broad generalizing is downright dangerous.

In fact, it is precisely this paranoia which led to the in-school arrest of Ahmed Mohamed — a 14-year-old student genius whose hand-crafted clock was assumed to be a bomb. Despite his insistence the creation was never meant to be anything but a clock, he was charged with misrepresenting it as a bomb.

Sometimes a clock is just a clock, Freud might say, and therein lies the issue with the FBI’s program. As long as the United States government continues to almost indiscriminately bomb populations in the Middle East and elsewhere, those opposed to such programs will protest in earnest. This does not mean those protestations will somehow culminate in the exact sort of violence the participants stand against. The turbulence of adolescence is, indeed, a time when many students seek understanding of and from the world around them, as the FBI repeatedly notes. Adolescence is often the time of discovery, and of the revelation that what has been taught in school is anything but the entire picture — if not wholly inaccurate.

What the FBI seems to be forgetting in its return to a McCarthyistic, If You See Something Say Something crackdown on dissent, is that very criticism by the youth drives future change in policy. And if the angst of youth is given proper outlet and voice, instead of ending in violence, it might just end the continued worldwide violent attacks by the government.

Then again, maybe that’s the real problem the FBI seeks to quash.

Claire Bernish writes for, where this article first appeared.

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57 Comments on "The FBI Has Quietly Started Spying on U.S. School Children to Quash Dissent at an Early Age"

  1. Zaphod Braden | March 7, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Reply

    As children we all learned that when playing games with others who kept changing the rules to benefit themselves there comes a time the only thing to do is THROW THE TABLE OVER.
    And if that means a lot of decapitated Crony Capitalistic RINO neocons ……
    well, it was just a GAME.

  2. This website censored my comment which wasn’t necessary. especially over an article that touts questions regarding free speech, privacy issues and profiling.

    • Same here and often! Whats that telling you?

      • Padraigin Eagle | March 9, 2016 at 10:46 am | Reply


      • It’s saying that we free thinker types need to be eyeballed and profiled, it’s also telling me that the alternative media is a questionable area to involve oneself for commenting against our criminal federal government. When attending a MUFON conference at which a security officer gave a presentation on his involvement with the Rendalshem/Bentwaters UFO incident, he stated publicly that the CIA writes all the news we see via the six major media outlets, the company edits all the news. I am willing to bet they stick their grimy little fingers into the alternative venues as well. The alien/military/industrial/complex spreads its fear everywhere it can.

  3. Jimmy Sevile loved E.U. Kids | March 8, 2016 at 7:48 am | Reply

    When “The Game” is rigged, why play the game? US went bankrupt, SCOTUS states people are not included in the New Constitution, politicians admit it is now a Democracy instead of a Democratic Republic, but people are supposed to pretend all is the same, and obey the now illegitimate govt. that has jurisdiction only over a few square miles in DC. But if you are intelliget enough to figure the facts out…well YOU are the problem..just like “truthers” are looked dowm upon..while I guess LIARS are just fine, in modern khazar ‘merica!

  4. without dissent,the u.s might as well burn to the ground.

  5. Hmmm

    Radical as in students questioning total support for Israel’s war crimes and illegal occupation of Palestine. Radical as in demanding that the US stop the slaughter of millions of innocent Muslims and withdraw from the Middle East. Radical as in demanding a new investigation into Israel’s obvious ties to 9-11. Radical as in demanding that instead of supporting Israel’s apartheid walls, we build walls to seal and protect our own borders.

    Radical as in demanding a stop to the massive invasion of illegal aliens that are destroying the standard of living of Americans by overloading the country with cheap labor, wrecking our schools, bankrupting our medical and welfare systems.Radical as in stopping the biggest US corporations from shipping our jobs offshore and hiding their profits from the IRS. Radical as in demanding an end to the Federal Reserve which is majority owned by foreign interests and run by 2 dual citizen Israelis.

    For now however, people are still willing to pretend that this censorship, control, lawlessness and outright tyranny be the “government” is to “protect” us from “radicals”. The truth of course is that the government is doing its level best to allow a tiny minority to continue to run roughshod over the majority as that tiny minority plunders and destroys the Republic.

    There is a reoccurring theme going on here. And not coincidentally, the subject of that theme is off limits to criticism not just in public schools, but in public discourse in general in America today. Which in turn goes a long way toward explaining why this country is literally disintegrating before our eyes.

    • Do not worry Liberals run the show in the failed education system so the radicals will be classified as:
      1. Children of Veterans
      2. Devout Christians
      3. Those that complain about loss of freedoms
      4. Those that complain about illegal immigration
      5. Those that question Climate Change
      All leftist will be protected under this system, so I would not worry about it. Only those that question the liberal mantra will be targeted.

      • Well then, I tick every one of those boxes lol!

      • There are no liberals and conservatives in the FBI or the CIA, don’t you get it? Those are just convenient labels that help keep people divided and conquered.
        Or do you think the NSA is sorting left and right in all the billions of data it collects every day?
        The article states that the FBI is watching out for expressions of “mistrust of the government,” concern about “environmental destruction,” or criticism of “corrupt western nations”, believing them to be prognostic of future violent actions.
        Everybody is a target, everybody is being watched.

    • WE need to publicly start calling politicians exactly what they are, COWARDS! We need to sing it from the roof tops and all at once. Ask them how it is they can look their children in the eyes while tucking them into bed each night. How is it that they can even say the words ‘I love you’. Honestly, they have an evil in them that defies anything that could be considered human.

    • disqus_xp4GYx7DZk | March 8, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Reply

      Yes, and that ‘theme’ is from Khazarian sheet music….in the key of T R E A S O N….

    • These comments on here give me hope.

  6. Whoever said that just defined a whole bunch of folks.The real extremists are the folks that follow their (mostly unconstitutional) orders and the clause enemies foreign or domestic pertains to the same folks.

    *Anarchist extremists believe that society should have no government, laws, or police, and they are loosely organized, with no central leadership,” the FBI claims. “Sovereign citizens believe they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States even though they live here … Sovereign citizens use their beliefs to justify fraud and other non-violent crimes.” This sounds good to me.

    I lean toward ‘that government is best which governs least.’ henry david thoreau

    Big government has proven ineffective and a waste of taxes (hard earned pay) and only benefits the gold collar scum and corporations.

  7. They really are shutting down the nation. In the Vietnam Genocide era a group of us in high school, thinking we were oh so smart and radical, had a parting comment summing up our political perspective. It was “and don’t forget to smash the State”. I would go down to a Socialist bookstore and buy I F Stones Weekly as fuel and knowledge to arm ourselves in our “radicalism” against the outrages then. Today the outrages are much worse in the west and healthy dissent is now to be spied upon and is to be used to chill speech as threat against future success if one is termed a “radical”? What is youth for if not to view societal structure with fresh insight into its abuses or conversely its glories? Is a new reign of McCarthyism going to allowed to squash this natural and healthy questioning of the young as they prepare to enter adulthood? Resist this by taking over the boards of education if need be to protect our youth and to show them that free speech is THE primary right if we are to have a free society.

    • Your generation of leftist and Commie-Fascist are now in charge of these policies.

      • Sorry to inform you but the leftist fascist commie element of the day never gained power. Power remained in the hands of the leftist fascist commie bankers and their entourage of corporations, then as now. Most of my generation were co-opted as we settled down and began families, but no doubt you were indoctrinated into our leftist fascist commie ways like all your generation, that is if we followed the leftist fascists master plan as instructed.

      • Padraigin Eagle | March 8, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Reply

        Bolsheviks upon every shore, to be sure.

    • disqus_xp4GYx7DZk | March 8, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Reply

      I’ll see your “taking over the boards’ AND RAISE YOU just REMOVE your children from ALL GICs (government indoctrination centers). Home schooling and sound private schools are the answer, NOT ‘taking over’ rigged entities you have NO chance of penetrating….

  8. Classic move of a totalitarian gov’t making its moves. First, they target a group that is easily demonized – Muslims. They stage false flag events and place the blame on them with 24/7/365 TV coverage of that propaganda. Now, they have opened the door to EXPAND their power grab and begin to demonize PATRIOTIC Americans who are Constitutionalists and Bible believers. These are their REAL TARGETS as these are the folks who will take a stand against Federal TYRANNY. This is the phase they are now in, and you are witnessing this in Oregon and Nevada with the murder and arrest of the Bundy Ranchers. Next, they will begin to round up those “everyday” Americans who they assess to be the greatest threat to their continued Police State Expansion. Like in The Gulag Archipelago, they will come in the dark of night to do their evil. Read Solghenitsyn’s book to see how he lays it all out. Should be required reading.

    • Yep. The dark of night; A cowards best friend…

    • disqus_xp4GYx7DZk | March 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm | Reply

      The difference is, WE have 300 million guns to ‘help’ them internalize the REAL losses THEY will experience during their cowardly 3:00am bust-ins….they CAN’T kill ALL of us.

  9. Funny, nobody running for el president seems to be interested in dismantling the central US government down to a manageable ‘under control’ size before it collapses into it’s own footprint.

  10. FiverPrometheus | March 8, 2016 at 10:10 am | Reply

    F.B.I. covered up 911 and every other false flag since. F.B.I. is a terrorist organization.

    • rhondareichel | March 8, 2016 at 11:54 am | Reply

      they should answer for 9/11 and so should the Bush administration

    • disqus_xp4GYx7DZk | March 8, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Reply

      And Flight 800; and OKC bombing; and JFK, and on and on and on, ad nauseam….that Americans DON’T get, after all these years, that the FBI is absolutely the American KGB, as filled with criminals and traitors as any fifth column is beyond me….

  11. Richard Wahd | March 8, 2016 at 10:49 am | Reply

    I could just see George Dubya Bush justifying this by saying “9-11 was conducted by high schoolers. Ya gotta watch them every minute!” Almost makes me want to buy an engraving machine and gift it to some high schooler and tell him “Bathroom wall graffiti is for amateurs – do it with style” Imagine the trophies and plaques a “suppressed from dissenting” teen would make.

  12. rhondareichel | March 8, 2016 at 11:53 am | Reply

    take a look at Cruz’s bill S306
    psychoanalyzing kids up to the age of 21 and tying all educational funds to common core

  13. Hrundi Bakshi | March 8, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Reply

    When the Federal Bureau of Idiots have so much time on their hands as to now target high schoolers, that’s a sign there are TOO MANY FBI AGENTS making TOO MUCH MONEY and frankly they have TOO LITTLE REAL CRIME to fight. Solution: Fire 3/4 of these overpaid fools and let them dig ditches for a real living. Amerika is so phrucked on so many fronts that she has become a doomed sinking ship.

  14. It’s got nothing to do with ‘McCarthyism’ which was an attempt at uncovering the very real communist subversion of the Tribe in Hollywood and other places. They hated being uncovered and so used their power to distort it into a swear word.

    • You’re joking, right?

      • Yep. Explain which part of that is wrong.
        Do you really think that the Tribe didn’t/doesn’t control Hollywood or that their influence is not deliberately corrupting or that they are not mostly supporters of the ideology of communism?

  15. People need to start asking if they want to live in slavery or die fighting for their freedom. Everyone needs to ask this question of themselves very soon. Death is not to be feared. It comes to all of us, but, it will come to me ON MY TERMS! Not a cockroaches…

  16. disqus_xp4GYx7DZk | March 8, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Reply


  17. disqus_xp4GYx7DZk | March 8, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Reply

    “…an individual voicing “mistrust of the government,” concern about “environmental destruction,” or criticism of “corrupt western nations” would also be prognostic of future violent actions.”. Riiiiiiiiiiiight. In other words, ANYTHING the FBI doesn’t like, will be claimed by THEM to be “prognostic of future violent actions”. How tidy, how so LEO-like…

  18. Viva Michael | March 8, 2016 at 11:17 pm | Reply

    The claim that this is McCarthyism is nonsense. This is what McCarthy was trying to stop. McCarthy was right. What tunnel vision and an inability to understand new information!

  19. McCarthy was right! Your invocation of his efforts to protect America do not compute.

  20. Queen Mennon | March 9, 2016 at 5:58 am | Reply

    mccarthyism? it seems to be that mccarthy was right in his belief that america was being taken over by marxist-communist, facist. on hindsight, mccarthy may have been right. spying on its citizens is marxist-communist. why are you deceiving people with reference to mccarthyism?

  21. Absolutely agree with the concluding sentence – it’s so obvious the FBI and the CIA, among others in the security/defense game, or more accurately put, industry, have been pretty much generating business for themselves for well over 50 years. The population is otherwise just too docile to provide the steady supply of security threats they need in order to justify their existence and ensure healthy budget increases. This is the meta-level of the whole game that most people never discover.
    I think the comparison to McCarthy isn’t quite right, though; much better is INTELPRO and the like, from the sixties and seventies. Which raises the question of whether the FBI is planting teen agent provocateurs in America’s high schools. We already know for a fact – they announced it, after all – that the Pentagon pays people to create fake social media profiles to both monitor and influence discourse. So it wouldn’t be surprising if they had “boots on the ground”, so to speak.
    Also, for some time already – going back before 9/11 in fact, and stepped up since – there has been a program for business execs that encourages them to narc on one another anytime they observe suspicious behavior.

    • Having said that, it appears from reading the FBI publication cited by this article that the intention is indeed to provide guidance to school administrators and instructors – not to spy on schoolchildren, as the headline claims.
      This kind of spin does not help anybody, Ms. Bernish. Nor does your clever interweaving of references to and quotes from other FBI documents without making them apparent to the reader using any convention of source attribution – like in-text citations or footnotes. These still matter, especially if you wish your writing to be taken seriously. As it stands, the reader is easily led to believe they all stem from the same publication, “Preventing Extremism in Schools”. Merely making a word or two into a link is not sufficient indication that you are actually drawing from different texts, written at different times for different purposes, not necessarily connected to the guide on extremism, let alone to a program spying on schoolkids. None of the links go to any document stating that the FBI is operating or planning such a program. I combed the guide for any mention or suggestion of an actual program to be run by the FBI, in fact, and found nothing.
      The further suggestion that the guide is a “thinly veiled excuse to target muslims” is based on opinion, not fact; those words link to an Alternet piece similar to your own (nice job of failing to give credit for that, by the way), which is similarly an expression of opinion, not fact. The paranoia appears to be on the other foot, so to speak.
      One thing we do not need in this day and age is more fearmongering, and it would be hard to defend your article against such an accusation. We already have enough concrete data on the NSA and the like from Wikileaks and Snowden to freak us out, thank you very much.
      And there’s a further concern here. The FBI’s guide on extremism in schools addresses not only religious extremism. It identifies several other factors that can motivate acts of violence, like those underlying the numerous school shootings that happen with alarming regularity. Teachers and administrators need to find ways to deal with this problem; they do need to be able to recognize potential problems, simply in order to prevent more deaths. The FBI is not wrong to provide what it feels is proper guidance, especially as we approach another Columbine anniversary. Whether this guide is misused by individuals in the FBI or in the school system or any law enforcement agency is another matter. We will have to rely on our laws and our checks and balances to limit abuses, as always. We also need to be able to rely on journalists to keep us informed of such abuses. But it seems to me that by reducing the guide to a spying program directed at muslim schoolchildren, your brand of journalism is more of a disservice than a help.

  22. You must have touched a button that put you on the watch list at AP. You do know that AP is a humanistic leaning type site, right?

    • No. I think Im taking things for granted sometimes. Either that or I dont care anymore? There is a red flag on all of us truthers now I reckon…

      • The “war on terror” has been set up to generate fear among the nations and create a desire for “security.” In that, they have redefined a “terrorist” to look more like the born again believer in Jesus Christ that does not follow traditional religious tenants and exposes government corruption, than any other group. The secure ID that they have been implementing globally is going to be required to make any and all financial transactions. Most of the people in the “truther” movement will bow to the financial decisions, because they do not trust God, but fear being without monetary exchange, a home or energy, food, water, etc…

        Yes, we are digitally red flagged.

        • Thats, true. I have mentioned in many posts that some VERY tough decisions need to be made by all of us very soon. I won’t be taken a slave that I promise you. My fate is sealed; as far as this life goes…

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