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Opinion: FBI warns of more bloodshed

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

— Pogo, Earth Day, 1970

Comic strip written by Walt Kelly

On Monday, two law enforcement officials — under conditions of anonymity — read an internal FBI bulletin that warned of armed protests at all 50 state capitols as well as the nation’s capitol. According to the Associated Press, investigators for the federal agency believe that some of the protestors are members of extremist groups.

The officials said that at least one similar bulletin was issued before the attempted coup in Washington, D.C. These bulletins are circulated to law enforcement officers nationwide. And, as early as Dec. 29, 2020, the FBI warned of the potential for violence by armed demonstrators who were targeting both state and national legislatures.

The current bulletin reads: “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January.” Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asks that people avoid the national capitol during that time period and “attend the inauguration only virtually.”

This information was released at about the same time that news reached the public that Chad Wolf, acting Secretary of Homeland Security, had resigned from his office, leaving the United States with no strong leader for that agency which is responsible for protecting the nation.

Are we ready?

John Kasich, former Governor of Ohio and Republican candidate for President, told CNN that he has contacted members of law enforcement agencies, telling them “you better get ready because it’s going to take massive security” to protect the country against the swelling insurrection. According to the Associated Press, insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 included “… far-right militants, white supremacists, off-duty police, members of the military, and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals.” Records of the arrests that have been made show that some of the insurgents were heavily armed and “included criminals, such as a Florida man recently released from prison for attempted murder.”

Kasich pleaded to the public to “reach out to people who might be caught up in these conspiracy theories” and ask them to just “calm down” for a while. Other analysts have commented on the roots of domestic terrorism, saying that many people have been radicalized by talk of a “rigged election.” Such rumors have infected “people of trust,” and this has caused the misinformation to spread more widely and more effectively. If this is true, it raises real concerns about whether we are ready to defend against further insurrections.

The two key Presidential Cabinet positions that are critical to the nation’s security at this time are occupied by “acting” guardians. After the resignation of Chad Wolf, Pete Gaynor became the new Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. The Acting Secretary of Defense is Christopher Miller.

Because Gaynor had been the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) until Monday, an Acting Administrator will have to replace him. FEMA may have a crucial role if the assaults on our state capitols actually materialize. Not having permanent Secretaries, administrators, and managers in position is causing something of a national panic attack. And that makes the question of who is running our government more frightening than probably any time since our independence from Great Britain.

How traitorous are the insurgents

Let’s be clear about one thing, today’s insurgents are not a manifestation of the hippies and war objectors of the 1960’s who were armed with flowers and peace signs. Wednesday’s rioters in the nation’s capitol were heavily armed, some had flash-bangs, some had body armor, many were carrying automatic weapons. They did not chant “Peace and Love;” they shouted “Hang Mike Pence” and epithets that can’t be printed here.

The insurgents beat capitol police officers, invaded government offices, and one of them removed the United States flag from a platform and replaced it with a “Trump” flag.

I wonder how that last demonstration against our nation would have affected John Bradley, Harold Keller, Ira Hayes, Harlon Block, Michael Strank, and Franklin Sousley. You may wonder who these six men are. To be truthful, I didn’t know until I researched one significant page in our history. These were the six men who were photographed by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press on Feb. 23, 1945. They were the subjects of the iconic image of five Marines and one Navy corporal who raised the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima.

None of these heroes are alive today. Corporal Harlon Block, Pfc. Franklin Sousley, and Sgt. Michael Strank were killed in action while defending the island against vastly superior Japanese forces. Privates-first-class Keller, Schultz, and Hayes died post-war. But if they were alive today to witness the desecration of our nation’s Capitol and the replacement of the U.S. flag, I imagine that their tears would rival those of Iron Eyes Cody, the stage name used by Italian-American actor Espera de Corti who portrayed Native Americans in movies and in the commercial for “Keep America Beautiful.”

We do not honor our historical heroes by maintaining our silence. We need to symbolically give those warriors on Iwo Jima a hand in raising the flag to its upright position. At the very least, we must be sure that we elect to public office those people who understand the basis of democracy and will defend it to the best of their ability.

And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made.

And the sign flashed out its warning,

In the words that it was forming.

And the signs said , “The words of the

Prophets are written on the subway walls

And tenement halls.”

And whispered in the sounds of silence.

— The Sound of Silence

Paul Simon, 1964

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Jim Glynn is Professor Emeritus of Sociology. He may be contacted at


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