You've undoubtedly seen the headlines:
The headlines are similar at all the other MSM outlets--it's always about "armed protests" in all 50 state capitals.
The claims are said to be based on an "internal FBI bulletin." Some of the sites, like CNN and ABC, claim that you can read the FBI bulletin further down their pages, but that's not precisely true. You can't read the actual bulletin. What you can actually read is a further statement that the FBI put out after the leak was publicized. That statement appears to be intended to clarify the media hype.
However, this AP account does contain what purports to be a direct quote:
WASHINGTON (AP/WTNH) — Every state is now on high alert after the FBI sent out a warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to President-election Joe Biden’s inauguration.
This stoking fears of more bloodshed after last week’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.
An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.
“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,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The FBI issued at least one other bulletin — they go out to law enforcement nationwide on the topic — before the riots last week. On Dec. 29, it warned of the potential for armed demonstrators targeting legislatures, the second official said.
Here's how I read this:
Two LE officials who received the bulletin from the FBI stated that the FBI warned that nationwide protests are being planned. The FBI ("investigators believe") believes some of the persons involved are members of "extremist groups." However, the reporting we're presented is somewhat disjointed: on the one hand we're told of "armed protests" being planned, but on the other hand the focus seems to be on "some people"--individuals who are believed to be members of "extremist groups." But those individuals would likely be a subset of any larger group of protesters. The point is, it's hard to know what the FBI bulletin actually says from these media presentations, without a much larger context. The media report states that two LE officials "read details of the memo", but in fact what we're presented with as a quote is only one sentence, with no further context.
Protests are currently being planned. It's possible that "some" people who participate will be members of "extremist groups". A previous bulletin, issued two weeks ago, warned of a "potential" that "armed demonstrators" could "target" legislatures--but that hasn't actually happened so far. Moreover, in what would such "targeting" consist? Targeting with chants--or with gunfire? All that is coyly left unclear. Nor is it suggested--as far as we are allowed to know--that armed protesters will be conducting their activities in violation of any applicable laws. For example, in states that prohibit open carry, will protesters arrive armed in defiance of the law, spoiling for confrontation? That is not suggested.
None of this truly sounds like "armed protests are being planned"--not in the sense that those words seem intended to convey by the media reporting. In fact, it's not entirely clear what an "armed protest" actually is. Is the FBI really saying that the call has gone out for protesters to show up with firearms? Clubs? Mace? Molotov cocktails? BYOW, type unspecified, but be armed and ready to use those arms? Again, we unfortunately don't have the full context of the bulletin, but my guess is: not really. It sounds to me like the actual FBI is aware is that some people may show up armed. That has been a feature of past demonstrations in open carry states, or concealed carry states. In my mind that's not the same thing as staging an "armed protest" as such. "Armed protest" sounds to me like a call to armed "insurrection" or at a minimum, violent reaction to any LE attempt to limit their activities or, perhaps, a display of weapons to intimidate. That is exactly how Dem state officials are portraying these supposed protests, specifically using the word "insurrection" to characterize the "mostly peaceful" DC protest.
Now, here is the only full FBI public statement on this that's available, seemingly intended as a clarification:
“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve. Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity.
As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners. The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.”
What this tells me is that the FBI's focus is on persons--individuals--who they suspect may "incite violence" and thus pose a threat to "peaceful protesters ... and other citizens." That presupposes that most of the demonstrators will be peaceful and that the FBI recognizes that the protests are not being organized--like Antifa protests--to disrupt public safety. Moreover, the characterization--"those threatening ... safety"--could also include members of Leftist groups seeking to provoke violence--not just those, armed or otherwise, participating in any planned protests.
The picture that emerges from this clarifying statement suggests that the FBI's real concern is that there may be individuals who will seek to incite violence in the context of possibly large protests and counter protests in which some participants may be armed. Individuals seeking to incite violence don't necessarily need to be armed themselves. Such individuals may seek to provoke an armed response, as we have seen in some instances this summer. Once again, any suggestion that the FBI possesses information that armed protesters intend to target legislative buildings is absent from this clarifying statement. The bottom line is, this is the sort of thing the FBI gets paid for--to anticipate these sorts of possibilities.
But the media reporting looks very much like an attempt to hype a largely hypothetical threat. It looks more like the usual attempt to marginalize all Trump supporters as probably armed and dangerous and crazy "insurrectionist" revolutionaries who are seeking to overthrow the social and political order--as established by the "interagency". We can look forward to a continued barrage of this sort of 'reporting.'
UPDATE: TGP has posted--and warned against--a flyer purporting to advertise for an "armed march" from the "Washington Memorial" [sic] to the White House on 1/17/21. If by "armed march" this flyer is inviting people to show up at the Washington "Memorial" visibly armed, that's a sure fire way to get your ass arrested in DC. Might that be the intent of this anonymous flyer? Get supposedly gullible right wing dopes to show up armed so they can be arrested and held up to the public as "domestic terrorists"? IMO, more likely than not.
Notice there is no organizing group listed on the flyer.
It doesn't even look like something a conservative group would design--red background, yellow letters and stars? I don't think so.
Aaron Katersky at ABC first reported these supposed "armed marches". He openly refers to the January 6 protest as "the Capitol insurrection." Here is some of his reporting:
The FBI has "received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January. They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur," according to a bulletin obtained by
A group is calling for “storming” state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Trump is removed prior to Inauguration Day, per an FBI bulletin obtained by
"Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January," according to an FBI bulletin obtained by @ABC
I'll believe this when I see it. Anything's possible--there may be some loons out there posting nonsense like this on the internet somewhere. My first guess is: Leftist trolling.