The FBI has renounced a leaked internal memo from its field office in Richmond, Virginia, that warned white supremacists found a home with "radical traditionalist Catholics" who favored the Latin Mass.
"While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product – disseminated only within the FBI – regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI," the Bureau said Thursday in an emailed statement to Newsmax.
A copy of the memo, "Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities," was leaked Wednesday by Kyle Seraphin, who was an FBI special agent for six years, in a report on uncoverdc.com.
Seraphin, a federal whistleblower, wrote that the author of the memo defines radical traditionalist Catholics as those who are "typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council." Vatican II, which concluded in 1965, revised the Latin Mass with the Mass of Paul VI.
"Upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document," the FBI statement continued.
"The FBI is committed to sound analytic tradecraft and to investigating and preventing acts of violence and other crimes while upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity."
The memo, released Jan. 23, states, "Open-source reporting and FBI investigations have noted a growing overlap between the far-right white nationalist movement and RTCs [radical traditionalist Catholics]. Illustrative of this has been the increasing collaboration of the far-right Catholic media outlet Church Militant [and its activist wing, the Resistance network] with the America First/'groyper' movement."
A memo footnote defines "groyper" as followers of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. The memo also noted an increase in hostility toward abortion advocates on social media following the Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Seraphin wrote the FBI analyst's main source for the intelligence appears to be the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that labels many conservative organizations as hate groups. An appendix of the document lists nine RTC hate groups as defined by the SPLC.
"Nothing reported by the SPLC indicates the number of adherents to this alleged ideology nor any instances of violence," Seraphin wrote. "This lack of evidence and blatant partisan blindness is one of many reasons the FBI has distanced itself from the SPLC as a source in the past 10 years. The intelligence product includes endnote citations from two other sources: the far-left online magazine Salon and the equally left-leaning The Atlantic."
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