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December 17, 2019

Thompson, Richmond Request FBI Documents on Controversial “Black Identity Extremists” Classification

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting documents and a briefing from the FBI in light of additional reporting on the Bureau’s controversial “Black Identity Extremists” (BIEs) classification.

 “To better understand the full scope of threats law enforcement faces and to ensure that the rights and privacy of community members are protected, we request that you provide to the Committee the August 3, 2017 assessment on BIEs, as well as the 2018 CSG, the 2019 CSG, the 2020 CSG, and any other intelligence assessments or products that have been created and disseminated by the FBI that mention BIEs, Black Racially Motivated Extremists (BRME), Racially Motivated Extremists (RME) and/or Racially Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVE) by January 31, 2020,” the members wrote.  “Additionally, per your commitment at the October 30, 2019 hearing, we look forward to scheduling a briefing with you by early next year on this issue.” 

At a Committee hearing on global terrorist threats this fall, FBI Director Wray agreed to brief Members after questioning from Representative Richmond about new reports that appeared to show that BIEs were a top counterterrorism priority for the FBI in 2018 and that the FBI had started an intelligence-gathering program codenamed “IRON FIST” to target BIEs.

Chairman Thompson and Representative Richmond were among a group of Congressional Black Caucus Members who wrote to the FBI in October 2017 requesting an initial meeting about its August 3, 2017 intelligence assessment entitled “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.” This assessment alarmed civil rights groups, as it appeared to conflate nonviolent black political activists with domestic terrorism movements, raising concerns about racially motivated discrimination and potential infringement on constitutionally protected civil rights.

Full text of the letter is available here. 

UPDATE: FBI Response Letter (05/29/20)

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