This week, independent journalists brought attention to PATCON, short for “Patriot Conspiracy,” a program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to monitor, trap, and ultimately dismantle right-wing Christian groups in the United States.

Like the program COINTELPRO before it, which targeted left-wing factions like anti-war student groups, communists, Black Power collectives, and others (as well as the Ku Klux Klan), PATCON aims to target right-of-center organizations deemed at odds with the American government until they collapse from psychological operations, the planting of false evidence, and other manipulative operations.

But unlike COINTELPRO, PATCON is not loudly denounced as “illegal” by the history books and websites like Wikipedia, ACLU, Zinn Education Project, PBS, nor is it even reported on.

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As Revolver News reports, “PATCON” only appears in Wikipedia to discredit it, such as in the Boston Marathon bombing article where it is listed in the “Conspiracy Theories” section. But in the source they cite—an 2017 article titled “Informants, Provocateurs, and Entrapment” by Oxford academic Sara Kamali in the Surveillance & Society journal—Oxford academic Sara Kamali describes PATCON as the application of “the same practices” used against Muslims in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks “against a completely different demographic – Christian Right militants.” The paper makes use of two previous studies (Lyon 2013 and Monahan 2013) of anti-terrorism surveillance tactics to show how PATCON is essentially an intel war unit directed against religious US citizens.

There was also an academic paper by researcher J.M. Berger published by the New America Foundation, a left-of-center think tank that, for some reason, was ignored. Titled “The FBI’s Secret War Against the ‘Patriot’ Movement, and How Infiltration Tactics Relate to Radicalizing Influence,” the paper details across 15 pages how the FBI infiltrated self-described patriotic and Christian groups, thereby ratcheting up the paranoia among the membership and causing them to splinter off and disintegrate.

Shane Devine is a writer covering politics and business for VT and a regular guest on The Unusual Suspects. Follow Shane’s work here.

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