Podcast

The E.R.: Tackling the FBI’s ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Designation

The government’s designations continue to confound and upset critics.

On this episode of The E.R., the panel discusses the FBI's designation of "black identity extremists" as a terror group. (Foreign Policy/Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images)
On this episode of The E.R., the panel discusses the FBI's designation of "black identity extremists" as a terror group. (Foreign Policy/Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images)

Shortly before white supremacists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, the FBI’s counterterrorism unit issued a report labeling “black identity extremists” as a growing threat to law enforcement, FP’s Jana Winter and Sharon Weinberger reported this month.

The problem with this designation: No one had ever heard of such a movement.

The article resulted in a wide array of responses, including a demand from members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with the FBI director to express their concerns about this designation. And last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information about the “FBI’s surveillance of Black people on the basis of a purported shared ideology, including but not limited to records using the FBI’s new term ‘Black Identity Extremists.’”

On this week’s first episode of The E.R., Sharon Weinberger, FP’s executive editor for news, is joined by FP contributor Jana Winter, Malkia Cyril, and Michael German to discuss both the FBI’s designation and the reactions to it. The general consensus? The designation was bogus.

Malkia A. Cyril is the founder and executive director of the Center for Media Justice and co-founder of the Media Action Grassroots Network. For more than 20 years, Cyril has built the capacity of racial and economic justice movements to win media rights, access, and power in a digital age. Follow her on Twitter at: @culturejedi.

Michael German is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program. His work focuses on law enforcement and intelligence oversight and reform. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, German was the policy counsel for national security and privacy for the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. A 16-year veteran of federal law enforcement, German served as an FBI special agent, specializing in domestic terrorism and covert operations.

Jana Winter is a Washington-based investigative reporter. She previously worked as a national security reporter at the Intercept and as a breaking-news and investigative reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @janawinter.

Sharon Weinberger is FP’s executive editor for news. She is the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World. Follow her on Twitter at: @weinbergersa.

Tune in, now three times a week, to FP’s The E.R. podcast.

Subscribe to The E.R. and Global Thinkers podcasts on iTunes.

Sharon Weinberger is the executive editor for news at Foreign Policy. @weinbergersa

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