Jim Jordan, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, fired off a subpoena to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday asking for a full response to a whistleblower’s leaked report that the FBI planned to monitor Catholic organizations dedicated to the Latin mass as breeding grounds for terrorists. He asked for more detail on a plan to insert undercover agents to develop sources within the Church to investigate such “Radical Traditional Catholics,” or in FBI parlance, RTCs.
It all began when former Special Agent Kyle Seraphin revealed a memo showing that the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia office was infiltrating Catholic parishes, acting on agents’ suspicion that those who prefer traditional Latin masses are connected to white supremacy. “The document assesses with ‘high confidence’ the FBI can mitigate the threat of Radical-Traditionalist Catholics by recruiting sources within the Catholic Church,” Seraphin wrote at the time.
Embarrassed by this story, the FBI rescinded the memo and blamed it on bad decision-making in the Richmond field office for the document’s “creation and dissemination.” Members of the House Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government were not satisfied. How did this idea get started? Who approved it?
The FBI, after trying to ignore these questions, produced an 18-page response in March that Jordan on Monday called “partial” and “substandard.”
Jordan’s subpoena demands responses to his queries without redactions, asking for details on the report that “at least one undercover employee, sought to use local religious organizations as ‘new avenues for tripwire and source development.’”
The FBI has a history of insensitivity to the free exercise of religion and the privacy of religious institutions. The bureau famously targeted worshippers in a mosque in Southern California in 2006-2007 without any probable cause the government is willing to discuss. The FBI paid an informant to infiltrate the mosque and plant listening devices.
No Islamic terrorists were found.
We’ll report on further developments as the FBI is tasked to produce a more forthcoming explanation of its targeting of “RTCs.”