A recently leaked FBI memo that said "radical traditionalist" Catholics should be looked at as an extremist threat is the result of the bureau morphing into an "intel agency," two retired FBI agents tell Newsmax.
The bureau has since removed the memo from its systems, saying that it "does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI."
The memo targeted what it called "Radical-Traditionalist Catholics" who reject Vatican II and prefer the traditional Latin mass.
"Especially during the Obama years, the FBI used and abused the Patriot Act to target United States Citizens," former Agent Steve Gray said Tuesday on "Spicer & Co."
"Why did they do that? Because the act allows the FBI to basically surveil and go after United States citizens without a warrant, he told co-host Lyndsay Keith.
The agency uses a national security letter, an administrative subpoena, issued by a court for documents from businesses or cell phone companies, banks, etc. to collect information, he explained.
"But the FBI is basically writing those national security letters on their own without any court supervision and then targeting U.S. citizens based on that information," Gray said.
Much of that information doesn't get used in a court system, he continued, so that means that the FBI is essentially using it within the counterintelligence and counterterrorism division and on a secret basis, "and it's caught in a severe loop."
"They continually collect information, and then that gives them the authority to open up more cases based on the information that they collected," he said, "and they just continue to collect information on ordinary citizens of the United States and use and abuse the First Amendment and basically, the FBI has become weaponized against the United States citizens."
That said, former Agent Chris Gonzales noted that while such actions might cause people to lose trust in the FBI and lose hope, "There are really good folks trying to do the right thing," at the bureau.
"There is a separation between the intel and the ops side, and there are plenty of Catholics and Christians in the FBI," he added. "I think they would be just as surprised as the public was to read such a document."
"So there is hope because of the good people there," he said, "But there are some critical questions that need to be asked in order to prevent these failures in the future."
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