January 6. The sixth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, Russian Orthodox Christmas Eve, and of course, the beginning of the “long coup” to wrest control of the country by the most radical right-wing Republicans. There are a lot of theories about who is behind this. Today, we explore three options.
Option 1: It was a Patriot Purge™
Fox Nation is Fox News’s new streaming service, and one of its big selling points is that it comes stocked with Tucker Carlson “special reports,” including the three-part series Patriot Purge. Carlson’s “documentary” benefits from the fact that it’s partisan propaganda; this allows it to dispense with even the pretense of objectivity, and the (false) narrative is streamlined. It hums along, affecting viewers the same way, I’d imagine, that The Eternal Jew did in Berlin in 1941.
Patriot Purge wants to have it both ways. The “insurrection” in D.C. was nothing of the sort, as it turns out — the racial justice protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder were the real insurrection, vicious and violent, while the political rally at the Ellipse was nothing more than a chance for law-abiding, not at all radical middle-class Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights. But of course, the Capitol was overrun by a mob. How to explain the discrepancy?
For this, Tucker relies on a book called The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism by investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson. This was one of the first books to expose the FBI’s lousy track record in busting post-9/11 extremists. Instead of hunting actual terrorists, the Bureau works with informants to essentially manufacture terror plots, which it then “stops.” (Except when it doesn’t, which may have been the case with the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. That’s me saying this, not Trevor Aaronson.)
The author broke it down in a TED Talk in 2015:
According to Patriot Purge, the January 6 coup is a government plot to criminalize Trump supporters. Of course, half of American politicians — the Republican half — are Trump supporters, so why they would do this remains a mystery.
Tucker’s PP tape places the responsibility for the violence on the non-organization Antifa, and makes the case the Antifa is probably an FBI operation. This kind of thing is transparent nonsense to most of us, but easily confused with actual journalism by the sort of people who are inclined to believe it anyways.
In Rolling Stone, Yale professor and author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, explains how propaganda like Patriot Purge fits into the larger project of canceling democracy:
The message of the series is clear: a great wrong has been done. The government and media have engineered a false narrative directed in the first instance towards discrediting the patriots who seek to address it, and, ultimately, with the goal of hunting down and violently suppressing them. Our media’s complicity is demonstrated by their differential coverages of the BLM protests, which are here portrayed as senseless violent riots, and the events of January 6. The patriots are innocent Americans seeking only to preserve democracy in the face of a fraudulent election. The forces arrayed against them are almost impossibly powerful. It is a repeat of the war on terror, by the same forces who engineered it, but directed against the most representative of our citizens, the “real” Americans.
Of course, if the media, the Democrats, and Black Lives Matter are existential threats to the United States itself, as Tucker desperately wants us to believe — and don’t forget, he is getting very rich making people believe these lies — then Patriot Purge doesn’t just excuse those behind the (first?) Trump Coup, it justifies the next coup as well.
Option 2: It was a False Flag
Covert Action Magazine (previously Covert Action Quarterly and, before that, Covert Action Information Bulletin) has a storied history, and it’s a favorite among journalists on the parapolitics beat, including myself. Whenever I start working on a “spooky” story, I check the Covert Action archives, where I can usually find something good in the back issues.
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Today on the Covert Action website, historian and author Jeremy Kuzmarov makes the case that the events of January 6, 2021 were a “false flag,” the creation of domestic political extremism where none existed, in order to justify a police state. Except, of course, there already is plenty of domestic political extremism.
Unlike Patriot Purge, Kuzmarov’s article is written in that dry, academic tone of most revisionist history. Rather than try to tell a zippy story, it hits us with a number of factoids that are supposed to add up to something. In this case, I can’t say they add up to anything.
What are we to make of the fact that the mob that stormed the Capitol included “groups of men wearing camouflage uniforms and black gear who resembled provocateurs”? An argument could be made, of course, that the United States has plenty of homegrown militants who organize and supply themselves with uniforms and equipment, an alarming number of which have the training and means to conduct military-style operations.
More curious is the fact that Thomas Caldwell, the leader of the Oath Keepers, is a former FBI section chief and Navy veteran who has held a top-secret security clearance since 1979. And Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio has worked as an FBI informant. Both the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were on the ground on January 6.
Facts like these, as well as the fact that the “very first breach of the Capitol’s police barricades at 12:50 p.m. was coordinated by a former Marine Sergeant from Arizona, Ray Epps,” only really mean that we live in a failed-or-failing state. You can’t even go to a coup attempt these days without running into a bunch of ex-soldiers and federal snitches.
Kuzmarov’s article also devotes a great deal of time to the Oklahoma City bombing, another alleged “false flag” that really says nothing about what happened in Washington, D.C. last January.
Option 3: It was Cold War Yoda
In December 2021, Dan Feidt of Unicorn Riot released a report (available on Failed State Update) detailing how the Trump Coup was aided and abetted by forces in the military itself. It’s a long story, and well worth reading.
Once you work your way far enough into the story, an interesting character appears: Iran-Contra conspirator Major General John Singlaub (U.S. Army, retired). During the Reagan administration, when congress told the White House that it could no longer fund the right-wing contra terrorists in Nicaragua, Singlaub played a key role in privatizing the effort, using his role as chairman of the World Anti-Communist League (a Cold War affiliation of Latin American dictators, neo-fascists, and actual Nazis) to fundraise for the contras. That way, the WACL ensured that the right-wing death squads in Nicaragua had the money, weapons, and training to overthrow the democratically elected government.
According to the Iran-Contra Scandal Trading Cards, “John Singlaub’s life-long military specialty has been unconventional warfare, which he defines as ‘low-intensity operations such as sabotage, terrorism, assassination, and guerrilla warfare,’ and non-military activities such as psychological warfare, economic sabotage, and disinformation.”
Throughout his career (with the OSS, CIA, U.S. Army, and private groups like the World Anti-Communist League) Singlaub plied his trade in Vietnam, Korea, Nicaragua, Angola, and the Philippines, to name a few of the nations he helped torment.
More recently the cold warrior, 100 years young, has been called the Obi-Wan to Michael Flynn’s Luke Skywalker (although these days, he really resembles Yoda).
Michael Flynn, of course, is the retired lieutenant general who served as Trump’s national security advisor for 22 days before he was asked to resign. He’s also a raging Q nut, riding on the high wave of the conspiracy industry, whipping up middle-class extremists with appearances on podcasts and speaking gigs at megachurches. Late last year, at one of these churches, his remarks included a call for a state religion.
The Flynn-Singlaub connection brings up an interesting possibility. Was January 6 only the latest in Singlaub’s “low-intensity operations?” Are Flynn and his “digital soldiers” responsible for engineering the Trump Coup? Have anti-democratic secret operations in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Angola finally blown back to the homeland? As weird as it might sound, this is probably the option that makes the most sense.