A person holds a banner referring to the Qanon conspiracy theory during a alt-right rally on August 17, 2019 in Portland, Oregon Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
During his 22 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael F. Scheuer became known for the time he spent tracking Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. But Scheuer left the CIA in 2004, and these days, he is best known for his violent rhetoric and fondness for far-right conspiracy theories. Journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote an in-depth article chronicling the story for the Daily Beast this week.
Ackerman, who specializes in national security issues, describes Scheuer's journey from CIA agent to conspiracy theorist — noting that these days, the blogger's activities including praising the QAnon cult and applauding vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse. And these days, according to Ackerman, Scheuer isn't shy about calling for violence against fellow U.S. citizens.
"The former senior CIA official once in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden has spent the summer calling for the slaughter of his fellow Americans," Ackerman explains. "Michael Scheuer calls Black Lives Matter a 'terrorist organization' and a 'semi-human mob.' On his blog and his podcast, Scheuer rages against a widespread, treasonous conspiracy targeting not only President Trump, but the fundamental character of the American republic. It deserves 'punishment…. we've not seen before in this country.'"
Ackerman notes that Scheuer has exalted Rittenhouse — who is facing murder charges for allegedly shooting two demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin — as a "young hero" and recently wrote, "Rittenhouse's necessary, patriotic and constitutional actions will power the formation of militias across the United States." Scheuer has described George Floyd, whose brutal killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25 set off anti-racism protests around the world, as "felonious scum."
"Scheuer's advocacy of violence follows a long trajectory," Ackerman explains. "In December, he endorsed the increasingly violent QAnon conspiracy movement, which the FBI has called a potential wellspring of domestic terrorism."
In July, Scheuer said that if a civil war occurred in the U.S., the "only thing" he "would be upset about" is "that not enough Democrats would get killed."
"Counterterrorism experts have long since written Scheuer off as a crank," Ackerman observes. "Yet Scheuer's advocacy of political violence looks disturbingly like a harbinger. Trump's one-time consigliere, Roger Stone, urged Trump to declare martial law and jail his critics if he loses the November election."
Glenn Carle, a retired CIA operations officer who knew Scheuer's co-workers, told the Beast, "He's always been an extremist. That's a psychological characteristic, not a political attribute of his. Clearly and without exception, he's derogatory to the point of being grotesque in his unfairness toward any political figure who shows any temperance."
Carle also said of Scheuer, "In times of stress, unconsciously, we're tribal and visceral. This is happening in American society in a larger sense, and it's what's going on with Scheuer."