At a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Thursday, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán asked former assistant secretary for counterterrorism and threat prevention at DHS Elizabeth Neumann and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt about the danger of members of Congress supporting QAnon and other groups that have been labeled domestic terror threats by the FBI.
- Ms. Neumann and Mr. Greenblatt, questions for you. The FBI warned, called QAnon a domestic terror threat. How dangerous is it for members of Congress to support these domestic terror groups and repeat their lies? Ms. Neumann?
ELIZABETH NEUMANN: QAnon has certainly accelerated as a threat, particularly over the summer. I think a lot of that has to do with what we were just talking about, social isolation, the pandemic, people searching for answers for why their lives have been turned upside down, and seeking for a way to take control. It is really hard to extract people once they really go down the rabbit hole, so it is really important for anybody in a position of authority, particularly those that are considered a credible voice, which is often a pastor, or a media personality, or an elected member of Congress. It's really important that they talk about what truth is and what is not truth, even if in QAnon, it's a lot of asking questions, like, well, suppose or what if.
You know what? That's gossip and slander. And we need to kind of go back to the basics of we don't bear a false witness. If you don't have a firsthand account of the conspiracy that you think is true, then you probably don't need to be spreading it. And I think we need to--
- Thank you.
ELIZABETH NEUMANN: --help encourage our citizens to get back to the basics of civic society.
- Thank you. Mr. Greenblatt?
JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Congresswoman, thank you for the question. I would say dangerous conspiracy theories from 9/11 truthers to the Sandy Hook kind of people to QAnon are all part of a piece. They are a danger to our national security, and they are a danger to our communities. So the QAnon folks demonstrate anti-semitism. They demonstrate racism. They demonstrate demonizing other people, suggesting that Democrats are pedophiles or part of some conspiracy to kill and eat children.
All of it is disgusting. And whether you are an elected member of Congress, or some other office, or you're an aspirin, whether you say it now or you said it in the past, it should disqualify you from being on committees or participating in it. If you believe that our democracy is being taken over by pedophiles and you subscribe to these crazy theories about Jewish space lasers, you don't belong at the table. Period, end of story.
- And Mr. Greenblatt, what message will it send if there are no consequences?
JONATHAN GREENBLATT: It is baffling how no matter what party you're a part of, no matter how you choose to pull the lever in the ballot box, that people would think that someone who believes such crazy, outrageous lies should be part of a political process, who thinks that Sandy Hook didn't happen should sit on an education committee. It boggles the mind, and it undermines the credibility of whatever party we choose to do that and the political process overall.
- Thank you very much.