The White House on Tuesday announced a government-wide strategy to combat domestic terrorism after completing a sweeping assessment of the threat posed by domestic violent extremism following the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
The strategy focuses on providing a national framework for the US government and partners to share information related to domestic terrorism, preventing domestic terrorism recruitment and violent mobilization, disrupting and deterring domestic terrorism activity and confronting long term contributors to domestic terrorism.
The new strategy marks a major break from former President Donald Trump’s administration and addresses more directly the threats posed by White supremacists and right-wing militia groups.
Senior administration officials told reporters that though the approach is ideologically neutral, the administration will build on its previous assessment that White supremacists and anti-government militias pose the most lethal threat. President Joe Biden said earlier this month that White supremacy was “the most lethal threat to the homeland today,” in a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
“Since January 20th, the President has focused on addressing the elevated threat of domestic terrorism and he has been equally focused on ensuring our efforts to counter it take place in the context of upholding American civil rights and civil liberties,” a senior administration official said.
Biden has discussed the issue with Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others, emphasizing “the need to conduct this work in a way that never undermines those freedoms, those values and those legal guardrails in order to get an objective and fact-based review of the threats that we face,” the official said.
Biden ordered a 100-day comprehensive review of US government efforts to address domestic terrorism on his first full day in office.
The first pillar of the new strategy is to understand, analyze and share domestic terrorism related information with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial levels as the Department of Justice and FBI has implemented a new system to track domestic terrorism cases nationwide.
The second pillar involves a $77 million proposed budget within the Department of Homeland Security to prevent domestic terrorism, recruitment and mobilization to violence by working with communities to help them become more resilient to prevent individuals from ever reaching the point of committing terrorist violence.
The federal government will also enhance its efforts to address online domestic terrorist recruitment and mobilization to violence through increased information sharing with the technology sector.
The third pillar involves a disruption and deterrence of domestic terrorist activity which includes more than $100 million in additional resources for the DOJ, FBI and DHS, which is included in Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, to ensure that the federal government has the necessary resources to thwart domestic terrorism.
The Justice Department is looking at whether new legislative authorities are appropriate to balance safety and the protection of civil liberties.
During the ongoing investigation into the January 6 insurrection, prosecutors have revealed that some of those charged in connection to storming the US Capitol were former military and current police officers from across the country. The investigation also found that many of those charged belong to White supremacy groups that include the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters.
The final pillar is focused on confronting longterm contributors to domestic terrorism, which includes reducing and protecting Americans from racial, ethnic, and religious hatred and stemming the flow of firearms to individuals intending to commit acts of domestic terrorism.
“We will work to ensure that law enforcement operates without bias in countering domestic terrorism and provides for the public safety of all Americans. In a true democracy, violence cannot be an acceptable mode of seeking political or social change,” a fact sheet from the White House reads.