The White House defended its new strategy for countering domestic terrorism against complaints it unfairly targets conservatives and supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The plan is politically “agnostic” but focuses on individuals whose political or other grievances motivate “unacceptable” violence, according to senior administration officials.
The White House released the strategy on Tuesday after President Joe Biden promised his administration would conduct a 100-day review of the federal government’s response to domestic terrorism following the 2016 Dallas police shooting, the 2017 congressional baseball shooting, the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol.
The White House said the document is the first of its kind.
Tuesday’s framework follows the March release of an unclassified baseline study that found the most lethal threats were posed by racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically white supremacists and those belonging to anti-government militia.
The blueprint is based on better understanding and shared domestic terrorism-related information to prevent extremist recruitment and mobilization, disrupt and deter activity, and combat the root causes, senior administration officials said. The White House proposed it be paid for, in part, by Biden’s $100 million fiscal year 2022 budget request for U.S. Attorney and FBI field offices.
“This work has to happen in parallel to the strategy to address some of the long-term drivers and enablers of domestic terrorism, including economic inequality, those who feel left behind by the 21st-century economy, structural racism, and the proliferation of guns,” an official said late Monday.
As part of the plan, the White House, as well as the departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, will look at updating application forms for sensitive roles to ensure extremists are not employed by the federal government, law enforcement, or the military. This comes after more than 50 people charged in connection to the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill have been identified as government, law enforcement, or military personnel.
“In addition, the Department of Defense is incorporating training for service members, separated or retired from the military, who may potentially be targeted by those who seek to radicalize them,” another official added.
The framework also folds in the United States signing the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online, an international partnership to eliminate extremism on the internet “while safeguarding the freedom of online expression,” according to the officials.
Officials insisted political buy-in would outlast the administration, despite Republican skepticism regarding the blueprint.
Officials also defended the strategy’s failure to call on Congress to pass a new federal statute criminalizing domestic terrorism.
“The president wanted his Justice Department and his new attorney general to take a hard look at the question of whether new authorities are necessary based on facts and analysis,” an official said. “And so the strategy requests that the Justice Department review this question and come back to him with the recommendation.”
Author : Naomi Lim
Source : Washington Examiner : White House defends new domestic terrorism strategy against gripes it targets Trump supporters