Biden Orders Review of Domestic Threats01/23 12:35
President Joe Biden has directed law enforcement and intelligence officials
in his administration to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the
United States, an undertaking being launched weeks after a mob of insurgents
loyal to Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden has directed law enforcement and
intelligence officials in his administration to study the threat of domestic
violent extremism in the United States, an undertaking being launched weeks
after a mob of insurgents loyal to Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The announcement Friday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki is a stark
acknowledgment of the national security threat that officials see as posed by
American extremists motivated to violence by radical ideology. The involvement
of the national intelligence office, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks
with a goal of thwarting international terrorism, suggests U.S. authorities are
examining how to pivot to a more concerted focus on violence from extremists at
The threat assessment is being coordinated by the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and
will be used as a foundation to develop policy, the White House said. The
National Security Council will do its own policy review to see how information
about the problem can be better shared across the government.
"The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction
that occurred underscored what we all know: The rise of domestic violent
extremism is a serious and growing national security threat," Psaki said,
adding that the administration will confront the problem with resources and
policies but also "respect for constitutionally protected free speech and
Asked whether new methods were needed, she said: "More needs to be done.
That's why the president is tasking the national security team to do exactly
this review on the second full day in office."
Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee,
said it was "critical" that the Biden administration appeared to be
prioritizing the threat of domestic extremism.
"In particular, far-right, white supremacist extremism, nurtured on online
platforms, has become one of the most dangerous threats to our nation," Schiff
The riot at the Capitol, which led last week to Trump's second impeachment,
raised questions about whether a federal government national security apparatus
that for decades has moved aggressively to combat threats from foreign terror
groups and their followers in America is adequately equipped to address the
threat of domestic extremism. It's an issue that has flared repeatedly over the
years, with different attacks --- including a shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh
synagogue --- periodically causing renewed debate over whether a law specific
to domestic terrorism is needed.
It is unclear when the threat assessment will conclude or whether it will
precipitate law enforcement and intelligence getting new tools or authorities
to address a problem that officials say has proved challenging to combat,
partly because of First Amendment protections.
FBI Director Chris Wray said last fall that, over the past year, the most
lethal violence has come from antigovernment activists, such as anarchists and
Law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny for their preparations for Jan.
6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters overran the police and stormed into
the Capitol. Scores of people are facing charges so far, including a man who
was photographed wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt, as well as people identified
in court papers as QAnon conspiracy theorists and members of militia groups.