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The Biden Administration Promotes A Domestic Terrorism Plan
Joe Biden

The Biden Administration Promotes A Domestic Terrorism Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — As part of a nationwide strategy to combat domestic terrorism, the Biden administration says it will improve its analysis of threats posed by domestic terrorists, including intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies, and will collaborate with technology companies to eliminate terrorist content online.

The National Security Council released the strategy plan on Tuesday, more than six months after a mob of insurgents loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol while Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden's presidential victory.

“Domestic terrorism — driven by hatred, bigotry, and other forms of extremism — is a stain on the soul of America,” Biden, who is traveling in Europe, said in a statement. “It runs counter to everything our country stands for and poses a direct challenge to our national security, democracy, and unity.”

Domestic violent extremists posed a greater threat in 2021, according to a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, with white supremacist groups and anti-government militias posing the greatest risk, officials said.

The new strategy includes improving the government's analysis of domestic terrorism and the sharing of information among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Administration officials also stated that the Justice Department had implemented a new system within the FBI to "methodically track" domestic terrorism cases nationwide.

The Justice Department was also considering whether the administration should recommend that Congress pass a specific domestic terrorism law, which does not currently exist; in the absence of domestic terrorism laws, the Justice Department relies on other statutes to prosecute ideologically motivated violence committed by people with no international ties.

However, this has made it more difficult to track how frequently extremists motivated by religious, racial, or anti-government prejudice commit violence in the United States, complicating efforts to develop a universally accepted definition of domestic terrorism. Opponents of domestic terrorism laws argue that prosecutors already have sufficient tools.

The government's new plan also includes an effort to identify government employees who may pose a domestic terrorism threat, with several federal agencies developing new policies and programs to identify potential domestic extremists in law enforcement and the military.

A senior administration official said the Office of Personnel Management was considering updating forms to help improve screening and vetting of government employees so that people who could pose a threat are identified before being placed in sensitive roles. The official spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal tools.

Officials said the Justice Department had also formally designated domestic terrorism as a top priority, reallocating resources at U.S. attorneys’ offices and FBI field offices across the country to combat the threat posed by domestic extremists. The Justice Department’s proposed budget for next year includes $100 million in additional domestic terrorism resources to be used for analysts.

The United States and four other countries have joined an effort to prevent extremist violence from spreading online, known as the Christchurch Call, which includes 50 countries and tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. The effort is named after the New Zealand city where the two mosques were attacked.

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