Domestic terrorism – driven by hate, bigotry, and other forms of extremism— is a stain on the soul of America. It goes against everything our country strives for and it poses a direct challenge to our national security, democracy, and unity.
To meet this serious and growing threat, on my first day in office I directed my national security team to confront the rise in domestic terrorism with the necessary resources and resolve. Today, I am releasing the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. It lays out a comprehensive approach to protecting our nation from domestic terrorism while safeguarding our bedrock civil rights and civil liberties – values that make us who we are as Americans. We have to take both short-term steps to counter the very real threats of today and longer-term measures to diminish the drivers that will contribute to this ongoing challenge to our democracy.
This is a project that should unite all Americans. Together we must affirm that domestic terrorism has no place in our society. We must work to root out the hatreds that can too often drive violence. And we must recommit to defending and protecting our basic freedoms, which belong to all Americans in equal measure, and which are not only the foundation of our democracy – they are our enduring advantage in the world.
FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism
On his first full day in office, President Biden directed his national security team to lead a 100-day comprehensive review of U.S. Government efforts to address domestic terrorism, which has evolved into the most urgent terrorism threat the United States faces today. As a result of that review, the Biden Administration is releasing the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism to address this challenge to America’s national security and improve the federal government’s response.
Domestic terrorism is not a new threat in the United States, yet it is a threat Americans have endured too often in recent years. The comprehensive strategy provides a nationwide framework for the U.S. Government and partners to understand and share domestic terrorism related information; prevent domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence; disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity; and confront long term contributors to domestic terrorism. Our approach will protect both the nation and the civil liberties of its citizens.
Under Federal law, “domestic terrorism” is defined as “activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
The review was rooted in an expert assessment of the domestic terrorism threat provided by the intelligence and law enforcement communities. An unclassified summary of that assessment was released in March so the public could see the key findings. It found that the two most lethal elements of today’s domestic terrorism threat are (1) racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists who advocate for the superiority of the white race and (2) anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists, such as militia violent extremists.
To develop a government-wide strategy to counter domestic terrorists, the Biden Administration consulted extensively with a wide array of experts across the U.S. Government as well as with leaders in Congress, state and local governments, academia, civil society, religious communities, and foreign governments. Throughout the process, we embraced the protection of civil rights and civil liberties as a national security imperative. The strategy we are releasing today is carefully tailored to address violence and reduce the factors that lead to violence, threaten public safety, and infringe on the free expression of ideas. It is organized around four pillars – the core elements of how the Biden Administration will improve the U.S. Government’s response to this persistent, evolving, and lethal threat to our people, our democracy, and our national security:
PILLAR 1: UNDERSTAND AND SHARE DOMESTIC TERRORISM-RELATED INFORMATION
The U.S. Government will enhance domestic terrorism analysis and improve information sharing throughout law enforcement at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, and, where appropriate, private sector partners. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have implemented a robust system to methodically track domestic terrorism cases nationwide. The Department of State as well as the intelligence and law enforcement communities are learning more from foreign partners about the international dimensions of this threat.
The Department of State will continue to assess whether additional foreign entities linked to domestic terrorism can be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations or Specially Designated Global Terrorists under relevant statutory criteria. The Department of the Treasury, in coordination with law enforcement, is exploring ways to enhance the identification and analysis of financial activity of domestic terrorists. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is enhancing its analysis of open-source information to identify threats earlier and will create a structured mechanism for receiving and sharing within government credible non-governmental analysis.
PILLAR 2: PREVENT DOMESTIC TERRORISM RECRUITMENT AND MOBILIZATION TO VIOLENCE
Drawing on the expertise of a variety of departments and agencies, the U.S. Government has revamped support to community partners who can help to prevent individuals from ever reaching the point of committing terrorist violence. The U.S. Government will strengthen domestic terrorism prevention resourcesand services. For the first time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated “Domestic Violent Extremism” as a National Priority Area within the Department’s Homeland Security Grant Program, which means that over $77 million will be allocated to state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to prevent, protect against, and respond to domestic violent extremism. DHS and FBI are working to strengthen local prevention, threat assessment, and threat management frameworks. The Department of Defense (DOD) is incorporating training for servicemembers separating or retiring from the military on potential targeting of those with military training by violent extremist actors. The U.S. Government will improve public awareness of federal resources to address concerning or threatening behavior before violence occurs.
The U.S. Government will augment its efforts to address online terrorist recruitment and mobilization to violence by domestic terrorists through increased information sharing with the technology sector and the creation of innovative ways to foster digital literacy and build resilience to recruitment and mobilization. The United States also recently joined the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online, an international partnership between governments and technology companies that works to develop new multilateral solutions to eliminating terrorist content online while safeguarding the freedom of online expression.
PILLAR 3: DISRUPT AND DETER DOMESTIC TERRORISM ACTIVITY
The work of Federal law enforcement as well as our state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners is critical to countering domestic terrorism. The U.S. Government will increase support to Federal, state, and local law enforcement in addressing domestic terrorism nationwide. U.S. Attorney’s Offices and FBI field offices across the country have formally made domestic terrorism a top priority and are tracking comprehensively domestic terrorism-related cases, reallocating or requesting appropriate funding and resources as needed to target the threat. That includes over $100 million in additional resources for DOJ, FBI, and DHS included in the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget to ensure that the Federal Government has the analysts, investigators, prosecutors, and other personnel and resources it needs to thwart domestic terrorism and do justice when the law has been broken. State, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement will have access to increased intelligence sharing and training on domestic terrorism and associated threats. DOJ is closely examining whether new legislative authorities that balance safety and the protection of civil liberties are necessary and appropriate.
The U.S. Government is improving employee screening to enhance methods for identifying domestic terrorists who might pose insider threats. The Office of Personnel Management will consider updates to the forms used to apply for sensitive roles in the Federal Government that could assist investigators in identifying potential domestic terrorism threats. DOD, DOJ, and DHS are similarly pursuing efforts to ensure domestic terrorists are not employed within our military or law enforcement ranks and improve screening and vetting processes. Training and resources will be developed for state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners as well as sensitive private sector partners to enable them to enhance their own employee screening programs and prevent individuals who pose domestic terrorism threats from being placed in positions of trust.
PILLAR 4: CONFRONT LONG-TERM CONTRIBUTORS TO DOMESTIC TERRORISM
Every component of the government has a role to play in rooting out racism and bigotry and advancing equity for all Americans. The U.S. Government, in close partnership with civil society, will address the long-term contributors that are responsible for much of today’s domestic terrorism. This 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.
The U.S. Government is committed to strengthening trust in American democracy and its ability to deliver for the American people, including through relief and opportunity provided by the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. The U.S. Government will also work to find ways to counter the polarization often fueled by disinformation, misinformation, and dangerous conspiracy theories online, supporting an information environment that fosters healthy democratic discourse.
In implementing this strategy, and at the direction of President Biden, we will remain focused on addressing violence and reducing the threat of violence while vigilantly safeguarding peaceful expression of a wide range of views and freedom of political association.
Source White House
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Statement from DHS Secretary Mayorkas on the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism
Release Date: June 15, 2021
With today’s release of the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, President Biden is demonstrating his steadfast commitment to addressing the most significant and persistent terrorism-related threat to the homeland today.
In furtherance of the National Strategy, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will remain focused on addressing violence, while at the same time protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.
DHS is undertaking a number of actions as part of an all-of-government effort to fight domestic terrorism. DHS is enhancing its analysis of open-source information to identify threats and leverage credible threat-analysis produced by others. The Department is continuing its efforts to provide timely and useful information to state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement as well as international and private sector partners. DHS is developing key partnerships with local stakeholders through the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) to identify potential threats and prevent terrorism. For the first time, the Department designated domestic violent extremism as a “National Priority Area” within DHS’s Homeland Security Grants, which will provide local partners with more than $77 million to prevent, protect against, and respond to domestic violent extremism.
We must and we will remain vigilant in our steadfast efforts to safeguard our Nation and our democratic principles.
Press Releases – Schiff, Carson Statement On President Biden’s Domestic Terrorism Strategy
Washington, June 15, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Congressman André Carson (D-Ind.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation, issued the following statement following President Biden’s announcement of a new all-of-government approach to combating domestic terrorism:
“Domestic terrorism has emerged as one of the gravest risks to our country and security. From individual acts of racially or politically-motivated violence to the insurrection against our Capitol on January 6, the United States is under threat, and it’s clear our response to this moment must equal the seriousness of the harm domestic terrorists seek to inflict on our country, democracy, and people.
“Today, the Biden administration has taken another critical step in countering this threat by releasing the first ever national strategy on domestic terrorism, which will implement a whole-of-government approach. It seeks to improve the understanding and sharing of domestic terrorism-related information, prevent recruitment and the mobilization to violence, disrupt and deter domestic terrorism activity, and confront the long-term contributors to domestic terrorism, including extreme and violent ideologies which are often fomented online and through social media.
“We look forward to working with the Biden administration on supporting this new strategy by bolstering efforts to identify, counter, and prevent domestic terrorism. Ensuring improved communication between law enforcement agencies and focusing on investigating and prosecuting violent extremists, including those with transnational ties, will help to secure the safety of our communities. And we welcome the strategy’s emphasis that such efforts must be pursued while safeguarding civil rights and civil liberties.
“The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will continue our work and oversight to ensure the Intelligence Community and law enforcement are appropriately resourced and postured to deal with one of the most important threats we face as a nation, and that comprehensive data on the threat is shared with the public and civil society.”
THOMPSON, SLOTKIN STATEMENT ON BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S RELEASE OF FIRST-EVER DOMESTIC TERRORISM STRATEGY
June 15, 2021
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, released the following statement on the Biden Administration’s release of the nation’s first National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism:
“We are encouraged by the Biden-Harris Administration’s release of the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism – a promise the President made on day one. Though we have long lived with the scourge of domestic terrorism, the January 6th attack on the Capitol showed the clear need for a strategy to combat a new strain of this threat. The Homeland Security Committee has long focused on the threats posed by domestic terrorists and it is promising that we now have an executive branch that is making countering these threats a national priority. We look forward to examining this strategy in depth and hearing more details from the Department of Homeland Security, the Intelligence Community, and the other agencies tasked with this important work and the bold plans they have to implement the strategic vision that President Biden has set forth.”
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