(FeaturedNews.com) – With the anniversary of the January 6 incident at the Capitol, there is a new focus on domestic terrorism in the United States. A recent Senate Judiciary Committee meeting brought to light the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) commitment to spotlight such cases and the need to prosecute them to the fullest.
A New DOJ Unit
The head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Matthew G. Olsen, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 11 about increasing domestic terrorism reports. He said the number has doubled since spring 2020, and the goal is to change how the agency approaches these reports by creating a domestic terrorism unit.
Olsen suggested the unit will help increase prosecution for the elevated threat of domestic incidents based on social or political agendas. He said going after these violent extremists is a top goal of the department, and the new unit will allow for furthering that goal. A group of attorneys dedicated to addressing domestic terrorism actions and ensuring the proper handling of cases makes up this new division.
Olsen ended his remarks by saying the DOJ remains committed to upholding civil rights and prosecuting cases based on the crimes and not the individuals’ beliefs.
A Recent Call for Action
When making his remarks before the committee, Olsen also noted some of the more recent stories of violence in the news. For example, he spoke of the deaths of nine people in a Charleston church at the hands of a white supremacist, the killing of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the attack on a congressional baseball game in Virginia, and the 23 deaths at a shopping center in El Paso. He also mentioned the January 6 attack at the Capitol, linking these incidents to a need for increased measures by the DOJ to protect the American people.
Olsen isn’t the only one calling for more attention on incidents labeled domestic terrorism. During comments at an event in Tulsa on June 1, 2020, President Joe Biden insinuated white supremacy is the top safety concern in the country. FBI Director Christopher Wray also spoke out on the increase of domestic threats in March 2021. The January 6 committee in the House is investigating the events of that day under the lens of domestic terrorism.
Despite the many examples given by government officials, there remain some questions about what constitutes a domestic terrorist. According to Olsen, it’s someone driven to violence due to personal and ideological protests. He also labeled them as anti-government and anarchist in their beliefs and said they use violence to reach their personal or political goals.
Some lawmakers, though, feel the approach of the DOJ is one-sided. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked why there was no focus on the riots during the summer of 2020 that lasted nearly seven months. He called them violent anti-police events that Democrats have largely ignored.
Other conservatives asked Olsen to explain Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo calling for investigations into parents who speak out at school board meetings against members. The motivation behind it seemed to be the National School Board Association’s classification of these parents as terrorists.
If there is no definition of what constitutes a domestic terrorist, how can the new DOJ unit do an effective and fair job?
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