According to the Justice Department’s director of national security, the DOJ intends to push more resources toward combating domestic terrorism in the coming years, including a focus on right-wing, libertarian groups like the “sovereign citizens” movement. In a speech at George Washington University Wednesday, John Carlin said the DOJ was creating a new position called the Domestic Terrorism Counsel.
“In recognition of a growing number of potential domestic terrorism matters around the United Sates, we have created a new position to assist with our important work in combating domestic terrorism,” Carlin said. “Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the United States.”
For years, the Obama administration has run with this story about domestic terrorism and what a threat it is to the homeland. Citing statistics that say more Americans are killed by homegrown terrorists than Islamic extremists, they have been particularly focused on right-wing “hate” groups as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Among domestic extremist movements active in the United States, white supremacists are the most violent. The Charleston shooter, who had a manifesto laying out a racist world-view, is just one example,” Carlin said.
So the Charleston shooter was a terrorist? What exactly separates a “terrorist” from a run-of-the-mill mass shooter? Who gets to decide these things? Are these just political labels we slap on when we want to funnel more money in one direction or the other? Was Ted Bundy a terrorist?
Apparently, just flying the Confederate flag is enough to attract that label. Last week, a Georgia grand jury charged 15 flag supporters with terrorism after they drove by a neighborhood party shouting threats. Would a group of black anti-flag activists have met the definition if the roles were reversed? Highly unlikely.
Coincidentally, another federal crime fighter spoke Wednesday, and he had a much different story to tell. FBI Director James Comey said that ISIS recruitment within the United States is happening “24 hours a day.”
“So we have investigations in all 50 states to try to identify, among hundreds of people who are consuming this poison, where are they on the stages from consuming to acting, and how do we stop them from acting,” he said.
Hmm, doesn’t seem like the time is right to shift our focus to domestic “terrorists” who have yet to prove themselves capable of violence. Statistics are all well and good, but they don’t mean much compared to the videos we see out of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has plumbed new depths of depravity, and they have become extraordinarily gifted when it comes to propaganda. When the Justice Department can point to a right-wing militia that regularly captures and murders their enemies, their argument might hold a little more water. Until then, they have phantoms and feelings and not a lot else.
Our nation’s law enforcement agencies need to be focused on keeping Americans safe, not spreading the president’s political agenda.