Likely in response to the attack in a Charleston church where nine were murdered earlier this year, the Obama administration has announced a new office at the Department of Justice aimed at tracking and coordinating investigations into domestic terrorism. They are also teaming up with the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center in the process.
During a speech delivered on October 14 at George Washington University, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said the new office would be the “main point of contact for U.S. attorneys working on domestic terrorism matters.”
“The new DT Counsel will not only help ensure that DT cases are properly coordinated but will also play a key role in our headquarters-level efforts to identify trends to help shape our strategy, and to analyze legal gaps or enhancements required to ensure we can combat these threats,” he continued.
Citing the proliferation of lone wolf-styled attacks, Carlin said, “Lone offenders, or other small groups, plan and carry out their attacks with limited assistance,” Carlin said, pointing to the “power of the Internet” to help them organize.
Carlin twice mentioned Islamic extremism in his comments but then immediately went on to claim that domestic terror by groups sporting “anti-government animus,” “eco-radicalism,” and “racism” are just as dangerous despite the much smaller number of incidents sponsored by such disparate groups.
The new office is teaming up with the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Though the relationship is not fully detailed in his remarks, several times Carlin noted the SPLC’s history of tracking “hate groups” and its presence on the Internet.
In comments this week, the SPLC’s top man Mark Potock said, “We’ve been pushing for something like this for quite a few years. We feel like it’s very much a step forward, although we’ll have to see how it plays out.”
Potok went on to say that the new effort would restore “balance” to the State Department’s efforts to fight terrorism.
For years, the media has turned to the SPLC as an “expert” source for identifying “hate groups,” but the organization is a single source and even the FBI cannot substantiate its many claims.
Echoing Potok’s concerns over the “hate groups” it tracks, Carlin noted he is worried over such groups, as well.
“The Attorney General noted this summer that these kinds of hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism,” he said. “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 worldview, is just one example. His actions followed earlier deadly shooting sprees by white supremacists in Kansas, Wisconsin and elsewhere. ”
The Obama administration has a long history of claiming that Islamic terrorism is perhaps less of a worry than “homegrown” terror. During his two terms in office, Obama’s government has issued report after report saying that groups such as Tea Party groups, patriotic Americans, nativist groups, and even our soldiers are possible domestic terrorists.
Earlier this month, Obama’s government announced that it was joining a new effort with the UN to allow international police agencies to help program how American cities respond to terrorism.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at email@example.com.