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Biden Orders Review of Domestic Threats01/23 12:35

   President Joe Biden has directed law enforcement and intelligence officials 
in his administration to study the threat of domestic violent extremism in the 
United States, an undertaking being launched weeks after a mob of insurgents 
loyal to Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden has directed law enforcement and 
intelligence officials in his administration to study the threat of domestic 
violent extremism in the United States, an undertaking being launched weeks 
after a mob of insurgents loyal to Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

   The announcement Friday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki is a stark 
acknowledgment of the national security threat that officials see as posed by 
American extremists motivated to violence by radical ideology. The involvement 
of the national intelligence office, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks 
with a goal of thwarting international terrorism, suggests U.S. authorities are 
examining how to pivot to a more concerted focus on violence from extremists at 
home.

   The threat assessment is being coordinated by the Office of the Director of 
National Intelligence, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, and 
will be used as a foundation to develop policy, the White House said. The 
National Security Council will do its own policy review to see how information 
about the problem can be better shared across the government.

   "The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction 
that occurred underscored what we all know: The rise of domestic violent 
extremism is a serious and growing national security threat," Psaki said, 
adding that the administration will confront the problem with resources and 
policies but also "respect for constitutionally protected free speech and 
political activities."

   Asked whether new methods were needed, she said: "More needs to be done. 
That's why the president is tasking the national security team to do exactly 
this review on the second full day in office."

   Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, 
said it was "critical" that the Biden administration appeared to be 
prioritizing the threat of domestic extremism.

   "In particular, far-right, white supremacist extremism, nurtured on online 
platforms, has become one of the most dangerous threats to our nation," Schiff 
said.

   The riot at the Capitol, which led last week to Trump's second impeachment, 
raised questions about whether a federal government national security apparatus 
that for decades has moved aggressively to combat threats from foreign terror 
groups and their followers in America is adequately equipped to address the 
threat of domestic extremism. It's an issue that has flared repeatedly over the 
years, with different attacks --- including a shooting rampage at a Pittsburgh 
synagogue --- periodically causing renewed debate over whether a law specific 
to domestic terrorism is needed.

   It is unclear when the threat assessment will conclude or whether it will 
precipitate law enforcement and intelligence getting new tools or authorities 
to address a problem that officials say has proved challenging to combat, 
partly because of First Amendment protections.

   FBI Director Chris Wray said last fall that, over the past year, the most 
lethal violence has come from antigovernment activists, such as anarchists and 
militia types.

   Law enforcement agencies are under scrutiny for their preparations for Jan. 
6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters overran the police and stormed into 
the Capitol. Scores of people are facing charges so far, including a man who 
was photographed wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" shirt, as well as people identified 
in court papers as QAnon conspiracy theorists and members of militia groups.

 
 
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