Monday, July 12, 2021

Washington's Plan for Combatting Domestic Terrorism

After the January 6, 2021 "insurrection", Washington (in particular the Biden Administration) has been fixated on domestic terrorism.  The Biden Administration has recently released its strategy for combatting domestic terrorists as you will see in this posting.


In the newly minted National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism:


...the White House outlines its strategy for controlling and defeating domestic terrorism, the latest "boogeyman in the closet".  

Here are some excerpts from the document's cover letter signed by Joseph R. Biden Jr.:


"Too often over the past several years, American communities have felt the wrenching pain of domestic terrorism. Black church members slaughtered during their bible study in Charleston. A synagogue in Pittsburgh targeted for supporting immigrants. A gunman spraying bullets at an El Paso Walmart to target Latinos. It goes against everything our country strives to stand for in the world, and it poses a direct challenge to America’s national security, our democracy, and our national unity. This National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism lays out a comprehensive approach to addressing the threat while safeguarding bedrock American civil rights and civil liberties – values that make us who we are as a nation....


Preserving and safeguarding constitutionally protected expression and freedom of association are national security priorities. Our rights and our historic liberties are an intrinsic part of what makes America strong. So this Strategy is narrowly tailored to focus specifically on addressing violence and the factors that lead to violence – violence that violates the law, threatens public safety, and infringes on the free expression of ideas.


We cannot ignore this threat or wish it away. Preventing domestic terrorism and reducing the factors that fuel it demand a multifaceted response across the Federal Government and beyond....We have to take both short–term steps to counter the very real threats of today and longer–term measures to diminish the emerging threats of tomorrow.


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 defend and protect those 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."


I like that - a project that should unite all Americans.


Before we go any further, let's look at the Federal government's legal definition of domestic terrorism:


"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 document opens by noting that domestic terrorism has a long history in the Untied States from the post-Civil War Ku Klux Klan to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (among others).  After the list of "domestic terror attacks", most of which involve mass shootings, the document makes this claim:


"And just months ago, on January 6, 2021, Americans witnessed an unprecedented attack against a core institution of our democracy: the U.S. Congress."


And there we have the main reason for the battle against domestic terrorists.  


The document then goes on to outline the motivations of today's domestic terrorists which include:


"...a range of violent ideological motivations, including racial or ethnic bigotry and hatred as well as anti–government or anti–authority sentiment."


....and a variety of forms of domestic terrorism which include:


"...lone actors and small groups of informally aligned individuals, to networks exhorting and targeting violence toward specific communities, to violent self–proclaimed “militias” who, despite legal prohibitions in all fifty states against certain private militia activity, assert a baseless right to take the law into their own hands."


Washington's strategy against domestic terrorism is built on four pillars:


1.) efforts to understand and share information regarding the full range of domestic terrorism threats. 


2.) efforts to prevent domestic terrorists from successfully recruiting, inciting, and mobilizing Americans to violence. 


3.) efforts to deter and disrupt domestic terrorist activity before it yields violence. 


4.) the long–term issues that contribute to domestic terrorism in our country must be addressed to ensure that this threat diminishes over generations to come.


The document also outlines key elements of domestic terrorism:


1.) Ethnic and racial motivation: "...the threat that emerges from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and networks whose racial, ethnic, or religious hatred leads them toward violence, as well as those whom they encourage to take violent action. These actors have different motivations, but many focus their violence towards the same segment or segments of the American community, whether persons of color, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, other religious minorities, women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, or others. Their insistence on violence can, at times, be explicit. It also can, at times, be less explicit, lurking in ideologies rooted in a perception of the superiority of the white race that call for violence in furtherance of perverse and abhorrent notions of racial “purity” or “cleansing.


2.) Anti-government and anti-authority motivation: "This significant component of today’s threat includes self–proclaimed “militias” and militia violent extremists who take steps to violently resist government authority or facilitate the overthrow of the U.S. Government based on perceived overreach; anarchist violent extremists, who violently oppose all forms of capitalism, corporate globalization, and governing institutions, which they perceive as harmful to society; sovereign citizen violent extremists, who believe they are immune from government authority and laws; or any other individual or group who engages in violence – or incites imminent violence – in opposition to legislative, regulatory, or other actions taken by the government. Other domestic terrorists may be motivated to violence by single–issue ideologies related to abortion–, animal rights–, environmental–, or involuntary celibate–violent extremism, as well as other grievances – or a combination of ideological influences. In some cases, individuals may develop their own idiosyncratic justifications for violence that defy ready categorization.


The document goes on to note that these elements combine to create a complex and changing domestic terrorism threat landscape thanks to the following:


"Internet–based communications platforms such as social media, file–upload sites, and end–to–end encrypted platforms, all of these elements can combine and amplify threats to public safety. This is the domestic terrorism threat America faces today – one with the distinctive imprint of today’s digital age as well as longstanding roots in domestic terrorism challenges throughout our country’s history."


Basically, Washington is admitting that domestic terrorism is complex and unpredictable yet makes the following "prediction" as found on page 10 with my bold:


"Enduring DVE (domestic violent extremists) motivations pertaining to biases against minority populations and perceived government overreach will almost certainly continue to drive DVE radicalization and mobilization to violence. Newer sociopolitical developments–such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID–19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence–will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year."


So, there you have it.  Washington equates those who have not drunk the "COVID KoolAid" narrative with domestic terrorists who bomb federal buildings and participate in mass shootings.


Washington also believes that it knows the root of all domestic terrorism; the internet and social media in particular as quoted here:


"Especially on Internet–based communications platforms such as social media, file–upload sites, and end–to–end encrypted platforms, all of these elements can combine and amplify threats to public safety. This is the domestic terrorism threat America faces today – one with the distinctive imprint of today’s digital age as well as longstanding roots in domestic terrorism challenges throughout our country’s history."


In the roughly 26 pages of text, the word "internet" appears 7 times, social media appears 4 times, online appears 20 times , platform (as referring to social media) appears 19 times and encrypted appears 4 times.  Here are some examples of the use of the word "online" in the document:


"It will also help us to reduce the factors contributing to incitement to domestic terrorism online that exacerbate the spread of calls to violence. It will, moreover, guide the United States toward achieving the resilience that can prevent domestic terrorists from gaining traction and adherents in the first place." (page 7)


"The overarching goal of this Strategy is preventing, disrupting, and deterring that violence. Pursuing that goal includes reducing the factors contributing to domestic terrorism. Those factors have multiple dimensions, including incitement to imminent violence online, some transnational linkages, and certain self–proclaimed private “militia” activity that, to varying degrees, is prohibited by the laws of all 50 states." (page 13)


"And it can mean, broader still, cultivating the type of digital literacy that can empower the American public to resist those who would use online communications platforms and other venues to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize to violence." (page 14)


But, don't worry, here's what the document has to say about the privacy, civil freedom and civil rights of Americans:


"Furthermore, we will focus specifically on violence and factors which contribute to it while respecting civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy protections, and while recognizing and maximizing the positive benefits of modern communications technologies such as the Internet."  (page 12)


And, here's an example where just about all of the "buzz words" are included:


"Recruiting and mobilizing individuals to domestic terrorism occurs in many settings, both in–person and online. These activities are increasingly happening on Internet–based National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism communications platforms, including social media, online gaming platforms, file–upload sites, and end–to–end encrypted chat platforms, even as those products and services frequently offer other important benefits. The widespread availability of domestic terrorist recruitment material online is a national security threat whose front lines are overwhelmingly private– sector online platforms, and we are committed to informing more effectively the escalating efforts by those platforms to secure those front lines." (pages 21 and 22)


So, how does the Biden Administration propose to fix the problem of domestic terrorism?  Of course, with more government intervention, most particularly including the Department of Homeland Security:


"Maximizing the Federal Government’s understanding of this particular threat also means supporting and making appropriate use of the analysis performed by entities outside the government that bring to bear relevant expertise and doing so in a structured way that provides a channel for such analysis while also avoiding bias or improper influence – or even the appearance of it. To that end, and consistent with civil liberties and privacy protections, the Department of Homeland Security will introduce a new systematic approach for utilizing pertinent external, non–governmental analysis and information that will provide enhanced situational awareness of today’s domestic terrorism threat. That includes, where appropriate, specialized areas and types of analysis, including ways in which gender–motivated violence can have implications for domestic terrorist threats." (page 16)


"...the Department of Homeland Security and others are either currently funding and implementing or planning evidence– based digital programming, including enhancing media literacy and critical thinking skills, as a mechanism for strengthening user resilience to disinformation and misinformation online for domestic audiences." (page 20)


In other words, force-feeding the masses the government-approved narrative and discouraging all of us from seeking out sources that disagree with Washington's views.


"The Department of Homeland Security has expanded its efforts to provide financial, educational, and technical assistance to those well placed to recognize and address possible domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence and will ensure that its counter– domestic terrorism prevention efforts are driven by data and informed by community–based partners. The Department of Homeland Security also has increased the grant funding available in this area in support of evidence–based programs and with transparency regarding their use." (page 20)


"Our law enforcement agencies also play a critical role in responding to reports of criminal and otherwise concerning activity. That is why the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security are working to enhance public understanding of the full range of assistance that can be provided to those in need, including how mental health experts are complementing traditional law enforcement response." (page 21)


And, while it doesn't directly involve the Department of Homeland Security, here is an admission that should concern every American:


"Therefore, even as we augment our approach to domestic terrorism under existing authorities, the Department of Justice is examining carefully what new authorities might be necessary and appropriate." (page 25)

After all, we can never get enough of the heavy hand of government, can we?


I believe that is enough information to digest for this very important subject.  As Americans found out once Washington formulated its plan to combat and prevent international terrorism after the events of September 11, 2001 (i.e. the onerous and far-reaching Patriot Act), privacy and freedom can be a fleeting thing no matter how much Washington tries to reassure us that our privacy is their greatest concern.  WIth the threat of domestic terrorism now being used to subjugate the will of the masses to even more invasive scrutiny, we can be assured that what little remains of our privacy has now disappeared into the ether.

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