Commentary: These days, even domestic terrorism is being swept up in electoral politics | Opinion columns

On Memorial Day, Americans remember those who gave their lives fighting for the freedoms we enjoy. Those we lost had joined all their other military brethren in taking an oath to the Constitution. Although the United States Constitution is only a document, it is the values ​​it upholds that make it so significant.

This oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” is also taken by civil servants, intelligence officials, as well as members of Congress.

And because almost everything is now viewed through the prism of partisanship, even threats to our security have become political.

In 2019, FBI Counterterrorism Officer Michael C. McGarrity defined domestic terrorism for the House Homeland Security Committee as “any act dangerous to human life that violates United States criminal laws and appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence government policy by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping. The act in question must occur primarily within the jurisdiction of the United States.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel in March 2021 that domestic terrorism was one of the biggest threats to the United States. Wray said, “The problem of domestic terrorism has metastasized across the country for a long time and it’s not going away anytime soon. We at the FBI have been sounding the alarm for several years now.

FBI National Security Chief Jill Sanborn told lawmakers in January that “the threat posed by domestic violent extremists is persistent and evolving. The deadliest threat from domestic violent extremists is posed by white supremacists and anti-government militias.

She added: “Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists are most likely to carry out mass attacks on civilians, and militia violent extremists typically target law enforcement and government personnel and facilities. “

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., introduced a bill to combat domestic terrorism that “establishes new requirements to expand the availability of information about domestic terrorism, as well as the relationship between domestic terrorism and crimes of hatred”. It authorizes homeland terrorism components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute homeland terrorism. The domestic terrorism components of DHS, DOJ, and FBI must jointly report domestic terrorism, including incidents or attempted incidents related to white supremacy. DHS, DOJ, and FBI should review their agencies’ counterterrorism training and resource programs that are provided to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the DOJ should make training available to its prosecutors and assistant U.S. prosecutors in prosecuting domestic terrorism.

He creates an interagency task force to analyze and combat the infiltration of white supremacists and neo-Nazis into uniformed services and federal law enforcement. Finally, he directs the FBI to assign a Special Agent or Hate Crimes Liaison Officer to each field office to investigate hate crime incidents with a domestic terrorism connection.

The House vote on Schneider’s bill on May 19 was split 222-203 in favor. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., was the only Republican to join all Democrats in favor of the proposal. Four Republicans did not vote.

The vote came just days after a local extremist killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket. House Republican leaders have urged their party members to vote against the bill, arguing the legislation is unnecessary. But in September 2020, the Prevention of Domestic Terrorism Act 2020, a previous version of the same legislation, was unanimously approved by the House.

What was the difference between the 2020 and 2022 votes? Mid-sessions 2022.

I won’t speculate on the reason for the Republicans’ reluctance to deal with the threat from within our borders. That said, there are issues that should transcend partisan divides. Our collective security is part of it.

As a nation, we should be able to agree that fighting our enemies, whether they live on foreign soil or right here in the United States, should be a top priority – and nonpartisan at that. The quest to obtain or hold power seems to taint this commitment.

Lynn Schmidt is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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