On January 11, 2020, the Department of Justice announced that it’s establishing a new “domestic terrorism” division to tackle a perceived rise in right-wing extremism throughout America.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen announced the establishment of this new division during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Laura Widener of Military Times noted that the testimony was mostly centered on the perceived domestic terrorism threat that has allegedly lingered in the year following the January 6, 2021 protests in the U.S. Capitol.
“I have decided to establish a domestic terrorism unit to augment our existing approach. This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat helping to ensure these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country,” Olsen said to elected officials.
Olsen believes there is a “growing threat” of individuals who are primarily inspired by “racial animus” and “extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies.” In Olsen’s view, these new “threats” justify the creation of a new anti-domestic terror division.
Olsen stressed that ideologies are not the primary basis for how the DOJ determines if a certain activity constitutes domestic terrorism.
The Assistant Attorney General said, “We prosecute people for engaging in violent behavior, not for their beliefs” and emphasized that fighting domestic terrorism and prosecuting domestic extremists are the Justice Department’s “top priorities.”
In Olsen’s view, domestic terrorism consists of “acts dangerous to human life.” The Assistant Attorney General argued that domestic terrorism has perpetuated some of the “most heinous” atrocities in American history.
Domestic terrorism tends to be ill-defined and not fully codified into American law, which allows for demagogic politicians and Deep State actors to take advantage of this concept to push for sweeping encroachments on people’s civil liberties.
During his testimony, Olsen informed elected officials that the January 6 protests were currently being investigated for their allegedly terroristic nature. This investigation is being carried out despite the fact none of the 700+ individuals with charges not being specifically charged for acts of terrorism, rioting or insurrection.
When he was asked if the DOJ was willing to slap individuals with terrorism charges and use enhanced sentencing measures that pertained to terrorism cases, Olsen did not provide a response but left the question up in the air depending on “the facts and circumstances of the case.”
“The department has pursued enhanced sentencing in terrorism cases … where appropriate,” Olsen noted.
Jill Sanborn, the executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, was also present at the testimony on January 11. She declared that the FBI’s investigations of individuals suspected of engaging in domestic extremism have “more than doubled since the spring of 2020.”
Sanborn proclaimed that the greatest danger comes from “lone actors or small cells who typically radicalize online and look to attack soft targets with easily accessible weapons.”
The political establishment is continuing to run with the domestic terrorism narrative after January 6.
Politically, this move may not be a slam dunk, however. According to a Rasmussen poll released towards the end of 2021, most voters believe the January 6 Committee and other efforts to politicize said event are highly partisan moves.
When inflation is roaring and crime is climbing, many voters see Democrat’s fixation on right-wing domestic extremism and other forms of inside baseball as needlessly tone-deaf and divisive.
Populist Republicans should emphasize how destructive such investigations are in terms of their divisiveness and civil liberties implications, in addition to showing how they serve as a political distraction to a Democratic administration that has allowed inflation to run out of control while the country is getting rocked by a nasty crime wave.