Trump administration sat on reports detailing domestic terrorism
Trump administration sat on reports detailing...
The FBI has failed to produce a legally required report detailing the scope of white supremacist and other domestic terrorism, despite mounting concerns that the presidential election could spark far-right violence.
In June, the bureau was supposed to release a report compiling a wealth of currently unavailable data on domestic terrorism, a category that includes white supremacist violence. The most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the FBI to specify not only known acts of domestic terrorism, but “ideologies relating to domestic terrorism,” and what the FBI and its partners are doing to combat it all.
Yet the FBI is over four months late. While President Trump falsely portrays left-wing property damage as terrorism, suspicion is building that the FBI will keep the public from seeing the scope of its premier terror threat before an election that may feature violence emerging from it.
The FBI did not deny that the report will not be in time for the election. Its entire purpose is to fill a critical knowledge gap—“to understand prevalence,” particularly of white supremacist violence, said Elizabeth Neumann, who from March 2018 to April 2020 was the assistant secretary for counterterrorism at DHS. “How big a problem do we have? We can’t answer that in the United States.”
FBI director, Christopher Wray, testified to the House Homeland Security Committee that white supremacist violence is “the biggest chunk” of domestic terrorism. That’s an indirect way of acknowledging that white supremacist terrorism, not jihadist terrorism, is the major terrorist threat the United States faces in 2020. It should be obvious: white supremacist terrorism draws from 400 years of American history. No other form of terrorism is as deadly, resilient and authentically American.
“The bottom line from the White House was they didn’t want us to talk us about domestic terrorism because they worried that if we talked about right-wing extremism, we would alienate many of the president’s supporters.” Said former DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor. For a generation, the FBI has placed the American Muslim communities across the country under a blanket of suspicion. It has mapped their businesses, infiltrated their places of worship, and, in an extreme case, taught junior agents that their religion is the source of the terrorist threat to the country. “For the last 20 years, we’ve often heard from federal law enforcement about their efforts undertaken to understand these [Islamist] groups, motivations, recruitment and methodology, We don’t hear that from federal law enforcement when it comes to these [white] groups.” said Farhana Khera, the executive director of the civil rights group Muslim Advocates.
In total, white supremacists “and other like-minded extremists” were responsible for 67 percent of terrorist plots and attacks against the US in 2020, a report states. They used vehicles, explosives, and firearms as their predominant weapons and targeted demonstrators and other individuals because of their racial, ethnic, religious, or political makeup — such as African Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and Jews. The majority of attacks (50 percent) targeted demonstrators, such as Black Lives Matter protesters, while 36 percent targeted the government, military and police, or private individuals.
Also in another move, the Trump administration has omitted or altered vital information about human rights from its annual assessments of human rights, a new report reveals. The Asylum Research Centre conducted a line-by-line analysis and comparison between US state department human rights reports in the last year of the Obama administration and the first three years of the Trump administration. The ARC found that the US reports were not consistent with the situation on the ground as documented by other reliable sources of information and had the effect of downplaying the seriousness of the human rights situations. The principal changes related to women’s rights and civil and political rights. Reports during the Trump era have also generally been shorter with certain sections removed or renamed. All reports during the Trump administration removed the “Reproductive Rights” section and replaced it with “Coercion in Population Control”, omitting information related to accessing reproductive rights, contraception and pre- and post-natal healthcare.