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Federal Government Looks at Curbing White Domestic Terror Groups After Coup Attempt

The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol came as no surprise to domestic terror experts and others who have been tracking the activities and the alarming growth of white nationalist, extremist organizations and individuals for more than a decade.

In the days and weeks since the coup attempt, what’s becoming clearer are the links between the far-right insurrectionists and former President Donald Trump, his inner circle and administration agencies; the involvement of Republican congressional lawmakers and their aides; and the money that flowed from dark money sources, conservative groups and individuals.

What we’re seeing, said domestic terrorism expert Michael German, is a culmination of years of America generally — and law enforcement and the federal government specifically — ignoring or sidestepping what is widely regarded as the greatest domestic threat to the United States.

“For 10 years, law enforcement has underplayed the violence from domestic terrorists even though the level of violence we’ve seen is much higher than any other group. Domestic terrorism is much more a part of our society. With their presence in the military and law enforcement, white supremacist groups have badges of law. That has been true for decades.”

Domestic Terrorism Ignored

Retired Redondo Beach, Calif., police Lt. Diane Goldstein agrees with German that America continues to ignore domestic terrorism on American soil at its peril.

“Our biggest threat is domestic terrorism and white nationalism. We as Americans are not taking seriously the threat of white nationalism seriously,” said Goldstein, executive board chair of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). “In the 1990s, the Aryan Brotherhood and the Order were fomenting a lot of violence. Law enforcement took a real signature stand and pushed these people back. That’s not occurring right now.

“It’s stunning,” Goldstein said. “It’s always felt that our ideal of democracy was inviolate. Now we are no different than any other Third World country.”

German, a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, said there is a direct link between the origins of American law enforcement as slave patrols and what it has become.

“It’s not an accident that white supremacy is inimical to these institutions,” said German, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “One of the things we have to understand is that white supremacy isn’t some fringe. It is foundational to all our institutions. Politicians have gone out of their way to appeal to racism as a way to achieve power in the ’70s, ’80s and beyond. They were openly racist in the ’40s and ’50s when dog whistles were used to message these groups. They never suffered the ramifications of being openly racist.”

German, who spent 15 years infiltrating and disrupting neo-Nazi, white supremacist and domestic terror groups as an FBI agent, said right-wing militias and white nationalist groups have been allowed to operate with very little response from law enforcement and with the sympathy of the White House.

Impeachment Trial to Start Feb. 8

In the Jan. 6 coup attempt, the U.S. Capitol was stormed after a rally attended by Trump where he said the November presidential election was stolen by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, aided by millions of fraudulent votes in Georgia, Wisconsin, Detroit and other Black urban strongholds. Rioters went to stop the certification of the election and are believed to have been intent on killing lawmakers. The mob vandalized offices, fought with, beat and pepper-sprayed police officers, erected a noose and gallows and hunted for lawmakers. So far six people have died.

Enraged House Democrats — and a handful of Republicans — voted to impeach Trump for a second time for inciting the coup attempt. The Senate is scheduled to begin the trial on the one article of impeachment during the week of Feb. 8.

Far-right elements are considered to be the most lethal domestic terror threat because the numbers bear that out, German said. White supremacists and far-right militants have committed considerably more attacks and killed more people in the U.S. over the last 10 years than any foreign terrorist movement. According to the FBI, hate crimes have been on the rise in recent years.

Retired Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper said he’s always been aware that far-right individuals have infiltrated deeply into police departments and the military but expressed surprise at the extent of that infiltration.

“With regard to the Proud Boys, Oathkeepers and others in law enforcement and the military, I know that the figure is much, much greater than I thought 20 years ago,” he said.

German and experts who monitor White nationalist extremist groups have watched with increasing alarm violent clashes, shootings and brawls between extremist militia groups and Black Lives Matter (BLM), other social justice groups and Antifa.

Yet, to the consternation of many, Trump and former Attorney General William Barr, pressured Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI to target BLM activists.

Riot is Start of Long, Protracted Struggle

Late last year, Brian Murphy, a whistleblower at the Department of Homeland Security, complained to the DHS inspector general that two top officials tried to coerce him into toning down the threat posed by White supremacists. Murphy refused to alter the intelligence assessment and said in the formal complaint that he was demoted from his position of undersecretary for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

Stamper said Americans should be prepared for a long and protracted struggle to weed out right-wing forces.

“This [Jan. 6 riot] is not an aberration or anomaly. This is the first of others that we will see,” said Stamper. “I do believe it was deliberate on the part of many … we’re not just talking about a handful of bad apples — this is a significant thread [of far-right supporters] in law enforcement. They should be prohibited from strapping on a gun.”

Stamper described what happened on Jan. 6 as a monumental failure of law enforcement.

“Where the hell were the police? They had all this intelligence,” he said.

Goldstein said, “We as a society including the police have to be very careful, especially the police,” she said. “We’re the only people, along with the military with the authority to kill people. We have got to hire the best people who will support the ideals of our community.”

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One Comment

  1. So just what do you call the BLM And Antifa?? You try enforcing a one sided censoring of the Constitutionzl right to protest and it will be all over except the crying.

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