The post-9/11 foreign policy of the United States mostly revolved around neutralizing terrorist outfits in the world that could potentially be harmful to the US.
Not only this, but a new era of preemptive attacks also initiated with the US invading countries to eliminate the threats.
However, with the January 6 episode of Congress, the need to put their own house in order has significantly increased, highlighting the importance of domestic terrorism laws in the United States.
The crafting of the new laws to react to the latest challenges and the enforcement of the already existing laws is the pathway to everlasting peace within the territorial borders.
The spike in mass shootings also decries the need for better gun regulations and a powerful domestic terrorism law.
In addition to this, tackling the white supremacy groups demands an equally strict action. Nevertheless, strengthening the law is also not an option, considering that it could be used against people of color and other minority groups.
The police reforms are already a hot topic, and if the administration wants to empower them further, it must come with rigorous checks and balances.
Biden’s Answer for Countering Domestic Terrorism and White Supremacy: A Multi-Prolonged Strategy
After entering the White House, President Biden, on his first full day in office, directed the national security team to run one hundred-day assessment on how the government could address the issue of domestic terrorism.
The team did a comprehensive review of the situation and the terrorism threats faced by the country, compiling the first-ever” National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.”
This strategy is the road map to address the challenge of domestic terrorism while also improving the federal government’s response to national security threats.
With the release of the new strategy to counter threats of domestic terrorism, the United States Senate has also confirmed the first female Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Christine S. Abizaid will assume the office during an intense crisis. Having experience in handling the USA’s important assignments overseas, she can help the administration achieve the needed goals soon.
Federal laws of the United States simply define domestic terrorism as any activity that endangers the lives of the citizens, violates the criminal law of the country or any state, and intends to influence citizens or the government policy.
White supremacy qualifies as domestic terrorism under this definition, but the subsequent administrations have failed to take visible measures to counter this threat.
The integration of evangelical voters with the white supremacy groups has made the situation even worse.
Four Pillars of Biden’s Strategy
After consultation with a wide range of experts and different communities, the Biden administration has developed a strategy for national security that will address the issue of domestic terrorism in the country.
The strategy is organized into four pillars that will function as the core element in addressing domestic terrorism and improving the government’s response to this emerging threat.
First pillar: Intelligence-led Countering of Domestic Terrorism
The founding pillar of the Biden strategy is understanding and sharing domestic terrorism-related information.
Based on the intelligence, the government will enhance and improve the channels used in the analysis and interpretation of the threats related to domestic terrorism.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice will collaborate to form a robust system that will track the acts of domestic terrorism throughout the country.
The information will be shared with law enforcement at the federal, state, local, tribal, and even territorial levels.
Collecting the intelligence related to foreign entities, if any, linked with domestic terrorism and gathering and assessing information on these foreign actors is the epicenter of Biden’s strategy.
Domestic terror financing would also come under the Department of Treasury’s protocol. The ease of inter-departmental information transfer is also supposed to happen under Biden’s strategy.
Second Pillar: Tackling Online Hate
The second pillar of the strategy is based on preventing recruitment and mobilization of domestic terrorist groups.
The expertise of different departments will also be used to prevent individuals from reaching the point of indulging in terrorist activities.
By analyzing the motivating factors for individuals to join these organizations, the government plans to launch revamped support programs to eliminate these triggers.
Under the new strategy, the Department of Homeland Security has designated domestic violent extremism as the national priority area, which will involve spending more than $77 million for support programs.
Online terrorist and extremist recruitment is an emerging problem, and the government has also decided to deal with it under the new strategy.
This will be addressed through improved coordination among government and non-government organizations with the creation of innovative ways through which resilience will be built to counter-recruitment and mobilization on online platforms.
Third Pillar: Disrupting Extreme Elements
The third pillar of the strategy is based on disruption and deterrence against groups involved in domestic terrorist activities.
To achieve this, the federal government will increase its support to state and local level institutions.
Almost $100 million will be provided as additional funding to the Department of Justice, Federal n Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security in the fiscal year 2022 to provide them enough resources to counter the menace.
Moreover, the United States is also increasing employee screening to find out any government employees involved in such activities.
Different departments are working to ensure that persons involved in such activities are not employed in sensitive institutions such as the military or intelligence.
Fourth pillar: Collaboration with Civil Society
The fourth pillar of the strategy is based on confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism.
For this, the United States government will collaborate with civil society to identify and confront historically identified contributors to domestic terrorism.
This step will also aim at minimizing the ethnic, racial, and religious tensions, stemming the availability of firearms to those persons who commit acts of extremism.
This could initiate another debate regarding the effectiveness of gun control laws.
People of Color: The Vulnerable Group to Police Brutality in Biden’s Strategy
In his first address to Congress, President Joe Biden categorically classified white supremacy and other such activities as domestic terrorism.
That was a message to clarify that Biden is serious about this emerging threat. The seriousness of Joe Biden became very apparent when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Homeland Security released their joint assessment report containing a strategic pathway to counter domestic terrorism.
The forty-page report is still an incomplete attempt to lay down the strategy to counter the emerging threats. It focuses on data from 2017 to 2019, during which it was found that, of 57 deaths related to domestic terrorism, 47 of which were racially motivated.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has recently said that the number of yearly domestic terrorism investigations has doubled during 2020.
Therefore, the report is termed as incomplete by many experts, as it only deals with pre-2020 data.
Under the new strategy of President Biden, law enforcement agencies will be empowered exponentially to carry out duties that they were not doing initially.
There is no guarantee that this power will not be used to perform racially driven activities or kill another George Floyd.
This new strategy will give the government a heavy hand, and such acts of the government have mostly backfired on people of color.
It is expected to become harmful for people who value their freedom and privacy as Americans, including Black Americans, Muslims, Africans, Asians, Mexicans, and many more communities.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the FBI used its counter-intelligence Program, also known as COINTELPRO, to undermine civil rights.
During the war on terror, police and FBI collaborated in performing no-knock raids on Black communities. A recent study at the American Civil Rights Union found that 68 percent of SWAT raids conducted during this time were conducted against minority groups.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) commissioner even compared the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to terror attacks in Mumbai and Paris.
Considering this, the debate among communities of color about this new strategy is relevant.
The administration must see the pros and cons of this strategy before implementing any of the measures so that Blacks must not be strangled further.
The new strategy released by the White House in June acknowledges the key role of online giants in countering domestic terrorism.
Social platforms have always maintained a key role in domestic terrorism. In the Capitol attacks, for example, Donald Trump mobilized different groups using these platforms.
Domestic terror groups not only recruit but also mobilize different factions using social platforms.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report in March suggesting domestic terror groups use mainstream social media platforms to organize terror events and share information that could lead to violence.
Therefore, social platforms are essential aspects of the new strategy. The Biden administration is committed to increasing information sharing with social media platforms to counter domestic terror groups.
Attorney General Merrick Garland also asserted the importance of increased information sharing with online platforms.