DHS, DOJ Look to Spend Big on Countering Violent Domestic Extremism
New money, new programs will fight what officials described as a growing problem.
The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building represented a grave threat to democracy, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers Wednesday, and the Department of Justice will allocate more than $100 million in funds for fiscal year 2022 to address the rising threat of violent domestic extremism.
Garland, who led the federal prosecution of Timothy McVeigh for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, began his testimony by noting that 2019 “was the deadliest year for domestic violent extremism” since 1995, according to the FBI. He said the Justice Department is moving discretionary funds to address the problem and the President’s 2022 budget will “provide over $100 million in additional funds to address the rising threat of domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism, including funding for the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other components of the Department.”
The money will support efforts such as the 200 Joint Terrorism Task Force teams that exist across the country, help federal attorneys’ offices to better pursue cases related to domestic violent extremism, boost the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and fund more research into online radicalization through the Department’s National Institute of Justice.
“We are now reassessing our existing activities and authorities to ensure that we have the right posture to confront the threat of domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism,” Garland said, adding that “In my career as a judge, and in law enforcement, I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion” of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6,. “There was an attempt to interfere with the fundamental passing element of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power.”
At the hearing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said his department will also move resources to fight domestic extremism by designating it as a priority within the DHS grant program. “This means that in fiscal year 2021, state, local, tribal, and territorial...governments will spend at least $77 million to prevent, protect against, and respond to domestic violent extremism,” he said.
While law enforcement on the state and federal level are working more closely than they had at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, perhaps the most famous event of domestic extremism in modern memory, the threat has also grown as new technologies like online communication made it easier for extremists to find one another, coordinate activities, recruit followers, and incite violence,” Garland said.
“In addition, the degree of...lethal weaponry available now is substantially higher than it was then, when it took 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate to bring down that building. It would take considerably less of modern explosives to do the same,” he said.