DOJ Creates New, Dedicated Domestic Terrorism Unit

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Crowds gather for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect ... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Crowds gather for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) MORE LESS

One year after the Capitol insurrection, the DOJ is building a new unit focused on domestic terrorism.

Justice Department National Security Division Chief Matt Olsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the FBI was investigating more than twice as many domestic violent extremist cases as it was two years ago.

“We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies,” Olsen said.

Olsen added that the unit regards domestic violent extremists as those who “seek to commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of domestic social or political goals,” and that federal prosecutors in the unit would help coordinate investigations and prosecutions.

The Biden administration has grappled with right-wing domestic extremism since its inauguration. It spent the first few months developing a national strategy which, when released in June, called for more spending at DOJ and FBI for analysts and prosecutors to focus on extremism.

It’s also been met with criticism about potential encroachment on civil liberties, coming from a chorus of people with concerns real and feigned. Far-right commentators have, for example, claimed that those charged in relation to breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6 are victims of politically motivated prosecutions.

At Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, meant to cover domestic terrorist threats, panel chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) played video of the insurrection, saying that it both showed how heightened the threat was while also demonstrating that, at best, the Republican Party looks the other way.

“They are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals,” he said.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriter:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: