Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Cohen Urges DHS and DOJ to Devote More Resources to Combat Domestic Terrorism by White Supremacists Following the Events in Charlottesville

August 15, 2017
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reestablish the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division and requesting an update from DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on how each Department is apportioning resources to ensure that they are commensurate with the risk posed by white supremacists and other hate groups acting as domestic terrorists. A PDF of Congressman Cohen’s letter can be found here.

Congressman Cohen raised this issue with then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2015. You can read the questions and answers here.

 

August 15, 2017

 

The Honorable Elaine Duke                                         The Honorable Jeff Sessions

Acting Secretary                                                           Attorney General

U.S. Department of Homeland Security                       United States Department of Justice

3801 Nebraska Ave., NW                                             950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20528                                              Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Acting Secretary Duke and Attorney General Sessions:

The recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia is a chilling reminder of threats posed by white supremacists and other hate groups.  According to Attorney General Sessions, the fatal car attack met the definition of domestic terrorism.[1]   

The number of incidents involving domestic terrorism in recent years has far exceeded the number of incidents inspired by a violent interpretation of Islam.  In 2015, the New York Times reported that since September 11, 2001, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”[2]  Other analyses have found similar results.[3] [4]

Despite this, questions persist about the amount of resources that are being devoted to detect and disrupt domestic terrorist plots by white supremacists and other hate groups as compared to plots inspired by a violent interpretation of Islam.  For example, following conservative pushback against its 2009 report on the rise of extremism, the Department of Homeland Security disbanded the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, and reduced the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam.[5] 

If anything, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice should be redoubling their efforts to address domestic terrorism. 

 

I urge the Department of Homeland Security to reestablish the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, and in the meantime, I would appreciate an update from each of you as to how each of your Departments are apportioning resources to ensure that they are commensurate with the risk posed by white supremacists and other hate groups acting as domestic terrorists.

As always, I remain,

Most sincerely,

 

Steve Cohen

Member of Congress

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/08/14/was-the-charlottesville-car-attack-domestic-terrorism-a-hate-crime-or-both/?utm_term=.ff5d7f67cd4a

2 https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/us/tally-of-attacks-in-us-challenges-perceptions-of-top-terror-threat.html?_r=0

3 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-terrorism-white-supremacists-islamist-extremists_us_594c46e4e4b0da2c731a84df

4 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/terrorism-right-wing-america-muslims-islam-white-supremacists-study-a7805831.html

5 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/homeland-security-department-curtails-home-grown-terror-analysis/2011/06/02/AGQEaDLH_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.3f2be74c6891