Administration

Civil rights group calls on Biden to change domestic terrorism strategy

Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A coalition of American civil rights groups called on President Biden to make changes to his domestic terrorism strategy in a new report released on Thursday.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a massive coalition of more than 200 civil rights groups in the U.S., urged the Biden administration to make several adjustments to its strategy to more effectively combat white supremacist violence while also protecting civil liberties.

The Biden administration released the first ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism in June 2021, in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. In recent years, the U.S. has seen a major uptick in domestic terror incidents, with officials identifying white supremacists as the leading domestic terror threat in the country.

The Leadership Conference applauded the Biden administration’s effort but warned in Thursday’s report that the strategy does not correct what it characterized as overbroad and failed policies enacted in the wake of 9/11.

“These authorities and policies have disproportionately harmed communities of color; relied on surveillance of constitutionally protected speech, belief, and conduct; and denied fundamental due process protections to those impacted by them,” the report said.

In particular, the coalition criticized the administration’s use of ideology to categorize extremist groups, which it noted does not always correspond with reality.

“The government should use categories that are based on the actual threat of violent activity or concrete operational links between actors rather than conflating threats based on an arbitrary ideological framework,” the report said.

Biden’s 2021 domestic terrorism strategy also rebranded what once was the Department of Homeland Security’s controversial Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs as the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnership (CP3). 

The CVE programs were criticized for being largely ineffective and discriminatory, particularly in their focus on the Muslim community. The Leadership Conference warned that the newly branded CP3 is “built on the same flawed foundation” as the prior programs.

The report also called on the government to walk back its use of social media surveillance, which it noted has shown minimal benefits.

“There is much that the administration can do to protect the safety of communities that have been the target of white supremacist violence without relying on an expanded surveillance and security infrastructure,” the report added.

Tags Biden Biden administration civil rights domestic terrorism President Biden White Supremacy
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