White supremacists are America’s greatest terror threat. The Department of Homeland Security has said as much, and the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division has also admitted it. But this year, the FBI is late in fulfilling its legal obligation to release a report detailing the extent of white supremacist terrorism and other domestic terrorism happening in the U.S. Some officials are afraid that the failure to release this report is meant to protect the current administration by waiting until after the upcoming election to do what is required.
From the Daily Beast:
In June, the bureau was supposed to release a report compiling a wealth of currently unavailable data on domestic terrorism, a category that includes white supremacist violence. The most recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the FBI, in accord with Department of Homeland Security and consultation with the Office of Director of National Intelligence, specify not only known acts of domestic terrorism, but “ideologies relating to domestic terrorism,” and what the FBI and its partners are doing to combat it all.
Yet the FBI is over four months late. While President Trump falsely portrays left-wing property damage as terrorism, suspicion is building that the FBI, whose director Christopher Wray is on the outs with Trump, will keep the public from seeing the scope of its premier terror threat before an election that may feature violence emerging from it.
“I would hate to think that they are reacting to President Trump’s machinations about his dislike for senior leadership in the FBI,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, told The Daily Beast. “This report probably would not be viewed favorably by this administration. That, I think, precipitates the report not being released by Nov. 3.”
How sad would it be if the FBI was keeping the American people in the dark regarding the right-wing terrorism we’re facing, just so the man-child-in-chief currently occupying the Oval Office won’t feel called out while he spews nonsense about Antifa, Black Lives Matter and foreign brown people being the greater threats?
Thompson continued saying that the public “needs to know who the real, documented terrorists in this country, based on the FBI’s intelligence, really are. I think [Wray] understands that if he wades too far in the water around this subject, he might drown, or get fired, to be honest.”
The FBI conceded that it is late in releasing the report, but said it isn’t stalling to protect Trump and that it’s the pandemic that has actually caused the delay.
“The report referenced is a joint product in coordination with ODNI and DHS,” an FBI official told the Daily Beast in a statement. “NDAA language breaks the report into two parts. Due to limitations caused by COVID-19, Part 1 of the report is in the interagency review process. Part 2 is still being drafted. The FBI is committed to continuing with ODNI and DHS on the report and meeting NDAA requirements.”
Former DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor told the Daily Beast that Wray—who testified to the House Homeland Security Committee that white supremacist violence is “the biggest chunk” of domestic terrorism—“dedicated more and more people out in the field” to covering white supremacist terrorist threats even in 2018 when the FBI still officially considered far-right extremism “the lowest priority” for counterterrorism intelligence.
But despite the recent revelation that white supremacists and far-right extremist groups are dominating the domestic terrorism game, Taylor said that “the bottom line from the White House was they didn’t want us to talk about domestic terrorism because they worried that if we talked about right-wing extremism, we would alienate many of the president’s supporters.”
Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary for counterterrorism at the DHS, called it a “lack of prioritization” rather than an outright refusal by the Trump administration to acknowledge the true threat.
More from the Daily Beast:
The FBI official told The Daily Beast that in fiscal 2019, it arrested 107 “domestic terrorism investigation subjects,” without specifying how many were white supremacists, and 121 international terrorism subjects. “However, for the previous two fiscal years, the FBI arrested more subjects of domestic terrorism investigations than international terrorism,” the FBI official said.
The disconnect between the white terror threat and its characterization sparked the requirement in the NDAA for the FBI to compile its domestic-terrorism report. Last month, Wray revealed that the FBI now had over 1,000 domestic terrorism investigations open—but he didn’t specify how many focus on white supremacist or far-right terrorism, two overlapping but distinct categories.
Still, Neumann and Taylor considered the broader problem not to come from the Hoover Building, but the White House. “There was never a moment where someone came and told us we can’t talk about white supremacy. I was waiting for it. I expected it. No one told us that, though,” Neumann said. “Rather than trying to suppress us, they weren’t taking what we were doing and prioritizing it. It was the lack of prioritization and the lack of the president saying this is a concern. It wasn’t an intentional or obvious suppression, but a lack of prioritization.”
Whether the White House simply has its priorities wrong or is actively ignoring the threat of white supremacist terrorism, the fact remains that the people deserve to know the truth. It’s unclear whether the FBI has released any information as to when the report will be released.