Targeting domestic violent extremism on the agenda for President Biden, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth

In an interview Friday Duckworth warned “there is not adequate training against white extremism and that a lot of our younger troops are being targeted for recruitment.”

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In Washington, a FBI poster seeking information on suspects who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration and Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin are focusing on domestic violent extremism, spurred by the Jan. 6 domestic terrorist attack at the Capitol.

With the White House, Senate and House now controlled by Democrats, addressing domestic terrorism is on the agenda. Five died in the Capitol insurrection by a pro-Trump mob, fed by the former president’s lies that they could prevent Congress from finalizing Joe Biden’s election.

BIDEN: On Friday, the third day of the Biden administration, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in announcing multiple actions, said the Capitol siege “and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known: The rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat.”

“The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve. We are committed to developing policies and strategies based on facts, on objective and rigorous analysis, and on a respect for constitutionally protected free speech and political activities.”

To start, Psaki said President Biden told the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with other agencies, to produce a comprehensive threat assessment; the National Security Council will seek to improve information sharing between agencies to “prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks, and more.” Also, other “relevant parts of the federal government” will be asked “to enhance and accelerate efforts to address” domestic violent extremism.

DUCKWORTH: On a 93-2 vote, the Senate on Friday confirmed Lloyd James Austin to be Secretary of Defense. During his Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, Duckworth asked Austin about “the depth of the problem” of extremism in the military services and urged him to take action to curb the spread.

“We’ve seen significant reporting on the ways that extremist groups specifically target military members and veterans, and it’s likely that we’ll discover more in the coming weeks,” she said at the hearing.

On Friday, Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war vet, said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times she expects Austin, now that he is confirmed, “to take leadership and really mount an effort, a real effort, to weed out extremism within our ranks.”

At issue, said Duckworth, is “there is not adequate training against white extremism and that a lot of our younger troops are being targeted for recruitment, and yet there’s no counter education about truth, about media they consume and how being part of white extremist group actually goes against the oath of office they take to defend this nation.”

DURBIN: With the new Democratic majority, Durbin is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has said his first hearing will be about domestic terrorism and extremism, and in a Friday zoom call with Illinois reporters, Durbin added he envisions tackling extremists across the board.

“When I speak of domestic terrorism, I’m not confining it to those who were violent on the right only. Anyone who engages in violence such as we saw on Jan. 6, whatever their political motivation, has to be held accountable,” Durbin said.

Durbin and Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., along with Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., are among those taking the lead on a bill titled the “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021.” The measure is intended to beef up the federal government efforts to combat extremist threats. Schneider and Kelly were among those trapped in the House gallery when the chamber was attacked earlier this month.

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