The Justice Department is resurrecting a program designed to thwart domestic threats to the United States, and Attorney General Eric Holder says those threats include individuals the government deems anti-government or racially prejudiced.
The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee was created in the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing but was scrapped soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks as intelligence and law enforcement officials shifted their focus to threats from outside the country. The committee will be comprised of figures from the FBI, the National Security Division of the Justice Department and the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.
In his statement announcing the return of the committee, Holder said he remains concerned about the specter of attacks prompted by Islamic extremists, but he said this committee will be tasked with identifying other threats.
“We must also concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice,” Holder said.
According to reporting from Reuters, the American Civil Liberties Union is pushing back against the DOJ plan, fearing “it could be a sweeping mandate to monitor and collect controversial speech.”
Conservative groups are alarmed on multiple levels. First, they see themselves once again the target of an administration that disagrees with them philosophically.
“It appears there’s an attempt to marginalize people who hold views that are sharply different from those of the administration and much of the establishment, said Horace Cooper, co-chairman of the Project 21 National Advisory Board. Project 21 is a network of black conservatives.
Cooper said plenty of presidents dealt with critical speech, particularly in opposition to the Vietnam War and even the Iraq War. He said no president ever responded like this.
“We didn’t arrest them (due to their speech). We didn’t try to prevent them from being able to express themselves on campuses, and we didn’t try to prevent them from trying to enter into the public square,” he said. “This administration appears not to appreciate that lesson and says that the groups of people that are not within their particular perspective ought to be considered the very threat … that the real terrorist threat that comes internationally [presents].”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Horace Cooper:
Project 21 is a very vocal critic of what it considers administration efforts to cloak liberal policies in the guise of racial equality. Cooper said devoting resources to stop threats based on racial prejudice is a solution in search of a problem.
“We’re particularly bothered by mixing together so-called domestic insurrectionists and racists. There is simply no anti-black or anti-minority underground movement in America that is threatening in any way the stability of our government or the stability of local governments. There is just nothing like that. That’s just a complete and total boogeyman,” said Cooper, who believes the Justice Department is fully aware of the reality.
“When we see this administration talking as if the real threat is that if you’re a young black male, you’re going to be shot, you’re going to be kidnapped or you’re going to be forced to prison without actually having any charges against you, there’s simply no evidence to show that,” he said.
Cooper said Holder could solve this debate by compiling a report showing the real number of racially motivated murders, kidnappings and bombings. He said that report will never come because he believes the real motivation for this committee and this policy is entirely political.
“In our organization’s view, this is done, particularly the racial component, to create the false impression to minority communities that it is the Obama administration that is here to help them and another reason why, with all of the economic failings that they have provided to Americans generally and minorities in particular, they should continue to consider giving away their vote to that particular administration,” Cooper said.
In addition to the political maneuvering he alleges is behind this committee, Cooper is also deeply frustrated that this effort diverts resources from what he considers more severe and realistic threats.
“We are still under a threat watch. We still have all of the security measures that we put in place after 2001. The period of 2001-2008 was a period in which we thwarted more than a few. Some of those have been made public. But many of those still have not made public. But what we’ve seen since the beginning of the Obama administration is that many of these attacks, whether they’re increasing or not, are being more effective. They’re actually happening,” Cooper said.
“To shift more resources away from the threat that’s real to this theoretical problem is harmful to the safety of Americans and is more about a political agenda than it is in protecting Americans.”