facebook linkedin twitter

Domestic Terrorism Often Eludes FBI’s Efforts to Find and Stop it

April 30, 2021 by Tom Ramstack
The FBI is looking for information about the pipe bombs at the RNC and DNC that were placed around the time of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Courtesy FBI)

WASHINGTON — The Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol came back to haunt Congress Thursday as lawmakers sifted through ideas to ensure it never happens again.

The riot was the immediate subject of a House subcommittee hearing but domestic terrorism was the greater concern.

“This is a growing and metastasizing blight on our society,” Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., said during the hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice, science and related agencies.

“The attack on the Capitol took violence to a level that should not be downplayed,” said Cartwright, who chairs the subcommittee.

The attack was carried out by extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The FBI and the Justice Department are centralizing information-gathering on potential terrorism in response to the kind of threat the riot represents to domestic tranquility, according to expert witnesses at the hearing.

The question hanging over their testimony was how federal law enforcement can manage the threats without trampling the civil liberties of private citizens.

“We prosecute people for their criminal acts, not for their beliefs or associations,” said Brad Wiegmann, a Justice Department deputy assistant attorney general.

More than 430 people have been arrested so far for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The Justice Department expects to charge at least 100 more of the accused rioters, federal prosecutors said in court filings last week that asked a judge for deadline extensions.

“The investigation and prosecution of the Capitol attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence,” the court filings said.

Wiegmann told the subcommittee that the Justice Department is considering a request to Congress for broader legal authority to charge persons who plot domestic terrorism.

Prosecutors typically charge them for hate crimes, arson and violations of weapons laws. No current U.S. law allows prosecutions specifically for domestic terrorism.

“The question we’re really wrestling with is, are there gaps,” Wiegmann said. “Is there some type of conduct that we can envision that we can’t cover or would it be an otherwise benefit in having something else other than what we’re having now?”

Attorneys for the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and other persons associated with extremist groups are warning about overreach of prosecutors that could trample accused persons’ constitutional rights.

Charges against many of the persons arrested are being dropped after the Justice Department was unable to prove the defendants participated in any violence. Some of them were seen on video in or near the Capitol but they said they merely observed what others were doing.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., appeared to refer to the legal dilemma that balances privacy and free speech against risks of terrorism when he said, “I’ve always supported peaceful protest and the right to peaceful protest.”

However, he added, “America is governed by laws and not by violence.”

Jill Sanborn, an FBI assistant director who handles national security cases, described the problems faced by investigators in trying to identify terrorism risks.

“There’s definitely a challenge for us in trying to filter through all the noise out there,” she said about words and actions that could represent brewing violence.

In some cases, there is no warning as political opinions of extremists progress into a rampage.

“The greatest threat we face is the threat by lone actors,” Sanborn said.

Law Enforcement

October 21, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
FBI Raids DC Home of Russian Oligarch Allegedly Linked to 2016 Influence-Peddling

WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice... Read More

WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice Department into the political minefield that comes from mixing foreign policy with legal enforcement. The FBI conducted what it called "law enforcement activity" at the home... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Veterans in Violent, Extremist Groups Prompt Response Plan from Congress

WASHINGTON -- Fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continued Wednesday as a congressional panel looked at... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continued Wednesday as a congressional panel looked at why veterans would become violent against the country they swore to protect. Representatives of veterans groups and academics blamed mental health problems, underemployment, racism and disenchantment... Read More

October 5, 2021
by Dan McCue
Man in Custody After ‘Suspicious’ Vehicle Parks Outside Supreme Court

WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police took a 55-year-old Michigan man into custody Tuesday after he was “extracted” from what law... Read More

WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police took a 55-year-old Michigan man into custody Tuesday after he was “extracted” from what law enforcement described as a “suspicious vehicle” parked near the Supreme Court building. "One of our teams just moved in and extracted the man from the SUV.... Read More

Capitol Police Chief Sees Rising Threats

WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after an insurrection that left its officers battled, bloodied and bruised, "cannot afford to be complacent." The risk to lawmakers is higher than ever. And the threat... Read More

September 23, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Flight Attendants Ask for Tougher Law Enforcement Against Air Rage

WASHINGTON -- Teddy Andrews said Thursday he was trying to smooth over a dispute between airline passengers when he approached... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Teddy Andrews said Thursday he was trying to smooth over a dispute between airline passengers when he approached a man who refused to wear a mask. A female passenger had approached the flight attendant to say she was concerned about contracting coronavirus from the... Read More

September 17, 2021
by Dan McCue
Authorities Say They’re Ready, Come What May, for Saturday’s J6 Rally

WASHINGTON -- Empty streets, a large police presence and a smattering of tourists taking photographs of the newly installed security... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Empty streets, a large police presence and a smattering of tourists taking photographs of the newly installed security fence lent a somber air to Capitol Hill Friday as preparations continued for Saturday’s J6 rally. It was a reminder, despite the remaining summer foliage, of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top