Skip to main content

tv   Terror Threats  CSPAN  November 30, 2017 2:27pm-3:42pm EST

2:27 pm
labtively. i'm pleased with -- i wish the fbi wasn't that way in long times passed working with its partners in the federal law enforcement intelligence community, foreign persons, state and local law enforcements in particular. so we have to be smarter. we have to get better technology. and we have to make sure we have the right resources. could we do more with what we have -- if we had more? >> absolutely. >> we need you to let us know. if you get to the point that you determine that you need additional resources to be able to meet your needs, we can't fix it if we don't know about it. and try to get you what you need. i would ask you to not be shy. >> thank you for your support. >> secretary duke, welcome back. a lot of work has gone into improving our visa security process, but it's clear that vulnerabilities remain, especially in identifying those who radicalized over the internet. can you tell us what, if anything, is being done to
2:28 pm
connect the uscis and the visa process to the latest intelligence to help vet applicants from high risk areas. >> thank you, chairman, and ranking member. members of the committee, it's an honor to be here today. charlottesville truly was a wakeup call for our country. it was a reminder that the holdest form of terrorism our country has ever known is still with us. it was proof that the white supremist movement has been energized by mr. trump's campaign. proof that mr. trump's campaign has unearthed some demons. the chant in charlottesville you will not replace us was an expression of paranoia over cultural displacement. it reminds us of what dylan roof said when he murdered nine people in a church, you're taking over our country. the chant, their anti-semitism
2:29 pm
reminds of us one of the darkest chapters in modern history. i call the threat associated with groups like isis the most acute ones we face. i certainly don't take issue with director wray's calling it our main terrorism threat. but i worry that calling the threat from domestic extremist groups like those in charlottesville merely a steady one as director wray has called it may lead us to under estimate the danger that the current white supremist movement poses. not just to our physical safety, but to the very cowesoul of our nation. i worry that calling the domestic extremist threat merely a steady one may lead us once again not to give it the attention it deserves. that's why i think the joint le resolution that this congress passed and the president signed is so important. the resolution recognizes the growing threat from racist anti-semitic and hate groups in our country.
2:30 pm
it urges the president and his administration to use all available resources to address that threat. and it calls on the attorney general to prosecutor acts from the radical right and to improve the reporting of hate crimes. that reporting i'd note is inadequate. the fbi's recent report counted approximately 6,000 hate crimes in 2016. yet the bureau of justice statistics estimates that as many as a quarter million hate crimes may be occurring annually. clearly we have a disconnect. as you know, the charlottesville resolution urges various things but has no enforceable provisions. that's why it's so critical that this committee hold oversight hearings in the very near future to ensure that the president is living up to the commitments he made when he signed the resolution. i would also ask this committee to recommend legislation similar to that which senator durbin has
2:31 pm
proposed that would institutionalize the focus on terrorism from the radical right within our federal law enforcement agencies. that threat is the oldest our country faces. charlottesville demonstrates that it's lethal and it's likely to be with us long after we hopefully have addressed the threat of terror from groups like isis. it deserves a full measure of our attention. senator durbin a bill would do many other things including preserving funding for the state and local anti-terrorism program. slat for short. a critical program that has been on this chopping block. as i mentioned in my written testimony, my colleagues and i of the southern poverty law center are representing the mrt of heather hire, the young woman who was killed when a sprite supremist drove his car into a cloud of protestors.
2:32 pm
i'd rather have my child, but by golly, if i have to give her up, we're going to make it count. i'll see susan next week in charlottesville and i look forward to telling hertha this committee is committed to doing everything in its power to curb the threat of radical right terrorism in our country and to make heather's death count. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. cohen, this is a very important hearing. i think we have seen it before with tim mcvey. rabbi, thank you for pointing out my father's sort of i view legacy of 32 bombing missions over the nazis. for the life of me, i don't understand this mindset of hatred and revival of the nazi spirit. that i thought we crushed in
2:33 pm
world war ii. i was recently there six months ago to see the evil that was perpetrated by the nazis and my father worked to defeat. when i see skin heads and neonazis, and white supremacists, i am con founded how this could happen and it's moral and unaccepted. my grandfather was persecuted by the klan because he was catholic. hate tred hatred cannot stand in this country and we need to unite as a nation. i want to thank all three of you for your testimony. first i want to ask the chief, you had what could have been a similar charlottesville on your hands.
2:34 pm
you had 3000 people show up to protest a confederate monument. it's foreseeable that both of these factions are going to come together. you're going to have a lot of heated emotion. the potential for great violence. yet over a period of a two and a half hour rally, we saw no violence. i think what you did is a model of leadership for how law enforcement perhaps working with state law enforcement can successfully prevent this kind of violence in the future. i just wanted you to comment on what you did that may have been different from charlottesville that maybe law enforcement officers across the country can learn when this situation enters into their hometowns. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first and formost, -- foremost learn what happens in other
2:35 pm
countries. we took the game tape from charlottesville, from boston and from north carolina and sat down and went through it and talked about those things that were right and the things that were wrong. we then strategized on how we address that with what we had coming at us. so some of the things we saw that were right, boston, their mayor and their chief did a great job of getting out in front and putting on the ut the of what they would allow. they made a press release before t rally and said these are the things that will be allowed at this rally. in our assess men, they didn't go far enough. they had some violence still. not as much, but they had some violence at that rally. and so we looked at all of that to determine how we will do ours. first and foremost was getting the information out through the media to the public and to these groups that were converging of what would be allowed. second was taking complete
2:36 pm
control of the area that they were going to be in. we took control of that early on, so one of the things that we had heard from charlottesville was that they had some challenge with the areas that they were showing up that they didn't have control of. we went in and took complete control. and we cordoned off the area. the vehicle threat was real. we took care of that by utilizing our public service, putting dump trucks at every vehicle access point to keep those types of vehicle borne attacks from being able to take place. a lot of coordination and control. the coordination with our state persons, with our local and federal partners as well on looking at intelligence information of these groups, what they were planning, what they were saying to each other and early on was important. some of the other things was putting rules in place. we said there will be -- none of the things that we saw that caused the problems.
2:37 pm
so no sticks. no rocks. no bricks. no bottles. no firearms. all of that -- no mask. nothing to cover yourself to keep yourself -- your identity from being known. all of that was important that we put that in place immediately so that people knew these are the rules. we learned that a lot of the supremacists didn't show up because of the rules. they didn't want to follow those rules, so they didn't come. which was okay for our community. and so i think that the success was a result of that. then a well-executed plan by our team. they did a great job of making sure that we had everyone safe and we kept control of the area and it was just a well-executed plan. >> let me commend you for that. a textbook model of how to do it right. i hope other place departments
2:38 pm
will learn from the good things that you did. i mean, i think it's a great model. rabbi, i'm a student of counter terrorism. i was a counter terrorism federal prosecutor. his first target was not the world trade center. it was 12 jewish synagogues, symbolizing the 12 tribes of isreal. pretty chilling. he decided to change that plan and go after the greatest symbol of financial might in new york and that's the world trade center. when he almost successfully brought the twin towers down, of course, he came -- his uncle came back and finished it. sadly. and i know your community suffered greatly and this whole country did. that's why this committee was formed in the first place. but the jewish community centers have been under threats
2:39 pm
constantly. i'm proud to say this committee working with the ranking member doubled the authorization amount from fy 17 for $50 million, 100% increase over the fy 17 also to what are called nonuse jurisdictions. i hope that's a step in the right direction. for you i -- we i think made great progress in that. but i would like for you to describe the threats that you're seeing currently to the centers and synagogues in this country right now. >> well, first of all, i think this is an appropriate time to -- for the community to say thank you. obviously it's passed by law. there are appropriations, there are hearings, but i think for the jewish community, especially younger families who never experienced it before, it's
2:40 pm
traumatic. it's long-lasting. like any hate crime. it has both the personal and the communal impact. it may be difficult for our nonjewish neighbors to understand as i mentioned in my testimony that it's been three decades since jewish kids would be dropped off at a school where there wasn't an armed guard. and on a regular saturday morning, i prayed in a relatively modest sized synagogue in l.a. we were actually targeted by radicalized islamist terrorists from california prisons for an attack that got -- thank god was interdicted before it took place. the mindset for jewish community leaders, jccs, schools, temples and synagogues is to do your
2:41 pm
best with perimeter defense and to always have in mind -- i was listening carefully about the friday night football game, especially if it's going to be a playoff and there's this tremendous energy. our security has to be in place 52 weeks a year. that is society. here we near the capital of our nation. it's one of our basic freedoms, freedom of religion. as i mentioned in my testimony, this is not paranoia. it's just reality. i know there's a lot of give and take, important discussions here about what's a greater threat from isis or is it from the nazi like types. unfortunately, we have to grapple with both of them. we rely very heavily on local law enforcement, the anti-crime,
2:42 pm
the anti-hate and terrorist units. and i think maybe the most important point i would like to sort of bring back to the one committee that actually still has it, we really need bipartisanship moving forward if we're fighting hate in america. to have some sort of, you know, what's a greater threat, to whom. i think we need to quantify what the threats are. but we have to move forward together as americans to confront the bigots, the racists or the terrorists. otherwise they win and we lose. if you look at charlottesville, the nazis came that night, or whatever. the groups came. they had a game plan. they weren't worried about the law. they knew what they were going to do on the internet. they even had a way to place themselves in their own minds as victims that night.
2:43 pm
did you know that they complained that they were actually pushed by law enforcement into it and that's how the whole violence began. when i look at that horrific piece of theater that was so incredibly effective for them, that was a group that did their own planning. and they understand the rules of the game. they knew what they wanted to violate. we live in a day in which because of the internet everything local is global and everything global is local. and as a result, whether it's something in the middle east or the horrific events that took place on the bike school path in new york, when those things take place, every single security officer of every jewish institution across the united states has an immediate conversation with the rabbi, with the executive director. these are concerns that are not
2:44 pm
far removed from us on a daily basis. >> thank you, rabbi. chair recognizes rafrnking memb. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome to our panel of witnesses for this hearing. pl mr. cohen, can you give the southern poverty law center experiences with domestic terrorist organizations here in the united states, whether you see a proliferation of that ideology or organization and to what extent, what region of the country is it peculiar to if so? >> thank you for the question. to answer the last part first, there is no region of our country that is not affected by hate groups. none. and that's quite unfortunate. over the last 15, 20 years,
2:45 pm
we've seen an increase in the number of hate groups driven bee think primarily by the kourcouns changing demographics. there's a backlash to it. you saw it during president obama's administration where he represented the kind of change that some people were scared of. it preceded him but was sbe intensified during his period of time. after 9/11 unfortunately i think we saw in the country a retreat from a focus on the threat of traditional forms of domestic terrorism partly for an understandable reason. the horror and carnage of 9/11. i think the pendulum had swung to far. after charlottesville, i think it was a wakeup call and hopefully will swing back and we
2:46 pm
can take that threat more seriously. >> thank you very much. the other two witnesses talked a little bit about social media and how that has become the weapon of choice, if you please, for a lot of these hate groups. chief, can you give us your experience with this. your organization experience. >> absolutely. social media has become the platform. it is intensified the voice of hate. it's become the location that's basically made hate a megaphone to the rest of the world. and it is a place where, as the earlier panel had mentioned, it's where people are being radicalized. as the video that you showed earlier shows, that's the type of information that's being shared widely with individuals
2:47 pm
throughout the country. before you would have to be, as you mentioned, in an area that may have a large group of these types of individuals. now it's wide open. our experience is that they are -- they're constantly bombarding individuals with those types of videos and trying to normalize that mindset and that behavior. >> rabbi, what's been your experience? >> thank you, congressman. i'm here with my colleague rick eaton who i consider one of the world's great experts on this issue. we put out an annual report that gives a snapshot of -- it's called digital terrorism and hate. that's the project. and included over the last few years have been report cards. so we name names and for a number of years twitter would get across the board "f" for doing nothing. facebook has generally done a lot more than others.
2:48 pm
but they're grappling with 1.5 billion separate pages. we have always felt and continue to be convinced that an important component of fighting this virus has to be silicon valley, the individual companies. they cannot and should not hide behind first amendment. they're in business. they're doing very nicely, thank you. i think increasingly, they recognize or have recognized some of their responsibilities, but they can do in their way a whole lot more than the combined membership of the united states house, senate, and the executive branch. they're very powerful. they have collectively created the most powerful marketing tool ever. and while after 9/11 we were extremely worried that our far right here would be mimicking
2:49 pm
the islamists, well it turns out that al qaeda and sis actually ended up mimicking our extremists when it came to lone wolf. that was a u.s. idea and it was brought over to yemen. we know the results. but the internet empowers and validates the individuals, the conspiracies, et cetera, and it's not so much at this point passing new laws. we have to really insist that our partners here, the collective genius that's giving us all these bells and whistles and social media and beyond, they have to be directly involved in degrading the marketing capabilities of the bigots, both local, national and globally. >> thank you. mr. cohen, what's been your experience with those individuals and organizations
2:50 pm
and their use of social media? >> well, as -- not surprisingly, the hate exists now on the net. was elected, there are about 140,000 registered users on storm front, on one of the oldest new nazi websites. today there are over 30,000 registered users. they're private businesses, they can do what they want. but all of them say in their terms of service that they're not going to allow hate. sometimes they say that is merely a public relations ploy, right? and so we try to get them to live up to their terms of service. sometimes by embarrassing them publicly. paypal, for example, was very slow to live up to its terms of service. but after charlottesville, when they got some bad press, they
2:51 pm
did. so we think it's important to recognize that hate is growing on the net. the anonymity, the ease of finding hate on the net fuels it. the echo chamber, as rabbi cooper said. and i think it's critically important for groups like us, not so much the government, but groups like us, to hold those companies to their terms of service. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes mr. perry. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thanks, gentlemen, for your attendance. mr. cohen, i was looking at your organization's mission statement. it says the splc is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry. among other things. and i would say that probably every member of this body agrees with you on that -- and those principles. where we seem to disagree is that i think for most of us, certainly for myself, i don't quantify or qualify, some hate
2:52 pm
and bigotry is okay if it's this organization but not okay if it's that organization. and it seems to me in looking at your information -- let me ask you this. why does it seem there are no left wing hate groups on your list. for example, on campus groups, like students for justice in palestine that have advocated for violence against jews. why aren't they on your list? >> well, i don't know about that particular group. i couldn't answer that question. there are left wing groups on our list. >> who are they? >> well, first, it depends, of course, on what you mean by left wing. but, you know, for example, the nation of islam, the new black panther party are on our list. we also have certain anti semitic groups that identify with groups like isis. so i think that it is not the case that our group doesn't include -- our listing doesn't include any left wing groups. we try to call hate as we see it. we limit our list, not by left versus right.
2:53 pm
but by groups that vilify others for issues or for factors such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or the like. >> so your group -- your list also includes as hate groups mainstream nonviolence -- the family research council, and the public interest law firms like alliance defending freedom. but it doesn't list antifa or other anarchist groups that literally call for violence against individuals. does that seem to comport -- to me, that reduces your credibility. does it not to you? >> no. let me speak to both of those issues, if i could, sir. you know, we list the family research council, not because it opposes gay marriage, but because it relentlessly vilifies the lgbt community and demonizes them with known lies and propaganda. that's why we list them. >> but you don't list antifa. >> yep, i was going to finish. but that's okay.
2:54 pm
we -- our listing of hate groups doesn't necessarily mean that they engage in violence, although we think that the anti lgbt propaganda is one of the factors that makes the lgbt community in our country the most likely to be victimized by hate crimes. we've -- if you are familiar with our work, we write about antifa often. we condemn their tactics. we've -- i've said so publicly, and we do so always. but antifa is not a group that vilifies people on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or the like. >> so you're okay with antifa as long as they don't say things that you don't agree with, but it's okay if they hit people on the head with a bike lock or set things on fire or riot and flout the law by wearing face masks. you're okay with that. >> of course not.
2:55 pm
and i said, we condemn groups like antifa. we write about them often. >> but you don't list them, right? >> can i finish? >> yes, sir. >> we don't list them as hate groups. >> are they on the hate map? >> no. >> okay. >> because they're not -- >> let's move on here. let's move on here. >> okay. >> google revealed in a blog post it is using machine language or learning regarding hate groups and events and is partnering with the splc and others in that regard. how does the splc work with google or its subsidiaries to modify search results of splc designated people or groups? >> what we try to get google to do is not prioritize hate groups. i'll give you an example. a few years back, google's algorithm was manipulated to have -- to rename the white house with a racist name. it used to be the case that when you would search for holocaust or jews, you would get a rash of
2:56 pm
information of anti semitic information. we tried to bring these kinds of issues to their attention. when dylann roof, for example, googled black on white crime, he didn't get fbi statistics telling him the truth of the matter. instead, he got hate websites, such as that of the council of conservative citizens. so we're trying to say to google, your algorithm is flawed or easily manipulated. >> but isn't that based on your opinion, sir? >> well, i don't think there's any question but what mr. roof ran across when he googled black on white crime. >> what about mr. quarter kins googled your website and shot up the family research council, including shooting an individual there, and then said that he was inspired by your website? >> look, we're no more responsible for what mr. corkans did based on reading our website than what martin scorsese is for what john hinckley did. >> you're no more responsible yet dylann roof read whatever he
2:57 pm
read, and that is held as responsible for what he did. i'm not saying any of them are correct. but it seems like a breath taking double standard of which of you're used as a credible source for law enforcement, and you're testifying in front of congress, when it appears, obviously, that it's only your opinion that you base your hate groups and citations on. >> well, it is our opinion. it's an opinion that i think has a tremendous amount of credibility. >> there is no empirical evidence or data to back it up. >> i think that's incorrect. i think if you look at our hate group listing and look at the people we list as hate mongers that you would agree with 99% of them. >> sir, my time is expired. i yield. >> gentleman yields back. mr. caraya from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and ranking member. and i want to thank the gentleman for being here today in this most important issue of addressing terrorism, domestic terrorism.
2:58 pm
white supremacist terrorism. and earlier, the earlier panel spoke, made some points about preparedness, what they were doing, what they were not doing. i would like to ask you essentially the same kind of questions, which is from your perspective, is there something that the federal government, the fbi, that homeland security can be doing that we are not doing to address the issue of following these hate groups and making sure that they are not successful like they were in oklahoma city? yes, i open it up for quick answers to that question from the three of you. >> i think there are a number of things that the federal government can and should do. one, i think institutionalizing a focus on the oldest form of terrorism that our country is seeing. we don't want it to fall off, you know, the radar of the federal agencies. >> and you see it falling off the radar now? >> well, i don't think there's any question but that it has after 9/11 to one degree or
2:59 pm
another under both administrations. i think there's been a bipartisan failure to devote the attention it deserves. you know, i mentioned to senator durbin's bill, there are other vehicles that could do that. one of the good features about senator durbin's bill is not only that it was required institutionalizing the focus on it, it also requires annual reports on the threat of white supremacist violence. i know mr. rogers, who is not here today, there was a bill that went through this committee and was passed into the house, talking about having annual reports on hate -- on issues of terrorism. it should include a focus on domestic terrorism, as well. >> i'm glad to hear you say that, because acting secretary duke just mentioned the blurring of that line. i think it's absolutely correct. you can't focus on one versus the other. you know, every american life is sacred, like all life. we've got to make sure we go after every threat that there is to our citizenry. >> congressman, i'd like to come
3:00 pm
back to a point. i don't know about anyone else. i was very humbled and impressed by the first panel, and how they stepped up over the course of the last 15 years in a whole different level to protect our citizens. but they were very careful to emphasize at every opportunity that they're not -- in the quote, unquote, ideology business. when you start getting that level, where you have that kind of power to find out what citizens are doing, it's a good idea to have that kind of red line and firewall between that kind of activity. i think what this committee could look at, and certainly the reason -- i'm sure everyone here, naacp, all of the ngos, everyone involved with civil society. we stand ready to try to fill in some of that on a volunteer basis. if there would be an appropriate -- whether it's
3:01 pm
through the fusian centers, the appropriate platform to actually inform the various federal, state and local agencies about who is who in hate. who are the players overseas who are impacting on individuals here and then go about threatening people in the local community. there's a lot of information that is available. >> see, that's a very interesting concept. because that's essentially what we need to do with the googles, the facebooks of the world. which is on a volunteer basis. we just -- we can't legislate to keep up with technology. but if we can figure out how to get these folks to step up and volunteer and say this does not smell correctly, something is afoot here. maybe you can take part of that responsibility, as well, and help us help the federal government keep our citizens safe. >> well, i can already report to you that some of the most powerful companies in the silicon valley are always happy to see me leaving their offices.
3:02 pm
>> so we're there. and i do think there is an important role -- a bridge role for this committee to help -- you know, create the appropriate input platform and, you know, probably through the fusion center concept to make sure that if we actually come up with important ideas or if the naacp has statistics that are not necessarily available to a local anti hate crimes agency, i think it would help, you know, lift -- lift the efforts, make them more focused and hopefully help protect americans from the hate that we're now dealing with. >> mr. rausch. >> i would just add, in terms of the cooperation between federal, local and state agencies, the jttfs are vital. they are working together to address those things that you have concerns with. they are looking at the domestic terrorist.
3:03 pm
our -- my office -- i have two officers assigned to the jttf that specifically -- that's what they do. is they look at our domestic terrorist working with our federal partners. and so they work very closely with them. i also serve on the icps task force that's looking at enhancing law enforcement's response to hate crimes. and one of the things that i suggested there is we look at tools that we need. i've talked with several prosecutors and asked them about what tools they could use to better our opportunity to go after these who are committing these hate crimes. and what they said was, they have a hard time proving ideology. right? what's in the mind. hard time proving that part of the statute. and so they will charge them with the crime that they've committed, right, which would be maybe an assault or vandalism or something of that nature. and then they -- you know, they said that they're easier able to
3:04 pm
get that conviction. and so the hate part is a little challenging. so what i've suggested is for your body to look at similar to what we do with gangs. and that is make it an enhancement. right? we charge the crime, but make hate an enhancing crime. and so after you've charged them with the "a" crime, then you come back and after you get that conviction, you come back and you enhance it with the hate crime. and i think that would be much more effective. and you would see an increase in holding people accountable for their ideologies. >> mr. chair, i yield. >> the chair recognizes mr. donovan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chief, i was the elected district attorney of staten island, and indicted the very first hate crime on staten island in its history. and it resulted in my first death threat, as well. so that was my reward for it. but i'm still here. so -- chief, as you heard, i was
3:05 pm
asking the fbi director about the whole idea of people disguising themselves with masks and crossing state lines to cause mayhem, whatever, in places. and how would codifying some of those prohibitions be helpful. you were very successful, chief, in the experience that you described to us in your opening remarks. is there a federal codification of some of these things that you think -- i think the chairman and chief could and law enforcement agencies learn from your good experience. do you think there are codifications that may be helpful to you and others who are trying to protect our nation? >> yeah, absolutely. i think looking at a couple of areas, and i know they're controversial, but i think it's important, when you talk about these protests, and where they've gotten today. and, you know, obviously, you
3:06 pm
know, we shouldn't restrict a person's ability to express their opinion. and i think, you know, we've got to be careful with that fine line as we talk about what's -- what we do to limit a person's ability to express themselves. but i think we also have to look out for the greater good and the safety of our communities. covering your face for these events, clearly as we have seen, is for one purpose and one purpose only. and that is to remain
3:07 pm
express themselves. we need to look about how we can do that where they can do it safely. with proper regulation. >> you know, we put out a video after charlottesville, made it available to police officers. we'll send out 50,000 free copies in january, about mistakes made in charlottesville. i think there were mistakes that
3:08 pm
were made. but as chief rausch says, they had a tremendous handicap, and that was the virginia open carry law that prohibited towns, counties and cities from having anything that would be contrary to the open carry law. the university of virginia could do it, because it's the arm of the state. but the city of charlottesville had its hands tied when people walked into that city with hate in their hearts and open guns. it's a real problem. and it's a problem in more than 30 states. i'd add, not to contradict anything the chief said, but the history of mask laws in our country is complicated. you know, there's this notion that i should perhaps be able to protest anonymously in order to protect myself from retaliation for expressing an unpopular view. i can't tell you i know what the state of the law is today. it may vary in circumstances. but it is not an uncomplicated point. >> thank you.
3:09 pm
are there any other -- rabbi, the situations that were described earlier, the tragedies we've experienced in our country, maybe more recent ones? have you seen any other things, mistakes that may have happened? if we had something in place, may have prevented some of the harm that was created? >> i think the key we heard from the first panel is intelligence, information and access of that information to the people, whether -- especially to local hate crimes units. they have an incredible learning curve. they have to master as they're thrown in from other arenas in order to be able to deal with the hate, hate groups in their communities. so they could use -- certainly use some more help. but i just wanted to actually say something positive, if i may. and that is -- and that is that the concept of hate crime is
3:10 pm
always under assault. the concept is under assault. saying, well, if someone is raped, they're raped. if they break a window, you pay. but i think whether you're talking to african-americans or jews or other minorities, when someone in your community is attacked, when that takes place during a friday night service or in a church or school, an entire community is impacted. hate crimes has not been universally embraced as a society ideal or as a legal concept in other democracies and is always being sniped at here in the states by a variety of individuals. so i think keeping focus on it, keeping the level playing field, so whether it's from the left or the right, you have to make sure
3:11 pm
it's not being used, you know, to bludgeon one political point or another. i think it's an extremely important and powerful tool that gives a sense of not so much redress, but when a community is hurting, they get the message that the rest of the community is generally with them. and that's part of an important healing process. and one of the ways of keeping social peace. >> the -- you're right about the attitude towards hate crime. i was in office for three weeks when we indicted. and we indicted a caucasian man for viciously assaulting another caucasian young man who happened to be in the company of a black woman. thank you. >> chair thanks the gentleman from new york. chair recognizes the gentleman from rhode island, mr. langevin.
3:12 pm
>> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of your witnesses for being here today. in followup on the discussion just a moment ago, with respect to how weapons have complicated some of these situations, each of you did highlight in your testimony the threat of domestic extremists and terrorism. in recent domestic terrorist attacks, such as the incidents in las vegas, orlando and sutherland springs, firearms have been the weapon of choice. so what steps should congress take to ensure that firearms don't end up in the hands of terrorists? start with mr. cohen. >> i would defer to the chief on this one, if i could. >> that's a great question. i'm not sure there is an easy answer to that.
3:13 pm
i think that, you know, clearly, i think, you know, the -- the challenge we have in background checks, as we have seen -- the system is not -- is flawed at best. and so i think that's probably our first step. is tightening up the background check process to ensure that it is what it's supposed to be. when you can identify somebody that -- that is a member of an organization, if you can identify that. that's another part of that challenge. that it's a difficult situation. i think -- i think we have to be careful. i know that, you know, there's some legislation moving now about reciprocity of moving guns across borders, in terms of handgun reciprocity, handgun carry. that's a challenge. you know, not every state has the same level of restriction.
3:14 pm
in terms of who can carry a firearm. and so that's concerning to those of us in law enforcement. and so i would tell you that i would -- i'm not the perfect expert on that, i don't think. i'll tell you, it's a challenging topic. and i would tell you, we've got to do better than what we're doing now. >> i agree, chief. and you're on the front lines. and i agree with your answers. and i appreciate your perspective and the job you're doing to try to keep us all safe. let me turn to mr. cohen. in the -- the recent election, russia utilized social media to influence and interfere with our democratic process, demonstrating how a properly orchestrated campaign can leverage a small investment into an outsized effect. how have we seen domestic terrorist groups utilize the
3:15 pm
same tools and methods to spread their message? >> look. all of these groups that we talk about are very, very active on social media. because it's easy. before charlottesville, the message went out to white supremacists throughout the country to come and gather there. i think it was obvious prior to the event that there were going to be hundreds of white supremacists at that event. so, you know, as the rabbi said, in any -- a local thing can quickly become national in scope or global in scope with the click of a button. i don't think there's any easy answer to deal with that. >> thank you. >> i would like to just add to that. we've been talking to the companies about these issues for well over a decade. and let's be honest. the ads, the digital ads,
3:16 pm
basically -- an atm machine. just for money-making. and when we brought the first case we brought to them was when a couple of ads for a hezbollah-sponsored game that kids could get hold of i think showed up on a ""washington post"" just as a bot. just showed up on various locations undertakings from a known terrorist group. so the particular company in mind did figure out a way to remove it. i hate to keep coming back to it, but if we're talking about ads and the impact of ads, the bad players are looking at each other out there and saying, well, look, this looks like an easy mark if we invest a certain amount of money. we're going to be able to get our message into the mainstream, directly to the kind of audience we're looking for. and obviously, hezbollah is not a state player. you get russia, much more sophisticated with its own view.
3:17 pm
i think a great deal of this responsibility comes right back at the companies. and to a certain extent, it also comes right back to the consumer. just give you one other example to think about. because these are not easy issues. one of the companies ran a short-term project in which they sent e-mails to teenagers saying that we have reason to believe you may be a target of online bullying. we hope if that's true you're talking to an adult, you have a parent, whatever. but if you need help, e-mail us and we'll send you a list of resources that you can turn to. now, at first blush, that's a great idea. but you think about it, you ask yourself one question. how does this company know that this teenager has been bullied? and sort of like the unaddressed issue here is that the -- these companies, not because they
3:18 pm
forced anyone, because we gave the information voluntarily, know a lot more about predictive behavior than maybe some of our own federal agencies. they don't like to talk about it. it's not a big brother mentality. they're out to make money. but the potential is always there, and when you have a bad player like russia, understanding that potential, and manipulating it, the next time it could be another victim. it may be from another state player or nonstate player. >> great insights. appreciate you all for being here today. thank you for your testimony. my time has expired. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair thanks the gentleman, mr. langevin. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from louisiana, mr. higgins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. rabbi cooper, i'm going to speak on the connection between domestic extremism and international terrorism. specifically to bds movement,
3:19 pm
the boycott divestment and sanction movement to shut down the peaceful support of israel, are connected -- my studies show connected with international terrorism movements. what connections have you seen, sir, can you refer to between bds groups and a global terrorist and anti israel movement? >> well, you know, there's no question that since bds movement boycott and divestment in its current form -- back in the late 20th century, the -- this kind of approach was used to great effect to pressure the apartheid regime in south africa. and i happened to be present as a delegate in 2001, just before 9/11, at the u.n. conference against racism, where the mantle was transferred. not the halo, but the opposite. the new devil was the state of israel. and that approach of demonizing
3:20 pm
democracy, our ally, has been part and parcel of anti peace forces, of hezbollah, of hamas. of iran and others. and -- >> you do see that connection between domestic -- >> the connection -- >> and international terrorism. >> right. the connection may not always be operational. but these are not movements that came out of the -- you know, out of the thin air. i'll give one other example, if i may. there is a piece of potential legislation before the house right now called the palestinian children's protection act. and that basically, if it went into law, would say that the u.s. would reduce aid to israel if it caused any violence through any palestinian under the age of 18, even if they were involved in a terrorist act. now, that did not come out of thin air either. there is now, in you might say in honor of israel's upcoming 70th birthday or the 70s
3:21 pm
anniversary of knackba, new themes being brought forward in the international community, and right here in the halls of congress. again, they don't come from thin air. it's part of an overall global campaign to demonize the jewish state. that is a part of the reality that we're struggling against. and our own state department has recognized that some of these efforts do cross the line from legitimate criticism of state or of a group of people into hate and anti-semitism. >> thank you for your very thorough answer. in the interest of time, mr. cohen, i'd like to -- i have further concerns but with constraints of time will not allow me to address them. so i'm going to jump into money, sir. the southern poverty law center, as the irs recognizes as splc as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. is that correct?
3:22 pm
>> it is. >> since csplc is not subject to taxation, why would there be a need for the splc to have offshore accounts reported up to $69 million in areas like the cayman islands as a tax exempt nonprofit organization, splc has no need for lawful tax avoidance. so what would be the legitimate reason that the splc would have millions and millions of dollars deposited in offshore accounts? >> i appreciate the question. i think there's been some confusion in the press about this. it's common for nonprofit organizations, including universities, big foundations, to have money in offshore accounts. it avoids two things. first, it avoids a lot of certain kinds of filings. and it avoids unrelated business income tax. if i could finish very quickly. >> i appreciate your answer. will you state before this congressional committee definitively that all splc funds
3:23 pm
are received, held and used for lawful persons under u.s. law? >> i will. >> thank you. does the splc receive foreign money? >> not that i know of. we may have had some donors in foreign countries. i'm sure we have donors in english, for example. but we don't have any other governments. >> have they received money from any individual, entity or organization that the state department of treasury department has identified as connected to organized crime or terrorism? >> not that i know of, of course. >> not that you know of. would you be prepared to present a full report regarding that? >> no. i don't think we're going to present a listing of all of our donors to this committee or another. >> no, i'm specifically asking about donors that may have been identify the united states government as terrorist
3:24 pm
organizations or -- >> i'm not sure, mr. higgins, if it you have some information that makes you think that i would be happy to check into it. >> that's what i'm asking, sir. >> well, if you have some information that tells you that that's a possibility, i'd want to look into it because you would not want to do that. >> can you provide that your organization with your data on -- >> no. no. what i was suggesting was, if you think that we get money from, you know, criminal sources, i have no knowledge of that, and i would appreciate your letting me know who you think it is who is giving us money who we shouldn't. >> mr. chairman, in the interest of time, i'd like to submit in writing further questioning for the panel. i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman from louisiana. the chair now recognizes the gentle lady from texas, ms. jackson lee. >> thank you very much, mr. chair. first, allow me to introduce
3:25 pm
into the record a letter from 53 members of the civil rights -- the civil rights community coalition of 53 civil rights and civil liberty groups. i ask anonymous consent to submit the statement into the record. hello? okay. i need to get extra time. >> i'm sorry. without objection. >> okay. so i need some extra time on that. thank you so very much. let me also express my disappointment that the naacp was not able to testify, and that their invitation was issued less than 24 hours prior to the hearing and the late notice has kept them from participating. i want to acknowledge the new president of the naacp, who is a stellar leader on civil rights issues, mr. derek johnson. his voice needs to be heard in this committee, and i certainly hope we'll have the opportunity to hear from him as soon as
3:26 pm
possible. let me go quickly to our very esteemed guests. rabbi, first of all, let me to acknowledge simon weezenthal and this center and to put on record that he lost 39 members of his family. we have known of the center, both in texas, but in the nation. and i cannot thank you for the nonviolent approach that you have taken and the peaceful approach you have taken, but the firm approach you have taken against anti-semitism, which certainly is both related and it's a deafening sound in this nation. so my question to you is basically, in an area where i've worked, and that is the attack on religious institutions or religious affiliated community centers. we've had circumstances like that in texas. and my question to you is, how can congress be stronger on
3:27 pm
protecting those religious affiliate institutions who welcome all of us? there's not one of us that has not been in a synagogue and had been welcomed. and i might say, and you know, in a morvsque and have been welcomed. because i know how your center works. how can we protect these facilities? >> you know, i think we're at an interesting cross road in america. because you can also add churches. >> absolutely. i've worked on those issues. >> houses of worship are in america by definition community centers. and that's one of the key points that bigots, racists and anti semites and terrorists under stand. that automatically puts them on the front line. i've read with great sympathy the -- you know, church leaders who are trying to decide whether or not they have to put perimeter security in their houses of worship. for us, it hasn't been an option. i would imagine that for
3:28 pm
african-americans, because the reality of racist rate crimes in this country is not really an option. the end of the day, as isis is being defeated on the baltfalth field, the ultimate victory will be one in which we defeat ideas that fuel and feed the terrorists. the truth is, that's not so much on congress. it's on americans. to try to come together and figure out ways, how to drain the swamp of hit read. how to learn to act together in concert, even though we may have different ways of paying or different political views. >> thank you. >> that's not something you can ledges at a time. >> that's certainly the reflection of the greatness of this center. let me pose my two questions and ask the chairman to indulge me for a time. i'll suppose the two questions. first to the chief. thank you so very much. chief, you may have known we were in judiciary with a
3:29 pm
reciprocal conceal weapons bill. and did ythank you to the major chiefs for their letter. so i will impose the question of guns, proliferation of such guns do make it a little more dangerous. and i take, for example, the individual that attacked the church in carlson, south carolina. i also made known my concern for law enforcement officers. the question i have for mrs. cohen, first of all, thank you for your work. you were trying to explain that tifa, in your view, does not spew anti member. they come dressed as they do but dealing are the justice issues and trying to protect. so my question to you is, what tone is set when the leader of the free world offers or spews outwar out words such as sun of bs or
3:30 pm
uses video ofality rite and my owe national weather service that so much of the world is condemns that. i believe america is a great nation. chief, would you comment on the question, and if i could allow mr. cohen to answer his question. thank you very much. >> in terms of guns, first and foremost, all law enforcement will tell you, responsible gun ownership is what we expect. >> absolutely. >> and unfortunately, a way of seeing -- in many communities throughout the country, and we've seen it in our state. and that is the relaxation of gun laws and allowing guns everywhere at any time. the hiller decision by the supreme court said that there can be reasonable regulation. and that's what we should have. we have seen an increase since the castle doctrine was moved from the home to the car in
3:31 pm
tennessee. we have seen an increase in gun violence. we have seen more guns stolen out of vehicles. because, again, responsible gun ownership also means keeping it safe from other people. and so we've seen an increase in guns being stolen. an increase in shootings in our community. ever since that law was changed. and so i think we've got to be -- we've got to be more methodical in how we regulate our firearms. and that is -- that's a challenge i would put before you and congress and i thank you. >> thank you, chief. mr. cohen. >> briefly, i would agree with rabbi cooper, that it's a responsibility of each and every person in our country to drain the swamp of hate. but i would add that it would help a lot if the person who has the biggest bully pulpit in our country were to take the lead in consistently condemning hate, rather than energizing it.
3:32 pm
>> i join you in that, and i would like to make a commitment that personally, and i know many of my colleagues will join you, in standing up against hate. we thank you for the testimony. mr. chairman, i thank you for yielding to me. i yield back. >> chair thanks the gentle lead. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr. garrett. >> i want to hit on a few things and i hate to be constrained so by time but each and every other member has as well. first i commend the chief on his suggestion as it relates to criminal enhancements for certain things. i think we have a criminal justice situation in this country that begs reform. we're happy to be moving in a bipartisan manner toward that. we don't necessarily need new crimes. we need to enforce the ones in the books. but enhancement makes real sense, not giving that burden at trial. secondly, the mask discussions, guns discussions, et cetera, i am loathe in this body to suggest a federal legislative answer to what should be dock tinnily and federalism wise a program. i'm sympathic to the arguments made by the folks on the panel
3:33 pm
that indeed localities should be -- i would hate and would not vote in favor of a federal mask law. it's draconian in its nature and perhaps in its application and i don't even want to contemplate it. having said that, i have no problem with the locality enforcing time, place, manner restrictions on otherwise protected rights. and tertiarily, rabbi cooper, i would correct you in respect where you say hezbollah is not a state actor. there is no hezbollah. hezbollah came to be three years after the iranian revolution. and while they're not a direct state actor -- >> they're an actor of a state. >> yes, sir. and that's no disrespect intended. to mr. cohen, you gave a number of the number of users on the website storm frofrnt, which is nazi, nationalist associated website. prior to and after the obama administration, do you remember those numbers off the top of your head? >> i do. >> what were they? >> in 2008, it was 140,000 registered users. >> yes, sir. >> and today over 330,000.
3:34 pm
that doesn't mean -- there are many millions of visitors. >> so little -- i'm not trying to be rude. millions of visitors but almost doubled your registration. that's not a result of the obama administration. >> no, no, no. as i said, it's the continuing backlash to our country's changing demographics. >> well, i think that's your opinion. >> that's correct. >> again, with due respect. and so are you familiar what type of organization is the most prominent and preeminent numerically on your hate watch list of 900 and some odd groups? >> i think it would probably be the daily storm or the nation of islam. >> i mean, by number. how many -- >> that's what i was
3:35 pm
>> and, again, this isn't president obama's fault. it's not, is it? i don't think it is. >> i wasn't claiming it was his fault. i was trying to explain. >> i guess what i'm suggesting is that there is no doubt, right, that there are real live tragically we saw them in my congressional district. but to ascribe the presence of despicable, reprehensible individuals who can't grasp the
3:36 pm
basic concept of dr. king's premise, but to say this is because of the rhetoric of one individual i think oversimplifies the problem, correct? >> well, i'm not sure i -- i'm not sure i was guilty of what you're suggesting. >> i'm not suggesting you were. if someone were to say that the prevalence of these groups is because it is one individual, that would be oversimplifying the problem. >> that would be -- >> attack evil -- in the form of things like the clan. however, would you be shocked if i told you that from the public records, as it relates to the leadership of your organization, the political giving is almost exclusively and to the tune of almost 100% in one direction? would that surprise you? >> i don't think it's accurate. >> if i were to tell you that it were, would that surprise you? >> it would. we have many republican donors. >> no, no, no, sir. i'm talking about the gifts from the people in your organization to political causes.
3:37 pm
>> oh, i think that's absolutely true. i'm sure that's right. and there are not that many people -- southern poverty law center who make political contributions. >> but some do. >> sure. >> and it wouldn't surprise you to learn they were almost exclusively one direction. >> it would not. >> okay. and you've worked with other groups, for example, media matters, the center for new community and rethink media, to come up with lists, correct? >> we have. >> okay. would it surprise you if i were to tell you that based on public records, the political giving of the leadership of those organizations was also almost exclusively in one direction? >> no. it would not. >> okay. and would you contest the assertion, and i would categorize national -- >> you haven't given up your days as a trial lawyer, have you, mr. garrett? go ahead. >> no, sir. but again, it's an interesting paradigm i find myself in because i respect what you do. >> thank you. >> i'm concerned with how you're doing it. here's where i'm going with this. i think it's a fair historical fact to say that the deadliest collective force in human history, probably just after national socialism, would be
3:38 pm
communism. which inarguably is a dogma of the left. i am not ascribing values to anyone. i am suggesting, however, that it troubles those to see an entity that has essentially been de facto for determining what is and isn't hate that skews almost exclusively as do their collaborators in a particular direction. and so i guess i admonish you to listen to folks like mr. perry, who says, i don't even remember the name of that organization. are you familiar with them. and become familiar with them. now -- >> i'm not sure who you're talking about, mr. perry. i'm sorry. oh, i'm sorry, congressman. >> it's okay. and so -- and so let me finish. because -- poked at you, but it's -- >> just a little bit. >> but it's not with malice. you deserve credit at splc for being the first group to point out, for example, that jason kessler, the organizer of the unite the right rally with which i would take exception to the
3:39 pm
name, because, again, i'm an individualist. i think an individual is a minority and everyone has a right to be left alone as long as they're not hurting someone else. but you were the first to point px previous affiliations were with the occupy movement. and you deserve credit for that, right? and so i hope and ask that you recognize that hatred in any form is hatred. that violence in any form is violence, and that victims in any form are victims. and -- >> and we always have. >> and i encourage you to continue to.2 but the perception by outside individuals, and i think based on life experience, is that if all the leadership of an organization skews in a particular political direction, there might be a bias. which then gives rise to a lack of credibility, for what you do that should be important work. do you understand why that might be a concern? >> i understand why it's a concern to you. >> well, do you understand why that might be a concern for people? >> look, the -- you know, the liberal tradition is an inclusive one. hate is the opposite of that liberal tradition of
3:40 pm
inclusivity. so it's not surprising to me that people at the southern poverty law center, people at other inclusive organizations tend to give money to liberal organizations. it's just -- it seems obvious to me. >> well, again, we can sit and discuss the origins of classical liberalism versus modern liberalism all day long. but my life philosophy is treat everyone as you would want to be treated. >> of course. ;% harm. >> absolutely. as long as as you're not hurting someone else, who cares who you sleep with. whoub0n cares how you )ñworshi. et cetera, et cetera. but it strikes me as i look at the groups that are chosen, liberty council, family research council, when flanagan walks in with chick-fil-a sandwiches to rub in the faces of his victims, that is not your fault. >> that's absolutely true. >> but, i mean, you know, i would :fx3q the important work you do not be could opted by an ideological drive that causes you to miss other threats. >> well, i appreciate your
3:41 pm
concern about our work. and i'm sure that if you knew as much as we did about the family research council, you too would keep them at arm's length. >> well, i'm way over time. i would love to have the more. panels. >> look forward to seeing you in charlottesville. >> and invite you guys to come to the office at any time. give me advance notice so i can being there. thank you. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. i thank the witnesses for their testimony and the members for their questions.mtprx the members of the committee may have some additional questions for the witnesses, and we will ask you to respond to these or those questions in writing.ú the chair recognizes the ranking member. >> thank you. i would like to include in the record and unanimous consent to do so, a statement from the american islamic relations. >> without objection. >> pursuant to committee rule 7 delta, the hearing record will be held open for ten days.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on