tv Council on Foreign Relations Discussion on Domestic Terrorism CSPAN December 10, 2020 4:36am-5:38am EST
coming up live thursday, the house returns at 9:00 a.m. for work on the bills out of the natural resources committee regarding the removal of confederate statues. on c-span2, the senate takes up the 2021 defense authorization act passed in the house on tuesday. at 9:00 a.m. on c-span3, and fda meeting looks at the covid-19 vaccine made by pfizer. c-span, yourtching unfiltered view of government. created by america's cable television company as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> next, former homeland security secretaries on the rise of domestic terrorism. the council on foreign relations hosted this talk looking at white supremacist extremism and prosecuting hate crimes and advising the incoming biden administration on next steps.
this runs one hour. >> welcome to today's council on foreign relations meeting. i am senior national correspondent and primary substitute anchor at the pbs newshour and i will be presiding over today's discussion. i will be posing my own questions for the first 30 minutes or so. we will turn to member questions. we do have more than 300 people registered so we will do our best to get to as many questions as we can. today's event is on domestic terrorism and white supremacy. white supremacists and other far right extremists have killed more people since december 11, 2001 than any other category of domestic extremist. the antidefamation league on extremism has reported that 71% of the extremist related fatalities in the u.s. between 2008 and 2017 were committed by members of the white supremacist or far-right groups.
and yet, for two decades, the u.s. has says the counterterrorism effort has largely focused on foreign threats. our discussion today will focus on how the nature of the domestic threat has changed over the years and what can be done to combat it. joining us, we have kevin mcaleenan, who was acting secretary of the homeland security in 2018. janet napolitano is at the goldman school of public policy at the university of california berkeley. and fran townsend who was homeland security advisor from 2004 to 2008. also on the board of directors for cfr. thank you all for being here. i do want to kick off by giving each of you a moment to set the table for our conversation. in a couple of minutes each, if
you could give us insight into the agency, homeland security and its priorities during your tenure and where the domestic threat fit into the priorities and resource allocation at the time. this is nothing new during the time you were homeland security advisor. white supremacist groups have been around for years. the oklahoma city bombing had been a few years before. where was the homeland security department focused? >> thank you very much for presiding and it is a pleasure to be both with secretary and secretary napolitano. let me just as you say set the table. we were in the immediate years post 9/11 and we continued to worry very much about threats that began manifesting overseas and stopping them before they got here. probably the biggest disruption
we did was flights coming in from europe who had been targeted from al qaeda and killed hundreds of americans. those were -- defined focus was on not only disrupting them over there but identifying threats before they got to the u.s. shores. there was the patriot act. changes to fisa were changed during this time to enable those investigations. there were changes of attorney general guidelines of the fbi. the department was new in getting its legs underneath it and working to do these investigations alongside and with the fbi and enabled by some of the intelligence coming from overseas. that was the environment we were in. towards the end of the bush administration, we began to see this phenomenon.
those at that time were individuals who are self radicalizing using the internet. as time passed, we came to see the context of white supremacist. the white supremacist groups share the internet as an accelerant to radicalization with islamic extremists. this is a much more global, connected, but decentralized movement, the white supremacist islamic as opposed to extremism. they are connected but decentralized, which makes them much more difficult to target. i think this has been an evolution. we had domestic terrorism. it was a different flavor when you look at oklahoma city. this has been evolution over several administrations to what we are facing now. >> thank you, ms. townsend.
secretary napolitano, from the years 2009 to 2013, what was it you were seeing in a way that constituted a domestic threat and where was the department of homeland security focused? >> i took over at homeland security shortly after fran. and, our initial focus was still i qaeda and al qaeda related groups with aviation being a continued threat. and our focus initially was there. after all, the attacks of 9/11 where the precipitant for the
creation of the department of homeland security. nonetheless, we had an intelligence and analysis division that was designed to collect threat information both internationally and domestically. and put it into a format that could be shared across the state and local environment. that is where we had efforts with respect to white supremacist groups in the united states and as fran said, it was the growth of the so-called lone wolves that we were seeing. and so we were collecting information about them and sharing it across the country. frankly, i think the white supremacists and lone wolf threat has been a growing phenomenon over the years. and, threats change. the risk environment changes and if i were the secretary today, i would give it a much higher priority than frankly we did then. >> thank you, madam secretary.
secretary michael lehman, over to you, by the time you stepped into the home of 2019, the internet had been acting as a rage accelerator. we know there had been record growth in the number of domestic hate groups. walk us through how much had .hanged changed in terms of the priority and resources given to the domestic threat. sec. mcaleenan: i was privileged to serve in career roles under the leadership of both of my co-panelists in trying to operationally implement the architecture they helped to drive of any foreign secretary and addressing threats to aviation. that focus in u.s. customs and border protection is very operationally driven on those foreign threats. by the time i was asked to serve as acting secretary, a lot had changed in that picture. of course we had the attack in 2011 in norway.
the tragic attacks in charleston at the church in charleston. starting in october 2018 at the tree of life synagogue in pennsylvania, going through the christchurch attacks in 2019 in march in new zealand but two more on u.s. soil. very tragically in el paso were -- where 22 people were killed at a walmart. we saw this internet inspired and encouraged set of lone wolf actors espousing extremist ideology. for me coming into the leadership role in the department of homeland security knowing the fbi always has had the lead for counterterrorism and domestic terrorism investigations, i wanted to see what we could do to support state and local communities.
it is actually a pretty powerful and diverse apparatus the dhs has that we wanted to build and strengthen. about six weeks after the el paso attacks, we issued a new strategic framework. we also had the las vegas attacks during this period, which does not appear to be a domestic terrorist ideology inspired attack but was another example of a mass attack in the u.s. of targeted violence, an instance of targeted violence we wanted to address. in my first week, we set up the targeted violence and terrorism prevention office. it had five people at the start. it now has 40. we saw additional grants out of cycle from congress. we tried to wield those elements of the department that already were focused on these threats. the national threat assessment center and the mass attacks in public spaces report that educates and trains 60,000 state and local law enforcement every year.
cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency which took over the national programs of protective security advisors, which are embedded in metropolitan areas bringing in training and active shooter type training to state and local communities and asking our intelligence analysts, the element of dhs is part of the community to focus some of their work on providing good threat assessments to state and local fusion centers to highlight domestic violence, extremist threats and white supremacist extremist threats. that has culminated in the homeland threat assessment in october which was a product we called for and asked the department to issue every year to help inform our state and local partners. they explicitly identified as the most persistent and lethal threat facing the homeland today. this happened very quickly.
even in september of 2019, we started with the international terrorist threat in our assessment and highlighted the emerging threat of domestic violent extremists. by october of 2020, the domestic violent extremist threat, and specifically racially and ethnically focused were highlighted as the most persistent threat facing the homeland. it has accelerated in the last two or three years in terms of the number of the attacks and unfortunately, both the size of groups operating in the u.s., but also their ability to help inspire loan actors. a serious set of challenges the homeland security has. >> the problem has been getting worse. the number of groups have been going, -- growing, the violence has been accelerating. none of the decisions you are making, none of the assessments
are divorced from the politics at the time you are making those decisions and assessments. sec. napolitano, i would like to ask you about a time in 2009 because you did ask your team for more information on right-wing extremism. they studied it, there was a report in april of that year produced. it was distributed, it was leaked to the press. it caused a fierce political backlash. the analyst who was behind the report came out and said he felt under political pressure that dhs caved. walked back the report, took it off the website. when you look back at that time now, why did you do what you did in responding to the political backlash and did the politics get in the way of addressing what was a very real growing threat? sec. napolitano: the report caused a firestorm. no doubt about it. it caused a firestorm because there was some ill-conceived language in it that made it seem like every veteran of the military service was a terrorist
in waiting. we know that is not true. i do think we need to be interacting more with the military in terms of how they prepare individuals when they leave the service and make sure they are really ready to get an education, get jobs, etc. but the veterans community went to great offense at this and they got congress to take great offense at this. the obama administration was new. they were concerned about the politics of this. and so the report came out on my watch. i apologized not for the report but for the language in the
report. it was withdrawn to be reissued later. and i continued to ask our team to do updated threat assessments on what we were seeing domestically and what could be done about it. >> thank you for that, secretary napolitano. , youtary mcaleenan mentioned the money steps you took. you set up the office on target and violence, you secured funding for grantmaking. at the same time, on the president he worked for response to a violent white supremacist and neo-nazi march by saying you have fine people on both sides, when there is that failure to unequivocally condemn. does that hinder your ability to
meet the threat in a full way? sec. mcaleenan: when i took over, the facts that were evolving and the attacks i listed, they drove an imperative to respond. that is what we were focused on. and frankly, we had bipartisan support on the hill for an out of cycle appropriations request to augment our grant funding capability. and to stand up this office. and then by the time we had the el paso attacks, our strategy had been in work all september -- summer, but we knew we had to with greatand speak clarity on the emerging threats, specifically with white supremacist extremist violence. we thought that was a very important statement. there was support for that. in the remarks the president made on the monday after the el paso attacks. i do think it is important to be clear about the threats you are facing and not be equivocal. >> just a follow-up on that, there have been a number of reports from your former
colleagues who felt there was a dismissiveness and a downplaying of the growing white supremacist threat within this administration. they were frustrated by that. did you share that frustration? >> i was on the operational side for most of the period. frankly, elizabeth newman and others were critical players in helping as advance the strategy during my 10 years as acting secretary and supported the release of our strategic framework i the white house. house.he white that said, different white houses have different set of priorities. i have seen the power of a collaborated effort from the white house level like the one led by ms. townsend who articulated a new homeland security strategy. i have also seen operators work together to accomplish improvements in our efforts. i think you can do it both ways. we saw the threat and we responded to it.
that is the mandate of a leadership team at homeland security. >> thank you. ms. townsend, i want to ask you about the bush administration because it is true, looking back now, despite messages to the contrary, under the bush administration, the idea of an extremist threat became closely foreigno islamists, to threats. while violent islamist extremism does remain a threat, today's domestic threat in the u.s. is typically from white christian men. have political leaders been slow and reluctant to recognize the danger that comes from the core of the american social fabric? sec. townsend: i think it is worth understanding america is not the only place and we are not the only people facing this very white supremacist extremist problem.
there are three countries in the world that account for the largest numbers of these attacks. the u.s., the u.k. and germany. what do we have in common? there has been this rise of populism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant. in germany, it was a reaction to the flood of syrian immigrants. coming as a result of the war there. in the u.k., it was a reaction illegal immigration, refugees and brexit. you had the same thing here. interesting to me is, one of the things i think added to the success and the strength of the effort we had globally to combat islamic terrorism, we acted with -- was the fact that we acted globally, with our allies. i find it frustrating and interesting. i do not see the same level of cooperation. the u.k. is our closest foreign ally. there is a lot we can do with
them to understand where the commonalities and how we can combat this. ditto with germany. i think there is more we can do. i think there has been good progress made, but i think we have to start thinking strategically. this is not just a u.s. problem. it was not just created here and we are not the only ones facing it and we ought to see if there is not strength in our alliance. >> if i can stick with you a moment on that, as you noted, we can do away with this idea of a lone wolf attacker anymore. we know white supremacist movements are very connected, they are just not hierarchical. you said previously the u.s. needs to start responding to this threat and employing some of the same tools we did to fight terrorism abroad. obviously there are different sets of rules dealing with american citizens on american soil. how do you see that being used? what tools could be used here?
townsend: i do think any time you are doing an investigation inside the united states, there are different rules that protect americans here at home and rightly so under the constitution. the fbi operates under the attorney general guidelines, which are much stricter than anything that applies to the cia operating against non-american citizens overseas. you can understand why that is. just because rules are different does not mean there is not a process under which the fbi and investigators can legally access information. i will say, we have talked about it, one of the accelerants to radel look is asian -- radicalization is the internet. the social media companies are much more engaged, much more active than they ever were. this is a source of frustration
for me when i was in the white house and shortly after i left. the social media companies acted as if they had no responsibility for extremist content on their platforms. they have since come around with a lot of pushing from congress and the public and multiple administrations. they have come to understand they do have a responsibility. i think those relationships actually matter. i think the legal structure around how we investigate crime -- like any other crime, white supremacist extremism is a crime at home and we have the rules and tools in place used to be able to investigate successfully. >> thank you. sec. napolitano, i would like to ask the same question of you, what tools could be put to use? how could they be limited -- implemented now particularly given that we are speaking during a pandemic. many are worried because we are stuck at home, spending more time online.
a lot of that recruitment is being furthered right now. what would you say to that? sec. napolitano: i think this really deserves a fresh re-think and really, the development of a national strategy. one of the issues here is you have so many players on the law enforcement side because this is domestic activity so you have got state and local law enforcement on the federal level. you have the fbi. you have got dhs. with so many players, there is no kind of organized strategy. how do we as a collective law enforcement community interact with the social media companies? with respect to content. how can we work with social scientists and others to do more research on to, what causes someone to become a white supremacist?
what causes someone to become a lone wolf? what are the best tactics and techniques that can be deployed probably not to eliminate this we have had it for decades, probably going back to the 19th century or the 17th century, but to mitigate it, to keep it as confined and limited as possible. a fresh re-think is needed. something?d we have seen over the last administration, i was assistant to the president of homeland security and counterterrorism and i was a direct report to the president. national -- that
does not exist at that rank anymore. it is an opportunity for the administration to appoint an assistant for counterterrorism and issue the very strategies to of the white house address white supremacist extremism and i think it is time for that. because it is an inner agency problem, the white house is where it ought to be pulled together and it will require -- >> otherwise we will live in a country world will only keep increasing and that will require intentionality to get our arms around this and get it more confined. inwould like to bring you because we should remind people there was an entire u.s. government reorganization after
9/11, after a single attack and a specific threat. just this moment now demand a similar level of reorganization to respond to a threat born and bred within our borders? >> really important questions and comments. you are right to highlight the tools interagency has to confront domestic terrorism issues without the intelligence community, without the department of defense on the field, it is a very different effort. you do have to rely on fbi and domestic investigations with the appropriate civil liberties protections under the attorney general's guidance. how do we address it in that framework? i cannot agree more with my co-panelist need to elevate this at the white house and reset the role of counterterrorism and homeland security within the national security council as a critical priority and task that
individual in that office with redevelopment of the strategy. we have that combination of tools we are not currently utilizing. for instance, if you consider the designation of some of these groups, especially his we see designated efforts to coordinate and build alliances globally. you take a white supremacist extremist group domestically, they tend to want to develop relationships, whether it is for training, tactics, financing, ideologically support. unfortunately they like to travel to celebrate special events in their ideology's history. we need to look at those international connections and consider whether we can designate them as foreign terrorism and bringing authorities to counter those efforts. i also think we need to look the definitions. the fbi has done a tremendous job policing criminality, not
ideology. a peer domestic terrorism violation or criminal statute. that said, it should be looked at a new whether some of the material types of concepts we use for foreign terrorist organizations could be used without violating first amendment or other constitutional protections. i do think there are some news -- some new tools and strategies. point ofith fran's attack platforms are doing more. . very good to see the hosting and the internet security provider .ake down 8chan that said, i think they can be more aggressive in policing themselves. that is a fine line where we have to have an open conversation and a new strategic approach in my view. >> thank you for that.
i have a host of more questions i did not get to. i will be following up with all of your offices. i would like to invite members to join our conversation with their own questions. this virtual meeting is on the record. i will ask the operator to remind embers how to join the question q and introduce our first questionnaire. >> thank you. ladies and gentlemen, as a reminder, to ask a question, please click on the raise hand icon on your resume window. when you are called on, please theunmute now button and proceed with your name, affiliation and question. please click on the link in your resume checkbox. let's take the first question. hi, thanks so much for this very important and timely conversation. i am really interested in many aspects of this paired one
aspect i wanted to invite you to speak about is the real connection between gender violence, domestic violence, misogyny and white supremacy and mass shooting. think gender violence and misogyny are critical foundations to white supremacy. they are not simply byproducts of it, which is often times the narrative. i think many times, people talk about misogyny as a steppingstone to radicalization but is not radical itself. groups -- a several lot of research showing the men deadliest mass shootings have domestic violence in common overwhelmingly. i was wondering if you could talk about your thoughts on the gender lens here both in terms of prevention and response.
one particular area i would invite you if you have knowledge or interest in is the boyfriend loophole that exists when thinking about gun violence and the fact that in our federal laws, people who are not living with or married to their abuser are not able to get a restraining order against that person for preventing them from having a gun. i would love to hear any thoughts you have with on domestic and global ramifications of the gender dimension. thank you. >> who would like to address that first? let me open that to the panel. sec. mcaleenan: i can start for the panel. it is a very good question. is veryit caps on what clearly a strain of certain types of white supremacist extremist groups like the white power skinheads or some of the espouseower groups that
a hyper-masculine, hyper violent type of culture and ideology in their groups. i think it is a prevalent theme and the connection i think between attackers and domestic violence is also an important observation. if you look at the u.s. secret service's mass attacks in public spaces report, what it shows year after year is the vast majority of individuals who became violent had something in their background that indicated they might be presenting a concern. some had generally presented that to police, to a school resource officer, to a mental health professional. there was an opportunity for intervention. anopportunity to redirect individual off that pathway. training the secret service does
to state and local authorities, to school resource officers and explained that connection between domestic violence and eventual moves toward a more overt type of mass attack violence is really important so you can try to identify someone on that trajectory and intervene earlier. that is a big part of the dhs strategy. thank you. secretary napolitano? sec. napolitano: i made a comment earlier about reaching out to social scientists. kno of us unpack this violence and it can bet viewed through a number of lenses including the gender lens. justvin said and i want to back him up, looking for those early signs -- so there can be early interventions, but those interventions have to be meaningful.
it is not just having one conversation with somebody saying, hey, what is going on? programmatic and thorough and it takes time and it takes resources. that.nk you for let's move onto the next question please. >> let's take our next question. i formerly worked at the national counterterrorism sector. is great toano, it see you again. when it came to fighting , blametional terrorism is often placed on communities, namely muslim communities to do more. i do not see that same type of
whitewith respect to nationalist extremism. why do you think that is? that is for anybody on the panel. don't wewnsend, why turn to you on this? sec. townsend: this is something i can remember struggling with when we were in opposite. unfair toncredibly impose a burden on any particular community and president bush twice visited the main mosque in washington, d.c. to try to dispel this myth the community bore some black mark, some extra burden. you want the entire community to take responsibility and we tried to engage families. it is not just the community around this person. it begins with the family. firstmily will see the signs before the community sees them. i agree with you. i do not think there has been
the same expectation placed on white communities we saw post-9/11. i do not think that is fair. to see be interesting with his acceleration over time, see will be more likely to a public sense that weight a minute, why are we continually -- that wait a minute, why are we continuing to see this? this is the damage point. scientists, those in your community, committed health care workers. signs are typically teachers, health-care workers, physicians. it requires a much more strategic approach and engagement so that we are not just looking to the muslim community or the white community. we are looking to the community where these people are living. we are looking to the families
and those who deal with them every day and are likely to see the first signs and give them an infrastructure in which they are encouraged and comfortable they can report these signs that they find concerning that may be early indications of extremism. anything you would like to add? sec. mcaleenan: i would noted that that the -- note that the office of civil rights and civil areas -- is one of the we have tried to combine the efforts of a targeted violence and terrorism prevention office with crcl including hiring some of the folks who helped develop the relationships in the first place to be regional leads under p office. the kind of work you are doing back when sec. napolitano was leading the department is still being carried on in
to address the threat? see behavior that worries you, please say something. the napolitano: i think point is to identify the relevant community. it does seem to me that it can be helpful. the neighborhood, the school, the church, but where is the most apt place for an effective intervention and where it community can help? host: thank you for that. operator, let us take the next question, please. >> we will take our next question from laura whole gate
please -- surprise toot be a ask this group to reflect upon the radiological nuclear terrorism of the manifesto and the degree to which that manifesto is inspiring white supremacist violence such as an christchurch -- in christ church. connect that attack with the violent extremism that we are seeing today? why: secretary napolitano don't you take that first? sec. napolitano: i think the expression of manifesto to manifesto is a concern.
-- for people to commit violence and hold them up as paragons and have that cited in manifestoes, i think that that trail needs to be looked at. the right of the community to intervene. i would offer that. i think the best way to respond to the radiological nuclear part of your question is to cite the latest available on the threat assessment for these issues from dhs. it downplayed the concern on radiological threats, saying that it was less of a heightened issue, that the nuclear concerns and potential -- of materials and know-how, to your point, as a leader in that movement, the technique is highlighted.
that is something to be aware of. one thing that we did not talk timeline,erms of that and the national counterterrorism community, does not get to stop focusing. we still have to maintain pressure on isis for establishing safe havens. we have to predict -- we have to prevent and look at nationstate sponsors of terrorism. continueorts have to and be sustained. that is something we have to watch carefully at dod and in china and russia and a way of these sort of special operations as a safe haven diminished.
i think that you raise a number of good points. in terms of maintaining our even asross the board we address an emerging concern. host: thank you. townsend, is there anything you'd like to add? ms. townsend: what worries me is when there was a call for an attack of the united states and everyone sort of poo-pooed that. most people cannot find afghanistan on the time. it has the same sort of field to it -- feel to it. the manifesto put the mark on the wall. there is a whole radicalization
called ved tailing -- redtai ling. they learn the mainstream language. -- that the individual being radicalized in this globally connected community decides that he wants to make a name for himself and publishes and circulates each other's manifestoes. this is a mark on the wall for others who want to belong to and aspire to. it will remain out there. it will be a serious concern to us in terms of combating this extremism problem. ms. townsend.u, operator, next question please. >> i met the american
university. extremismtic violence attacks are processed as hate crimes. is more likely conviction. this leads to a popular perception that we all call left-wing attackers terrorists. we also have problems that people on the right and the lift are trying to give law enforcement -- are not willing to give law enforcement the advanced power. could we reduce the extremism? what types of laws would you prioritize? host: i would love for you to take this question first, secretary napolitano. sec. napolitano: that is an interesting question. statember of existing statutes or federal statutes,
depending on the circumstances of a particular act that can be used by investigators and prosecutors. and so, i don't know whether adding another statute would do much to change the landscape. there has been about having a federal domestic terrorism statute. interesting is an idea. whatuestion i have is would be the differential elements that would need to be whatded and that, and would that mean in terms of sentencing above and beyond for what you can get the prosecution violations and acts of violence under state law and
things of that sort. , whichecretary mcaleenan like to weigh in? then, there was a raise of concerns about additional statutes because they were worried that they could be used for political purposes. what would you say to the question? sec. mcaleenan: i would agree with the point of secretary napolitano needed to be very careful in how you define the different elements. and the flexibility of the law and the potential for misuse that you just added in the question. i think all three are considerations for which probably one of the reasons why after el paso, the fbi and department of justice did not recommend a new statutory definition even though that was in the car position after el paso.
so far, none have been recommended, the changes. with that said, i think it is important to speak clearly about the threats and they are there in the form of hate crime statutes. the ideology supporting it to be hate makes it of greater concern. it has a special definition. perhaps it is worth looking at the hate crime model for a potential domestic terrorism law that fits within our constitutional regime and maybe add a little more flexibility in charging some differential punishment options. ms. townsend over to you. when there is a muslim attacker there is automatically a terrorism charge versus if it was someone different. with the newest law help? think there are
two different issues. this how we talk about it and how we charge the crime. --ther you are hearing from what you're hearing from kevin and from jan, they thought that they had the necessary regime to charge the crimes of the big committed. the separate question about how we talk about it, one of the jobs i do, i've been on air analyst for cnn. i will tell you that it is quite conscience and deliberate limit talk about it as domestic terrorism. when we talk about it as domestic terrorism. it is terrorism. it does not matter what ethnicity or what the perpetrator is, it is the purpose with which they execute the crime.
i think that to be more disciplined and how we talk about the nature of these crimes. i do not think whether or not we have a domestic terrorism statute that we can charge is the thing that really makes a difference. host: thank you for that, ms. townsend. operator, i think we have time for a couple more questions. >> our next cushion will come from ricardo gibson. -- our next question will come from ricardo gibson. >> they keep. -- thank you. he recently saw the governor of michigan -- we recently saw the governor of michigan kidnapped. there is this idea that some of these were linked to white supremacists. all see a trend among these groups moving online discussions toward action? are you all concerned the other groups like this will target other election officials? thank you. , whatsecretary mcaleenan
would you say to this? sec. mcaleenan: i think the question is important because it highlights to distinctive ideologies. i think the facts will still be coming out in terms of the motivations of the individual. whether they were white supremacists or more of an antigovernment motivation. strainnately, there is a of both called acceleration mizzen -- accelerationism seeking to precipitate a civil war. instance, the groups have an not necessarily motivated by white supremacy.
if you look at a group like the -- that is very clearly there moderation. -- they are motivation. by committing acts of violence, you can precipitate and --aveling of complex conflict between society and elements of government, that is an extreme concern. the connection between those goals of these ideologies is a concern. >> i think the toxicity of this election environment has been in accelerant of its own unto these types of activities. just as recently as yesterday, the home of the secretary of state of michigan was surrounded armed with signs and some armed with guns.
her family and her four-year-old were in the house. this is undetectable and civil society. partiesleaders in both at all levels speaking out against this. amna: we should also note that the proud boys have been showing up in person a lot of the rallies during the pandemic. is there a concern that coming out of this political period, this pandemic, this heated election cycle, that this will be a bigger problem for the next administration to handle? i absolutely think that it will be at the top of the list with a sense of urgency to handle. i am up here in new york. nypd wasipd -- the training, quite concerned that the white supremacist groups
would try to antagonize black lives matter and source of invite them in to a conflict of rioiting. looting and -- and rioting. that this would be calls for damage. and result in real crime and damage to property. that did not happen. that is a real credit to the nypd. they had intelligence that there was planning for that. i use this example because i think that new york is not alone in this. i do not think that this is an isolated incident. i think that we are going to see more than this. i go back to something i mentioned earlier. i think there is a need for national strategy that brings in state and local officials so that you have vertical, state
and local, horizontal across the federal government strategy that addresses this. amna: thank you, ms. townsend. operator, let us have one more question. >> the next question is from henry willis. >> thank you for this discussion. is, with the national security intelligence communities increasingly focused on the specific and resurgence of great power composition, how do we keep our eyes and resources on the terrorism threat that has been increasing and its domestic focus? start,hat don't you secretary napolitano? sec. napolitano: the risk environment is always changing. the task of the department of
homeland security and the task of the department of justice and the fbi is to keep our collective eye on the ball. forms is of all concerned, and particularly where domestic terrorism is concerned. does notterrorism implicate the department of defense. they are not involved. it is not implicate the cia, they are not involved. it really relies on domestic enteral law enforcement agencies to maintain a sufficient focus and to not let domestic terrorism get lost in all of the other decisions that need to be made at the beginning of a new administration. i think the all three of us have emphasized the need for a real and aand a real re-think
revived national strategy where these domestic terrorist acts are concerned. ms. townsend: i think it is worth adding here. i think it is worth reminding the members who are listening to the conversation that this is by and large a state and local effort. the federal government brings resources and expertise and a strategy. we bring infrastructure. when it comes right down to it, these crimes are committed in state and local communities and have to be combated by state and local authorities and expertise and great money of the federal government. sure a matter of making that you're getting the training and wherewithal down to the agencies herel are the first line of defense. amna: anything you would like to add, secretary mcaleenan?
sec. mcaleenan: i think those are very good last words. the support to state and local is critical to the strategy. federal resources are increasingly challenged. big budgets are focused on great power competition. that does not mean that with good strategy and support that we cannot make real advances. one more note to highlight. we have seen this with other types of terrorism in the past where the influence of organized groups are not as clearly visible. that said, i would like to credit the incredible work of the fbi working with state and local partners help identify some of the individuals in the michigan plots, the more organized it is, the more likely that the fbi will be on top of it and prevent it in advance. that is worth noting as well.
amna: before we wrecked this up, i want to go around and ask each of you to speak directly to the incoming administration. what is one piece of advice that you would give them that they need to do as a concrete step to prioritize this and the next administration. sec. mcaleenan: i'm going to echo my colleagues again and elevate this to the white house priority. the incoming president elect and his team are going to have lots of priorities. in dealing with domestic terrorism, and its offshoots of extremism that i going to affect our country, given the nature of the election environment and the concerns about covid and shut down, it has got to be a first 100 days priority for the administration. consider working -- consider looking at some of the tools that we have for international connections and work on the strategy with tech platforms. at the dhs level i would
recommend that the nominee look at the foundations of that they now have with the strategic framework and some of the resources. see if they can re-enhance the to help support state and local communities. amna: secretary napolitano? sec. napolitano: i would echo that. sure that youake have homeland security advisor in the white house who has a direct report to the present. empower that person. -- to the president and empower that person. use the powern to of the white house vertically and horizontally with folks across the united states, too, to do every set and rethink of how we deal with this issue. amna: ms. townsend over to you. ms. townsend: this is very
refreshing. there was a time where there would be an advisor in the white house. former secretaries saying that we need one back in the white house, that is very gratifying. amna: that is a good note for us to end on. that is all the time do we have today. we want to thank all the members for joining us today for the virtual meeting. i'm very thankful to my panelists. secretary neville tana -- former secretary napolitano >> c-span's "washington journal." every day we take your calls live on the air and discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up, massachusetts democratic congressman james
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