The “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism,” released last month by the National Security Council, claims to take a “narrowly tailored” approach. Something along those lines is indeed evident throughout the document.
In 2016, readers learn, “an anti–authority violent extremist ambushed, shot, and killed five police officers in Dallas.” The national strategy document does not identify the killer, Micah Johnson, an African American veteran who hated cops. Johnson actually shot a dozen officers but managed to kill only five, and he had bomb-making materials in his home. This killer only opposes “authority” and his murder victims remain unidentified in the NSC document.
In 2017, according to the National Strategy “a lone gunman wounded four people at a congressional baseball practice.” Readers are not told this was James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter who hated Republicans and targeted them for assassination. That should easily qualify as domestic terrorism but here Hodgkinson is only a “gunman.” The National Strategy does not reveal that the “wounded” included Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.), who barely escaped with his life. The NSC document fails to mention that Hodkinson also shot Capitol Police special agent Crystal Griner, an African American.
From the unnamed “lone gunman,” the National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism leaps straight to the current year. “And just months ago, on January 6, 2021, Americans witnessed an unprecedented attack against a core institution of our democracy: the U.S. Congress.” Readers are not told that in 1983, a far-left female-led domestic terrorist group bombed the U.S. Capitol.
A Senate document, “Bomb Explodes in Capitol,” describes what happened. The caller warned that “a bomb had been placed near the chamber in retaliation for recent U.S. military involvement in Grenada and Lebanon.” At 10:58 p.m. “a thunderous explosion tore through the second floor of the Capitol’s north wing.” The device, hidden under a bench at the eastern end of the corridor outside the Senate chamber, “blew off the door to the office of Democratic Leader Robert C. Byrd. The blast also punched a potentially lethal hole in a wall partition sending a shower of pulverized brick, plaster, and glass into the Republican cloakroom.” The adjacent halls were virtually deserted, so “many lives had been spared.”
Later that night, a group called the Armed Resistance Unit called National Public Radio and proclaimed, “Tonight we bombed the U.S. Capitol.” The bombers “purposely aimed our attack at the institutions of imperialist rule rather than at individual members of the ruling class and government. We did not choose to kill any of them at this time. But their lives are not sacred and their hands are stained with the blood of millions.”
In Tonight We Bombed the U.S. Capitol, historian William Rosenau explains that the Armed Resistance Unit was part of the May 19th Communist Organization, named for the shared birthdays of Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh, and dedicated to the violent overthrow of the United States Government. The group was an offshoot of the Weather Underground, whose leaders included Susan Rosenburg. She drew 58 years in prison but on his last day in office, President Bill Clinton commuted her sentence.
On January 6, 2021, no bombs exploded and none of the trespassers was armed. The only death by gunfire was Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran gunned down by a Capitol police officer. The National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism fails to mention Babbitt and does not identify the cop who killed her.
The document’s “narrowly tailored” strategy reflects the fundamental transformation of American national security by the composite character president whom David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. He changed the focus from radical Islamic terrorism to “right-wing” domestic terrorism, and imposed that strategy in the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
For example, in April of 2009, DHS released “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” These right-wing extremists, the document claims, are “mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority.” The “possible passage of new restrictions on firearms” also disturbs them.
“We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity,” proclaimed DHS boss Janet Napolitano, “but we do not—nor will we ever—monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.” According to critics, Napolitano’s DHS was targeting most conservatives and libertarians in the country.
Some six months later, on November 5, 2009, American-born Muslim Nidal Hasan, a self-described “soldier of Allah,” murdered 13 American soldiers and wounded more than 30 at Fort Hood, Texas. The composite character president called it “workplace violence,” not terrorism or even gun violence. Major Hasan didn’t fit the “right-wing” profile, which kept appearing in DHS documents such as “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1979-2008.” This 2012 study classified as “extreme right-wing terrorists” persons who it judged to be “suspicious of centralized federal authority” and “reverent of individual liberty.”
Consider also “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. This 2013 study warns about the “anti-federalist movement,” whose members “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.” They also support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self-government, so these potential terrorists sound a lot like millions of mainstream Americans.
The National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism takes this to a new level, but not to worry. According to an introduction attributed to Joe Biden, the document, “lays out a comprehensive approach to addressing the threat while safeguarding bedrock American civil rights and civil liberties—values that make us who we are as a nation.”