Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, introduced H.R. 3106, the Domestic Terrorism Documentation and Analysis of Threats in America Act, or the Domestic Terrorism DATA Act, in order to foster transparency surrounding domestic terrorism data and increase research on the issue.
“Domestic terrorism, fueled largely by a surge in white supremacist extremism, presents a growing threat to the security of our homeland. In 2018, the lives of 50 Americans were taken as a result of domestic extremist-related killings — all connected to right-wing extremism, and mostly tied to white supremacism. Yet, few Americans know much about what exactly the Federal government is doing to prevent domestic terrorism,” said Chairman Bennie G. Thompson.“There’s an urgent need for robust, centralized, and transparent Federal data to inform counterterrorism policymaking – and Americans deserve to know exactly how their government is allocating resources to understanding and confronting the scourge of domestic terrorism. At this critical time, Congress needs to lead on the issue of domestic terrorism and direct Federal agencies to prioritize efforts to counter these homeland security threats.”
If passed, the Domestic Terrorism DATA Act would, in part:
- Require FBI, DOJ, and DHS to produce an annual, unclassified joint report that provides the following: data on domestic terrorist incidents; assessments, investigations, indictments, prosecutions, and convictions with a domestic terrorism nexus; and the number of full-time staff working on domestic terrorism employed by DOJ and DHS
- Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit the annual joint reports
- Establish a DHS university-based research center to study domestic terrorism and publish a database on domestic terrorist incidents in the United States
- Require DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate to study transnational links between groups linked to domestic terrorism in the United States, such as white supremacists, and their counterparts abroad
According to an analysis by the Washington Post, between 2010 and 2017, right-wing terrorists committed a third of all acts of terrorism in the U.S. According to the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), at least 50 people were killed by domestic extremists in the United States in 2018. This is a significant increase over the number of domestic extremist-related murders documented in 2017, making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Recent FBI data reveal that there were more domestic terrorism-related arrests than international terrorism-related arrests in both FY 2017 and FY 2018. Moreover, a 2017 GAO report found that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, far-right violent extremists committed almost three times as many attacks — 62, compared with 23 by Islamist extremists.
The Domestic Terrorism DATA Act has been endorsed by the ADL, the Arab American Institute, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Southern Poverty Law Center.