Jun 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

FBI Agents Association says domestic terrorism should be federal crime

FBI agents carrying a drone inn Boulder, Colorado, on March 25.
FBI agents carrying a drone inn Boulder, Colorado, on March 25. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 14,000 active and former special agents, lauded the Biden administration's new national strategy for countering domestic terrorism but said the act should be made a federal crime.

Why it matters: No federal criminal offense exists for domestic terrorism, even though it is defined under federal law, and policy makers have for years deliberated whether to create a specific penalty for committing the act.

Context: The Jan. 6 Capitol riot reignited debates over whether there should be an enforceable penalty for domestic terrorism.

  • Congress deliberated on creating a new statute for domestic terrorism in response to the riot, but many members disagreed, arguing it would be redundant or could be used to crackdown on constitutional acts of political dissent, according to USA Today.

Driving the news: The Biden administration laid out its strategy for tackling domestic terrorism on Tuesday, calling it "the most urgent terrorism threat the United States faces today."

  • It proposed tracking nationwide incidents more closely, cracking down recruitment and mobilization efforts, additional resources for the Department of Justice, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security and confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism as methods to curb the threat.
  • However, the strategy does not call for an enforceable domestic terrorism statute.

What they're saying: "The FBI Agents Association welcomes today's release of the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism," the association said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "As the plan points out, 'domestic terrorism' is defined by federal law. Despite this definition, domestic terrorism is not a federal crime with a penalty. Penalties are required for the definition to be an effective deterrent for would-be perpetrators and an effective tool for law enforcement," it added.
  • "Making domestic terrorism a federal crime would not result in the targeting of specific ideas or groups. Rather, it would target acts of violence that have no place in the political discourse secured by our Constitution and Bill of Rights."

Go deeper: Garland asks Congress for $85 million in extra funding to fight domestic terrorism

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