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Democrats push DHS for plan to root out internal extremists

More than 60 congressional Democrats are calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to detail “actions you have taken to weed out extremists within your ranks,” citing a report finding that members of far-right groups have ties to the department.

The letter, signed by members of both chambers, cites a Project on Government Oversight report from last year that found that more than 300 individuals of the far-right Oath Keepers militia “described themselves as current or former employees of the Department of Homeland Security.”

“While we commend your commitment to identifying and combatting domestic violent extremism within the Department of Homeland Security’s workforce, we write to you today calling for an update on the steps and actions you have taken to weed out extremists within your ranks,” lawmakers wrote in the letter, spearheaded by Reps. Daniel Goldman (N.Y.) and Robert Garcia (Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.).

DHS last year, in response to a request from Homeland Security Secretary Alejnado Mayorkas, issued a report that “found very few instances of the DHS workforce having been engaged in domestic violent extremism.” But the review acknowledged “significant gaps that have impeded its ability to comprehensively prevent, detect, and respond to potential threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS.” 

The Democrats’ letter asks about the status of a DHS directive that pledged to “prevent, detect, and respond to violent extremist activity within the DHS workforce” as well as spelling out DHS policies for interaction with such groups.

It also cites an internal report crafted by the FBI and reported by ABC News that white supremacists actively seek out connections with law enforcement to both further ideological goals and gain tactical knowledge. 

“Violent extremist groups and leaders, such as white supremacists and anti-government extremists, have been explicit about their desire to recruit current and former law enforcement personnel,” the lawmakers wrote.

“It is clear that the issue of extremists infiltrating federal law enforcement is a persistent and clear threat to the rule of law and national security, and urgent action is needed to root out domestic violent extremists from federal law enforcement agencies.” 

Lawmakers also seek answers on how DHS is monitoring interactions between DHS personnel and other groups tied to domestic violent extremism, including whether the department uses  “publicly available information, including social media” to do so.

DHS did not respond directly to the content of the letter.

“DHS responds to Congressional correspondence directly via official channels, and the Department will continue to respond appropriately to Congressional oversight,” the department said in a statement.

Source: The Hill

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