Peters Presses Experts on How to Improve DHS Intelligence and Better Protect Communities from Domestic Terrorism

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing to examine the role of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and what changes are needed to strengthen efforts to protect civil rights and accurately assess domestic terrorism threats facing communities across the country.

“I appreciate the hard work and dedication of the national security experts in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and recognize they have faced challenges that must be addressed. However, it is apparent that the office must also do more to effectively counter the rising threats posed by white supremacist and anti-government violence that threaten communities across the country,” said Peters during his opening statement.

Peters continued: “Our national security and the safety of Americans cannot depend on political whims or individual leaders’ biases. That is why Congress must work to ensure that analysis conducted by the intelligence community is separated from the political environment, and based in facts and data that accurately assesses security threats.”

The hearing witnesses provided testimony on how the Office of Intelligence and Analysis can provide more effective intelligence following several inadequate assessments, including the failure to predict and prevent the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The hearing also examined reports of politicization within the office that downplayed the growing threat posed by white supremacist and anti-government violence, as well as challenges transmitting intelligence information to state and local government and law enforcement partners.

Testifying before the committee were: Francis X. Taylor, Former Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis (2014-2017), U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Patricia Cogswell, Former Deputy Administrator (2018-2020), Transportation Security Administration; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Mike Sena, President, National Fusion Center Association; and Faiza Patel, Director, Liberty & National Security Program; Brennan Center for Justice; New York University School of Law. 

To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks as prepared, click here. 

To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions and closing, click here. 

The hearing built on Peters’ oversight efforts to ensure the Department of Homeland Security is tackling the rising domestic terrorism threat posed by white supremacists and anti-government extremists. A recent report required by a provision Peters got signed into law in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act found that racially and ethnically motivated violent domestic extremists pose the greatest national security threat to the United States. Peters has convened two joint hearings to examine the security and intelligence failures that led to the January 6th attack on the U.S Capitol, and determine what reforms are needed to address the rising threat of domestic terrorism. Last Congress, Peters secured the expansion of a successful grant program to help houses of worship and other nonprofits protect their facilities from potential attacks. In 2019, Peters convened the committee’s first domestic terrorism hearing with a focus on white supremacist violence.