Sens. Johnson, Peters Introduce Domestic Terrorism Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation, the “Terrorism Reporting and Classifying (TRAC) Act of 2019,” Thursday to better track domestic terrorism data and require that agencies provide that information to Congress and the public.

The senators had this to say about the bill:

“Through our committee’s work, we’ve found that there is no consistent and thorough data about domestic terror attacks within the United States. This lack of information makes it increasingly difficult to evaluate the nature of the threat posed by domestic terrorism, as well as the effectiveness of the resources allocated to combat domestic terrorism,” said Senator Johnson. “This legislation aims to improve consistency among agencies for domestic terrorism tracking. Without a mutual understanding of the threat posed by domestic terrorism, agencies remain unable to effectively combat it.”

“Domestic terrorism is a serious growing threat and this bill is an important step towards increasing transparency on domestic terrorism data,” said Senator Peters. “Accurately tracking this information will help ensure the government is effectively prioritizing its resources to address evolving domestic terrorism threats, such as the rise in white supremacist violence, and help keep our communities safe.”

Incidents of domestic terrorism have more than doubled in the past decade, and yet there has been little change in government efforts to combat this threat. In response to this growing threat, Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Peters requested information in May 2019 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the agencies’ respective domestic terrorism practices. The letter can be viewed here.

Background:

  • This legislation requires the DOJ, DHS, FBI and NCTC (National Counterterrorism Center) categorizes incidents of domestic terrorism using common classifications.
  • The bill establishes inter-agency efforts to track domestic terrorism data, and requires DHS to maintain a database of information on incidents of domestic terrorism to better understand and report on the threat.
  • The legislation requires DOJ, DHS, NCTC and FBI to provide a joint report on domestic terrorism data to Congress, as well as make that data public. This report will include qualitative and quantitative data relevant to understanding the landscape of domestic terrorism. This report will include data from domestic terrorist incidents, as well as data on resource allocation of agencies as it relates to domestic terrorism.
    • The report will also include an annual assessment on trends in domestic terrorism data.
    • It will also analyze methods used by individuals or groups to promote, incite and commit acts of domestic terrorism.
    • It will also include information on training that the FBI and DHS provide to Federal, State, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies.
  • The legislation requires the FBI, DHS, and NCTC to provide Congress with documents relevant to their efforts to tackle domestic terrorism.

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