(WND) – The Justice Department is resurrecting a program designed to thwart domestic threats to the United States, and Attorney General Eric Holder says those threats include individuals the government deems anti-government or racially prejudiced.
The Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee was created in the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing but was scrapped soon after the 2001 terrorist attacks as intelligence and law enforcement officials shifted their focus to threats from outside the country. The committee will be comprised of figures from the FBI, the National Security Division of the Justice Department and the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.
In his statement announcing the return of the committee, Holder said he remains concerned about the specter of attacks prompted by Islamic extremists, but he said this committee will be tasked with identifying other threats.
“We must also concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice,” Holder said.
According to reporting from Reuters, the American Civil Liberties Union is pushing back against the DOJ plan, fearing “it could be a sweeping mandate to monitor and collect controversial speech.”
Conservative groups are alarmed on multiple levels. First, they see themselves once again the target of an administration that disagrees with them philosophically.
“It appears there’s an attempt to marginalize people who hold views that are sharply different from those of the administration and much of the establishment, said Horace Cooper, co-chairman of the Project 21 National Advisory Board. Project 21 is a network of black conservatives.
Cooper said plenty of presidents dealt with critical speech, particularly in opposition to the Vietnam War and even the Iraq War. He said no president ever responded like this.
“We didn’t arrest them (due to their speech). We didn’t try to prevent them from being able to express themselves on campuses, and we didn’t try to prevent them from trying to enter into the public square,” he said. “This administration appears not to appreciate that lesson and says that the groups of people that are not within their particular perspective ought to be considered the very threat … that the real terrorist threat that comes internationally [presents].”
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