(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Racially motivated violent extremism is again listed as the nation’s top terrorism threat in the Biden administration’s 2023 Annual Threat Assessment, which was tabled by National Intelligence Director Avril Haines at Wednesday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
The report warns that racially motivated extremists will use violence to advance “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and other exclusionary cultural-nationalist beliefs.”
“These actors increasingly seek to sow social divisions, support fascist-style governments, and attack government institutions,” the report says.
During Wednesday’s Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., raised concerns that the report is politically biased. The report’s analysis comes at a time when many on the Left are accusing the common Trump supporter of being a white supremacist, and when the FBI is targeting school board protestors as potential domestic terrorists.
Cotton asked Haines why the Biden administration views racial extremism as one of the top threats facing the nation—as opposed to threats from ISIS or other terrorist groups.
Haines said the intelligence community bases its assessment off the number of murders committed by terrorists the previous year. In 2022, the majority of terrorism-related murders were committed by white supremacists, she said.
But when Cotton asked Haines how many murders were committed by white supremacists last year, the intelligence director said she didn’t have the statistics.
Cotton then asked why the Biden administration is treating white supremacism as a bigger threat than the fentanyl crisis, which killed more than 100,000 people last year. Haines said she didn’t view fentanyl as terrorism, but agreed it is a bigger threat than white supremacism.
The senator further criticized the intelligence report for its labelling of “populist parties” as threats to democracy.
The report warns that “populist parties across the political spectrum probably will take advantage of inflation and high energy prices to increase their support in at least some national and subnational elections during the coming year and make governments—even those in which they are not represented—more cautious about liberalizing migration or trade.”
“Populist parties that oppose immigration and deeper EU integration using antiestablishment rhetoric constitute the largest share of this group and have channeled voters’ frustration with mainstream leaders’ handling of successive crises and the perceived erosion of national culture and sovereignty,” the report adds.
“Are you serious?” Cotton asked of this analysis. “Who are these parties you’re worried about?”
Just as she didn’t have statistics on terrorism-related murders, Haines didn’t have an answer on what parties threaten democracy. She promised to provide Cotton with more information.
Cotton asked whether the U.S. intelligence community views the party of populist Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to be a threat.
Haines waffled, saying that while her analysts probably do consider Meloni a populist, they don’t consider her a threat to the United States.
The U.S. government has treated white supremacism as the nation’s top terrorist threat since at least September 2020, when FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress that the terrorism threat has “evolved significantly since 9/11.”
“Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists were the primary source of ideologically motivated lethal incidents and violence in 2018 and 2019 and have been considered the most lethal of all domestic extremists since 2001,” Wray said at the time.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.