Prepared Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
on “Examining the ‘Metastasizing’ Domestic Terrorism Threat after the Buffalo
June 7, 2022
This hearing is our third of the
Congress discussing the threat of domestic terrorism. In March 2021, Director
Wray testified before us that the threat of domestic terrorism is growing. Six
months later, he testified to another committee that the FBI had 2,700 active
domestic terrorism investigations, compared to its usual 1,000.
The bulk of those new cases are due to
about 600 events. One is the Capitol riot on January 6. Another tragic event
was the terrible attack by a young white racist, killing 10 in Buffalo. One of
those killed in this act of domestic terrorism was Ruth Whitfield. Her son
Garnell Whitfield, Jr., is here with us today. Thank you for coming.
Nearly 600 events were anti-police riots
that erupted in dozens of cities in 2020.
FBI Executive Assistant Director Jill Sanborn
testified before us in January that 800 domestic terrorism investigations were
opened as a result of the 2020 riots. That was five months ago, each time we
speak with the FBI, the number has usually risen by a few hundred.
However, due to lack of federal
jurisdiction, this is only a small fraction of the 14,000 that were arrested
just in the first few weeks. Tens of thousands appear to have participated in
this mass violence.
I was truly surprised by this sheer
number of Americans that have been willing to engage in violence in support of
anti-police rhetoric. Two thousand police officers were injured, 25 people were
killed, and there was $2 billion in property damage, with arson as a preferred
For anyone who thinks violence from the
political left ended in 2020: It didn’t.
A May 2022 report by the Center of
Strategic and International Studies found that 40 percent of all domestic
terrorist attacks in 2021 were from the far left.
For anyone who thinks that the violence
from the far left began in 2020: It didn’t.
In 2016, two black racists killed eight
police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge in 11 days. According to a May 2021
report from the FBI, black racially-motivated violent extremism was the
deadliest ideology in 2017.
Even though many in the press only focus
on far right attacks, the most deadly ideology often changes year to year. In
2018 and 2019, that was white racially-motivated violent extremism. In 2020,
antigovernment extremism was the most lethal ideology.
One constant of domestic terrorism is
that the threat is always shifting, and violence comes from all sides of the
An Asian man drove a car into a peaceful
protest in favor of fair treatment for African Americans. The Waukesha parade
murderer and the New York subway shooter had delivered long racist tirades
against white Americans before their crimes.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it
again: We all have to condemn all political violence. We have the time and
resources to combat violence committed under the banner of every deadly
ideology. We do not have to choose. We must combat them all.
At the same time, we have to protect
speech. A fanatical Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder Republicans in the
congressional baseball game practice in 2017. Agreeing with Bernie Sanders
politically is protected by the First Amendment. Trying to kill others in
support of that belief is not.
I don’t think any Republicans tried to
argue that being a Bernie Sanders supporter made a person a domestic terrorist
just because one person who agreed with him was.
We have to avoid feckless name calling
because we disagree over major issues. It is unfair, for example, to equate
Republican concern over illegal immigration with racist extremism. And
If we’re going to come together to solve
the problems of domestic terrorism, we have to do so with an eye to solving the
problems that truly exist. Reorganizing offices at DOJ that have asked not to
be reorganized doesn’t do that. Foisting reporting and focus requirements on
them that are intended to push them to combat one deadly ideology more than
others won’t help anyone.
We have to listen to what is truly
Those operating in the terrorism space
have asked for a slew of authorities to help them combat international
terrorism. I introduced an amendment to the NDAA last year to give them these
authorities. It did not pass as that time. I hope it will this year.
Finally, we have to come together to
protect our law enforcement officers.
The CSIS report I mentioned found that
law enforcement officers have increasingly become a target of domestic
terrorists from all sides of the political spectrum. The report states that
government, military and especially law enforcement were the primary targets of
domestic terrorist attacks and plots in 2021, composing 43 percent of all
attacks. Law enforcement officers were the target in 48 percent of violent far
left events, 37 percent of violent far right events and all jihadist events in
I understand that, from time to time,
while our police and our military are often the victims of extremist violence,
they’re accused of being the hotbeds of extremism.
In May of this year, we received an FBI
report that stated “available FBI reporting did not reveal RMVE [racist
extremist] infiltration into law enforcement.”
We’ve been briefed by the FBI that
extremism is no more common in the military than the general population, and is
not limited to white racism but includes black racism and Antifa ideology
appearing within the ranks.
If we’re going to be serious about combating
extremism, we need to be realistic that the threat is often from outside law
enforcement and the military and directed against them, not the other way
In fact these baseless accusations of
widespread extremism within law enforcement and the military probably only
strengthen the likelihood that innocent officers and service members will
unfairly become targets for violent attacks. In 2018, members of Antifa in
Philadelphia assaulted two Marines, believing them to be white supremacists.
They weren’t. They were Hispanic.
It’s important that those of us in a
position to lead be clear that all violence will never be tolerated. I look
forward to working to do that together.