While testifying before Congress on Tuesday morning, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Matt Olsen announced the formation of a new “domestic terrorism unit” that will “augment” the government’s existing approach.
Olsen — a former Obama NSA official — personally directed the formation of the task force, according to his statements before Congress.
“This group of dedicated attorneys will focus on the domestic terrorism threat, helping to ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively, coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country.”
“We’ve seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies,” Olsen said The deputy AG proudly announced that the federal government has arrested and prosecuted more than 700 Americans following the “attack” on the Capitol last January.
“The Department of Justice has undertaken an effort unprecedented in its scope and complexity, to hold accountable, all of those who engaged in criminal acts,” Olsen said in reference to the Capitol protests.
“We continue to methodically gather and review the evidence,” Olsen said.
He later said the country is facing an “elevated threat” from domestic extremists.
Matt Olsen, Asst. AG, National Security Division: “I have decided to establish a Domestic Terrorism Unit to augment our existing approach…helping to ensure that these cases are properly handled & effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country.” pic.twitter.com/2luSF49UgS
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 11, 2022
Olsen then praised the DOJ’s “Civil Rights Division”, saying the division has “led the prosecution of some of the most heinous attacks in recent years.”
“While there is no single federal crime that is labelled ‘domestic terrorism’, the criminal code does define domestic terrorism, and this definition does provide us with expanded authorities, including enhanced sentencing for terrorism offenses,” Olsen said.
He then said the department was bound by their “commitment to protecting civil liberties and our duty to ensure equal and impartial justice.”
“We prosecute individuals for engaging in violent behavior, not for their beliefs or associations,” Olsen said.
He then added that the government “would not hesitate” to prosecute those who fit the regime’s definition of domestic terrorists.